Tag Archives: Thomas Adams

It Pays to Look Again! Benjamin Parker and Thomas Adams, 1851

As I march through my thousands of images, I am getting more and more motivated to keep at it for one simple reason. I am actually learning new bits of information about my ancestors.

Here is my latest example of why it definitely pays to take a long hard look at documents you already have amassed.

Benjamin Parker and Maria Wilson are my 3X great grandparents on my maternal grandfather’s branch of the family tree. Maria died in 1828 and I knew that Benjamin had married (2) Susan Herson. It doesn’t seem like much work had been done on Benjamin and Susan, at least not that I found online.

Benjamin lived until October 1870, when his death was noted in the 1871 Canadian census of Campobello Island in the West Isles of New Brunswick, Canada. As far as I knew, Benjamin was either born on Campobello or else moved there as a young child and spent his life on the island. His occupation was fisherman.

I wanted to document children that Benjamin apparently had with Susan Herson so I went looking for them in the 1851 census of the West Isles, which is the “neighborhood” covering all the islands off the coast of Maine and New Brunswick that belong to Canada.

Source: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Notice that the Canadian census doesn’t have a title header on the pages like the U.S. census has. Therefore, indexing shows this page as part of the West Isles collection.

The Parkers are the second family in the list:

Crop of the Above Image

I noted the three children living with the Parkers, cited the Canadian census as my source and thought no more about it.

Now, one more bit of information you need to know is that Benjamin and Maria Parker’s daughter, Sarah Ann, married Daniel Adams on Deer Island in 1836. Daniel Adams was the son of Thomas and Sarah (Brawn) Adams.

Now to the present. I’ve been renaming and reattaching all my images and worked on Thomas Adams, the father of Daniel who married Sarah Ann Parker. I had Canadian census images for 1851, but couldn’t find Thomas, or his wife Sarah, in 1861. As both were born in the 1780s, I assumed that they had both died before that census.

With little available in the way of a paper trail, I collected images of land deeds which involved Thomas Adams. There were a couple of transactions between John Morrison and Thomas Adams, both of Adams Island, which wasn’t a surprise since I knew Thomas Adams spent most of his life on the island named for his family.

I saved the 1851 census page of the West Isles that included Thomas and Sarah Adams. He was listed near the bottom of the page, living next door to John Morrison. On the other side of the Morrison family was Henry Adams, one of Thomas’s sons. None of this was a surprise.

What shocked me was when I renamed the 1851 census image and, at first, thought that somehow I had confused two families and incorrectly named the image. Take a close look:

My eye noticed the yellow arrowed family first – Benjamin Parker!!! Then, I scanned down the page and saw Thomas Adams. There is absolutely no doubt that the families on this page were living on Adams Island because the land deed I found for Thomas and John Morrison is dated 1852.

BENJAMIN PARKER, who I thought never lived anywhere but Campobello Island, actually lived on Adams Island in 1851!!! Plus, they only lived a few doors away from Thomas and Sarah Adams.

Adams Island never had much going for it except for some copper mining and has been uninhabited for decades and decades.

Adams Island

The families lived in the cove to the right. Compare this island with Campobello Island – the very same Campobello at which President Franklin Roosevelt loved to vacation.

Source: Google Maps

Red = Deer Island (not Deer Isle, which is part of Maine)
Green = Campobello Island
Purple = Adams Island

I have no idea why Benjamin Parker chose to move to Adams Island, but he most definitely lived at least one other place besides on Campobello Island. This census proves it!

Lesson Learned:
Taking a new look with fresh eyes can bring surprises!



52 Documents in 52 Weeks #20: U.S. Census Mortality Schedules

What do you do when you have some “down” time in genealogy? You’ve done what you can and have no obvious inspiration or plan for your next steps? I like to hunt for BSOs – bright shiny objects.

Where do I look? I check out collections of databases by browsing the images, usually hunting for a surname rather than a specific person.

At times, I’ve been quite surprised by what I’ve found. This happened recently with the U.S. census mortality schedules. I love those schedules because, if you are lucky enough to find a relative listed in them, the mortality schedule might be the only document showing the person’s date and cause of death.

If you read my blog, you know that I have deep roots to Calais, Maine, so I decided to troll the mortality schedules for Adams people who died in Maine. I entered “ADAMS” and “WASHINGTON COUNTY, MAINE” in the search fields.

I almost fell off my chair when I saw the first name on the results list: Thomas Adams!

Thomas Adams was the son of Loyalist John Adams and father of Daniel Adams, both of whom I featured in the last couple of 52 Documents posts. I knew that Thomas married in Maugerville, Sunbury County, New Brunswick, Canada in 1803 and that he and wife Sarah Brawn, were living on Deer Island at the time of the 1851 census.

Although Daniel Adams moved his family to Calais about 1854, there were still other relatives living in Deer Island at the time. As Thomas was born in 1783 and Sarah in 1786, I assumed that they both died on Deer Island before the 1861 Canadian census.

I’ve adjusted my thinking after finding this in the 1860 Washington County, Maine mortality schedule:

Thomas Adams, 78, Male, born New Brunswick, d. July, Fisherman, old age

I never had any kind of documentation that Thomas ever, EVER lived in the United States. I now believe that Sarah most probably died on Deer Island between the 1851 and 1861 Canadian censuses and that Thomas obviously survived her, finally passing away in July 1859 in Calais, where he most likely lived with son Daniel and his family.

Hunting down BSOs is actually just one way of leaving no stone unturned – the key to a reasonably exhaustive search required for the Genealogical Proof Standard.