Monday, July 10, 2006

A Most Elusive Ancestor - Thomas J. Newton

One of my most elusive ancestors is Thomas J. Newton. Based on information from vital records and census records of his children, I believe that he:

* was born in Maine (probably Oxford County) between 1790 and 1810.
* married Sophia (Buck) Brigham, a widow with two small children, between 1830 and 1835, probably in or near Sterling, Worcester County, MA
* resided in Cambridge, Lamoille County VT in the 1833 to 1850 time period.
* had at least two children with Sophia - Thomas J. Newton (born June 1833?) and Sophia Newton (born Sept 1834?) in Cambridge VT
* either divorced Sophia before 1850 or died before 1860 leaving her a widow.
* left no census records in his name in 1830 to 1850.

There is a Thomas J. Newton who fits all of my criteria above, but I am not sure that he is the right man. He was born in Dixfield, Oxford County, ME to Jacob and Fanny (Parks) Newton in 1808, married Eliza Coffin in 1838 in Dedham MA, fathered a baby, Thomas J. Newton, in 1848 who died in infancy, was living in Reading MA in the 1850 census, and died there in 1852 (father listed as Jacob Newton). There is no probate record for this man.

For this man to be the "right" one, one has to believe that he married an older woman (10 years older) with two small children in about 1833, moved her from Sterling MA to Cambridge VT (200 miles?), fathered two children, divorced her, married Eliza Coffin in Dedham MA, and settled in Reading MA. Possible? Certainly. Certain? No way.

There was a Gershom Newton who resided in Cambridge, Lamoille County VT in the 1800 to 1850 time frame, and died in 1853. His probate record does not mention Thomas J. Newton or his offspring. The Cambridge town records don't mention Thomas J. Newton. Gershom Newton was a first cousin of Jacob Newton.

I have researched

* vital records (births, marriages, deaths) in MA, VT and ME,
* probate and land records in Oxford County ME, Lamoille County VT, Middlesex and Worcester County MA,
* census records from 1790 to 1920 for ME, MA, NH, VT

What now? I continue to pick at this problem, but would appreciate counsel, advice, suggestions and wild-assed guesses. Thanks!
* online databases (IGI, Ancestral File, WorldConnect, etc)

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Randy, what about searching tax records? As they say, the census man came every 10 years, but the tax man never hesitated to come every year. If you can check on the tax records for "both" Thomas Newtons, you can most likely determine whether they were one or two people. By following the tax records year after year, watching when Thomas drops off the rolls in one location and shows up in another, you can infer that he moved. However, if you find tax records for Thomas Newton in two different places at the same time, then it likely means they were two different people. While it is possible that one Thomas Newton could have owned land in two different places 200 miles apart, AND be taxed on both properties...it's not very probable. Check FamilySearch.org's online catalog for microfilms of tax rolls for the locations you're researching. Good luck!