Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Evaluating the Evidence: When and Where was Sophia (Newton) Hildreth (183?-1923) Born?

Like many researchers, I have conflicting evidence for many of my ancestors and need to try to puzzle them out to draw a sound conclusion.

One example is my second great-grandmother, Sophia (Newton) Hildreth (183?-1923), daughter of Thomas J. Newton and Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton, and wife of Edward Hildreth (1831-1899).  Sophia (Newton) Hildreth was probably born in Vermont, married in Northborough, Massachusetts, and died in Leominster, Massachusetts.

I want to evaluate the evidence relating to her birth date and birth place.  Here is the evidence that I have gathered to date (you can see the event data, sources and media at http://my.rootsmagic.com/rjseaver/individual.html#6445):

1)  The 1850 U.S. Census for Northborough, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she is age 15 born in Vermont (implies 1834-1835 birth date). [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

2)  The 1852 marriage record to Edward Hildreth on 25 December 1852 in Northborough, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that Sophia is age 18, born in Vermont. [Original source, Secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

3)  In the 1857 Birth record for her daughter, Hattie Louisa Hildreth, in Northborough, Worcester, Massachusetts, she is listed as born in Massachusetts. [Original source, no birth information, indirect birth evidence]

4)  The 1860 U.S. Census for Northborough, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she is age 24 born in Massachusetts (implies 1835-1836 birth date). [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

5)  The 1870 U.S. Census for Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she is age 34 born in Vermont (implies 1835-1836 birth date). [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

6)  The 1874 Birth record for her son Clarence Edward Hildreth, in Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts, lists her as born in Cambridge, Vermont. [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

7)  The 1878 Death record for her son Clarence E. Hildreth, in Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts, lists her as born in Cambridge, Vermont. [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

8)  The 1880 U.S. Census for Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she is age 46 born in Vermont (implies 1833-1834 birth date). [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

9)  The 1900 U.S. Census for Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she was born in September 1835 and was age 64 born in Massachusetts  [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

10)  The 1910 U.S. Census for Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she is age 73 born in Vermont (implies 1836-1837 birth date). [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

11)  The 1920 U.S. Census for Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she is age 82 born in Vermont (implies 1837 birth date). [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

12)  The 1920 Death record for her daughter Hattie (Hildreth) Seaver, in Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts, lists her as born in Cambridge, Vermont. [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

13)  The 29 August 1923 Death Record for Sophia (Newton) Hildreth in Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts indicates that she was age 86 years, 11 months, 15 days at death (calculates to 14 September 1836), born in Springfield, Vermont.   [Original source, secondary birth information, indirect birth evidence]

I have 13 records with birth information.  A summary is:

*  The only actual birth date I have is 14 September, calculated by the death record, and supported by the 1900 Census record that indicates September as the birth month.

*  The available evidence indicates that the year of birth is between 1832 and 1837.  The two earliest pieces of evidence (1850 Census and marriage record) imply 1834 by the age given in the records.  The 1880 Census evidence implies 1833.  The 1860, 1870 and 1900 Census evidence implies 1835.  The 1910 Census evidence implies 1836.  The 1920 Census evidence implies 1837.  Her age at death calculates to be 1836.  Ages given on census records, and death records, are notorious for being one or two years off if the specific person did not provide the information to the enumerator; also, people fibbed at times.  My conclusion, based on all of the available evidence, and weighting the earliest bits of evidence the most, is that Sophia Newton was born in 1834.

*  The place of birth may be Vermont, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Vermont, or Springfield, Vermont.  The entries for Cambridge, Vermont were in birth and death records for her children, and were possibly provided by Sophia herself.  The birth place information on her death record was probably provided by her grandson, Frederick Walton Seaver (since his parents were already deceased).  My conclusion is that she was born in Cambridge, Lamoille, Vermont based on the evidence at hand.

One task that I thought of is to look for records for other children of Edward and Sophia (Newton) Hildreth.  They were married in 1852, had Hattie in 1857 and Clarence in 1874.  They may have had other children that I don't know about, although the family records do not mention any.  There may be stillborn or died-at-birth children that could be in the Massachusetts Vital Records.

What do you think?  Are my conclusions correct, based on the available evidence?  What other evidence might I find in a reasonably exhaustive search?

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/11/evaluating-evidence-when-and-where-was.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

4 comments:

Unknown said...

Have you checked the 1840 census for her parents? I know it won't mention her by name, but, if you know the other children, you may be able to narrow the dates. I would also definitely check for other children. That is a very large gap. In my own family, I have stumbled on children that were stillborn or died very young that were never mentioned in family records.

Rorey Cathcart said...

Your conclusion on the birth year seems sound to me based on the evidence you have.

Given your conclusion of Sophia born in Vermont, you may want to focus on narrowing down when/why her family was in VT. In your event lists for her parents, locations favor MA heavily with no other evidence for VT. I think this conclusion needs more support.

As an aside, are you not using the 'Quality' feature in RootsMagic? I'm curious that you editorialized the info here in your post but it is not reflected in your sources at your my.rootsmagic database. I ask because I'm in the midst of deciding to use them in my database or not.

Thank you.

Ida Skarson McCormick said...

Have you checked the church records?

Lisa Suzanne Gorrell said...

Have you looked at the siblings of Sophia Newton? You might find evidence of birth location based on where & when they were born?

Are there no town records to search?