Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Finding the Buck-Brigham Marriage Record

After writing Adds Original Massachusetts Vital Records yesterday, I went "hunting" for Massachusetts records that heretofore had eluded me.  One of my first targets was the marriage of Sophia Buck and Lambert Brigham.  I knew from a Columbian Centinel article that they had been born before 22 February 1817 in Sterling, but I had not found the actual record.

In the Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections, 1620-1988 collection, I entered Sophia Buck into the search box:

I received 11 matches for this search.  The first two look promising:

The first item in the index says Sophia Buck married Lumbert Breyer on Feb. 12.  Here is the entry from the Sterling (Worcester County, Massachusetts) book, page 261:

The Buck-Breyer entry is the first line, and Lambert Brigham's entry is smudged badly, hence it was indexed as Lumbert Breyer.  It says:

"Feb 12. Came Lambert Brigham and Sophia Buck both of Sterling in Marriage.  John Robbins Justice of the Peace."

The entry before this one (on the previous page) was dated 1828, and the entry after this one was dated 13 March 1817.

The second match on the list was for Sophia Buck and Lambert Brigham on 22 December 1816.  Here is the image (Sterling, page 41):

This page is titled "Intentions of Marriages recorded by M. Sawyer."  The entry reads:

"Mr. Lambert Brigham and Miss Sophia Buck both of Sterling Dec 22. 1816"

It makes sense that the actual marriage was 12 February 1817, even though the year was not in the specific record on page 261.  

Now for a source citation for this record (here's my first shot at it):

"Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections, 1620-1988," online database, (, accessed 20 March 2012), citing original data from Massachusetts town and city clerk records; Sterling [Worcester, Mass.] Vital Records, 1740-1900, Marriages, page 261 (penned); Lambert Brigham and Sophia Buck, 12 Feb 1817.

There are two more matches for this couple further down the list - entries for Lumbert Breyer and Sophia Buck, and for Lambert Brigham and Sophia Buck.  These link to the same page images.  The indexing apparently finds both the husband and wife entries in the database.

This search exposes some of the problems with these records.  The handwriting is often smudged, faint or unreadable (perhaps the information is more visible in color, but the images are black and white), and the indexing suffers as a result.  If I only knew that Lambert Brigham had married a Sophia, and if the intentions had not been recorded in a separate entry, I probably would not have found this marriage.

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Martin said...

Well you would have found this eventually if you did the dreaded march through the records. The Holbrook microfiche were/are a gold mine of information, but heretofore were unindexed or only semi-indexed. You needed to read the records through. Since you knew Sterling, Mass. you would have finally found the Brigham Buck marriage.