Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finding Lambert Brigham's Death Record in Massachusetts Town and Vital Records Collection

As time permits, I have been searching for and finding many genealogy gems in the Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 database on  While FamilySearch seems to have this collection also, there is no index.

This is a collection of town records that may include vital records, church records, tac records, town meeting records, and many other record types.  They are separated by town name, and then the different "books" that have been digitized.  Some towns may have only one or two "books" and some may have many "books."  These books may be the "original" record books, or may be books transcribed or printed based on the original records.

Last week, I went searching for the elusive Lambert Brigham (1794-????), the first husband of my 3rd great-grandmother, Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) (Newton) Stone (1797-1882).  I had not found a death record for Lambert Brigham previously, because there was no entry in the published town vital record books in the vicinity of Sterling, Worcester County, Massachusetts where the family (Lambert, Sophia, and sons Aurelius and Augustus) had resided in the 1930 U.S. Census.

I found these items in the Town and Vital Records database when I did an exact search for Lambert Brigham:

I already knew about the birth record in 1794 in Westborough, and the marriage record in 1816 to Sophia Buck in Sterling, and the marriage and death of Aurelius Brigham in 1853 and 1878, respectively.

The surprise was a Death record for Lambert Brigham on 5 May 1834 in the Westborough "Church Records" book.  Could that be the right Lambert Brigham?  I clicked on the link and saw the record summary for this record:

It says he was born in 1794, and died on 9 May 1834 in Westborough.  Westborough is not too far from Sterling (where he was in 1830), and he was born there.  With an age of 40, the age at death matches the birth date very well.  The name is fairly rare in eastern Massachusetts.  I think this is probably the right Lambert Brigham, the first husband of Sophia Buck.

Going ahead and clicking on the link to the record image, and I drew a box around the line for Lambert Brigham when I saved it:

This record says, under 1834 Deaths:  

"May 5, Mr. Lambert Brigham consumption [age] 40"

Astute readers who have memorized my family tree may suddenly say "Aha, why do you care about when Lambert Brigham died?  The parents of your second great-grandmother, Sophia (Newton) Hildreth (1834-1923) were Thomas J. Newton and Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton, born in Vermont."

Yes, that's what the records I have for Sophia (Newton)  say, but I don't have a clear or consistent record of what her birth date, or birth place, or parents names, are.

Rather than go through the analysis of Sophia (Newton) Hildreth's birth date and place in this post, I will do it in a later post once I have collected my thoughts and records and source citations and media (I was doing all of this for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog post on Sophia (Newton) Hildreth due in several weeks).

Also involved here is the record I found recently showing that a Thomas J. Newton was recorded in Westborough in 1832 - see Found a Record for My Thomas J. Newton!

So now I have two records from Westborough between 1832 and 1834 that show Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton, her first husband Lambert Brigham, and her probable second husband Thomas J. Newton in the same town at approximately the same time.  The plot thickens!!  What could these records imply?

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

These records are also available on line at A great web site that I use a lot.


Geolover said...

Randy, you are quite right to focus on the logic of time-and-place as part of your evidentiary data. One can never do "too much" research -- only too little!