Friday, January 17, 2014

Found a Record for My Thomas J. Newton!

I have written about my very elusive ancestor, my 3rd-great-grandfather, Thomas J. Newton (ca 1795 - after 1834) in several previous blog posts:

*  A Most Elusive Ancestor - Thomas J. Newton (posted 7 July 2007)

*  Mystery Monday - Thomas J. Newton of Maine (19th century) (posted 23 March 2009)

*  Using the FAN Club Principle - Thomas J. Newton, Father of Sophia Newton (1834-1923) - Post 1 (posted 19 November 2010)

*  Using the FAN Club Principle - Thomas J. Newton Problem - Post 2: Which Repositories? (posted 22 November 2010)

*  Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Who Is Your 3rd Most Recent Unknown Ancestor (posted 10 November 2012)

In all of that, I had found EXACTLY ZERO actual records of this person - I had no record that he resided anywhere in New England or anyplace else.  He appeared only in records of his children, Sophia (Newton) Hildreth (1834-1923) and Thomas J. Newton (1832?-1915), and those are inconsistent.

Occasionally, I look at one of my mystery persons and look for records on, and other online websites.  I struck paydirt last week when I found a record for Thomas J. Newton in the "Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988" database on  This database has many volumes of town records, and in a Westborough, Massachusetts town book was this page:

The heading at the top of the right-hand page on the image above says:

"Account of Town Ordfers from Select Men of Westboro
drawn for the support of Town Paupers for whom Cash was
drawn from Town Treasury by Caleb W. Forbush Town Treasurer
1832 ------ Names in whose favour drawn ---------"

The listing of Thomas J. Newton is #103, on 3 December 1832, for $2.59.  Here is a snippet of the record:

This is the only mention of my Thomas J. Newton found in this record book. Although I haven't gone page by page in this book, I have searched this collection for "tho*" "n*t*n" and did not find another that was clearly "my guy."  There are several other Thomas Newton persons in these records, but not in the Sterling-Westborough area.  

I still don't know if this Thomas J. Newton residing in Westborough in 1832 is the same one who married widow Sophia (Buck) Brigham of Sterling, Westborough and Northborough and had two 
children by him - I don't have enough evidence, but this is the first I've found.

Likewise, I don't know if this is the same Thomas J. Newton who married Mrs. Eliza Coffin on 3 September 1843 in Dedham, Massachusetts.  It may be, and it may not be - I don't have enough evidence yet.

If the Thomas J. Newton who married Sophia (Buck) Brigham is the same man who married Eliza Coffin, then there should be a divorce record in a repository somewhere.  I looked for one in Worcester County, Massachusetts when I was at the Family History Library in January 2009 (reported on in Day 3 in SLC - the Family History Library, and noted:

"The divorce records for Worcester County MA from about 1834 to about 1850. They are included in the Supreme Judicial Court records for the county. I looked at two films for 1833-1845, and for 1845-1854. There were several interesting law suits for Newton on these films, but not for my Sophia and Thomas Newton. Oh well, another resource checked with negative results."

There may be a divorce record in another Massachusetts county, or in Vermont where they may have resided for several years.  

So that's where I stand - I now have ONE record that places a Thomas J. Newton in a town at around the time that my Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) (Newton) Stone lived there.  That's a little progress, but it may unlock more records that lead to solving this mystery man.  Even if he was a pauper in 1832.

We have heard that we should:

*  Revisit our information for these elusive ancestors, 
*  Search again and again in online databases for records added or previously missed
*  Add ideas to our research logs and follow-up on them, especially for offline records in repositories or on microfilm

That worked this time - I found one needle in the haystack.  I'm going to keep looking.

Do any readers have further suggestions for more research?  I'm open to any suggestion you might have!

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copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Root Digger said...

I really hope you find more information and records on Thomas J. Newton. I have an elusive ancestor too...that seemed to just disappear. I will go back and revisit. Great advice. I am searching in Worcester, MA, but may have to look in other counties and nearby states that he may have decided to live.

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

I do not have suggestions but do wish you lots of luck.

Geolover said...

Do the Town Warnings Out survive into the 1830s? A pauper requiring Town support appears to be a good candidate.