Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rabbit Trail: Is Hannah (1689-1759), the Wife of Samuel Fletcher (1684-1749), Hannah Foster?

While posting Tombstone Tuesday - Jonathan Keyes (1721-1781) and Elizabeth Fletcher Keyes (1720-1761) of Westford, Mass. today, I noticed that there was a link to the mother of Elizabeth Fletcher Keyes of Hannah Foster Fletcher on Find A Grave.

The inscription provides a clue to her birth date, aged 70 years at her 1759 death, which implies a birth year of about 1689.  The Find A Grave memorial said, in the text, that Hannah Foster Fletcher (1689-1759) was the daughter of Ely and Judith (Keies) Foster.  That tidbit was enough to raise my ancestor seeker interest, so I decided to follow this BSO (bright and shiny object) to determine if it is correct.  If it is, I will be able to add several more ancestors to my database and pedigree chart.

My database identified the mother only as Hannah because I have not found a marriage record for Samuel Fletcher (1684-1749) to a Hannah in the vicinity of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.  I estimated a marriage date of 1712 for Hannah and Samuel, based on the 1713 birth of their first child.

Do other researchers have this Hannah Foster married to a Samuel Fletcher?  I looked in Ancestry Member Trees (assuming a birth in 1690 plus/minus ten years) and an exact spouse's name of "sam* fle*cher:

 Yep, there are at least 16 Ancestry Member Trees that have this marriage.  Five of them identify her parents as Eli Foster and Judith Keyes, and one identifies her parents as Samuel Foster and Sarah Keyes.

Then I looked at Eli Foster and Judith Keyes:

There were lots of trees, and some of them identify Hannah Foster with a birth date of 1689 and some of 1698.  Hmm, what's correct?

I searched on Ancestry in the indexed Massachusetts Town Records for Hannah Foster, and found the birth record in both the published Chelmsford vital record book and the handwritten Proprietors Records.  Here is the latter:

The entry for Hannah (4th from the bottom) reads:

" Hanah Foster the daughter of Ely and Judah Foster was born May the 11 16 98"

So Hannah, the daughter of Eli and Judith (Keies) Foster, was born in 1698 rather than 1689 as stated in the Find A Grave memorial.

There are no marriage records for a Hannah marrying Samuel Fletcher (1684-1749) in Chelmsford or another Massachusetts town in the 1710 to 1720 time period.  Since their first child was born 17 March 1713, it is likely that they married before 1713.  Hannah Foster, daughter of Ely and Judith, was born in 1698, so she would have been under age 15 when her first child was born.  I doubt that happened in Puritan Massachusetts.

I wondered if Eli Foster might have left probate or land records that name Hannah as a daughter or as a Fletcher.  Eli Foster died in 1719, and his probate packet 8194 is online on the NEHGS AmericanAncestors.org website:

I downloaded the nine pages, and carefully read them.  The handwriting was atrocious...but the only mention of Hannah that I found was in a list of the nine children on image 8194:9 of the packet:

 That record proves only that Hannah was alive in 1719, but no married name is indicated.

I looked for a death record, a marriage record and a probate record for Jud* Foster and found none that her likely.  She was alive in 1719 because she received her widow's dower.

I looked for a land record in the Middlesex County, Massachusetts Land Records database on FamilySearch.  There were no entries for Eli Foster in the Grantor or Grantee indexes in the 1700 to 1750 time frame.  There were several land records for a Samuel Fletcher in this time frame, but none were with a Foster.

So I think that I proved to my satisfaction that the Hannah Foster born in 1698 to Ely and Judith foster is not the Hannah that married Samuel Fletcher in about 1712 and had nine children between 1713 and 1729 in Chelmsford.

That still leaves the Anna Foster born to Samuel Foster (1656-1730) and Sarah Keyes (1656-1718) born in 1684 as a viable candidate.  And any other Hannah females born around 1689 in the vicinity of Chelmsford or Westford.

I need to send a message to the creator or owner of the Hannah Foster Fletcher memorial on Find A Grave to request modification to the record there.

I did the research for this study in about an hour and a half using only online resources.  Two years ago, it would have taken several months to do the study at a local FamilySearch Center, or in one day at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (and probably at NEHGS in Boston too).

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/01/rabbit-trail-is-hannah-1689-1759-wife.html

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

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