Monday, May 15, 2017

A Marriage Record, but no Father, for Hannah (Smith) Sawtell (1768-1827)

I received an Ancestry Hint recently for the marriage of my 4th great-grandparents, Josiah Sawtell and Hannah Smith recently - married 5 October 1789 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Here is the record:

Source:  Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, digital images, ( : accessed 15 May 2017), Amherst, "Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1743-1843, Vol. I," page 54 (image 230 of 287), Josiah Sartell and Hannah Smith entry, 1789.

The record says that they were married in Amherst.  The date is in another hand on the record, and says "in Amherst History, Oct. 5, 1789."

Hmmm.  I recalled the Boston Transcript query that dealt with this family, which I transcribed in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 68: #75 Hannah (Smith) Sawtell (1768-1827) (posted 17 April 2015), which included the following:

"(3534)  1. SMITH, SARTELL, BISHOP.  Hannah Smith, born Jan. 1 1768, at Amherst, Mass., married Feb. 5, 1789, at Amherst, Josiah Sartell of Hollis, Mass.  I wonder if her parents were Noah Smith and Mary, daughter of Edward Elmer, who were married in Amherst in 1766 at Amherst (probably).  If this is true, who were Noah Smith's ancestors?"

Source:  Boston Transcript, (Boston, Mass.), 21 April 1932, Item 3534, "SMITH, SARTELL, BISHOP," Boston Transcript Genealogical Column Microfiche Collection, Card 7 1832; San Diego Public Library, San Diego, Calif.. citing Carlos Parsons Darling, Boston Transcript genealogy newspaper columns, June 6, 1896-April 30, 1941 (Middletown, Conn. : Godfrey Memorial library, 197-), on 682 FHL microfiche.

I have been searching for Hannah's parents for 29 years, and since Josiah and Hannah (Smith) Sartell/Sawtell started their family in Brookline, New Hampshire, and resided after 1790 in Mason, N.H. and Townsend, Mass., I have always thought that Hannah was probably born in or near Raby, N.H. (now Brookline).  I've searched for her birth in records for Brookline and adjacent New Hampshire and Massachusetts towns, with no success.  There are plenty of Smith families in the Raby/Brookline, N.H. area in 1768, but there are few birth records available.

Could it be that the Boston Transcript query had it right?  That Hannah Smith was the daughter of Noah and Mary (Elmer) Smith of Amherst, Massachusetts?   Have I wasted years of researching for a non-existent set of Hannah's parents when they are Noah and Mary (Elmer) Smith?  

Ah, I wonder if Noah Smith left a probate record in Hampshire County, Massachusetts? has the "Massachusetts Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991" indexed, so I checked it and sure enough, there is a will for Noah Smith which was probated in Hampshire County in 1830.  Here is a screen shot from the will that names his daughter Hannah:

Source:  "Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991," indexed database and digital images, ( : accessed 15 May 2017), Hampshire County, "Probate Records, Vol. 38, 1830-1831), page 112, image 69 of 432, Noah Smith will, written 1825, recorded 1830.

The first entry on the indented list in the will says:

"To my Daughter Hannah Cook I give one dollar."

So in 1825 when Noah Smith wrote his will, his daughter had the surname Cook.  This is negative evidence that this is my Hannah (Smith) Sawtell.  

I know that my Hannah (Smith) Sawtell died 8 February 1827 in Townsend, Massachusetts and is buried in Hillside Cemetery there.  Her husband, Josiah Sawtell, died there in 1847.

Source:  Henry C. Hallowell (editor), Vital Records of Townsend, Massachusetts (Boston, Mass. : New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1992), New Cemetery Records, page 367, Hannah Sawtelle entry.

I wonder why Josiah Sartell and Hannah Smith married in Amherst, Massachusetts?  It is 59 miles from Townsend to Amherst and a little further from Brookline.  It may be that Hannah was born somewhere near Amherst, Mass.  There is a Brookline, N.H. birth record for their first child, Hannah Sawtell (1789-1857), born 6 November 1789.  It seems that Hannah Smith was quite pregnant at the time of the marriage.

My conclusion:  It appears that I haven't wasted my time searching in New Hampshire for Hannah smith's birth and parents - she is almost certainly not the daughter of Noah and Mary (Elmer) Smith of Amherst, Massachusetts!  I guess this is progress!

There are a number of females named Hannah Smith who were born in the 1765-1775 time frame in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  I guess I'm going to have to go through them one at a time to determine:

*  Who were their parents?
*  Who, when and where did they marry?
*  When and where did they die and are buried?
*  Are their probate or land records for the parents?

Then there are the Smiths for whom there are not birth records available.  I fear that I will never find the parents of Hannah (Smith) Sawtell (1768-1827).


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