Monday, April 1, 2019

Sorting Out My Thomas J. Newtons

I most recently wrote about "my" 3rd great-grandfather Thomas J. Newton in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 31: #38 Thomas J. Newton (ca 1800 - ????) (posted 1 August 2014) and in Who Really Was the Father of Sophia Newton (183?-1923)? (posted 12 May 2014).

To summarize what I think I know about "my" guy:  Thomas J. Newton (about 1795-after 1835?) married in about 1834 to Sophia (Buck) Brigham (1797-1882, widow of Lambert Brigham (1794-1834).  I have found no birth or death records that I can conclusively connect to this Thomas J. Newton.  The available records indicate that Thomas J. and Sophia (Buck) (Brigham)  Newton had two children, Sophia  Newton  (1834?-1923) and Thomas J. Newton (1835?-1915).  The marriage records for the two children say that their father was born in Maine, and that they were born in Cambridge, Vermont (presumably the Cambridge in Lamoille County).  However, there is no marriage record for Thomas and Sophia, and no birth records for the two children.  

There is another Thomas J(efferson) Newton (1808-1852) in New England in the same time frame, and I often wondered if he is the same person as "my" Thomas J. Newton.  He married Eliza Coffin in 1843 in Dedham, Massachusetts, and they had children in 1844 and 1848 (another Thomas Jefferson Newton!) who both died young.  He died in Reading, Massachusetts on 16 September 1852, and his death record identified his parents as Jacob and Fanny (Parks) Newton.  His birth record is in the Dixfield, Maine town records, and his age at death was 45.  Jacob and Fanny (Parks) Newton died and are buried in Dixfield, Maine. Was this Thomas married before he married Eliza Coffin?  Is he "my" Thomas?

After a bit of recent research, my working hypothesis is that they are two separate men.  The critical evidence is the death record of William F. Newton (1836-1903), whose parents are listed as Thomas J. Newton and Nancy Kennedy in the "Maine Death Records, 1761-1922" collection on

The death record for William F. Newton is a Derivative Source (the original is probably in a town record book), with Secondary Information about the parents of William F. Newton.  However, it is the only record I've found to date with this information.  There may be other records in Maine that are not digitized.  There is a Civil War Pension File for him that may include more information about his birth and parents.

There is also an Albert L. Newton (1834-1865) buried in Riverside Cemetery in Dixfield, a casualty at the end of the Civil War that was born in October 1834.  He was in the 1850 U.s. Census record with the Thomas J. Newton married to eliza Coffin as a 16 year old male.  His probate record names his only brother William F. Newton as administrator, but he declined the appointment.  Therefore Albert L. is the brother of William F. Newton, and therefore a son of the "other" Thomas J. and Nancy (Kennedy) Newton.

My working hypothesis is based on the information about the births of the children of "my" Thomas J. Newton - Sophia in 1834 and Thomas J. in about 1835, both in Cambridge, Vermont.  The "other" Thomas J. Newton has Albert L. in 1834, and William F. in 1836, both in Dixfield, Maine.  Unless Thomas was traveling extensively, he is probably not the father of both sets of children.

Also, I think it is unlikely that a Thomas J. Newton born in 1808 would marry Sophia (Buck) Brigham (1797-1882) in about 1834 (he would be age 26, she would be 37) - possible, but unlikely.

So, I think I have eliminated Thomas J. Newton (1808-1852) from the fatherhood sweepstakes for Sophia (Newton) Hildreth (1834?-1923).  

However, I am concerned by the death of Sophia (Buck) Brigham's first husband, Lambert Brigham (1794-1834) in Westborough, Massachusetts, coupled with Sophia Newton's likely birth date of 14 September 1834, ostensibly in Cambridge, Vermont.  Lambert Brigham died on 5 May 1834, and if Sophia was born in September 1834, that means that her father is probably Lambert Brigham and not Thomas J. Newton (unless Sophia was fooling around several months before Lambert's death). 

 If Sophia Newton (1834-1923) was born in 1835 or later, then she is probably "my" Thomas J. Newton's daughter.  

So there appear to be at least four Thomas J. Newton persons in this challenge, two being the fathers, and two being the sons.

I have so much uncertainty, and so few records to work with.  Does a reader have any suggestions?


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1 comment:

Linda Stufflebean said...

It looks like Lambert Brigham died in May 1834, so I, too, wonder about Sophia's parentage. However, I don't see any land deeds in Lambert's name (or heirs of) or a probate administration for him. It looks like cause of death was consumption so he would certainly have had time to make a will. Lamoille County was formed in 1835, but organized in 1836, formed from parts of Chittenden and Orange Counties. Maybe there are Brigham or Newton clues there? Some online trees say Sophia was born in Windsor County, VT. Is there any crumb trail that Lambert might have lived there for a time?