08 September 2008

A Tribute to Audrey

I received some sad news this morning. A wonderful woman named Audrey Peterson passed away this morning. She had been on dialysis for many years. In just the last few months her health failed quickly.

Audrey was president of our local genealogy society for well over 10 years. She was passionate about genealogy. When I became the registrar for my DAR chapter, Audrey came to me with a huge box of papers and told me that she had been trying for 25 years to become a member. After looking through everything she had, I solved her problem and Audrey became a member just this last April. It meant the world to her and I am so grateful that I could do this small thing for her. Audrey was a very special lady and I will miss her very much.

In May of this year I wrote a small article for the San Joaquin Genealogical Society newsletter about this. I think Audrey would be pleased to see her Abbott's on the World Wide Web.

May 2008
WE ALL HAVE THEM…those brick walls that we bang our heads against. In this new column, we will take problems that have been submitted by members and show you how we solved them, brick by brick.

Our first case, “Too Many Abbotts,” comes to us from our SJGS President, Audrey Peterson.

The year is 1790. The place is Hancock County, Maine. The problem? There are three men with the name Reuben Abbott living in the area. Which Reuben belongs to Audrey? Audrey wanted to become a member of a lineage society so identifying the correct Reuben Abbott was crucial to linking her family together. She needed to link Reuben Abbott to William Abbott to Moses Abbott.

Family tradition handed down to Audrey was firm in the belief that her Abbott family lived Hancock County, more specifically in Sullivan Township, for generations. In fact, it wasn’t until after 1940 that her direct line moved away from the area. The problem was that all the other Abbott families never moved away from the area either. Compounding the issue was their fondness for the names Reuben, Moses and William - every Abbott family in the area had them in every generation!

She had all of the birth, marriage and death records that were available for 4 generations. She also had an Abbott family genealogy that had been done for a distant cousin that happened to include part of her direct Abbott line. The last piece of information she had was a copy of a plat map for Sullivan, Hancock County, Maine, dated 1803. It was with this plat map that I was able to help Audrey.

The plat map showed that a Reuben Abbott Sr., Reuben Abbott, Jr. and Moses Abbott all owned land right next door to each other. Audrey’s family genealogy said that Reuben, William and Moses Abbott had made several land transactions on the same property over a ten year period. The author had cryptic footnotes for each of the four transactions he mentioned.

I needed to see those land records with my own eyes, so my next step was to find the Hancock County, Maine website (http://www.co.hancock.me.us/) and the Registry of Deeds department. A wonderful surprise awaited me there. The county had put digital images of almost all their deeds online in a searchable database. After registering and obtaining a password, I entered the site. For this particular site it was absolutely free to register, search and view the documents. To print a copy it will cost you $3 per page.

I am all set to find Audrey’s Abbotts. But as I took a closer look at the search page , my jaw dropped to the floor. Oh No! In order to search this site you must have a book/volume number and page number of the document you wish to see. I almost gave up when something clicked in my head. Remember those cryptic footnotes I mentioned in the family history? They were numbers like this (53:80). Bless his little heart; the author was citing a book and page number.

Well the rest was a piece of cake. Each of the deeds clearly stated the relationship of Reuben Abbott (father) to William Abbott (son) and Moses Abbott (grandson) as well as naming each of their wives.

Brick walls are not insurmountable. Go back and review all the information you have on your problem family, sometimes we have what we need and don't realize it at the time.


  1. Thank you. I very much enjoyed this little story about my mother. You're right, she was passionate about geneology. She loved the hunt and the finding. She passed this on to my aunt in Florida who's now in 'in charge' of the family history (and it's in good hands).

  2. Thank you. This was a great story about my great aunt. I do remember my Great Aunt Audrey telling me how frustrated she was about not getting the last bit of information she needed to solve the Abbott issue and how close she was to getting into DAR. I can still hear her telling me all about our family geneology and how interesting it was that she remembered so much.