Maine Marriage Records

By Don Taylor

photo of hole in a brick wall
Hole in Brick Wall – Photo by counterclockwise via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I recently had the opportunity to be a Genealogy “brick wall buster,” which is a person who helps someone break through their genealogical brick walls. They say teaching a subject helps the teacher learn the topic even more. Likewise, helping others with their “brick walls” is an amazing process wherein I learn so much more. Anyway, one of my querists wanted to know, How to find marriage records in Maine.

As I thought about how I would approach the question I thought of several Wikis and ask the person if they used the Family Search wiki. She said, “No.” As I went through the day, I realized how few people knew about the two best genealogy wiki sites on the Internet. Everyone I spoke to during the day used Family Search and Ancestry.Com, but none of them ever used either of the two wikis.

I prefer the Family Search wiki. http://familysearch.org/wiki.  It seems to always provide the answer to my research questions.  For example, a search for Maine Marriage Records brings me to a page about the differences in records before 1892, between 1892 and 1922, and since 1922.

The Ancestry Wiki: http://ancestry.com/wiki/ is also a hidden gem – a fountain of information. Many people have subscriptions to Ancestry and many others access Ancestry through their local libraries, but I found few use the Ancestry Wiki. The results received from searching the Ancestry Wiki for “Maine Marriage Records,” was not quite as clear as Family Search but did quickly lead me to a Maine Vital Records page, which also told me all I needed to know.

The Maine Genealogy Network is one of my favorite sites for specifically Maine research. They have many Maine Specific databases, see http://www.mainegenealogy.net/databases.asp for a list of them. There is also a great article about “Finding Maine County Marriage Returns”

http://network.mainegenealogy.net/profiles/blogs/maine-county-marriage-returns, which explains methods to access some of the early Maine marriage records that may exist.

Scarborough Records

For Scarborough Records, the Cumberland County Marriages from 1786 thru 1886 may be browsed on the Family Search site at https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/553508. Look for the camera icon at the bottom right to see the images.

Image of Book Cover - Vital Records of Scarborough Maine.

There is a great book, Vital Records of Scarborough, Maine by James H. Wick published by the Maine Genealogical Society (MGS). The book is currently out of print and unavailable from the MGS, however, Minerva indicates it is available at several libraries in the area, (See https://tinyurl.com/ycb5ga9x) including the Scarborough Public Library. We also have a copy of it at the Scarborough Museum which may be viewed at the museum.

Also at the museum, we have several boxes of microfilm.  As an example, one of the boxes, Number 225, is a reel of “Town Records Births prior to 1891 with some dates to 1908, deaths ca. 1819-1891, intentions of marriage and marriage records 1816-1879.  I need to find a way to get these digitized and available or, better yet, find where someone else has already digitized these records.

Do you know of additional Maine Marriage Record sources available?  If so, please let me know through the comment form below.

Digitize those Photos!

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I advocate digitizing everything that can be digitized, particularly photographs. I was recently speaking with a person at the museum about a photo that she had of the Cunningham family. She showed me the old, faded photo and I asked immediately if it was digitized. I learned it was not. “Oh my,” I said, “we need to fix that.“ I explained the importance of digitizing photos as I went to get the light set for photographing.

Besides the importance of having a backup copy of the photo, electronic versions are easy to share. You can easily send a copy to cousins that may not have the photo. You can also post the photos on-line at many sites including Flickr, Google, Picasa, blogs, and other places to act as “cousin bait.” Finally, electronic versions of a photo may be cleaned up and made much more viewable quite simply and easily.  That is what I suggested to my museum visitor.

I photographed a couple of the larger photos with my camera then scanned a few of the smaller photos with a Flip-Pal.  It does a nice job of scanning photos without needing a computer.

To me, it is important to rename files immediately.  Filenames like DSCN1234 or Scan567 are useless. I know many folks like to use meta data, but I find having key information in the file name is much better. I use the form of, Subject, Context/Action, Place, Source, Date, and Status. I leave out the Place and Source if they aren’t important. That is the date of the image, not the date of the scan.  But, sometimes an image’s date might be something like “c. 1930s.”

Original scan of Charle & Carrie Cunningham & Family (in PNG Format)

In the case of the first photo, I knew that it was a Charles and Carrie Cunningham Family group photo. My guess is that the context might be something like 50th wedding anniversary of them; if so, it would be from 1928. Alternately, the clothes look to be from the early 1930s. So, I’m going to hazard a guess of c. 1930. So, I used the filename Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family – c. 1930.

I use different file extensions for different purposes. I use TIFF format for all my original scans and photographs. I then use JPEG format for all working and shared images. Finally, I use PDF for any images with text after I have run optical character recognition (OCR) on the image. The file types immediately tell me if the image is an original or if it has been edited. Occasionally, I use PNG for original files, particularly if I need to share an original. PNG files use compression to be smaller than TIFF files in size. I use them on images that are particularly large, typically more than 50MB as a TIFF. To give an idea of the various sizes, the following table shows the file sizes for the Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family – c. 1930 file.

TIF/TIFF PNG JPEG/JPG
Uncompressed Lossless Compression Lossy Compression
30.2MB 11.1MB 5.6 MB (Edited)

Next, I open the original file. I use Preview on a Mac.  It is really quick and it is easy to do almost everything I’d like to do. Windows computers have many other photo and/or image products which work very well also. After the file is opened, I immediately export it to JPG format. I then close my TIFF file and open the JPG file. I only ever manipulate or edit the JPG file.

I like to rotate the file and crop the file as appropriate.  If I can leave a ½ in border on the bottom during the cropping process, I do so.

For scanned black and white photos I set the saturation to 0; that eliminates any greens, or other weird colors from the image.  Next, I adjust the image exposure and contrast to provide the best possible image for the faces of the people.  Once I am happy with that image, I raise the sepia to a level that is easier on the eyes than a stark black and white.  Then I save the photo again. Just these few steps only take me about a minute and provides a much higher quality image to use and share, yet maintains the original in an untouched state so the process may be duplicated if desired.

Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family edited.
Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family edited.

I mentioned earlier about leaving a ½ inch border on the bottom of the photo.  That is to add a caption if possible.  In the case of a photo of Thomas Burdwood, the original was smallish and had aged pinkish over the years. Once again, I duplicated the photo, cropped it, set color saturation to 0, adjusted the exposure and contrast and sepia level.  Once I was done with that, I added text to the image of the individual’s name (based upon what was on the back of the photo) and saved it.

Thomas Burdwood Original Scan

Drawing of Thomas Burdwood
Thomas Burdwood edited

Of course, once a photo has had its initial edit, you can use many other image enhancement tools to remove creases, spots, or otherwise improve the photo.

Scanning photos greatly increase the likelihood that they won’t be lost. Keeping your original scan pristine means you can always return to the original and manipulate the image again. Finally, the manipulated and compressed version not only make the photo nicer to view it makes the image more shareable.

Five Steps to Genealogical Success

Complete genealogical foundations help answer family questions 

A Case Study: D’Amico

By Don Taylor

A friend was telling me that his wife knew her ancestors, the D’Amico side, were Italian, but didn’t know where in Italy they were from. He also told me he didn’t have any idea where to start. He said they had poked around Ellis Island records but found nothing. He provided me very little information, just the parents names, grandmother’s name.  He mentioned they settled in New England (Mass. & Maine) and one key bit of information, her father died in 1959 at the age of 43.
As a former Project Manager, I really believe in the process. My process is to always enter what I think I know into a family tree program.  I currently use Heredis 2015 World (Mac) [By the way, Heredis is running a 50% off sale which ends today.]  as my preferred genealogy organization software, but I could as easily other software or even paper. The process is the same either way.
1.  Enter what you think you know.
a.     Enter the known relationships and any known vital facts. In this case, there wasn’t much to begin with, but entered it and started.
Starting point for D’Amico Project.
2.  My next goal is to find the family unit in at least two censuses and make sure that I have a family unit understood.  I typically use Family Search for my initial start.  I like Family Search particularly because I like their “copy” feature. It provides an easy way to copy all of the data of the record plus the source citation in a single click so I can easily paste it into a source record in my software. I also like to confirm any of the seed facts from step 1.

a.     I then created a source entry and pasted the information into it. I saved that and then created the facts I wish, and drag and drop my source to the fact I’ve entered. In this case the month and place of death as well as the birthdate. 

b.     1940 Census, 23 year-old Michael with wife and daughter living in Maine.[i] 

c.     (1935 Living at Same Place)[ii] 

d.     1930 Census, 13 year-old Michael living with his widowed mother, Margaret, and four siblings in Franklin, Norfolk Co., MA. It also indicated her grandmother was born in Italy immigrated in 1900, and was naturalized.[iii]

I was fairly certain that this 1930 Census record was the correct family but wanted to be absolutely certain. I contacted my friend to have him ask his wife if her father grew up in Franklin, MA, and did she have an aunt Elinora and uncles, Frank, Joseph, and Victor. She responded that she did, so I knew I was with the right family.

3.  My next process is to follow the individual through all the censuses of his or her life. I found him in the 1920 Census with his father, Michael (new name) his mother, and his four siblings. The census reported that the father, Michael, was born in Italy, immigrated in 1890, and was naturalized in 1900.[iv] That finished all of the census records for the Michael the son. 
Next, a quick check found Michael’s birth registration which yielded the maiden name for his mother, Marguerita Melano.[v]
Now on to follow Michael the father through more census records; he should be listed in 1910 and 1900. 
The 1910 Census finds Michael in Franklin, MA with his wife and three children. His oldest child, Donato is 4 years old doesn’t show up in the 1920 census, so I suspect something happened to him. It also indicated that he immigrated in 1886 and is naturalized. This broadens his immigration date to between 1886 and 1890 for future searches. It also indicates that Marguerita immigrated in 1904.[vi]

1920 Census
1910 Census
Michael Immigration
1890
1896
Michael Naturalization
1900
Na.
Marguerita Immigration
1904
1904
Marguerita Naturalization
1904
*
* Note: Before the 19th Amendment women took the citizenship of their husbands upon marriage.
I wasn’t successful in quickly finding Michael D’Amico nor Marguerita Melano in the 1900 Census but I decided to continue on anyway and see if I could answer the questions.
Switching to Ancestry.com I searched Immigration & Travel for Margherita Melano arriving in 1904.
Searched Immigration & Travel for Margherita Melano.
There she was in the New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 arriving on 23 Jul 1904 aboard the Citta Di Torino sailing from Napoli (Naples). Her “race or peoples” is listed at So Italian and her last Residence was Caserta.  We don’t know for certain if that is Caserta the city or Caserta the province. Caserta (the city) is only about 15 miles north of Naples, so it makes sense that she would take a ship out of Naples to America.[vii] 
Using the information, I had regarding Michael, I didn’t find anything in Immigration & Travel that seemed to fit him. Then I searched the Birth, Marriage & Death records for Michael D’Amico born in Italy 1864. Up came an index record for Michele D’Amico, Baptized 1 May 1864 in Civile, Casalvecchio Di Puglia, Foggia, Italy.  Father Donato D’ Amico and Mother Eleonora Rossacci.[viii]  That must be him. Michael’s first son was named Donato and his first daughter was named Elenora clearly after his parents. The age was right. Casalvecchio Di Puglia is about 100 miles northeast of Naples.
I know that it is a leap to ascribe the Baptism record of Michele D’Amico of Casalvecchio Di Puglia to Michael D’Amico, the grandfather of my subject individual, but because of the expected birth date and the parents’ names (as they relate to the grandfather’s children’s names) I believe it is a good fit. So tentatively, I have him with that baptism and birth location.
According to The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. website, there was a Michele D’Amico who arrived in 1899 aboard the SS EMS whose last address was Cercemaggiore, which is about 35 miles from Casalvecchio Di Puglia. That is his likely immigration, however, I can’t prove it and it will take a bunch more research to prove it.
But going back to the process:
1.     Start a tree. Fill in what you think you know.
2.     Confirm what you think you know with evidence.
3.     Find the individual in every census.
4.     Find the individual’s vital (birth, marriage, death) information.
5.     Seek answers to specific questions in appropriate locations.
Move on to another ancestor.
In this case, I believe that Michael D’Amico was born in Casalvecchio De Puglia and possibly lived in Cercemaggiore.  I also believe that Marguerita Melano was from Caserta. Both were from southern Italy within 100 miles of Naples.

Endnotes

[i] 1940 Census; Michael A D’Amico – Ward 9, Portland, Portland City, Cumberland, Maine, United States; Family Search.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] 1930 Census; Margaret Damico – Franklin, Norfolk, Massachusetts, District ED 52, Sheet 15A, Household 351, Line 27; Family Search
[iv] 1920 Census; Michael D’Amico – Franklin, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Sheet 5A, Household 82, Line 44; Family Search
[v] Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841-1920; Michele Archangelo D’Amico – 1916 – Record #115; Family Search
[vi] 1910 Census; Michael D’Amico – Franklin, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Sheet 26A, Household 525; Family Search.
[vii] New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957; Margherita Melano – 1904 Arrival, New York, New York; Ancestry.com.
[viii] Italy, Select Births and Baptisms, 1806-1900; Michele D’Amico – Baptism Index; Ancestry.com

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Determining Cousins – My Formula/Process

Determining Cousins

I was recently asked by a family member how to figure out cousins, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so forth and what “removed” means.  What makes someone a first cousin once removed, and so forth.
First, there are many charts on the Internet that show how to figure out the relationships. I have pinned several of them to my “Genealogy – Cool stuff I find” board on Pinterest.
When I use a chart, I use Blaine T. Bettenger’s chart most often.  Not only does it show the cousin relationships, it also shows the average number of centimorgans of DNA you would expect from a particular relationship and a range matching to show relationships.  I like this one because it shows the DNA amounts for various relations. My link to it is via the DNA Testing Advisor.com page on DNA Relationship Data. (By the way, I’m very excited to be seeing Blaine Bettenger, Ph.D., J.D. speak at the Maine Genealogical Society’s 2016 Spring Workshop this April 23.)

My Formula/Process

I don’t think I’ve seen this method anyplace, but it is the method I use and it works really well for me.

First, determine the common ancestor two people
share. Second, count the number of generations to the common
ancestor for person number 1. (For example, it is 4 generations to my 2nd
great grandparent.) Third, count the number of generations to the same common ancestor for person number
2. (for example, 5 generations to the same
person.) Take the smaller number and subtract one. That gives
the cousin number. (for example, above person #1 is 4 generations to a
common ancestor, subtract 1.  Whoever I
share that common ancestor with is a 3rd cousin.
 Finally, take the larger generation number and
subtract the smaller number. That defines the “removed” number.  (In the
above example, the larger number was 5 generations, minus 4 generations, equals
1, or once removed.

So, if Marion (Sanford) Brown is my 2nd great grandmother and Marion (Sanford) Brown is your 3rd great grandmother, we are third cousins once removed. 
Try it a couple times and you will find it works really easy. It is how I do it and it works well for me.
So, cousins are defined by who you share a common ancestor with, removed is defined by the generational difference between you and a cousin. 
– Don Taylor
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Happy 4th birthday to me.

Today is my Blogging Anniversary. I received a post from Geneabloggers the other day about the sites that are having anniversaries that reminded me that my blog anniversary was coming up. I was startled to see them reporting that My blog started in 2011.  I thought it can’t really have been that long.  I double checked and I see I actually started the D Taylor Genealogy blog in 2012. That set me to thinking about my blog and how it has grown over the past four years.

It doesn’t seem like it has been four years to me.  That said, the growth of my blog has been amazing. That first year (2012), I was receiving 100 to 150 page views per month. In just January and February of this year, I’ve received well over 10,000 page views. It also looks like my blog following is continuing to grow.  I would like to think that it is because my content is better and I am writing more interesting things as I go along and not that there are just that many more people using the Internet.

Lisa Louise Cooke has called blogs “Cousin Bait,” and my blog has acted like “cousin bait.” Numerous times distant cousins have contacted me because of the blog, as well as my Facebook, and Twitter presence. I have received dozens of photos of my direct ancestors that I would never otherwise have received.  Some of those photos have led to additional research and new findings. Of particular interest to me was a photo of my Grandpa Dick as a young man on a basketball team in Panama in 1928. The photo proved a family story that my grandfather had been in Panama where he met my grandmother. That photo let to many other discoveries. It also has led to my adding a trip to the National Archives to my “to do” list to find out more about his activities in the Army in Panama in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  I am so grateful to cousin Beverly for the photo.

Dick Brown – on 1828 Corozal (Panama)
championship basketball team. 

On another occasion, a cousin entered her grandmother’s name in a Google Search and discovered my blog because of a post I have regarding Bert Allen Roberts. She then contacted me and facilitated a potential half-sister to contact me. I’m still waiting for DNA test results to come back, but I’m fairly certain of the connection. I am so grateful to cousin Melody for her reaching out.

I think my biggest surprise, in terms of blog statistics, is that my number one most viewed post was a 2013 post regarding a review of Family Tree Maker Mac 3.  It has had over seven times the page views as my second most read posting. It makes me think that maybe I should do more reviews. Likewise, my second most-read post was my “rant” regarding Ancestry’s decision to drop Family Tree Maker. That post also received the most comments, by far. Maybe, I should write more rants. (Then again, maybe not.)

It isn’t until I reach my 3rd most read posting that I get to a biography about an ancestor. In this case, my wife’s fourth great grandfather, William Price. Writing about ancestors’ lives and documenting my sources is what this blog is about.

Looking at the various statistics reminded me to consider, what is the purpose for the Blog.  Is it to act as “cousin bait,” or is it to get the most traffic possible so I can have some income from my affiliate links? Both of these are important, however, as I ponder its purpose, the primary reason for this blog is to act as a journal of my genealogical efforts.  The act of journaling, of expressing genealogical findings in a clear manner, helps immensely in assuring my research conclusions make sense. It provides a forum for me to assure I have my sources and that I’ve reached reasonable conclusions and that everything fits together.  If it doesn’t then it provides a means to know what is missing and what I should do to reconcile any issues.

This  blog is more for my growth and understanding than it is about writing for others.  I try to add hints and  items of interest for others. They help remind me of things I shouldn’t forget.  But, again the process of journaling makes me stronger.

If I ever write something that you think is wrong, please let me know. If you write via the comments form, I will likely publish your comments to the blog, if appropriate and not self-serving. If you respond via Facebook, I will consider your comment as communications between the two of us and private. Either way, please give me feedback, what should I focus upon, Brown, Roberts, Howell, or Darling lines.  Should I write more about Donna Montran’s vaudeville life, DNA, my various Projects, or other things? Let me know if there is something specific you would like me to write about. Also, if you have something that is appropriate for this blog and would like to submit it to me for publication, I do accept items from guest bloggers.

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

The links to outside websites may be connected to an affiliate program that provides a small reward to me if you use my link and purchase from them.  My process is to write what I desire without regard to any affiliate programs. After my content is written, I look for opportunities to link to my affiliates, if appropriate.  I also may include an affiliate ad in the body of a posting on a random basis. My affiliates include the following:

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Please consider purchasing using my affiliate links. They will help me maintain my blog.  Thank you.