Searching for Mary Washburn’s Parents

Blanchard Project
Blanchard-Washburn

As I embark on learning more about the life of Mary (Washburn) Blanchard, I start with what I know.  Mary married Albion Blanchard on 2 February 1857 in Windham, Cumberland County, Maine. The 1860 Census reported her as 25 years old, suggesting a birth year of 1834 or 1835. The Blanchard’s were living in Cumberland, Cumberland County, Maine, then. I have been unable to determine her parents.

Based upon the 1850 Census, some researchers have suggested her parents were James and Martha (Briggs) Washburn and lived in Minot, Cumberland County, Maine. It seems possible except for two items. First, the age is a bit off. That girl is only 11, instead of 15. Second, she appears in the same family during the 1860 Census when my Mary Washburn was married and enumerated with her husband, Albion, in Cumberland.

So, my question is, what other Washburns were in Cumberland County during the 1850s and could my Mary be one of them.

1850 Census

A review of the 1850 Census found 30 Results in 7 groups.

  1. Cyrus Washburn household with an apparent wife and five children.[i]            Nancy (wife), Cyrus (18), Elizabeth (24), Maria (16), Samuel (12), and Abba (age 9).
  2. James E. Washburn household with wife, four apparent children, and apparently his parents. The children were Mary (11), Martha (9), Nancy (7), and Elisabeth (age 1).
  3. Otis Washburn household with apparent wife Rachel and six children – Lorenzo (21), Emily (19), Ebenezer (16), Caroline (14), Sidney (12), and Matilda (age 7).
  4. Charles Washburn with apparent wife Elizabeth and two children. The children were Maria (1) and Charles (2).
  5. Sylvia Washburn, apparent mother-in-law living with George Warren.
  6. Elizabeth Washburn, an apparent lodger in Dorothy Clark’s home in Portland.
  7. George Washburn, an apparent lodger in Francis Blake’s home in Harrison.

Mary, age 11, in James Washburn’s household and Maria, age 16, in Cyrus Washburn’s home are the only candidates I see in the 1850 Census that could be Mary Washburn, the wife of Albion Blanchard living in Cumberland County in 1850.

Note: Androscoggin County was created in 1854 from towns originally in Cumberland County, Lincoln County, Kennebec County, and Oxford County. So, although they were in Cumberland County in 1850, they were in Androscoggin County after 1854 without moving. [ii]

In the 1860 Census, Cyrus is still with Nancy, Samuel, and Abby. Maria is not in the household.

Again, in the 1860 Census, James’s household includes his apparent wife, Martha, and children, including 21-year-old Mary.

It appears that Otis may have passed because Lorenzo is living in Falmouth with his apparent sisters Caroline and Matilda.

From this, I’m reasonably sure that Mary S. (Washburn) Blanchard is not James and Martha (Briggs) Washburn. Instead, I suspect Mary S. (Washburn) Blanchard is the daughter of Cyrus and Nancy Washburn. With that theory in hand, I need to find evidence supporting the theory and determine Mary’s parents.

Next, I’ll look at Cyrus Washburn and his apparent family of 1850 and follow Cyrus and his children in hopes of finding his daughter, Maria, is my Mary, the wife of Albion Blanchard.

UPDATE

I took a closer look at Cyrus Washburn and his daughter, Maria.  Marie Married Noble Munroe in 1856 and was in Auburn during the 1860 Census, so this Maria cannot be my Mary Washburn, married to Albion Blanchard in 1860.


Endnotes

[i] The 1850 Census did not provide relationships between people in a household, so any relationships cited are apparent and speculative if based upon the 1850 Census only.

[ii] Wikipedia: “Androscoggin County, Maine” accessed 23 January 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Androscoggin_County,_Maine

 

The wife of my Brother-in-Law

Sometimes I just enjoy the search.  I like to take a person, plug them into my
process and see what spits out.  As a
former Project Manager (PMP),  I am all about the process. I thought I’d share a bit of my process here.

Recently, I was talking with my sister
in-law.  Well, I think of her as my sister-in-law,
although in reality she is the “wife of my brother-in-law.” (She is my wifes’s
brother’s wife).  Anyway, we had a delightful
lunch with her and her husband the other day. As is often the case when I’m involved in conversation, talk moved to
genealogy and family history.  As we
chatted, it became clear that she was extremely proud of her parents and their
stories.  She knew that one side had been
in Maine for many generations.  On her paternal
side she had some Greats that “came from away,” one from Ireland and
another from New York.  As we
chatted, I know that I wanted to know much more about her family, and
subsequently more about who her people are and what made the kind of person
that she is. As we chatted she gave her permission to do some research on her
family. 
From discussions long ago, I had a couple tidbits
of information. I knew her parents names and where they lived (Auburn, Androscoggin County, Maine). With that information, I started with my basic “getting to know you” process.
My process begins with
Ancestry.Com. I have a paid
subscription and I highly recommend having one. If you can’t afford a
subscription, the “library edition” is available at most libraries and at all Family History Centers.  I use
Ancestry.Com to “pick the low hanging fruit.” I quickly found her father, her
mother, where they were married and then both of them through the 1930 and 1940
censuses. I found her father’s parents names in the 1930 census but could not,
for the life of me, find them in the 1920 census. I found the grandparents in
the 1910 census, but  still nothing in
1920. I continued my Ancestry.Com
searches and found many city directories that showed where they lived ever
two or three years from after World War II until into the 1950s.  
My next important search location  in my process is Find-a-Grave.  I used to go there second but now Ancestry.Com searches provides links to Find-a-Grave, so used that feature and easily found
the Find-a-Grave memorials for her parents. Looking at markers, I saw
immediately that her father had been a World War II veteran. Good to know — I’ll look into that more late. 
The markers also provided solid evidence for both their birth and
death dates.  All the censuses and other
records I found were consistent with that date. Thanks to Find-a-Grave, I also learned
of a brother that was born before my sister-in-law and died that same year as an infant.  
I then switched to Family Search – an awesome free
resource.  If I didn’t have an
Ancestry.Com account, Family Search would be my first place to look.  Any records that have images through Ancestry
and not Family search I would save to my “Source Box.”  Later at a library or family history center
I’d use that source box records to save image files to my thumb drive. 
Anyway, some kinds of searches work really well on Family
Search.  I searched for her father’s first
name only, and added parents first names only, leaving the surname blank.  I also added the state, Maine; bang there it
was. Severely misspelled surname but the right family, parents the right age,
siblings the right ages, location in the right town and state.  Only the surname was off.  Not much else on Family Search that I found in
a number of quick searches.  A deeper
dive will most likely yield more information.

A search of Google News found their marriage
announcement.  In it several other bits
of information were provided. Where her father and mother graduated from High
School. Where her mother went to college, what their occupations were.  Even info about other relatives that attended
the wedding.  Those are really good bits
of info to know and I input everything into my records.  Sometimes just knowing that a person was
alive, still unmarried, and living at a specific city can lead to marriage and
other records.
Then on to my newspaper resources.  My search in Genealogy Bank found a French language article about her father from 1939. Thanks to Google Translate, the
article said:

Two dogs Eskimo, owned by xxxx xxxxxxx, of Fletcher Street,
Kennebunk, harnessed to a sled, made the trip entire Biddeford and Kennebunk in
90 minutes…  

I’ll bet a native French speaker can tell me if “firent le trajet entre” means round
trip or one way – Google’s translation is unclear but it is a good first cut on translating
almost any language into almost any other language.  That the article was in  French was interesting as well. It made me
wonder if he was bilingual. I know his wife spoke both English and  French.   
I didn’t find anything on
Newspapers.Com or through
Elephind.com regarding the family
Because of my findings on Find-a-Grave, I went back to Ancestry
and searched for military records for my sister-in-law’s father. Sure enough,
several documents were there.  I learned he enlisted in early 1941 long before Pearl Harbor. I also found
the document where his widow applied for a veteran’s marker.  That was cool because there was a color copy
on-line and the form was clearly in her mother’s hand.
Bates College students burying a stuffed bobcat to
Commemorate the demise of the Bates humor
magazine: The Bobcat
Photo Courtesy: Bates College
I wondered if the Maine State Archives had a copy of the
wedding certificate on line.  No such luck,
but it did confirm the date and provided instructions on how to order one from
the state. (I think I’ll ask my sister-in-law to do that.) The wedding announcement mentioned that my sister-in-law’s mother had
attended Bates College. Hummm.  I
wondered if a yearbook might be available on line.  Yup. 
Archive.Org had a copy on line. I REALLY love Archive.Org.  They are high on my list of places to search
for people and documents.  Of course
“mom” was there, a graduation photo and it showed her involvement and interests
in school life.  She had earned an
apprenticeship in French, she was a member of the French Club, and the Glee
Club, and much more.
In just a few hours I found 18 sources of information about
my sister-in-law’s father and just a many regarding her mother (there is
substantial overlap).  Actually, I found the information in an hour or two, documenting it took several times longer than finding the information.
I could do a lot more to get to know my sister-in-law’s
parents. But this is a good first beginning to get to know my sister-in-law’s people.
My process includes doing general searches using:

Ancestry.Com(Find the person in
every census they were alive for.)
Find-a-Grave
Family Search and
Genealogy in Time
(which is really Google but more focused)

Then I search newspapers.

Genealogy Bank
Newspapers.Com and
Elephind.Com  

I also check
TheAncestorHunt.Com for any recommendation Kenneth has based on appropriate
states and dates.  His blog/website is an
awesome resource! 

Logo of Archive.Org

Finally I do focused Searches based upon previous findings
which generally include

      Google Books
      Google News
      Archive.Org and various 
      State Resources

That is kind of the start of my process.  I think that it provides enough information to know a bit about a person. Enough to begin to ask more questions and focus my further research.


Note:  Due to privacy
issues, I have intentionally left out names and personally identifying
information in this article/blog. As matter of policy, I do not publicly write about the
specifics of individuals or couples who have been dead less than 25 years.

————Disclaimer ————-