Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mary Is Maria And That S Is An L


     We've heard it a million times-- don't assume online trees are correct.  Nor should you believe family histories published, bound and sitting on a shelf in your local library are free from error.  I've even written about that very subject, so why did I assume the book about my family was right?  Not only was it NOT right, it really hampered my research since for a long time I believed that it was right.

     I've been trying to sort out the children of my third great-grandparents Thomas Vincent and Matilda Taylor of Halfmoon in Saratoga County, New York.  I'd already discovered that the information about that couple contained in the book was not correct and neither I've found, is alot of it about their children.  For instance, the book's "Mary S. Vincent" born in July of 1827 was not named Mary and her middle initial wasn't S.  She was in fact Maria L.Vincent, though the date of July 1827 was right.  How did I come to that conclusion?  First of all, I could find absolutely no mention of Mary S. anywhere except in the book which made me suspicious.  Granted, she would have been difficult to trace since she would not have appeared in any census under her own name until 1850, by which time she most likely would have been married and/or possibly deceased.  But to leave no trace at all?  That does happen, but it was too soon to give up on her.

     Whilst pondering this, I ran a search among the matches to my DNA test at Ancestry using the surname VINCENT as a filter.  One hit was for an individual with a "Maria LeCresia Vincent" born in Cayuga County, New York in their tree.  At first glance I discounted the possibility of them being related, this Maria's father was James of Dutchess and Greene Counties and her mother Mary Bullis.  None of that sounded particularly familiar, and yet...that Cayuga County birthplace gave me pause.  Cayuga County is where Thomas and Matilda Taylor Vincent were living at the time of his death in 1842.  Taking a closer look at Maria LeCresia, I saw that the online tree said she had married Isaac Corwin Price in Dix, New York.  Dix? That is where Matilda Taylor and her second husband lived following Thomas Vincent's death in Cayuga County.

     Now my curiosity was really piqued so I took a look at the New York State Census of 1855.  This is a great census, it not only gives the individual's county of birth if that birthplace was in New York State, but it also gives the individual's relationship to the head of household.  That useful bit of information doesn't show up in federal censuses until 1880.  Maria L. Price told the enumerator she was born in Saratoga County, home county of Thomas and Matilda before they moved westward in New York!  I located a news article confirming her marriage  in Dix, "Maria Louisa Vincent" was the name used.

     Following the Price family through the years I tracked their move to Farmington, Tioga, Pennsylvania; just 36 miles from Dix, New York and the births and sadly, deaths of children of Maria. Several of them with names that matched names in her Vincent family, as did Maria's name--her father Thomas had a younger sister named Maria.  The 1900 census confirmed her birth date as July 1827, but the coup de grace was the death certificate of Maria Price. Father's name?  Thomas Vincent!  The document appears to have been filled in by a barely literate person, (it was Sarah Price Bailey, daughter of Maria L.), but the name Thomas Vincent is quite clear.  Either Sarah didn't know where her mother and grandparents were born, or more likely had no idea how to spell it as she simply replied "don't know" to those questions.  She writes Maria L's mother Matilda's name as something resembling M~a even though the form asked for Matilda's maiden name and not her first.  

     Later death certificates for Maria's adult children variously  give her birthplace as Wolcott, New York, Cayuga County, New York and Montour Falls, New York.  The only document giving Maria's place of birth as Saratoga County is the 1855 census, which is the one time she herself gave the information.  I can see why the Ancestry tree got that wrong, but it does suggest she spent some time in Cayuga County, very close to Wolcott, in her youth, while Montour Falls is only eight miles from the Beaver Dams neighborhood in the Town of Dix where her mother Matilda lived.

     I'm not sure where the online tree got the names James Vincent and Mary Bullis as Maria L's parents, or the middle name of LeCresia.  I tend to think the name was probably Louisa as in the news article about her marriage, but newspapers often get that sort of thing wrong so I'm withholding final judgement on that.  I am however, convinced  I've finally found Thomas and Matilda's daughter.



  1. It sure sounds like you've found her, Ellie, though they didn't make it easy for you. Well done.