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Wabanaki Genealogy Tip

Last updated 9/16/2008

You should be aware that early records are often inaccurate. When a person was asked where they were born, they might not be able to give an accurate answer or they might hide Native identity by giving false information. Why would they hide their identity? Simple, bigotry and discrimination. Why wouldn't someone know where they were born? They might have been born in unsettled territory and guessed at the name of the nearest town. As settlement expanded another town might spring up which was closer and it's name might be used in later documents. Because families moved around so much, a person might have lived in so many places they simply could not remember where they were born. One person I'm researching has 4 different birth places listed; 1 on his marriage record, another on the record of a child's birth, a 3rd location on the birth record of another child, and yet another on the death record. I will have to do research in all four locations, but that is easier than the next problem.

Many Native records in the northeast simply say born in Canada. Wow! That's a lot of territory to cover. The Internet will help out here. World Vital Records and has indexed several outstanding collections of Catholic Parish records. Unfortunately, you need to subscribed to their service to gain access. For many it will be worth price - searching a surname index on the internet is a whole lot easier than searching through Canada, town by town by town by town by town.

Don't develop tunnel vision. Just because the death record says grandpa was born in Greentown, doesn't mean you will find him there. Maybe it was really East Greentown or maybe it was Greeton. Maybe the person supplying the information didn't have a clue and made it up. Maybe the Greentown he was born in has a different name today. I have a set of books published by Danbury House of Oakland, ME which are very helpful with this kind of problem. They have titles like "Maine Towns and Counties; What was What, Where, and When" and are printed for Maine, New Hampshire, and Mass. Besides helping you locate places by old names, they help you to determine what county seat you will find the 1810 records in. It is very discouraging to learn that Greentown was in Black County in 1810 after you spent the day searching in Red County.

Written by: Canyon Wolf for Ne-Do-Ba