Before you say, "she must be dumb as a stone," look at this document below and see what you think. Take you're time and examine it carefully because there will be a test later! It's a page from the "Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915", and as you can see, it lists family groups. So what do you notice about this page? And especially the family featured in the close-up image below?
Did you notice anything? If so, hold that thought.
So here's what happened. We were looking for the wife's maiden name, which as you can see is not listed here. The couple was married in 1769 in Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA, but look: their first child was born in 1781. Why no children for 12 years? That is highly irregular for the time and place. Maybe they didn't get married in 1769 and maybe this record was for another couple with similar names. Or maybe there were more children not listed here. Which one was it?
After looking for another couple where the groom was named Isaac Howland and the bride's first name was Sarah, we found one other who came from Pembroke, Plymouth Co. MA and with a different set of children. Maybe that marriage date in 1769 belonged to them? After due consideration and tracking down a lot of information about this family unit and constructing the names of all of the children, it was determined that the couple in Pembroke did not have this set of children.
It then seemed logical that the marriage record of 1769 belonged to the couple listed above. So how to explain about the 12 childless years? Can you look at the page above and come to any conclusions that might fit the scenario?
So here's the thing that we all hear about but can so easily miss when we come across it. This record was a transcription of a church record. Look at the writing. Even though the date of birth for all of the children was years apart, the document was written all at once. Have you ever seen a family bible that recorded all of the births, marriages, and deaths? Each entry has a look of its own. These entries in the record above all look the same, in the same hand done at the same time. It makes a difference. Here's why.
If the couple had children during the 12 year period immediately after their marriage and before the date of birth of the first child, Ichabod, in the record above, if could that those records are in another book and was not transcribed at the time this record was.
We're still looking for those missing children. But noticing that the writing was done at the same time and in the same hand was a real clue to go look for children born before Ichabod.
Tip: know when and in what way the source document was made.
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