I never met Walter Goodwin Davis, who died in 1966 while I was still in high school. He is, however, a “cousin” of mine, as I presume he would be to the majority of people whose New England ancestry goes back many years.
If Davis, a Portland native and longtime president of the Maine Historical Society, had been involved only with the publication of the “Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire” — which he compiled with Charles Thornton Libby and Sybil Noyes Davis — it would have been a large enough accomplishment for one lifetime.
But we also have, “The Ancestry of …” books for each of his 16 great-grandparents, which he published between 1916 and 1963. They were: Nicholas Davis, Charity Haley, Joseph Waterhouse, Lydia Harmon, Joseph Neal, Sarah Johnson, Annis Spear, Sarah Hildreth, Dudley Wildes, Bethia Harris, Abel Lunt, Phoebe Tilton, James Patten, Sarah Stone, Lt. Amos Towne and Sarah Miller. Each woman in the list was the wife of the man listed before her.
The Maine State Library in Augusta has the individual books, and some are at the Bangor Public Library or the University of Maine’s Fogler Library in Orono.
In addition, the Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. has done something interesting with these books, making them available in three volumes or on CD-ROM.
The 16 books are published under the title “Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis,” along with a 17th, “Thomas Haley of Winter Harbor and His Descendants.”
But instead of simply printing the individual volumes one after another, GPC has rearranged the sections and published them alphabetically by surname. Thus Sarah Hildreth’s Crispes are in the first volume; her Hildreths of Dracut, Mass., and Lewiston in the second volume; and her Richardsons and Underwoods in the third.
Sections on each surname range from one page to more than 30 pages, depending on how many generations it takes to get to the “emigrant ancestor” who came to this country. There is a good index in the back of each volume.
I share Davis’ ancestors William Ford and Henry Howland, among others, but I’m still looking for the Hildreth connection.
These newer volumes are available at libraries such as the Bangor Public Library in the Bangor Room, call number 929.2 D2948m, and the Maine State Library, call number 929.1 D265m.
Genealogical Publishing Co. charges $135 for the three volumes, plus $10.50 postage and handling: GPC, 1001 North Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202.
The books are also available on CD-ROM by the name “Massachusetts and Maine Families, 1650s-1930s.” The CD includes not only the Walter Goodwin Davis families, but Leonard Smith’s “Cape Cod Library of Local History and Genealogy.” These are based on Charles W. Swift’s pamphlets published at Yarmouthport in the early 1900s.
The cost of the CD-ROM is $29.99, plus $3.50 postage and handling, using the same address. VISA and MasterCard orders may be phoned in to (800) 296-6687. To use the CD, you need a CD-ROM drive and: either Family Tree Maker Version 3.02 or higher, or the Family Archive Viewer Version, 3.02 or higher. The Family Archive Vewer is free with purchase of a CD.
Although he died long ago, Walter Goodwin Davis is still one of the greats in New England genealogy. The English ancestry he includes is particularly helpful.
Gary Boyd Roberts’ introduction is quite entertaining. In addition to Davis’ well-deserved reputation as a researcher, it highlights his cousinship to various presidents and descent from two of the people executed as witches — Rebecca Towne Nurse and Sarah Averill Wildes.
For Davis at his wittiest, Roberts refers readers to pages 535-537 of the first volume of “Massachusetts and Maine Families …,” or pages 35-37 of “The Ancestry of Joseph Waterhouse,” for a hilarious summary of a Charles Augustus Fernald book on the Fernald family. It’s safe to say that it does not amount to a positive recommendation on Fernald’s work.
2938. SAVAGE-COOLEY. Need to find parents of Jane Savage, born about 1817 according to the 1850 census. She md. Dec. 10, 1839 or 1840, at Bangor, Elisha Cooley of St. Albans. She was of Bangor. I have checked “Old Families of St. Albans.” Virgil Coffin, 41 Cedars Ave., Harvey Cedars, NJ 08008-5720.
2939. MURPHY-WEST. Seeking information on my great-great-aunt, Sarah E. Murphy, who it appears never married. The “E” is probably for “Evie,” which is how she was listed in 1916 obit for brother Horace W. Murphy. She was living in Olamon at the time. Sarah b. May 1866 in Frankfort to Alfred and Sarah Jane (West) Murphy. By 1900, Sarah E. was living with a Curtis family in Prospect. In 1920, she was 54, single, and a housekeeper for a Libby family in Orono. I’m hoping someone out there is old enough to remember her. Would like to know when and where she died, and was buried. Or maybe someone has a story about her. James T. Booker, 61 Kingswood Lane, Wolcott, CT 06716.
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