May 21, 2019

Genalogical research bolsters Hall case for Louis Sockalexis

Ed Rice has long believed that Indian Island’s Lou Sockalexis, for whom the Cleveland Indians were named, was the first American Indian to play major league baseball. A fine account of Sockalexis’ life and heritage are found in Rice’s “Baseball’s First Indian – Louis Sockalexis: Penobscot Legend, Cleveland Indian.”

And now, genealogy is helping Rice prove that Sockalexis was first.

The author recently obtained the 1919 death certificate of James Madison Toy, the Pennsylvania man who was said to be the first American Indian to play baseball. According to the death certificate, Toy was white.

Further, there were several James Toy listings in Pennsylvania census records over the years, none of them listed as “NA” for Native American.

Rice acknowledges that Toy still could have had some Indian ancestry, but may not have been identified as an American Indian. Rice will take his case on Sockalexis’ behalf to the Baseball Hall of Fame – one more time.

We know that Sockalexis was identified as “NA” in every census that he appears in, and in the 1910 census his Indian ancestry was listed as “full.”

Rice was aided in his genealogy research by Michael Palmer, vice president and general manager of WVII-TV Channel 7.

Bangor Daily News sportswriter Jessica Bloch did a fine job telling about the pair’s research on Page 1 of the Thursday, Jan. 26, issue of the BDN. Genealogy makes the front page!

The town of Columbia in Washington County will mark its 210th anniversary this year.

Ronie L. Strout is putting together a history book of pictures of the town.

Strout is looking for pictures taken in the 1800s and early 1900s of the churches, grange halls, schools, homes, sawmills, shingle mills, grist mill, blacksmith shop, Redman Hall, the Vestry, houses that are no longer in existence, bridges, the shipyard at the branch, old barns and family pictures from the early part of the town’s history, pictures of students at the various schools up to 1965, and pictures of “any Columbia folks who graduated from the local high schools, Harrington, Columbia Falls and Addison, and from any colleges.”

In addition, you may submit pictures of those who were in the service in any war, and write-ups of family members.

Strout notes that Columbia includes the sections of the Saco area, Epping area, Schoodic area, Valley area, Turkey Hill area, Little River area, Georgetown area, Web District area and the Four Corners or Branch area.

And for a separate history book, Strout is looking for articles about the history of any important events in the town.

Send copies of photos to Ronie L. Strout, 267 Ridge Road, Addison, ME 04606. If you want the photo returned, put the return address on the back. For further information, e-mail or call 483-4374.

Sounds like quite a project.

One of the really fun things about family history is watching some of the names repeat from one generation to another.

Not that I was ever tempted to name my sons “Abiathar” or “Prosper Alvarus,” you understand. We did however, honor the boys’ grandfathers by giving one the middle name “Gayland” for my dad, and the other the middle name “Willard” for my husband’s dad. And one son, Anthony, is named for his great-great-grandfather, Antoine Saucier of Frenchville and Presque Isle.

Here in the newsroom, cheers went up the day columnist Joni Averill announced, “We have a Toby Averill!”

Joni and husband Ralph White were more than excited to learn that Steve and Belinda Averill of California had named their new son Toby Averill after Steve’s dad, Joni’s late husband, who died at 38.

3355. BABCOCK-BROOKINGS-HOWARD-PEASLEY-KENNEDY-DEAN. Seeking parents, ancestry for John Babcock and wife, Harriett Brookings, of Gardiner. They had a daughter, Harriett Babcock, born 1865 in West Gardiner, who married before 1893 Angelo Howard, born 1848 in the town of Washington, son of Micah and Mary Ann (Peasley) Howard. Angelo and Harriett’s son, John L. Howard, born Oct. 14, 1893, Washington, married Addie Kennedy, who was born July 19, 1894, Washington, daughter of Freeman and Mariatta (Dean) Kennedy. Danny W. Howard, DECF 64 Base Road, Machiasport, ME 04655.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or send e-mail,

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