Category: Maine (page 2 of 2)

And some Toothakers

I find this family to be fascinating – an unusual name and descendants from one of “witches” arrested in the Salem witch trials. One son stayed in Massachusetts and one went to Maine. Those descendants are many and far flung. I started tracking them a while back but when in Maine last month had a finding!

I was driving into Etna/Dixmont talking with my cousin who was giving me directions to her house up the road. Suddenly, on the left, next to the elementary school was a sign for a Toothaker Cemetery. Didn’t know there was Toothakers in that area so came back later to find only a few graves that are Toothakers and no answer to the mystery as it was a wife of Jacob who died before 1850. I had no Jacob in that area so I was perplexed.

My cousin said that Eleanor Toothaker had died some years before. At her death she was the oldest resident of Dixmont but had never married. Before I left Maine, we were able to find out what cemetery Eleanor was buried in – just up the road and I cruised through the whole thing snapping pictures of all the Toothakers there.

The cemetery had not been well documented on findagrave.com so I had to rely on the groupings of the graves to put families together. The oldest was William Toothaker b. 1810 d. 1884. William is just such a common name in this family but I definitely didn’t have that line in my tree. It turns out I didn’t have his father’s line in my tree – another William.

Once I finally puzzled it all out, I had a small Toothaker family in Penobscot County, in Dixmont, Etna, Plymouth, Brewer and up into Banger. They all stayed there unlike most branches of this traveling family. They all married into other small families of the area such as the Simpsons, Sylvesters, Davis’s and Arnolds. Most are buried in the Simpson Corner Cemetery on a dirt road off the beaten path.

I added my photos and missing family members to findagrave.com to document them publicly.

Now I’m ready to hit the back roads of Maine and see who else I can find!

The Alexanders of Maine

The Alexanders and their descendants make up a fair amount of the Wilson family tree. I had long thought  that my next book would be about them and I’m proceeding with that idea.

One thing that makes them interesting is not the branch that everyone knows but the other Alexanders in Maine. I started looking at what I’ve unearthed so far and trying to piece together some sort of coherent story.  To date this is where my research has gotten to.

Since births were not recorded in early Topsham records and since many marriages were also not recorded, there are families whose early origins are not known. A good example of this is the Alexanders of Topsham (and thus of Bowdoin and Litchfield).

All early Topsham records list a William Alexander. It is believed that David Alexander was the father of all the Alexanders who arrived in southern Maine. As David’s son William settled in Harpswell, we can be sure this William is not David’s son. So was he his grandson or was he the son of another Alexander that came to Maine?

DeAlva Stanwood Alexander specifically states “James Alexander, whose farm was entered of record in Topsham in 1738, was his son, probably younger than William.” His son, meaning David’s son. No land was deeded to settlers in Topsham until the 1750’s / 1760’s but prospective land owners were required to settle the land and erect buildings long before that in order to qualify for ownership.

The earliest, but undated, list of the Topsham settlers was created prior to 1743 because James Wilson who died in 1743 is included on that list. But only William is the only Alexander included in that list.

There is an index for the Pejebscot Papers and it does not list a James or J Alexander. The index was created after DeAlva Stanwood wrote his book in 1898 and there are documented missing papers now. No only that but there are multiple copies of some things and they rarely ever state it to be the first / original or a copy. The papers are only losely organized and I’ve dug into them at least three times so far. More research is needed.

So we have no proof at all that a James existed besides DeAlva’s mention. We also have DeAlva’s statement that he thinks James Wilson died prior to 1731 so he obviously never saw the undated “List of Settlers who were to be at Topsham (Some of Whom Came)” that lists both James Wilson and William Alexander.”

One intriguing clue not available to DeAlva comes from Bolton’s Scotch-Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America. He compiled some lists of some of the settlers who did come on the Temple ships. Among those is listed a James Wilson, a Jean Wilson and four children, the father of Jennet who was not born in Maine and who did marry William Alexander of Harpswell.

The Alexanders on that list on page 233?

_____ Alexander, wife and four children
David Alexander and son
William Alexander

That’s a total of 9 Alexanders who came to Merrymeeting Bay. I do believe he counted some twice but still not the same picture as David and sons James and William only.

The facts are these:

1) There was a William Alexander who lived in Topsham. He is listed on all the early and later lists.
2) There was at least one Robert Alexander is also listed and deeded with property in Topsham before 1770.
3) There was one George Alexander who supposedly died in Topsham about 1735. His two children were born in Georgetown in 1728 and 1732.
3) There are mentions of 2 Roberts both born about 1740, one who had a family in Topsham and one in Bowdoin.
4) There was a John Alexander born before 1740 who married a Combs in Bowdoin.
5) And I found a Margaret who married Robert Gower in 1761, making her birth probably prior to 1740. Considering how late many of the early marriages took place she could easily be born prior to 1730 or even 1720. She is stated to be the sister of Robert in Topsham.
6) A Jean Alexander married Robert Douglas in 1762 in Topsham.

In the subsequent generations, I have turned up multiple Alexanders whose ancestry is unknown, leaving me to believe there might have been more early Alexanders as yet undiscovered.

Stay tuned!

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