Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Haverhill Records (finally) Received

It only took 52 days, 2 phone calls, and an gentle inquiring email, but I finally got the records I ordered from Haverhill, MA.  Honestly, I had forgotten what I ordered.  As much as love hanging out in city clerk offices, I had much better luck ordering from Haverhill online -  from click to mailbox in about 7 business days.  

Here's what I received:

This is the marriage license application for my grandparents, Fred Walter Pratt and Katherine Caron.  There's a couple of interesting things I noticed, beginning with the spelling of my French-Canadian surnames, "Coro" and "Belyea."  "Belyea" is the anglicized form of "Blier."  Blier is pronounced "Belyea" and Belyea is what I find on 99% of the records I come across pertaining to this branch - I almost never see Blier.  "Coro" isn't so much an anglicized form as it is a result of my great-grandfather, Katherine's father, Thomas Coro being illiterate in English.  A government type would show up and ask him what his surname is and apparently, the way he said, "Caron" sounded like "Coro."   In Canada, the same family is called Caron on all documents since the immigrant stepped foot there in the 17th c.   My grandmother and all of her siblings that moved to Lewiston eventually adopted the correct form.  

The second interesting thing is confirmation of my grandfather's first marriage  I had heard that he had been married once before so I had searched the Haverhill directories online and had found evidence that perhaps he had.  I'd also heard that maybe he wasn't quite divorced when he got hitched to my grandmother.  Nope.  He's claiming he's divorced - something he probably wouldn't have done had he not been.   And they were married just a couple of weeks shy of a year before the birth of my dad.  No scandal here other than my very Catholic grandmother got married by a minister.  In New Hampshire.

Here's my grandfather's first marriage license application.  I wonder what happened to ol' Floris.  I've poked around a little but I haven't found much.  I do know that Floris and Fred managed to remain on such good terms that after their divorce that she babysat my father.  For normal folk, that might sound incredible but you can't overestimate the likability of my grandfather.   He made friends everywhere he went.  My step-grandmother Arlene (wife 3), used to say she couldn't send him out to get a loaf of bread because he'd be gone all day chatting with people at the store.  My grandfather passed away 30 years ago and his ex-in-laws, my grandmother's living siblings and their children still go out of their way to tell me how wonderful he was.  

This is the marriage license application of my great-grandparents, Walter Fred Pratt and Alice Kellogg.  Everything is exactly as I expected according to the 1900 census.  The only surprise here is that they were married in February and my cousin Steve Pratt's grandfather, Elbridge Gerry Pratt, was born the following June.  Eh, close enough.  Certainly not the first "miracle baby" I've found on my tree.  This fact may or may not have been a factor in my great-uncle Elbridge's name.  After all, if you deliver a perfectly healthy baby a scant 4 months after your marriage, and you're living in the turn of the century, naming your baby after your your mother-in-law's long dead father is a darn good move. 

This is the record the city clerk screwed up.  As you can see, the bride is my grandmother, Katherine Coro which is nice but she wasn't born until 1912.   Hell, her mother wasn't even born in 1876.   And my grandmother Katherine didn't marry her grandfather-in-law either who by the way, happened to be dead nearly a decade when my grandparents, Fred Walter Pratt and Katherine Coro were married in 1933.  This is the jacked up record of the marriage license application of my great-great grandparents, Fred Wallace Pratt and Rose Ann Towle.  Clearly, the clerk simply got her Freds confused when she was preparing the document.  I was interested to see if there was another "miracle baby" on the branch, because I knew that my great-aunt Eva Pratt  was born in September of 1876, but the math works out just fine.  The only interesting thing is that Rose is claiming her father is "Gary" which is just shorthand for "Elbridge Gerry" her father.  My great-uncle Gerry Towle also claimed his father's name was "Gerry" on his marriage license application so apparently my great (x3) grandfather, Elbridge Gerry Towle was typically called,"Gerry," pronounced "Gary."

This is the death certificate of my great (x2) grandmother, Rose Ann Towle.  The clerk called me to tell me that she had found an error on the original record and wanted to give me a head's up.  Apparently, there was a misunderstanding when my great (x2) aunt Betty Birsdsall filled out the form; aunt Betty didn't identify her mother's surname.   The clerk called the mortuary to double check the record and wanted me to know that the maiden name of Rose was Towle.  For those that remember Gerry Towle's death certificate, his daughter Ida didn't identify the same grandparents correctly either.   Betty got the first names; Ida got the surname.  I guess together, the cousins could have put together the names but they were living on opposite sides of the country.  "Betty meet your cousin Ida....Ida, this is Betty..."

Am I surprised that I received two records with errors and both of them belong to Rose Towle Pratt?

Nope.  Not even slightly surprised.

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