Sometime during the next few weeks, as we continue to add new content to our online archives, GenealogyBank will reach a milestone: we will have 1 billion more records than the total we launched our website with five years ago. Wow, that’s a lot of additional genealogy records!
I wanted to see what I could find in GenealogyBank with all this added material—so I chose a family at random and set out on a genealogical research investigation.
Researching the Family of Minnie M. Damon
I picked Minnie M. Damon who married James W. Wright on 31 December 1890 in Keene, New Hampshire. With Christmas still in the air and New Year’s Eve approaching, the couple was married by the Rev. C. E. Harrington.
A search in GenealogyBank found their marriage announcement in the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 7 January 1891, page 8.
New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 7 January 1891, page 8
This marriage announcement is a great genealogical find. It gives terrific details about the wedding.
And—what about those “white silk slippers” the bride wore, the same ones her mother wore when she got married 38 years before? Does someone in the family still have them?
Hmm…they were married “at the home of the bride’s mother.” Why no mention of the father? Had he died? Was there a divorce?
Genealogical Research Find 1: George Damon (Minnie’s Father)
The next step in our genealogical research is to find out even more about Minnie’s dad. Digging deeper into our online archives I found the death notice of the bride’s father. He had died just six months earlier.
New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 4 June 1890, page 8
George Damon was “aged 68 years 8 months and 27 days” when he died on 2 June 1890.
Next we want to subtract those figures from his death date to see when he was born.
George’s date of birth works out to 6 September 1821.
There is a handy site for calculating these dates: see TimeandDate.com
Time and date calculator
Genealogical Research Find 2: Lucy Bowker/Damon (Minnie’s Mother)
Digging deeper into our historical newspaper archives I found the marriage record of her parents: George and Lucy (Bowker) Damon.
Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, Vermont), 20 September 1852, page 3
Their marriage announcement was published in the Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, Vermont), 20 September 1852, page 3.
Whoa—hold on: their marriage announcement was published in the Weekly Eagle, a Brattleboro, Vermont, newspaper?
But they lived in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. The newspaper even said that they were “all of” Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.
So, why did a Vermont newspaper publish the announcement of their wedding?
Map of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire
Because newspaper editors wanted to sell papers, that’s why.
Brattleboro is only 40 miles from Fitzwilliam, and the Weekly Eagle was regularly bought and read by the residents there.
Genealogical Research Find 3: Elijah Bowker (Minnie’s Maternal Grandfather)
And here is a newspaper article about Lucy Bowker’s father, Captain Elijah Bowker, praising his life of service. It was published in the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 June 1877, page 1.
New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 June 1877, page 1
What else could I find out about the Damon family in my genealogical research?
Branching Out the Damon Family Tree
I decided to do a broader genealogy search by searching on only the surname (Damon) and their hometown (Fitzwilliam).
GenealogyBank search form
Both “Damon” and “Fitzwilliam” are uncommon words. It is likely that all Damons from Fitzwilliam are related, but we need to sort them out to make sure.
This broad genealogy search produced a few hundred surname record results.
That is a reasonable amount of genealogy records to sift through, so I started reading through all of them.
Genealogical Research Find 4: Martha Damon (Minnie’s Aunt)
One death record in particular caught my eye. It was published in the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 April 1826, page 3.
New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 April 1826, page 3
There in the third paragraph: “In Fitzwilliam, an infant daughter [Martha Damon, 1825-1826] of Mr. Geo. Damon.”
This little girl was the aunt of Minnie M. (Damon) Wright—the woman I started my investigation with.
Genealogical Research Find 5: George Damon and Deacon Oliver Damon (Minnie’s Paternal Grandfather and Her Paternal Great-Grandfather)
The “Geo. [George] Damon” named in this death notice was Minnie’s paternal grandfather [George Damon, 1796-1840] and the “Deacon Oliver Damon” [1758-1837] also named was her paternal great-grandfather.
OK. This newspaper obituary was for a two-year-old infant, and it would be easy to assume that such a notice would have minimal genealogical clues. But, I like to read every document.
As it turns out this obituary gives us lots of critical genealogical information:
“Deacon Oliver Damon and wife have lived in Fitzwilliam 42 years, and this [is] the first instance of mortality that has occurred in his family or among his descendants, (25 in all) during that time. Printers for Massachusetts are requested to notice this death.”
As of 1826, there were 25 descendants of the family in that area and none of them had died over the previous 42 years.
Digging deeper into GenealogyBank’s online archives I found more details in Deacon Oliver Damon’s obituary, published by the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 9 November 1837, page 3.
New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 9 November 1837, page 3
He was a Deacon of the Congregational Church, and he fought in the Revolutionary War. Clearly there is more genealogical research that we can do on this family.
Do you remember seeing in these obituaries the phrase “Printers in Mass. are requested to notice this death”? This note from the newspaper’s editors gives a strong indication that the Damon family has a family connection to Massachusetts.
So, the next steps in our genealogical investigation are to sort through all of the “Damon” references in and around Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, and extend that search out to Massachusetts.
The only “Damon” I ever heard of is the actor, Matt Damon.
I wonder if Minnie M. (Damon) Wright and Matt Damon are actually related.
Tracing the Damon family tree: to be continued…