Two days ago, in honor of Isaac Garcelon’s birthday, I decided to look in GenealogyBank to see what I could learn about him. While he was born in Lewiston, Maine, on 22 July 1788, he moved to New Brunswick, Canada, got married, and didn’t look back. So, I wondered how easily I would find information about him in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, a collection of U.S. newspapers.
I instantly pulled up this article about a Garcelon family reunion.
Yes, that’s him:
“Isaac Garcelon of St. Davids, New Brunswick, [aged] 81.”
What is that last reference?
“…and one sister, Mrs. Hosea Fuller of Lewiston, aged 87, who was too infirm to be present.”
That sounds like Salley (Garcelon) Fuller (1785-1871), who died just days later on 7 November 1871 in Lewiston, Maine. She was married to David Fuller (1777-1850), who died in Lewiston on 6 June 1850. So, why did the newspaper say that she was the wife of Hosea Fuller?
The date of David’s death is important – because the 1850 census was set to record everyone living in America as of June 1st of that year. In Lewiston, Maine, the Hosea Fuller family was enumerated on 16 August 1850 – more than two months after David Fuller’s death.
So, although David Fuller should have been recorded in that census, he was not listed – but Salley (Garcelon) Fuller, his widow and Hosea’s mother, was. Here she is in the 1850 census, listed as living with her son, Hosea Fuller (1810-1880). So, the newspaper’s report that Hosea was her husband is not correct.
And, here are mother and son again, in the 1870 census, still living in Lewiston, Maine.
In the 1850 census, Salley (Garcelon) Fuller is listed as 63 years old.
In the 1860 census she is 75 years old, and in the 1870 census she is 85 years of age.
Notice the spelling of Salley (Garcelon) Fuller’s name in the 1850 census. It is clearly spelled the way we expect it to be spelled: Sally.
It is also spelled that way in the 1860 census.
But, here in the 1870 census her name is spelled as “Sarah.”
Other records, including her tombstone, spell her first name as “Salley.”
Not all records agree.
A reminder: Just because it is printed in a book – or in this case, a newspaper or a census – doesn’t necessarily make it accurate. Remember, too, this corollary: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”