My ancestor Maria Harris (1763-1850) in 1784, and together they had 11 children. Maria was also born in Massachusetts, but the family relocated to Lewiston, Androscoggin, Maine, sometime before their first child was born in 1785. Their photograph hangs on the wall in our home.(1763-1851) was born in Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts. He married
Look at that heavy coat, with the double row of buttons. His father, Capt. James Garcelon (1739-1813), was a sea captain. That looks like a naval pea coat.
To my knowledge William lived the rest of his life in Lewiston, Maine. I wanted to see if I could find any additional clues about his life there. To find out, I turned to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.
One of the first search results was a probate notice in which William is listed as a Commissioner.
Could he have worked in the courts in some way? I kept looking to see if any of the other results would be able to back up this theory.
The next result was a marriage announcement naming “William Garcelon, Esq.” as the officiator of the marriage of Deborah Garcelon, the daughter of the Rev. James Garcelon (1761-1838), and Ensign James Jordan.
Interesting – her father was a minister, but the wedding was performed by William Garcelon, Esq.
If this is “my” William Garcelon, then the Rev. James Garcelon was his brother and Deborah would be his niece. By what civil or religious authority could William perform a marriage?
“Esquire” is a title that usually refers to an attorney, but I know William was a farmer. Was he more than a farmer?
I next found this article listing William Garcelon as the Deputy Sheriff of Lewiston.
Commissioner? Deputy Sherriff? Could there be more than one William Garcelon?
Looking again at the family tree, I noted that William had a son also named William, Col. William Green Garcelon (1786-1872).
Doing an Internet search, I found that some of Col. William Garcelon’s papers are at Bates College. The finding aid for this collection states:
“William Green Garcelon, born September 21, 1786, was the great grandson of Pierre Garcelon, the grandson of James Garcelon, and the son of William Garcelon and Maria Harris. He was one of 11 children born to William and Maria. By the time of his birth, the Garcelons were a prominent family in Lewiston, Maine, having been some of the earliest white settlers in the area. During the American Revolution his grandparents had fled from Falmouth to Lewiston Falls, which was then an Indian garrison. In Lewiston, they made a living by operating a ferry across the Androscoggin River and running a boarding house for travelers.
“William Garcelon’s father, William Sr., had opened the first store in Lewiston, and also operated a store in Durham and a shipyard in Freeport. William eventually took over his father’s business in Lewiston. He also held a number of important civic positions, including: town clerk, selectman, coroner, collector of taxes, representative to the legislature, colonel in the state militia, surveyor, justice of the peace, and probate court judge.”
Source: Special Collections Department, Bates College. Finding Aid: Garcelon Family Papers.
That helped me to sort through these newspaper articles. It was the father, William Garcelon (1763-1851), who “opened the first store in Lewiston, [Maine] and also operated a store in Durham [Maine] and a shipyard in Freeport [Maine].” Great information. I didn’t realize that William Garcelon continued to work with ships and had a shipyard in Freeport, Maine.
Another reason that he was wearing that pea coat.
And it was the son, Col. William Green Garcelon (1786-1872), who “held a number of important civic positions, including: town clerk, selectman, coroner, collector of taxes, representative to the legislature, colonel in the state militia, surveyor, justice of the peace, and probate court judge.”
So, that is why he was called “Colonel” – he served in the state militia. Clearly, he was also called Esquire because of his civic positions: state legislator, probate court judge, etc.
Genealogy Tip: When searching for an ancestor’s name in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, you may find results that seem to contradict each other. What to do? Keep looking. Refer back to your family tree and other sources: you can check to see if there are multiple people with the same name, to clear up any confusion.