Monday, August 22, 2016

Did I Finally Find a Death Record for My 5th Great Grandfather, Benjamin Porter (b 1772)?

One of the benefits of being a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS/American Ancestors) is that you get access to some of their external databases, including the Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers database (Infotrac/Gale).

My mother's paternal grandmother Letta Estella Porter is a descendant of Benjamin Porter and Lydia Wilcox.
I haven't compared it to the holdings of my current newspaper subscriptions to GenealogyBank, NewspaperArchive, and Newspapers, but I thought I'd try it to see if I could find Benjamin Porter, my 5th great grandfather who seemed to disappear from record after appearing in the 1820 Census living in Alstead, Cheshire, New Hampshire.  Since Benjamin's wife Lydia married Henry Scovil in October 1821 in Walpole, Cheshire, New Hampshire, I had tentatively put his death at about 1820.  But that is an unsatisfactory death date!

The right age, and the right previous location.  "Deaths," Dover Gazette and Strafford (Dover, NH), Tuesday, 11 Aug 1829, page 3, col 2; Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers (via NEHGS/American Ancestors) (American Ancestors  : 22 Aug 2016).

I searched for "Benjamin Porter" before 1830, and was pleased to immediately discover a death notice for a Benjamin Porter in Charlestown (Boston), (then Middlesex county), Massachusetts.  What jumped out at me was his former residence in Lyme, Grafton, New Hampshire.  Although I have no direct evidence that Benjamin Porter ever lived in Lyme, I do know that his parents (William Porter d 1778 and Esther Carpenter d 1827) both lived and died in Lyme.

My speculation is that sometime in 1820/1821 Benjamin and Lydia separated or divorced, and that Benjamin went to live in the same town as his mother Esther (more records to research, and divorce proceedings in that time period should be interesting).

Then I think some time after that he moved to Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts, probably not long before his death in August 1829, and thus didn't appear in the 1830 Census.

Partial snapshot of Benjamin Porter's probate record.  This doesn't show all the names associated with this record, which I will have to look up and follow up on.  The entire front and back page of this document citation: Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Probate court, Benjamin Porter, 10 Nov 1829, 72; digital image, [image 497-498],Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991, Middlesex County, Probate Records, V. 216-218, 1826-1830, Ancestry ( : 22 Aug 2016).

Benjamin seemed to moved around a lot in his life, from being born in Coventry, CT, to likely living with his parents in Lyme, NH, before moving on and marrying Lydia in Surry, Cheshire, New Hampshire.  I don't know what he did for a living.

Their son William Porter (1796-1868) was born in Sheffield, VT, but then it appears they moved back to Surry where their other children were born.  William was a silversmith earlier in his life, and likely would have apprenticed to a silversmith in the 1810's (although I have a growing suspicion that he might have had access to that apprenticeship through his mother's Wilcox relations, which I'll cover in a different post).

If I have the right Benjamin Porter, I wonder what he was doing in Charlestown, MA?

He certainly seemed to spend the bulk of his life somewhere along the Connecticut River.

This all definitely opens up more questions than it answers.

Edited to add: I found a specific date from the Columbian Centinel (Boston, Massachusetts), Saturday, August 8, 1829, page 3 (GenealogyBank):
"In Charlestown, Mass. on Sunday morning last, Benjamin Porter, aged 57 years, formerly of Lyme, N.H." So he died 2 August 1829.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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