The Value in Checking Your Work: A Tale of Two Captains

Earliest Known View of Manchester, CT

Earliest Known View of Manchester, CT

I am going through the tedious process of going over past research and double checking my data. It’s not as “fun” as initial research since you are not usually finding “new” info, however, I have found over the past that it is necessary. I have almost always found errors in my original work.. some big, some small, but all important to the integrity of your genealogy research.

The line I’m working on now is my husband’s Pitkin family. Years ago, prior to the internet, I had borrowed a copy of The Pitkin Family in America, by A. P. Pitkin and copied as much info as I could while I had the book. I concentrated on my husband’s direct line. Now that the book is available online for download, I am going through the book page by page and matching up the info with my database. When I come upon a conflict, I double check other sources to see which is correct.

This week I came upon one such conflict. It involves the second husband of Anne Stanley who was the widow of Joshua Pitkin in East Hartford. A.P. Pitkin had her second husband’s name as “Daniel Marsh”. I had it in my database as “Capt. Isaac Marsh”. Checking the source for Isaac I saw that my info came from two books about the history of Marshfield, VT. In “The History of the Towns of Plainfield, Roxbury and Fayston … With Marshfield or Middlesex Papers in Fifty Copies “, it states that Caleb Pitkin, who had moved to Marshfield, VT, married Hannah, “daughter of Capt. Isaac Marsh”. In a “History of Marshfield” by Mrs. Hannah C. Pitkin, printed in the “Gazetteer of Washington County, VT” the author mentions that Caleb married “the daughter of “Captain Marsh, his step father” (No first name) and that Gideon Spencer, another founding resident of Marshfield, had married “Captain Marsh’s daughter, Polly”. Mrs. Pitkin also stated that Captain Isaac Marsh “married a young Pitkin widow from East Hartford, CT. Captain Isaac Marsh was the founder of Marshfield, VT after purchasing the deed to the land from Indians in the area. I had no reason to question that Hannah and Polly were his daughters, or that Anna Stanley Pitkin was the “young widow” that he married.

I did some research on Capt. Isaac Marsh who was “of Stockbridge, MA”. It turns out that he married Lucy Smith who was still living when Anna Stanley Pitkin Marsh died. I also found baptisms for all of Isaac and Lucy’s children and there is no Hannah or Polly. I cannot, in fact, find any record that Isaac Marsh actually lived in the town that bore his name.

I then looked in to “Daniel Marsh” of East Hartford, CT. As it turns out, although not listed as such in A. P. Pitkin’s book, Daniel was in fact also a “Captain”. Most of his records list him as “Captain Marsh”. Daniel had by his second wife,Hannah Smith, daughters named both Polly (Mary) and Hannah. Their ages matched the wives of Caleb Pitkin and Gideon Spencer.

I realized at that point that the historians of Marshfield, VT had just assumed that the father of Hannah and Polly Marsh, a “Capt. Marsh” must have been “Capt. Isaac Marsh”. They must have also then assumed that since Hannah Marsh Pitkin’s father was Caleb Pitkin’s step father.. Isaac must have married said widow. I understand that “family lore” can become distorted and details forgotten over the years, but this also teaches us a very important lesson about never “assuming” anything when doing genealogy research.

The one benefit of discovering this error and the correct relationships is that it gives me added incentive to continue the boring process of double checking my data!

Daniel Marsh ServiceIn doing my research on Daniel Marsh, I collected info on him and his four wives. With him being a “second husband” with whom Anna Stanley Pitkin did not have children, I normally wouldn’t have spent the time researching him. However, since he had a double connection by being father to Caleb Pitkin’s wife, I decided to do more research on him than I normally would. Daniel turned out to be an interesting fellow. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and a prominent member of the newly created “Orford Parish” in East Hartford, CT. Orford Parish later become Manchester, CT.

Download: Register Style report of 3 generations of Descendants of Daniel Marsh of East Hartford, CT.