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Hannah Larcom, my 6th Great Grandmother, wasn't exactly a brick wall, but she has been one lady for whom each answer tended to bring more questions.
It all started several months ago when I found the marriage record for Hannah Larcom and my 6th Great Grandfather Stephen Fairfield.(1) The record was simple to find on a page of marriage records from Wenham, Massachusetts. There were even two other Fairfield relatives whose marriages were recorded on the same page. But who were Hannah's parents? Had she always lived in Wenham? And when was she born? Already the answer of her marriage date brought new information to seek.
There are a number of online family trees that listed Hannah as being the daughter of Mordecai Larcom so I tried to verify this information as the online trees all seemed to cite other online trees as the source. Sure enough, in the same collection of Wenham, Massachusetts records, I found the birth of a Hannah Larcom, daughter of Mordecai and his wife Abigall, born in Wenham 16 July 1704.(2) Now I knew the possible parents, birthplace, and birth date for Hannah.
It wasn't long before I stumbled over a big rock. While looking through that same record collection for some Fairfield information, I came across the unexpected. A death record for Hannah Larcom. Hannah, the daughter of Mordecai and Abigall, had died in October of 1704, at the age of just three months.(3) The fact meant that either two different people were the parents of Hannah Larcom or, as was frequently the case, Mordecai and Abigall later had a second daughter whom they also named Hannah. One more answer, more questions.
Trying to find a record of the birth of another Hannah Larcom still has me stumped. I have searched the available birth and baptismal records available online for the town of Wenham, Massachusetts, as well as those of the neighboring towns of Beverly and Ipswich, without having any success. The only mention thus far that I've found for a later birth date for a Hannah Larcom was in "Genealogy of the Larcom Family" published in a 1922 issue of the Essex Historical Collection journals.(4) This lengthy two-part article lists a Hannah Larcom, daughter of Mordecai Larcom, who was baptized in 1711 and [who became the] wife of Stephen Fairfield.
A further link between Hannah Larcom and her parents Mordecai and Abigail was found in the probate records of Mordecai Larcom's estate. Mordecai Larcom had died intestate in 1712, but his estate, however, was not probated until after the death of his wife Abigall in 1741.(5) Hannah's husband, Stephen Fairfield, appeared as a witness on a number of documents related to the probate proceedings, and a division of the estate was made to Stephen Fairfield "in right of his wife Hannah".(6)
Once again, Birth, Marriage, and Death/Probate records provided answers to some of the questions about Hannah. Looking for that elusive original birth or baptismal record from 1711 for Hannah will stay on my To-Do List for a while. For now I'll have to be satisfied with possible baptismal information and the probate records to connect Hannah to Mordecai Larcom and Abigail Solart as her parents. Several dots that could finally be connected to made a line on my family tree.
Later, when I started searching for information about Hannah's Solart grandparents, I found myself pulled in an unexpected direction. Talk about examining a Bright Shiny Object! I found not just more questions but a surprising brush with history. Definitly the subject for a future post. Or two.
(1) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Wenham Births, Marriages and Death, 670 of 696 images.
(2) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Wenham Vital Record Transcripts, p 57.
(3) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Wenham Vital Record Transcripts, p 210.
(4) Abbott, William F. "Genealogy of the Larcom Family", Essex Institute Historical Collectionm vol, LVIII, 1922; accessed on Google Books.
(5) "Essex, Massachusetts Probate Records, 1648-1840", Ancestry.com; citing Sanborn, Melinde Lutz. Essex County, Massachusetts Probate Index, 1638-1840. Salem, MA, probate of estate of Mordecai Larcom, 2 Jun 1741;
(6) Massachusetts, Essex, Probate File Papers, 1638-1881, Essex Cases 16000-17999, #16401 Mordeca Larcom; accessed AmericanAncestors.org