Saturday, June 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #21: Mary Abbott - Not the daughter of James Abbott and Azuba Ruggles

  Many online trees which include the West Brookfield, Massachusetts family of James Abbott and his wife Azuba (Ruggles) Abbott, have a supposed fourth child named Mary.  I, too, noticed Mary, aged five, living in the household at the time of the 1850 United States census, and found it curious that I had not found her birth record in Brookfield vital records, and that she had not been mentioned in the wills of James or Azuba.  Descendants of George Abbott, of Rowley, Mass ..., did not include Mary with the family, even though the information for that family was contributed by James and Azuba's daughter Eliza. I also calculated that Azuba Abbott would have been about 48 years of age at the time of Mary's birth. 
   I did find, upon further investigation, that Mary Abbott married Jason Stoddard in West Brookfield on Oct. 30, 1868 at the age of 22.  Her birth place was recorded in the marriage record, as Hartford, Ct, and her parents were named, as John and Frances Parks. At first, I interpreted this to mean John Abbott and Frances (Parks), but after comparing this record with the others on the page, I realized that the other records included only the first names of the parents.  There were no parentheses around the name Parks.  Did this mean the parents were John Parks, and his wife Frances?
   Mary A. Stoddard died in North Brookfield, MA, on Dec. 10, 1889, of consumption, at age 45years, 3 months, and 15 days.  According to her death record, she was born in Hartford, Ct., was adopted by Eliza Abbott, and her parents were unknown.
   Who were Mary Abbott's parents?  I am not certain.  I have not found a birth record, for Mary Parks or Mary Abbott, born about 1845 in Hartford, CT, nor have I identified the John and Frances Parks named in the marriage record of Mary Abbott and Jason Stoddard.
  Where then, does Mary belong in the family tree?  She was not named at all in the wills of James or Azubah, even though she was enumerated in their household in 1850 and 1860.  Eliza Abbott was seventeen at the time of the 1850 census, old enough to have given birth to a child, but probably not old enough to have adopted one. She would have been just 12 years old when Mary was born.  Eliza outlived Mary by fourteen years, so there would most likely be no mention of Mary in Eliza's will (assuming she left one.)  My question remains as I ponder how to proceed in my quest for the best answer.
   How would you handle this dilemma?

Sources available upon request.  They include MA Vital Records found on, census records found on, the wills of James Abbott and Azubah Abbott found at, Descendants of George Abbott, of Rowley, Mass ..., found on


  1. Hello Leah.

    This is Ron Niquette. Alan Degolmon is one of my internet nom des plumes,

    Just checking in for now. Glad to be here, and thanks once again for all the info you've been researching on this family's lineage.

  2. The most likely scenario seems to be that Eliza was the parent of out of wedlock Mary and the newspaper was just "papering over" the facts by saying she adopted Mary. "Adoption" could be quite informal in the past, so you may never find any proof.

    1. Eliza was about 12 years old at the time of Mary's birth, making her a possible, but unlikely candidate for the mother of Mary.

  3. Going with the marriage certificate lead regarding Mary's parents being John and Frances Parks, I would see what I could find about John and Frances. Perhaps Frances and Azubah are related? If the marriage record is for the right Mary Abbott, the information on it would be firsthand and it makes sense if she was adopted into the Abbott family.

    My assumption for the death certificate would be that John and Azubah Abbott did adopt Mary and that the informant for the death certificate remembered the last name [Abbott] but not the father's name [John] and perhaps confused Eliza for Azubah; and did not know Mary's birth parents' names.

  4. Thanks, Erin. I think John and Frances Parks are the correct parents. I could locate a John Parks living in a nearby town, but couldn't verify his relationship to anyone named Frances, or to Mary.
    I am not familiar with whether or not, during that period, an adopted child would have been mentioned in a will. In this case, neither James or Azubah mentioned her.
    Mary's husband, Jason, survived her and could have been the informant on her death record. Perhaps, though, the information was just filled in by the town clerk or the funeral director.