A Brick Wall That Needs To Fall. Finding Sarah Merrill Edwards

+3 votes

UPDATE:  Research continues, the wall surrounding Sarah Merrill's pre-marriage life/origins still holds.  Please read the full comment below.   SA

Sarah Merrill married John Edwards Sr. on Dec. 9, 1824 in Portland, Maine.  On her tombstone is her birth date of Dec. 6 1800, and her death on July 7, 1869.  Several people besides myself have been defeated in trying to find out more about her life before her marriage... we can't find any records/anything on her parents or siblings or the generations of Merrils before her.  Every family tree we find on Ancestry & Family Search with Sarah and her husband in it, is missing this vital info on her life.  It's like Sarah Merrill's life started when she got married. So we are hoping that G2G can help us solve the mystery of Sarah Merrill's 1st primary family.  Here are the links that will help with with what is known.... the Ancestry tree is really quite good/well done, and its creator/researcher is really hoping this outreach works and ends years of frustration.  I have started new profiles of the Edwards family, on WikiTree, and would love to have more good genealogy for Sara Merrill Edwards profile.                                               * https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/10007853/person/25336661144/facts          


Sarah Merrill Edwards new under construction WikiTree profile Merrill-4868.

John Edwards Sr. new under construction profile on WikiTree Edwards-28514

WikiTree profile: Sarah Edwards
in Genealogy Help by Steve Archuleta G2G6 (7.8k points)
edited by Steve Archuleta
Have you searched land records? Have you tried DNA? Those are the two tools that have most helped me break brick walls.
Thank you for the suggestion.  We believe (?) that Sarah Merrill was possibly middle class for the era... the Edwards definately were [One a Harvard lawyer/Revolutionary War Officer and another a famous/respected silversmith].. and the two families were likely in the same social circles for John Sr. and Sarah to meet and marry.  Members of "society" would make sense as property owners.  It's a good trail to follow. Great suggestion.
A huge percentage of Americans owned property before 1800, including lots of people who weren’t very well off. It was quite different than in, say, Ireland. And deeds are some of the most complete of early records as well. Very worth investigating.

Tons of them are up and available on Family Search in the “catalog” section. Click search then catalog, then punch in the appropriate municipal level. Typically they are catalogued at the county level, but there are some places and times where they were stored at the state level and some when it was at the town level. Then search for the land and property records link. If digital images are available, then there will probably be thousands of pages, so definitely use the images indexes to search.

According to her son, Henry J. Edwards' death record, she was born in Portland, Maine (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6329-YWV?i=1624)

Yes... it is a good clue.... borrn, married, had children, died in Portland... her whole life.  But we can't find the records of her birth yet (yet... this wall will fall), and none records we have identify her parents..  I am chasing a clue now... we know from their 1824 marriage record that they were married by the Rev. Thomas B. Ripley in Portland.  If we can identify the church he was at, we might be able to find a record of 1820's parishioners by contacting it.  It's a shot in the dark.. but we will take it.

Thank You so much!  I WILL follow up on this.  I knew if I posted on G2G for clues and advice that the Sarah Merrill wall would fall... and it will!  There are a lot of clues now... and one or more of the will solve this puzzle.

Bingo!   The Edwards and the Merrills... were Baptists, parishioners of the First Baptist Church Of Portland.  John & Sara were married in 1824 in the 1st Baptist Church by Rev,Thomas B. Ripley.

UPDATE:  A few weeks later, and Sarah Merrills' "origins" are still elusive, the wall is holding. We (2) are searching through property records as was suggested, but nothing has been found yet.

The confirmation that Sarah was a Baptist is still a trail being followed, I have asked 1st Baptist Church of Portland if they have family parishioner records for the years 1812-1820 [no response back yet]. One piece of bad luck on that trail, there was no Baptist church in Portland when Sara was born in 1800, so that eliminates the possibility of a church birth/baptism record. I would appreciate it if G2G folks could suggest a few more ways to bust this wall, or suggest/find other research trails to explore. I/we are not giving up until the wall surrounding Sara Merrill Edwards (pre-marriage) falls.

Have you checked adjacent counties and New Hampshire records.  I just broke a brick wall when I located my female ancestor named in estate records in an adjoining state which led to the name of her mother, two uncles and one aunt, and a good lead of her grandparents. I wasn't looking for her at the time but was researching another family line as there was no record of her family living in the adjoining state - big mistake to have made that assumption!
I agree with Carol. I once broke a brick-wall by finding a property record in a neighboring county, which in that case was in the next state over. So just like Carol, I had to search a totally different state! Also, it is generally a good idea to look at the history of counties. If your county is now called one thing but used to be part of a different county, then the estate/property/court records could be held by either county.

1 Answer

+2 votes

There is a Sarah Chenery who married a John Merrill and had a son Asa

"Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCD9-G3B : 4 April 2020), Sally Chenery in entry for Asa Merrill, 10 Feb 1905; citing Cumberland, , Maine, United States, multiple sources, Maine; FHL microfilm.

by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

Then there is this 

First name(s) Sarah

Last name Bowles

Year 1819

Event date 22 Dec 1819

Place Accomack, Virginia

Place as transcribed Accomack, Virginia

Town -

County Accomack

State Virginia

Country United States

Spouse's first name(s) John

Spouse's last name Merrill

Residence as transcribed Accomack, Virginia, United States

Groom's father's first name(s) -

Groom's father's last name -

Groom's mother's first name(s) -

Groom's mother's last name -

Bride's father's first name(s) -

Bride's father's last name -

Bride's mother's first name(s) -

Bride's mother's last name -

Record set United States Marriages

Category Life Events (BDMs)

Subcategory Civil Marriage & Divorce

Collections from Americas, United States

Index (c) IRI. Used by permission of FamilySearch Intl

Thank you so much for the time.and effort you have made to try and help solve this mystery.  I think we are looking for records/information in the Portland Maine area 1700-1800. I would guessimate that her parents were possible married around the 1770's +/-   in the same general area?  G2G folks are awesome, thank you for pitching in!

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