Is it possible for two different Cities to records the births of the same family?

+11 votes

I am struggling with a part of my tree and I would like some advice.

I am dealing with the Children of Israel Bray (Bray-1842) and Jamima(h) Davis.  According to two different sources I am finding that the children were either born in Gloucester, MA. or Poland, ME.  I have been able to ascertain that the records of one of the Children continue in Gloucester, MA and the other two continue in Maine.

My findings are:


Israel Bray B-May 5, 1770 in Gloucester, MA: Source Vital Records of Gloucester, MA, Vol. 1 Births

Israel Bray B-May 5, 1770 in Poland, ME: Source


Daniel Bray B-August 12, 1772 in Gloucester, MA: Source Vital Records of Gloucester, MA. Vol 1. Births

Daniel Bray B-August 10, 1772 in Poland, ME: Source


Jemima(h) B-August 7, 1774 in Gloucester, MA: Source Vital Records of Gloucester, MA. Vol. 1 Births.

Jemima(h) B-July 10, 1774 in Poland, ME: Source


Pretty much my biggest question is: Is this possible that two different cities recorded the births of the Children or are these two different families?

Notes: There is no records of Israel Bray or Jemima(Davis) that I can find in Maine before the children.  Their marriage was in Gloucester, MA. on December 25, 1767.  Israel was born on March 14 in either 1738 or 1739 in either Gloucester, MA or Ipswich, MA.  I do not have any info on Jemima(h) Birth.
asked in Genealogy Help by Tim Burke G2G1 (1.5k points)

3 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer
Short answer: Yes the children could be registered in two places.

Long answer: I have noticed that sometimes, new towns (in this case Poland Maine) will have citizens come in and register the births of the children living with them. They will typically be at the beginning of town records and they will be listed all together. So if the children were born in Gloucester and the family moved shortly to Poland, it would not be unheard of for the children to be registered in two places. A perusal of the original records (or records presented in original format instead of alphabetical) would prove or disprove this.
answered by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1m points)
selected by Tim Burke
Thank you for the input.  I was leaning to believe that this was the case.  I noticed that Poland, New Gloucester, and Turner all towns in present day Maine are showing to have cross connections with Gloucester, MA.  It makes more sense when I researched those towns more to find that many of the early settlers came from Gloucester, MA.  I was just unsure as this was the first time that I noticed that records were appearing from places that were not the same County.
+3 votes
I agree with your concern that this does indeed appear odd.

I would suggest that there are more than one possible solution:

1) there is a coincidence of names. It would be surprising but not entirely out of the question. The surname Bray is not unusual and for the time-frame, neither are the forenames. I guess the check on this is to choose a parent from each group (one's which share the same name) and trace their parents or siblings. If these are also identical then I would really begin to doubt the coincidence.

2) that the entries in one or other of the sources is a mistranscription. You give as one of the sources - but what was the actual source, since FamilySearch is a database constructed of a myriad of entries, not all of which are reliable. I am assuming that the vital records of Gloucester are constructed from records only pertaining to that place. My advice is to check the base sources to determine authenticity.
answered by John Orchard G2G6 Mach 2 (20.7k points)
+3 votes
I have frequently seen cases where a vital event is recorded in multiple places.

In Canada I have seen cases where a doctor or midwife reported the birth in the community where they attended the birth (not every community had/has a hospital or even a doctor) and the family registered the birth in the civic offices of the community where they lived. (tip: Look at the name of informants on the record)

Similarly in the Netherlands a vital event is often registered in the municipality where the event actually happened, but if the person/family resided in a different municipality the information is forwarded to their home jurisdiction and a second entry is created there (In Dutch records you can normally spot such records easily as they strike out much of the form's text and hand-write the entry)

Somewhat similar to Anne's suggestion, another possibility is a community that split into two jurisdictions and each held copies of the original jurisdictions records.

As to the date differences one explanation that pops to mind is one source has indexed the records by the date of the event and the other source has indexed the records by the date of registration.
answered by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (272k points)

Having now taken a second to orient myself to the geo-history, what I think is another plausible explanation is that Poland was administratively, from what I interpret from this 1776 map [link], part of New Glocester Township, York County, Massachusetts. In 1780 the government of Massachusetts created the District of Maine as an administrative division covering the area that was the future State of Maine, with Maine of course achieving statehood in 1820.

Let's at this point remember that in the paper-era there were almost always (at least) two town books prepared - the one that would be retained by the town or township, and the duplicate or 'double-book' that would be sent to the state annually. So the records for New Glocester prior to 1820 would very likely end up in some office of the Massachusetts government.

Fast-foward to 1917 when the Topsfield Historical Society  - prepared The Vital Records of Gloucester Massachusetts: While they do not mention which copies of the town books they consulted in their explanatory page [link] I imagine they would have at least looked at the state held copies of any town books (as well as the ones actually held by the town clerk) just in case the town clerks holdings were missing a volume or two... How easy would it be for a copy of the town record books of New Gloucester, Massachusetts, held by some State Office or archive, to get mixed in with the books of "Old" Gloucester, Massachusetts? A missing or faded cover page? An indexing or filing error?

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