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Overheard in GenForum: Lumbard, Maine - 1818
by Rhonda R. McClure

Each week Rhonda answers a question from the GenForum message boards and gives her expert answer here. We'd love to hear anything you have to add. Go ahead and leave your comments on GenForum with the original message.

February 15, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Q: I have been searching for a needle in the haystack. My ancestor, Josiah Lumbard came from Maine. That is all I know except his year of birth is probably 1818-23. In 1844 he met Mary Stoner and they had a son. In an 1850 census, Ms Stoner and her small son were married to someone else. I do not know whether Josiah and Mary ever married. Their son carries his father's last name and that makes me think they may have been married. I inquired in Maine about Josiah Lumbard and received word that there is a "Solomon Lumbard" family on the 1790 census. They were the only Lumbard's listed on the census. Can I assume that I may be connected to that family?

A: In genealogy it is not a good idea to assume anything, especially a relationship based on the surname being the same. Even with uncommon surnames, the two families may prove not to be related.

When researching it is important to work from the known to the unknown. You know of Mary and her son. You know when the son was born. You have located the son in the 1850 census. A good idea is to locate the son in additional census records. Also find the son's death certificate and Mary's as well.

Work the known to the unknown.

Learning What's Available

Whenever you begin a new research problem, it is a good idea to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the available resources. Sometimes this may mean reading books written about the area in question. In this case, your focus is on New England research.

A search of the Family History Library Catalog will reveal books such as Ralph J. Crandall's Genealogical Research in New England. Another resource is the Research Outline for Maine published by the Family History Library.

Taking a few moments to read this information may save you from making a mistake as you are working in the records. While New England records abound, they can often mislead if the researcher is not aware of all the intricacies involved with these records.

Your Research

Since you have located Mary in the 1850 census, it may be a good idea to search the probate records for that county looking for a possible will or other estate records for Josiah LUMBARD. This might help to establish if he did marry Mary. It will also help you to determine approximately when and where Josiah died. And armed with this, it might be possible to find a death record or burial information.

You will also need to search for LUMBARDs in Maine in the indexes to the census records. You don't want to go back as far as 1790 to start though. Begin with 1840 and move back. Write down those in Maine and then extract the information from the actual census pages. Once you have some counties to narrow your search to, begin looking for other records in those counties and towns.

In Conclusion

It may become necessary to build families of LUMBARDs so that you can exclude them one by one. Eventually you should be able to determine that one of these families is that of Josiah LUMBARD.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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