Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Original Records

Collage by Midge Frazel, 2016

Original Image vs. Certified Copy
As I try to shape up my first five generations, I discovered that there really was a ORIGINAL IMAGE of the record of my maternal 2nd great grandparents, Dudley Wheeler Stewart and Eliza Fish Denison of North Stonington, Connecticut. I located it this week by searching at I am quite excited about this because this couple was the first photographs of my ancestors that my grandmother gave me the day I became a genealogist at the age of 7. 

My grandfather, Evans Stewart, their grandson, had died and my grandmother showed me the Stewart Family Bible, once owned by Eliza Fish Denison Stewart. She is the closest Denison to me and they are buried near to the Denison plot in Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, CT where my maternal grandparents are buried. I have always known I was a Denison. Grandpa drove his big Cadillac slowly by the Denison Homestead and told me it was important. I promised to remember. I became a life member of the Denison Society.

In 2005, I sent letters to North Stonington, Stonington and Groton, Connecticut seeking records. The nice assistant Town clerk from Groton, wrote to me and told me that they were indeed married there and their were records for my Fish ancestors as well. As I had learned, I asked for the cost and for a certified copy of any records they could find. Back came the image to the far left which was accepted for proof for my DAR and for my Mayflower membership. Eliza's mother, Levina Fish, birth record in 1790 was one she sent me as well. 

As you can see, a copy of the original page was not offered to me. But, she must have gone to the ledger and copied down (correctly), the names, dates, places and who married them. I read this copy, found at with great interest. The top of the page, separated the "colored" with a tab. Wow.

Dudley and Eliza were married in 1856 before the Civil War, but Dudley did not serve. He may have sent a "substitute" because he could afford it and because he was running the only  general store in North Stonington. He was registered for the draft, in 1863 at 40 years of age, but as far as I can tell, he did not actually serve.

With their marriage date confirmed, I looked for her, not in Stonington or North Stonington as I had surmised, but in Groton, living with her mother's family, possibly as a companion or nanny, in 1850 at the age of 17. Her parents, Levina Fish and Isaac Denison, Jr. had 12 children and these children were probably were encouraged to move out of the family home in downtown Mystic (Stonington) where her parents lived after moving from the family farm. 

So many people, who live in the area of these three places have helped me understand the places of residence and the timeline of this last big family. Dudley and Eliza only had three children, and lost one of those three in childhood. Their daughter, Fannie and her husband, did not have children, so I am alone now as the only descendant.

I feel they are a special couple in my research and I talk to them when I go to the cemetery. 

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