Monday, April 15, 2013

Mystery Monday - The Arrival of David and Mary Fuller to Portland, Maine

When we think about immigration to the east coast of the United States, our first thought is Ellis Island.  This was the first stop for many of my relatives on their American journey.  If you are from Irish descent, then perhaps your ancestors first arrived in Boston.  Many would be surprised to know that immigrants arrived to many of the other ports on the Atlantic coast, just not in the numbers that we associate with Ellis Island and Boston.

My 3rd great grandparents, David and Mary Fuller immigrated to Portland, Maine from Nova Scotia.  I have been looking for any record of David and Mary Fuller arriving in Portland, Maine for a long time.  Those of you who have been following my blog, will know that David and Mary Fuller lived in Horton, Nova Scotia.  They were married Sept 10, 1812.  Together they had at least 11 children:  Lavinia, Rebecca, Sephrona, Matilda, Martha, David Bishop, Benjamin, James, Theodore, Andrew and Collingwood.

The oldest children (the daughters) are all recorded as their children in the Horton Township Book.  However, the book is incomplete and doesn't include any of their younger children (the sons).

The sons all moved to Portland, Maine and the daughters stayed in Canada (at least for a while).  This created a challenge of proving that the David and Mary Fuller who are the parents of the sons were the same David and Mary Fuller who was the parents of the daughters.  In my previous post, Can a Published Genealogy be Wrong?, I outline my proof for David and Mary (Cary) Fuller being the parents of all eleven children.  

There are a few records which I would like to have found which had escaped me and now I have found one of them.

David and Mary Fuller show up in the Canadian census records of 1838 as living in Horton, Nova Scotia.  They do not appear in the US Census records from 1840.  They do appear in the US Census records as living in Portland, Maine with their sons:  James, Theodore, Andrew and Collingwood.   This had lead me to believe that David and Mary had arrived in Portland sometime between 1840-1849.

But how to prove it.  I had assumed that their were no immigration records of ships arriving with forein passengers to the port of Portland at that time.  I was wrong.  I found that the LDS Church (Mormons) had microfilmed records of arrivals at Atlantic ports including Portland during this time period.  If you are interested in this information check out the following records for FamilySearch.org :  

Copies of lists of passengers arriving at miscellaneous ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and at ports on the Great Lakes, 1820-1873 : NARA RG36 M575.

There is no index to these immigration records, so you do have to look through each passenger list to find your relatives. 

It was here that I found David Fuller and Mary Fuller arriving on the British Schooner Harmony on August 1, 1849.   It showed that they were citizens of Nova Scotia and had left from Windsor, Nova Scotia (about 15 miles from Horton, NS).  Interestingly, I have various records which indicate that several of their sons may have arrived prior to David and Mary.  So instead of the parents paving the way for their sons, they may have followed their sons.  

I have read in other publications that in the early to mid 1800's that the Nova Scotian economy had hit on hard times and there was an exodus of people to the US at that time.  So it isn't surprising that young men moved to the US to seek their fortunes.

While I was very pleased to find the record of David and Mary's arrival in Portland, Maine it isn't surprising that there is something in the record which doesn't match what I expected.  In this case, the record lists David's age as 50 and Mary's age as 45.  Where David's age should have been 68 and Mary's 58.  I don't think it is that unusual for the harbormaster to be inaccurate in the ages they recorded or the immigrants to misinform the person recording information.  I have seen this a lot in my genealogy research.

Surprisingly, David and Mary arrived without any of their children, so I will keep looking through these records to see if I can find arrivals of the sons separately.

The only records I have yet to uncover are birth records for any of the sons in Nova Scotia and a death record for David Fuller.  Mary Fuller died in Portland in Sept 16, 1873.  She died as a widow.  There is no records of David Fuller after 1858 in Portland.  I have speculated that he returned to Nova Scotia at some point and died while there, but have been unable to find any death records in Maine or Canada.

One more mystery solved.  So many more to go.

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