Making sense of conflicting records

I'd be interested in Chris' or anyone's take on this little dilemma: Ephraim Leighton Sr., born Jan. 1765, Edgecomb, died 10 Dec. 1849, Augusta, or so his tombstone says. However, he appears on the 1850 census. He is living with his son, Ephraim Jr., where he was living since at least the 1840 census. The census was enumerated in August 1850. In this case, if another record cannot be found, I'm thinking I would defer to the census but I'm not sure. How could a stone carver get a date wrong, unless it was carved after the fact...? Any thoughts?

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Comment by Chris Dunham on June 8, 2013 at 9:26pm

If Ephraim died in Dec. 1849, he should have appeared on the 1850 Mortality Schedule. He does not. By his own account, he was born in January 1765. His gravestone says he was 86 years old, which would place his date of death in 1851.

His son and daughter-in-law died in the 1870s, and have stones similar to Ephraim's, while a grandson who died in 1848 has a stone of a different shape. I suspect that Ephraim's stone was placed years after his death, and that the date is incorrect.

Ephraim's death was possibly mentioned in one or more of the Augusta newspapersThe Maine Farmer might be available through Proquest at a university library near you (I think NEHGS members also get access to this database; it might be worth tracking one down to ask). I would check the issues right after 10 Dec. 1850 and 10 Dec. 1851 to see if you can find Ephraim's death notice.

Comment by Gayle on June 8, 2013 at 10:34pm

Thanks for the tips, Chris. I will definitely follow up on this. I never looked at the shape or style of the stones. Duh! Another puzzle I have is trying to locate his wife, Esther Tibbetts. She's not buried in the family plot. I have found her in the 1830 census but not 1840. I did not know how to access the Mortality Schedule so I'll try to find some evidence of her there. I would really love to try and find her grave. She's a really difficult case. Though her name has survived [children, grand children gr-grandchildren, etc. bear her name as their middle name], and their marriage is documented, her exact birth date, death date and parents remain elusive... Thanks again.

Comment by Chris Dunham on June 8, 2013 at 10:50pm

Unfortunately, mortality schedules were only compiled for the 1850-1880 censuses, so I don't think they will be helpful in this case.

Comment by Ben York on June 12, 2013 at 7:20pm

Here is a newspaper clipping from 

Date: Tuesday, April 1, 1851  

Paper: Portland Advertiser (Portland, ME)

Comment by Chris Dunham on June 12, 2013 at 7:55pm

Great work, Ben. I read that as "In Augusta, 15th inst. [i.e. 15th of March 1851], Ephraim Leighton, aged 86."

Comment by Gayle on June 12, 2013 at 8:40pm

Ben -- thank you so much -- so nice of you! Can you tell me what it says [I can't read the words right after "In Augusta..." and where/how you got it. I tried the newspaper archive but couldn't find anything there. -- Gayle

Comment by Gayle on June 12, 2013 at 8:48pm

Thanks! So I found the same thing through Does anyone have thoughts -- is this website worth a subscription? Not sure how much, they don't say on their first screen which leads me to believe it's expensive. I checked to see if their database is available through my local library [Fold3, for instance, is free through my library membership], but didn't find it. I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts. They offer 30 days free... Thanks. Gayle.

Comment by Ben York on June 13, 2013 at 5:36am

I believe Chris has it decoded (message below the article).

Yes this article was from Genealogy Bank. Their subscription is $69.95 a year, And just like newspaper archive they don't have every newspaper available or/and missing some dates. I've searched both sites for your Esther Tibbetts Leighton and could not find her there, Also searched the (MOCA) Maine old cemetery association  records of Kennebec county and did not see any record for her.

Comment by Gayle on June 13, 2013 at 8:50am

Thanks so much Ben. I was wondering if Genealogy Bank was available through another source. Chris mentioned Proquest but I haven't checked into that yet. It's an absolute mystery what happened to Esther but I haven't given up yet. In the past, I have tried talking directly with people in Mt. Vernon, Parkman and Rome but with no result. I feel that maybe her name is misspelled in a record some where. But I just can't believe there's absolutely no record of her -- though women are much harder to find that's for sure. It's clear that her name is correct because it appears in published histories of towns [like Wellman in Iowa] and others, and that information probably came straight from the family. The name TIbbetts is used over and over as middle names several generations after her. It's so odd to me that a person can exist, or seemingly so but no record/proof of her. I feel like there must be a link between her and Capt. Henry Tibbetts under whom Ephraim served in 1776 but that hasn't been absolutely proven either. We've been working off the idea that her parents were Stephen Tibbetts and Thankful Oates/Otis but that may not be correct. There are records of their children and no "Esther" is listed there. By the way, I told my mom about you finding the record on Ephraim and she was so pleased. The discrepancy between the gravestone and the census has bothered me for some time. Thanks again for that!


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