Back when I was a teen aged kid, in the 1970's, before computers and the internet, I started working on my family history. As a teenager, I was very intimidated by the librarians and archivists in some repositories. They definitely did not like genealogists, and they did not like children. I had to get permission to step inside several archives, including interviews. The staff at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester often stopped to ask me what I was doing in the building, but I had a badge and my name was on the “researcher” list when I was fifteen.
It was difficult at times to untangle what I was reading in the vital records. Can you imagine finding some sort of mystery and not having Twitter, Facebook or email to instantly consult with fellow genealogists? None of my teen friends were helpful, and the genealogy class I attended was full of retired people who were new at genealogy, too. I didn't know a single experienced genealogist, except my genealogy teacher. There were no genealogy clubs. I was on my own!
And so, upon studying my 5x great grandmother, I found her marriage record to be very confusing. Working backwards from my 4x great grandparents, Andrew Munroe and Ruth Simonds, I saw that they were married on 22 March 1785 in Woburn (now Burlington), Massachusetts. Ruth’s parents were Caleb Simonds and Susanna Converse. Andrew’s parents were listed as Andrew Munroe and Mary Simonds. In trying to find Mary’s marriage and parents, I ran into problems.
It turned out that Mary Simonds was really Mary Mixer, daughter of Joseph Mixer and Mary Ball and the widow of Daniel Simonds. She was married to Daniel Simonds in 1749, to Andrew Munroe in 1763 (and had a son, Andrew, jr.), and to Caleb Simonds (cousin to Daniel) in 1774. Caleb Simonds was married twice, first to Susanna Converse in 1746 (and had a daughter Ruth), and then to Mary (Mixer) Munroe.
Yes, Ruth Simonds married her step brother. Eleven years after Caleb and Mary married, she married Andrew Munroe, Jr. on 22 March 1785.
Susanna Converse m. Caleb Simonds m. Mary Mixer m. Andrew Munroe
Ruth Simonds m. Andrew Munroe, Jr.
Luther Simonds Munroe
(my 3x great grandfather)
Not only was this eye brow raising to me at age fourteen, it was difficult to sort out on my own. However, it slowly unraveled, and was quite a relief to find that everything worked out without any incestuous marriages.
Then I found out that Luther Simonds Munroe had married Olive Flint in 1826, and her parents were named John Flint and Phebe Flint. Can’t you just hear me saying “Here we go again!”
Since this time, I've found several cases of step siblings marrying in my family tree. Also first cousins marrying, lots of second cousins and third cousins marrying, and siblings marrying the widowed spouse of a sibling. I think I've seen it all, over and over, which is not unusual in New England, and probably not unusual anywhere else.
Click here for my Simonds lineage:
Click here for my Mixer lineage:
Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo