Saturday, August 25, 2012

William Henry Wilkinson and Josephine Chase, married in 1872 New Hampshire

That William H. Wilkinson of Rochester in the State of 
New Hampshire and Josephine B. Chase of Conway
in the State of New Hampshire were by me Joined together in
on the sixteenth day of December in the year of our Lord
One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Two
In Presence of
Rachel W. Bailey            J. Hawks
Eva M. Hawks                    Pastor

This lovely, framed wedding certificate belonged to William Henry Wilkinson and was passed down in his family.  I've had trouble tracing his descendants.  The New Hampshire records seem to be missing quite a few of the important people needed to find someone to pass this document on to. The certificate is beautifully framed, but it is torn in a few places. It is very legible and easy to read, although the ink is fading.  Someone had it professionally framed and matted, which must have cost quite a bit. This wedding document would be priceless to a family member.

The certificate was last owned by Robert Purdy of Rochester, New Hampshire and Oregon.  He left the certificate and a house full of heirlooms to his neice.  She would like to return this certificate to a descendant of William Henry Wilkinson.  Robert Purdy was born in Rochester, and his parents were Robert Purdy and Ruth Wilkinson. I have not found any record of Ruth Wilkinson in the vital records, nor a marriage record to Robert Purdy.  However I did find the following in the 1920 Federal Census of Rochester, New Hampshire:

Wilkinson, William H, head, age 70, b. NH, father b. ME, mother b. ME, baggage handler, railroad
           Josephine B, wife, age 55, b. NH, father b. NH, mother b. ME
Purdy, Robert, grandson in law, age 20, b. Mass, father b. US, mother b. US
         Ruth, granddaughter, age 17, b. NH, father b. Mass, mother b. NH, saleslady, newstand

William Henry Wilkinson was born in September 1849 in Rochester, New Hampshire, the son of William Henry Wilkinson and Mary Lord.  He was a descendant of Thomas Wilkinson who married Elizabeth Caverly in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1715.  His lineage is Thomas Wilkinson > James Wilkinson  > William Wilkinson >William Henry Wilkinson >William Henry Wilkinson, II. This William Henry Wilkinson, Jr. (1849 - 1926) is my first cousin 4x removed.  He married Josephine Berry Chase on 1872 in Conway, New Hampshire.  She was the daughter of John Chase and Nancy Berry.  Then had at least six children:

1.  Millie A. Wilkinson, born about 1874, married Windsor Ward Berry on 8 August 1894 in Rochester, New Hampshire.  They had two children: 1) Harold Edgar Berry born 8 September 1896 in Peabody, Massachusetts 2) Milton Theodore Berry born 12 March 1899 in New Hampshire m. Elizabeth Unknown.

2.) John W. Wilkinson, born 1 October 1877 in Portsmouth, died 7 July 1878 in Portsmouth

3.) Franklin Wilkinson, born 15 October 1879 in Conway, New Hampshire, died 20 April 1944 in Rochester, New Hampshire.  It is unknown if he ever married or had descendants.

4.) Henry Wilkinson, born 14 October 1881 in New Hampshire, married Beatrice Muriel Fielding and had two children: 1)  Mary M. Wilkinson, born about 1916 in Massachusetts  2.) A son born 2 June 1914 in Malden, Massachusetts

5.)  Charles W. Wilkinson, born 7 October 1884 in Rochester, died 26 November 1884 in Rochester

6.) George H. Wilkinson, born 28 May 1886 in Rochester, died 29 March 1887 in Rochester.

From this I cannot seem to find a living descendant.  Robert Purdy of Oregon did not have any children. He left a large bequest to the Rochester Congregational Church.   I don't know who the granddaughter Ruth was born to, perhaps there was another daughter besides Millie?  Another son? Perhaps Franklin married and was Ruth's father?   Part of this mystery is that I cannot seem to find this family in the 1880 census, nor can I find Ruth in any earlier census before 1920.

I would love to reunite this framed wedding certificate to a living descendant.  Are you out there?

UPDATE!  -  28 August 2012  I found the obituary of Josephine Chase Wilkinson.  It names descendants.  Do you know any of these folks?

The Portsmouth Herald,  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Tuesday, January 13, 1942, page 3

 "Last Rites Held"
"Funeral Services for Mrs. Josephine Chase Wilkinson, 86 were held this afternoon with Rev. M. Ernest Hall, DD pastor of the First Church Congregational, officiating.
Mrs. Wilkinson, who died Sunday at the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Ruth Dempsey, 27 Leonard Street, was born in Conway, the daughter of John and Nancy (Berry) Chase.  She had been a resident of Rochester for 70 years.
She leaves a daughter, Mrs. Millie Berry, a brother, Horatio Chase of North Conway, two sons, Franklin Wilkinson and Henry Wilkinson of Rochester, two granddaughters, Mrs. Ruth Dempsey of Rochester and Mrs. Nancy Roy of Malden, Mass; a grandson, Milton Berry of Nashua, and three great grandchildren, Robert Purdy of Rochester, Vilma Berry of Nashua and Donald Roy of Malden, Mass.
Burial was in the family lot in Rochester cemetery."

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Heather,

    The Ruth Purdy above is probably the daughter of Robert & Ruth L (Berry) Purdy. Ruth L. was the daughter of Herbert & Millie (Wilkinson) Berry according to her marriage record.

    Name: Robert P. Purdy
    Titles & Terms:
    Event: Marriage
    Event Date: 13 Feb 1919
    Event Place: Barrington, , New Hampshire
    Age: 19 [b abt 1900]
    Father: Duncan C. Purdy
    Mother: Louise G. Carr
    Spouse: Ruth L. Berry
    Spouse's Age: 18
    Spouse's Estimated Birth Year: 1901
    Spouse's Father: Herbert Berry
    Spouse's Mother: Millie Wilkinson
    Film Number: 2069877
    Digital Folder Number: 4245727
    Image Number: 81

    I'm not a descendant. Just adding a little tiny piece to your puzzle.

    Janice Brown

    1. Ooooh, thanks, Janice. That's a good piece to find!

  2. Heather I will share this with some pages Thanks for posting

  3. Thank you for all the time and research you have put into this. What a beautiful thing!

  4. Millie was my mom's grandmother. I did not know my grandfather as he was deceased before I was born. I would love to have this certificate.

    1. Dear "Unknown", please email me at and we can make arrangements to get you this certificate.