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Ask a Genealogist: Researching Maine and Cuba.

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Question:

Daniel Nash Handy b. 11 June 1875 (Prospect Harbor, Maine);  d. 17 Oct 1948, Braintree, Mass., son of Marcus H. Handy b. June 1847 Maine; d. 12 July 1881 (Centrifugos, Cuba). Nothing found in Maine State Archives or Prospect Harbor records. Was Daniel Nash Handy (my grandfather) born at sea? If so, on what ship (the brig Marena)? Did Marcus H Handy (my great grandfather) die at sea or in Cuba? Where was he buried?

 

Answer:

Unfortunately, the vital records for some areas of Maine are not as complete as we would like. Likewise, it is always possible in this period of time that the parents did not go into town to have the birth registered. In such situations, it is always good to check the church records for a baptism. However, the absence of a birth of Daniel Nash Handy in the vital records does not mean he was born at sea. In fact, his father ran a shipping business and it is unlikely that he would have taken his wife on board, especially if she was pregnant. So it is more likely that the birth was simply not recorded. Daniel maintains throughout all records that I found of his name that he was born in Maine.

In regard to where his father, Marcus H. Handy, died, newspapers are often the best resource for finding such information. And in fact, there was a mention of the death of Captain Marcus H. Handy that appears in the 2 August 1881 issue of the Machias Union that states that he died of yellow fever at Cionfuegos. It further states that Captain Cates, of the brig Motley, of Machias, was with Handy “in his sickness and kindly attended to the burial.” This would indicate to me that Marcus Handy was quarantined somewhere in Cionfuegos while sick and then was buried there after he died.

Of interest also was that Daniel Nash Handy’s oldest child, Helen, was born in Puerto Rico, according to the 1910 census. So it is possible that the family traveled down there for a time while Daniel was at sea and before he settled in Massachusetts for good.

In regard to where the books of the ship are likely to be found, in addition to visiting Peabody Essex Museum and Mystic Seaport, you may also want to search the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/ to see if there are other records for the brig Marena or Marcus H. Handy that have been deposited somewhere that you hadn’t expected. This catalog is an attempt to identify manuscript collections around the country.

In addition, there was a write up about Daniel Nash Handy and his involvement in Insurance Libraries and Special Libraries. Some of his records are said to be at the archives of the Insurance Library Association of Boston www.insurancelibrary.org.

Posted by David Lambert at 06/12/2013 04:30:08 PM | 


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