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  • NEXUS Interview and Case Study: Francis R. Minton, Genealogical Researcher

    Francis Minton and Natalie Marko

    Published Date : December 1987
    Recently, one of NEHGS’s members, Francis R. Minton of Wollaston, Massachusetts, put his generous heart and his genealogical sleuthing skills to work to help a woman in the Boston area find her family.  She and one of her sisters had become separated from other family members when they were adopted as young children.  Mr. Minton spotted Marion Beffre’s plea for help in the Genealogical Helper and volunteered to help her.

    It seems that Marion Josephine Kenney (born 17 Dec. 1927) and her sister Mary Rose Bridget (born 4 July 1924), the daughters of Edward and Gladys (Cameron or Cochrane) Kenney, were adopted in 1932 by Edward F. and Mary B. (Drummond) Culliton.  There was also another daughter and a son born to the Kenneys, but Mrs. Beffre had no idea of their whereabouts.

    Because Mrs. Beffre could supply this much information, it was not necessary to go through the court system to obtain names and dates, but Mr. Minton realized that he would have to discover more about her parents and grandparents in order to track down any living members of her family.  Since at least four children were born to the Kenneys by 1927, he deduced that the marriage probably occurred between 1919 and 1922.  A search of marriage records at the Bureau of Vital Statistics revealed that Edward Joseph Kenney and Gladys Marjorie Cameron were married at Malden, Massachusetts, 30 April 1920. Edward’s parents were James and Rose (Curley) Kenney, and Gladys’s parents were Kenneth W. and Jennie (Corliss) Cameron.  Mr. Minton checked the Malden city directories in the NEHGS library and found the Kenneys listed until 1924, then listed as removed to Somerville, Massachusetts.  Their names did not appear in the Somerville directory until 1929, and by 1932 only Edward was listed.

    Mr. Minton next checked the Vital Statistics for the death records of Edward and Gladys (Cameron) Kenney. He found that Edward had died on 22 February 1944 at Malden, Massachusetts, divorced from Gladys. The death certificate named his brother Thomas C. Kenney as informant.  This Thomas C. Kenney was Sports Editor for the Malden Evening News for 50 years, so Mr. Minton examined the microfilmed obituaries of that newspaper for more clues.  He discovered that Edward Kenney had five brothers, some of whom lived out of state, but put that information on hold until he had exhausted other possibilities.

    Middlesex and Suffolk County courthouse records did not include the divorce of Edward and Gladys, nor any remarriage for Gladys.  (Later it was learned from the family that these events had probably occurred in New York state.)  A search for the death record of Edward’s brother Thomas C. revealed his death in 1958 and his informant to be his second wife Carolyn Wickwire Kenney, who died in 1959.  Although a son of her first marriage was contacted, he knew nothing of the Kenney adoptions.

    Back to the drawing board, Mr. Minton decided to follow the family of Gladys (Cameron) Kenney. Having found the name of Mrs. Beffre’s grandparents from her parents’ marriage record, he looked for the death record of either Kenneth W. or Jennie (Corliss) Cameron, hoping to find the name of an informant and the names of the brother and sister who were missing.  The death record of Kenneth stated that he died 4 March 1913 (age 34) and named Jennie, his wife, as the informant.

    Mr. Minton next looked for Jennie’s death record through 1930, but then surmised that as Jennie was only 31 when her husband died, she might very well have remarried.  This turned out to be the case; she had married a Thomas G. Evans of Wakefield on 12 June 1917, in Somerville, Massachusetts.  On the assumption that Jennie and Thomas Evans had lived out their lives in Massachusetts, he searched for their death records (through the 1980s, as more and more people are living to be 90 + years of age).  He found that Thomas died at age 96 on 8 August 1974, and the record named Jennie as the informant. Jennie herself died at age 98 on 1 April 1980, with the informant being her daughter Mrs. Dorothy Wright, whose address was given.  A check of the local telephone books revealed an Edwin J. Wright, Jr., at that address!

    Mrs. Marion Beffre, upon learning this news from Mr. Minton, telephoned Mrs. Wright, who was very pleased to hear from her.  Mrs. Wright had traced her own ancestry to the 1500s in England, and had tried for many years to locate Marion and her sister Mary Rose.  She had been unsuccessful because she did not know their adoptive name and the records were restricted.  Their reunion was joyful and Mrs. Wright was able to answer many questions about her family for Mrs. Beffre.  After 55 years, Marion was reunited with her brother Edward J. Kenney of New Jersey, and with her sister Gladys Manning of Hyde Park, Massachusetts. An [229] ironic note-as a child, Marion had passed her Grandmother Cameron’s house every day on her way to school!

    Mr. Minton feels that without the New England Historic Genealogical Society, its resources, and the skills he developed there, he could not have been instrumental in bringing about a happy ending to Marion Beffre’s search for her family.

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