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Question: I am trying to collect documentation to apply to a lineage society. I need more information on several ancestors, especially a father who was born in Plymouth, Mass., in 1767 and died in 1848 in Paris, Maine, and his son, who was born in Paris in 1796 and died in North Bridgton, Maine, in 1846. Currently I only have secondary information from books. I am not sure where to look next, and I need help in connecting these ancestors to previous generations and figuring out where to find land records and local church records.
Answer by Genealogist Rhonda R. McClure: When applying to lineage societies, you are generally required to supply copies of as many original documents as possible. Vital records, church records, and probate records establish dates and also prove the connections from one generation to another.
Plymouth vital records were part of the published series of Massachusetts vital records and members and registered users can search those records for free at AmericanAncestors.org. You should also look at the probate records for Plymouth County to see if they mention your ancestor.
Many of the records that you need are on microfilm and accessible through FamilySearch.org. The land records for all of the counties in Massachusetts have been digitized and made available online at FamilySearch.org, though they have not been indexed. This means you must "browse" the images. In addition, the probate records for Plymouth County are available online in a browse images format.
Paris is in Oxford County, and North Bridgton is a village in Bridgton, in Cumberland County. Neither Paris nor Bridgton submitted copies of their vital records to the state's pre-1892 collection of VRs. Therefore, you will need to turn your attention to the original town records. These are available on microfilm through FamilySearch.org and can be ordered to be sent to your local FamilySearch Center for viewing. You will need the vital records to verify the dates of birth and death that you mentioned above. These records may not indicate parents' names in all instances, especially the death records.
Some of what you will need to gather for your application will not be found online, but could be available on microfilm. In some instances, you may need to write directly to the town clerk for a vital record.
Church records, often used as a vital record alternative, may also be on microfilm. If you cannot find them online through FamilySearch, you may need to do some research into the area's earliest churches and determine whether they are still in operation. If not, you may need to contact an archive for the appropriate denomination to see where the records have been deposited.
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