Sunday, February 12, 2012

Research Challenge!

While I was in Salt Lake City, I had a few minutes here and there to do a little searching around in the book collection. I found something that struck me as a possible lead so I took a quick photo of the page with my iphone so I could come back to it and do a little background searching once I got home.

The book was an index to baptismal records from St John's Church in Portsmouth, NH from 1795-1884. The entry was for the baptism of 5 year old Charles Henry Thomas Stevens Hudgen in 1833. His parents are listed as Lewis Hudgen and Hannah Stevens. Hannah's parents were sponsors and were named Charles and Lydia Stevens.

The reason I was interested in this listing is because my oldest known immigrant ancestor is Charles Thomas Stevens of England, and later, of Portsmouth, NH. His wife was Lydia Jacobs. He is believed to have been born around 1754 and his emigration to America is currently unknown but it was before the 1790s, when he appears to have been married and settled in New Hampshire. He died in the 1840s at nearly 90 years of age and is buried in the crypts at the Old North Church in Boston. Charles and Lydia had several children, but up to this point only 2 have been identified by name; Charles T., born about 1815, and Mary T. Stevens Lovejoy, born about 1807. So the belief is that this Hannah Stevens Hudgen could be one of the previously unknown children of the immigrant Charles and that means another lead to finding out more about him. He is one of my brick wall ancestors in that I know next to nothing about his early life.

So, obviously I wanted to find out more about this Lewis and Hannah Hudgen of Boston. First place I turn to is the 1850 census. No luck there. Then I figured that if little Charles Henry was 5 years old in 1833, he would have been born about 1828 meaning the family should have been together in 1830. So I go to the 1830 census. No luck there either. Nor for the 1840 or 1870 census. I start searching for Charles across all census years in Boston and in all of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, no luck. Hannah, no luck. Lewis, no luck. Then I go to the Massachusetts Archives vital records search looking for either Lewis or Hannah's deaths (the search begins in 1841, too late to look for their marriage or for Charles' birth), no luck there either.

So where in the world is the Lewis Hudgen family that would have been at least a group of 3 at the time of the 1830 census, and who were living in Boston at the time of their son's baptism in New Hampshire in 1833?


  1. Assuming you've used wildcard searches to account for spelling variations you should consider that the young family may have been living with relatives or an employer. Not sure about the norms in New England, but this was very common in the south.

  2. Hi, Susan! I have indeed tried wildcard searches, without success. You're absolutely right, searching with known relatives or a possible employer would be a great tactic. The employer, at least at this time, is a no go because I don't know what Lewis' profession was. Living with family is an option, however, they do not appear to be living with Hannah's parents in 1830, and I haven't been able to find possibles for Lewis' parents yet. The only siblings for Hannah (if she is in fact the person I think she may be) are Charles T. and Mary. Charles was only a teenager at the time of the 1830 census and was living with his parents in Portsmouth. Mary was married to Loyal Lovejoy at this time and though they were living in Boston in 1830, they do not have extended family living with them that fit the ages of Hannah, Lewis, and Charles.

  3. also has the Boston city directory for 1830 and 1833, but no Lewis Hudgen or any variation that I can come up with was found.

    The plot thickens!

  4. I stumbled upon your blog a while a go and I could not stop reading! I just wanna thanks you for sharing it so we all can learn about it! See also family trees to trace your family heritage. Thanks.