Vital Records of Place:Buxton, York, Maine, United States.
The associated files in this project are a transcript of, and index to, the Buxton Vital Records with the permission of the Buxton town clerk's office (filmed by the FHL as film 0010594). These records generally cover from about just before the Revolution (1760's) into the late 1800's, with a few outliers.
The data files attempt to provide the data faithfully as found on the film. No re-organization of the records has been done as the main goal is to provide a transcript, preserving the original context as well as the recorded facts. Any contributions or notations of the compiler are wrapped in brackets, even when merely expanding ditto marks. For further comments on the design of this project, see the detailed Notes.
Not an Authoritative Source
I regret any errors that have crept into these transcripts, but I know some have. Hopefully, these errors will gradually be discovered and corrected. Still, serious research should always refer to the original. This transcript is only meant as a finding aid, not as an authoritative source. The FHL film may be ordered through your local Family History Center if anything represented here appears to be of interest to you.
Important Note on Status
1 Jan 2014: Proofreading has stalled and I have lost access to the film (probably fixable) and the software used to rebuild the index after changes (probably not fixable). So no further work is being done or anticipated on this project, especially in view of the increasing availability of much of this data directly or indirectly on familysearch.org. If for example, people wish to create links in this document pointing to various pages, they will no longer be overwritten by updates. Please be very careful to make sure all additions are clearly indicated as annotations, so as to preserve the transcript property of the base document. No matter how much the transcript is, or appears to be in error, do not change the transcript portions without consulting the actual film. Integrity of the transcript within the limits of human error is goal number one.
25 Jan 2011: While the transcript has been completed and indexed, it has not been systematically proofread. That work is proceeding, is expected to take a year or more, and updates will be posted at irregular intervals. The data was posted at this early stage because, even with the inevitable errors, it should be close enough to the actual records to be useful as a finding aid . These files should not be changed, as any changes that are made, will be lost when future updates are posted.
4 Feb 2011: Book 1 has been proofread (about 5% of the pages), plus miscellaneous errors fixed. Work is proceeding apace and the one year estimate to complete the proofreading is probably reasonable. Compiler annotations have been added in italics where external research was done. This is generally because the record was hard to read, or because the index showed differing data elsewhere in the files, or because a name was not recognized as a Buxton family, or because a name was spelled funny, but could be simply out of curiosity, and I just thought others might find the reference useful. Regardless of what an external source may say, what is presented as the actual transcript is only what the record appears to contain.
Messages about this project may be posted on the Talk pages of this project, or sent by email to Jrich. Given the volume of data here, please remember a few points:
The FHL film contains five books, which, for brevity as well as descriptiveness, I referred to as books 1, 3, 3M, 4, and I. 1, 3, and 4 mostly contain births and deaths, 3M contains marriages, and I mostly contains intentions of marriage. I created an index of the records and, for simplicity, it is treated as Book X.
The articles containing transcripts are named BuxtonVR-<book>-<digit>00 where <book> indicates which book it comes from (1, 3, 3M, 4 and I) and <digit> indicates which block of one hundred pages is contained in that article. Therefore, BuxtonVR-4-200 is pages 200 through 299 of Book 4.
The articles containing the index are named BuxtonVR-X-<prefix>. The prefix gives the prefix of the last entry of the file. The index files must be considered in alphabetical order. Thus, BuxtonVR-X-A (the first file) contains all surnames starting with A. The next file, BuxtonVR-X-BE, would contain surnames starting with BA through BE. The following file, Buxton-VR-BO contains BF through BO, etc.
Book X (Index)
Most people will want to start by finding the appropriate index file for their surname in the list below and going there.
The index records are ordered by surname, then given name, then the year of the event, if known. The index is over twice as big as the data because many of the original records generate multiple index entries. For example, a birth will generate an entry for the child and both parents. Plus the index entry attempts to provide enough information that one will have an idea of what the record says. Thus, for names like John Smith, the reader may not have to bother look at each and every record listed in the index for that common name because it is obvious from the year or other information that it could not apply.
Reminder: The character string in the file names identifies the prefix of the surname of the last entry in each file.
Town Records, Births & Deaths, Vol. 1, 1773-1802 Most of this book is minutes of town meetings. About 60 pages towards the end of the book contains some vital records. No transcription was made of the minutes of town meetings (roughly the first 300 pages), and no attempt was made to mine these pages for genealogical clues. The transcript is limited to those pages dedicated to vital records.
Record of Birth & Deaths, Vol. 3, 1773-1890 A note on page 6 indicates that records up to that point were copied from Book 1. A note on page 10 indicates that records ending there were copied from Book 2. (Book 2 apparently is like book 1, mostly town records, but was not filmed, so the copies in book 3 are all that was available.)
Most of this book is birth and death records organized by family. The first thirty pages of this book give both facing pages the same page number (i.e, 60 pages of material). After page 30, each side of page is given its own page number. Some later pages (316, 321-392) attempted to align data into columns which complicated transcripting, so I deviated from a strict text transcript, and I used some of the HTML table features for these pages.
Record of Marriages, Book 3, 1773-1890 The first page says this is marriages copied from old marriage books 1 & 2, which were not themselves included in the filming. Most of the copying was done by Robert Wentworth, who has very nice handwriting, but we are not able to determine how well he preserved authentic spellings, etc. The copying was completed 1854, and then this book was used for new records after that.
Pages after 214 where not labelled with their page number so any page numbers shown were by my own counting. There were two pair of pages done in the format of a 15 column table on page 215 and 216 (each one spreading over to the respective facing page). When laid out in a horizontal table, the display of these tables is so wide that it is hard to use, so it was converted to a vertical table, columns becoming rows, essentially. Starting with page 236, the records were again placed into a columnar layout, but since only 5 columns were used, this was nicely represented by HTML tables in its original orientation. In the early pages of this book, records appeared to be rearranged by the clerk to start with the date of the marriage (i.e., at the left edge of the page). Later, this practice was only intermittently followed, but it caused some records to contain redundant dates. On some of the records in this book, the clerk sketched a facsimile of the stamp that must have indicated payment, and this is noted by a comment in brackets, but I have made no attempt to duplicate the sketch, as it appears to contain no genealogical information.
Unfortunately, the last file, BuxtonVR-3M-200, may seem slow to load due to the heavy use of tables, and the formatting time required by your browser.
Family Records, Book 4 1747-1887 The first page indicates that this book is also a copy of old books made by Robert Wentworth. The source of the information is not precisely identified. Since no attempt has been made to identify duplicate records, it is not known how much of this, if any, duplicates Book 3. The index should give a good indication. The records seem to begin in the early 1800s.
Intentions of Marriages 1747-1891 This book mostly contains intentions of marriages starting about 1847 with some marriage returns at the end. A good number of the entries record one date for the registering of the intention, and after the proscribed publishing, a second date when the certificate (license) was issued. Presumably most of the minister's returns of the solemnized marriages that completes this three-step process will be found in Book 3M or in the later sections of this book.
Simple Transcript to Preserve Context
There is a tension between presenting vital records in original order to preserve context, and alphabetic order to facilitate searching without needing an equally large (or larger) index. The first approach was chosen, and since the medium is known to be scrollable web pages, a very detailed index is being provided that hopefully will work nicely with computerized searching to find specific individuals or families.
Index Rationalizes Spelling
In order to deal with the vagaries of phonetic spelling, versus the preciseness of computers, the indices attempt to group various spelling of names together, so that it likely all the records in the index for a single person will appear in a group for ease of finding. For example, Elden and Eldon are both indexed as Elden. This is done for both surnames and given names. In some cases, the groupings used may seem arbitrary, may be different than most readers would chose, or may appear to lack a strong justification. That cannot be helped as usages have changed over time, and my knowledge of the origins of various names and surnames is limited, and there are some inherently ambiguous sitations (according to wikipedia, Mattie can be a nickname for Madison, Martha, or Matilda, all three of which given names occur in Buxton, so do I group it with one of those, or none?) Since the index records contain the original spelling and the index headers contain the "rationalized" spelling, hopefully a search for either string of characters will be effective and such issues will cause, at worst, minor irritation only.
Transcript Preserves Original Spelling
Unlike with the index, in the transcript, I have tried to faithfully preserve the original wording and spelling of records, and form of the dates. However I was unable to completely recreate the layout, especially for some of the marriage intentions. In some cases I have added punctation and combined multi-line entries into a single entry for clarity and to take advantage of webpage formats. I did not spend much effort analyzing periods due to commonness of stray marks, resting spots for the pen, difficulty of distinguishing between commas and periods, spreckles on the film, etc.
I tried to make it clear, by adding comments, when things are written between lines [interlined], crossed out, or written in the margin. These can be useful clues that information has been added or changed after the fact. In some rare cases, this may be useful context. Most of the time, it appears to make no difference. "[sic]" is used to indicate where I specifically double-checked something that a reader (or myself when reviewing the data) might otherwise suspect was a probable transcription error.
Currently, it is not possible to distinguish between my additions due to context (i.e., blank name on a death record usually means the same name as the line above) versus my additions that are merely expanding ditto marks in the original. In both cases, this expansion was necessary for indexing, and I treated them both the same in my initial pass. However, I now believe these should have been marked differently, and I hope to correct this during proofreading. Expanding of ditto marks is relatively trivial, since there is some indication of what is meant, while any context-based addition of mine is more subject to interpretation error on my part.
Using computer text, it is difficult to duplicate everything that can be written in cursive. In particular, colonial records often abbreviated words by using a superscripted letter at the end. My convention (borrowed from various books I have used) is to indicate this with an apostrophe. For example, the word "Rev'd" (Revd) in the original) would indicate the abbreviation for Reverend. In the original, the 'd' is written raised above the other letters, sometimes with a period or other mark underneath it. Sometimes when modern conventions are followed, the apostrophe may be omitted, e.g., "5th" instead of "5'th". This approach was taken because the original project design was attempting to limit the transcript to what could be done in a plain text file.
There are always records that are not readable and for some records I could only provide a guess indicated by an attached question mark, or could not even hazard a guess. When records were simply unreadable, I did make some efforts to use external sources like church records and census records. If these alternates were not incompatible with what I could make out, a substitution was done. I have added notes where I noticed discrepancies, but my purpose was not do a comprehensive search for all differences between the various sources. I hope to research unreadable records more thoroughly during the proofreading phase.
There are some known duplicate records, but no effort was made to consolidate them, or even note them. Duplicate records would both be transcripted, would both be indexed, and it is up to the reader in their survey of records to identify the possible duplicates and decide if they are truly duplicate records of the same event, or not.
I would like to express my appreciation for the office of the town clerk of Buxton which was incredibly responsive to my request for permission for this project.
This project was conceived as a way to try and pay forward all those people who have made genealogical information available which I have used, including the Family History Library and many, many websites that take the time to make transcripts of various original documents available that, in all likelihood, I would probably not get to access otherwise.
Unfortunately, this project was probably jumped into too hastily, and started with no real concept of how vast an undertaking this effort would be. This has caused it to spread over years before it will get completed. Some of the data has been since published by the Family Search Indexing of Maine records since I started. (Specifically on that point, I believe there is still value in having the surrounding context of the records, not to mention that my interpretation of the handwriting of some records varies from the volunteers of that project.) It remains to be seen if my experiments with indexing prove to be at all useful.