Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mary Elizabeth Haley - adoption

I have worked hard to put together a complete genealogy of my Haley family, and there were only two challenges that remained.

Until recently.

Now, there is only one.

The one Haley mystery I solved was that of Mary Elizabeth Haley, born 14 October 1860 in Plympton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.  Her parents were John Barrett Haley and Mary Peterson.

John died 5 July 1862 at Fort Monroe, Hampton County, Virginia.

Mary (Peterson) Haley remarried on 3 June 1866 to Moses Sherman in Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.  However, she died shortly thereafter on 25 March 1871 in Marshfield.

The two eldest daughters of John and Mary had documented marriages, and - while I'm not sure how they lived between 1871 and 1880 - were old enough not to be adopted or have their names changed.

Mary Elizabeth Haley was only 11 years old when her mother died, and I did not find her in her stepfather's family in the 1880 census.  I could not find a marriage or death record for her, so I surmised that her name was changed.  But who adopted her?

I started with the closest family members - her older sisters.  However, neither of her older sisters adopted her when they married. 

Before I even had an opportunity to start analyzing aunts and uncles, I had a chance encounter with Google that gave me the answer.

When I Googled "Mary Elizabeth Haley" I came up with the following result:

"List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in Massachusetts 1780-1892", Collated and Published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth under Authority of Chapter 191 of the Acts of the Year 1893. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1972.
I felt it was too much to hope; there were many Haley familys from Ireland who had settled in Boston, and the odds that this was my Mary Elizabeth Haley seemed slim.  Our Haley family had pretty much stuck to Plymouth County.
The website with the list of name changes gave the following entry:
1872 Apr 8 Mary Elizabeth Haley * Mary Elizabeth Thompson Marshfield
It was her!  I had been spared a huge amount of legwork (researching aunts and uncles), simply by Googling her name.  The answer was staring me in the face:
She was adopted by her maternal aunt and uncle, Daniel H. & Lydia A. (Peterson) Thompson.
After that, locating records on Mary Elizabeth (Haley) Thompson was a piece of cake.
She married Sidney Smith Baker on 30 September 1889 in Marshfield.  They had 6 children total, 4 of whom were still living in 1910.  The four children who lived to adulthood were Sally Thompson Baker (b. 1890), Sidney Smith Baker, Jr. (b. 1899), Arthur H. Baker (b. 1900), and Milton Baker (b. 1903).
I found birth records on 5 of the children, a death record on one, census entries through 1920 on all, census entires through 1930 on 3 of them, and even two Social Security Death Index entries.  I even found the marriage of the one living daughter in 1912.
Now I am left with only one mysterious Haley descendant who disappears at the age of 16, with no further record...
...and, of course, the life and ancestry of my 4th great-grandfather, Edward Marshall Haley!


  1. What a fascinating story - and I love the way you let the mystery unfold so gradually!
    As much as I am on the internet, I am still surprised by what can turn up when we do a search!
    Joyeux Noel!
    Evelyn in Montreal

  2. I have a Healy/Haley branch of my family tree that lived in Rehoboth and on Cape Cod. They are the descendants of William Hele/Haley of Cambridge (1613-1683) He had five wives, and thirteen children. My branch lived in Yarmouth and then removed to Nova Scotia and then came back to Massachusetts (Planter movement, not Loyalists). Your answer might fall with one of these Healey/Haleys??