Residence: A Study of Daniel Hart Thompson

By | November 11, 2014

Residence studies are some of the most interesting research tasks in genealogy. Tracing the movement of an ancestor through his/her lifetime is where study meets story, and where story intersects history. Most of the journey can be derived from information we collect about other facts or events in their lives.

In this post, I present the residence history of my 3rd great grandfather, Daniel Hart Thompson. As with most genealogy research, I started by establishing Daniel’s birth and death.

Starting from the Basics

Daniel was most likely born in June 1828/29 to Daniel Page Thompson and Susanna B Richardson in Woburn, MA.[1] He died in July of 1893 in Marshfield, MA[2], where he is also buried.[3].

With those three basic facts, we have a solid start point and end point for this study:

Daniel Hart Thompson:

June 1828/29 Woburn, MA Birth, home of Daniel P and Susanna Thompson
July 1893 Marshfield, MA Buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Marshfield, MA

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.35.24 AMMapping What We Know

How to capture the journey from Woburn to Marshfield? Before we turn to the obvious sources (census records), let’s look at a few more life events.

Daniel married Abigail B Coates of VT Oct 12, 1846 in Woburn, MA where both are identified as residents.[4] The couple’s first child, Abigail Flora Thompson, was born a year later. Records conflict regarding Abigail’s place of birth, either MA or NH.[5] The couple’s second child, Charles H Thompson, was born in June of 1851 in Springfield, MA, where the parents are again listed as residents.[6] Here is our updated chart:

Daniel Hart Thompson:

June 1828/29 Woburn, MA birth, home of Daniel P and Susanna Thompson
Oct 1846 Woburn, MA Daniel’s age is listed as 19, which adds more confusion to his year of birth
1847 MA or NH birth of Abigail Flora
June 1851 Springfield, MA birth of Charles H
July 1893 Marshfield, MA Buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Marshfield, MA

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.37.33 AM

Time to bring in the Census!

The 1830 and 1840 US Census Records for Woburn, MA indicate that a child of appropriate age lived in the household of Daniel P Thompson in those years.[7][8]

Things get interesting in the 1850 Census, where the young family of three is listed in Concord, MA. The same record indicates that Abigail Flora was born in NH.[9]

The 1860 US Census introduces a twist – D H Thompson is living in Fitchburg, MA with L. A. Thompson, listed as his wife.[10] The children are not to be found, at least not here. (They show up in the Census for Chicago, IL living with their aunt and grandmother.[11]) This of course begs the question of what happened to Abigail B., and who is L.A. Thompson?

In the 1870 US Census Daniel first appears in Marshfield, with his wife, Lydia[12], and again in the 1880 US Census[13]. Let’s summarize before digging into the mystery of Daniels new marriage.

The 1890 US census for Marshfield,like many for that year, are missing.

Daniel Hart Thompson:

June 1828/29 Woburn, MA birth, home of Daniel P and Susanna Thompson
Oct 1846 Woburn, MA Daniel’s age is listed as 19, which adds more confusion to his year of birth
1847 Concord, NH birth of Abigail Flora
1850 Concord, NH census records
June 1851 Springfield, MA birth of Charles H
1860 Fitchburg, MA 1860 census, new marriage, children not living with him
1870-1880 Marshfield, MA 1870/1880 census
July 1893 Marshfield, MA Buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Marshfield, MA

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.32.15 AM

Digging Deeper

Massachusetts executed it’s own state census every 10 years between federal census years, and records still exist for the 1855 and 1865 censuses. In the 1855 State Census, Daniel, Abigail, and their two children show up in Fitchburg, MA.[14] This narrows down Abigail’s possible death between 1855 and 1860. In the 1865 State Census, Daniel is living with wife Lydia in Marshfield as expected (sans children).[15]

I was unable to find a death record for Abigail for this article, but I did find an un-cited note that she died Nov 9, 1856 in Fitchburg. Shame on me for not citing it originally, but I WILL find the record again.

A search on ancestry.com revealed a marriage registry entry in Fitchburg for Daniel and Lydia A (Peterson) Howard in March of 1858, identified as a second marriage for both.[16]

Our side trip into Abigail’s death and Daniel’s remarriage aside, here is our current residental history for Daniel.

Daniel Hart Thompson:

June 1828/29-1846 Woburn, MA birth, home of Daniel P and Susanna Thompson thru marriage to Abigail Coates in Oct 1846
1847-1850 Concord, NH birth of Abigail Flora, 1850 US Census
June 1851 Springfield, MA birth of Charles H
1855-1858 Fitchburg, MA 1855,1860 censuses, new marriage
1860-1893 Marshfield, MA Died in July, Buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Marshfield, MA

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 12.37.12 PM

What do we Have?

This exercise has resulted in the outline of a life – that of Daniel Hart Thompson.  The journey has raised more questions than it has answered, with each change of residence a story by itself.  We expect that in genealogy research.

City directories are an untapped resource that might fill in some time gaps in Daniel’s residential journey. Digging deeper into Daniel’s occupations (he had several) could shed light on the motivation behind some of the moves.  Looking at what was going on in Massachusetts between the late 1820’s and 1893 might also fill in some gaps. We will leave that for another day.

Hopefully I have shown how interesting it can be to follow the residential paths followed by our ancestors, and the direction it can give us for future research.


1. Vinton, John Adams, The Vinton Memorial: Comprising a Genealogy of John Vinton of Lynn, 1648. (Boston, MA: S.K. Whipple & Co., 1885), p. 234; digital scan, Google Books. (https://books.google.com : accessed 31 Dec 2011). Daniel’s age is reported inconsistently in various records throughout his life, and a very thorough study has yet to be done to narrow down the most likely candidate.
2. “Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910,” digital images, New England Historical Genealogical Society (https://www.americanancestors.org : downloaded 21 Sep 2011, vol 437 p 637 line 15), Death of Daniel H Thompson.
3. Find A Grave, database and images (https://findagrave.com : accessed 11 Nov 2014), memorial page for Daniel H Thompson, Find A Grave Memorial no. 82355419, citing cedar Grove Cemetery, Marshfield, Plymouth County, MA.
4. “Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910,” digital images, New England Historical Genealogical Society (https://www.americanancestors.org : downloaded 21 Sep 2011, vol 25 p 84a line 13), Marriage of Daniel H Thompson and Abigail Cotes [Coates]
5. 1850 U.S. census, Merrimack County, NH, population schedule, p. 98, dwelling 737, family 755, D H Thompson; digital image, Ancestry.com. This record indicates Abigail was 3 and born in NH, while a later MA State Census indicates she was born in MA. This citation is believe to provide the stronger case as it was closer to the event.
6. “Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FXCQ-VWW : accessed 11 Nov 2014), Thompson, Jun 1851; citing Springfield, Massachusetts, 291, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1420833.
7. 1830 U.S. census, , MA, Woburn, p. 80, Daniel P Thompson; digital image, Ancestry.com (downloaded:31 Dec 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration Family History Film: 0337924, NARA Roll: M19-66.
8. 1840 U.S. census, , MA, Woburn, p. 10, Daniel P Thompson; digital image, Ancestry.com (downloaded:31 Dec 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration NARA Roll: M704.
9. 1850 U.S. census, Merrimack County, NH, population schedule, p. 98, dwelling 737, family 755, D H Thompson; digital image, Ancestry.com.
10. 1860 U.S. Census, Worcester, MA, population schedule, p. 39, line 5, Dwelling 304, Family 304, Daniel H Thompson; Digital Image, Ancestry.com (downloaded:31 Dec 2011); Citing National Archives And Records Administration Microfilm 240, Roll M653_534.
11. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. Roll: M653_164; Page: 527; Image: 527; Family History Library Film: 803164.
12. 1870 U.S. Census, Plymouth, MA, Population Schedule, p 37 line 23, Dwelling 368, Family 378, Daniel H Thompson; Digital Image, ancestry.com (downloaded:11 Dec 2011); Citing National Archives And Records Administration Microfilm M593_638, Roll 841; Family History Library Film: 552137.
13. 1880 U.S. Census, Plymouth, MA, population schedule, p 7 line 16, Dwelling 81, Family 93, Daniel H Thompson; Digital Image, ancestry.com (downloaded:11 Dec 2011); Citing National Archives And Records Administration Microfilm 580C, Roll 550; Family History Film 1254550.
14. MA State Census, 1855, Worcester, population schedule, Fitchburg, p. 94, dwelling 277, family 368, for Daniel H Thompson; digital image, FamilySearch (familysearch.org : accessed 02 May 2013).
15. MA State Census, 1865, index and images, FamilySearch (https://familsearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MQC1-HNW:accessed 11 July 2012), Daniel H Thompson, Marshfield, Plymouth, Massachusetts.
16. Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Marriage Records, 1840-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.