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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Going Beyond the Usual Records: Calvin Gray Cookson and Mary Ann Dow Wedding

     The first point of the Genealogical Proof Standard is that  "reasonably exhaustive research has been conducted." When I am finally able to say that I am done with research on the Cookson family I feel sure that no one will fault me on this point! My most recent search was in a rather unusual source. I found it on the website of the Cary Library of Houlton, Maine. Houlton is the county seat of Aroostook County, Maine and it is very close to Linneus, Maine where our Cooksons were located from about 1835 to 1860. I had viewed this website a few years ago and found very little on our family. But I decided to revisit it.

      One thing that was now on the website was the "Shepard Cary Accounting Ledger from 1838-1843". Shepard Cary had a general store in Houlton just down the hill from the Hancock Barracks where the Aroostook War soldiers were stationed. Calvin Gray Cookson joined the Army to fight in the Aroostook War at Houlton in April 1839. So the dates seemed relevant. Daniel Cookson, David Ellenwood Corless and John Dow are all in the 1840 Census as living in or near Linneus as well. So I thought that some of our family might be listed in the ledger. I read it page by page, 944 pages. Easier than that sounds as the name of the customer is at the top of each page. And I found them all. There was David Ellenwood Corliss in 1839 buying tea, boots, butter and peanuts and Daniel Cookson in 1839 buying 6 bushels of buckwheat, 2 quarts of Gin, fish, sugar, tobacco, a pot and a jack knife. Of more interest was "Serg(eant) Cookson" ,who I believe is Calvin, buying eggs, bread, tobacco and a cigar in 1841 and sugar and tea in 1842.

     The most interesting entry, though, is for John Dow. In Dec 1838 he bought two pairs of ladies shoes and a third in Jan 1839 (he had a wife, a daughter in her early 20's and two teen age daughters in 1838/9). But on March 6, 1839, he bought "3 yd bobnett lace". In May he bought 8 yd cotton and 1 skein of silk. So my thought is, could he have bought the lace for his daughter, Mary Ann's, wedding dress for her marriage to Calvin Gray Cookson? If Calvin entered the Army on 15 April 1839 might they have gotten married in March or earlier in April? My parents married in Jan 1943 because my father had joined the Army and was about to leave for Basic Training. I think this is a common experience. I have not yet found any record of their marriage but this may be slim evidence to pinpoint it.

     Just speculation, I know, but it also got me to wondering what brides in 1839 wore to their wedding. Amazingly enough I found quite a few pictures of wedding dresses from the period. I thought I'd share some of them which at least suggest that lace was in use on wedding dresses in 1839!

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