Dennis Prue

Dennis Prue

Dennis has been researching family trees for more than 30 years. His expertise has been invaluable in helping to break through brick walls.

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This Old Tree by Robert A Deane

The Parents of Perry Dean

My great grandfather, Perry Dean, was born on January 4, 1878, in Fort Fairfield, Maine. He lived most of his life in Fort Fairfield, except for several years beginning in 1929 and into the early 1930’s, when he lived in Waterbury, Connecticut, for employment reasons, and for a period of time at the end of his life when he lived with two of his children, first in Auburn, Maine, and then in Hartford, Connecticut. He died on November 26, 1961, in Hartford, Connecticut, at the age of 83.

His birth record and his marriage record both list his parents as George Dean of Fort Fairfield, Maine, and Carrie Devoe (1), also of Fort Fairfield, Maine. However, I have reached the conclusion that Perry Dean’s parents were not George Dean and Carrie Devoe. Here’s why.

  • While his marriage record was contemporaneous to his marriage to Cora Wright in 1898, his birth record was not contemporaneous to his birth in 1878. The State of Maine did not require the reporting of births, marriages and deaths to the State until 1892. Therefore, the form used for his birth record was not in existence in 1878. The earliest his birth could have been reported would have been in 1892, but it was probably not reported until the late 1930’s, when he would have registered with the Social Security Administration and needed proof of his birth.
  • The Certificate of Death for Perry Dean from the State of Connecticut does not list the names of his parents. The entry for his father is “? Dean” and the entry for his mother is “?”. The informant was his daughter, Mrs. Maria Blake, creating the probability that she did not know the names of her paternal grandparents.
  • I am a patrilineal descendant of Perry Dean, via Glenn A. Dean (Perry’s son) and Austin M. Deane (Glenn’s son and my father). In July of 2012 I did y-DNA testing, and I have yet to find a y-DNA match to another person with the Dean/Deane surname. However, I do match at 25 markers seven individuals in the y-DNA database at FamilyTreeDNA. Six of the seven individuals have the surname Cyr or Sears (an anglicized version of Cyr) and claim descendancy from an individual named Pierre Sirre, who arrived in French Canadian region of Acadia in the mid 1600’s. Therefore, in some prior generation, there was a “non-parental event” (NPE) that changed my family genetic surname from Cyr to Dean/Deane.
  • I have also done autosomal DNA testing at AncestryDNA for both myself and for my father, Austin M. Deane. I am conclusively the son of my father, with an autosomal match (2) of 3587 centiMorgans (cM). At AncestryDNA, my father has matches at a “1st Cousin” level with a grandson of Perry and Cora Dean via a daughter, Lela Dean, (844 cM, consisting of 41 segments) and at a “2nd Cousin” level with a great granddaughter of Perry and Cora Dean via another daughter, Maria Dean, (421 cM, consisting of 29 segments). The grandson via Lela Dean and the great granddaughter via Maria Dean are also a match at AncestryDNA (568 cM, consisting of 33 segments). Autosomal DNA results confirm that Perry Dean was my great grandfather and, therefore, the NPE did not occur in a generation subsequent to Perry Dean.
  • Having been born in 1878, Perry Dean should have been enumerated in the 1880 United States Federal Census. But he was not (at least I have not found him by that name). However, there was an entry (located here) for a two-year old boy named Perry Sear, living in Fort Fairfield, Maine, in the household of his grandfather George Dean. There were also living in the household of George Dean (age 62), his wife Maria (age 57), two daughters, Martha J. (age 21, single), and Carrie (age 19, single), and a granddaughter Mary Sear (age 2), along with three sons (Henry, Edgar, and Ruben).
  • The “Vital Records from 1849 to 1892 for Fort Fairfield, Maine” (Family History Library Microfilm #10913) contains an entry for an intention of marriage that was filed on June 26, 1877, for John Cyr of Limestone and Martha J. Dean of Fort Fairfield, (although no date of marriage was listed). This intention of marriage was filed approximately six months prior to the birth of Perry Dean, providing a reason for John Cyr and Martha J. Dean to file an intention of marriage.
  • The 1880 United States Federal Census for Limestone, Maine, has an entry (located here) for John Cyr (age 21, single) living in the household of his father Joseph Cyr. Also living in the household of Joseph Cyr (age 67) were his wife Esther (age 46), four sons (Mark, Adolphus, Ephraim, and Fred’k (3)), four daughters (Delina, Melissa, Mahala, and Zoa), and a daughter-in-law (Delilah, wife of Mark).
  • In 1877 Roe and Colby of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, published an “Atlas of Aroostook County, Maine”, which contained land atlas maps of the various towns in Aroostook County, Maine. The map of the north half of Fort Fairfield shows that the farm of George Dean (G. Dean) was located close to the northern edge of Fort Fairfield, about midway along the common boundary with the neighboring town of Limestone. The map of Limestone shows that the farm of Joseph Cyr (J. Cyr) was located in the very southwestern corner of Limestone, contiguous with the common boundary with Fort Fairfield. Therefore, in the late 1870’s, John Cyr, son of Joseph Cyr, lived in relative close proximity (approximately three miles) to Martha J. Dean, daughter of George Dean.
  • Research of records on the family of Joseph Cyr indicates that his wife was Esther L. Hafford, who was born on September 12, 1836, in what is now Fort Kent, Maine, and died on December 14, 1912, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Research also reveals that the members of the family anglicized their surname to Sears at some point in the 1880’s. Records prior to the 1880’s uniformly recorded the surname as Cyr, while records of family members subsequent to the 1880’s uniformly recorded the surname as Sears.
  • Autosomal DNA test results at AncestryDNA for my father, Austin M. Deane, include at least eleven matches at various levels from “3rd Cousin” to “Distant Cousin” with individuals who indicate in their family trees that they are descendants of either John Cyr/Sears himself, a sibling of John Sears, or a sibling or uncle of Esther L. Hafford. These eleven matches create a genetic network that represents at least six different genealogical paths of connection to John Sears and Esther L. (Hafford) Sears. The results for these eleven DNA matches of my father’s are summarized in the following table. This network of DNA matches around John Sears, the son of Joseph Cyr and Esther L. Hafford, provides very strong genetic evidence that John Sears was the great grandfather of my father, Austin M. Deane.

Conclusion

The conclusion of my analysis is that the biological parents of Perry Dean were John Cyr/Sears (the son of Joseph Cyr and Esther L. Hafford) and Martha J. Dean (the daughter of George Dean and Maria Smith), contrary to the names that were listed as his parents on his birth and marriage records.

Where did the names on his birth and marriage records come from? It is only conjecture, but the “George Dean” listed as his father likely refers to either his grandfather George Dean or an uncle, also named George Dean. The “Carrie Devoe” listed as his mother is most likely his aunt, Carrie Dean. Carrie married a man by the name of Octave Deveau, Jr., and they anglicized their French surname to Devoe. Also on Perry Dean’s birth record is a reference to the midwife at the birth being Maria Deane. Maria Dean was the mother of Martha J. Dean, and it would have been common in late 19th century rural America for the mother of the woman giving birth to attend to her daughter. This conjecture is also supported by “family lore”, noted by two members of the Aroostook Genealogical Society in email correspondence in January of 2013. The “family lore” was that Perry Dean was raised by his aunt, Carrie (Dean) Devoe, when Martha J. Dean’s first husband, Hiram H. Tompkins, refused to raise Perry as his stepson.

John Sears

John Sears was born as John Cyr on March 15, 1859, in Limestone, Maine, to parents Joseph Cyr and Elizabeth (Hafford) Cyr(4). John grew up on the family farm in Limestone. As a teenager, in addition to being the father of Perry Dean and Mary Dean, born in 1878, he was likely also the father of John J. Sears, Jr., born on March 23, 1877, to Martha Langley of Caribou.

At the age of 21, John Sears married Alice M. Rockwell of Limestone, most likely in the latter half of 1880 or early in 1881. They had five children who survived infancy and as many as three more who died at childbirth or in infancy. The five children, all born in Limestone, who survived infancy were (1) Gena M. Sears, born on October 16, 1883(5), (2) Lela N. Sears, born in July of 1884, (3) Bertha Alma Sears, born on September 10, 1887, (4) Grace Sears, born in September of 1888, and (5) Roy Henry Sears, born on March 13, 1894.

By 1900 the family had moved to Washburn, Maine, and John Sears was working as a laborer. But tragedy struck the family on August 20, 1900, when Alice Sears died of typhoid fever, followed four weeks later on September 17 by the death of Grace Sears, also from typhoid fever.

In 1904 or 1905 John Sears left Aroostook County and headed west across Canada. In June of 1906 he was living in the household of his brother, Adolphus W. Sears, in Strathcona, Alberta. Shortly thereafter in 1907 he headed further west to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he found employment as a carpenter for the railroad. He also remarried, this time to Lillian Rose Bannister, a recent immigrant to Canada from Bristol, England, in 1906. They had two children, a daughter Millicent G. Sears, born in approximately 1909, and a son Keith Sears, born in approximately 1919.

On May 18, 1923, at the age of 64, John Sears passed away at his home at 2255 – 10th Avenue West in Vancouver. The cause of death noted on his death certificate was “pernicious anemia”, complicated by pneumonia. He was buried on May 22, 1923, in the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Martha J. Dean

Martha J. Dean was born in 1858 or 1859, in Sarsfield Plantation (now Fort Fairfield), Maine, to parents George Dean and Mariah (Smith) Dean. She grew up on the family farm in Fort Fairfield. At the age of 19, she became the unmarried mother of twins, Perry and Mary Dean, born on January 4, 1878.

Martha married Hiram Harvey Tompkins on or about June 17, 1882, after filing an intention of marriage at Fort Fairfield on June 12, 1882. They had two children who survived infancy – Saul Tompkins, born on December 24, 1882 or 1883(6), in Fort Fairfield, and Elizabeth A. (Lizzie) Tompkins, born on February 26, 1885, also in Fort Fairfield.

Martha J. Dean then married John William Bowers, a farmer, in about 1888. They had three children who survived infancy, all born in Easton, Maine – Gladys Emily Bowers, born on July 25, 1889; Nettie Violet Bowers, born on January 8, 1893; and Eunice M. Bowers, born on November 29, 1894.

Mary Dean, Martha’s daughter (and Perry Dean’s twin sister) with John Sears, married Simon Evan Fraser, on March 1, 1896, at Easton, Maine. Just over two weeks later, Martha’s husband, John William Bowers, died on March 17, 1896. And then 16 months later, on July 24, 1897, Mary (Dean) Fraser died from pulmonary tuberculosis at Newport, Maine, only three weeks after giving birth to a stillborn son on July 5th.

The deaths of her husband, daughter, and grandson in such a short timeframe must have resulted in a family in economic and emotional crisis. By the time of the 1900 U.S. Census in June of 1900, Martha’s children were living among various households in Easton, Maine – Saul was a laborer in the household of Jesse Shaw; Lizzie was a servant in the household of Charles Parsons; Gladys was living in the household of her paternal grandmother, Emma Bowers; and Nettie was a boarder in the household of James Brooks. Martha and the youngest child Eunice have not been located in the 1900 U.S. Census.

Martha J. Dean then married for the third time, George Murray Foster, a farmer, on September 4, 1901. They had two children, both born in Easton, Maine – George Murray Foster, Jr., born on May 30, 1902, and Mona Madeline Foster, born on March 10, 1904.

In the 1910 U.S. Census for Easton, Maine, Martha (Dean) Foster was enumerated as having had nine children, of whom seven were still living in 1910. The seven living children were Saul and Elizabeth Tompkins; Gladys, Nettie and Eunice Bowers; and George and Mona Foster. One of the two deceased children was Mary Dean, indicating that there had also been a child who had died at birth or in infancy. Interestingly, Martha apparently did not acknowledge Perry Dean as one of her children in 1910.

By 1930 George Murray Foster had passed away, and Martha (Dean) Foster was now a widow for the third time. No death record has been located for her, nor is she found in the 1940 U.S. Census, with the conclusion being that she died at some time during the 1930’s.

Sources

  1. Maine Birth Records, 1621-1922; from Maine State Archives, Augusta, Maine; on www.familysearch.org. www.ancestry.com.
  2. Maine Marriage Records, 1705-1922; from Maine State Archives, Augusta, Maine; on www.familysearch.org. www.ancestry.com.
  3. Maine Death Records, 1617-1922; from Maine State Archives, Augusta, Maine; on www.familysearch.org. www.ancestry.com.
  4. British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; for John Sears and Lillian Rose Sears; www.familysearch.org.
  5. Vital Records for Fort Fairfield, Maine, 1849-1892; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Microfilm #10913.
  6. 1880 US Census Record for Fort Fairfield, Aroostook County, Maine; ED #205; page 51; on www.familysearch.org. www.ancestry.com.
  7. 1880 US Census Record for Limestone, Aroostook County, Maine; ED #203; page 24; www.familysearch.org. www.ancestry.com.
  8. 1900 US Census Records for Easton, Aroostook County, Maine; ED #17: sheets 2B, 4B, 5A, 5B, and 7B; on www.ancestry.com.
  9. 1900 US Census Record for Washburn, Aroostook County, Maine; ED #37: sheet 14B; on www.ancestry.com.
  10. 1906 Canada Census Record for Sub-District 44, Strathcona, Alberta, Canada; page 5; on www.ancestry.com. and the Library and Archives of Canada at www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/pages/census.aspx.
  11. 1910 US Census Record for Easton, Aroostook County, Maine; ED #22: sheet 2A; on www.ancestry.com.
  12. 1911 Canada Census Record for Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; District No. 12, Sub-District No. 55; page 21; on www.familysearch.org. and the Library and Archives of Canada at www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/pages/census.aspx.
  13. 1920 US Census Record for Easton, Aroostook County, Maine; ED #18: sheet 11A; on www.ancestry.com.
  14. 1921 Canada Census Record for Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; District No. 13, Sub-District No. 11; page 13; on www.ancestry.com.
  15. 1930 US Census Record for Easton, Aroostook County, Maine; ED #2-23: sheet 7B; on www.ancestry.com.
  16. Website for Cyr DNA Project, at www.familytreedna.com/public/Cyr/.

AncestryDNA Matches with My Father

* Presumed relationship between my father and the Match, assuming John Sears was the father of Perry Dean.
** From International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) Wiki, at http://www.isogg.org/wiki/AutosomalDNAstatistics
Match Relationship of Match to John Sears Presumed Relationship with My Father* Shared DNA (AncestryDNA) Expected cM For Relationship**
A Descendant of Roy Sears,
son of John Sears
Half 2nd cousin 62 cM,
Five segments
106 cM,
for ‘A- 2C
B Descendant of Roy Sears,
son of John Sears
Half 2nd cousin,
Once removed
23 cM,
Two segments
53 cM,
for ‘A- 2C, 1R
C Descendant of Daniel Sears, brother of John Sears 2nd cousin,
Once removed
79 cM,
Four segments
106 cM,
for 2C, 1R
D Descendant of Daniel Sears, brother of John Sears 3rd cousin 132 cM,
Six segments
53 cM,
for 3C
E Descendant of Daniel Sears, brother of John Sears 3rd cousin,
Once removed
75 cM(4),
Five segments
27 cM,
for 3C, 1R
F Descendant of Mark Sears, brother of John Sears 3rd cousin 100 cM,
Five segments
53 cM,
for 3C
G Descendant of Mark Sears, brother of John Sears 3rd cousin 12 cM, Three segments 53 cM,
for 3C
H Descendant of Elizabeth Hafford, maternal aunt of John Sears 4th cousin 35 cM,
Four segments
13 cM,
for 4C
J Descendant of John T. Hafford, maternal uncle of John Sears 4th cousin 44 cM, Three segments 13 cM,
for 4C
K Descendant of John T. Hafford, maternal uncle of John Sears 4th cousin,
Twice removed
15 cM,
One segment
3 cM,
for 4C, 2R
L Descendant of Phineas Hafford, great uncle of John Sears 5th cousin 12 cM,
One segment
3 cM,
for 5C