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.


This Old Tree, October 2017

Did You Really Read the Records?

This month’s column is about reading early records carefully. One can be overjoyed to find proof of your ancestor’s vital records that you recorded the primary information without noting the secondary information that may be found in the records.

My example is the marriage record for Denis Hal(y)e with Catherine Collins in Fredericton, New Brunswick. They were married on the 10th of July 1829 at St. Dustin Catholic Church. The York County Marriage lists the said couple as being married in Fredericton. What the York County Marriages does not inform you is the fact that Denis and Catherine were both residents of Woodstock. Woodstock was still part of York County at this time. Three years later, in 1832, the Northern part of York County was broken off to form the new County of Carleton.

I looked in the 1851 census first for York County and in particular the city of Fredericton for Denis Halye. I did not find him. I then widened my search for Denis Halye. I did not find Denis Halye found records for a Dennis but instead Hale.

In fact, I found other records for two children being baptized on the 27th of November 1836 at St. Dustin Catholic Church in Fredericton i.e. Dennis age 8 months & Jane age 2 years old. But the mother was not Catherine Collins but a Maria Dickenson. Then on the 16th of Oct. 1838 there was the baptism of Arden Hale age 4 months. So were these two Dennis’s the same people or just two men both named Dennis Hale? The key was in fact the full record of Marriage of 1829.

I needed to look for Dennis in Carlton County. There in the Carleton County Marriages I found the marriage of Dennis Hale to Maria Dickenson on the 7th of November 1833 in the Woodstock Anglican Church. Both Dennis and Maria were residents of Brighton Parish.

Maria Dickenson was the widow of Joseph Rockwell (they married 30th of November 1813 in Houlton, Maine, USA.} and lived in Jacksontown, Carleton County, New Brunswick.

Maria (Mariah} was the mother of five children by Joseph. Four of whom lived with or near their mother and stepfather were Lydia, Sarah, Hiram and James. Only Joseph stayed in Carleton County.

I kept looking for a Dennis Hale with Catherine for a wife to see if they were a different couple. I looked in St. Dustin Church records for Catherine’s death.

Like the marriage for Dennis and Mariah in 1833 being in the Anglican Church records, so was Catherine Halye’s death record on 20th August 1830 just 13 months after her marriage to Denis. She appears to have died as the result of childbirth with her first and only, Mary Catherine Hale b. 1830, d. 1895 in Caribou as the widow of Patrick Gahagan b. 1819-1894. Mary Catherine & Patrick were married in Caribou on 3r d of Oct. 1849.

Dennis and Mariah had one other child, a son named Elisha b. 3rd of August 1831 and baptized on 7th of July 1840 at St. Bruno’s Catholic Church in Van Buren, Maine, USA. The baptism stated he was the legitimate son of Dennis Hale and Mariah Dickenson.

In 1830, Dennis Hale was a widower with a new born child so he hooked up with Mariah Dickenson Rockwell, who had five Rockwell children, by the fall
of that year. But Dennis and Mariah did not marry until 1833 due to fact her first husband was gone and she could not prove his death. She had to wait seven
years to have him declared dead so she could rebuild her life.

After that she was free to marry Dennis, they waited to have Elisha christened after they had moved to the State of Maine. They lived in Eaton Grant which would later be part of the City of Caribou, Maine, USA.

Creative Commons License
This Old Tree, October 2017 by Dennis Prue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at