ancestryink fisherman

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Take No Prisoners Prose of Edgartown Vital Records 1820

As many vital records as I endlessly peruse in the name of research, Edgartown, Massachusetts vital records of the early 1800's are still my favorite.  The details of the death records are deliciously unsparing snippets of prose.

Edgartown citizens beware! Live a pious and humble life, or have your bad temper or small crimes made public for all eternity at the time of your death.

Here are some examples encountered while researching mariners of the Cape and Islands:  (click for larger image and

Edgartown Death records 1820

Excerpt:  "Oct. 15   Melatiah Davis  He was a Baptist   a mixed/ character  unhappy in his Temper  weak & / avaricious."

Handcuffs and chains?

Edgartown Death records 1818

Excerpt:  "Nov 27   Dennis Davis  son of Melatiah died distracted/  in chains & Hand Cufs   He was a Baptist/  they sent for James Crosby a very ignorant / man to attend Fun"

Clearly the Meletiah Davis family had some issues.  And though it looks like James Crosby arrived on the scene to have a good time at the expense of Dennis - in - chains, I believe "Fun" means "funeral."

Besides these very candid remarks, the actual details and causes of death are quite helpful in many cases, not to mention the additional family information. And the colorful prose is highly-addictive entertainment!

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