A short while ago, Gray Historical Society received two separate and unrelated inquiries regarding a volume of early vital records for the Town of Gray. Both researchers had hoped to learn the source of marriage dates/locations for their ancestors married in Gray in the early 1800's.
Our first researcher had found a reference to his ancestor, George Knight in the Royal River Valley Families text published by David Young on the USGENWEB website, which were said to be bases in part from the records of the later Rev Allen Greeley of North Yarmouth & Turner, Maine:
KNIGHT George m Esther ______. Children: John b 22 Jul 1755; Jacob b 1 Oct 1756; Mary b 1 May 1758; Daniel b 4 June 1760; Josiah b 25 June 1762; Peter b 14 May 1764; Dorac b 1 Apr 1766; Enoch b 14 Oct 1768 d 3 Nov 1774; Sarah b 8 Mar 1771; "births above were born in Falmouth" the following in (Gray) Patience b 19 Apr 1773; Prudence b 19 Apr 1773; Comfort b 7 Apr 1775; George b 6 Sept 1777 d 27 Sep 1777; Abigail b 2 Apr 1779; Amos b 16 June 1781; [Page 104 Gray ME]
This request for assistance hoped to secure information about the marriage of Hannah Small of Gray to David Small of Minot in 1820. The inquiry arrived thus:
I’m sure you are familiar with Howard Black’s VR of Gray. In transcribing records he sometimes gives a page number which I have presumed to be the page number in the original Gray VR books but the only Gray VR on FamilySearch are Florence Nelson’s 1932 transcriptions. I am interested in this entry on p. 175 of Black’s book:
SMALL, Hannah of Gray and David Small of Minot PUB 16 Feb 1820 p. 220 Md 30 Apr 1820 p. 226
As it turned out, both answers were found in the same resource, that being a volume transcribed in 1902 by Florence Hunt. Both the Gray Historical Society and the Gray Public Library have comb-bound photocopies of the volume entitled simply, Town of Gray Maine; Births, Deaths, and Family Records; Also marriages 1778-1836 (with index).
Within the initial pages of the ledger is found a title page attesting to the volume being "a true copy" and signed by Florence M. Hunt in February 1902. A few turned pages confirmed that both the Knight and Small marriages were transcribed into this volume on the pages referenced. Sadly, Florence must not have been a genealogist, for she does not let us in on the issue of the SOURCE of the records she transcribed. It's certainly possible that she used a number of different sources.
A brief visit to our Gray Town Office archives vault confirmed that there are no original marriage records from that time period within the Town's own archives.
Just within the inside cover of the ledger volume, however, we found these fragments of long-ago records. We now believe that Florence created her transcription from just such scraps of evidence collected up from various sources including clergymen, clerks, and citizens. As time allows, volunteers at the Gray Historical Society hope to digitize this volume of early records to preserve them for future generations and to render them accessible to the inquiring minds that want to know. So, stay tuned!