Who Knew Jury Duty and Genealogy Were Made For Eachother?

It arrived in my mailbox on a Friday (intentionally).  A call to jury duty or more plainly a summons to my local municipal court.  This was my first opportunity to serve as a civil servant and with that came a great deal of anxiety, fear of new things.  I am nearing the end of my two week journey now and I have found that I had nothing fear.


 Doubts were had about whether or not the provided computers/internet capabilities would be up to the task of running Ancestry.com, Familysearch.com, etc.  To my surprise they have been able to handle my genealogy research (not every browser though, Chrome crashed on the 1870 Census three times).  It was a challenge at first to get back into my research, especially away from home and my tools.  The arrival of my daughter in February has made it harder to look back when everything is moving forward.  At the same time, when I find a relative of mine I in turn find a relative of hers.  An odd double satisfaction.


Jury duty is latin for waiting.  Waiting a lot.  It gave me ample time to dig back into my genealogy with few other options.  The starting point was one that I for one reason or another I hadn't looked at very often before.  Grace L. Stevens Nelson, my great grandmother on my father's father's side.  Grace was born on the 6th of October, 1891 in Lewiston, Maine.  She married George Augustine Nelson on the 17th of September, 1913, in Lewiston, Maine.  My grandfather, Paul Donald Nelson, was born six years later on the 25th of July, 1919, the fourth of seven children.


Grace is only ground zero for the research.  I had not collected any information on her parents parents, let alone them themselves.  Her father, Fred P. Stevens, was also born in Lewiston, March of 1859.  Fred spent his entire life in Lewiston employed as a machinist of one form or another.  Fred's first wife and Grace's mother, Mary Elizabeth McGraw.  Born eight months after Fred but still in Lewiston, in December of 1859.  Mary's parents have proven to be a challenge to find any trace of.  According to the 1900 US Census they were both from Ireland.  Fred and Mary were married in 1881, likely in the Lewiston area but unconfirmed.

Mary widowed Fred in 1905, she was 46 years old.  Fred remarried in 1913, marrying Ella Bolster McDonald.   


The parents of Fred P. were Joseph A. Stevens and Abbie A. Faunce (my 3rd great grandparents for those following along).  Joseph was born in Lewi...wait, Lowell, Massachusetts on the 1st of August, 1835.  Someone had to not be from Lewiston I suppose.  Lowell and Lewiston are roughly 131 miles apart but I have found that my Maine relatives often dip into Massachusetts and surrounding New England states for short, sometimes permanent stays.  Joseph, like his son after him, was a machinist.  He married Abbie A. Faunce in 1857.  They four children before Joseph died 1904.  He is buried in Lewiston.  Abbie lived until Christmas Eve of 1919, also buried in Lewiston.


That is a decent chunk of info, almost all found waiting to be put on a jury.  There is more too, as I found the parents for both Joseph A. Stevens and Abbie A. Faunce.  I am proud to serve when needed but it has been an extra benefit to find so many ancestors during this time.  Keep this is mind next time you are greeted with a summons to serve your civil duty.  Not only is it of great importance that you serve and help everyone have their day in court, you may also have the opportunity to dig into research that you would not have otherwise.