Week 15: Benjamin Aaron Bourne

The title of Week 15 of the 52 Ancestors Challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow on her blog, No Story Too Small was “How Do You Spell That?” I choose to focus on Benjamin Aaron Bourne, my third great grandfather, and husband of Sarah Maria Smith. Sarah was the focus of my Week 13 post- Different.

At first glance, Benjamin has a pretty straightforward last name- Bourne. It seems reasonable that there’d be a couple of spelling variations- Bourn and Born come to mind. Finding Benjamin wasn’t that simple though.

The first record I found that lead me to Benjamin was the death certificate of his daughter, my great-grandmother, Clara Jane (Bowen) Serviss. In this certificate, her father is named as Benjamin Bowen. [That Benjamin was the son of the Benjamin who is the focus of this post]. Ok, so the family name is Bowen, right?

The marriage certificate of Clara’s parents stated her father’s parent’s names were Benjamin Aaron Bourne and Sarah Maria Smith. This left me faced with the question- Is the family name Bourne or Bowen?

Tracing back the family has given me a variety of names and spellings including Bourne, Bourn, Bowen, Bouren and even Brown. Bourne and Bowen are the most representative of the name the family had used at the time, with earlier records reflecting Bourne and later records, especially records of the wives, reflecting the name Bowen.

Benjamin’s possible parents were Aaron and Esther Bourne, though this has not yet been conclusively proven. He was born about 1819 in Wells, ME in the area that later broke off as Kennebunk. He married Sarah Maria Smith in New York in 1845. Benjamin was working as a Ships Carpenter in the 1850 US Census taken at Wells, Maine. He migrated from Maine to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, and from the 1860 census through his last enumeration he is found in Brooklyn. Many of these census’ and history of their life together can be found in the post featuring his wife, Sarah Maria Smith. Benjamin’s occupation was ships carpenter or carpenter throughout most of his life. In later years, he worked as a locksmith.   Benjamin died at Newtown, Queens county New York in 1894. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY.

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