April 10, 2013

The mysterious John MACE

One of my brick walls is 3x great-grandfather John MACE, who married my 3x great-grandmother Sophronia BLY (1818-1905) on 31 Dec 1841 in Epping, Rockingham County, New Hampshire.

My mother's cousin told me that the story she was told about John MACE is that he had disappeared while going out to cut wood one day-- only his ax and lunchpail were found, and he was never seen or heard from again.

No birth record can be found for him and, because he disappeared (either voluntarily or because he met with serious misfortune), neither is there a verifiable death record.

Intriguingly, the death record for John and Sophronia's daughter Lizzie (my 2x-great grandmother) gives her father's birthplace as "Spain." My second cousin also mentioned that her mother and grandmother had claimed that Sophronia had been of Spanish descent.

Usually, these kinds of claims have at least some truth, even if the facts are not completely accurate. I've traced back Sophronia's line, and there is no Spanish descent on her side... but Lizzie's death record indicates that the Spanish ancestry might be on John's side. 

MACE is a fairly prominent New Hampshire surname, and most New Englanders who have it in their family trees descend from Robert MACE, who came from England in the 1650's and settled in Gossport, New Hampshire. I had figured that John MACE was almost certainly a descendant of his. Perhaps John's father was a sailor (how else would a New England man of the early 19th century end up in Spain?) and he married a Spanish woman. Another possibility is that his father's name was changed to MACE from something else.

I had taken an DNA test last summer, and 3% of my DNA was listed as "unidentified." 3% just so happens to correspond to the amount of heredity one would receive from a 3x great-grandparent...
Again, more questions than answers.

Ancestry line:

John MACE (?-?) m. Sophronia BLY 
Elizabeth MACE (1847-1907) m. James WINSLOW 
Bessie Maud WINSLOW (1886-1970) m. Frank Bailey PALMER 
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES 
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father 

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