So here I am at the end of the project (well, genealogy projects never truly end ;)) and I still have this Million Dollar question staring me in the face. The short answer is —
I really don’t know!
I will review the key points in this post and pray that something new turns up in the future.
Key Points against a Native wife
- In all public records that identify the “race” of a person (such as census and vital records), family members are always identified as “white”.
- I was unable to find a single record that identified Edward’s 1st wife in any way except by her general age range and the fact a child was born and therefore a mother had to exist.
Key Points that could suggest a Native connection
- See number 2 above! If she was Native, it could explain why she is not identified in public records.
- Family tradition says Edward Marden had a Native wife.
- Edward Sr. was a Ranger during the American Revolution. He was in constant proximity with Native American People along the US-Canada border. In other words, he was in the right place, at the right time, under the right circumstances to meet and marry a Native woman.
- Edward Junior and his son, Joseph, are identified as “Basket Makers”, an occupation generally considered “Indian work” in New England.
- Three generations are found along the Connecticut River in a region that is rich in Native history and still in use by local Abenaki at the time the family is there.
- Two of the three confirmed grandson’s (Nathaniel & Chapin) have Native-like physical features and some great grandchildren do as well.
- Two of the three confirmed grandson’s (Nathaniel & Chapin) have a propensity for being on the move throughout their lives, which suggests they might have inherited a wanderlust which is also attributed to the local Abenaki population. Their constant movement could suggest an attempt to run away from something, such as the law but also possible is bigotry and discrimination by neighbors because they were “mixed breeds”.
- One possible grandson (Hamilton) is also believed to have been married to a Native woman.
There is no evidence to prove a Native connection for the family. Not a single statement above is proof of anything regarding their heritage. Each individual item can be explained in ways that do not suggest Native ancestry. However, taken collectively the items do suggest it is possible and perhaps even very likely – but I can not state it as fact. It is family oral history and a theory which I can not prove or disprove with the data I have available at this time.
I may never solve this mystery, but at this time it is my educated opinion that Edward Marden Sr. did in fact have a Native wife and she was the mother of Edward, Jr..
Do I believe I have uncovered a long lost tribe based in Lyman, NH? Certainly not. Do I believe descendants of Edward Marden should be given special rights and privileges as Native Americans in Vermont or New Hampshire? Certainly not. Do I believe descendants of Edward Marden should embrace Native ways and culture? Only if they feel comfortable with that, but I would encourage them to explore such things if they have any interest at all.
I have been researching Native genealogy in the Northeast for more than 15 years, so I have learned a few things about the subject. During that time, hundreds of folks have written to Ne-Do-Ba telling us about their “Indian” great grandmothers. Unfortunately, very few of these stories have proven to be reliable. More than 90% of the time, a couple hours of research will provide parents and siblings for the person in question going back several generations with no sign what so ever of anything Native connected to the family.
What I find most striking about the Marden family is that I could not do that here. I found nothing to disprove the theory and a number of things to suggest it could be true.
In wrapping up this research project, I hope I have given descendants lots of ideas for their own research and a renewed interest in solving this family mystery. Wlipunkini nidobak (travel well my friends) and don’t forget to share your findings with us. I will be posting any new data concerning the 1st three generations in future blog posts, so keep checking back.
Wliwni (Thank you)
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