Elusive ancestors

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately, researching the Town Records of Conway, New Hampshire. These records are on microfilm, available from the Church of Latter Day Saints. There is a Family History Center nearby, and that is where I’ve been doing most of my research.

It’s fascinating to read through these hand-written records from over 200 years ago, but by the same token, it’s mentally exhausting. Most of the entries are very repetitive, and focus on issues concerning roads, bridges, taxes, etc. After reading several pages, one tends to simply fly by most of the pages, stopping at various intervals, or when an unusual arrangement of text indicates something different on the page.

I have seen most of this information before. I was using a Family History Center in Hialeah early in my genealogical research. This was how I happened to come upon the entry concerning “Jonathan Eley’s Family”. Knowing pretty much what to expect, I was more inclined to take a bit more time, and search for other clues as to William’s whereabouts. Outside of an entry indicating that Lydia Ordway was married before her marriage to William, I really found very little of value.

I have also purchased a couple of old books dealing with the history of Dunbarton, New Hampshire. I didn’t want to spend the money, but these books simply aren’t available at local libraries. Both of the books I purchased mention Joseph Healy, as well as his father, Paul Healy; so I think that pretty much discounts the claim in the Ela Genealogy, that the Fryeburg Elas are descended from Joseph Healy of Dunbarton. This being the case, my next steps will be to check out a history of Lancaster, NH, as this is one of the towns mentioned by John’s sons as being John’s birthplace. If I find nothing there, I’m not sure what my next step will be. I don’t intend to give up looking for the origin of the Fryeburg Ela clan, but some clues would help.

I have found mention of Ela names in the Official Census records that I cannot connect to the Haverhill Elas. This was something I stumbled on last night, so perhaps I’ll be able to identify them later after a bit more searching, but there were three Elas in Londonderry in the 1790 Census: Asa Ela, Wm Ela, and Sam’l Ela. A cursory look through the Ela Genealogy did not turn up any reference to them, and there are no references whatsoever to an Asa Ela in the Ela Genealogy. The William is not likely to be ‘our’ William, as he is listed with a family, but of course, if Lydia was married previously, why could William have not been? We have no idea as to his date of birth – or death (if one discounts his dying in the War of 1812), and know only that he and Lydia Ordway were married in 1795. There are dozens of Elys and other variations of the name in the 1790 Census, and it would take years to track them all down in order to eliminate the possibility that one of them is William. I tend to restrict my research to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, but it’s entirely possible that William was a wanderer, and could have appeared in the Census in any of the then existing states.

Got an email today from somebody at the Fryeburg Historical Society. He claims that they have some Ela photographs, and is willing to send copies to me. I responded immediately. If anyone who is a member of the Fryeburg Elas ever reads this, and has any family papers or photographs, PLEASE try to send copies – I will upload them to the web site for all to enjoy.

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