Massachusetts farmer Asa Fuller was not a brick wall when I began researching. Family notes said that his parents were Asa Fuller and Meletiah Metcalf of Dedham, Massachusetts. I had already spent a few years researching this couple and their ancestors when I realized that although they did have a son named Asa, he died in Medway, Mass. in 1872, four years after “our” Asa had died in Cambridge. In a very aggravated state of mind I deleted Asa and Meletiah and all of their ancestors from my tree and began looking for Asa’s real parents.
The other set of parents some people assign to him are yet another Asa Fuller and his wife Elizabeth Winchester, originally from Newton, Mass. At first this seemed plausible since our Asa was living in Newton when he married in 1818. However I found that this couple had moved to St. Albans, Vermont by 1800, and that there was no tick mark for a son of the right age to be Asa in their 1800 census record. I then determined that none of their six children were named Asa.
Our family papers did contain a handy and mostly correct chart of Asa’s family going forward in time which must have been made in the 1970s. This shows all seven of his children who lived to adulthood and some of their descendants.
Baptist minister Joseph Grafton married 30 year old Asa and 15 year old Sarah Elizabeth Howe 23 Feb 1818 in Newton, Massachusetts. Sarah was the youngest child of widowed Roxbury housewright David Howe, age 67, who applied for a Revolutionary War pension in that same year citing “reduced circumstances.” His daughter’s early marriage is unusual but may have made financial sense.
I believe Asa was either brought up a Baptist or became one as young adult, and that that is why there are no baptismal records for his children. Asa and Sarah lived in Newton in 1820 but moved to Roxbury about 1825, and while the deaths of two of their children were recorded at the congregational churches of Roxbury, I have found no baptisms recorded there or in Newton. Sarah died in 1845, after which the children were scattered from Ohio to Quebec.
While Asa seemed to believe he was born in Massachusetts, several of his children’s records state that their father was born in Maine. I think his parents may have been from Maine, or may have moved there during his childhood or youth. His death record says he was born in Newton, and the spaces for the names and birthplaces of his parents are blank.
Rainsford Island in Boston Harbor, once the site of the hospital where Albert Fuller died. Photo by Doc Searls from Santa Barbara, USA via Wikimedia Commons.
The children who lived to adulthood were:
Albert Fuller (1820-1877), who was somewhat of a mystery himself until I realized he moved to Quebec and lived much of his life there before relocating to Burlington, Vermont in his later years. His 1852 marriage to Aurilla G. Yates took place at the Granby, Quebec Anglican Church. The record describes him as “Albert Fuller of Roxbury eldest son of Asa Fuller of Canterbury Mass. U.S. Farmer and Sarah his wife maiden name Howe.” At first I was confused by “Canterbury” but this turned out to be the neighborhood in West Roxbury where Asa’s small farm was located.
Albert died of diabetes at a hospital on Rainsford Island in Boston Harbor. Death records indicate he was a farmer living in Burlington, Vermont. It also says his parents were Asa and Sarah E. Fuller, and that Asa was born in Maine.
Edwin A. Fuller (1821-1879) who was a shoemaker or shoe factory worker for most of his life. He married Harriet Kimball West in 1849 at Nashua, New Hampshire, somewhat of a “Las Vegas” for marriages at the time, and there is no formal record that I can find. The only evidence I have is Harriet’s affidavit in Edwin’s Civil War pension file, and she could not remember the exact day.
Edwin had served in the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, and was seriously wounded in the thigh at Spotsylvania Courthouse. His pension file has no clues regarding his father, but one paper refers to Edwin as Andrew and I wonder if that was his middle name. His death record says his parents were “Asa and Lois,” confusing his mother-in-law Lois (Putnam) West with his mother, and the space for their birthplaces is blank.
Buildings in Dorchester that were formerly part of the Walter Baker & Co. chocolate factory, where both William and Caroline Fuller worked. Photo by Marc N. Belanger via Wikimedia Commons.
William F. Fuller (1826-1886) was a blacksmith living in Walpole, Mass. when he married Maria Boyd in 1851, but from at least 1860 on he worked at the Walter Baker & Co. chocolate factory in Dorchester, Mass. His 1880 census return says that both his parents were born in Mass., but his death record says that his father was born in West Roxbury and his mother was born in Maine. Since his mother was born in what became West Roxbury, I think the birthplaces somehow got reversed in this record.
Sarah Elizabeth Fuller (1829-1913) who worked in Lowell, Mass. cotton mills for most of her life. She married widower Isaac Peabody in 1867. Her census records consistently say both of her parents were born in Massachusetts. She moved in with her sister Susan after a hip fracture in 1904, and Susan was the informant on Sarah’s death certificate and gave their father’s birthplace as Newton, Mass.
Zachariah B. Porter’s Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., where Susan Clark Fuller lived and worked before her marriage.
Susan Clark Fuller (1831-1917) who in 1850 was living and working at Porter’s Hotel in what is now Porter Square in Cambridge, Mass., but was then surrounded by cattle yards. She married Vermont-born Sylvanus Morgan Parsons in 1854. Susan consistently gave both her parents’ birthplaces as Massachusetts. Asa lived with Susan and Sylvanus for the last several years of his life, and her death certificate gives his birthplace as Needham rather than Newton, Mass. Her middle name may be a clue.
Mary Jane Fuller (1836-1909) who was farmed out to Ohio after her mother’s death. I cannot find her there in 1850, but she was said to have lived in the area 60 years at her death. She married English immigrant Henry Lucas in 1857 in Montgomery County, and was a member of Dayton’s Central Baptist Church. Her 1880 and 1900 censuses say that both her parents were born in Massachusetts. Her husband was the informant on her death certificate and did not know the names of her parents but said they were both born in Massachusetts.
Caroline M. Fuller (1838-1914) who was farmed out to Bath, Maine. In 1850 she lived with Levi and Huldah (Whitmore) Chadbourne, in 1860 with John and Annie (Humphries) Kimball. In 1870 she lived in Dorchester, Mass. and worked at the chocolate factory with her brother William. In 1880 she married Ira Avery Shaw in Bath, with a Baptist minister officiating. She says her father was born in Maine in the censuses of 1880, 1900 and 1910, when she and Ira lived in Richmond, Maine, but her death certificate says her father was born in Newton, Mass. The space for the informant’s name is blank.
I think the best way to figure out Asa’s parents would be to look at all census records for Fullers in Maine and Massachusetts in 1800 and eliminate those with no one in their household who could be Asa, then research the remaining families. My mother and her sister have some interesting AncestryDNA matches with people who have Fuller ancestors, some of them from Maine, so I need to try that angle as well. I believe there is only one living male descendant with the Fuller surname, and I have written to him to see if he would do a Y-DNA test but received no response. I am very curious to know to which of the several Fuller families in early New England he belongs.