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Mark WentlingGenealogical scholars make conflicting claims about the number of wives, and the number and mothers of the children, of Joseph Brownell, a Mayflower descendant of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, born at Little Compton, Rhode Island, 16 February 1699, to Thomas Brownell and Esther Taber. These conflicting claims raise significant questions about the makeup of Joseph Brownell’s family. Did he have one, two or five wives? Did he have one, three or eight children? To which wife, or wives, were they born?

The presenter will lead participants through reasonably exhaustive research and standards-based evaluation of indirect and negative evidence found in Quaker meeting records, and vital, land and probate records to demonstrate how proof can be constructed showing that Joseph Brownell in fact had five wives and eight children. Correlation of this evidence with the timespan of each marriage will then enable his children to be assigned to their correct mothers.

Presenter: Mark A. Wentling, MLS, CG, owner of Ancestor Introductions, is a full-time, Board-certified genealogist in the Boston-Providence area with more than 25 years of research experience. He is an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven, where he teaches genealogy principles and methods in the Certificate in Forensic Genetic Genealogy graduate program. His forensic specialties include heir searching and military repatriation. He also specializes in New York and New England family history, including Mayflower and Revolutionary War lineages, and lighthouse keepers. His clients include NEHGS’ Newbury Street Press and his research has been published in The Register. His work has also been recognized by the New York State Assembly and the New York State Office of Historic Preservation. He holds a B.A. in Sociology, a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland, and a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University. He is a past facilitator in the Genealogy Principles course at Boston University, and is currently a ProGen Study Group mentor. He previously served as Vice President of APG’s New England Chapter from 2018 to 2020, and as the first Vice President of APG’s Forensic Genealogy Special Interest Group from 2020 to 2021.


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