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Ask a Genealogist: Researching English and Scottish ancestors.

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Question:

In the Mass 1855 Census I found my two times Great Grandfather living in Newburyport Mass. In further checking and building my public family tree I found that the listing for place of birth is England for George about 1808, his wife Lucy 1807 and the first two daughters Charlotte 1831 and Elizabeth 1832 as England and yet I can not find a single one of them in England. Is it possible that all of them were born in Scotland borders area and they just refer to it as England. The next daughter Mary 1834 is listed as born in NYC so arrival date is within two years but I can't find immigration info.

In that time frame did many list England as their birth place rather than Scotland because they were in the disputed borders area? I use multiple search routines and I get no hits in England for any members or there immigration.
I also note that the Mass 1855 census was the only one that showed the births for the daughters in England while the US 1850 , 1860 , 1870 census always showed as born in Mass. However doing marriage searches and death searches it confirms that they in fact were born in England.

Answer:

While it is true that the surname of Armstrong is found most prevalently on both sides of the English-Scottish border, the heaviest concentration is to be found on the English side, especially in the counties of Northumberland and Cumberland. If the records for John consistently list his birthplace as England, then that is almost certainly where he was born. There is no reason why he would intentionally list his birthplace incorrectly.

The fact that you have been unable to locate his birth record is not surprising, since they were not civilly recorded in England until 1 July 1837. Prior to that date, baptisms were recorded in churches and these sometimes, but not always, include the date of birth. The majority of the population still adhered to the Church of England, but by the early 1800s it was not uncommon for individuals and families to belong to so-called Nonconformist churches, such as the Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, etc. Keep in mind that even if a record of John’s baptism, or those of his children, exists, it might not be indexed or available online.

It would be helpful for you to check whether John ever became a U.S. citizen. It is not uncommon for naturalization records in Massachusetts to show the subject’s place of birth. NEHGS has a copy of the naturalization index for Massachusetts, 1791-1906 on microfilm, and copies of the naturalization records themselves may be found at the National Archives branch on Trapelo Road in Waltham, Mass.

Ask a Genealogist: An advertisement in 1897 from my ancestor.

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Question:


Recently I found a newspaper advertisement in 1897 for my ancestor.  It stated that he delivered coal, and wood. and had "team jobbing:" available. Can you tell me what this might mean?

Answer:


Your 19th century ancestor would deliver wood and coal no doubt with his "team" of horses.  This wagon and team would also be a valuable source of revenue for other jobs.  The term "team jobbing" you do not see much anymore.  

Ask a Genealogist: Irish arrivals in 1754 into Boston.

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Question:


I am looking for the passenger list of my Irish immigrant William Leahy in 1754.  He arrived in Boston, can you advise me?

Answer:

Thank you for your query regarding your ancestor William Leahy. Passenger ship lists were not kept in that time period. Many people travelled on commercial ships that carried goods, and Boston was trading with various ports in Ireland. In 1754, Boston newspapers printed the arrival of the ship Draper from Belfast, carrying linen, and the arrival of Captain Montgomery from Cork, carrying butter. William Leahy shows up in the Boston Gazette among the list of letters in the post office on 10 July 1758.

City of Boston records sometimes listed Irish immigrants arriving in Boston in the 18th century. These were extracted and printed in New World Immigrants: A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists and Associated Data from Periodical Literature by Michael Tepper. [Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980] But there were no entries for 1754, and William Leahy was not among those listed in other years either.

A ship named Batchelor or Bachelor does not show up in Boston newspaper records for 1754, although two vessels, the Snow Batchelor and the Sloop Batchelor, are listed in the port of Philadelphia. The Sloop Batchelor, captained by David Cox, plied between Halifax and Philadelphia. It very likely stopped in Boston on the way to and from Halifax. William Leahy may have travelled to Boston via Halifax.

Dublin parish registers are searchable online on the website, www.irishgenealogy.ie. A search for William Leahy shows a 27 September 1728 baptism of a William Lehy, son of Cornelius and Margaret Lehy. Address Swift Roe. Sponsors were Edward Humes and Elizabeth Fling. St. Michan RC Church, Dublin. This would be about the right age for your ancestor, if he were a young man when he arrived in 1754. I have attached a copy of the baptism, which is located about 2/3 down on the left page.

I also note that there is a Henry Leahy who shows up in the records of the Charitable Irish Society in Boston on 14 December 1762. There is a baptism in Kings Chapel of a Johanna Leahy, daughter of Patrick and Esther Leahy, on 27 November 1767. These are databases on our website. So there are other Leahys in Boston in this time period.

Ask a Genealogist: Research on the Hollcroft Family of England and New York

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Question:

 I am searching for information online about John Hollcroft. He was born in England 1742 and married Sarah Mesherool of New York. They moved to Fairfield County, Conn.

Answer:

A digital version of Donald Hollcroft, Family History of John Hollcroft of Lancashire Co., England, New York, New York, Fairfield Co., CT and Washington Co., Pa. 1741 to 1816 and His Descendants, issued in 1994 and revised in 1997 and 2006, may be viewed online at: https://dcms.lds.org/view/action/ieViewer.do?dps_pid=IE72846&dps_dvs=1354897598935~534&dps_pid=IE72846&change_lng=en




Ask a Genealogist: Westward migration from Rowley, Massachusetts.

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Question:

We are trying to pin down when John Prime (b. 1785) and his brother, Nathaniel (b. 1792), left Rowley, MA, moved west. I found a book that said John was the first county recorder in Scott, Indiana and Nathaniel was a justice of the peace in 1820. Shortly thereafter, they moved to other counties within Indiana. Their brother, Daniel Noyes Prime, later indicated in a census that his brothers had moved west, and he writes about their move and his visit there in one of his books.

Might their departure have been noted in a local newspaper of the time? If so, what would be the most likely newspaper for their area and are those papers available somewhere (original or digitized)? It is possible John moved earlier due to the War of 1812, but so far I have found no documentation. Do you have suggestions where to look for that possibility? We wondered about tax rolls for Rowley in the early 1800's. Would they list John up until the time he departed? Where could we find those records? Any other suggestions?

Answer:

The latter 1700s and the early 1800s see major migrations from New England to the newly opened Midwest. In many genealogies, those families that did this, if they could not be easily identified, were listed as simply “going west.” You at least have found some information about John and Nathaniel that can be assessed dates and you also know exact places.

Scott County, Indiana was created in 1820 out of pieces of Clark, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings and Washington Counties. Understanding the origins of the county where an ancestor ends up is important as this identifies potential additional places that need to be searched to verify whether or not an ancestor arrived earlier than originally expected to a particular state or area. Identifying creation dates can be done either through the use of online avenues, such as Wikipedia, or books such Red Book, American State, County and Town Sources (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004).

In the case of John and Nathaniel Prime, it appears that they may have been already in the area by 1820, given that Nathaniel was a justice of the peace in 1820, and that is the year that Scott County was split off. So you now have some new counties to investigate for potential arrival information.

When working in the counties, you will want to search the land records. Many of those who migrated to the Midwest did so in search of cheap land. Some of them were brought there through bounty land (earned during service in the American Revolution or the War of 1812), though they may be the child or grandchild of the original bounty land earner. Such bounty land case files can prove a wealth of genealogical information as proof of rightful descent was required. Some bounty land case files contain Bible records or other genealogically relevant documents.

In addition to searching the land records of the other counties, you will also want to search the land records database of the Bureau of Land Management (www.glorecords.blm.gov) to see if any individuals with the Prime surname purchased land directly from the government. When the U.S. Constitution was ratified, many of the original colonies had claims to land that ultimately became states such as Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. This land was relinquished to the newly formed U.S. government who then sold parts of it to earn the operating capital they needed to fund their cash-poor, infant government. Once property was purchased from the government and then sold it is found in the usual land records of the county that existed at the time of the sale.

You will definitely want to look at the town records and the treasurer’s accounts for the town of Rowley. These records are not available online, but they have been microfilmed by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. You can borrow the microfilms to your local FamilySearch Center. To find out more about this and to see what other records they have online for Rowley, you will want to visit their website <www.FamilySearch.org>. The Treasurer’s accounts that have been microfilmed cover the years 1731-1820. The Town records begin in 1648, and volume five concludes in 1832, which is past the time your family members have moved on to Indiana.

Town records can prove useful as you can often see if your ancestor was serving in some capacity, such as on the town council or in some other civic office. If he is all of a sudden no longer listed, you can use that as a potential exit year.

Land records for Essex County, Massachusetts should also be searched to see if either John or Nathaniel sold land. The date of the sale of land could also serve as an exit year.

Ask a Genealogist: Researching Maine and Cuba.

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Question:

Daniel Nash Handy b. 11 June 1875 (Prospect Harbor, Maine);  d. 17 Oct 1948, Braintree, Mass., son of Marcus H. Handy b. June 1847 Maine; d. 12 July 1881 (Centrifugos, Cuba). Nothing found in Maine State Archives or Prospect Harbor records. Was Daniel Nash Handy (my grandfather) born at sea? If so, on what ship (the brig Marena)? Did Marcus H Handy (my great grandfather) die at sea or in Cuba? Where was he buried?

 

Answer:

Unfortunately, the vital records for some areas of Maine are not as complete as we would like. Likewise, it is always possible in this period of time that the parents did not go into town to have the birth registered. In such situations, it is always good to check the church records for a baptism. However, the absence of a birth of Daniel Nash Handy in the vital records does not mean he was born at sea. In fact, his father ran a shipping business and it is unlikely that he would have taken his wife on board, especially if she was pregnant. So it is more likely that the birth was simply not recorded. Daniel maintains throughout all records that I found of his name that he was born in Maine.

In regard to where his father, Marcus H. Handy, died, newspapers are often the best resource for finding such information. And in fact, there was a mention of the death of Captain Marcus H. Handy that appears in the 2 August 1881 issue of the Machias Union that states that he died of yellow fever at Cionfuegos. It further states that Captain Cates, of the brig Motley, of Machias, was with Handy “in his sickness and kindly attended to the burial.” This would indicate to me that Marcus Handy was quarantined somewhere in Cionfuegos while sick and then was buried there after he died.

Of interest also was that Daniel Nash Handy’s oldest child, Helen, was born in Puerto Rico, according to the 1910 census. So it is possible that the family traveled down there for a time while Daniel was at sea and before he settled in Massachusetts for good.

In regard to where the books of the ship are likely to be found, in addition to visiting Peabody Essex Museum and Mystic Seaport, you may also want to search the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/ to see if there are other records for the brig Marena or Marcus H. Handy that have been deposited somewhere that you hadn’t expected. This catalog is an attempt to identify manuscript collections around the country.

In addition, there was a write up about Daniel Nash Handy and his involvement in Insurance Libraries and Special Libraries. Some of his records are said to be at the archives of the Insurance Library Association of Boston www.insurancelibrary.org.

Ask a Genealogist: My ancestor was a Revolutionary War deserter.

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Question:

I believe my ancestor from Rhode Island was a Revolutionary War soldier but he deserted.  Can you offer me a published source to find out if this was true?

Answer:

I would strongly suggest examining the book by James C. Neagles, Summer Soldiers, a survey & index of Revolutionary Courts-Martial. (Salt Lake City, UT, Ancestry, 1986).  If your ancestor deserted and never was captured he may not be liste in this publication.

Ask a Genealogist: Early land records in Maine.

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Question:

Where would I look to locate early deeds for land in Maine between 1749 and 1759? Will I have to hire a local researcher in Maine? Which county? Or are they perhaps at the Massachusetts Archives?

Answer:

The 18 published volumes of York Deeds include only instruments that were recorded as of early 1738. After that period, it is necessary to consult the later (manuscript) deed books and their accompanying grantor and grantee indexes (the original indexes at the courthouse cover the years from the 1630s to 1885). These are at the York County courthouse in Alfred, Maine. They have been microfilmed by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and can be borrowed at nominal cost through their network of local Family History Centers. There is also a set of these microfilms of deed books and indexes at NEHGS.

If the property in question was in the South Portland area and the conveyance took place between 1749 and 1759, the conveyance should have been recorded in the York County deeds. Prior to 1760, York County had jurisdiction over all of what is now Maine (a somewhat nebulous area geographically at that time). In 1760, the new counties of Cumberland (covering the Casco Bay area from Scarborough to Merrymeeting Bay and everything to the north) and Lincoln (covering the coast from Bath eastwards and everything to the north) were created. If the property in question was conveyed between 1749 and 1759 but not recorded until after 1760, the deed would have been recorded in Cumberland County. These records have also been microfilmed by the FHL, as above, but NEHGS unfortunately does not have copies. The originals are at the Cumberland County courthouse in Portland.

I would start by searching the indexes for York County. If you do not find the record(s) in question, then check the same for Cumberland County.

Ask a Genealogist: Signing the Church Covenant in 1715.

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Question:

In 1715 when someone agreed to the Covenant of a church before baptism would they need to be 18 or 21? 

Answer:

When someone “owned the covenant,” it was a profession of saving faith done by one who was not necessarily in full communion with the church. Thus, a person would have to be old enough to receive confirmation and communion, which is usually around the age of 13 or 14. Puritans believed that baptism was a necessary step towards the salvation of the soul, and therefore (unlike Baptists) they routinely practiced infant baptism. However, for persons who had attained the age of reason and wished to be baptized in the church, they would have been obliged to “own the covenant,” i.e., accept the doctrines of the church, as a first condition for membership.
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