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Ask a Genealogist: The 1754 Slave Census of Massachusetts.

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Question:

Can you tell me something about the 1754 Massachusetts Slave census, and where it is located?

Answer:

The 1754 Census was a requirement from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sent to the Assessors of each community.  They were asked to return the whole number of male and female slaves over the age of 16.  For genealogists this does not give the name of the slaves or the slave owners.  But does indicate the earliest census of slaves in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  This is not a complete evaluation however, as slaves under 16 are not counted.  The original returns for the Mass. 1754 Slave Census are at the Massachusetts State Archives, 220 Morrissey Blvd., Dorchester, Mass.  They are also available there on microfilm.

Ask a Genealogist: Research Plymouth, Mass. residents in the 20th century

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Question:

I realize most people are looking for their immigrants who settled in Plymouth in 1620.  I am looking for my relatives who settled there in the 1880's.  I have used vital records, probate and deeds.  Do you have any town directories post 1880 for Plymouth at NEHGS?

Answer:

The NEHGS Microtext library on the 4th floor has thirty-nine microfiche for Plymouth, Mass. town directories.  We have the years 1887, 1893, 1905, 1915, 1917, 1919,1921.  The directories for Kingston, Mass. include Plymouth for the years: 1890, 1898, 1899, 1911, 1924, 1932.

Ask a Genealogist: The tools of a Fellmonger.

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Question:

In a probate from 1712 from Cheshire, England I find an interesting inventory item. "Tools of fellmongering -£ 2."  Can you explain what this is for me? 

Answer:

This inventory is describing a collection of tools of a "Fellmonger".  This occupation was for the person who removed the hair from animals skins before it was used in leather making. 

Ask a Genealogist: Gravestone birthdate calculator.

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Question:

Is there a good way to calculate the birthdates from old gravestones that include the full age?  I have used my own method with a calendar, but there must be something better.

Answer:

After transcribing thousands of gravestones, I have turned to a variety of online calculators.  One of the free websites that has long been popular with genealogists is: http://www.angelfire.com/va/ValsGenealogyPage/Calculator.html  

Ask a Genealogist: Searching for clues within old photographs

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Question:

We have some 19th century photographs that I can not determine when they were taken.  Can you advise me on a good option to locate when these photographs were taken?  Sadly these are tintypes and not paper photographs do not have the advertiser listed.

Answer:

I would strongly suggest the books of my colleague Maruen A. Taylor, Fashionable Folks Bonnets and Hats 1840. (Picture Perfect Press, 2011), and Fashionable Folks, Hairstyles 1840-1900. (Picture Perfect Books, 2009).  These two guides will assist you with hairstyles, hats and bonnets to help you date your 19th century photographs. Both of these titles are avalable from NEHGS http://web1.americanancestors.org/store/

Ask a Genealogist: The age when signing the Church covenant.

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Question:

In researching an ancestor in New Hampshire, I found record that five of his children owned the covenant and were baptized probably at the same time in 1715.  At that period was there any minimum age they would have had to attain in order to own the covenant?

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.

Ask a Genealogist: Canadian citizenship in the early 20th century.

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Question:

When my grandparents arrived to Nova Scotia from England in the 1920's did they have to become citizens of Canada?  Are there any records of such naturalizations?

Answer:

They did not need to file any paperwork for citizenship in the 1920's. British citizenship was mutually shared with Canadian and those immigrants from England until 1947.    The records that do exist typically deal with Americans and immigrants from Continental Europe.  These records are in Record Group 49, located at the Nova Scotia Archives in Halifax. The website for the Archives is: http://gov.ns.ca/nsarm/

 

Ask a Genealogist: Looking for M.O.C.A. records at NEHGS.

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Question:

In the book Soldiers, Sailors, and Patriots of the Revolutionary War - Maine by Carleton E. Fisher and Sue G. Fisher it references two ancestors with the abbreviation MOCA. How can I obtain a lookup from MOCA, and learn what these references mean?

Answer:

M.O.C.A. stands for Maine Old Cemetery Association. This collection of microfilm appears in three series of county-by-county gravestone transcriptions throughout Maine. At NEHGS we have these available for researchers on the 4th floor [Call # F18.M346.1983]. There is also a microfiche titled M.O.C.A. Revolutionary War soldiers [Call # F18.M346.1986]. Some of the counties from this series have been published by Picton Press. If you cannot visit, you can hire NEHGS Research Services to search these microforms for you.  Research Services can be reached at 617-226-1233, or by email at research@nehgs.org

 

 

Ask a Genealogist: A New Englander goes to Florida in 1910.

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Question:

Can you advise me where online I can search for my great-grandfather's brother who moved to Florida ca. 1910.  I believe that he died before 1920 somewhere in Florida, but not sure where.

Answer:

I would suggest searching the free Florida Death Index (1877-1998) online from www.familysearch.org.  The index can be searched directly by clicking here. This database contains over 5 million entries.

Ask a Genealogist: Early Worcester, Massachusetts church records.

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Question:

The Worcester birth records include a listing of children of Samuel and Hannah (Tatman) Lawrence in the 1750's. The source is listed as the Old South Church records. I would like to see the original records and I am trying to locate them.

Answer:

According to the work of Dr. Harold Field Worthley the early records of the First Congregational Church or "Old South" are "owned by the church." According to his published work - An Inventory of the records of the particular (Congregational) Church of Massachusetts gathered 1620-1805 (Cambridge, Harvard University, 1970), they have the following:

The oldest records, 1719-1747, are now missing. Church Records (Folder A) "Records of the Old South Church, Worcester, Mass., 1747-1761." (Folder B) "Records of the Old South Church, Worcester, Mass., 1745-1790. Baptisms, admissions & demissions."

The contact information for the church is below. Please let me know how you do in contacting them.

First Congregational Church, 1070 Pleasant Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01602

Phone #: 508 752 4635. Church email address: firstuccworc@aol.com

Website: http://www.uccwebsites.net/firstcongworcesterma.html

 

Ask a Genealogist: What was a Todhunter?

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Question:

Can you tell me what the occupation of a Todhunter was in the 18th century?

Answer:

A "Todhunter" is the occupation of a man who was hired by a parish or village to hunt foxes.

Ask a Genealogist: Gravestone carvers from New Hampshire.

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Question:

I recently contacted a local historical society in New Hampshire about a gravestone carver.  They had no information available on this person.  Can you tell me a way to find out about a 19th century gravestone carver?

Answer:

I would suggest you manually search for his name in the census around the date the gravestone was carved.  Since you did not mention the company name, I would also advise searching through the census for that town.  Look at the occupation column for gravestone carver, or stone carver.  You may also wish to contact the Association for Gravestone Studies: http://www.gravestonestudies.org/  They may have heard of this company before, and save you a little research. 

Ask a Genealogist: Free genealogy software.

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Question:

Can you suggest a couple "free" genealogy software products on the market to me?

Answer:

Two popular "free" programs are Personal Ancestral File and Legacy.  Personal Ancestral File version 5.2 is a strong genealogical software program offerered for download from the LDS Church website.  You can simply download it from the following website: https://familysearch.org/products   The commercial program Legacy also has a "free" version for their release 7.5.  This can be downloaded at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/download.asp   If you decide with Legacy you like the program you can purchase the deluxe version online.  It is explained in detail online at: http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/WhatsNew7.asp

Ask a Genealogist: Where is Farley's Village in Massachusetts?

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Question:

I have a letter in my possession that was written from "Farley's Village, Massachusetts" in 1910.  I can not determine where this was, or what town this may have been a part of.

Answer:

Farley's Village is part of Erving, Franklin County, Massachusetts according to Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Masssachusetts (Boston, NEHGS, 1997).  Erving also has a section known as Miller's Falls, and the town was also known as Erving's Grant or Hack's Grant.  Erving was incorporated as a town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts April 17, 1838.

Ask a Genealogist: Some of the Suffolk Co., Mass. probate are in storage.

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Question:

I understand that some of the early 20th century files for Suffolk County, Massachusetts are in storage?  I heard that you must request them and come back to retrieve them?

Answer:

The Suffolk County Court House in Boston, Mass. does have some files off site for the twentieth century.  Probate dockets from 1895 to 1911 are next door in storage.  The files are referred to as at the Linderman Center in Boston.  The records are pulled only on Wednesday, and cover docket numbers # 97636 to 157226.  Probate docket files before 1895 (docket # 1-97686) are at the Massachusetts State Archives, and records after 1912 (dockets # 157227 to present) are available at the court every day.  NEHGS has microfilm of the pre-1894 probate docket books, the file papers have never been microfilmed.

Ask a Genealogist: Lowell, Massachusetts Bank Records

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Question:

While at a consultation at NEHGS I was shown an online database for an old bank in Lowell, Massachusetts. Sadly I do not recall the website address, or the name of the bank to search on the internet. Can you help by any chance to solve this?

Answer:

Many databases for Lowell, Massachusetts were created by staff and volunteers at the Center for Lowell History. One of their databases is the records for the Lowell Institute for Savings 1829-1992. This database contains over 40,000 records of depositors. This includes their name, occupation, and the date they opened their bank account. You can search this by groups of years transcribed online at: http://library.uml.edu/clh/LIS.htm

Ask a Genealogist: What was the occupation of a Delver?

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Question:

Can you explain what the occupation of a "Delver Man" was?  I thought it was "Delivery Man" but it is spelled without the letters (i) and (y).

Answer:

This occupation is generally listed as "a delver".  A delver was a person who used a shovel for ditch digging, and sometimes digging wells.

Ask a Genealogist: Adoptions and Guardianships in Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

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Question:

I believe the children of my ancestor were placed for adoption or guardianship in the late 1790's.  Can you tell me what I can check for Suffolk County Massachusetts for this time period at NEHGS?

Answer:

We have the published index to Suffolk County probate records and the microfilm of the record books.  If there was a guardianship in Suffolk County it should be listed in this index.  Also if there was a name change or adoption I would recommend the book List of Persons whose names have been changed in Massachusetts, 1780-1892. (Baltimore, MD, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1972) [Call # F63.A5.1972].  You will find all three of these items on the fourth floor in the NEHGS Microtext Department.

Ask a Genealogist: Old Norfolk County in Massachusetts from 1643

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Question:

I understand there was a Norfolk County that included parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Can you tell me what towns were included?

Answer:

Old Norfolk County was established in the year 1643.  This county included the towns of Amesbury, Haverhill, Salisbury that are now in Essex County, Massachusetts.  The current New Hampshire portion included the towns of Dover, Exter, and Portsmouth.  In 1679 Dover, Exeter and Portsmouth were added to the royal province of New Hampshire. Soon after Amesbury, Haverhill, and Salisbury were returned to Essex County. Old Norfolk county although abolished continued to record deeds through the year 1714.  The county name was used again in 1793 when the southern half of Suffolk County in Massachusetts was formed as Norfolk County.  I would suggest the article by David Curtis Dearborn, "The Old Norfolk County Records," The Essex Genealogist 3 (1983), pgs. 194-196.
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