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Ask a Genealogist: Looking for an ancestor who worked on the railroad.

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Question:

I am looking for my ancestor James Mathieson who settled in Massachusetts from Canada in the 19th century.  He later worked for the Boston & Maine Railroad. Can you offer a suggestion?

Answer:

By Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogist

Thank you for your query about James Mathieson who lived in Boston.

The U.S. population censuses of 1900 to 1930 include information about the arrival year of immigrants as well as the immigrant's citizenship status. If your ancestor is a naturalized citizen, his naturalization petition may provide not only his date and place of birth, but also the date and port of his entry into the United States. Naturalization petitions for Massachusetts as well as those from other New England states are available from the National Archives and Records Center in Waltham, MA (380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, MA, 02452-6399; phone: 781-663-0144; email: boston.archives@nara.gov  Indexes to Massachusetts naturalizations can be found at FamilySearch.org at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1840474 for 1791-1906 naturalizations, and at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1834334 for 1906-1966 naturalizations.

Since your ancestor worked for a railroad, information sources available about Boston and Maine Railroad employees include the archives of the Boston and Maine Railroad Historical Society which is maintained by the Center for Lowell History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Libraries (40 French Street, Lowell, MA, 01852; phone: 978-934-4997; http://library.uml.edu/clh/BM.Html) and the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (844 North Rush Street, Chicago, IL, 60611-2092; phone: 877-772-5772; http://www.rrb.gov/mep/genealogy.asp).

Ask a Genealogist: Rest Haven Cemetery at Deer Island, Boston, Mass.

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Question:

Can you tell me about burials during World War I located on Deer Island in Boston?  I understand the military burials were moved, however I do not know where.

Answer:

Posted by David Allen Lambert, NEHGS Chief Genealogist

On Deer Island the remains of many Native Americans of the 17th century, and 19th century immigrants lay unmarked.  During World War I there were some military burials that occurred at what is called the Rest Haven Cemetery.  These military burials were later moved to the Fort Devens Cemetery located on Patton Road, Harvard, Massachusetts. You can search over nine hundred burials from the Fort Devens on Findagrave.com at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=555429

Ask a Genealogist: Researching an ancestor from New Brunswick, Canada.

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Question:

Where did Thomas Bickerton come from in England and who were his parents? Thomas's son John Bickerton was born in 1816 in England. John's my 2nd great grandfather. Thomas had a land Petition in 1819 in Westmorland N.B. Canada. John owned land in Sackville, New Brunswick Canada. John's son Joseph Alonzo Bickerton had a farm called Fairfield next to his father John Bickerton. My Grandfather lived here. How or where do I find where Thomas came from and who were his parents & what ship did he sail?

Answer:

By Rhonda McClure, NEHGS Genealogist

The land petition that is dated 1819 is actually the petition of Robert Hawkes, which includes Thomas Bickerton and also James Williamson. If you haven’t ordered a copy of this from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, or viewed the microfilm of this land petition, you will definitely want to do so. Information for requesting a copy of the petition is found directly below the entry at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick’s web site http://archives.gnb.ca/Search/RS108/Details.aspx?culture=en-CA&Key=4504 along with costs for the copy and who to make the out a check.

In addition, there is a Federated Search on the Provincial Archives site that might offer you more hits on Thomas and John Bickerton once they are in New Brunswick.

When it comes to immigrating to Canada from England, it is important to remember that this is largely like moving from Massachusetts to Connecticut except there is a big body of water in the way. This means that there are no records of emigration from England and no records of a British Isles subject coming in to Canada. Both England and Canada are under the same monarch and as such are citizens of the same government, especially at the time in which Thomas and his son come to Canada. As a result, there is not likely to be any indication of the ship on which they traveled.

In regard to where they are coming from in England, you will need to exhaust all records in New Brunswick to see if you can determine the mother of John Bickerton. You could look at the names given to the daughters of John Bickerton as potential names for his mother.

Additionally, FamilySearch.org has amassed a large database of British baptisms and marriages that have been extracted from the Bishops’ Transcripts of the parishes in England. It is possible that you may be able to locate some potential individuals to track more thoroughly by doing a search there for a John Bickerton, born in England, say between 1812 and 1814 with a father Thomas.
Armed with the possible individuals, you could research them forward to see if they are still in England when you know that your Thomas and John are now in Canada. This could potentially eliminate all but what could ultimately be your John, thus giving you the location of origin in England.

Ask a Genealogist: Marriage intentions in Maine.

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Question:

In the vital records of Sanford, Maine, the town clerk records a marriage intention dated May 28, 1828 with a notation "Certificate dated 8th June 1828". What is the "certificate" and what is the significance of the date?

Answer:

By David Allen Lambert, NEHGS Chief Genealogist

The "certificate" would be the marriage certificate (or proof of marriage) signed by the clergyman, or justice of the peace, at the time of the wedding. This certificate would generally be returned to the town or city clerk who recorded their intention of marriage. You occasionally see the marriage date indicated on the intention. The town that issued the marriage intention is probably not the same town where the marriage occurred.
 

 

Ask a Genealogist: Trinity Episcopal Church in New York City.

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Question:

Do you have records for births and marriages for Trinity Episcopal Church in New York City for 1795-1805?

Answer:

By Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogist.

Thank you for your query about 18th and early 19th century records for the Trinity Episcopal Church of New York City.

The Archive of the Episcopal Diocese of New York www.dioceseny.org/pages/63-diocesan-archives-and-resources is likely to have such records and welcomes all inquiries.

The archive is located at the Diocesan House, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY, 10025, and can be reached by phone at 212-316-7419, or by email at archives@dioceseny.org

Ask a Genealogist: Nova Scotia Vital Records

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Question:

I am looking for birth records of my father and brothers. They were all born in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1894 to 1904 to the same parents: Hugh Morgan and Isabella MacLeod Morgan. Could you please advise me what I may do to locate and acquire copies?

Answer:

By Rhonda McClure, NEHGS Genealogist

Nova Scotia recorded vital statistics, births and deaths from 1864 until 1877 and then didn’t begin again until 1908. There are delayed births for Nova Scotia for births taking place between 1830 and 1912. The Nova Scotia Archives and Records Administration http://gov.ns.ca/nsarm offers an online searchable web site through the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com. If the individuals in question cannot be found on this site, then it is likely that the births were never officially registered with the civil authorities.

However, that does not mean that there isn’t a record alternative that may give you the birth information.

Hugh Morgan and Bella MacLeod were married in Halifax County, Nova Scotia, 18 September 1891 by license. The religion listed on the marriage register is Methodist.

You will want to look for the Methodist churches that may have been in existence when Hugh and Isabella were having their children.

Though both Frank Hedley Morgan and Wilfred David Morgan should have filed draft registration cards, only Wilfred Morgan appears to have a card. His birth date is listed as 27 Jan 1896. It appears, based on the Social Security Death Index that Donald E. Morgan was born 6 February 1901 and Frank Hedley Morgan was born 20 November 1894. You may already have had these dates, but they would prove necessary when trying to get baptismal records on the boys.

Ask a Genealogist: Home for Sick and Destitute Servant Girls in Boston.

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Question:

Can you help me learn more about St. Joseph home for sick and destitute servant girls? It was located 1866-1880 at 43-45 East Brookline St., Boston, Mass. 

Answer:

By Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogist

Thank you for your query about the St. Joseph Home for Sick and Destitute Servant Girls in nineteenth century Boston.
 
Moses King's Dictionary of Boston (1883, online edition at http://archive.org/details/kingsdictionaryo00baco) describes the Home (p.38) as a temporary home for servant girls.  In the same dictionary, the Franciscan Sisters (p.100) is the religious order who operated the Home at East Brookline Street in Boston.  The home was located in today's South End which hosted a number of charitable societies and homes for children and adults during the majority of the nineteenth century.  The Archdioceses of Boston Archives may be helpful in guiding you to its historical collections that pertain to the St. Joseph's Home or in directing you to the successor order of the Franciscan Sisters who may have such records and collections.  Information about the archives may be found at http://www.bostoncatholic.org/Archives.aspx.

 

Ask a Genealogist: Records for the Children's Friends Society in Boston.

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Question:

I am looking for early records for the old Children's Friends Society in 19th century Boston. 

Answer:

The Children’s Friends Society ran an orphanage and boarding home for boy and girls from 1833 to 1901. The residential homes operated by the Society closed in 1901 and continued to place children in foster homes.

Records for the Children’s friends Society for the years 1863-1922 can be found at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Archives and Special Collections Department, Joseph P. Healey Library.
The library website may offer more information on to access these records. http://umb.libguides.com/content.php?pid=189963&sid=1665524

Ask a Genealogist: Curious about an inventory of cordwainer tools.

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Question:

I am new to genealogy and have started to look at probate inventories for my ancestors more closely.  Can you tell me what "cordwainer tools" are?

Answer:

An inventory will often reveal things about your ancestor's life and occupation.  In the case of your ancestor, he or she was a shoemaker.  A cordwainer was another name for a shoemaker  They no doubt had a variety of knives, awls, and needles for cutting and sewing shoes.  This may include shoe nails, tack hammers, and other items for applying the soles to the leather shoes. 

Ask a Genealogist: Looking for the Lincoln Hospital in D.C.

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Question:

I am looking for  John Franklin Harvey, born 1842 in Dover, MA and died 1890 in Boston, Mass. He was a Union soldier from February 22, 1864 to July 30, 1865. I've recently received my Civil War relative's complete military history record from NARA. It says he was admitted to the Lincoln Hospital in DC on May 24, 1864 (sick and wounded). At the end of his service, he mustered out at the Delaney House in DC on July 30, 1865. Where can I find information about these two locations and if there are any medical or military records that would specify his sickness and wounds?

Answer:

By Rhonda McClure, NEHGS Genealogist

 Delaney House operated as a mustering out site for a number of regiments at the end of the Civil War. You may find additional information about this house by searching the Washington, D.C. city directories of the time. Be sure to look for people with the surname of Delaney as well as perhaps a hotel or rooming house that carries that name. However, there was an Assistant Surgeon for the Army named Alfred Delaney who resided in Washington, D.C. in 1865. It is possible that this was the house being referenced.

In regard to Lincoln Hospital, this refers to Lincoln General Hospital which operated from 23 Dec 1862 through 30 July 1865. Now a residential area in Washington, D.C., the hospital was located at East Capital and 14th Streets. You can find a picture of the hospital by visiting the Historical Medical Sites in the Washington, D.C. Area <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/medtour/lincoln.html>.

Records for the military hospitals can be found in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, of the National Archives. According to the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al, under sub-heading 94.12, Records of the Record of Pension Office (PRO) of the War Department, 1784-1919, in section 94.12.3 “Cards Containing Medical Records and Vital Statistics,” the carded medical records include: name, rank, organization, complaint, name of admitting hospital, date of admittance and perhaps other information. Such cards exist for men in the regular army, 1821-84 as well as volunteer organization in the Mexican and Civil Wars, 1846-65.

In addition to the carded medical records, section 94.12.5 “Other medical records” includes records of field hospitals for the years 1821-1912. While Lincoln Hospital was a large hospital, it was dismantled at the end of the war, and could be included in this collection of medical records.

Please note that at the present time, none of these records is available online.

Ask a Genealogist: Searching for a Vermont cemetery.

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Question:

I have found several typed death records of the Wyman family in Windsor Vermont. The records show burial in "Trebo" which I take to mean "Trebo Cemetery". I've found that there was a Trebo Cemetery, but cannot find any information about who was buried there. It is not clear to me that it still exists. How can I find who was buried there? The deaths were in the mid-1800s. I have reason to believe other relatives were also buried there.

Answer:

By Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogist

Thank you for your query about the Trebo Cemetery in Chester, Windsor, Vermont.

The Vermont Old Cemetery Association 's Burial Grounds of Vermont has survey-like descriptions of cemeteries within the state broken down by county. Also, the Index to Known Cemetery Listings in Vermont published by the Vermont Historical Society will give references to where such listings can be found. Worldcat lists the Smithsonian Institution Libraries as the closest holding library for both these titles (their online catalog, library.si.edu/collections ). Interestingly, Find A Grave shows a 2010 burial for an Emmett E. Armstrong in a "private cemetery" named the "Trebo Road Cemetery" and his is the only burial recorded in this cemetery on this website.

Ask a Genealogist: Researching in New Salem, Massachusetts.

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Question:

I am searching for the parents of my ancestor, Sarepta Wheeler.  According to my sources she was born in 1805 in Massachusetts (New Salem I think).  She was married in New York in 1826 to Alvin Hudson Thomas. She died in 1849 in Pike, New York - I have a record of that.   I have exhausted all the sources I know about.  I would appreciate any information or leads you can give me.

Answer:

By Rhonda McClure, NEHGS Genealogist

If you have exhausted the New Salem Vital Records to 1849 published volume, then it is possible that either she wasn’t born in New Salem or that her parents did not make it into town to register her birth with the town clerk.
If you are absolutely certain that she was born in New Salem, you may need to hire a professional researcher to view a manuscript of the abstracted records of New Salem’s First Congregational Church. This typescript is available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Unfortunately it has not been microfilmed and is not available online. You can find out more about this at the catalog entry https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/320225?availability=Family%20History%20Library

You may also want to investigate where the original church records are for New Salem. It is possible that they are housed at the Congregational Library in Boston. Their web site is www.congregationallibrary.org

If you are not certain that she was born in New Salem, then you will want to begin with the Wheeler families living in New York in the town where Sarepta Wheeler married Alvin Hudson Thomas. It is likely that she was still residing with her parents when the marriage took place, and as such the Wheeler families living there become a high priority. You would want to look for probate records for those Wheeler fathers (and mothers if they outlive their husbands) and see if they mention a daughter Sarepta Thomas.

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, you will want to contact the New York Town Historian for the town in which Sarepta was married to see what information they have on Wheeler families in that town. The town historians are charged with gathering information about the town they are assigned and that includes information about the families. These individuals are very helpful. You can find out more about this unique resource of New York by visiting http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/services/historian/winslowdoc.html 

Ask a Genealogist: Looking for Crown Land Grant Maps in New Brunswick online.

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Question:

Can you direct me to a resource for finding Crown Land Grant maps for New Brunswick online?  I am familiar with the Nova Scotia maps thanks to your earlier posting.

Answer:

The Crown Land Grant maps for the Province of New Brunswick, Canada can be accessed online for free.  You can select one of the "Crown Land Maps" a.k.a. "Cadastral Maps" from a place name finding guide.  Select the town or community and you will notice a color map at the bottom of the screen.  You will only see a small portion of the map online.  The best option is to actually choose the "Download" option.  A full scale color map will then be able to be saved and viewed on your home computer.  The link to search this database is: http://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/AlphabeticalListing.aspx?culture=en-CA&letter=A  

Ask a Genealogist: Brooklyn Children's Aid Society records

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Question:

I am researching two things: 1. When my grandmother, Theresa Sylva, was brought over from Europe and 2. Who her family was? I am using Ancestry.com and other online sources. I know that she was placed out from the Brooklyn Children's Aid Society in 1913 as a Mothers Helper but do not know when she was taken from "the aunt" or why other than "abuse". How can I get police/court records? How do I check the ships logs when she didn't bring herself over but was brought over? My grandmother was actually born outside Greece in 1897. I do not have any family names except a possible name of Phillip for her father. She would not speak "the aunts" name ever. She was taken away but I have no dates.

Answer:

By Rhonda McClure, NEHGS Genealogist

The Brooklyn Children’s Aid Society was founded in 1853 by Charles Loring Brace. Today it is known as the Children’s Aid Society. The reason this is important is that when an old establishment such as this is still in operation, under a different name, they often give some detailed history about the organization as well as possibly indicating where some of the records may be for the older years.

The Brooklyn Children’s Aid Society was heavily involved in the Orphan Train movement that resulted in approximately 150,000 abandoned, abused and orphaned children being placed in families in the west in an effort to supply them with better home lives. You did not mention where your grandmother was placed as a “mother’s helper,” but this movement affected a number of children in New York City.

On The Children’s Aid Society web site www.childrensaidsociety.org/ under their About section is a link to the History of the society. Housed here is reference to the Victor Remer Historical Archives < http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/about/history/victor-remer-historical-archives> which lists a finding aid to the records in this archival collection, which are maintained by the New-York Historical Society. You will want to comb through this online finding aid to see if any of the case files or register books could answer some of your questions.

In regard to ship logs, more often referred to as passenger lists, everyone who was on board the ship would be listed on the manifest. However, if her name was changed after she was taken from her “aunts” then it may be more difficult to locate her in the passenger lists.

You did not mention who she married or when, but if she married after 1922, then she would have had to apply for naturalization on her own, she would not have ben automatically a U.S. citizen upon marriage. Naturalization records of this period are valuable in regard to the information supplied about place and date of birth. It would not supply the names of her parents, but could assist with locating her birth in Greece and this getting her parents’ names that way.

In regard to police/court records in regard to abuse, the court records may be easier to find. You will want to search for court records for Kings County, New York. However, it is possible that given the time frame in question you may discover some restrictions of the records. They will not be available online though. You may wish to visit the New York State Unified Courts System page for Brooklyn www.nycourts.gov/courts/2jd/ and call to find out where earlier records may be housed and what restrictions exist. Initially you are in need of a docket entry if your grandmother’s aunts were brought before the courts.

First though, I would suggest approaching the records of the Victor Remer Historical Archives to determine when she was removed and placed in the Brooklyn Children’s Aid Society. The intake registers often indicate the issues of why a child was brought, but more importantly will give you a date or at least a year with which to research the court records.

Ask a Genealogist: Help with a 17th century document from Essex County.

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Question:

While researching at the Historical Society of Old Newbury, Massachusetts  I came across the following entry "John Whipple sonn of John Whipple tersha borne 30 of March 1660." My question - What is "tersha borne"?

Answer:

“Tersha” is a corrupted form of the Latin word “tertia” (more properly for a male, tertius), meaning “the third.” Thus, the phrase you cite can be read as: “John Whipple, son of John Whipple the Third, [was] born 30th of March 1660.”
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