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Reply from Jeanne Belmonte, NEHGS Genealogist A brief search for John Edward Foster in the Massachusetts death index 1931-1935 and 1936-1940 did not have a listing for a John Edward Foster dying in or any of the surrounding towns of Cambridge. His wife Georgiana (Bowman) Foster appears to have died in Cambridge in 1939. Her death record in volume 29, page 509 for the year 1939. The Cambridge City Directory for 1937 did have a listing for a John E. Foster, living at 9 Ivy Street, occupation Janitor and wife is listed as Georgiana Foster. I believe that this may be your ancestor. You may view the city directory record at http://search.ancestry.com. Since it does appear that John is alive in 1937, I checked a later volume of the Massachusetts death index.
John Edward does appear to have died in Cambridge in 1941. His death record is volume 29, page 505 for the year 1941. The death records are available at Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, located at 150 Mt. Vernon Street, Dorchester, MA 02125-3105. The Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records is open to the public for research. More information about research hours may be found at http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/health-stats/vitals/genealogical-research.html . Death certificates issued in Massachusetts from that time period contain the name of the funeral director and the cemetery where the burial took place.
Traditionally, deaths at sea would be reported at the first port reached by the ship after the death. This is true of deaths taking place on passenger ships coming to the various ports of the United States, where a death taking place onboard a ship that docks at New York City would be recorded in New York City.
If the death of your great-grandfather took place while the ship was sailing to a foreign port, it is possible that his death was recorded there rather than in the United States. However, Massachusetts has long recorded deaths of individuals, that resided normally within the state, if the death took place somewhere else. So if you cannot find a death for your great-grandfather, then it is possible that he had moved out of the state before his death happened.
In city directories and newspapers you will often find listings of the shipping companies that were active in a specific city—in this case, Boston. The shipping companies are how you would identify the ships that were leaving from Boston, and are usually listed in the city directories. The dates of embarkation and ports of call for ships were often published in the newspapers, and may assist you in a better understanding of where certain ships traveled, as they often traveled specific routes.
Reply by Rhonda McClure, NEHGS Genealogist
There are few vital records for Nova Scotia for the time in question for Nova Scotia. Births and deaths were not kept as this time, but there are some marriages. In 1812 a marriage could be contracted by either banns (being read in the church several times) or by license. An incomplete collection of the licenses and bonds (which were designed to protect women from breach of promise of matrimony according to Genealogist’s Handbook for Atlantic Canada Research edited by Terrence M. Punch and George F. Sanborn) are available through the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management http://www.novascotia.ca/nsarm/ . It is likely though that you will need to turn your attention to church records. In order to use church records you will need to know more than just the Province of Nova Scotia. First you will need to identify the town in Nova Scotia where Robert Butler and Mary Eldridge were married. Then you would need to know the denomination of religion for the couple. The religions with records in Nova Scotia for the time in question include: Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Congregationalist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and United. Many of the church records are available on microfilm, and you will want to check the FamilySearch.org web site as they have many church records now online in a “browse images” format. This means that the images are not indexed and searchable by name, but can be viewed online and gone through page by page, such as with a traditional microfilm on a machine. You can see the data sets available at FamilySearch.org for Nova Scotia at this link https://familysearch.org/search/collection/list#page=1&countryId=1929953 .
Reply by Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogists.
Answer: Thank you for your query about the Reverend Thomas Thornton and his possible memoirs or diaries. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts (138 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, 02111; 617-482-5800; email: email@example.com ; web: http://www.diomass.org/content/archives holds archival materials about congregations in New England, and might have materials referring to your Rev. Thornton. The Massachusetts Historical Society (1154 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02215-3695; phone: 617-536-1608; web: http://www.masshist.org is an institution that collects materials related to all periods of Massachusetts history. You may also wish to use NUCMC, the National Union Catalog of Manuscripts Collections, for your search. The Library of Congress has offered since 1959 this cataloging program to historical societies and archives that do not participate in a national level one. A hardcopy series of the catalog is available at most large public libraries (at NEHGS on 7th floor, Z6620.U5 N3) covers all submissions to the catalog between 1959 and 1991 when the print version was discontinued. All items submitted to the program since 1986 is searchable online via WorldCat or the NUCMC search page. The first search option on the NUCMC main search page at http://www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/oclcsearch.html is simple and easiest to use.