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Ask a Genealogist: Researching obituaries in newspapers.

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Question:

My question is in regards to newspaper death notices. I was hoping to find obituaries or notices of death in the Boston Globe. I tried my hand searching images of the paper for the entire month and could not find anything for either. What were the practices at the time regarding obituaries/death notices? Was it presumptuous for me to think there would have been a notice? Did it cost money to put a notice in the paper? Is it possible they would have put the notice in only a paper they read?

Answer:

Reply from Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogist

Placement of a death notice or obituary is entirely the choice of the family. Often but not always a notice is a paid item. Early death notices in the United States were very basic in noting the name of the deceased, his/her place of residence, and date of death. Occasionally, some bits of biographical information is noted. Information about surviving family members as well as a full biographical sketch of the deceased became part of death notices by the nineteenth century, and some newspapers kept writers on staff just for obituaries.

Most notices of death typically appear 7-10 days after the date of death when searching daily newspapers. The time frame depends on the frequency of the publication (daily, weekly, semi-weekly, etc.) as well as the mode and speed of communications. For your particular project, Boston had nearly a dozen daily newspapers that include the Boston Globe. A full list of Boston newspapers on microfilm at the Microtext Department of the Boston Public Library is available at http://www.bpl.org/research/microtext/BostonNewspapers.pdf . The next newspaper titles to check for death notices include the Boston Herald, the Boston Traveler, and the Evening Record. Joseph and Mary Ann Holmes lived in the Dorchester area of Boston, and I recommend also checking at the Microtext Department the microfilms of the weekly Dorchester Beacon for mention of the passing of the Holmes.

Ask a Genealogist: In search of a German ancestor.

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Question:

Is it common for German women in the early to mid-nineteenth century to adopt the surname of their mother? Under what circumstances might this be the case? If this is not common why might there be two surnames listed for the same ancestor in different records? Context: Ancestors from Templin, Brandenburg, Germany. I have birth and baptism records for my great-great grandfather (Carl Mehlberg) and some of his brothers and sisters born in Germany. They seem to alternately list the mother's (Wilhelmine's) surname as Ringel or Lemke. I also have what I believe to be a wedding record (having a hard time getting translated) that lists her as Ringel and her mother's name as Dorthee Ringel. One other researcher I have connected with has Dorthee's husband's name as Daniel Lemke.

Answer:

Reply from Rhonda McClure, NEHGS Genealogist

This would be unusual. In most instances European women are often recorded in official records under their maiden name. However, I have not seen an instance where a woman went by her mother’s maiden name instead of her own maiden name.

Your message did not indicate how you know that the brothers and sisters are indeed relatives of your great-great-grandfather, Carl Mehlberg. It would appear that you are getting these records directly from Germany, as the records for Templin, which were microfilmed by the Family History Library cover only a one year period (1873-1874) and are for the Catholic Church.

You would be wise to contact the church and see if they have a Familienbuch – basically a family book – that has family group sheets for the families that attended that church. This record would have the father and mother (along with their birth, marriage, and possibly death information) and the names of their parents. Then below that would be listed each of the children with their birth/baptism date and in some instances notations if a person has their own page in the familienbuch or if the emigrated to America and other notations.

Given that the children’s mother is alternating, my first concern would be that you in fact have merged two separate families. And the familienbuch could help you with this.
If there isn’t a familienbuch, then you may want to see if there are two marriages – one to a woman with the last name of Ringel and the other with the last name of Lemke.

You didn’t mention if you had a death record for your great-great-grandfather, Carl Mehlberg. You mentioned a marriage record, but not if it was for Carlo or for Dorthee. If it isn’t for Carl, you will want to get his as well. Both of his marriage and death records should reveal the maiden name of his mother. And the surname, as listed on the marriage record, would be the more accurate of the two documents.

Ask a Genealogist: A question about the book Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots

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Question:

I have noticed several instances when a person listed in the "Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots" database died many years before the Revolutionary War. Why are persons who died many years before the Revolutionary War listed in "Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots"? Should I assume it is a different person altogether?

Answer:

Reply from Lindsay Fulton, NEHGS Genealogist                                                           
Patricia Law Hatcher’s, Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots is a compilation of graves located during the years 1900 to 1974 by members of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. The information included in this work was submitted by DAR members and varied for each entry, some including exact citations from the tombstones, while others included information that was obtained in their own research. Therefore, the author warns that, “the validity of the information can not be assumed and should be checked… all information should be independently verified and proved before being submitted to any patriotic or hereditary society for application or other purpose.” As a result, it is possible that some of the abstracts included in Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots were incorrectly identified.

I would also like to add that the abstracts included in Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots were arranged by reporting year. For example, “45" indicates that the grave was located between April 1, 1944 and April 1, 1945 by a DAR member. Therefore, the number included after the cemetery name does not refer to the date in which the Revolutionary War Patriot died, rather the number refers to the date in which the cemetery marker was reported.


Ask a Genealogist: What is Person of Quality?

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Question:

Is there a definition of what constituted a "person of quality" in the 17th-18th century? Would a yeoman be considered of quality? Did it vary from place to place?

Answer:

Reply from Lindsay Fulton, NEHGS Genealogist

If you are referring to John Camden Hotten’s The original lists of persons of quality: emigrants, religious exiles, political rebels, serving men sold for a term of years, apprentices, children stolen, maidens pressed, and others who went from Great Britain to the American plantations, 1600-1700, the author defines “persons of quality” in his introduction. According to the author, the passengers identified in his compilation were comprised of, “men of position at home, with wealth,” and also of men who were, “comparatively obscure men - men of little means.” He further explains that the unifying quality of these men was their character, “possessed of hearts and consciences of too honest a nature to permit them quietly to submit to the tolerance which was forced upon them at home.” In other words the emigrants, religious exiles, political rebels, serving men sold for a term of years, apprentices, children stolen, maidens pressed, and others from Great Britain listed in the compilation, were considered by the author to be “persons of quality.”


However, if you were concerned with the definition of a yeoman, a comprehensive definition can be found in A to Zax: a comprehensive dictionary for genealogists and historians. The author, Barbara Jean Evans, lists several definitions: “1. an experienced man capable of keeping account of supplies and costs; 2. A farmer who tills his own small acreage; 3. A person who can be counted on to work diligently and effectively; 4. A clerk or writer in the navy.”

Ask a Genealogist: Irish Ancestors from Vermont.

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Question:

I am looking for my ancestor birthplace of my ancestor John Hayes in Ireland.  He settled in Vermont in the 19th century.

Answer:

Reply from Marie Daly, Senior Genealogist.          

Thank you for your query regarding John Francis Hayes and his birthplace in Ireland. John Hayes and his wife and children appear in Saint Johnsbury in the 1870 census, mis-transcribed by ancestry indexers as John Hayer. The 1870 census had a column to indicate citizenship status, and he is not checked off as a U.S. citizen. Naturalization petitions are a good sourcefor determining origin in Ireland. However, he did naturalize in 1880, and you can find him in the index to New England Naturalization Petitions on familysearch.org at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-14739-60932-47?cc=1840474.However, the naturalization records for the US District Court in Burlington for that time period do not provide even the county of origin. In addition, he cannot be associated with other people of the same name in Caledonia County. He first shows up in the 1860 census, and is not listed in the 1850 census. There is a John Hayes in Caledonia in 1850, but he is 12 years older. However, I cannot trace this John Hayes forward, so given the proximity of Ryegate to Saint Johnsbury, this may be a case of a census taker getting the information wrong.

There is a Margaret Wright, age 70, who died in Ryegate,Vermont in 1888. The names of her parents were given as Joseph Wright and Margaret Hayes, and her birthplace was Limerick, Ireland.  In 1850, Ryegate had 349 Irish immigrants, and most of them are gone by 1860.  It is likely that these were Famine era immigrants and that they had arrived through Quebec. Many may have moved into Saint Johnsbury.

One of the ways to overcome brick walls when the records for your ancestor are non-existent is to increase the focus of your research to include others in the same community or who may be related to your ancestor.

 

 

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