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The Daily Genealogist: The Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, New York

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Jennifer Piña

At the end of the eighteenth century, the Holland Land Company, made up of a consortium of Dutch bankers, purchased 3.3 million acres in Western New York as an investment. The building in Batavia that now houses the Holland Land Office Museum was once the company's main office for selling land directly to settlers. Last month NEHGS Councilor Jennifer Piña of California toured the Holland Land Office Museum. Here she shares her impressions. --Editor  

The Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, Genesee County, New York, houses a rich and varied collection of materials in an 1815 stone building, the third on this site. The building functioned as a land sales office from 1815 until the late 1830s, and was the first National Historic Landmark in western New York.

On a recent visit, my husband and I learned the story of how the 3.5 million-acre Holland Purchase began with a 1797 treaty between representatives of Declaration of Independence signer Robert Morris and the Seneca tribe. The Holland Land Company purchased the land from Morris and began the ambitious project of having the huge tract--which covered a large portion of what is now western New York--surveyed. (This map is helpful for visualizing the area.) Overseen by Joseph Ellicott, the survey was carried out in the thickly forested terrain using links, chains, and basic tools. Examples of these instruments, as well as an Ellicott family desk and a portrait of Joseph Ellicott, occupy a gallery recently renovated to recreate his 1815 land office.   

One gallery includes displays on two local men. Charles F. Rand, a Batavia native, was the first man in the nation to answer President Lincoln's call for volunteers at the start of the Civil War. He also received a Congressional Medal of Honor. Ely S. Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe, was educated as a lawyer and civil engineer. During the Civil War he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel, served as Ulysses Grant's adjutant, and wrote out the terms of surrender at Appomattox. The museum holds a number of other items of interest, including uniform pieces and equipment used in the War of 1812, firearms, and drums used in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The museum features a pioneer kitchen and the area's 1859 gibbet. Many local residents have donated items that were passed down through generations of their families.

Our tour of the museum was conducted by Jeffrey Fischer, who generously shared his knowledge of the Holland Purchase, the museum, and its contents. Museum director Jeffrey Donahue was also on hand to answer our questions. The museum does a fine job of introducing a number of intriguing historical figures and events. The AAA tour book for the area recommends allowing 30 minutes for the museum. I believe that 30 minutes should be considered a nice start!

For more on the Holland Land Company and the Holland Purchase, see Marian Henry's article, "The Holland Purchase: Pioneer Settlements in Western New York State," on Three related articles--"Retracing a Vermont Family's Migration to the Holland Purchase," "The Records of the Holland Land Company in Western New York," and "Genesee Fever: The Lure of Land on the New York Frontier"--are available to NEHGS members in the fall 2009 issue of
New England Ancestors magazine.

The Daily Genealogist: Upcoming Genealogical Conferences

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Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock

The following genealogical conferences will include expert NEHGS speakers and an NEHGS exhibit booth:

The National Genealogical Society 2014 Conference will be held May 7-10, in Richmond, Virginia. Register editor Henry B. Hoff will speak on "How to Progress from Notes to a Draft Article" (Friday, May 9) and "Research Strategies for Upstate New York" (Saturday, May 10). Senior Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press Christopher C. Child will give talks on "Westward Migration out of New England" and "Migrations of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries" on Saturday. Also on Saturday, Genealogist Rhonda R. McClure will present lectures on "Researching Your French-Canadian Ancestors at NEHGS" and "Making Midwest Connections at NEHGS." Chief Genealogist David Allen Lambert will give Saturday's NEHGS luncheon talk, "After Appomattox: Researching Confederate Veterans in Post-Civil War America."

The 45rd annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree will take place June 6-8, in Burbank, California. Genealogist Rhonda R. McClure will present "Following the Crumbs: Tracing Family History through Land Records" on June 6 and "Tracing Your Italian Ancestry to the Old Country" on June 7. She will also tell "Tales of an NEHGS Genealogist" at the NEHGS breakfast on June 8.    

The Massachusetts Genealogical Council Annual Seminar
will be held on Saturday, July 26, in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Genealogist Alice Kane will speak on "Genealogy Fundamentals" and Archivist Judy Lucey will give a talk on "Discovering Your Irish Ancestry in Print and Online Sources."

At the Federation of Genealogical Societies
2014 Conference, August 27-30, in San Antonio, Texas, Christopher C. Child will present the Saturday NEHGS luncheon talk, "Publications at NEHGS, from 1847 to Today."

The Daily Genealogist: Artifacts from NEHGS Collection Exhibited at Ellis Boston Antiques Show

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Jim Power, Jr.
Director of Marketing & Sales

Last weekend NEHGS presented a special exhibition in conjunction with the 2013 Ellis Boston Antiques Show. Thousands of visitors from Boston and beyond viewed "Family Treasures from Early Massachusetts," the first exhibition in twenty years of some of our rare fine art and furniture.

The artifacts included a genealogical chart illustrating Benjamin Franklin’s Nantucket ancestry, John Hancock’s armchair from his Beacon Hill home, and a sword belonging to former Massachusetts governor Marcus Morton. Among the other notable items were a portrait of Captain John Bonner, creator of Boston’s first engraved map; a bullet taken from the body of Dr. Joseph Warren  at the Battle of Bunker Hill; and a cane owned by Peregrine White (c. 1620–1704), the first English child born to a Pilgrim in colonial America. In addition, an oil-on-canvas portrait of Captain Paul Cuffe (1759–1817), a Quaker mariner and merchant at Westport, Massachusetts, and one of the most influential African and Native American people of his time, was displayed. 

Visitors to the NEHGS library (open daily from Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays until 9 p.m.) can view a sampling of some of our historic paintings and artifacts on display throughout the building. 



Owned by Marcus Morton (1784-1864), Governor of Massachusetts, manufactured possibly by William Ketland & Co., early 19th century.
Marcus Morton was born in East Freetown, Massachusetts on February 19, 1784 to Nathaniel and Mary Cary Morton. He had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer, jurist and politician. He was Massachusetts Governor three times – appointed in 1825 to fill the term of William Eustis, elected in 1840, and chosen by the senate in 1843. He died in Taunton on February 6, 1864 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
The sword is typical of those made for U. S. military officers in England by William Ketland & Co. (c. 1780-1831). The distinctive eagle head is very typical, as is the bone grip and patterns etched in silver in the bluing – in very good condition on this sword.

Gift of Marcus Kimball, The Lord Kimball, 2010

folger family tree


“The Descendants of John and Peter Folger”.
Hand-drawn chart, compiled and drawn by Nantucket genealogist, William Coleman Folger, 1866.
Shows the descendants of John Folger (c. 1590-c.1660) and his son Peter (1617-1690). The Folgers are a Nantucket family with many famous descendants including Benjamin Franklin (Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter, who became the second wife of Josiah Franklin and mother to Benjamin Franklin).

Purchase by NEHGS, 7 Dec 2009



By tradition, a portrait of Captain Paul Cuffe (1759-1817), oil on canvas, artist unknown (formerly attributed to Chester Harding), early nineteenth century.
This portrait, acquired by NEHGS in 2012, is, according to tradition, said to be of Captain Paul Cuffe, a Quaker mariner and merchant at Westport, Massachusetts, one of the most influential African and Native American people of his time. He was born on 17 January 1759 at Cuttyhunk Island to a freed African father and a Native American (Wampanoag) mother. The family moved to Dartmouth where they farmed. Paul took a whaling voyage and other deep water voyages and became a self-taught navigator and mariner. He petitioned Bristol County concerning taxation without representation which led to the 1783 state act to allow voting by all free male citizens. By the late 1700s he owned a fleet of trading vessels. He became a supporter of colonizing Sierra Leone with freed American slaves. He was received by President James Madison at the White House in 1812, providing Cuffe with the distinction of being the first black person other than a slave to be invited to meet with a President of the United States. Madison helped Cuffe have his ship (the brig Traveler) returned which had been impounded by US Customs for trading at British ports. Later, in Traveler, Cuffe would transport thirty-eight black colonists to Sierra Leone. He died 7 September 1817. Further research may help to establish a provenance and a more formal identification for this important portrait.

NEHGS purchase, in honor of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2012

The Daily Genealogist: Lessons Learned from a Public History Project

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Kimberly Whitworth
guest author

Kimberly Whitworth is completing her Master's Degree in History at Salem State University. -- Editor

Over the past year I created an online map and database of the Old Burial Ground on Academy Road in North Andover, Massachusetts. Established around 1650, the Old Burial Ground holds the remains of the founding families of Andover and their descendants. The graves marking the burials--as well as the burials themselves--are of historic significance to early New England.

I developed the idea for this project during a graduate class I took last fall which considered the historical aspects of the New England landscape--the physical environment shaped by human interventions. [For those interested in learning more about this topic, I recommend two books: A Landscape History of New England (2011) and Common Landscape of America, 1580 to 1845 (1983).] Burial grounds certainly do not come immediately to mind as a landscape, but they are set in nature and created by human hands.

People often think of burial grounds as static places, where nothing changes. What I realized by the end of my project is that the map I created is merely a 2013 "snapshot" of this particular landscape. During the course of my work, I had access to prior efforts to collect and catalog the burials and markers at the site. When reviewing maps and data from the 1960s and the 1990s, it became clear the site has changed over time due to a variety of factors, including environmental damage and weather, destruction wrought by tree roots, and occasional vandalism. Some stones that were recorded in the 1960s or 1990s were missing in 2013. 

The technology I used to create the map and locate each headstone is called "GIS" or Geographic Information Systems, "a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information." Each headstone on the map represents a point collected using satellite technology. Now each headstone has a latitude and longitude line associated with each point gathered. The accuracy of each point with the system used in this project is within a meter.  

The burial ground is owned by the Town of North Andover and is under the care of the North Andover Historical Commission. I was fortunate to have Town support for the project, and assistance from many departments at Town Hall. I also had the support of the North Andover Historical Society and a few dedicated volunteers who braved some of the hottest days of the summer to take "points" with me.

Visit the Old Burial Ground website, map, and database (PDF) here.

The Daily Genealogist: NEHGS Salt Lake City Member Reception

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Kelly McCoulf

Kelly McCoulf
Director of Constituent Relations

NEHGS members are invited to join us for a special reception with refreshments, hors d'oeuvre, and a presentation by NEHGS experts to celebrate 35 years of NEHGS educational program research successes in Salt Lake City! Enjoy reminiscences of past trips and share your research stories with genealogists Chris Child, David Lambert, Judy Lucey, Rhonda McClure, and Suzanne Stewart.

 slc group

The reception will be held Saturday, November 9, 2013, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Salt Lake City. Space is limited. Please register by October 31 at


The Daily Genealogist: NEHGS to Be Featured at the Ellis Boston Antiques Show

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Kelly McCoulf

Kelly McCoulf
Director of Constituent Relations

For the first time in nearly twenty years, NEHGS will present an outside exhibit that highlights our unique art and decorative art holdings. Our special loan exhibition will be open for viewing from October 24 to 27, 2013, at the Ellis Boston Antiques Show at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. Our display will include a selection of paintings, furniture, and historical artifacts that tell unique stories about notable Massachusetts families in the colonial and post-Revolutionary eras. More than forty antiques dealers from the U.S. and Europe will also be in attendance.
For more information on the Ellis Boston Antiques Show, please visit or

Ellis Boston Antique Show



The Daily Genealogist: London Research Destinations

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David C. Dearborn, FASG

David Curtis Dearborn

Are you ready to explore your British ancestry “across the pond”? Whether your ancestors arrived on the Mayflower or in early 20th-century steerage, London offers endless research opportunities. The Society of Genealogists and The National Archives will be the main focus of our upcoming NEHGS tour for good reason, and other nearby repositories also have a lot to offer.

The Society of Genealogists (SoG) is the largest genealogical library in the U.K. The SoG has an enormous collection of published, transcribed, and filmed parish registers and local and family histories. In addition, the SoG also has U.K. census records, city directories, poll lists, wills and probate records, and many specialized collections. Users have access to the SoG’s rich collection of microfilmed and fiched source materials, including English, Welsh, Scottish, and some Irish census returns and indexes, indexes to England and Wales births, marriages, and deaths from 1837 onwards, and Scotland indexes to births, marriages, and deaths (1855–1920), plus earlier births and marriages (1553–1854). The library also has the Document Collections of family history research and original documents. The SoG holds published and transcribed local history records, including parish registers and gravestone inscriptions, for every county in the U.K. and thousands of parishes. Also available are family histories and one-name studies, multi-county will indexes, marriage licenses, and much more.

The National Archives is located by the banks of the Thames just outside London in Kew. TNA’s holdings are vast, and include military records for all branches of the service (War Office and Admiralty) up to and including World War I, census schedules for England and Wales, wills and probate records (Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1383–1858), Death Duty registers, documents from the central courts of law from the 12th century onwards, including the Courts of Chancery, Exchequer, the Central Criminal Court and the Assizes, and records of the Home Office, Foreign Office and Colonial Office, plus much more.

Until some time later in 2013, the London Family History Centre operated by the LDS Church, is located temporarily at TNA while their building is being refurbished. The London FHC has the largest collection of microfilmed genealogical records in the U.K. (Note that all are also available at the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City.) Among the highlights of the microfilmed collection are parish records from more than 9,500 parishes, non-conformist records, parish chest and poor law records, post-1858 record copy wills, Prerogative Court of York record copy wills, and probate records from hundreds of ecclesiastical courts (pre-1858).

The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is the place to go if you have ancestors who lived in or around London itself. With more than 70 km of shelves, the LMA holdings include parish registers, electoral registers, land tax records, parish poor relief and Boards of Guardians records, and workhouse records. The Archives also contains records of marriage licenses and wills from the Diocese of London and wills from the Archdeaconry of Surrey. In addition, the LMA has a collection of photographs and prints arranged topographically and by subject, as well as maps and plans including parish maps and bomb damage maps.

The British Library holds the India Office Records that include church records, wills and pension records of British and European residents of India between 1600 and 1947.

The Principal Probate Registry, located in First Avenue House, contains probate records for England and Wales from 1858 to the present. (Note that the Family History Library has microfilmed these records for the period 1858–1925.)

Of course, London has more repositories and resources than we can list here; this is just a sampling of London’s many genealogical offerings.

The NEHGS London Research Tour will be held from May 19 to 26. NEHGS experts David Dearborn and Christopher Child and their counterparts at the SoG and TNA will help participants navigate the vast resources available in London. Daily activities will include expert lectures and tours. Then, from May 27-31, we will travel to the county record offices of Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk with local experts. Join us for one or both tours and explore records only available in the U.K.!

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