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  • Question of the Day Archive
    February 2009

  • February 2, 2009

    I am trying to find indices for the various issues of the Register. It seems to me I read some time back that these are now available on line. But I can't find them! Am I just a dreamer or are they available.

    Thank you for your note. The index and images for the NEHGS Register for 1841-2009 can be accessed online on our website. Once you have logged in you can use this link to access the advanced search page.

    You can also utilize searchable PDF files of the Register from 2007-2010.

    February 3, 2009

    My wife and I want to research our New England families' ancestry-- Morse, Maxwell, Stow, Upham. Can we personally do this at your location? Is there a cost involved? Thank you.


    Thank you for your note. Non-members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society are welcome to come and undertake their research for a fee of $15.00 per day. If you decide you would like to become a member of NEHGS you have up to 30 days to apply the $15 day fee towards membership. I would suggest searching our online library catalog of genealogical and historical reference materials. This allows you to create a shopping list of items you may wish to examine when you arrive. This also allows you to make better use of your time at the library. We are open to the public Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9-5, and on Wednesdays from 9-9. For more information on the library you can go to our library page.

    February 4, 2009

    In researching my paternal grandmother's side of our family, I have come across my great-great grandfather's marriage dates but "The image is not available." Although the "image does not exist," could the record book be available? At the State Library of Massachusetts, perhaps? I am anxious to find out as it the only source which can help determine my great-great grandmother's maiden name.

    Thank you for your note. In the case of a missing image from our Mass. Vital Records 1841-1910 series you can request copies from the microfilm through our photocopy service. Be sure to indicate the name, date, type of record (ex: marriage), volume and page when placing your order. Learn more about our Photocopy Service.

    Photocopy Service - Copies from sources in our Library. Please provide the book or journal article title, author, and page number/s that you need. Use our online form to make your request. Copies are made in accordance with copyright law. Rates are:

    Copies: $.35 per page

    Service Charge: Members $5.00 for every 1-3 vital records

    Non-Members $10.00 for every 1-3 vital records

    Postage and Handling: $3.50 for every 1-3 vital records

    Fax Surcharge: $5.00 every 1-3 vital records

    Rush Charge: Please inquire at

    If you require a certified copy of any birth, marriage or death from the aforementioned series you can order it for $3.00 from the Massachusetts State Archives. The archives also has 1911-1915 available for the same certified document cost.

    February 5, 2009

    I do have the book Inhabitants and Estates of the Town of Boston 1630-1800, and The Crooked and Narrow Streets of Boston 1630-1822 on CD-Rom. I was wondering what an abutter is?

    In the work by Annie Haven Thwing you will find numerous transcriptions of Suffolk County deeds. These deeds will list the boundaries and abutters of the plot of land owned by an individual or individuals. An abutter is the owner of an adjoining piece of land that borders the property described in a deed.

    February 6, 2009

    The death record of one of my ancestors listed his place of burial as Calvary Cemetery, Boston, MA. He died in 1925 in Brookline, MA. I can't find a listing for that particular cemetery and was wondering if the name had been changed. I am looking for the gravesite of Patrick Finan to obtain information on others buried with him and when.

    Thank you for your note. The Calvary Cemetery has two locations you need to be aware of. There is an older cemetery still in use called Mount Calvary Cemetery started in 1866, and also New Calvary Cemetery started in 1899. Both cemeteries are part of the Boston Cemetery Association.

    You should contact both regarding the 1925 burial you are interested in locating.

    Mount Calvary Cemetery Office
    366 Cummins Highway
    Roslindale, Massachusetts 02131

    New Calvary Cemetery Office
    800 Harvard Street
    Mattapan, Massachusetts 02126


    February 9, 2009

    My grandmother did some research back in the 1950’s which I now am going through. Many things she cited correctly however I am uncertain on one in particular. Do you know what MAC hen a volume and page refers to? These are mostly colonial documents from Massachusetts. I know the numbers do not correspond to the NEHGS Register.

    Thank you for your note. I believe what your grandmother was referring to was the Massachusetts Archives Collection. This is a collection of volumes containing tipped in colonial documents from 1629 to 1783. These documents were bound into volumes in the 19th century, and are accessible on microfilm at the Massachusetts State Archives. To find out more about the Massachusetts Archives Collection and the Mass. State Archives go to:

    February 10, 2009

    Could you answer a debate I have with another genealogist. They claim they saw a census pre-1850 that gives exact ages for families. I do not recall ever seeing such a census.

    Thanks for your intriguing question. Your colleague is actually partially correct. The 1840 U.S. Census does list the exact age and the name for those collecting a military pension or a widow’s pension. They are often the head of household, but occasionally they are listed living with another family member. These names and ages appear on the second page of each enumeration sheet. The statistics for this was used to publish A census of pensioners for revolutionary or military services, with their names, ages, and places of residence, as returned by the marshals of the several judicial districts, under the act for taking the sixth census. (Washington, Printed by Blair and Rives, 1841). This volume can be seen online at:

    February 11, 2009

    I am putting together the primary and secondary sources for my genealogy finally. Are the microfilmed Maine VRs 1892-1955 considered primary, or secondary, sources?

    The vital records for the State of Maine were sent in from the City and Towns starting in 1892. Before that time it was up to the respective community to record vital records. The Maine VRs you mentioned are considered primary source records, since they attest to be a "true copy” of the records. To be on the safe side I always seek out the original from the city or town. You always want to confirm that there were no clerical errors in the state copy.”

    February 12, 2009

    I am researching a Manley Stevens who was born at Warner, N.H. c. 1800. He was at Orford, NH in 1822 for many years after that. Would there be church records at those towns? If yes would you point me to the best sources records please?

    Thank you for your note on Church Records for Warner and Orford, N.H. Are you aware of what religion Mr. Stevens’s family was? I am not sure if you were aware that the First Congregational Church Records were transcribed and are available from the LDS Church. If you need to rent this microfilm you will want to reference [FHL US/CAN Film: 15569 Item 11]. If this is not the correct religious affiliation please let me know.

    February 13, 2009

    I have a record of the marriage of Edward Keeney and Patience Chadwick for 1762 in Newport, Rhode Island. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Nicholas Eyres. How can I find out which church Mr. Eyres was connected with.

    Thank you for your note. According to Frederick L. Weiss, Colonial Clergy in New England (1936) Rev. Nicholas Eyers / Ayers (b. Chipmadslade, Wilts., England 22 August 1691; d. at Newport, Rhode Island 13 February 1759). He served as a minister of the Second Baptist Church of Newport from 1731-1759. Everything seems to match with your Newport minister, but he died three years before this 1762 marriage. Rev. Gardner Thurston was the minister after Eyers serving from 1759 until 1802. I hope this information may assist you. Is it possible the transcription of the marriage was in error?

    February 16, 2009

    I have heard a rumor that the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics is changing their hours and location? Is this true?

    Thank you for your note. The rumor is half correct. The location at the present moment for the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics is staying the same. They are located at: 150 Mount Vernon St., 1st Floor, Dorchester, Mass. This building is located next to the Bayside Expo Center, in the Bayside Office Center.

    But the rumor is true on the hours. Effective on February 23, 2009 due to "restrictions in our budget and staffing reductions" their new hours will be:

    MONDAY: 2:00pm - 4:30pm
    TUESDAY: 9:00am - 12:00pm
    THURSDAY: 2:00pm – 4:30pm
    FRIDAY: 9:00am - 12:00pm

    February 17, 2009

    I understand you are knowledgeable about military history. This really is not a genealogical question but you might know the answer. I have an old U.S. Army dog tag that I dug up with a metal detector. The name is a little hard to read but I am puzzled there is no serial number. How old might this dog I found be?

    Thank you for your note. Without inspecting the actual item I cannot give a one hundred percent answer. I can tell you that it was issued before February 12, 1918. That is when the U.S. Army implemented adding an Army serial number. The problem was there were too many identical names like John Smith, John Brown, etc.

    February 18, 2009

    I have two relatives who I believe were on a whaling fleet out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. They disappear from the New Bedford City Directories in the 1850’s. Where can I search for them?

    Thank you for your note. A crew database covering the time period of 1810-1860 is available online from the New Bedford Public Library. This is a free database available online at:

    If you are interested in a photo of an image of the vessel the New Bedford Whaling Museum may be of interest. Once you discover the name of the vessel you can see if a whaling logbook survives. To find a particular vessel in their logbook holdings go to:

    February 19, 2009

    A brother of my ancestors went west in the 1870’s and purchased land from the government in Michigan. Is there an online source to check this or do I need to write to the National Archives?

    Thank you for your question. The Bureau of Land Management offers a very nice website for search Land patents. Land Patents are the legal transfer of land ownership between the U.S. government and individuals. You can start your search of over by going to: Then click on “Search Land Patents”. You will then be requested to enter your zip code. The database is very easy to navigate around. Select the state you need then enter the first and last name of your ancestor. The search results screen will list: Patentee Name; State & County; Issue Date; Land office location; document number; and the accession serial number. You will be able to download an image of the original land patent, save it to your computer and print it out. You will in some cases be able to view the actual images of the Federal Land Survey and Field Notes for the individual Land Patents.

    February 20, 2009

    I am trying to find lists of prisoners who were held on the British prison hulks in New York during the American Revolution. I have the ships' names, but am unable to locate specific prisoner lists except in bits and pieces. I have already tried the NYPL and New York Historical Society, and am in the process of contacting the National Archives in DC.

    A good collection of the records for of American prisoners of war covering the years through 1793 are housed at the National Archives at Kew, England.

    For your ancestor you should examine the Letters of the Admiralty Medical and Prisoners of War (ADM 97/98 to 107, ADM 97/114/1 to 125, ADM 97/127/1 and ADM 97/131). This includes petitions from prisoners. The Naval State Papers (SP 42.57) will list some of the American seamen made prisoners of war. An exchange list of all American and British officers in 1781 can be found in series (WO 40/2).

    Presently I would suggest you take a look at the book by Jane Cox, New to Kew? : A first time guide for family historians at the Public Record Office, Kew. (Kew, England: PRO Publications, 1997) [NEHGS Call # Intl. [International Floor on the 1st Floor] CD1043.3/C69/1997]. The National Archives will be releasing two updated books and should be on the NEHGS shelves in the coming months. These titles are: Stella Colwell, The National Archives – a practical guide for family historians (February 2006), and Amanda Bevan, Tracing Your Ancestors in The National Archives (March 2006). Both of these titles can be ordered from the bookstore on their website.

    You can contact the archives at:

    The National Archives
    Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU. England
    Tel: +44 (0) 20 8876 3444

    February 23, 2009

    Can you help me sort out the division of a Massachusetts town? I am very confused by what is the history of the Bridgewater, Plymouth Co., Massachusetts boundaries and splits of the communities. My late aunt had done substantial research however some of her records say North Bridgewater, West Bridgewater or even Brockton for the same event.

    The town of Bridgewater was originally known as “Duxborrow New Plantation” until it was incorporated into a town June 3, 1656. On June 15, 1821 part of Bridgewater was established as North Bridgewater. North Bridgewater was officially changed to Brockton on May 5, 1874. On February 16, 1822 another portion of Bridgewater was established as the town of West Bridgewater. And finally on February 20, 1823 part of Bridgewater was established as the town of East Bridgewater.

    February 24, 2009

    A photo of mom's 1930 era Model A has a license plate that has fairly clear numbers--but not the state--is there a source for tracing these old plates?

    I have never seen a repository with early records of licensed drivers from that era.

    You may start by contacting the Dept. of Motor Vehicles in the particular state your mother was living at that time. From there I would ask that state if in fact they archive their license plate records and their location.

    February 25, 2009

    My grandfather once had a beautiful map of East Boston from the 19th century. This was lost years ago but I would love to find it again. This map contained a bird’s eye view of the East Boston landscape showing amazing detail. Where would I begin to search for it?

    Thank you for your note. I had a suspicion that the Library of Congress website might have what you are seeking. In the past I reviewed many of the beautiful maps they had online. I believe that map you are referring to was the 1879 map drawn and published by O.H. Bailey & Company of Boston, Mass. The detail is quite amazing and one could easily pinpoint a 19th century family residence. The website where you can view and download the map is:

    February 26, 2009

    I am seeking the records of my late father who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from Massachusetts during the Korean War. Do you have records of discharge on file at NEHGS?

    Thank you for your note. Being the child of a veteran you can request the records on file from the Adjutant General’s Office. You can send an email or call Michael Perna at the following address; he will be of assistance to you.

    February 27, 2009

    While examining the published set of Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War I came across a town I don't recognize. I am aware of the town of Loudon, N.H. but not a Loudon, Massachusetts? Was this a town once in Maine or Massachusetts?

    This community did exist in Berkshire County Massachusetts in the 18th and early 19th century as Loudon. The region known as Loudon, Massachusetts ceased to exist in 1810 when it was incorporated as the town of Otis, Massachusetts.

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