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  • Question of the Day Archive
    January 2009

  • January 7, 2009 

    I am researching one Isaac Hamblin/Hamlin, who served in the War of 1812, and was present at (and wrote a description of) the death of Tecumseh. I believe that he and his wife were also once prisoners of Tecumseh, perhaps taken to Canada (most likely Ontario). I would like to learn more about the captivity incident, but don't know where to turn for that information. Is there a good reference work on Tecumseh, a museum, an authority? Isaac may have once lived in Ontario - the people I believe to be his grandparents were Tories, and went to Ontario during the Revolutionary War - and the abduction may have occurred within that province.

    Thank you for your note. I would search for a narrative of his captivity in his pension if he ever received one from his U.S. Military service. You may also wish to check with the National Archives in Washington if there are materials directly relating to his regiment's involvement in the death of Tecumseh. These records are not online and need to be examined in person at the National Archives. I cannot locate a museum or repository dealing with Tecumseh but you may find the following publications on Tecumseh useful. Use the website to determine the closest repository

    Allan Eckert, A Sorrow in Our Hearts: The Life of Tecumseh. (New York: Bantam Books, 1992).

    R. David Edmunds, Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership. (Boston: Little Brown, 1984).

    John Sugden, Tecumseh: A Life. (New York: Holt, 1997).

    January 8, 2009

    I am looking for Helen Purcell dob 5/14/1895 in Peabody. Massachusetts vital records has no record of her birth. Could you suggest alternatives or give advice as to how to find some sort of records that documents her.

    Thank you for your note. It was not uncommon for a birth to go unrecorded in the 19th century. My own grandmother’s birth in 1896 was not recorded until 1952. There are a few options to consider. First off you may look for misspellings of the name of the child, or even looking for “male” or “female” under that surname. Often success occurs when you examine the births from that town on the given year. A line by line inspection can occasionally help locate someone skipped by the indexer. You may also consider a few published volumes of corrections and additions at NEHGS. These volumes are only indexes by name containing the year of birth, the place of birth and the citation. The volumes cover 1841-1929, 1930-1941, 1942-1962, 1965, 1968.

    You might also explore a church baptism in the local churches in Peabody, Massachusetts, or surviving school records that would confirm a birthdate. The town of Milton, Massachusetts still had my grandmothers’ report cards on file from 1914 with her date of birth.

    January 9, 2009

    I have found the record of a marriage between Frederick Rupp and Charity Peters on March 29, 1807 at New South Church in the online Boston Marriages 1700-1809 and in the online Boston Church Records. Do the handwritten originals exist, and did they contain the birthplaces, ages and parents' names of the bride and groom?

    A marriage occurring before 1841 would not include the birthplaces or parents of the bride and groom. On occasion when a bride was under age and permission was granted by her parent or guardian this may be present. Also if the bride or groom was residing outside the town the ceremony occurred you will find that indicated. NEHGS produced a CD-ROM of Boston Church Records including the New South Church. The entry for their marriage is no different than what you have seen. If you would care to examine the original microfilm of The New South Church of Boston it is available the Family History Library for the years you need. New South Church - Church records, baptisms, marriages, 1719-1812 [FHL US/CAN Film 837129 Item 2].

    January 12 , 2009

    Do original marriage records from Salem 1836 still exist? Andrew married Ann Marshall on Oct. 12, 1836. This record is unavailable online as an original view.

    The original vital records that were used to compile the published Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts have been microfilmed. These records are still on file at the City Clerk’s Office in Salem. You can however rent the microfilm from the Family History Library. Two microfilms that are available that would cover 1836 marriages. Records of birth, death and marriage - v. 3 1650-1844 [FHL US/CAN Film 761209], and Records of marriage, birth and death - v. 3-5 1650-1865 [FHL US/CAN Film 761210]. You can order these microfilm to use at NEHGS for $5.50 per reel. You can place your order in person at the Microtext Floor (4th Floor), or call 617-226-1239. The rental period is three weeks, and you can renew up to two times. You can also order LDS Microfilm at location nearest you if NEHGS. To learn more about locations nearby, and how the ordering procedure click on this link:

    January 13, 2009

    I understand that the province of Newfoundland has later census records then the rest of Canada. I would imagine that is because of it not joining Canada until the 1940’s. What records do you have?

    Thank you for your note. We have available at NEHGS the 1921 Census of Newfoundland on eighteen reels of microfilm [call # HA741/C4/1921]. There are also two other later census for Newfoundland for 1935 and 1945. You can search transcriptions of some sections of these censuses online.

    1921 -
    1935 -
    1945 -

    Microfilm of the 1935 and 1945 Newfoundland Census are available directly from the archives “The Rooms” of Newfoundland and Labrador.

    The Rooms Provincial Archives Division
    The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador
    9 Bonaventure Avenue
    P.O. Box 1800, Station C
    St. John's, NL, Canada A1C 5P9

    January 14, 2009

    Someone told me that they found some information relevant to my family in a volume that's part of a set of books called the Boston Transcript. Are those volumes on-line on the NEHGS website, or are they only available there at the library? Thanks for any help you can give me!

    Thank you for your note. The index to the genealogical column in the former The Boston Evening Transcript newspaper is part of the (AGBI) The American genealogical-biographical index to American genealogical, biographical, and local history materials. This index is available online via to paid subscribers.

    At NEHGS we have access for patrons to search the online index I just mentioned before using the newspapers. We also have the published issues of (AGBI) on the shelves on the 6th floor [call # Z5313.U5 A55].The newspapers for the Transcript genealogical column we have on microfilm for issues through April, 1912 in our Microtext library on the 4th floor. After 1912 we have cartons containing the actual newspaper sheets located in cabinets in the 6th floor reading room. A staff genealogist can assist you with locating the appropriate box. If you can not visit our library our NEHGS Research Service staff can be hired to obtain the records you need.

    January 15, 2009

    I am an author working on a biography and note that your collection has a work I'm looking for. It is the GHC Bulletin series called Genealogie et histoire de la Caraibe. I need #177 (January 2005, page 4409). Please tell me if you have this issue and how I might procure it, or even just the page I need. Thank you kindly.

    Thank you for your note. We have the complete run of this publication from 1989 through the present. These books are available to examine at NEHGS or you can order photocopies from us.

    The call number for this publication is F2155.G46. Click here for more information about our photocopy service.

    January 16, 2009

    I have found records of my ancestors’ burial site via your databases – my problem is that there are references that give two (or 3) different cemeteries. How do I determine which is correct? My ancestors are members of the Swan family – Jabez (Sr.) & wives (1) Mehitable and (2) Lucy and Jabez (Jr.) & wives (1) Huldah and (2) Prudence. The first reference is the NEHGS Register, Vol. 81, p. 266, which shows them buried at Millington Cemetery in East Haddam. The second reference is the NEHGS cemetery transcriptions from the manuscript collection which indicates they are buried in North Granby Cemetery in East Haddam. To add to the confusion the NEHGS Register, Vol. 143, p. 363, lists the cemetery several times as Willington (in error for Millington?).

    Thank you for your note. I would imagine the more recent article in the NEHGS Register to be correct but that is not always the case. However Millington is the correct name for the cemetery you mentioned. If you were planning a trip to NEHGS I would advise you to look at the Hale Collection on microfilm. The work compiled by Charles R. Hale is a collection of newspaper notices and gravestone inscriptions. This collection contains the cemetery transcriptions for many gravestones in Connecticut and is very useful. This collection has a statewide index also on microfilm, and if you can not visit, our Research Service team  can be hired to access it for you.

    If you would like to contact the Town Clerk in East Haddam to see if they have a burial register, or an inventory of their cemeteries they can be reached at the following:

    Town of East Haddam
    7 Main St
    East Haddam, CT 06423
    (860) 873-1010

    January 19, 2009

    Good afternoon! I am wondering if there are any transcribed cemetery documents that will help me locate the place of burial for an individual, Solon Orville Burrington. Solon died on 15 October 1888 in Saratoga Springs, NY, but according to his death certificate, he was buried in North Adams. I have already consulted the North Adams Cemetery Association, who has a card index for Hillside and Southview Cemeteries. They were unable to locate a record for Solon within either of these cemeteries. P.G.

    Thank you for your note. In regard to North Adams I can supply the names of a few additional cemeteries from my own publication – A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries. (Boston, NEHGS, 2002). Each cemetery is given with the date it opened or the earliest gravestone date. A new revision of my cemetery guide will be published by NEHGS early this year. You may be able to hire a local member of the historical society to visit these cemeteries if you can not. In some cases we have transcriptions of these gravestones in book and manuscript format.

    Advent Cemetery (1835) - old Military Rd. off Veazie St.

    Beth Israel Cemetery (19th century)
    Walker St.

    Blackinton Cemetery (1813) – Massachusetts Ave.
    A published transcription is available of this cemetery at NEHGS under the call # [F74/n8/B5/1984].

    Chilson-Gates-Hewett Cemetery (1811)
    off Myers Ave.
    NEHGS has a manuscript of this transcription call # [Mss/3/N/34]

    East Hoosac Cemetery
    South State St.

    Old Congregational Burial Ground (1830)
    South State St.

    North Church Cemetery (1802)
    North Church St.
    NEHGS has a manuscript of this transcription call # [MS70/NOR/3]

    Wilbur Family Burial Ground (1813)
    West Mountain Rd.

    January 21, 2009

    Presently, I'm working on another branch of the family, the Crofts branch. Frank Spencer Crofts was my sons' great grandfather. He was born in Spithfield, Providence, RI in 1859. I'd like to locate his birth certificate, for starters (also marriage and death certs) but when I search on this site for RI information, I am shown endless pages of lists but don't seem to be able to look at the contents of any of those lists. Can you advise me about gaining access to RI records?

    We presently have the vital records for Rhode Island from 1636 to 1850 online. This is from the published work of James N. Arnold.

    NEHGS does have records of the microfilm for Rhode Island births from 1853 to 1894. The index covers births from 1853 to 1889. You can utilize this material in our 4th Floor Microtext Department under call number [F78/R55/1992]. If you can not visit our library you can hire a staff member our Research Service team to assist you in completing your search. 

    January 22, 2009

    Recently I found a Civil War pension index card from the National Archives microfilm with a notations I do not recognize. The card had a “CX” at the bottom, and I saw some cards that had “C” followed by a number. Does this indicate they were rejected because they were really “C” for Confederates?

    Your ancestor was a Union veteran, the “C” only represents a file class but it is important when obtaining the record. In most cases Civil War soldiers and their widows had deceased before the 1930’s. However if your soldier or his widow died after 1930 their record may still be with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The following is the suggested letter you send to the Department of Veterans Affairs in your local state.

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Director, Records Management Service (005E3)
    810 Vermont Ave., NW
    Washington, DC, 20420

    (write Freedom of Information Act Request on the envelope)
    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am advised that there is a veteran’s pension file for my (list relationship) (list name), designated C-(list certificate number), and it is in the custody of the Department fo Veteran Affairs.

    I am requesting that you conduct a BIRLS search for the file and retrieve it for my use from the Federal Records Center where it is currently houses. Procedures for recall of records from Federal Records Centers are found in VA Handbook 6300.1 Chapter 6, Part 5.


    (your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address)

    January 23, 2009

    In the mail I received a certified copy of vital records from my ancestors town in Vermont. To my surprise there were the names of all of the children and their dates. Since these are all grouped together on the same page are they authentic? The record was recorded in 1805 by the town clerk.

    Thank you for your note. It is not uncommon for the recording of an entire family at once. Often a member of the family would bring forward a copy of the family bible to prove the events occurred. Also if a family recently arrived in town they may record all their children that had been born elsewhere not clarifying those events. Therefore you may find children being recored in two communities, or being born in a town before it was even settled as a community. It is not uncommon to find the marriage date of the parents on the same page as the family births. On occasion various town clerks would set aside a page for each family in town and record the births and deaths upon it. The town of Easton, Massachusetts have their births records arranged in this manner, they are transcribed in the Mayflower Descendant most recently in vol. 57, no. 1.

    January 26, 2009 

    Do you have the Dorchester school records of those schools or a listing of children attending? This is the last hard search I have had problems with. I can't find him any where.

    Thank you for your note. We do not have school records foearly 20th century students from Dorchester. You may wish to contact the Boston City Archives. They do have records for all Boston area schools that were officially closed. The records are arranged on index cards, with the dates of admission into the particular grades, and the address of the student. Often you will also get the date of birth of the student included on each card.

    City of Boston Archivist
    201 Rivermoor Street
    West Roxbury, MA 02132
    Telephone : 617-635-1195
    Email :

    January 27, 2009

    I'm trying to sort out the John Somerbys in Newburyport. There is a reference to a Somerby death in Thomas Cary's Newbuyrport diary (online at NEHGS) in which Cary refers to "Master Somerby" who was buried in 1800. Might this have been a reference to a child, as children were once called Miss and Master? A child born in Newburyport abt. 1794, little John Somerby, disappears from the records after his father (John Somerby) dies and about the time his mother, who was Margery Merrill Somerby, remarries to Robert Merrill in Newburyport in 1801. So, I wondering if the death of Master Somerby refers to the child, or an adult Somerby, or if it can't be determined. J.F.

    Thank you for your note. The only death I find in Newburyport for 1800 is abstracted from a gravestone at Old Burying Hill Cemetery. This record is for a Joseph Somerby age 45 who died February 22, 1800, age 45. [Source: Vital Records of Newburyport, Mass. to the end of the year 1849 (Salem, 1911)]. This would be the entry that Rev. Cary was speaking of as this was a burial he wrote in his diary on February 25, 1800.

    January 28, 2009

    While consulting old deeds in Franklin County, Massachusetts I came across the reference to “Bardwell’s Ferry” as a location where my relative lived. Can you tell me where this was located?

    Thank you for your note. According to the book Historical Data relating to Counties, Cities, and Towns in Massachusetts. (Boston, NEHGS, 1997) – Bardwell’s Ferry is a section of the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts.

    January 29, 2009

    My grandfather’s record were destroyed in St. Louis, Missouri in the fire in the 1970’s. I recall you mentioned at one of your military lectures that on a local level there are some records? He lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts before the war.


    The records of the Adjutant General’s Office for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts contain the discharge papers for veterans from the state. They will send you photocopies of the relevant pages of the discharge. I would suggest sendind your request in writing with a self addressed stamped envelope to the Mass. National Guard Museum and Archives.

    Massachusetts National Guard Museum and Archives,
    44 Salisbury St, Worcester, MA 01609
    attn: Col. Leonid E. Kondratriuk, Director

    January 30, 2009

    I am looking to research the annual town reports for a batch of Massachusetts towns. I have gone to the Boston Public Library and to NEHGS but you do not have the towns I need. Is there a complete collection at the Massachusetts State Archives?

    Thanks for your question. The Massachusetts State Library not the State Archives has a fairly comprehensive collection of the annual city and town reports for Massachusetts communities from the 19th through 21st centuries. On their website you can also determine the towns and the years they have availble.

    For some communities the town reports publish births, marriages and deaths for the previous year. This is a quick way to search post-1915 vital records not already open to the public. These records were made public at the time of their publication, but remain an underutilized resource among genealogists and historians.

    Massachusetts State Library
    State House – Room 341
    Boston, MA 02133
    Tel: 617-727-2590

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