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  • Question of the Day Archive
    January 2010

  • January 2, 2010

    Question:
    I am looking for my ancestor Laura Morton who was born in the state of Maine in 1852. According to my grandmother her father was “a doctor, and quite a prominent one.” I have confirmed this because I once saw his medical book and notes, however when I was a child I never noticed the name. I know after 1868 she and her family were living in New York State, before moving ultimately to Ohio. Searching specifically for Laura Morton did not work for me.

    Answer:
    My first suggestion would be to have you look at the U.S. Census for 1860 for the state of Maine for any Morton’s who were listed with the profession of doctor. This of course would require you to search all the Morton households for this occupation. Another option would be to then search for Morton families born in Maine but living in New York in the U.S. 1870 Census. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me.

    January 3, 2010

    Question:
    I have tried to find Thomas White in the Great Migration series unsuccessfully. According to the “History of Weymouth” volume 2, pp. 615-616 (a sketch about his great-grandson Nathaniel White), Thomas White was “admitted a freeman in Massachusetts Colony March 3, 1635/6”.

    Answer:
    Thomas White is listed as a scheduled sketch because of his arrival in Weymouth by 1635. The current volume number six only covers alphabetically through surnames with the letter “S”. However, Thomas will be included in the final volume of Robert Charles Anderson’s, The Great Migration – Immigrants to New England 1634-1635. This final volume covering surnames T to Z is anticipated with a publication date of 2011.

    January 4, 2010

    Question:
    I am looking for an ancestor’s parents. I believe she lived in Clarksburg, Berkshire, Massachusetts in the early 1800’s. I heard from a genealogical friend of mine that the Clarksburg town hall burned down, and some of the records survived. I am specifically looking for a person born there in 1793, married there in 1814 am I out of luck?

    Answer:
    You are correct about the early vital records for Clarksburg, sadly fire has destroyed some New England town and vital records. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah has a microfilm of the Clarksburg Town records on microfilm from 1798 to 1846 [FHL Microfilm # 1711158]. If you wish to borrow this microfilm from the Family History Library you can call 617-226-1239 and place your order to view it at NEHGS. We can process your order with a credit card and the film can be viewed here at NEHGS. I hope that you will find that the destroyed records do not affect your ancestor’s entries.

    January 5, 2010

    Question:
    Is there any difference in the information contained in Mass Vital Records and the Catholic Diocese of Boston? If so, what is the difference in birth/baptism, marriage, and death records?

    Answer:
    In the church record of marriage you will get the witnesses, where the civil record will not list them. A birth record will not list sponsors / godparents where you will get them in a church record. The Massachusetts Vital Records do not include the exact place of burial for the first fifty years. The burial registers for a church may contain the cemetery name, and the specific lot information.

    January 6, 2010

    Question:
    Can you identify what cemetery was considered the "Town Cemetery" in Chicopee, Hampden, Massachusetts in 1874. My great grand-aunt died on 11 Dec 1874 in Chicopee. Her death record (Chicopee Clerk) stated she was buried in the Town Cemetery, but no name for the cemetery is given. If I can identify the cemetery I may also find that additional members of my family are buried there. I would appreciate any information or leads you can provide.

    Answer:
    The Fairview Cemetery on Forest Avenue was the non-denominational town cemetery created in 1870. There is no physical office for this cemetery however you can contact the town cemetery and parks department at: 413-592-0122. This office should have the plot plans, and maps of the cemetery to assist you in locating the interment you are searching for.

    January 7, 2010

    Question:
    While researching original marriage vital records for Dartmouth Massachusetts I have found some records stating, "they were married Coram". Please explain what this means.

    Answer:
    Thank you for providing a scan of the actual document. Seeing the image has allowed me to understand how the word was used in the context of the document. For instance:

    May 11th, 1731. Samuell White of Rochester and Mary Chase of Dartmouth married coram me. Samuel Willis, Justice of Peace.

    The word “coram” is Latin and the translation is “In the presence” or “before the eyes”. Therefore the record would basically read:

    May 11th, 1731. Samuell White of Rochester and Mary Chase of Dartmouth married (in the presence [of]) me. Samuel Willis, Justice of Peace.

    January 8, 2010

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    Question:
    My great-great-grandparents are buried in Mount Wollaston cemetery in Quincy, MA. I would like to find out where in the cemetery they are buried, or at least where I could go to find that information, before I make a trip to Quincy to search for the grave. Do you know if there are burial records for the cemetery, and if so, who I could contact about searching them.

    Answer:
    You will find that the Mt. Wollaston Cemetery is very cooperative when you contact them. Many of the contacts for Massachusetts cemeteries appear in my book, A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries. Mount Wollaston was opened in 1856 at 20 Sea Street in Quincy. You can reach them by phone at: 617-376-1294. I am delighted to share with you the contact information for the cemetery your ancestors are buried in.

    January 11, 2010

    Question:
    Is there a list that you know of for those who perished in the 1860 Pemberton Mill fire?

    Answer:
    Due to the fact the building collapsed many bodies were unidentifiable, making the matters worse a fire started that burned many of those still trapped inside the mill. In the vital records of Lawrence for the deaths in 1860 in Massachusetts Vital Records (139:198-199) only entries numbered 6 to 73 are identified as casualties of the mill collapse. In the proceeding weeks occasional entries can be found with cause of death “Fall of Pemberton Mill”.  An interesting note on the column of the above register of deaths by City Clerk George R. Rowe “We are unable to obtain many of the parents’ names of our Catholic friends as you will discover on this and other pages”.

    January 12, 2010

    Question:
    I recently consulted the Ogden Codman 1918 compilation of Granary Burying Ground internments. Included are records taken from the Boston City death records of tomb burials. I had always thought that tombs were limited to relatives, but it appears that unrelated people were buried in tombs, perhaps after the original families had died out.

    There is no known connection between my family and the corresponding tomb-owners

    No. 78. Inscription: MARTIN SMITH. Owner: Franklin Smith.
    No. 107. Inscription: NO. 107 JOHNSON JACKSON'S TOMB 1810.
    No. 171. Inscription: JAMES HILL AND BEZA TUCKER'S TOMB 1807.

    Can you explain or point me to information explaining the system of 19th century burials at this cemetery?

    Answer:
    It was very common to find “friends” or “strangers” buried in tombs of belonging to our relatives. In the case of Tomb No. 78 I can inform you that is the same name on my ancestors at Tomb 30 in Kings Chapel Burying Ground. Martin and Franklin Smith were Undertakers in Boston and would purchase old tombs and sell available shelf space for their clientele. Also it was possible for our ancestors to “sell” their tombs; one would transfer real estate to another family. This is primarily the reason you will notice a variety of occupants that do not relate to one another. Often times a tomb was cleared of the former family remains and removed to another tomb or cemetery. Occasionally, the remains were kept in the tomb but removed to a container in the back of the tomb. You may find “removal” records in the Boston City Archives files, but the original burial location on the Boston city death record would not be altered. Also keep in mind that a tomb can have many inhabitants that their names were not all inscribed on the monument. If the tomb was sold it would occasionally bear only the name of the new owner and when it was acquired. There are a variety of old tombs that have multiple names of owners, and purchase date upon their entrances.

    January 13, 2010

    Question:
    My Revolutionary War ancestor was born supposedly in Gorham, Maine in the 1750’s. An extensive search of pre-1892 records in print and microfilm has not turned anything up. Would the state have a record, or would the church?

    Answer:
    Since Maine only required statewide registration in 1892 you would not need to contact them. However you may wish to contact the First Parish Church of Gorham, Maine. They can be reached at: http://www.uccwebsites.net/firstparishconggorhamme.html

    January 14, 2009

    Question:
    I have had mixed success looking for my great-great grandmother in the US censuses indexed on Heritage Quest. She is not with her parents in 1870, when she would have been 17. There is a girl who might be the right one listed as an inmate of the State Industrial School for Girls in Lancaster, Mass. I gather this was a reform school of some sort. Do you know if there are there records available from that time period?

    Answer:
    The State Industrial School for Girls in Lancaster, Mass. case records are located at the Massachusetts State Archives. Unfortunately these records are closed to the public, even though they are over one hundred years old. If you would like to inquire about the possibility of a case being opened for you please call the Department of Youth Services in Boston, Mass. at (617) 727-7575. The Massachusetts State Archives can be reached at (617) 727-2816, or online at: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arcidx.htm

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