Today's QuestionAsk a QuestionEmail the Online GenealogistNEHGS News
January 2009 February 2009March 2009April 2009May 2009June 2009July 2009August 2009September 2009October 2009November 2009December 2009January 2010
I am trying to determine what the phrase “gavelkind tenure” means in a English
Answer: This term refers to when the real
estate holdings of a deceased parent are divided among all male heirs equally.
The female and illegitimate children were excluded from receiving any portion
from the estate under this English law which was abolished in 1925.
My ancestors lived in Everett, Massachusetts before World War I, and are buried
at Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett. Aside from vital records do you have any
material that may help me locate where they lived. I have some addresses from
births and marriage records but would like to know from voter lists where they
Answer: Thank you for your note. You may
wish to contact Everett City Hall regarding registry of voter records. However
you can determine street addresses from the Everett, Massachusetts City
directories NEHGS has on microfiche. We have the following years before and
after World War I : 1889-90, 1902-1904, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916,
1920, 1922-34, 1938, 1940. These are located on the Fourth floor at the NEHGS Microtext
Library under call number: F74/E9/E94.
To reach Everett City Hall go online to: http://www.ci.everett.ma.us/
Where can I find the Connecticut 1798 Direct Tax?
Answer: According to the Connecticut
Historical Society Museum in Hartford, Connecticut they have the files you
need. They have the Direct Tax for Connecticut in 1798 for the counties of
Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland and Windham. There are
missing Direct Tax records for the counties of Fairfield and Litchfield. To
contact the Connecticut Historical Society Museum go to: http://www.chs.org/
I will be visiting NEHGS soon and plan on searching vital records for
Middleboro, Massachusetts in the 19th and 20th centuries. Can you tell me what
newspapers pre-1920 I can locate for Middleboro at NEHGS?
Answer: NEHGS does not have an expansive
collection of newspapers titles in our Microtext library. We are only a short
walk from the Boston Public Library where you can find the following titles for
Middleboro newspapers at their Microtext Department.
Namasket Gazette (1852-1857), Middleboro Gazette (1857-1859), Middleboro Gazette
and Old Colony Advertiser (1859-1868). You may also wish to contact the
Middleboro Public Library for their holdings post 1868. They can be reached at:
Can you tell me about the organization called the “Free African Society”? It
appears in an obituary I just received for a sibling of an ancestor.
Answer: The Free African Society was a
support and beneficial organization established for African Americans in
Philadelphia in 1787. This group supported its members with insurance to pay
for their burials, and also financially cared for the elderly or impoverished
families of African American descent. To learn about the preamble of this
organization you may wish to go to: http://www.auburn.edu/~lakwean/hist2010/doc1787_freeafrsoc.html.
I am looking for an online or published map showing ancient Britain during
Roman occupations. I can find small sections of major cities, but not an
overall one. At one of your lectures I believe you discussed and showed one.
Answer: Thank you for your note. The map
is an online resource at: www.bibliographics.com/MAPS/BRITAIN/THUMBS.htm
You may also wish to consult another collection of early maps, not from the
Roman era but very useful at: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/index.html
Over the weekend I discovered I am related to the Hawes family of colonial
Dorchester, Massachusetts. Can you suggest something that might be current
research into this family. I never thought I would break this line so I am
excited to find out more from NEHGS.
Answer: According to Martin E. Hollick’s
book New Englanders in the 1600s (Boston, Mass., NEHGS, 2006) there is a
recent publication you might wish to consult. Raymond Gordon Hawes has compiled
Hawes Genealogy: Richard Hawes ca. 1606-1656/7 of Dorchester, Massachusetts and
his wife Ann and Some of their descendants through Thirteen Generations (Baltimore, Maryland, Gateway Press, 2003).
You can consult this book at NEHGS under call number: CS71/H39/2003.
Looking through the letters of my grandfather it mentions he had a silent movie
actor in the family. All I can tell from the letters is that a second cousin
named Joe Greybill was in a movie called “Billy was a Coward”. Do you know a
biographical source that may aide me in finding out more?
Answer: Your distant cousin was in fact a
silent movie actor. His name appears to have been Joseph Graybill not Greybill.
He did in fact star in a 1911 movie called “Bobby, the Coward, and played the
role of a “thug”. Joseph was born ca. 1882 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and died at
New York City August 3, 1913. Joseph appeared in eighty two movies between 1909
and 1913 when he died. You can find out a full list of his movies at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0337033/The Internet Movie Database can be a
great source for those undertaking one name studies by searching for all actors
of a given surname.
Can you explain to me a cemetery dilemma? My family plot was purchased at a
cemetery in New York state in 1883. I am unclear on the headstone why there are
names and dates that pre-date 1883?
Answer: Thank you for your note. What has
probably occurred is one of two things. When the lot was purchased there were
other family members removed from older cemeteries to this plot. Or these names
and dates are cenotaphs (a memorial without a burial present) for loved ones
that are interred elsewhere. If you can locate the caretaker of this New York
cemetery they may have an internment card reflecting the removal and reburial
of the individuals in question.
While reviewing the notes of my great aunt I found a photocopy of a page I am
uncertain of. Can you help me figure what it came from ? The title on the top
of the page is “MIDDLESEX COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE” but I do not know anything
more about the book. The page in question is 106, and it has a biography of Dr.
Alva Harding Warren who I believe is the brother my great-grandfather’s wife.
Answer: I just so happen to have this set
of books in my office. The full title of this book by Edwin P. Conklin is Middlesex County and Its
People – A History. This a
five volume set was published in 1927 by Lewis Historical Publishing Company,
Inc. in New York.
The page you mentioned is in volume three of that series, what you may not
realize is there is a portrait of Dr. Warren on the next page. If you would
care to consult this volume the call number at NEHGS is F72/M7/C7/1927.
Our ancestor was in the Civil War serving from New Hampshire. In a box of his
personal keepsakes from the war I found a button which I do not know if it is
from the Civil War or not. Do you know what a button with an eagle and AVO or
AVC stands for and how old it might be. On the back I can make out Philadelphia
as the maker. This would have been something I assume my ancestors picked up
off the battlefield?
Answer: Your ancestor picked up a button
belonging to a member of the Confederate Army. The initials AVC stand for the
Alabama Volunteer Corps. This button was produced before the Civil War by the
Lambert & Mast Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to John F.
Graf, Warman’s Civil War Collectibles (Iola, Wisc., Krause Publications, 2003)
this button is worth around $400. A nice memento of the Civil War that I am
happy to clarify for you and your family.
I couldn't believe how easy it was to find my great-great-grandfather William
Fleming. His gravestone reads: William Fleming, husband of Mary, East Boston,
April 5, 1848; a 24-year native of Dronmore, Co. Tyrone, Ireland. At the end of
that it had g.r.4. When I went down to the MA Archives, I was told that this
came off a gravestone. When I clicked on the g it said grave record Catholic
cemetary, North Cambridge. I then went to Malden, Holy Cross cemetary and
looked up William Fleming; there was no record. I also sent a request to the
City Hall in Cambridge and they said there was no record. Am I looking in the
wrong places? Any help would be greatly appreciated. G.F.
Answer: Thank you for your note. The
cemetery in question is actually located in Cambridge not Waltham. The
inscription was done before 1914 from a gravestone in the North Cambridge
Catholic Cemetery (aka) St. John’s Cemetery, (aka) Rindge Avenue Cemetery. It
is located at 244 Rindge Avenue in North Cambridge. Their telephone number is
781-322-6300. The Boston Catholic Archdiocese Archives has gravestone
inscription records from 1845-1877; burial records 1846-1877; and grave lot
sales from 1845-1881. You can reach the Boston Catholic Archdiocese Archives
online at: http://www.bostoncatholic.org/Archives.aspx
Because William died in East Boston, is the reason you did not find the death
certificate of William in Cambridge. NEHGS has microfiche of these early Boston
deaths if you would like to examine them the next time you visit. The call
number for this set of microfiche is F73.25/M37.
Can you explain to me why my great-grandfather purchased a “plumber” from a
dentist. I have an old receipt from the 1890’s and I am quite puzzled by this.
Answer: What your ancestor purchased from
his dentist was probably not a plumber but a “plumper”. A plumper was a small
round piece of ivory placed in the mouth to fill in the spot of missing teeth.
Are there records available for the Newton Home for Orphans and Destitute
Girls? Are they available from a distance? My great grandmother is listed in
the 1880 census in this home. It was located on Hovey St., Newton, MA. J.A.
Answer: Thank you for your note. The
records for this home for girls are not in the holdings of the NEHGS library,
nor do they appear in the collection of the Family History Library in Salt Lake
City, Utah. The records may however survive with the Rebecca Pomeroy Foundation
in Newton. According to their website (http://www.pomroy.org/) the history of the Rebecca Pomeroy
Association is shared with the Newton Home for Orphans and Destitute Girls -
The "Newton Home for Orphan and Destitute Girls" was opened in 1872.
After the death of its first matron, the home was chartered in 1884 as the
"Rebecca Pomroy Newton Home for Orphan Girls". Its mission was to
"care for, train, and educate destitute and orphan girls, and aid them in
procuring means of self-support". In 1939, the charter was amended to
include "the establishment and maintenance of a community center in
Newton, and to offer and provide health-building, educational and recreational
opportunities and guidance to people of all ages in the community." In
1955, the organization’s name was changed to "The Rebecca Pomroy
Foundation, Incorporated," and it began to take its current form. You can
contact the Rebecca Pomeroy Association via: Rebecca Pomroy Foundation, Inc. P.
O. Box 66066 Auburndale, MA 02466, or by e-mail at: email@example.com
What is the meaning of an “indirect tax” that was applied to my ancestor’s
estate in 1892?
Answer: An “Indirect Tax” was applied to
goods that were in the process of being produced. This is often the case with
manufactured goods. Perhaps your ancestor had placed a manufacturing order
before his/her death and it had been applied to the debts against the estate.
I am wondering where I can obtain the record of my deceased grand uncle who was
a Mason from the Boston area in the 1920's. How much does this cost, and what
can I find.
Answer: You can contact the Grand
Secretary's Office for the Massachusetts Grand Lodge in Boston for your
request. The card you receive will contain his full name, date and place of
birth, and dates of his lodge admission. If he was an active member his date of
death should also be included. If he has a common name you will wish to give an
approxiamate date of birth. There is no charge for this service.
Contact the Grand Secretary's Office
The Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Massachusetts
186 Tremont St Boston, MA 02111
(800) 882-1020 (Within Mass.)
I have a family bible which, from context and the handwriting of the first
entries, I believe was first being used around 1871 by a couple married in
1869. The bible, however, has no publication date. Is there a history of
American bibles/publishers source that could help date it? The available data
from the title page is: "The Holy Bible ... The Text conformable to the
Standard of the American Bible Society. Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen &
Haffelfinger, 819 & 821 Market Street."
Answer: I would suggest you first contact
the American Bible Society in New York. They have a library and archives of
thousands of historic bibles. You can reach their Library Services Supervisor –
Jacquelyn Sapiie at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or by phone 212-408-1203. If this does not work I would suggest searching
pre-1870 Philadelphia City Directories for the publisher Claxton, Remsen &
Haffelfinger to see when their offices were located on 819 & 821 Market Street.
A member of my family was a Pullman porter in the 1930’s. Do you know where I
can find information on this relative.
Answer: Thank you for your note. A recent
publication by Lyn Hughes entitled An Anthology of Respect: The Pullman Porter
National Historic Registry has a listing of all African-American Pullman
porters from the late 19th century through 1969. NEHGS is currently ordering
this publication. If you would like more information on this book go to: http://www.aphiliprandolphmuseum.com/anthology-of-respect.htm.
I recently found a letter written by my 2g grandmother which mentioned that my
4th great grandfather had taught at West Point. He was born in Scotland in 1770
so I'm guessing he immigrated here around 1790. Where would I go to research
early records at West Point to see if this information is true?
Answer: If your ancestor was teaching at
West Point Military Academy he would have been employed after 1802. You will
want to contact the Archivist of West Point, c/o Garrison Commander, Bldg. 681,
U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996. There is a very interesting online
history of West Point put together by the Smithsonian Institute online at: http://americanhistory.si.edu/westpoint/
I am trying to find a website to look up my dad's original nationalization
information. I have a renewed copy that does not give me the info of when he
came into this country. He has passed away and his papers I have now show it
was done originally on Nov 14 1950 Fairfield Co Bridgeport, CT. Is there a
website you know of I can go to?
Answer: There are currently no online
resources for your dad’s Connecticut Naturalization from the 1950’s. You will
want to contact the New England Regional Branch of the National Archives in
Waltham, Massachusetts. They are the repository for the Connecticut
Naturalizations from that time period. They do offer a copy service to acquire
the documents you require.