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  • Question of the Day Archive
    May 2009

  • May 1, 2009

    The marriage record for Walter Daniel Howland and Minnie Barrington indicates they were married by Rev. W.E. Perrin in Boston 24 Jan 1882. I would like to locate the church records to look for additional information on the individuals. How can I determine to what church Rev. Perrin belonged?

    Thank you for your note. The 1882 Boston City Directory has a listing of Churches and Ministers. There was a Rev. Willard T. Perrin of the Monument Square Methodist Episcopal, Charlestown, Massachusetts on page 1330. This church began as the Union Methodist Episcopal Church in 1847, and changed the name in 1874 to Monument Square Methodist Episcopal Church. The edifice suffered a fire in 1891. After being rebuilt the church was final closed in 1899. The members were transferred to Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church. The records for this church do exist for the years 1881-1899 at the Boston University School of Theology Library at 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA 02215 as part of the Research Collections. You can contact them at or phone (617) 353-1323.

    The collection is listed as: Monument Square Methodist Episcopal Church (Charlestown, Mass.) [CH-MA C35 M6]. The inventory of the holdings of this church include: Baptism: 1881-1899; Marriages: 1889-1899; Membership: 1883-1898; Official Board records: 1894-1898; and Quarterly Conference records: 1895-1899.

    May 4, 2009

    Why are there no pre-1850 vital records volumes for Boston, South Boston, Charlestown, or East Boston? Are they under a different name?

    Thank you for your note. Boston marriages and deaths were published in the Boston Record Commissioners series during the 19th century. These books were not part of the official series of vital records that were published. We have these Boston volumes online as well as Charlestown. South Boston and East Boston are part of the city of Boston and are included with the official Boston records.

    Once you login to the NEHGS website, you can use the advanced search page to search:

    Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, 1630-1699
    Boston Births, 1700 to 1800
    Boston Births, 1800 to 1849 (very limited returns of births in these years)
    Boston Marriages, 1700 to 1809
    Boston Deaths, 1700 to 1799
    Boston Deaths, 1799 to 1825

    Charlestown to 1850 - These Vital Records of Charlestown were compiled and edited by Roger D. Joslyn and published by NEHGS in three volumes: Volume 1 (1984), Volume 2, Part 1 (1995) and Volume 2, Part 2 (1995).

    We do have microfiche for Boston marriages 1800 to 1849, as well as Boston deaths post 1800. These are located on the Fourth Floor at NEHGS.

    May 5, 2009

    After the Civil War my ancestor lived at the National Soldiers retirement home somewhere in Maine. Are there any records online for this organization, or where can I see his file. And I believe he was buried at a nearby cemetery connected with the residence.

    The National Soldiers Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Togus, Maine opened in November, 1866. The records of the home are available on microfilm from the National Archives, and also through the LDS Church. You can rent these microfilm and use them here at NEHGS as well.

    If you would like to contact the cemetery they can be reached at: Togus

    National Cemetery, VA Medical and Regional Office Center, Togus, ME 04330. You can search a database of over 3,500 burials in this cemetery at:

    The name index to the registers of veterans at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Eastern Branch in Togus, Maine, 1866-1934. The registers contain information on each soldier's service. This includes his date and location of enlistment; the company and regiment(s) he served in; and where and when he was discharged. The records also discuss the type of disability they were admitted for. Often you will get other information such as occupation, age, place of birth, and nearest living relative. The index for these records can be found on Family History Library US/CAN Films 1549002-1549003. This will allow you to find the Register number associated with the veteran. The registers are arranged from numbers 1-23,748 on microfilms: 1549004-154009, 1571573-157581. There is also a roll of microfilm dealing with general hospital records (1893-1924); burial records (1892-1932); and death records (1893-1899) [# 1579591 Items 1-3].

    May 6, 2009

    My ancestors brother was reputed to have been a ship builder who helped build a famous Civil War vessel called the INDIANOLPA in Cincinnati. Can you tell me if there is anything about this vessel and what it was.

    Thank you for your note. I believe the vessel you are referring to was the INDIANOLA which was constructed in Cincinnati, Ohio. There is a description of this gunboat on the online edition of Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, Vol. III, (Washington, D.C., Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History, 1968). This can be found online at:

    The following is the description and history of this vessel from the above reference:

    INDIANOLA, an ironclad gunboat propelled by both side wheels and screw propellers, was built at Cincinnati by Joseph Brown. The danger that Confederate Gen. Kirby Smith, whose troops had reached Covington, Ky., just across the Ohio River, would capture Cincinnati, prompted Brig. Gen. Lew Wallace to take INDIANOLA from the contractor before completion 2 September 1862 and have her launched 2 days later. Acting Master Edward Shaw was placed in command of the ship 18 September, and she was reported in commission 9 days later.

    INDIANOLA was "armed and ready to defend Cincinnati" 23 October but was not completed. When ready for general service several weeks later, the water level in the Ohio had fallen too much for her to get over the falls at Louisville. She finally arrived at Cairo, Ill. and joined the Mississippi Squadron 23 January 183. She served briefly in the Mississippi and the Yazoo Rivers before running past the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg to join QUEEN OF THE WEST in an effort to stop the Confederate flow of supplies from the Red River.

    She left her anchorage in the Yazoo at 10:15 p.m. 13 February and moved slowly down stream until the first gun was fired at her from the Vicksburg cliffs slightly more than an hour later. She then raced ahead at full speed until out of range of the Confederate cannon which thundered at her from above. She anchored for the night 4 miles below Warrenton, Miss., and early the net morning got underway down river.

    Two days later, 16 February, INDIANOLA met prize steamer ERA NO. 5 manned by the survivors of QUEEN OF THE WEST which had run aground while under heavy fire from Confederate shore batteries at Gordon's Landing in the Red River. Late that afternoon lookouts in INDIANOLA spotted Confederate steamer WEBB abreast Ellis Cliffs. She promptly cleared for action and steamed ahead full speed firing at the Southern ship which proved to be barely out of range. WEBB turned about and dashed down stream and out of sight around a bend in the river. A heavy fog set in compelling INDIANOLA to give up the chase and anchor for the night.

    Early the net afternoon the fog cleared enabling INDIANOLA to proceed to the mouth of the Red River where she maintained a strict blockade until 21 February when she began steaming upstream. Her progress was slowed by two coal barges which she towed so that she might furnish fuel to any ships sent to reinforce her from above Vicksburg. On the evening of 2 February WEBB and QUEEN OF THE WEST, now Confederate-manned, overtook INDIANOLA and attacked from each side ramming her seven times before the game ironclad, "in an almost powerless condition" ran her bow on the west bank of the river and surrendered.

    The loss of INDIANOLA was deeply distressing to the Union. It ended Admiral Porter's efforts to blockade the Red River by detached vessels while-keeping the body of his fleet above Vicksburg, and it prompted Farragut's costly run by the South's forts at Port Hudson 14 March 1863.

    On the brighter side, it set the stage for one of; the most successful hoaxes of the war. A dummy monitor was made by building paddle boxes on an old coal barge to simulate a turret which in turn was adorned with logs painted black to resemble guns. Pork-barrel funnels containing burning smudge pots were the final touch added just before the strange craft was cast adrift to float past Vicksburg on the night of INDIANOLA's surrender, Word of this "river MONITOR" panicked the salvage crew working on INDIANOLA causing them to set off the ships magazines to prevent her recapture.

    After Vicksburg fell, and following long and difficult struggle, INDIANOLA was refloated 5 January 1865 and towed to Mound City 17 January where she was sold.

    May 7, 2009

    Can you tell me where the following source comes from. I know my cousin photocopied it from a book at NEHGS. This is in reference to the French & Indian War service of my ancestor, Hunt, Nathaniel – Pvt. – Newbury – Edmund Mooers – Crown Point – 4/24/55 – 12/17/55.

    This entry is from the book Massachusetts Officers and Soldier in the French and Indian Wars 1755-1756. (Boston, Mass., NEHGS, 1985), pg. 104. The entries follow under the following categories:

    Name: Nathaniel Hunt
    Rank: Pvt.
    Residence: Newbury
    Company: Edmund Mooers
    Campaign: Crown Point
    Dates of Service: 4/24/55 and 12/17/55

    This book is out of print however it is available online with other military databases on the advanced search page.

    May 8, 2009

    My great-uncle was a Boston police officer stationed in East Boston after the 1919 Boston Strike. Do you know where I might go to find his records?

    Thank you for note. My colleague and NEHGS Member Margaret R. Sullivan is the Records Manager & Archivist for the Boston Police Department. She is a very knowledgeable historian and genealogist, and well versed with the records of the Boston Police Department Archives. You can contact her directly with your questions:

    Margaret R. Sullivan
    Records Manager & Archivist
    Boston Police Department Records Center & Archives
    1555 Hyde Park Avenue
    Hyde Park, Massachusetts 02136
    Tel: 617-343-5166
    Fax: 617-343-5166

    May 12, 2009

    Can you explain what these abbreviations on the U.S. Naturalization Index that I searched are Boston USCC and Boston USDC.

    The abbreviations following the city of Boston stand for:

    USCC - U.S. Circuit Court (Massachusetts District) records cover the years 1845-1911

    USDC – U.S. District Court (Massachusetts District) records cover the years 1790-1966

    These records are held at the National Archives Northeast Regional branch in Waltham, Massachusetts.

    Frederick C. Murphy Federal Center
    380 Trapelo Road
    Waltham, Massachusetts
    Phone: (781) 663-0130
    Fax: (781) 663-0154

    May 13, 2009

    There is a flag marker at my ancestor’s grave plot in Brockton, Massachusetts. Next to the main headstone is a footmarker for a grand-aunt by marriage with a bronze flag holder with the initials – D.U.V.C.W. What does this actually stand for?

    Your grand-aunt was a daughter of a Civil War veteran. The marker’s initials stand for Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. You may wish to search for an obituary in the Brockton Enterprise for more details on the post she belonged to. The Brockton Enterprise is available on microfilm at the Boston Public Library and the Brockton Public Library.

    May 14, 2009

    I have included a scan of a photo I believe to be of a Grand Army of the Republic veteran of the Civil War. I am having trouble discovering information about this uniform and emblems.
    Loyal Lodge

    On the kepi (hat) of this individual are the initials L.O.L. This is not an organization relating to the veterans of the Civil War. The Loyal Orange Lodge, which membership is open to those of Irish Protestant heritage. If you wish to read more about the Orange Institutions go to: Since this photograph was taken in Boston his lodge # 349 may have been a Massachusetts chapter of the Loyal Orange Institutions. In 1905 the Grand Lodge of Loyal Orange Institutions met annual on the 1st Tuesday in May according to the 1905 Boston City Directory [p. 46].

    May 15, 2009

    In the diary of one of my New Hampshire Civil War relatives he makes mention of meeting with commanding officer “J. Hawley” of the 124th infantry. He does not mention the name or the state he served.

    Thank you for your note. An examination of all the Union regiments with a regimental number of 124 has narrowed this down. I believe your relative may have met Col. Joseph W. Hawley of the 124th Pennsylvania Regiment. To find out more about this unit go to:

    May 18, 2009

    Can you tell me what a “Capt’s Dist.” is? I saw this on a tax list and I assume it is a District, but why a Captain’s District?

    This is occasionally found in tax lists and census. What it is allocating is the region one person was in charge of within a county. The enumerator’s district is more commonly used. This does not necessarily mean that your ancestor was in a Military district or fort.

    May 19, 2009

    I am really stuck at the parents of "Neil McNichol". I have traced it back to Scotland, but, completely stopped there. I am also really confused as to whether or not the name was "MACNichol" at that point, or was its always "McNichol" Any Guidance you can provide would be so helpful!

    Thank you for your note. I noticed in the Gedcom file you sent that your immigrant to New Brunswick was Neil McNichol. You further stated that he was born in Stranraer ca. 1751. There are parish records microfilmed by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City that cover that time period. You can order this microfilm and use it at our NEHGS Microtext Library This film may reveal the parentage, and baptism of your ancestor. Since the records date back to 1695, there is a chance his parents marriage, baptisms and information on his grandparents may even be located.

    Parish Church of Stranraer (Wigtownshire), Scotland. Baptisms, 1695-1855; Baptism Index, 1820-1854; Marriages, 1712-1854; Burials, 1847, 1850; Neglected Entries, 1835-1854. FHL BRITISH Film #1068042 Items 1 - 3

    As you can imagine there are variations on the surname. According to George F. Black,
    The Surnames of Scotland (New York, 1946) the surnames MacNicol, MacNicoll, MacNichol mean “son of Nichol”. Nicol is the Latin form of the given name Nicholas. If you would supply me with your mailing address I shall photocopy the page and send it to you.

    May 20, 2009

    Can you tell me if there are any new publications on Robert Calef (1648-1719)? This is one of my ancestors I am currently researching.

    According to Martin E. Hollick’s book, New Englanders in the 1600s.(Boston, NEHGS, 2006) the most recent publication appears in TAG (The American Genealogist), 66:133-145. Hollick’s book is the best source to determine published articles and books produced between 1980 and 2005 for these early New Englanders.

    The American Genealogist is available in print at NEHGS, and has started recently to be produced as an online database.

    May 21, 2009

    I remember as a child going to visit a Whittier family cemetery in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Are you familiar with this location?

    I believe you visited the Whittier Family Burial Ground that dates to at least 1696. It is located on Whittier Road off of Amesbury Road. If you compile any transcriptions from this cemetery NEHGS would be interested in a copy for our Archives and website.

    May 22, 2009

    In an inventory for my ancestor’s estate she is listed as having 20 yards of “haraten”. Any idea what that might be?

    Thank you for your interesting question. I believe they are referring to “harrateen”. This was a type of linen fabric that was used to bedspreads, heavy sheets, and drapery.

    May 26, 2009

    My relatives resided in Truro, Nova Scotia before they came down to Boston in 1883. Are there any online sources for Canadian Census? They arrived in Canada in the mid 1860's from Ireland from what I have determined.

    Thank you for your answer. The two census years you will want to check are 1871 and 1881. You are in luck as both are transcribed and available online. Some of the census data of the 1871 Census were transcribed by Don Lewis of Ottawa, Ontario and can be found online at file will be a Excel spreadsheet that you can download. It contains over 25,000 names and you can search on each field, by name, location, or age. You will still want to consult the microfilm, but this will act as a good index to start with. NEHGS has microfilm of all the Nova Scotia Census from 1851 to 1901, including some early 18th and 19th century lists. On this same website are the 1881, 1891, and 1901 Census for Colchester County and Cumberland Counties. The 1881 Census can also be searched at, the free website provided by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    May 27, 2009

    I attended a lecture recently but never got a chance to confirm what they meant by “county mug books”. Do you know what this is? I assume they are criminal records with mug shots of criminals.

    Thank you for your note. I am sorry to hear the lecturer did not clarify what the slang term “mug books” means. A “mug book” refers to the biographical sketches of individuals or families that often appear in published 19th and early 20th century county histories.

    May 28, 2009

    I understand that there are listings similar to census pre-1690 in Newfoundland. Can you describe what these are and what they contain?

    Thank you for your question. Do keep in mind that permanent settlement for Newfoundland did not occur until the 19th century.

    The following are the seventeenth century reference you were referring to. These originals reside in a variety of repositories in Newfoundland, please let me know if there is a particular one you are interested in. The following list comes from the NEHGS publication Handbook for Atlantic Canada Research.

    1675 – Sir John Berry Census – list of planters from Cape de Razo to Cape Bonavista; names planters for thirty harbours.

    1676 – Capt Russell’s Census – account of English inhabitants between Bonaventure and Petty Harbour; includes names in 18 settlements.

    1677 – Sir John Berry Census – Cape Race to Cape Bonavista; names each community, inhabitants, numbers of wives, children, servants, houses, boats, stages, animals, and pasture land.

    1677 – Sir William Poole’s Census – Cape Bonavista to Trepassey; names inhabitants, number of wives, sons, etc., covering 28 settlements.

    1675-1677 – A short list of planters at Renews in 1663, and a list of 19 planters in St. John’s in 1669 by John Yonge.

    1681 – Captain James Story’s Census – planters from Trepassey to Bonavista to Fair Island.

    1682 – Captain Daniel Jones’ Census.

    And there are census returns for 1691 and 1693.

    May 29, 2009

    I had family in Florida living in Leon County in the 1820’s to 1840’s. I understand at some point there was a early census for that county I can not seem to locate it.

    Thank you for your question. Leon county was established from Gadsen Co., Florida in 1824. According to Ann S. Lainhart’s book State Census Records. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992) there was a Leon County Census of 1825. It was published in an article by Dorothy Dodd, “The Florida Census of 1825,” Florida Historical Quarterly, 22 (1943):34. NEHGS does not have this journal at our library but I have located a source for you. You can search for these early issues of the Florida Historical Quarterly online at:

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