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  • Question of the Day Archive
    September 2009

  • September 1, 2009

    Is there an easy way to reverse calculate a birth date from an age on a death certificate or gravestone?

    There are a few websites out there with the same application. The one I have bookmarked and use from time to time is the following:

    September 2, 2009

    I seek the burial site of an ancestor. The state copy of his death certificate did not indicate his burial location. What should I do to find it?

    You can’t depend on records sent to the state when researching a burial location; in the nineteenth century, the exact locations of burial were not required for returns to the Office of the Secretary of State. If you request a copy of the original record from the Boston City Hall, however, you will find the burial place listed.

    Registry Division
    Room 213
    1 City Hall Square
    Boston, MA 02201

    See for details.

    September 4, 2009

    I am attempting to qualify for the Order of Founders and Patriots of America and am beginning to document the lineage. My first founder ancestor settled in Milford, Conn., in 1639. What do you recommend?

    First, check Meredith B. Colket’s Founders of Early American Families: Emigrants from Europe 1607–1657, which contains information on about 4,500 emigrants. You will need to prove a male-line (or male-line for your mother) connection to one of them (and satisfy other specific eligibility requirements) to qualify for membership. Generally speaking, the proofs needed for any hereditary society are best documented with published or manuscript vital records. For Connecticut, I would suggest using the Barbour Collection, and the Family History Library microfilms for specific towns. A first source for Milford is Susan Woodruff Abbot, Families of Early Milford, Connecticut (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979).

    September 8, 2009

    According to family lore my ancestry ties back to the youngest child of Miles Standish. Do you have any way to confirm who that person is?

    According to the sketch of Miles Standish published in Robert Charles Anderson's, The Pilgrim Migration (Boston, NEHGS, 2004) the youngest child was Charles Standish. Charles was born ca. 1635 and was living on March 7, 1654. There is no further record of Charles after that date. The child before Charles was a brother named Josiah Standish who married (1) Mary Dingley, and (2) Sarah Allen.

    September 9, 2009

    Can you inform me how to search Plymouth County, Massachusetts Court records at NEHGS?

    In 2002 NEHGS produced a wonderful CD-Rom containing over 35,000 cases from Plymouth County Court records. This CD-Rom is available to use in the NEHGS Microtext Department. The CD-Rom contains the Court of General Sessions, 1686-1827 and Court of Common Pleas, 1686-1859.

    Additionally, we have a database, Plymouth Court Records 1686-1859, which you can search on our advanced search page.

    September 10, 2009

    I am researching individuals who were the abutters of my ancestors land. I cannot locate some of them in the Grantor or Grantee Index. Do you have another way of searching these deeds, have they been transcribed yet?

    The NEHGS Library has the complete set of over 1,100 microfilms for Suffolk County Deeds for the 17th through early 20th centuries. We do not have them transcribed in any format that we have been involved in. The earliest volumes of Boston Deeds were published. Since you are dealing with the late 17th century I would suggest the following three microfilms we have. These are called “Index to other persons 1639-1799” you can find them located between the grantor and grantee indexes. These three films are alphabetical indexes to the other names that are not grantors or grantees. You can locate these films under the call number – F72/S9/S845 at the NEHGS Microtext Department.

    September 11, 2009

    Are you aware of a territorial census for Montana in the 19th century?

    According to Ann S. Lainhart’s, State Census Records (Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD, 1992), there was one territorial census for Montana. The Territorial Secretary for Montana produced a list of registered voters in October 1864. You can acquire copies from the Montana Historical Society Library.

    September 14, 2009

    I am looking for an index of burials in St. Joseph's Cemetery, Cumberland, Rhode Island. The index listed seven MAYTUMS, starting with Bridget (858-1993) and ended with William F. (184-1960). Can you help me find the index?

    The database you are referring to is the Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database and can be found on our advanced search page.

    The Maytum's you mentioned from St. Joseph's Cemetery in Cumberland are as follows: MAYTUM BRIDGET 1858 - 1933 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland MAYTUM CHARLES 1882 - 1970 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland MAYTUM CHARLES E 1857 - 1926 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland MAYTUM EMMA M 1857 - 1926 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland MAYTUM LAWRENCE 1901 - 1972 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland MAYTUM LAWRENCE 1901 - 1972 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland MAYTUM MARION (GOUCHER) 1899 - 1990 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland MAYTUM WM F 1884 - 1960 St Joseph's Cemetery Cumberland.

    September 15, 2009

    I am looking for information on my ancestor Johnathon Haynes (1648-1697). He and his wife Sarah Moulton (1656-1699) lived in Newburyport, Massachusetts at some time during their lives.

    NEHGS Research Service can acquire the following information on your ancestors through our Photocopy Service.

    Jonathan Haynes who married Dec. 30, 1674 or Jan 1, 1674/5 to Sarah Moulton have the following sources from Torrey’s New England Marriages.

    - The American Genealogist (now appearing online for members on 27:133

    The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (online for members on,  9:349, 109:162

    - Backus, Mary Elizabeth (Neilson),
    The New England Ancestry of Dana Converse Backus (Salem, Mass.: privately printed, 1949]), pgs. 85, 113, 171.

    - Noyes, Sybil, Charles T. Libby, and Walter Goodwin Davis,
    Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire (Portland, Me.: Anthoensen Press, 1928-9, reprinted by Gen. Publ. Co., 1972), p. 500.

    The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, (New York: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society), 52:330.

    - Farman, Elbert Eli,
    Foreman-Farman-Forman Genealogy (New York: Tobias A. Wright, 1911), p. 148.

    - Woolson, Lula May (Fenno), The Woolson-Fenno Ancestry and Allied Lines, with Bio. Sketches (Boston: privately printed, 1907), pgs. 65, 110.

    - Essex Institute Historical Collections, (Salem, Mass.), 62:161, 163.

    - Moulton, Henry William, Moulton Annals (Chicago: F.A. Claypool, 1906), p. 863.

    - Kingsbury, Frederick John,
    The Genealogy of the Descendants of Henry Kingsbury Ipswich and Haverhill, Mass.(Hartford, Conn.: Hartford Press, 1905), p. 167, 199.

    - Ruggles, Henry Stoddard,
    The Ruggles Family of England and America (Boston: T.R. Marvin & Son, 1893), p. 30, 33.

    - Hoyt, Daniel Webster,
    The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Mass., with Some Related Families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich, and Hampton, and of York County, Maine,. (Providence: Snow & Farnham, 1897-1917), p. 974.

    Putnam’s Genealogical Magazine, (Salem Mass.: Salem Press, 1890), 5:134.

    September 16, 2009

    I am trying to locate probate or other records related to the estate of an ancestor who died in Boston in 1903


    NEHGS holds published probate indexes for Suffolk County from 1636 to 1997. The NEHGS Microtext Library also has probate record books (not docket files) through 1916 on microfilm [F72/S9/S835 Microfilm]. If you can’t visit the Society, the NEHGS Research Services can search for you.

    The earliest probate dockets (1–97686) from the seventeenth century through 1894 are kept at the Massachusetts State Archives. Recently, the probate records from approximately 1895 through 1925 (97687–157226) were moved to offsite storage not open to the public. You can request these dockets at the Suffolk County Courthouse, 24 New Chardon Street, Boston, MA 02114 These records are only retrieved once a week, however, on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. Records from roughly 1925 to 2005 (157227 and higher) are still available at the Suffolk County Courthouse on the day you request them.

    September 17, 2009

    I am trying to locate a copy of June Berry's "Descendants of William Berry and Jane of Strawberry Bank to and including the fifth generation," Book 7, "Mary Berry and John Foss." My question is has the book actually been published.

    NEHGS does have the manuscript you are inquiring about. I cannot find a reference that the section you mentioned has been published. You can hire the NEHGS Research Services to make copies of the pages you need. NEHGS does not copy entire runs of any given manuscript. To inquire about acquiring copies contact NEHGS Research Services at

    The manuscript in question was compiled by June Berry. Title of this collection is Descendants of William Berry and Jane of Strawberry Bank, to and including the fifth generation. Manuscripts Call Number - Mss 371

    Description: v, 73, v, 127, v, 122, vi, 152, vi, 128, vii, 306 leaves; 28 cm. Note Includes index for each "book" section.

    Summary: A descendancy genealogy of the Berry family for five generations that is split into seven books, the children of the immigrant. The books are compilations of family group sheets as follows: (1) John Berry and Susanna; (2) James Berry and Eleanor Wallis; (3) William Berry and Judith Locke; (4) Joseph Berry and Rachel; (5) Rachel Berry and John Marden; (6) Elizabeth Berry and John Locke; (7) Mary Berry and John Foss [not yet published].

    September 18, 2009

    I am looking for the obituaries of my third great-grandparents, Bush G. Brown and Hannah Daniels Brown in the years 1821 and 1822. I thought that the NY Evening Post obituaries were available in the NEHGS database, but have not been able to locate them.

    NEHGS does have the database you seek online on our advanced search page:  
    Death Notices from the New York Evening Post, 1801-1890

    Death Notices from the New York Evening Post , 1801–1890 contains tens of thousands of death notices published in this newspaper for almost the entire nineteenth century. Gertrude A. Barber, a prolific transcriptionist of the early twentieth century, compiled these records between 1933 and 1947. This typescript comprises fifty-five volumes, each with a separate surname-only index, and we present them here in a fully searchable electronic format for the first time.

    The original typescripts are kept in the R. Stanton Avery Collection at NEHGS, call number
    NYC 15 14

    September 22, 2009

    Why do some states release birth records sooner than others? In regards to New Hampshire do you have any suggestions for post 1900?

    For smaller towns in New Hampshire you will find that published annual town reports contain births, marriages and deaths into the 20th century. I would suggest contacting the respective town public library regarding their collection.

    September 23, 2009

    While reviewing an 1841 census return for England I found an odd occupation. Can you tell me what a "Rider Officer" is?

    I believe you are referring to a "Riding Officer". This individual was working for the British Revenue Service patrolling the coast line to locate those involved in smuggling.

    September 28, 2009

    I have a family story that a relative fell in a battle in England called "Otterberne". What can you tell me about this battle and where it was?

    The Battle of Otterburn occurred between the Scottish and the English in the month of August 1388. This was just one of the many border wars between the English and the Scottish. The battle took place at the Northumberland Village of Otterburn. Download the map of English Battlefields for a location of this battle and others located in Great Britain

    September 29, 2009

    Can you tell me what a "waynewright" did for work in the early 19th century?

    A "wainwright" was the occupation of someone who worked on repairing wagons. Often associated with wheelwright work the "wainwright" generally did both trades. The "smith" ending of these trades comes from Old English word for a worker - "wryhta".

    September 30, 2009

    In my ancestor's nineteenth-century Massachusetts diary he often references a place called “Slab City”. Can you help me identify this location?

    There are actually three locations known as “Slab City” in Massachusetts - Leverett in Franklin County, and the towns of Amherst and Belchertown in Hampshire County. Depending on the distance from where your ancestor lived maybe one of these would be more appropriate. This information comes from the publication we produced in 1997, Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities, and Towns in Massachusetts (ISBN-0-088082-066-7).

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