American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS
  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 10, No. 21
    Whole #375
    May 21, 2008
    Edited by Michael J. Leclerc and Valerie Beaudrault

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This newsletter has been sent to people who asked to receive it. If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address, please click on the link at the bottom of the email and follow the instructions provided.

    NEHGS collects, preserves, and interprets materials to document and make accessible the histories of families in America.

    * A Message from the President
    * New Books and Other Resources in NEHGS Library Catalog
    * Research Recommendations: Remembering Our Servicemen and Women
    * Name Origins
    * New on
    * Spotlight: Buffalo County Historical Society, Wisconsin
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information




    A Message From the President

    Few nonprofit organizations are fortunate enough in a single month to have two major news stories carried on CNN, the NBC Nightly News — even in the pages of The New York Times and People magazine — and yet, as you undoubtedly know, all of these things and more happened recently for the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

    When we announced the donation of a rare 1888 photograph of Helen Keller given to our R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, the results were phenomenal. The photograph, the story of its significance in the life of Helen Keller, and its donation through an important genealogical collection by a longtime member, Thaxter P. Spencer, were all captured in stories that show what NEHGS does best. Happily, the coverage led to new memberships, new donations to our collections, and other new opportunities to showcase the Society, its staff, and its treasures. A second major news story occurred a week later and focused on the genealogical research of Christopher Child and Gary Boyd Roberts on the ancestry of the three presidential candidates. It attracted more attention and NEHGS was covered by virtually every major media outlet. Our website,, was inundated over several days with an unprecedented number of visits. In a single hour, we recorded more than 28,500 unique visitors to the site, a number which illustrates the immense power of such press. We also enjoyed our highest new member enlistment day and our research services area fielded over two hundred queries in just one day.

    What I liked about both of these stories is that they illustrated ways in which we fulfill our mission to collect, preserve and interpret materials that document and make accessible the stories of families in America. The Helen Keller story highlighted the importance of “collecting and preserving” while the presidential story demonstrated staff expertise through “interpretation.” Making wider audiences aware of who we are and what we do is important. I was delighted to see NEHGS make strides in reaching much larger, national audiences and becoming more widely known as the nation’s leading center for family and local history.

    On a different note, last month NEHGS had a “changing of the guard” on our Board of Trustees as longtime Chairman David Watson Kruger retired. I am grateful to David for his years of service and gratified that he will stay actively involved in our organization both as a genealogist and as a supporter. Under David’s guidance, the Board improved its governance structure, worked with the staff to successfully complete a strategic plan, and professionalized itself in other new and significant ways. I am pleased that our former Treasurer, Eric B. Schultz, was elected our new Chairman. Eric, who is a talented businessman and successful author and scholar, has been a member of our Board for several years. I know he will help us build upon the progress of recent years. I am so pleased that NEHGS has continued to attract a pool of talented and dedicated members from all parts of the country to join our oversight bodies. Our new Trustees and Councilors include eminent genealogists, historians, business executives, philanthropists, lawyers, and representatives of a wide range of occupations, including members of the judicial, academic, entertainment, and television journalism communities. I am looking forward to introducing you to them in the coming weeks and months.

    Finally, I want to thank you — our friends and supporters — for your continuing loyalty to NEHGS. During these uncertain economic times we must turn to our friends and family for the support and assistance that make the Society a strong and healthy institution. I hope you are enjoying our website and publications and look forward to seeing you before long at one of our programs around the country or, perhaps even, on Newbury Street in Boston!

    Warm wishes,

    D. Brenton Simons
    President and CEO

    Return to Table of Contents


    New Books and Other Resources in NEHGS Library Catalog

    NEHGS has posted the most recent list of new titles added to the library collections. It includes titles on such topics as the Brown family of Jericho, Vermont; the Moran family of the Gulf Coast; pioneer families of Tarbot, Nova Scotia; marriages in Hawkshead, Lancashire, England; the Abenaki Indians of the Saint Francis River Valley, Québec; exploring families in County Limerick, Ireland; how to read Hebrew documents; a genealogical guide to the Dublin, Ireland, Metropolitan Police; the Civil War diary of a black sailor; vital records of Bucksport, Maine; and cemetery records of Salem, New York.

    To see if there is something relevant to your research on this February to March 2008 list, go directly to the New Books page at You can also access the list by going to the catalog’s main search page,, and clicking the “New Books” link beneath the search box. To view more details about any title on the list, simply click the title, which is hyperlinked (underlined), and you will be taken to the full catalog record. The list is sorted in call-number order. If you would like to use any of these new resources, you may do so by visiting our Research Library in Boston or by contacting our Research Services department to have a researcher consult the resource for you.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Research Recommendations: Remembering Our Servicemen and Women
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    This weekend is Memorial Day, our annual observance of gratitude for all those who have served in our country’s armed forces. There are a number of resources available to those researching ancestors who served in the military. Several of these are provided by the federal government.

    The National Parks Service hosts the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) at The system provides basic information on those who served during the Civil War. In addition to service information on individuals, you can find histories of various regiments, battles, prisoner of war records, and cemetery records. The CWSS is a partnership between the National Parks service and other private and public organizations, such as the Allen County Public Library, Utah Army Corps, National Archives and Records Administration, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Civil War Preservation Trust.

    The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), online at, was established by Congress in 1923 “to commemorate the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces where they have served overseas since 1917, and within the U.S. when directed by public law.” The ABMC oversees 24 military cemeteries overseas that are the resting place for almost 125,000 American soldiers who died in war. In addition, the Commission is responsible for Tablets of the Missing that memorialize more than 94,000 U.S. servicemen and women and 25 memorials, monuments, and markers.

    In addition to general information, you can find data on soldiers buried in foreign countries who died as far back as the Mexican-American War, although the vast amount of information is available for WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. I was able to find information on my great-great-uncle, Eloi Morin, who was my grandfather’s godfather and died at the Battle of the Argonne during WWI. He was a private in the U.S. Army, serving in the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, and died October 21, 1918. He is buried in Plot C, Row 13, Grave 26 of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery at Romagne, France. I wrote to the ABMC and received a free picture of the cemetery as well as a close-up photograph of Mon Oncle Eloi’s gravestone.

    I was also able to find information on my other grandfather's cousin, Albert Victor Leclerc. Albert grew up in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Unable to swim, he was always afraid of the water. When he was drafted in World War II he was of course assigned to the U.S. Navy. Albert was nineteen years old and on his first mission when his ship was sunk upon its arrival at Manila. He, along with many others, was drowned. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. His body was never recovered, but according to the ABMC he is memorialized on a tablet of the missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can help you with information on more recent veterans, especially regarding burials ( You can read about the history of national military cemeteries. The Nationwide Gravesite Locator provides burial information for veterans and their eligible family members in V.A. National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and veterans buried in private cemeteries with a government grave marker. Unfortunately information is limited for burials prior to 1997.

    One benefit provided by the Veterans Administration is a government headstone for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death, at no cost. The V.A. may also provide a headstone or marker for graves marked with a private marker for veterans that died on or after November 1, 1990. You may also apply for a medallion for an existing grave marker.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    TRUMAN (m): This name, derived perhaps from the English true man, became quite popular in the middle to late eighteenth century. Truman Hinman, an early bearer of this name, b. Woodbury 27 June 1731, son of Wait and Ann (_____) Hinman (Cothren 3:23).

    Return to Table of Contents


    New on

    Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700

    From the Introduction, by David Curtis Dearborn:

    Among the most frequently asked questions at the sixth-floor main reference desk at NEHGS are "Where's Torrey?" and "Can you help me interpret these Torrey references?" Newcomers to genealogy, hearing these questions, might well wonder if the visitor is looking for a Revolutionary War ancestor who served on "the other side," but they would be mistaken. Among die-hard New England genealogists, "Torrey" refers to Clarence Almon Torrey's "New England Marriages Prior to 1700," a massive twelve-volume manuscript. We have a copy of it on the shelves behind the main reference desk and it is one of the most often used library resources.

    "Torrey," or Torrey's Marriage Index, as it's often called, is a compilation of approximately 37,000 known or presumed marriages that occurred prior to 1700, arranged alphabetically by groom. The work is so huge and so comprehensive (it is estimated that 99% of all marriages are included), that it has become one of the principal resources for seventeenth-century New England genealogy. Indeed, the usage of "Torrey" to refer both to the creator and to the work itself places it within that exclusive genealogical lexicon of by-names that includes "Savage," "Pope," and "Filby."

    Many readers are familiar with, or even own, a copy of the printed version of Torrey. In 1985, Genealogical Publishing Company published the list of marriages, without the all-important references, in a single volume of over a thousand pages (two supplements, containing references to marriages discovered after Torrey's time, have since been published). When the book was prepared, it was decided that the references shouldn't be included because of the time that it would take to do a faithful transcription and the cost involved, and also because the resulting text would be too massive to market at a cost considered acceptable by the public. Nonetheless, despite the drawback of not including the references, [the 1985 edition of] Torrey's New England Marriages Prior to 1700, with over 7,000 sales, has proven to be one of the most popular genealogical books of the past fifteen years.

    This database includes all the material from the 2001 CD-ROM version of Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700, including all 37,464 marriages and 4,026 source references. The full introduction and key to source references may be downloaded as pdf files from the database search page.

    The original manuscript is available to members at our Boston research library, call number SG TOR 5 [147]. A photocopied 12-volume set of the original manuscript is available to all library visitors, call number F3.T6 1971. The CD-ROM from which this database was created is also available, call number F3.T61 2001 CD.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Spotlight: Buffalo County Historical Society, Wisconsin
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Buffalo County, located on the western border of Wisconsin, was created from Trempealeau County in 1853. It was named after the Buffalo River. The Buffalo County Historical Society is located in Alma, the Buffalo County seat. The Historical Society has made some of its resources available online. Click on the Research Resources tab on the homepage to access them.

    Click on the Cemeteries link to go to the Cemeteries home page. The Buffalo County Historical Society has uploaded transcriptions from 26 cemeteries to its website. Click on the cemetery link to access the alphabetical listings for individuals buried there. In addition to providing the name of the deceased and birth and death date information, the individual record might also include the name of a spouse, information about other family members, an anecdotal story about the individual, and a description of the gravestone and its condition. Links to maps and directions have been provided for some of the cemeteries. This is helpful if you are planning a visit to the area.

    Click on the Obituaries link to go to the Obituaries home page. There are two obituary databases on the website. One contains digital images of obituaries clipped from local newspapers and the other is in index format. The Historical Society is in the process of making all of their obituaries available online. They have set up a program that allows individuals to submit obituaries to them. Detailed information about this process can be found on the Obituaries home page. The process of uploading the Historical Society’s obituary collection to the website is ongoing.

    Click on the Obituaries tab at the top of the page to access the database containing the digital images of the online obituaries. They are organized alphabetically. Click on the letter matching the first letter of the surname to view all available obituaries for individuals whose surnames begin with that letter. Click on the thumbnail image to enlarge it for viewing. Beneath the image you may find a list of keywords (other surnames) listed in the obituary.

    To view the obituaries index click on the Office Obituaries tab. This will open a page with links to alphabetical surname lists. Each record contains the full name of the deceased (including maiden name) and a page number. You can request a copy of any obituaries in these lists for a small fee.

    In addition, the Historical Society provides lists of resources available in their offices, which include local history volumes, family histories, and microfilm resources such as newspapers and census records. The Buffalo County Historical Society will also do research for a fee. Contact information can be found on the website.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Stories of Interest

    Surviving Genealogical Scrutiny
    Tammy Tipler-Priolo writes on about the need for balance between “the necessity in understanding our history and the desire for respect of one’s privacy.”

    ‘Genealogy Junkies’ Find Links to the Past
    Nate Jones, staff writer for The Gazette, spoke with members of the Ancient Landmarks Society of Parsonsfield [Maine] about their work in Maine genealogy.

    Protein Shape Data Confirms Life’s Genealogy
    The Scientific American has a short piece (accompanied by a 60-second podcast) that has taken genealogy about as far as it can go – back to the origins of life on earth.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Classic Reprints

    Did you know that the NEHGS Sales Department offers library-quality copies of over 10,000 rare and out-of-print books? Some titles ordered by recent customers include:

    The Ohio Valley in Colonial Days (Item P5-OH0124H)
    Rye, Westchester Co., NY, Inscriptions from Graveyards (Item P5-NY0456H)
    History of Mercer Co., PA, its Past and Present (Item P5-PA0012H)
    Desc. of John Tefft, 1614-1676 (Item P4-H25245)
    Desc. of Robert Isbell in America (Item P4-H15840)

    You can search the entire Classic Reprints catalog online at

    Return to Table of Contents


    Upcoming Education Programs

    Each year the Society presents a number of dynamic lectures, seminars, and tours for genealogists and the general public. Programs are held at 101 Newbury Street unless otherwise indicated. For more information, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    Seminars and Tours
    For more information or to register for any of these events, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    Quebec Research Tour
    Sunday, June 15–Sunday, June 22, 2008
    Celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec by joining NEHGS staff experts Michael J. Leclerc and Pauline Cusson for a research week in Montreal, Quebec. This unique opportunity will allow participants to take advantage of two premier Canadian repositories, the Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française (SGCF) and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). These archives hold documents from the earliest settlement of Quebec through the English period, down to the twentieth century. Participants will receive one-on-one consultations, providing guidance and suggestions for research. Whether your ancestors spoke French or English, the archival records will help you to break through your brick walls and discover where they came from.
    Registration Fees (includes seven nights lodging at the Hôtel Les Suites Labelle): Single, $1,550; Double, $1,350; Double with non-participant, $1,850; Commuter, $775 (no lodging).
    For more information visit

    Come Home to New England
    #1 Monday, June 23–Saturday, June 28, 2008
    #2 Monday, August 11–Saturday, August 16, 2008
    The staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society invites you to participate in our classic intensive week-long program, Come Home to New England. Research your roots with expert assistance at the extensive NEHGS library, one of the premier facilities for genealogical records in the world. Whether you are a first-time participant or have enjoyed this program in the past, you are sure to benefit from a visit to our library and extended time with our staff of professional genealogists as they welcome you “home” to New England. Throughout the week of guided research, you will have the opportunity for one-on-one consultations, daily lectures and special extended library hours. Registration fee $750, $125 for non-participating guest.
    For more information, visit

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    Sunday, November 2–Sunday, November 9, 2008
    Join NEHGS for our thirtieth annual research tour to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Along with more than 70 other participants you are invited to take part in an intensive week of research where you will be aided by expert staff. Daily programming also includes computer tutorials for accessing the library card catalog, research tips and techniques lectures, personalized consultations and group dinning events.
    For more information visit:

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS Contact Information

    We encourage you to email this newsletter to others who might be interested. To subscribe or view back issues of eNews, please visit

    NEHGS eNews, like all of our programs, is made possible through the generous contributions of our members. For more information about giving to NEHGS visit

    To view the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

    To become a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

    Copyright 2008, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Return to Table of Contents

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society