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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 11, No. 16
    Whole #423
    April 22, 2009
    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.

    * April 2009 Issue of the Register
    * Research Recommendations: Pre-1850 Massachusetts Vital Records
    * Name Origins
    * New On
    * Spotlight: Databases of the Alberta Genealogical Society, Canada
    * Stories of Interest
    * Question of the Day
    * Best-Selling Titles
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information




    April 2009 Register

    The April 2009 issue of the Register is now available for members online at . The paper copy will be in the mail shortly. This quarter's issue includes:


    Humphrey Blake (1494?–1558) and His Descendants in New England and South Carolina: Blake, Richards, Selleck, Torrey, and Wolcott
    Clifford L. Stott

    Identifying Sally Rice (ca. 1760–1835), Wife of Eliab Brewer of Ludlow, Vermont
    Christopher Challender Child

    Identifying Jonathan Pinney (ca. 1754–1812) of Guilford and Plymouth, Vermont
    Christopher Challender Child

    Was Nathaniel Jones, Who Married Mary Rediat in 1696, a Son or Grandson of John1 and Dorcas (_____) Jones of Concord, Massachusetts?
    Ann L. Dzindolet

    The Paternal Ancestry of Abigail (Salter) Hammond of Watertown and Hannah (Salter) Phillips of Boston
    Leslie Mahler

    Three Men Named Isaac Phelps with Connections to Windsor, Connecticut
    Nancy J. Pennington

    Ann Neave, Wife of Stephen Gates, 1638 Immigrant to Massachusetts
    Edward J. Harrison

    The Two Wives of Lionel Chute, Schoolmaster of Ipswich, Massachusetts
    William Wyman Fiske

    Revisiting the Family of Gershom2 Flagg of Woburn, Massachusetts
    Jon Wardlow (concluded from 163:26)

    Some Descendants of Nathaniel3 Mead of Greenwich, Connecticut, Through His Son Josiah4 Mead
    Gail Blankenau (continued from 163:38)

    Reviews of Books and CD-ROMs

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    Research Recommendations: Pre-1850 Massachusetts Vital Records
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    How many of you have used the “Official Series” of pre-1850 Massachusetts vital records? In many libraries these are called the “Beige/Brown/Gold/Tan/Insert-your-favorite-shade-of-brown-color Books.” Dozens of these books were published around the turn of the twentieth century by several organizations, including the Essex Institute, Topsfield Historical Society, and Systematic History Fund, as well as the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

    Produced by poring through town records, church records, traipsing through cemeteries transcribing tombstones, and pursuing private and family records, these books are considered to be extremely accurate in their data. Such is the case, as long as the books are used correctly. Unfortunately, in all too many instances, the books are not used properly and misinformation is created.

    One major drawback to these books is that almost all of them reproduce the names in alphabetical order, grouping births, marriages, and deaths together. Cross-references are usually included for spelling variations. This made the books easier to produce by cutting down space and eliminating the need for indexes. Unfortunately, it also robs us of important information that can be gleaned from the original context. Births, for example, were often recorded in family groups. This can be very helpful when trying to recreate families with parents who have common first names.

    Each book has front matter that is critical to understanding the published data. There is often an “Explanations” section detailing how information was included. The first item in the list from the West Springfield book is one that applies to all:

    “The fact that a birth, marriage, or death is recorded in West Springfield does not prove that it occurred there, unless it is so stated in the record. When places other than West Springfield and Massachusetts are named in the original records they are given as they appear there; but when West Springfield is named, the initial letter only is used, except in unusual phrases.”

    Birth dates are regularly carved into gravestones, and are often included in the books, but the person was not necessarily born in the town. It is very important to look at the abbreviations that follow the record. Birth information from a grave record should be noted as such in your research. As a rule, baptisms are not usually published when there is a civil birth record. The C.R. abbreviations will tell you which church a baptism, marriage, or burial took place in.

    Private records were often used to supplement missing records. These private records vary widely from town to town. They can include account books of private individuals, diaries, and compiled manuscripts of town historians and genealogists. The records may no longer even be in the town. One of the private records utilized in West Springfield was a “copy of records on the margins of old almanacs made by Frank L. Johnson of Minneola, Florida (1933).”

    Private records can also come from previously published information. In that event, one should examine the earlier publication for additional details to the source. The second private record in our West Springfield example comes from the transcribed marriage records of the town between 1774 and 1796, published in a Register article in 1875. The article was used because the book was published 70 years later, and in the intervening years a number of items in the original books had become illegible.

    Because so many of these books are now out of copyright, they have been made widely available on the internet. Unfortunately, in doing so, many of these copies have had the abbreviations and other significant material stripped out. This has contributed to a great spreading of misinformation and conflicting information. Marriages, for example, are often recorded in multiple towns. They can be recorded in the hometown of the bride, the hometown of the groom, and the town where the marriage took place, potentially providing three different locations for the same event.

    Another major flaw in abstracted information, such as the International Genealogical Index, is that they often confuse marriage intentions with marriage records. The intention of marriage was recorded prior to the marriage itself, usually in the towns of the bride and the groom. The marriage would take place at a later date. In the town where the marriage took place, the intention is usually not included in the published book, but the marriage records with no intentions in the town would be marked with an asterisk.

    When using online sources, look for websites that transcribe all of the information (including the abbreviations). The best sites allow you to look at scanned pages of the original books and navigate through them, thus allowing you to see for yourself how the original publication appeared. On, for example, the abbreviations in all of the transcriptions are hot-linked to tell you what they mean. The town names are linked to the front explanatory matter, and we are working to provide images for all of the books as well.

    In any event, when there is potential doubt or conflict, the original record should be examined. The published books can be very helpful in locating the original record in the morass of original town books, but only the originals can give you the proper information.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    PEG/PEGGY (f): Nicknames formed from MARGARET, by the same initial M-to-P linguistic process that produces POLLY from MARY and PATTY from MARTHA.

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    New On

    Town Records of Barnstable, Massachusetts, 1640 to 1793

    These town records of Barnstable, Massachusetts were transcribed by Gustavus A. Hinckley and donated to NEHGS in 1905. They were compiled by Robert J. Dunkle and published by the Society in CD-ROM format in 2001. They are presented here in searchable database format, consisting of a name index of 14,413 records to the 494 pages of transcribed records.

    The pagination of the original volumes is shown in bold text within brackets and has been placed within the
    current transcription in the appropriate place. Mr. Hinckley has annotated the text in some places and these remarks have been italicized within brackets. Further, the compilers have made notes concerning pagination etc., and these are also italized in brackets.

    Images of the transcribed pages may be viewed from the search results page.

    The original manuscript is available for viewing by NEHGS members at our Boston research library, call number Mss 419.


    Social Security Death Index - Free Access
    Updated through February, 2009

    The SSDI, taken from the U.S. Social Security Administration's Death Master File, is one of the key resources available to genealogists today. It contains those individuals who were assigned Social Security numbers and whose death was reported to the SSA. Data is now current through Febryary, 2009. Access to the SSDI is FREE to all who visit This database now contains the names of 84,208,107 individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

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    Spotlight: Databases of the Alberta Genealogical Society, Canada
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The Alberta Genealogical Society was founded in 1973 to promote the study of genealogy and genealogical research in the province of Alberta. The Society has eleven branches.

    The online resources on the website of the main branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society include a number of land records databases and an index to Alberta local histories.

    Index to Applications for Alberta Land Patents — 1885 to 1897
    The records in the Alberta Land Patents index are for applications completed by homesteaders during the period from about 1885 to 1897. The files exist only in paper format and are not part of the Index to Alberta Homestead Records 1870–1930 below. The files are from the following Alberta land agencies: Beaver Lake, Calgary, Red Deer, Wetaskiwin, Edmonton and Lethbridge.

    Index to Alberta Homestead Records — 1870 to 1930
    This database contains a comprehensive, integrated, all-name index to Alberta's homestead files. There are more than 277,000 records in the fully searchable index. It includes not only the records of individuals who obtained a homestead patent, but also the records of many individuals who had some ‘interest’ in the land.

    Index to Alberta Homestead Records — post–1930
    This index is a work in progress. There are currently 148,445 records in the database. The files in the post 1930 collection may include “homestead applications, sale of land documents, lease agreements, as well as many other documents, such as inspectors' reports, records of abandonment, handwritten letters, wills, naturalization certificates, scrip, seed grain liens, and court proceedings.”

    The land patent and homestead records databases can be searched by surname and given name. The search results include full name, section, township, range and meridian number, as well as the file and film numbers for the collections in the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Details regarding how to view the files and order copies of the records from each of the databases are included in the descriptive information. The Alberta Homestead Records for 1870 to 1930 also include organizations such as cemeteries, churches, companies, Indian bands, municipalities, police, ranches, reservations, and school districts. To search for these entities enter the organization type listed above in the surname field.

    Index to Selected Alberta History Books
    This all-name index contains all of the names that appear throughout the pages of selected Alberta local history books held in Edmonton by the Alberta Genealogical Society and the AGS Edmonton Branch library. The information was extracted from these volumes includes surname, given name(s), and other items such as place names, ranch names, business names, as well as book title and page numbers. The database can be searched by surname and given name. There is a check box that enables you to include place names and other items in your search.

    Some of the society’s branches also have websites with online resources. These include a census database, cemetery lists, and a number of obituary databases. There are links to these websites on the Alberta Genealogical Society’s databases main page.

    The Edmonton Branch has a searchable database for the 1901 Census Alberta and Saskatchewan (Districts 202–206).

    The Brooks & District Branch has an alphabetical obituary index. This index contains records for individuals born in the Brooks area whose deaths were reported in The Brooks Bulletin, The Chronicle or the Calgary Herald. It includes the individual’s name, date of birth, and date of death. The earliest birth dates are from the mid-eighteen-nineties. The data fields include name, town /county, provinces/state, country, date of birth and date of death.

    Grande Prairie & District Branch
    This branch has obituary databases for two newspapers, the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune (1965–2008) and the Peace River Record Gazette (1918–2008), Peace River Record (1914–1917) and Peace River Standard (1917–1922). The data fields in these alphabetical lists include last name; first name; maiden and other married name; age; place of birth; place of death; newspaper abbreviation; and newspaper date.

    Lethbridge & District Branch
    This branch has databases for sixteen cemeteries containing alphabetical listings of individuals buried in them. The data includes full name and year of death. There are also newspaper indexes for the Lethbridge Herald containing records of births, deaths and marriages for November and December 1905, January, March and June 1906, several days in May 1929 and obituaries for February 1960. There is an alphabetical surname index for obituaries from the Lethbridge Herald for 1960–1969 and December 1976–April 1977. The data fields include surname, first name, age, date of death, and newspaper date.

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    Stories of Interest

    Actor’s Film Shows Off Family History
    South Carolina actor Clarence Felder found an interesting way to honor his ancestors. He portrays his ancestor, Revolutionary War hero Henry Felder, in the film All for Liberty.

    Aggie Muster’s Rich History Spans 173 Years of Tradition
    Aggie Muster began in 1883 when cadets from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas came together to remember their school days. Six years later it merged with San Jacinto Day, and for the past 120 years has been held to commemorate the victory of General Sam Houston over Santa Ana and the creation of the Republic of Texas.

    History Showcased at Society Meetings
    Littlestown, Pennsylvania, high school junior Clifton Bittle is fascinated with his family, which traces its roots in the town back to 1765. He recently made a presentation about his ancestors to the Littlestown Area Historical Society.

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    Question of the Day

    Each day (M-F), David Lambert, the NEHGS Online Genealogist, will post an interesting "Question of the Day" on http:/// to share with you. We hope these questions will be valuable and beneficial in your research. Check back daily for new questions and answers or read through our archives. What follows is a question asked this week. You are invited to submit research questions to David Allen Lambert at Please note that he will make every effort to reply to each message, but will respond on a first come, first-served basis. In some cases, he may need to refer individuals to the NEHGS Research Service for more in-depth research services for a fee. You can view more questions of the day at

    While reviewing a probate for my ancestor from Maine I noticed an item in his inventory I don’t recognize. Can you explain what a “driving pyke” is?

    I believe the inventory is referring to is a “driving pike”. This device consisted of a metal or wooden rod with a steel hook. This was used for pulling and positioning logs as they were send down the rivers to lumber mills.

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    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:

    Sadowski Lineage from the Polish Village of Bogucin, 1880 to Present (Item P4-H22895)
    History of Hancock, New Hampshire, 1764-1889 (Item P5-NH0012H)
    History of Penacook From its First Settlement in 1734 Up to 1900 (Item P5-NH0188H)
    Tales of Early Fredonia, New York (Item P5-NY0096H)
    Rowley, Massachusetts, Town Records, 1639-1672, Volume 1 (item P5-MA0087H)

    You can search the entire Classic Reprints catalog online at

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    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 99 Newbury Street unless otherwise indicated. For more information, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    You can view a full listing of upcoming programs:

    Seminars and Tours
    Correction: The dates of Come Home to New England are incorrectly stated in the recently mailed Education Programs and Research Tours brochure. The program dates are June 22–27, 2009 and August 10–15, 2009.

    English Family History Tour
    Sunday, May 17–Sunday, May 24, 2009
    The English Family History Tour to London is an essential research trip for genealogists with British ancestry. Based at the Society of Genealogists (SoG), researchers will be offered daily classes providing historical context and research methodology tips for working with the extensive record collection of the SoG. The library's holdings include more than 120,000 books and microforms featuring census indexes; family histories; biographies; service, professional, and trade directories; an apprenticeship index (1710-1774); school and university lists; will and marriage license indexes; runs of Burke's Peerage and Landed Gentry; a large number of manuscripts arranged by surname; and a miscellaneous card index of three million references.

    Come Home to New England
    Monday, June 22–Saturday, June 27, 2009
    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 genealogical facilities 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.

    Newfoundland Research Tour
    Sunday, July 12–Sunday, July 19, 2009
    Discover your Newfoundland family history with NEHGS in the provincial capital of St. John's. Join expert genealogists at St. John's premier facilities, including the Provincial Archives — "The Rooms," the Maritime History Archive at Memorial University, the Registry of Deeds, and A.C. Hunter Library. Together these repositories hold vital records; church records; all census records; voter lists; probate; land grants; the Keith Matthews collection (list of all people who worked in fishery from 16th century to 1850); ship lists; crew lists; logbooks; Irish and English parish records; and original Newfoundland newspapers.

    Come Home to New England
    Monday, August 10–Saturday, August 15, 2009
    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 genealogical facilities 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.

    Scottish Family History Research Tour
    Sunday, September 20–Sunday, September 27, 2009
    Discover the origins of your Scottish ancestors with the inaugural NEHGS research tour to Edinburgh. This week-long intensive research program will be based out of Scotland's two premier genealogical repositories, The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) and the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). Together these neighboring repositories house the major collections of government and vital records for more than 700 years of Scottish history. The main holdings of NAS include records created by the government of Scotland beginning in the twelfth century, including records of the crown and parliament; legal registers; court documents; and records of the Church of Scotland. Vital records, including births, marriages, and deaths from 1855 and parish registers from 1553 to 1854, are maintained by the GROS. Program registration includes lodging at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and opening and closing dinners. .

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2009, New England Historic Genealogical Society
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Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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