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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  •  Vol. 13, No. 3
    Whole #462
    January 20, 2010
    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.

    * Special Footnote Subscription Offer for NEHGS Members
    * Subscribe Now to the 2010 Great Migration Newsletter
    * Research Recommendations: Natural Disasters and Genealogy
    * Name Origins
    * New On
    * Spotlight: Library Databases: Pennsylvania and Maryland
    * Stories of Interest
    * New Titles in the Book Store
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information




    Special Footnote Subscription Offer for NEHGS Members

    We hope our members have enjoyed the brief period of free access to Footnote through for the past two months. Footnote has encountered unforeseen technical challenges on their end such that they will be unable to continue to provide access via after January 31, although it will continue to make the site available at the NEHGS library in Boston.

    While Footnote hopes to be able to offer access through the NEHGS website at some point in the future, for now they are providing a unique and never-before-available individual subscription to our members. Until February 28, 2010, all current NEHGS members can purchase an annual subscription to Footnote for only $29.95 (a significant reduction in the regular price of $79.95). This is a one-of-a-kind offer to the complete Footnote collection that Footnote hopes will signify their deep appreciation of NEHGS as an organization. To learn more about this offer, please visit

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    Subscribe Now to the 2010 Great Migration Newsletter

    The Great Migration Newsletter offers feature articles on a variety of topics, including the settlement of early New England towns, migration patterns, seventeenth-century passenger lists, church and land records, and much more. The Newsletter complements the individual Great Migration sketches and addresses broad issues key to understanding the lives and times of New England’s first immigrants.

    Print subscribers to volume 19 (2010) will receive a new issue of the Newsletter through the mail each quarter ($20 for a one-year subscription or $36 for a two-year subscription).

    Online subscribers access issues through, where the Newsletter is posted each quarter. They can also access past issues from volumes 11 through 18, as well as bonus biographical sketches not yet in print ($10 for a one-year subscription or $18 for a two-year subscription).

    To subscribe, please visit or call Member Services at 1-888-296-3447.

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    Research Recommendations: Natural Disasters and Genealogy
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    In reading news stories about the recent devastation in Haiti, the tragedies keep mounting. Story after story of the loss of life keep appearing, dotted periodically with hopeful stories of people surviving and babies being born. In reading through the stories, the genealogist in me wonders how these people will appear (or not) in the records.

    Disasters such as this (natural or otherwise), resulting in large loss of life, often leave the official record full of holes. A recent piece on CNN included a report from Anderson Cooper on the hundreds of bodies being buried in a mass grave:

    "These people will vanish," Cooper said in a phone report. "No one will know what happened to them. That's one of the many horrors.

    "There's no system in place here. Literally these people here are being collected off the streets, dumped into a dump truck, then brought out here and dumped in the pits," he said.

    The same story (“Where Bodies Go After Natural Disasters” by Madison Park) also provides some illuminating information. For instance, although the fear of disease is most often the reason quoted for such activities, the World Health Organization reports that there has never been an epidemic after a natural disaster that was traced to exposure to bodies. Infinitely more serious consequences come from the lack of sanitation among individuals forced to live in the streets.

    In my research on the family of Benjamin Franklin, I came across a niece, Martha Harris, who returned to England after marrying a man in the Royal Navy. Martha’s daughter, Nancy Johnson, married Capt. Peter Clarke of the Royal Navy. In tracing Nancy and her family, and the origins of Peter, I came across a 1781 letter from Martha to her uncle Benjamin, in which she says:

    “My Children are Borth in the west Indes Samey a Lietn in the navey and my Daughter at Barbados. She suffered gratly By the late Hurricane her house was intierly Distroyed and Everything in it her mother Clarke was kild as she was Comeing out of her house and maney more shared the same fate But she Cannot Come to England as she has a lawsute in hand and till that is finished she Cannot have her fortune in her own hands.”

    The use of the descriptor “the” as opposed to “a” or “an” indicates that this particular hurricane was widely known around the world. In checking the history of the area, I quickly found the hurricane to which Martha must have been referring. The Great Hurricane of 1780, also knows as Hurricane San Calixto II, is the deadliest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. Between October 10 and October 16 the storm passed through the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, killing more than 27,500 people.

    The Great Hurricane stalled over Barbados for two days, with violent winds described to be so strong that people could not hear their own voices. The winds stripped the very bark off of the trees before the storm downed every tree on the island. Not a house remained standing, and even the great forts on the island were destroyed by the storm. The death toll for that one island stood around 4,500 people.

    I was fairly certain there would be no record of the mother-in-law’s death, but I checked burial records in the parish registers to be sure. There are, as I surmised, no burial records for this time. Mrs. Clarke turned out to be the widow of a prominent islander, yet still no official record of her death exists. We know of it only through secondary reporting, diaries, etc.

    If you have people who completely disappear from the record, check the history of the area. Was there a natural or other large-scale disaster that resulted in tremendous loss of life about the time your people disappear? It is possible that they may be victims of the disaster, and you may never find an official record of death.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    ZEBULON (m): One of the twelve sons of Jacob; his mother was Leah, the patriarch’s first, unloved wife (with thanks to Christopher Challender Child). Zebulon Webb (1698-1760) of Windham and Canterbury, Conn., is an example of the name's use.

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    New On

    New York and Connecticut additions to the “Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections” database
    This week, we are adding cemetery transcriptions from three New York cemeteries and one Connecticut cemetery. This includes 1,835 inscriptions from St. Paul's Church Yard Cemetery, East Chester, Bronx, NY; 427 inscriptions from the Reformed Dutch Church cemetery, Flatlands, Brooklyn, NY; 375 inscriptions from the Reformed Dutch Church cemetery, Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY; and 549 inscriptions from the Norwalk, Connecticut cemetery.

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    Spotlight: Library Databases: Pennsylvania and Maryland
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    New Castle Public Library, Pennsylvania

    New Castle, in Lawrence County, is not far from the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. The New Castle Public Library has made a Marriage/Obituary Database available on its website. Click on the Genealogy/History link in the contents list to access this resource.

    Marriage/Obituary Database
    The database currently comprises obituaries from the first date of publication of the New Castle News in 1880. Obituaries from other New Castle newspapers over the years have also been included. According to the information provided, the database is a work in progress, with volunteers entering marriage announcements and obituary dates. There are more than 300,000 records in the index. Death announcements are current through 2009. Click on the Search Here! link if you are not in the New Castle Public Library to access the search page.

    The index can be searched by last name, first name, spouse’s name, parent(s) name(s), newspaper title, page, and date or marriage announcement or death announcement. These fields appear in the search results, as well. I did not see a key to the newspaper title abbreviations, which would be a useful resource. Click on the page image thumbnail to view the individual record. It should be noted that dates provided are the dates of the announcements not necessarily the date of the marriage or the death. You should consult the actual announcement to get complete information. Copies of announcements can be requested from the library.

    The Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County, Maryland

    The Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County is located in Oakland, Maryland. Oakland (and Garrett County) islocated in the far western part of the state. The library has a searchable obituary database available on its website.

    Search results from the database include images of obituaries, death notices, or other death-related articles. The images were scanned from library’s microfilm newspaper collection. The source for the scanned items in the database is The Republican, established in March 1877. The database is a work in progress and now covers the period from March 1877 through 1902.

    Researchers can search the database by last name, first name, middle name, date of birth, date of death, source of information, and source date (date on which the notice was printed in the newspaper). Search results will appear at the bottom of the page. Scroll down to see search results. Each record in the database consists of a listing of details and an image of the notice, article, or obituary. Click on the green checkmark on the right to view the image and a summary of the record. Click on ‘print’ to print the image and detailed record.

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    Stories of Interest

    New England’s Scarlet ‘S’ for Slavery
    A Boston Globe op-ed piece on Martin Luther King Day discusses the history of slavery in New England, an often unknown part of its history.

    A Government Genealogy Service Lets Family History Leap Off the Page
    The Los Angeles Times reports on a little-known program of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides information that bridges oceans.

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    New Titles in the Book Store

    The NEHGS Book Store is happy to announce the availability of five new titles:

    A Family Becoming American, Volume 1: Krüger by David W. Kruger

    Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900 by Maureen A. Taylor

    Strangers and Pilgrims, Travelers and Sojourners: Leiden and the Foundations of Plymouth Plantation by Jeremy Dupertius Bangs

    An American Family, 1575-1945: A History of the United States of America Viewed Through the Eyes of One Family by James Edmond Carbine & Marianne Lemly Carbine

    A Rabble in Arms Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen During King Philip's War by Kyle F. Zelner

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

    • Bottle Hill & Madison, New Jersey: Glimpses & Reminiscences from its Earliest Settlement to the Civil War (Item P5-NJ0114H)
    • History of Bath & Environs, Sagadohoc Co. Maine, 1607-1895, with Illustrations (Item P5-ME0058H)
    • Legends of Woburn, Massachusetts, 1642-1892. Now First Written and Preserved in Collected Form...To which is Added a Chrono-Indexical History of Woburn (Item P5-MA0479H)
    • Biographical Sketch of the Park Family of Washington Co., Pennsylvania (Item P4-H20694)
    • Soldiers of Oakham, Massachusetts, in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, & the Civil War (Item P5-MA0457H)

    You can search the entire Classic Reprints catalog online at If you would like a list of FAQs and search tips for the Classic Reprints catalog, simply send an email with "Classic Reprints" in the subject line to

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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 D. Joshua Taylor at 617-226-1226 or

    You can view a full listing of upcoming programs:


    Lafayette: Symbol of Franco-American Friendship
    Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 6:00 PM
    Join members of the Massachusetts Lafayette Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society for Lafayette: Symbol of Franco-American Friendship, presented by Alan R. Hoffman. A book signing will follow the lecture.

    New Visitor Welcome & Library Orientation
    Wednesday, February 3, 10:00 A.M.
    Starting your family genealogy can seem a little daunting at first. There is so much information found in a variety of locations. Let NEHGS help you make sense of it all by attending this FREE lecture for both members and non-members. This talk introduces you to the NEHGS research library, located at 99 Newbury Street in Boston. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the country’s oldest and largest non-profit genealogy library and archive. With more than 15 million artifacts, books, manuscripts, microfilms, journals, photographs, records, and other items, NEHGS can provide researchers of every level some of the most important sources of information.

    You will also have an opportunity to describe your research interests to one of our expert genealogists on staff, who can offer some advice on how to proceed. The program starts with a thirty-minute introductory lecture and will be followed by a tour of the library and its vast holdings. Make plans to start your genealogy with this great tour.

    An Introduction to African-American and Cape Verdean Genealogical Research Techniques
    Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 6:00 PM
    Join us for an introduction to research methods and sources for African-American and Cape Verdean ancestry, including primary and secondary sources available in the collections of New England Historic Genealogical Society and beyond.

    Researching African-Americans in Pre-Civil War New England
    Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 6:00 PM
    This lecture will discuss the primary and secondary sources available at NEHGS for researching your African-American ancestors. Discussion on how to best utilize materials such as vital records, probates, deeds, and newspapers will show you how to further expand your knowledge of your pre-Civil War New England ancestry. A wide range of sources from family manuscripts to internet resources will give you the clues to trace your family tree.


    Seminars and Tours

    Online Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research
    Boston University’s Online Certificate in Genealogical Research will help you reach the next level of professionalism. Whether you are a serious amateur, a budding professional, or an expert with a CG®, this rigorous 14-week program will help you take your genealogical work to the next level. NEHGS members get a 10% tuition discount.

    Winter Research Weekend Getaway
    February 4-6, 2010
    NEHGS’ “Weekend Research Getaways” are among the most popular programs we offer. Escape to 99 Newbury Street in downtown Boston and experience a guided program with one-on-one consultations and expert reviews of your research. Whether you are a new genealogist or a longtime member, this three-day onsite visit to NEHGS is certain to advance your research — and you make new friends too. Registration includes breakfast, daily lectures, and group dinners to share your progress. For more information visit

    Family History Day
    February 20, 2010
    Join NEHGS and for a day of lectures, consultations, and other activities at the Westin Copley Place in Boston. Genealogists from NEHGS will be on-hand to help you outline resources for getting started, breaking through brick-walls, organizing, writing, and other tasks. For more information visit

    Technology Seminar
    March 26–27, 2010
    Explore the important relationship between technology and genealogy with NEHGS experts. You will have hands-on training learning how to customize your internet experience, build your own electronic databases, and gain valuable insight into using genealogical software for the preservation and sharing of your family history. For more information visit

    Irish Genealogy Research Tour
    May 23–30, 2010
    Discover your Irish heritage with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. This weeklong guided research tour will give you access to a treasure trove of records in Dublin and the benefit of consultations with some of the foremost experts in Irish genealogy. Your tour features guided research at various repositories in central Dublin, including the General Register Office, National Library, National Archives, and Registry of Deeds, among others. Daily programming includes tutorials, research tips and techniques lectures, personalized consultations and group dinning events. For more information visit

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2010, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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

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