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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • The Weekly Genealogist
    Vol. 14, No. 42
    Whole #553
    October 19, 2011
    Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, 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.

    * NEHGS Database News
    * News from the American Society of Genealogists
    * Pennsylvania Family History Day
    * A Note from the Editor: Following Up on Recent Columns
    * Name Origins
    * This Week’s Survey
    * Spotlight: Statewide Resources: Cleveland, Ohio
    * Stories of Interest
    * Last Chance to Buy the New Great Migration Volume at the Introductory Price
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis and Ryan Woods

    New York: Albany County Deeds, 1630–1894

    This important fourteen-volume set contains 250,000 land transaction abstracts from Albany County, searchable by grantor, grantee, corporation and date of transaction. They include some of Albany’s only surviving early records; a devastating fire on February 10, 1880, at Albany City Hall destroyed or severely damaged many city and county records.

    The database currently contains volumes 1 through 8. Additional volumes will be added regularly.

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    News from the American Society of Genealogists

    At their annual meeting on 8 October 2011, the American Society of Genealogists elected a new Fellow, Nathaniel Lane Taylor of Barrington, Rhode Island. At the same meeting, the Society also gave its Donald Lines Jacobus Award to Willis H. White, CG , of Herndon, Virginia, for his book, The Tillotson Family, Long Island Cordwood, and the Decline of East Coast Sail (2008).

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    Pennsylvania Family History Day

    Saturday, November 5, 2011, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

    The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania and will present Pennsylvania Family History Day at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, Route 100, Exton, Chester County.

    This full day of lectures and workshops will include presentations by:

    The registration fee includes breakfast, lectures, lunch, and access to some of the nation’s top genealogy experts. To register, visit Pennsylvania Family History Day or call 215-545-0391.

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    A Note from the Editor: Following Up on Recent Columns

    Many readers were interested in Julie Helen Otto’s analysis of the name Mahala last week. Mel Wolfgang of Nassau, New York, wrote with additional information about the name.

    This name appears fairly often in Virginia/West Virginia/Kentucky families. For example, a quick online census search locates about 2,600 Mahalas or Mahalias or variants of the name in the 1850 census of Virginia and more than 2700 in Kentucky — but only about 700 in Massachusetts during the same year. Surprisingly, a search also locates 633 women in 1850 Vermont with the name.

    More important, however, is the appearance of the name in the English census of 1841. Since there are more than 6300 women in the 1841 census with that name or a similar variant, it is much more likely that the name would be derived from the Bible than from any Native American language (the English not being much given to the use of Native American names in this — or any — time period). In fact, the name is found (albeit fleetingly) in the Old Testament’s Book of Numbers, Chapter 36, in reference to the daughters of Zalaphahad.

    While more modern translations often render the daughters’ names as “Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Noah,” the 1792 Alexander Geddes translation clearly shows the name as “Mahala.” Here’s the passage:

    “As the LORD gave in command to Moses, so did the daughters of Zalaphahad: for Mahala, Noa, Hogla, Micha, and Thirza, the daughters of Zalaphahad, married paternal cousins, of a family descended from Manassah the son of Joseph: and thus, their inheritance remained in their paternal tribe.”

    Of equal interest is the fact that the name of Mahala’s sister “Thirza” also got used a lot in England (1700+ uses in the 1841 census) and the spelling was usually the same as that used by Geddes. “Thirza” was far less common in the United States, with only 27 instances in the 1850 census in Virginia, for example.


    In the October 5 issue of The Weekly Genealogist, we featured an article on New York City tax photos. I asked whether readers knew of any other similar databases for other cities. Two people let us know about two other databases in that feature property photos. 

    Wayne Straight of Sykesville, Maryland, wrote:
    The Cook County, Illinois, Assessor's Office also keeps a photographic archive of all taxable county properties for the same purpose. I've used it to very good effect during my genealogical research and in writing genealogical articles about my family in Chicago.

    Click on the property search tool, then select on the 'Search' button at the top of the page. This will take you to a 'Property Search' page with several search options. Click on the 'Search by Address' button to search for an address.

    When you fill in the data, take care not to put the street name in the right hand block (which is actually an option for entering a range of addresses.) The street name goes beneath the house number. You don't need a pin to access the data. Your results will include an image. The date of the photo appears at the bottom of the image.

    Bill Horder of Seattle wrote: King County in Washington State, which includes Seattle, has a similar program: King County iMAP: Interactive Mapping Tool.

    Click on the START iMAP button. You can zoom in on a parcel and then click the "i" button for information on a parcel. Once you've selected a parcel you can get a photo of the structure, by clicking "Get Assessor's Report" at the bottom of the page. On the Assessor's page you can click on Property Detail for more information. On the property detail page there will often be a link to more photos of the building.

    If you know the address or parcel number of the property, you can skip the iMap interactive page and find information on the property by searching directly on the eReal Property section of the King County Department of Assessments.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    SIERRA NEVADA (usually f): In 1860, six children in the U.S. bore this name: Sierra Nevada Cummings, ae. 6, b. Calif., of Ward 3, Sacramento, Calif.; Sierra Nevada Ogan, ae. 6, b. Utah, of San José, Calif.; Sierra Nevada Bloomfield, ae. 4, b. Illinois, of Prairie City, Cumberland Co., Illinois; Sierra Nevada Lorenzo, ae. 1, b. Indiana, of Posey, Switzerland Co., Indiana; and Sierra Nevada Sperry, ae. 7, b. Ohio, of Ravenna, Muskegon Co., Mich., were all little girls; on the other hand, Sierra Nevada Solomon, ae. 2, b. Ohio, of Fostoria, Seneca Co., Ohio, was not.

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked what types of manuscript sources you’ve used in your research. The results are:

    • 84%, Cemetery transcriptions
    • 81%, Compiled family genealogies
    • 76%, Family papers
    • 75%, Church records
    • 73%, Bible records
    • 73%, Town records
    • 54%, Diaries and journals
    • 30%, School records
    • 29%, Organization records
    • 27%, Other
    • 27%, Business records

    This week's survey asks what places you’ve visited to do genealogical research. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight:Statewide Resources: Cleveland, Ohio
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The city of Cleveland is located in northeastern Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. It is the county seat of Cuyahoga County.

    Woodland Cemetery Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio

    Woodland Cemetery was dedicated in 1853. Its name, which was selected by the Cleveland city council, is said to represent “not only the trees but also a romantic description of an unseen Cleveland, part of a popular 1803 pastoral poem, ‘Pleasures of Hope,’ by Scottish poet, Thomas Campbell.” The first burial took place in June of that year.

    Among the well-known individuals buried in Woodlawn Cemetery are two Ohio governors, John Brough and Reuben Wood; a number of Cleveland mayors; and Civil War Brigadier General Gershom Barber. To learn more about these individuals and others buried in the cemetery, click on the History link in the menu bar to open a drop down list, and then select Who’s Who. Click on a name link to open a page with biographical information. There is also a collection of historical photographs of the cemetery that can be accessed via the History link.
    The Woodland Cemetery Foundation maintains a database of all burial records through July 2001. Click on the Burial Info link in the menu bar to access the database. Select the Search Database link to open the search page. The database can be searched by name or by burial date. To search the database by name, click on the Search by Name link. Enter at least the full or partial last name into the search box. Entering a first name or first initial is optional. The data fields in the results returned are last name, first name, burial date, section, lot, tier, and grave numbers, and details. Click on the Details link to open a detailed record on the deceased. Information provided in the detailed record includes record number, interment number, last name, first name, middle name, address, death date, burial date, age, race, sex, native of, cause of death, grave location information, grave direction, remarks, additional notes, undertaker, and occupation. To conduct a search by burial date, click on the Search by Burial Date link, which will open a new search page. Select month, day and year from the dropdown list and click submit to run your search. Under the Burial Info link you will also find a link to cemetery maps. These include an Overview map and section maps.

    You may request cemetery records via snail mail; the address and the information to be included in your record request is on the website. In addition, if you would like a digital photograph of a headstone, the Foundation will try to accommodate your request.

    Lake View Cemetery

    Lake View Cemetery was founded in 1869. More than 105,000 people are buried there. According to the website, the cemetery was modeled after the garden cemeteries of Victorian England and France.

    Click on the Search Records link above the text to open the search page. The records may be searched by first name and last name. The search results returned comprise the following: full name, date of death and burial plot location. In some cases an individual’s title (Mrs. or Dr., etc.) is included with the name. There is also an Obituaries link. This database may also be searched by first name and last name. With both of the searches, you can click on the ‘more information / condolences’ link to open a new page with the obituary, and additional information such as memories, pictures and life stories, if it has been uploaded to the site.

    There are links to points of interest within the cemetery, information about famous people buried there, and a photo gallery in the contents bar on the left side of the homepage. In addition there is a Genealogy link that opens a new page with information on how to request a copy of an interment record. The interment record may include: date of death; place of death; last place of residence; date of birth; place of birth; cause of death; and parents’ names. In some cases an obituary is also included.

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    Stories of Interest

    Reporting Your Family Story: A User Guide
    CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker discusses his new book, My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir, and offers strategies for interviewing relatives and finding information.

    Genealogical Mystery in Newport News Solved

    “It took a series of coincidences for the gravestone of William C. Marrow — which probably had been lying in an industrial warehouse for decades — to find its way home.”

    On the Shelves: Visiting Strangers' Libraries
    The author of this op-ed piece writes about a tour of private libraries in Concord, Mass., and muses on the power of the book and the passionate devotion of “book people.”

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    Last Chance to Buy the New Great Migration Volume at the Introductory Price

    Time is running out! Order your copy of The Great Migration, T-Y at the sale price of $54.95 before the deadline. This title is being offered at an introductory price of $54.95 until October 31, 2011. (Orders received after 10/31/11 will be charged $64.95 for this title.) To order, please click here, or call toll free at 1-888-296-3447.

    Classic Reprints

    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:

    • The Collins Family . . . Record of the Descendants of William Collins and Esther Morris from 1760 to 1897 (Item P4-S06339, $26.50)
    • Genealogy of the Splawn and Collins Family, 1600–1960 (Item P4-S24222, $17.00)
    • King's Mountain and Its Heroes: History of the Battle of King’s Mountain, North Carolina, October. 7, 1780 and the Events which Led to It. (Item P5-NC1500H, $57.50)
    • Ogden Family History in the Line of Lt. Benjamin Ogden of New York (1735–1780) and His Wife Rachel Westervelt (Item P4-H20421, $30.00)
    • List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in Massachusetts 1780–1892 (Item P5-MA0148H, $49.50)

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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 99–101 Newbury Street unless otherwise indicated. For more information, please contact call 617-226-1226 or

    The Clamorgans: One Family’s History of Race in America by Julie Winch
    October 19, 6 p.m., NEHGS

    In her multigenerational history, Julie Winch traces how one family navigated race in America from the 1780s through the 1950s. The Clamorgan clan traces to the family patriarch Jacques Clamorgan, a French adventurer of questionable ethics who bought up, or at least claimed to have bought up, huge tracts of land around St. Louis. On his death, he bequeathed his holdings to his mixed-race, illegitimate heirs, setting off nearly two centuries of litigation. The result is a window on a remarkable family that by the early twentieth century variously claimed to be black, Creole, French, Spanish, Brazilian, Jewish, and white.

    The talk at NEHGS (99-101 Newbury St., Boston) is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

    View a listing of upcoming programs.

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2011, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    99–101 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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