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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • The Weekly Genealogist
    Vol. 14, No. 44
    Whole #555
    November 2, 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
    * A Note from the Editor: Historical Markers of Massachusetts
    * Name Origins
    * This Week’s Survey
    * Spotlight: Amelia Island Genealogical Society, Florida
    * Stories of Interest
    * The NEHGS Book & Gift Catalog
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis and Ryan Woods

    The American Genealogist, volumes 54–58

    This week we continue our release of The American Genealogist with volumes 54 through 58, for the years 1978–1982. This addition consists of 33,295 names, for a total of 310,418 names currently in this collection.

    Founded in 1923 by Donald Lines Jacobus, TAG is edited by Dr. David L. Greene, FASG; Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, director of the NEHGS Great Migration Study Project; and Joseph C. Anderson II, FASG, also editor of The Maine Genealogist. These scholars, along with dozens of highly-regarded contributors, uphold and advance the standards for genealogical scholarship articulated by Jacobus and the Jacobus “School.”

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    A Note from the Editor: Historical Markers of Massachusetts

    The Spring 2011 issue of American Ancestors included an article by Walter W. Woodward, Connecticut state historian and associate professor of history at the University of Connecticut, entitled, “John Winthrop, Jr. and the Alchemy of Colonial Settlement.” The article, based on his 2010 book, Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606–1676, began with a description of how Woodward found his topic: “Years ago, as a beginning graduate student, I took a wrong turn while trying to find the living history museum at Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts. I soon was hopelessly lost, and ended up parking on a winding, climbing road by a rusty old historical marker, south (I later found out) of my destination. The marker, barely readable, told me I was at the site where John Winthrop, Jr. had started a “black lead” mine in 1644. 1644? Mining? In the middle of the wilderness?” Woodward went on to spend years of research answering the questions posed by that historical marker.

    In my role as editor of American Ancestors, I was responsible for illustrating the article, and I was determined to find an image of the sign. I had been vaguely aware of uniform historical markers throughout Massachusetts but I hadn’t known much about their creation. As I researched the topic, I became more and more interested. In the NEHGS library, I discovered the best possible source, Historical Markers Erected by Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission, 1630–1930. The book reproduced the text of all the markers, and the resolution of 1930 that led to the markers’ creation: “The department of public works is hereby authorized to prepare and erect suitable signs and markers, including such as may be submitted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission, with suitable inscriptions thereon, indicating the ancient ways of the Puritan times and the structures or places relating to or associated with the early settlements within the commonwealth.”

    I found that nearly three hundred cast iron markers had been installed within the territory of the original Massachusetts Bay Colony, to commemorate pre-1750 events and structures. The text was the same on both sides of the tablet “in order that a passer-by from either direction may read the inscription without descending from his car.”

    The text of the Sturbridge marker read: “Tantiusques. The graphite or blacklead deposit near by was valued by the Indians for face paint, and by the white men for pencils and other uses. John Winthrop, Jr., was ‘granted the hill at Tantousq’ in 1644, and began to exploit the mine in 1658.” Although there was no photograph of this marker in the book, I eventually found an image of it on an area blog, and the site administrator allowed me to reproduce it.

    Even though I’d found what I needed in the book, I found it hard to put it back on the shelf. I kept perusing the volume for interesting tidbits and comparing my knowledge of an area with the historical marker text. I began to pay more attention to the historical marker signs when I was out and about, and I am now always happy to notice a new one.

    Reading the Boston Globe Ideas section this past Sunday, I saw an eye-catching article by Chris Marshall, “History, Preserved in Sturdy Aluminum,*” featuring six photos of markers, including, to my surprise, the Tantiusques one. Marshall wrote about the markers as “a standing museum of how the state saw its own past in the 1930s.” The man most responsible for the markers, colonial historian Samuel Eliot Morison, sought to humanize the Puritans and offer a richer portrayal of their lives and times. The markers “downplay the Puritans’ religion, and instead put forward a broad-shouldered portrait of the settlers as literate community builders, industrialists, and pathmakers.”

    Marshall also wrote about Robert Briere, who first saw the Tantiusques marker as a Sturbridge teenager in the 1940s — and noticed when it disappeared in the late 1980s. After retirement, Robert Brierly and his wife traveled the state, using a copy of Historical Markers to help them determine how many markers remained (about 144), and which were damaged. (The Tantiusques marker was eventually found nearby, cleaned, and restored to its original position.)  Brierly hopes a bill, filed to get the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to allocate money to restore existing markers and replace missing ones, will be successful. 

    I’m pleased to know that I’m not the only one who has discovered historical markers are worth a second look.

    For more information:

    The Historical Marker Database

    Wikipedia entry on historical markers
    (A listing at the end includes many state historical marker websites.) contains a subcategory on historical markers

    *After I wrote this article, I realized that the Boston Globe has just begun charging for access to some of its online newspaper content. The article I quote requires you to be a Globe print or online subscriber (currently ninety-nine cents for four weeks) to access the article. In the future, I will make every attempt to reference articles that do not require a fee.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    HENOPHON (m): The name likely formed when someone who had never heard of the Greek historian XENOPHON misread the elaborate script initial “X” used in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century handwriting. The 1850 census lists nine Henophons, including Henophon Cook (b. 1835) of Smith, Pennsylvania; Henophon Tingley (b. 1844) of Providence, Rhode Island; and Henophon Wilmot (b. 1828) of Marshall, Illinois.

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked whether you have published a printed family history. The results are:

    • 43%, No, I don't intend to publish a printed family history.
    • 39%, No, but I am planning on publishing a printed family history.
    • 16%, Yes. I self-published a printed family history.
    •   3%, Yes. My book was published by a publishing company.

    This week's survey asks how many genealogical enewsletters you receive. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Amelia Island Genealogical Society, Florida
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Amelia Island Genealogical Society, Florida

    Nassau County is the northeasternmost county in Florida, on the Georgia border. It includes Amelia Island, one of the Sea Islands that stretch along the east coast from South Carolina to Florida. The Nassau County seat is Fernandina Beach, which is located on Amelia Island. The Amelia Island Genealogical Society (AIGS) has made a number of resources available on its website.

    Click on the Nassau County History link in the center of the homepage to view a timeline of Nassau County history, which was created by the WPA in 1936. Click on the Records link in the contents bar to access links to the society’s online resources, which include the following:

    1850 Federal Census
    The 1850 Census for Nassau County has been transcribed and uploaded to the website. This database can be searched by last name or by census page number. The data fields include page number, dwelling number, family number, last name, first name, age, sex, color, occupation, real estate, birthplace, estimated year born, and comment. Information in the comment field includes a notation if a couple was married within the year.

    1895 State Census
    Florida conducted statewide censuses in both 1885 and 1895, but for Nassau County only the 1895 census survives. It is thus a valuable tool for anyone researching Nassau County ancestors during the period from 1881 and 1899. The database can be searched by last name or by census page number. The data fields in the website include page number, dwelling number, last name, first name, race, sex, age, relationship, civil condition, occupation, birthplace, comment, and estimated year born.

    This database is an index to the Nassau County marriage books for 1868 through 1894. It can be searched by bride’s last name and groom’s last name. The data fields in the index include bride’s last name, bride’s first name, groom’s last name, groom’s first name, date of the marriage, and comment.

    This alphabetical index contains 105 records of wills, testaments, and proofs for the period from 1870 to 1908. The data fields include last name, first name, and page number. An example of a will from that period has been digitized and uploaded to the website.

    Confederate Civil War Pensions
    The files in this index have been extracted from the pension files for individual pensions and widows’ pensions. Confederate pensions in Florida were first authorized in 1885, and were granted to residents of Florida regardless of the state for which they served. The data fields in the database include case number; first and last name; unit name and number; widow’s name; and year filed.

    Cemetery Database
    Currently the records for fifty-seven cemeteries, on Amelia Island and other locations in Nassau County, are in the database. The data is drawn from surveys sponsored by the AIGS. First click on the cemetery name link. This will open a new page containing a brief history of the cemetery. There is also a link to the grave layout for most cemeteries. Click on the Area Map link to view a map of all Nassau County cemeteries. There are also detailed four sectional maps. Click on the Search by Name link to open an ‘All Cemeteries’ search page. The index can be searched by name (last name or maiden name) and by year (year of death or year of birth). You can also browse through the cemeteries database by clicking on the Browse Cemeteries link. The data fields include cemetery name, last name, first name, maiden name, date of birth, date of death, burial plot, other info, and photo number.

    Obituary Database
    The AIGS is in the process of abstracting obituary records from a number of Nassau County newspapers. To date the following years have been completed: 1879 through 1885, 1949 through 1955, 1957, 1958, 1961, 1964 through 1967, and 1969. In addition the following years have been partially completed: 1878, 1886, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1918, 1920, 1923, 1925, 1927 and 1930. This database is a work in progress.

    The database contains obituary records for nearly 3,500 individuals. More than 17,000 other individuals mentioned in the obituaries have also been included. It can be searched ‘By Deceased Name,’ ‘By Attendee Name’ or ‘By Death Year.’ The data fields in the search results for the Deceased Name or Death Year search are: deceased last name, deceased first name, death year, death place, birth date, birth place, newspaper, and location. For the Attendee Name search results the data fields are: attendee last name, first name, relationship, deceased last name, deceased first name, death, and year. Click on the deceased’s last name link to open a detailed record. The detailed records can contain a significant amount of information about the deceased, circumstances surrounding the death, and newspaper source information, as well as information about family and friends mentioned.

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    Stories of Interest

    The Life Report
    New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks asks readers over seventy to write a brief report on their lives and submit these “life reports” to him. He envisions submissions similar to college alumni reunion essays, and he quotes from short autobiographies of the Yale class of 1942.

    Girls Equal in British Throne Succession
    Recent changes in succession laws will provide sons and daughters of any future U.K. monarch with an equal right to the throne.

    Mysterious Photo Proves to Be Pair’s Great-Aunt
    A mystery woman pictured in a 100-year-old photograph in Osage, Iowa, has been identified by her grand-niece and nephew.

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    The NEHGS Book & Gift Catalog

    The latest book and gift catalog, contains exciting new titles and gift items for everyone. Members received a print copy of the catalog by mail, and an online version is also available.

    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:

    • Abstracts of Wills of Greene County, New York, Volume I, 1800–60 (Item P5-NY0433-1S, $18.00)
    • A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, Massachusetts, Containing Boston Births from A.D. 1700 to A.D. 1800 (Item P2-6826000, $63.00)
    • Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement of Virginia Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta Co. 1745–1800. (Augusta Co.) Volume III (Item P5-VA0045-3H, $65.00)
    • The Ancestors of Charity Haley, 1755–1800, Wife of Maj. Nicholas Davis of Limington, Maine (Item P4-H12861, $30.00)
    • Descendants of Deacon Aaron Baldwin of North Branford, Connecticut, 1724–1800 with Brief Account of His Ancestors (Item P4-H01485, $29.00)

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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

    Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research
    January 21 – April 28, 2012 - Charles River Campus
    Boston University’s Certificate in Genealogical Research helps participants reach their goals of professionalism. Designed to accommodate a range of backgrounds — serious amateurs, budding professionals, or experts with CGs® — this rigorous 14-week weekend program will help advance genealogical work to the next level. NEHGS members receive a 10% tuition discount.

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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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