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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • The Weekly Genealogist
    Vol. 14, No. 47
    Whole #558
    November 23, 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 Holiday Closures
    * Coming Soon in the Fall 2011 Issue of American Ancestors
    * NEHGS Database News
    * A Note from the Editor: The Primary Source that Led to Today’s Thanksgiving
    * Name Origins
    * This Week’s Survey
    * Spotlight: The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
    * Stories of Interest
    * NEHGS Book Store Gift Certificates
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    NEHGS Holiday Closures

    The Society's offices and research library will close at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 23, and will be closed on Thursday, November 24, for Thanksgiving Day. The research library will be open regular hours on Friday, November 25, and Saturday, November 26. The Society's administrative offices will be open with minimal staff on Friday, November 25.

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    Coming Soon in the Fall 2011 Issue of American Ancestors

    Strategies for Tracing Union Civil War Veterans
    by David Allen Lambert

    A Tale of Two Brothers: Charles Richmond Shedd and Cornelius W. Shedd
    by Susan Kilbride

    “How Could I Live & Know That You Had Been Killed”: A Vermont Family Endures the Civil War
    by Christopher Benedetto

    Researching Two Herrick Brothers Captured in the Civil War
    by SuAnn Johnston Thomas

    A Gratifying Discovery: Connecting Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, to Sir Thomas Conyers, 9th Bt. of Horden, Durham
    by Christopher Challender Child

    Echoes from the Dorr Rebellion: The 1842 Aplin/Carpenter Correspondence
    by John D. Tew

    “Brought to Great Straits and Reduced to Want”: Captain Epenetus Platt, Tory
    by Mary M. Thacher

    Also in this issue . . .

    • Genetics & Genealogy: Sewall Family DNA: A Project Update
    • Manuscripts at NEHGS: The Charles C. Coffin Papers: Glimpses of Civil War Life
    • Diaries at NEHGS: From the Personal Narrative of Joseph Brown Read (1830-1903) — Civil War Experiences
    • Tales from the Courthouse: “A Matter of Extreme Regret”: Josiah Witter’s Pension Plight
    • Focus on New York: Navigating New York Probate
    • 2011 Index of Persons

    And, as always, news of NEHGS and the world of genealogy, upcoming NEHGS programs and tours, new publications, notices of family association events, genealogies in progress, and DNA studies in progress.

    A subscription to American Ancestors is a benefit of NEHGS membership. If you are not a member, you may join online at or call toll-free 1-888-296-3447.

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    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis and Ryan Woods

    Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Vols. 1–15

    The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, published since 1895 by the Philadelphia-based Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, contains family histories, original records, scholarly essays, and book reviews.

    Early volumes (1895–1947) of the magazine, then called Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, focused on southeastern Pennsylvania and neighboring areas of New Jersey and Delaware, and featured original records and documents, including public records, election returns, vital records, court records, census reports, and immigration records.

    From 1948 to 1964, the journal primarily published biographies and family histories. In 1965, its focus was expanded beyond southeastern Pennsylvania, and since that time has maintained a more or less consistent balance between publishing compiled genealogies and original source materials.

    Since 2001 the journal has also published “genealogical summaries” to accompany all compiled genealogies, and has further expanded its geographical scope to emphasize research on the European backgrounds of immigrants to Pennsylvania.

    Volumes 1 to 15 (publication years 1895 to 1945) are currently available to search. Additional volumes will be added regularly.

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    A Note from the Editor: The Primary Source that Led to Today’s Thanksgiving

    At the beginning of November my two children and I visited Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where we spent a happy day exploring the Wampanoag and English villages. Inside the visitor’s center, while my kids were busy trying on Pilgrim garb in the Family Discovery Center, I walked through the Thanksgiving: Memory, Myth and Meaning exhibit, and learned more about how Thanksgiving developed as a national holiday.

    I knew I wanted to write about Thanksgiving for this week’s Weekly Genealogist, although I didn’t have a particular topic in mind. Last week I leafed through an engaging book in the NEHGS library, Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday (2009) by James W. Baker — but I still didn’t know what to write about.

    Over the weekend, though, my husband inadvertently provided me with a topic. We’d been discussing our kids’ Thanksgiving books, and he said that it would be interesting to see a book that compared and contrasted all the different contemporary accounts of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth. Newly refreshed in my Pilgrim history, I said that such a book couldn’t be written because there was only one contemporary source for the 1621 feast that became the archetype for Thanksgiving.

    The description of the event was written by Edward Winslow and published in Mourt’s Relation (1622), an account of the first year of Plymouth Colony:  

    Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

    And even this one source had not been part of the national or, even New England, consciousness from 1622 to the present. As research librarian at Plimoth Plantation, Baker delved into the history of Thanksgiving observances more deeply after he and other staff members realized they couldn’t find any widespread Victorian examples of what we consider to be iconic autumnal “First Thanksgiving” images.

    Baker discovered that Mourt’s Relation became scarce, so scarce that there were apparently no surviving copies in New England by the eighteenth century. Scholars used an abridged version that was part of Samuel Purchas’ Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes (1625), which was reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1802. “The Purchas version omitted the Winslow letter; so the 1621 event had been entirely forgotten! It was not until a copy of the original pamphlet was discovered in Philadelphia in 1820 that the famous harvest account was rediscovered . . . .The first republication of the full text of Mourt’s Relation appeared in 1841 in Rev. Alexander Young’s Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers. Significantly, Young added a footnote to the description of the 1621 event, stating ‘This was the first Thanksgiving, the harvest festival of New England’ . . . Young’s judgment that the Pilgrim celebration and harvest was the ‘first’ Thanksgiving . . . of New England’ was slow to attract public attention, despite the support of Dr. George B. Cheever in his edition of the Mourt’s Relation text published in 1848. After all, the Thanksgiving holiday had developed a substantial historical tradition quite independent of the Pilgrims, emphasizing contemporary New England family reunions, dinners, balls, pumpkins, and turkeys.”

    Not until after the turn of the twentieth century did the Pilgrim Thanksgiving begin to capture the public imagination and fuse the traditional harvest Thanksgiving with the 1621 feast in Plymouth described by Edward Winslow in Mourt’s Relation.

    What a difference a primary source can make!

    Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at NEHGS.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    THANKFUL (f): The name is formed from the English adjective and is an example of a “virtue name” favored by the Puritans. This is the term for a group of given names commemorating good qualities that pious parents might wish their children to embody. In this case, the name reminds the child (and, by extension, those around her) to be thankful to God for blessings received.

    In my work on matrilineal descendants (and ancestors) of Mayflower passenger Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland — who must have seen the first Thanksgiving — I have found a few dozen Thankfuls in straight female lines. These do not stem from one common ancestor, but appear in closely related families and are sometimes passed down several generations.

    The progeny of the Howlands’ eldest daughter Desire (Howland) Gorham (1625–1683) is studded with Thankfuls. Although the Gorhams’ six daughters did not include a Thankful, the righteous moral connotation of the name made it a favored one throughout the population. Desire’s eldest, namesake daughter Desire (Gorham) Hawes (1644–1700) of Barnstable had granddaughters Thankful (Daggett) (Butler) (Daggett) Athearn (Martha’s Vineyard, b. 1696, mother of Thankful (Daggett) Paddock) and Thankful (Sproat) (Bennett) (Samson) Haskell (Middleboro, Mass. 1705–1788, an ancestor of Marie-Chantal Miller, the current Crown Princess of Greece).

    A second Gorham daughter, Mercy (Gorham) Denison (1658-1725) of Barnstable, Mass. and Stonington, Conn., passed the name on to her daughter Thankful Denison (1695–after 21 March 1752), wife of Thomas Stanton of Stonington, Connecticut. Her niece, daughter of John and Desire (Denison) Williams, also of Stonington, was:

    Thankful Williams (b. Stonington, Conn. 1718–living 1775), wife of Avery Denison of Stonington. Their daughter was:

    Thankful Denison (1747–1822), dau. of Avery and Thankful (Denison) Williams, wife of Alexander Stewart of Griswold, Conn. Their daughter Thankful Stewart (b. 1777) married Elihu Denison, OR Stephen Congdon and Lebbeus Ainsworth. A niece of Mrs. Stewart was:

    Thankful Miner (1761–1843) of Stonington, Conn., Lyman, N.H., and St. Clair, Michigan, dau. of Thomas and Desire (Denison) Miner and granddau. of Avery and Thankful (Denison) Williams, married Haverhill, N.H. 10 May 1783 Jonathan Barron. A granddaughter was Maria Thankful Carleton (1810–1871), later of Delaware, Ohio, dau. of Edmund and Olive Moore (Barron) Carleton, wife of William Malander Eldridge, and ancestral to Janice Moore Steele of San Jose, who kindly provided me with this line and the Barrons’ marriage date.

    Another granddau. of Avery and Thankful (Williams) Denison was: Thankful Noyes (1773–1860), daughter of Joseph and Prudence (Denison) Noyes of Stonington, wife of yet another Thomas Stanton, Jr. While this Stanton couple had no children, Mrs. Stanton had a niece Thankful Burdick (1801-1851) of Chatham and North Stonington, Conn., dau. of Lodowick and Sarah (Noyes) Burdick and wife of Francis Young.

    These are only a few of the Thankfuls descended from the Mayflower Howlands. There are similar occurrences of this given name among daughters’-daughters’-daughters of the Howlands’ other daughters — especially among great-granddaughters of the second, Hope (Howland) Chipman (1629–1684), who with Desire is the most prolific of the Howland girls — but that will take yet another day and this is no time to let your Thanksgiving dinner get cold.

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked how many Weekly Genealogist readers write genealogical blogs. The results are:

    • 91%, No, I do not write a genealogy blog.
    • 6%, Yes, I write a genealogy blog.
    • 2%, I plan to write a genealogy blog.
    • Less than 1%, I used to write a genealogy blog.

    This week's survey asks if Weekly Genealogist readers have visited (or lived in) Plymouth, Massachusetts. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Virtual Library of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

    The city of Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County, which is located in the southwest corner of Ohio near the Kentucky and Indiana borders. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has created a virtual library on its website. The Virtual Library has a number of resources that would be of interest to individuals with Cincinnati and Hamilton County ancestry. Researchers will also find Indiana and Kentucky related resources in the Virtual Library’s collections.

    This collection contains four volumes of Insurance Maps of Cincinnati that cover the period from 1904 to 1930. Pages may be downloaded individually. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them.

    City Directories
    This collection contains digitized versions of Cincinnati city directories, from 1819 through 1933–1934. The larger directories have been divided into sections. The files are in PDF format, so you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them.

    Old and Rare Books
    This collection covers a broad range of topics. The most relevant topic is History, Genealogy & Geography. Click on the link to access the 100+ items in the collection. They include a number of ships’ logs, Dearborn County, Indiana, marriage and obituary records and related newspaper abstracts, family history sketches, local histories, pension abstracts, regimental histories, and much more. As the files are in PDF format, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them.

    Copies of the Cincinnatian, the University of Cincinnati yearbook, have been digitized and uploaded to the website. They cover the period from 1894 through 1972, plus 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, and 2003. The files are in PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. Note that these are large files.

    In addition you will find a link to the Featured Collections on the homepage. The current collection is the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848. Click on the link to read about and view the panorama of Cincinnati, which was created from eight separate daguerreotype plates.

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    Stories of Interest

    In the Pilgrims’ Footsteps, Through England and the Netherlands
    The author details the visits he made to sites in England and the Netherlands to learn about the lives of the Pilgrims in the years before the Mayflower.

    Pass the Venison? Wear Red? Thanksgiving, Re-enacted
    “November is showtime for a certain segment of the re-enactor set, a month in which they try to gently correct that stereotypical image of the first Thanksgiving (if it was the first Thanksgiving — and some argue that it wasn’t), as well as put across what Thanksgiving has been like at other times in American history.“

    Stitching Together a Tradition
    “How a simple tablecloth — embroidered with messages from 30-plus years of dinner guests — became one family's most treasured heirloom.”

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    NEHGS Bookstore Gift Certificates

    Just in time for the holidays! Gift certificates are available from the NEHGS Book Store. Choose from $10, $25, $50, or $100 denominations. Perfect for Christmas, Hanukkah, or any winter celebration! Gift certificates are printed on colorful paper and can be sent to you or directly to the recipient.

    To order, use the links below or call us 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:

    • 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. 17451800. Volume III (Item P5-VA0045-3H, $65.00)
    • The Ancestors of Charity Haley (17551800) Wife of Maj. Nicholas Davis of Limington, Maine (Item P4-H12861, $30.00)
    • Descendants of Deacon Aaron Baldwin of North Branford, Connecticut (17241800) with a Brief Account of His Ancestors (Item P4-H01485, $29.00)

    Search the entire Classic Reprints catalog. 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

    Irish Genealogy Study Group

    The next meeting of the Irish Genealogy Study Group will take place on Saturday, November 26, between 9:30 a.m. and noon, in the Education Center, 2nd floor, at NEHGS. For information, contact Mary Ellen Grogan. Everyone is welcome to join in and share problems and research experiences.

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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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