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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 15, No. 11
    Whole #574
    March 14, 2012
    Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, and Valerie Beaudrault
    dailygenealogist@nehgs.org

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    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.

    Contents:
    * Last Chance to Register for New York Family History Day
    * NEHGS Database News
    * Two NEHGS Titles Honored in New England Book Show
    * Slaves in the Attic: A Panel Discussion at the Greenwich Historical Society
    * A Note from the Editor: Ancestral Name Changes
    * Name Origins
    * This Week’s Survey
    * Spotlight: Various Newspaper Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information

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    Last Chance to Register for New York Family History Day
    Tarrytown, New York
    Saturday, March 17

    This is your last chance to register and join the New England Historic Genealogical Society and Ancestry.com for New York Family History Day on March 17 in Tarrytown, N.Y.!

    We invite you to join us for a special day of discovery and exploration. Full day registration is just $44, and includes free parking. Registration is filling up quickly! One-on-one consultations are sold out, but there is still space for the full workshop. To learn more or to register, visit www.FamilyHistoryDay.com.


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    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator, and Ryan Woods, Director of Internet Technology

    Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts Membership Cards, 1733–1990, Surnames U–Z

    NEHGS is pleased to announce the completion of our Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts 1733–1990 membership database. This final installment of 31,055 new records adds surnames U to Z. This important collection contains information on Masons from original membership cards of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Massachusetts. Membership card data includes date of birth, place of death, occupation, and residency information.

    Founded in 1733, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is the oldest Masonic lodge in the United States and the third oldest Masonic Grand Lodge in the world. (The United Grand Lodge of England was established in 1717 and the Grand Lodge of Ireland was founded in 1725.) The Grand Lodge is the main governing body of Freemasonry within Massachusetts and once maintained Lodges in other jurisdictions overseas, namely Panama, Chile, the People's Republic of China (meeting in Tokyo, Japan), and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The complete database includes information from all former jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1733-1990, and contains 348,766 membership cards for those Masons who died, dropped, or demitted before 1990.

    Substantial support for the creation of this database was generously provided through the work of the dedicated NEHGS volunteer corps.


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    Two NEHGS Titles Honored in New England Book Show

    The NEHGS publications staff is proud to announce that two of their recent books, Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston by Hannah Mather Crocker edited by Eileen Hunt Botting and Sarah L. Houser, and a special reprint of The Expansion of New England with a new foreword by Ralph J. Crandall, have won New England Book Show Awards in the “Reference” category.

    The New England Book Show is an annual juried show that recognizes the year's most outstanding work by New England publishers, printers, and graphic designers. Winning books are selected for their design, quality of materials, and workmanship. The 55th Annual New England Book Show will be held Wednesday, May 2th, at Boston Symphony Hall. For more information, visit www.bbboston.org.


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    Slaves in the Attic: A Panel Discussion at the Greenwich Historical Society

    Since 2010, Joseph McGill, Jr., has been visiting and sleeping in former slave quarters across the United States in an effort to raise awareness and advocate for preservation of these sites. A field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a descendant of slaves, McGill founded the Slave Dwelling Project to highlight the need to preserve extant slave dwellings and to educate people about these dwellings’ important role in slaves’ lives. On Friday, March 30, he will sleep in the slave quarters of Bush-Holley House in Greenwich, Connecticut — one of the few historic homes in New England to address a connection with slavery. This is the Project’s first time in Connecticut, where slavery was legal until 1848.

    The evening of his stay, McGill will join local historians and descendants of Connecticut enslavers for a panel discussion at Greenwich Historical Society, from 7-8:30 p.m. Registration and venue details are available at Greenwich Historical Society's website, or by calling 203-869-6899, Ext. 10.

    A listing of 2012 visits, and a fascinating account of Mr. McGill’s first slave quarter visit of 2012, may viewed at the Lowcountry Africana blog.


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    A Note from the Editor: Ancestral Name Changes
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    Last week’s survey question, about whether readers had stories of ancestral names changed by immigration officials, was formulated because I wanted to find out what people believed about family name changes, particularly in regard to the widely-held perception that immigration officials rather arbitrarily changed names at ports of entry.

    I discovered that that perception is perhaps not so widely held among readers of the Weekly Genealogist, as a number of readers wrote in to say that the assumption that names were changed by immigration officials was probably not valid and that the survey question was perpetuating a myth. Glenn Sampson of Windsor, Connecticut, pointed out that a better question would have listed the number of ways in which names might have been changed (e.g., "changed by my ancestors themselves," "changed by town officials or census takers," "changed by immigration officials," or, "I don't know how it got changed").

    Since my own surname is one that was changed, probably during the lifetime of my immigrant great-great-grandfather, I’ve long been interested in surname changes. When I discovered as a middle schooler that Betlock had once been Betlach, I was fascinated, and that discovery probably helped fuel my interest in family history. My ancestor Josef Betlach emigrated from Bohemia in the 1870s, and settled in Steele County, Minnesota. At some point he, or perhaps only his sons, adopted Betlock, presumably because that spelling reflected how the name sounded to English-speaking Americans. As far as I know, only our particular branch of the family adopted Betlock. For me as a genealogist, the difference in spelling has been a handy way to separate descendants of my great-great-grandfather from more distant kinfolk.    

    A number of readers shared stories of their family surnames having been changed by the immigrants themselves, usually to sound more “American” or, as with my case, to have the spelling better match the name’s pronunciation. No one wrote in with a family story of how a name was changed at a port of entry, documented or undocumented. Last week’s survey asked whether readers had a family story of how an ancestor’s name was changed by an immigration official. The results show that, among the respondents, 12% have documented proof of an ancestral name change and 12% have an unverified family legend of an ancestral name change.

    Two interesting articles explore the myths and realities of ancestral name changes: “American Names: Declaring Independence” by Marian L. Smith; and “They Changed our Name at Ellis Island” by Donna Przecha.


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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Staff Genealogist

    AMARYLLIS (f) (B39). Amaryllis Mallory (ca. 1761–1846) m. First Cong. Church, Ripton (Huntington, now Shelton), Conn., 14 Oct. 1779 Lemuel Gilbert (ca. 1753–1833). Amaryllis Leavenworth, m. there 23 Jan. 1785 Samuel Frederick Mills. Amaryllis Humphreville m. First Cong. Church, Ripton (Huntington, now Shelton), Conn., 26 Nov. 1789 Nathan Smith. Amarilla Belknap (b. 1771), daughter of William and Anna (Burke) Belknap of Holland, Mass., m. there 30 Nov. 1797 Thomas Chapman. In later years the name became garbled to such forms as that borne by Annie Marillus Page, b. Hampton, N.H., 13 Feb. 1880, first child of John and Sarah M. Page (Hampton VRs 1:408).


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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked whether you have a family story of how an ancestor’s name was changed by an immigration official. The results are:

    77%, No, I do not have an ancestral name change story.
    12%, Yes, I have documented proof of an ancestral name change.
    12%, Yes, I have an unverified family legend of an ancestral name change.

    This week's survey asks how you read The Weekly Genealogist enewsletter (HTML readers will see bold and italics in their newsletters; text-only readers will see no such formatting). Take the survey now!


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    Spotlight: Various Newspaper Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Boca Raton Historical Society, Florida

    Boca Raton is located on the Atlantic coastline in Palm Beach County, Florida. The city was incorporated in 1925. The Boca Raton Historical Society has made several newspaper databases available on its website.

    The historical society collection includes what they term "hometown newspapers." The titles are The Tattler (June–September 1938), The Pelican (1949–1953), and the Boca Raton News (1955–1970). The Historical Society is the only institution that holds these earlier issues of the Boca Raton News. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the issues.

    The site also provides a link to the Palm Beach Coast newspaper archive, which is part of the Google historic newspaper archive. This resource covers the period from 1897 through 1988. The following newspapers are included: The Palm Beach Post and Times (1916–1988), The Palm Beach Daily News (1912–1988), The Miami News/Miami Metropolis (1897–1988), The Tropical Sun (1897–1921), and The Palm Beach Independent (1929).

    Middletown Township Public Library, New Jersey

    Middletown Township is located in Monmouth County on the eastern coast of New Jersey. The Middletown Township Public Library has made a free newspaper database available on its website. To access the database you should first click on the Do Research link in the contents list on the homepage. Next click on the Newspapers link in the alphabetical listing and scroll down to the Red Bank Register link.

    The Middletown Township Public Library and Red Bank Public Library have collaborated to digitize the entire run of the Red Bank Register (1878–1964) and the Daily Register (1964–1991). The database has been divided into two sections: June 27, 1878 to December 26, 1923 and January 2, 1924 to November 13, 1991 (the date of the final issue). To access the database, choose a link above the database description. The database can be browsed by date or searched by word or phrase. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the newspapers. To search the database, enter a word or phrase in the search box. Using one of the dropdown boxes you can choose to search the entire database or limit your search by groups of years. The search results include a PDF image of the newspaper and information about how many times your search term(s) appears in the issue.

    Whittier Public Library, California

    Whittier is located about twelve miles southeast of the city of Los Angeles in southern California. The Whittier Public Library has made two digital collections available on its website – Historical Photographs and Historical Newspapers. Click on the Whittier History Digital Collections link to access them.

    The newspaper collection contains digitized issues of Whittier newspapers, including the Whittier Daily News, the Whittier Register, and the Whittier News, dating back to 1888. There are newspapers for nearly every year between 1888 and 1942, with a gap between 1927 and 1934. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the newspapers. The newspaper collection can be searched by keyword or browsed by year. When you click on the browse link you may find that the results state “No Records Found.” If this happens you should close the digital collections main page, reopen it from the library homepage, and start to browse by year.

    The Whittier Historical Photograph Collection includes digitized images of Whittier from the late 1800s to the middle of the 20th century. The photo collection can be searched by keyword or browsed. When you click on the browse link you may find that the results state “No Records Found.” If this happens you should choose the Browse tab on the left side of the page and then click on the Browse all Digital Archive Documents link to access three photograph collections folders. Click on the individual folders to view the collections.


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    Stories of Interest

    Lost At Sea: Do You Know These Civil War Sailors?
    The identities of two skeletons found in the Monitor, the Union ironclad warship, are unknown, but researchers are trying to change that.

    A Modest Revival for the Irish Language
    “As the Irish diaspora prepares for St. Patrick’s Day, the Hibernian tongue, once at the brink of extinction, is enjoying a modest revival.”

    Google Begins to Scale Back Its Scanning of Books from University Libraries
    With more than twenty million books already digitized, Google has slowed its rate of scanning.


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    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:

    • A Brief History of John Valentine Kratz and a Complete Genealogical Register (Item P4-H17151, $53.50)
    • Descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth Sr. (Item P4-H14766, $44.00)
    • Genealogical History of the Family Semple From 1214 to 1888 (Item P4-H23367, $24.00)
    • Town History of Weare, N.H., from 1888 (Item P5-NH0205H, $37.50)
    • History of Clarendon, N.Y., 1810-1888 (Item P5-NY0149H, $44.00)


    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 sales@nehgs.org.


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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Discovering American War of 1812 Veterans
    99-101 Newbury St
    March 21, 2012 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

    This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Over the past decade, the USS Constitution Museum has researched the lives of over 1,000 members of the Constitution’s War of 1812 crew. Join us as USS Constitution Museum Research Historian Matthew Brenckle presents newly discovered personal stories of the men who made “Old Ironsides” famous. Then, learn how to research War of 1812 veterans using a variety of sources with David Allen Lambert, NEHGS’s Online Genealogist and an expert in tracing military ancestors. Co-sponsored with the USS Constitution Museum. Free

    Genealogical Research in Connecticut
    99-101 Newbury Street
    Wednesday, April 11, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

    Join Christopher C. Child, genealogist of the Newbury Street Press, for an exploration of genealogical research in Connecticut. Learn more about the records, resources, and strategies you need to discover information about your Connecticut ancestors. Family history researchers of all levels are encouraged to attend. Free

    More information can be accessed by visiting the events page on AmericanAncestors.org.


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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2012, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116


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