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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 15, No. 31 
    Whole #594
    August 1, 2012
    Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, and Valerie Beaudrault


    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! 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.

    New Member Center on
    NEHGS Database News
    A Note from the Editor: More House History Stories 
    Name Origins
    The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    Spotlight: South Carolina Resources 
    Stories of Interest
    NEHGS Bookstore Sale 
    Upcoming Education Programs
    NEHGS Contact Information


    New Member Center on

    NEHGS is pleased to announce’s new online member center, which contains a number of important services in one area. Members can view a new video tutorial on searching databases, find answers to commonly asked questions, and access NEHGS membership and contact information.

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

    Connecticut Vital Records

    Newly added to Connecticut Vital Records to 1870 (The Barbour Collection): birth, marriage, and death records for the towns of Branford (1644–1850), Danbury (1685–1847), Preston (1687–1850), and Waterbury (1686 –1853).

    Compiled from an original Lucius Barnes Barbour typescript in the NEHGS Special Collections, the Connecticut Vital Records to 1870 database currently contains records for Branford, Danbury, Derby, Fairfield, Farmington, Greenwich, Guilford, Haddam, Hartford, Killingworth, Lyme, Middletown, Milford, New London, Norwalk, Norwich, Preston, Saybrook, Simsbury, Stamford, Stonington, Stratford, Suffield, Wallingford, Waterbury, Wethersfield, Windsor, and Woodbury. The complete Barbour Collection contains records of marriages, births, and deaths in 137 Connecticut towns from the 1640s to about 1850 (some towns include records up to 1870). These records were collected, transcribed, and abstracted by Lucius Barnes Barbour (Connecticut Examiner of Public Records, 1911–1934) and his team of researchers between 1918 and 1928. Mr. Barbour was an NEHGS member from 1907 until his death in 1934. This set of typescripts was donated to NEHGS by Mr. Barbour's wife and children in 1938. Remaining towns will be added to the database over the next year.

    Free Access to ArchiveGrid Now Available

    ArchiveGrid connects researchers with catalog records and finding aids for unique or rare materials (such as diaries, letters, photographs, scrapbooks, and bible records) from the collections of historical societies, museums, public libraries, universities, and other archives around the world. This database, developed by OCLC Research, was formerly available by paid subscription only, but now is offered as a free site, currently in beta version.

    ArchiveGrid lists 4,266 titles that only NEHGS is known to have, including Bible records, correspondence, typescripts, genealogies, and local histories. To see the list of our holdings, you can scroll down on the home page to find our name under “Find Archives Near You” or use this link. To search the complete collections of NEHGS, please visit our library catalog.

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    A Note from the Editor: More House History Stories 
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    We received a number of additional interesting house history stories this week so we present one more look at this topic.

    Bill Powers of Rutland, Vermont: 
    I wrote an article for the current summer issue of Rutland Magazine, "100 Summers at Lake Dunmore," which chronicles the history of my family’s 100-year old camp. The story combines a history of the camp along with a bit of family genealogy since the 1950s. 

    Margaret G. Fish of Reno, Nevada: 
    In about 1980, my daughter and her family were transferred to New Hampshire, and they bought a house in Madbury (once part of Dover). While living with them, I started genealogy (thanks to NEHGS!) and discovered that the land on which the house was built was owned by a direct ancestor way back in 1650! This was after I had lived for seventy years in thirteen other states, from Massachusetts to Florida to California.

    Jane Thompson of Scituate, Massachusetts: 
    I am writing a history of the First Cliff neighborhood in Scituate. I have researched the ownership of about 55 properties back to the 1600s, and I am also writing biographies of most of the homeowners. It will probably be published after about three years of research. It was NOT as difficult as I thought it would be!

    Henry Karl Voigt of Newark, Delaware: 
    My grandmother was raised on Mystic Street in Medford, Mass., in a house previously owned by her great-grandmother, Louise Campbell Fowler Pierpont, and her second husband, John Pierpont, the fiery abolitionist writer and preacher. The home was, unfortunately, taken down in 1951 to make room for six postwar "tract" houses, which would normally render a house history moot. However, my grandmother's father — Boston architect Lyman Sise — had fortuitously built a scale model of the house back in the 1930s, and the model survives to this day.

    Jeff Hecht of Auburndale, Massachusetts: 
    A few years ago, I got a call from a lawyer trying to pin down title to a house previously owned by my grandmother in Saratoga Springs, New York. I knew family ownership went back to at least her grandfather, who had built, bought, or expanded it in the 1840s. (She claimed that the house was built about 1828, but city records only date to the 1840s.) My late father sold the house in 1978 or 1979, after my grandmother's death. (When I checked the house’s title then, we found — to our amazement — that the owner was still listed as my great-grandfather, who had died in 1932.) The current owner was having title problems because of ambiguities in a 1935 will. I explained enough of the tangle to satisfy the lawyer, and in the process learned some things I had not known — starting with the fact that the house was the oldest surviving one in town. Genealogists should check title records of family homes, which might reveal some surprises. No one had ever mentioned that my grandmother had lost title to the house in the late 1940s, for nonpayment of taxes, and had somehow gotten it back.

    Margaret B. MacNeill of Indialantic, Florida: 
    House history researchers should remember that many cities and towns have either renamed or renumbered streets, and all those carefully notated labels on snapshots, letters, and other records may not be applicable anymore.

    Janet Doerr of Augusta, Maine: 
    I am lucky that my research on my family's properties has been easy: they've been in the family since 1789. My brother's house was built by our great-great-great-great grandfather, George Reed, in 1789, and has been in the family ever since. I own the property next to his, the oldest unaltered residence in Augusta, built by a cousin in 1789. Only four families have lived my house, which was passed from the original builder, Asa Williams, to his son to another cousin and on to my parents. I inherited the property from them. I don't know how unusual this "familial chain of title" is, but it makes for easy research and a very lengthy family history; I'm working on the stories!.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Staff Genealogist

    ARIEL (m/f) (Hebrew ‘lion of God’): (1) An emissary of Ezra (Ez. 8:16); (2) a symbolic name for Jerusalem used by the prophet Isaiah [James Strong, The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (2010), p. 27]. The meaning “lion of God,” by extension, gives this name a connotation of heroism. While it is seen most often in present-day American use as a female name, ARIEL was a male name in colonial times and before, as witness the character in Shakespeare’s Tempest, whose name may also be derived from the Hebrew. Ariel Ballou (1715–1791) of Cumberland, R.I., and wife Jerusha Slack had son Ariel Ballou, Jr. (1758–1839), father of a numerous progeny (Adin Ballou, An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America, pp. 71, 155). The name was used several times elsewhere in the Ballou family as well. ARIEL is still seen as a male name in Hebrew. Ariel Sharon (b. 1928) served as eleventh Prime Minister of Israel from 2001 to 2006.

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked the age of your current residence. The results are:

    <1%, Before 1700.
    1%, Between 1701 and 1799. 
    3%, Between 1800 and 1849. 
    5%, Between 1850 and 1899. 
    17%, Between 1900 and 1949. 
    61%, Between 1950 and 1999.
    13%, Between 2000 and 2012.

    This week's survey asks how many states you have visited. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: South Carolina Resources 
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Lexington County Probate Court Records, South Carolina

    Lexington County is located in central South Carolina. The town of Lexington is its county seat. The Lexington County Probate Court has made estate and marriage license databases available on its website. To access the databases click on the links at the end of the page. 

    Estate (1865 – 1994) and Marriage Indexes (1911 – 1987)
    The indexes in this section have been scanned from the original paper indexes and uploaded to the site as PDF files. Estate records indexes are organized alphabetically and separated by year. Data fields in the estate records include date, name of deceased, executor or administrator, box, parcel, will book and page number. Marriage license records are organized alphabetically by bride’s surname or groom’s surname, and separated by year. Data fields in the index include license number, name and residence of man, name and residence of woman, their ages, race, date of application / license, date of marriage, by whom married and where, and comments.

    The probate court has added two databases indexing more recent records. One indexes estate records from 1995 through the present. Data fields for the estate records are case number, case type, decedent's name, date of birth, date of death, date opened, case status, and Personal Representative & Attorney Information. The last field is a "view" button -- click to learn the names of the personal representative and attorney on the case. The other database is a marriage license index from 1986 through the present, which can be searched by bride or groom. Data fields for this index are license number, bride's name, groom's name, issue date, and marriage date.

    Death Indexes, Spartanburg County Public Library, South Carolina – Update from 2006

    Spartanburg, located in northwestern South Carolina, is the county seat of Spartanburg County. The Spartanburg County Public Library has made a number of obituary and death indexes available on its website.

    Each index is formatted alphabetically; many are grouped by year. They include the name of the deceased as it appeared in the obituary, age, place of death or residence, name of spouse, and date and page on which the obituary appeared. Obituaries for individuals with clear local connections only have been included in the index. Search by keyword, name, or place of death, or browse alphabetical lists. Copies of obituaries can be ordered from the library for a small fee.

    The databases are:

    Spartanburg Herald and Herald-Journal Death Index – 1920 – 1922 and 1930 – 2011
    This database indexes obituaries and death notices found in the above named newspapers. Indexing for the period from 1923 – 1929 is in progress.

    Spartanburg Herald Herald Journal Death Index – 1902 – 1919
    The primary source for this obituary and death notice index is the Spartanburg Herald, with additional information from the Spartanburg Journal or the Spartanburg Weekly Herald. There are gaps in this database.

    Carolina Spartan Spartanburg Herald Death Index – roughly 1849 - 1893
    These indexes contain obituaries from the Carolina Spartan and Spartanburg Herald newspapers. There are gaps throughout and the following years are missing: 1852, 1865, and 1877-78. The date in the record is the publication date of the death notice.

    Register of Deaths of Spartanburg, South Carolina
    This alphabetical index was compiled from the Register of Deaths of Spartanburg, an early attempt by the city to record deaths. These records span October 1, 1895, through October 21, 1897, and August 3,1903, through December 31, 1915. The index contains death records for residents of the city of Spartanburg only. Data fields include name of the deceased, sex, race, cause of death and date of death.

    Miscellaneous Death Index
    This death index is drawn from more than a half-dozen Spartanburg newspapers. It ranges from 1844 into the early 1900s; however, there are large time gaps in this database.

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    Stories of Interest

    Peering into the Exquisite Life of Rare Books
    A close-up look at the University of Virginia’s annual Rare Book School.

    Tombstone Technologies Have Advanced
    Some thoughts on gravestones, including some of the more recent developments.

    Online DNA Mapping Helps Siblings Find Each Other
    Genetic testing company 23andme has alerted its clients to potential diseases, identified cousins — and even revealed previously unknown siblings.

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    NEHGS Bookstore Sale

    Save 40% on a dozen titles perfect for summer reading!

    Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold’s Plot to Betray America, by Mark Jacob & Stephen H. Case. Original price: $24.95, Sale price: $14.97

    A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten, by Julie Winch. Original price: $29.95, Sale price: $17.97

    The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed. Original price: $19.95. Sale price: $11.97

    Captain of Destiny: George Denison, 1620-1694, by Ray W. Denison. Original price: $19.95. Sale price: $11.95

    Westward to Destiny: A Denison Family Saga, by Ray W. Denison. Original price: $14.95. Sale price: $8.97

    Searching for Ichabod: His 18th-Century Diary Leads Me Home, by Julie Foster Van Camp. Original price: $13.99. Sale price: $8.39

    Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter, by Susan Nagel. Original Price: $29.99. Sale price: $17.99

    The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture, by Joshua Kendall. Original price: $26.95. Sale price: $16.17

    Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Original price: $19.95. Sale price: $11.97

    In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African-Americans Reclaimed Their Past, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Original price: $27.50. Sale price: $16.50

    The Clamorgans: One Family’s History of Race in America, by Julie Winch. Original price: $35.00. Sale price: $21.00

    Ashbel Fitch, Champion of Old New York, by David F. Remington. Original price: $45.00. Sale price: $27.00

    To get your 40% discount on these titles, please enter the coupon code AUGUST12. Prices are good through August 12th, 2012, while supplies last. Prices do not include shipping. Massachusetts residents pay 6.25% sales tax.

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Using at Boston Public Library
    Central Library in Copley Square, Training Center
    700 Boylston Street, Boston, Mass. 
    Thursday, August 2, 2:30–3:30 p.m.
    The NEHGS website,, is full of great features, tools, resources, and content that highlights NEHGS’ national expertise in genealogy and family history. We now have more than 200 million searchable names covering New England, New York, and other areas of family research dating back to 1620. We invite you to attend this free hands-on workshop to learn more about this incredible online resource. Laptop computers are provided by the Boston Public Library for use during the class.

    New Visitor Welcome Tour
    99-101 Newbury St., Boston, Mass.
    Saturday, August 4, 10-11 a.m.
    This orientation and tour introduces you to the resources available at the NEHGS research library. You will also have an opportunity to describe your research interests to one of our expert genealogists on staff, who can offer advice on how to proceed. Free.

    Getting Started in Genealogy
    99-101 Newbury St., Boston, Mass. 
    Wednesdays, August 15, 29, and September 5, 6-8 p.m. 
    How do you get started in genealogy? There are plenty of websites, libraries, and printed sources out there, but access to all that information can leave a beginner feeling overwhelmed. Let an NEHGS expert help you navigate the first steps in tracing your family history. Senior Researcher Rhonda R. McClure will share her knowledge and helpful strategies for beginning your family history journey in this three-part course. Tuition: $30 for full course (three sessions). Register online.

    For more information on NEHGS programs, please visit the events page on

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

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