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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 15, No. 44
    Whole #607
    October 31, 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.

    * The Latest Issue of The Great Migration Newsletter Now Available
    * Baby Name Wizard
    * A Note from the Editor: Disasters and Our Ancestors
    * Name Origins
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Pownal Historical Society, Vermont
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs


    The Latest Issue of The Great Migration Newsletter Now Available

    The July–September Great Migration Newsletter (Vol. 21, No. 3) is now available to online subscribers at (The print version was mailed to subscribers last week.) The lead article, “Passenger Ships, 1636–1640: Part I,” surveys the evidence for passenger arrivals in New England for the period from 1636 through 1640. As always, the issue contains a recent literature survey and Robert Charles Anderson’s “Editor’s Effusions.”

    Subscriptions are available online. If you have any questions about The Great Migration Newsletter, please contact Member Services at or 1-888-296-3447.

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    Baby Name Wizard

    Readers interested in name origins will likely find the Baby Name Wizard website intriguing. Once you enter a name and gender at the top, the NameVoyager graphs a name’s popularity from the 1880s to the present. Entering a name into NameMapper will produce a map of the United States that displays the name’s popularity from the 1960s to the present.

    The Social Security Administration's “Popular Baby Names” database, from which the Baby Name Wizard culls much of its data, provides lists of popular names in several categories, including decade, state, and rankings by year of individual names.

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    A Note from the Editor: Disasters and Our Ancestors
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    This week, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is hard to think of anything other than disasters. Here at NEHGS we closed down early, at 1 p.m., on Monday and remained closed on Tuesday. Various staff members experienced power outages and broken tree limbs at home but the NEHGS building was unaffected. I think we feel fortunate here in the Boston area to have escaped mostly unscathed, and our sympathies and thoughts are with those who were more directly impacted further south.

    Over the weekend, as I prepared for Sandy, I thought about what disasters my ancestors might have experienced. My grandparents’ house on the Mississippi River in Little Falls, Minnesota, was flooded in July 1972, but I couldn’t recall any other major natural or man-made disasters affecting my family. Perhaps my family has been fairly lucky—or perhaps I need to do some more research!

    I called my mom to get her input. When I mentioned the Flood of 1972, she put her husband, Don Kuchinski, on the line. He remembered it well. Don recalled that it just poured and poured, and over a foot of rain came down. On the local radio station, KLTF, he heard that volunteers were needed to build a sandbag dike along the Mississippi to safeguard a boat works and area homes. Don, being a good citizen and a hard worker, showed up at about 1 p.m., and started sandbagging—in water four to five feet deep! He and another man ended up rescuing a man who stumbled, fell into the water, and started going through a culvert. Don worked on until 2:30 in the morning, when he went home to milk the cows. I hadn’t heard this story before, and I think it provides a good snapshot of Don’s character. Sometimes the right questions just need to be asked in order to elicit the stories.

    When I asked my husband if he had any family disaster stories, he had a vague sense that relatives were affected by the 1900 and 1915 floods in Galveston, Texas. While he didn’t have any ancestors living in Galveston, extended family members lived there and in surrounding communities. He knew a bit more about family involvement with an ammonium nitrate explosion in Texas City, Texas, in 1947. His great-aunt, Frances Loock, a dentist, answered the call for trained medical volunteers, and saw some horrific sights during her time in Texas City.

    I also recall someone telling me that the Blizzard of 1978 made such an impact on her parents that they decided to move their family from New Hampshire to Florida later that year, thus altering the course of their family’s history.

    Disaster stories can explain how an extraordinary event could affect a family and even profoundly alter their lives. Or a disaster story might simply illuminate an incident at one moment in time, and offer insight into the challenges our ancestors faced and how they responded. For the same reasons, our own experiences with disasters are also certainly worth recording for posterity.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Staff Genealogist

    KETURAH (f): Hebrew for "incense." A concubine of Abraham (1 Chronicles 1:20) seen in the Parke family. Also seen in certain Stonington, Connecticut, families. A colonial lightning victim at Royalston, Massachusetts (which saw a good many such strikes), was Weston, Mass., native Keturah Babcock (1754–1769), daughter of Jason and Mary (Beaton) Babcock (Royalston VRs, pp. 161).

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked whether you have Irish ancestors. 4,056 people answered this survey. The results are:

    • 28%, Yes, I have Irish ancestors but I don't know from where in Ireland they originated.
    • 26%, Yes, I have Irish ancestors and I know the county in Ireland from which at least one of these ancestors originated.
    • 22%, Yes, I have Irish ancestors and I know the home parish and county in Ireland from which at least one of these ancestors originated.
    • 16%, No, I don't have Irish ancestors.
    • 8%, I don't know whether I have Irish ancestors.

    This week's survey asks whether your ancestors were affected by a disaster. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Pownal Historical Society, Vermont
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Pownal Historical Society, Vermont  

    The town of Pownal is located in Bennington County, Vermont. It comprises the villages of Pownal, North Pownal, and Pownal Center. The Pownal Historical Society has made a number of resources available on its website. Links to the resources are located in the contents list on the left side of the homepage.

    Resources in this section include two eighteenth-century and a number of nineteenth-century maps—many with property owners identified. Topographical maps of the town are also available.

    Burial information is included for about twenty Pownal cemeteries, from family lots to larger cemeteries. In some cases, you will see gravestone photographs and in others you will find a list of individuals buried there.

    This section contains resources related to Pownal’s churches, drawn from a variety of sources. A chapter on the development of the town’s churches, extracted from a local history, covers the early period. For the post-1840 period, brief church histories are available.

    Military Resources
    Here you will find databases containing the names of Pownal’s Green Mountain Boys, Revolutionary War soldiers, and Civil War soldiers.

    A transcription of the 1791 federal census for Pownal is available. The transcription has been annotated to include vital statistics and other information known about the head of household. This data was gathered from a number of sources and may include date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of death and cemetery, age at death, and lot/division where lived.

    City Directory
    A list of the residents of Pownal was extracted from Child’s Bennington County Directory, 1880–81. The information is organized alphabetically by surname and then alphabetically by street address. A small map is included.

    Early Families
    The database included here is basically an alphabetical index to Pownal’s early town record books. The types of records indexed here are primarily land records, with some warnings out and surveys. Click on a letter tab at the bottom of the page to open a list of names for that letter. The data fields in the index are family name, husband’s first name, record (type), book number, page number, wife’s name, and notes.

    Vital Statistics
    Two vital records databases are included. The first is Marriages to 1850, taken from Books 1 and 2 of the Pownal Town Records. Elmer I. Shepard, who extracted these records in 1941, noted that many people from neighboring towns, particularly from Western Massachusetts, were married in Pownal, and for that reason he wanted to make the records more widely available. The records are arranged first by place of residence—Pownal, other Vermont towns, Massachusetts, New York, and other states—and then alphabetically by surname. The second vital records database is Deaths 1921–1980, compiled from the Pownal Town Reports for that period. The data fields include the name of the deceased, age, death date, and parents’ names.

    The Pownal Historical Society website also includes a collection of photographs, a transcription of the town’s charter, and a list of town officials, as well as other resources.

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    Stories of Interest

    Tracing My Roots: Debtors, ‘Lunatics’ and Sailors—Meet My Family
    A professional researcher assists Ian Burell, a journalist for the London newspaper The Independent, in tracing his family’s genealogy.

    15 Must-See Historic Cemeteries Across the U.S.
    “A list of some of the most interesting, scenic and historic cemeteries across the country.”

    Give Thanks for Family Stories During Holidays
    This article offers ideas for connecting with relatives about family history during the holiday season.

    Old Weather Project Recruits Citizen Scientists
    “The National Archives is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to recruit citizen scientists to help transcribe weather data from historic ship logs.”

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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:

    • Henrico County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds 1780–1861 (Item P5-VA0073S, $29.00)
    • Ancestry of Lt. Amos Towne of Kennebunkport, Maine (Item P4-H25638, $28.00)
    • List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in Massachusetts 1780–1892 (Item P5-MA0148H, $49.50)
    • Maine Wills, 1640–1760 (Item P2-6567000, $137.00)
    • Fryeburg, Maine: An Historical Sketch (Item P5-ME0032H, $37.50)

    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

    Uncovering Voices from the Back Stairs
    99–101 Newbury St., Boston
    Wednesday, November 7, 6–8:30 p.m.

    Although domestic servants made everyday life in grand homes possible, their identities and roles within the household have long been hidden. Jennifer Pustz, Museum Historian at Historic New England and author of Voices from the Back Stairs, illustrates the diversity of domestic service in New England over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by focusing on servants' lives at Castle Tucker, Roseland Cottage, and the Codman Estate. Archival materials illustrate the lives of servants and relationships with their employers.

    Following this lecture, Marie Daly, Senior Genealogist at NEHGS, demonstrates how anyone can research their family history, including hard-to-trace ancestors such as servants, immigrants, and members of the working class. She will highlight both online and on-site research venues, bringing to light the sources that can help piece together your family story. Co-sponsored with Historic New England.

    Free to NEHGS members and Historic New England members, $5 nonmembers. Register online or call Historic New England at 617-994-5959.

    Scrapbooking Your Family History
    99–101 Newbury St, Boston
    Saturday, December 1, 2012, 10–11 a.m.

    Genealogist Marcia Melnyk presents ideas, tips, and resources for turning your family history research into a memorable scrapbook or presentation piece, just in time for the holiday season.

    Registration: $15. Register online

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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
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Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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