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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 33
    Whole #648
    August 14, 2013
    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.

    * NEHGS Database News
    * NEHGS at the FGS Conference
    * Irish Genealogy Study Group
    * Ask a Genealogist
    * Name Origins
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Cemeteries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    * Stories of Interest
    * Great Migration Book Sale!
    * Upcoming Education Programs


    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator, and Christopher Carter, Digital Collections Coordinator

    Early New England Families Study Project

    The update to this database includes ten new sketches for the families of John Allen (m. 1638), Edward Bulkeley (m. 1638), Thomas Bulkeley (m. 1638), Edward Denison (m. 1641), Thomas Dibble (m. 1637), Hopestill Foster (m. 1640), Nathaniel Morton (m. 1635), John Norman (m. 1637), John Oliver (m. 1638), and Thomas Starr (m. 1641).

    For more information about this important new study project, which focuses on individuals who immigrated in 1641 or later, see Early New England Families Update.

    Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 36–40

    Volumes 36 to 40 (publication years 1989 to 1998) of the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine are newly added online to, offering an additional 33,596 records. Volumes 1 to 40 are available to search. Additional volumes will be added throughout the year.

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

    For more information on this ongoing database project, visit our blog.

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    NEHGS at the FGS Conference

    Join NEHGS at the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, from Wednesday, August 21, to Saturday, August 24, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Stop by our booth in the exhibit hall to meet some of our staff members and browse new titles, including three Portable Genealogists debuting at the conference: Organizing Your Research by Rhonda R. McClure, Problem Solving in Irish Research by Marie Daly, and Massachusetts State Census by David Allen Lambert. NEHGS Genealogist Marie Daly will also be speaking on “Researching Irish Ancestors Online” on August 24.

    For more information about the FGS conference, visit

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    Irish Genealogy Study Group

    The Irish Genealogy Study Group will meet on Saturday, August 24, 2013, between 9:30 a.m. and noon in the second floor Education Center at NEHGS. The study group gathers to talk about research problems and share solutions. Everyone is welcome to come and join in. Contact Mary Ellen Grogan at for more information.

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    Ask a Genealogist

    We occasionally feature "Ask a Genealogist" questions posed to our staff genealogists and their answers. For more about Ask a Genealogist, click here. - Editor.

    Question: I am trying to collect documentation to apply to a lineage society. I need more information on several ancestors, especially a father who was born in Plymouth, Mass., in 1767 and died in 1848 in Paris, Maine, and his son, who was born in Paris in 1796 and died in North Bridgton, Maine, in 1846. Currently I only have secondary information from books. I am not sure where to look next, and I need help in connecting these ancestors to previous generations and figuring out where to find land records and local church records.

    Answer by Genealogist Rhonda R. McClure: When applying to lineage societies, you are generally required to supply copies of as many original documents as possible. Vital records, church records, and probate records establish dates and also prove the connections from one generation to another.

    Plymouth vital records were part of the published series of Massachusetts vital records and members and registered users can search those records for free at You should also look at the probate records for Plymouth County to see if they mention your ancestor.

    Many of the records that you need are on microfilm and accessible through The land records for all of the counties in Massachusetts have been digitized and made available online at, though they have not been indexed. This means you must “browse” the images. In addition, the probate records for Plymouth County are available online in a browse images format.

    Paris is in Oxford County, and North Bridgton is a village in Bridgton, in Cumberland County. Neither Paris nor Bridgton submitted copies of their vital records to the state's pre-1892 collection of VRs. Therefore, you will need to turn your attention to the original town records. These are available on microfilm through and can be ordered to be sent to your local FamilySearch Center for viewing. You will need the vital records to verify the dates of birth and death that you mentioned above. These records may not indicate parents' names in all instances, especially the death records.

    Some of what you will need to gather for your application though will not be found online, but could be available on microfilm. In some instances, you may need to write directly to the town clerk for a vital record.

    Church records , and are often used as a vital record alternative, may also be on microfilm If you cannot find them online via FamilySearch, you may need to do some research into the area's earliest churches and determine whether they are still in operation. If not, you may need to contact an archive for the appropriate denomination to see where the records have been deposited.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Genealogist

    ABILENE (f): A region of the Holy Land mentioned in Luke 3:1, "whose name is of uncertain origin but may derive from a Hebrew word meaning 'grass'" (Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, A Concise Dictionary of First Names [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992], p. 1). Best known today as a place name from the towns in Kansas and Texas, the name was used in certain Connecticut River families. Abilena (Gilbert) Pierce, b. Stratford, Conn. 1 Jan. 1709/10, was the daughter of Jonathan and Margery (Searles) Gilbert of Stratford, Conn., Elizabeth, N.J., and Bertie Co., N.C. She was named for her paternal grandmother Abilene (Marshfield) Gilbert (d. by 9 April 1690), daughter of Samuel and Hester (Wright) Marshfield and wife of Thomas Gilbert of Springfield, Mass. (Homer Worthington Brainerd, Harold Simeon Gilbert, and Clarence Almon Torrey, The Gilbert Family: Descendants of Thomas Gilbert, 1582[?]–1659, of Mt. Wollaston [Braintree], Windsor, and Wethersfield [New Haven, 1953], pp. 87–88, 115). Abilena (Gilbert) Sexton (10 March 1710/1, Lebanon, Conn. – 3 June 1774, Sheffield, Mass.), daughter of Samuel and Mercy (Warner) Gilbert and mother (by husband James Sexton) of Abilena Sexton, was only distantly related to Mrs. Pierce (Gilbert, op. cit., p. 103). The adoption of ABILENE "as a female given name was encouraged partly by its resemblance to Abbie [Abigail] and partly by the fact that -lene is a productive suffix of female names" (Hanks & Hodges, op. cit., p. 1). (A productive suffix is one added onto an existing name to produce a pretty-sounding new name.)

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked if you have attended a family reunion. 4,084 people answered this survey. The results are:

    • 24% Yes, I have attended a family reunion.
    • 29% Yes, I have attended 2 to 5 reunions.
    • 8% Yes, I have attended 6 to 10 reunions.
    • 12% Yes, I have attended over 10 reunions.
    • 1% No, but I am planning on attending a reunion within the next year.
    • 26% No, I have never attended a family reunion.

    This week’s survey asks how you discovered Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Cemeteries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Philadelphia, which is located in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania, is the largest city in the Commonwealth.

    Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    John Jay Smith, a Quaker and librarian, founded Laurel Hill in 1836. This garden cemetery was not only a place for burying the city's dead, but also a place to be enjoyed by the living. It is located in the north section of Philadelphia and is divided into three sections -- the North, Central, and South portions of the cemetery. Laurel Hill was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. A number of prominent people are buried there, including Philadelphia's industrial magnates, forty Civil War-era generals, and six Titanic passengers.

    To access the burial records search page, click the Research tab and then the Records tab at the top of the page. Click the Search link to begin. Enter a first name and/or last name in the search boxes. The basic results returned include the name of the deceased and the burial plot location information. If there is a photograph of the gravestone it will also appear. Click on the More Information/Condolences link to view dates of birth and death and any additional information. You can click the gravestone image to enlarge it. Click the Visit tab in the contents list to open a new page with a link to a map of the cemetery.

    Historic Fair Hill Burial Ground, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The land on which this burial ground is located was willed to American Quakers in 1691, by Quakerism founder George Fox, for many purposes -- a meetinghouse, school, burying ground, children's playground, and a garden. The meetinghouse with a burial ground was established in 1703. The burial ground was likely in use through 1795. The land was then leased to tenant farmers. In 1817, it came under the care of Green Street Monthly Meeting. In 1842, the current Fair Hill Burial Ground was established and the first burial took place in 1843.

    Click the History tab in the contents bar and choose an option from the drop-down list. You will find a brief history of the Fair Hill Burial Ground, a page with links to biographies of historical figures buried there, and databases of interment records and obituaries.

    Historical Figures
    The list found here includes the names of twenty-two well-known individuals buried in the cemetery. The link includes the person's name, plot location information, and birth and death dates. Many of those included in the list are prominent abolitionists.

    Interment Records and Obituaries
    The interment records for Fair Hill Burial Ground are housed at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. The database is in Microsoft Excel format. Click the link to download the file. There are more than 3,500 records in the database. The data fields include date of interment, last name, first name, cause of death, age, lot and plot information, member/non-member status, district, and remarks. The remarks field contains information such as relationship of the deceased to others, removals, undertaker, number of people in a grave (i.e. two children, spouses), and occupation.

    Click on the second link to download obituaries that appeared in the Friends Intelligencer between the years 1854 and 1960. There are about 1,200 obituaries in the file, which is in PDF format. The obituaries were transcribed and compiled into a typescript, which has been digitized and uploaded to the website. Source information is included at the end of each obituary.

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    Stories of Interest

    Newly Released Historical Census Data Offers Genealogists a Rare Glimpse into 1920s Canada
    “The hand-written 1921 Census of Canada was made available on last week and includes survey data alongside the full names, addresses, and place of birth of the people who provided the information.”

    WWI Tourism: Looking for Your Family Hero
    “As the 100th anniversary of WWI approaches, growing numbers are tracing their genealogy back to Europe's battlefields. Matthew Davis went to Ramicourt in France to find the spot where his great-grandfather won the Victoria Cross.”

    An Unexpected Family Reunion, Seven Decades after the Holocaust
    “My husband's grandmother's family was decimated by the Nazis. But at 95, she discovered relatives she never knew.”

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    Great Migration Book Sale!

    The Bookstore at NEHGS is offering 15% off all Great Migration titles for one week only.

    • The Great Migration Begins (hardcover): Was $99.00, Now $84.15
    • The Great Migration Begins (paperback): Was $79.95, Now $67.96
    • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1643–1635, Volume I, A–B: Was $59.95, Now $50.96
    • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1643–1635, Volume II, C–F: Was $59.95, Now $50.96
    • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1643–1635, Volume III, G–H: Was $59.95, Now $50.96
    • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1643–1635, Volume IV, I–L: Was $59.95, Now $50.96
    • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1643–1635, Volume V, M–P: Was $59.95, Now $50.96
    • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1643–1635, Volume VI, R–S: Was $59.95, Now $50.96
    • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1643–1635, Volume VII, T–Y: Was $59.95, Now $50.96
    • The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony, 1620–1633: Was $29.95, Now $25.46
    • The Great Migration Newsletter, Volumes 1–20: Was $27.95, Now $23.76
    • The Great Migration Newsletter, Volumes 16–20: Was $11.95, Now $10.16

    To get the 15% discount, enter the code GM813 into the coupon field online (or mention it when ordering by phone at 1-888-296-3447). Prices are good through August 21, 2013, while supplies last. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, including the NEHGS member discount. Prices do not include shipping.

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Fall Weekend Research Getaway: Preserving and Using Images
    October 17–19, 2013

    Spend a weekend at NEHGS delving into research, meeting with staff genealogists, learning from themed lectures, and enjoying group meals. Explore the rich offerings of the NEHGS Research Library and benefit from the knowledge of expert genealogists. This year's Fall Weekend Research Getaway focuses on preserving and using images, both digital and print. Register for all three days,or choose which days to attend.

    Details and registration

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2013, New England Historic Genealogical Society
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Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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