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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 35
    Whole #650
    August 28, 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 Featured in Recent Who Do You Think You Are? Episode
    * NEHGS Database News
    * Ask A Genealogist
    * Name Origins
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Nantucket Historical Association
    * Stories of Interest
    * NEHGS Bookstore
    * Upcoming Education Programs


    NEHGS Featured in Recent Who Do You Think You Are? Episode

    Yesterday’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on TLC explored Cindy Crawford’s ancestry. Portions of the episode were filmed at NEHGS, and genealogist Christopher Child shared his research into Ms. Crawford’s Trowbridge and Hemingway ancestors in colonial Roxbury and Dorchester, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. For more information about the show and to watch the episode online, click here.

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

    New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volumes 46–50

    The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record is the premier genealogical journal devoted to scholarship on families residing in New York State and surrounding areas. Published quarterly since 1870 by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, the Record features compiled genealogies and transcriptions of Bible records, census records, church registers, newspaper extracts, muster rolls, wills and deeds, and proceedings of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.

    This week, we have added volumes 46–50, containing more than 55,000 additional records. The database currently contains volumes 1 through 50, publication years 1870 to 1919. Future volumes will be added periodically.

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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 searching for the parents and birthplace of my great-grandfather, Samuel McGaffee/Megaffee. My only clue comes from the 1855 New York state census, which indicates Samuel was born in Albany County, N.Y. Numerous reliable sources give Samuel’s birth year as 1800 or 1801. I find him in Ontario County, N.Y., censuses from 1830 to 1850, living in Bristol, Naples, and South Bristol. In 1856 Samuel and his family moved to Somerset Centre, Hillsdale County, Michigan, where he died. Where do you suggest I look?

    Answer by Senior Genealogist David C. Dearborn: Start by searching the 1800, 1810, and 1820 Albany County censuses for any form of the surname McGaffee/Megaffee. Do you find any other McGaffees in Ontario County in 1830–55 censuses? If so, they might be relatives. Check the 1820 Ontario County census for any McGaffees in the previous decade.

    You can search the “New York: Albany County Deeds, 1630–1894” database on to see whether anyone of the surname conveyed real estate.

    Consult Fred Q. Bowman, 10,000 Vital Records of Eastern New York, 1777–1834 (Baltimore: GPC, 1987) and 8,000 More Vital Records of Eastern New York (Rhinebeck, N.Y.: Kinship, 1991) for any mention of the family.

    Indexes and images of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century New York state probate and land records are available on Click here for a list of their historical record collections.

    Finally, check the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Genealogical Research Committee (GRC) database. This is an index to more than 20,000 typescript volumes of genealogical data in the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., which includes over 700 volumes submitted by the New York State DAR chapters.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Genealogist

    BENONI (m): This name appears once in the Bible, in Genesis 35:18, which describes the death in childbirth of Rachel, wife of Jacob: “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.” Depending on the translation, the name means “Son of my sorrow” or “Alas, my son.”

    Grace M. Pittman studied the name extensively and produced an article in 1990 on the topic: “O My Son Benoni: A Personal Name as Marker of Family Circumstance,” which appeared in NEHGS NEXUS (7 [1990]: 17–21). She wrote, “From curiosity, knowing that the early colonists usually had a reason for the names they gave their children, I began a search for children named Benoni, finding at least 100 born in the seventeenth through mid-eighteenth centuries. From this limited sample I found that the name Benoni was usually given to a male child only when he was born under unfortunate circumstances. Obviously, not all male children born under adverse conditions were named Benoni; nor were all children named Benoni born under a cloud.”

    In her study, which focused on children born before 1780, Pittman noted that the Benonis fell mainly into five groups, four of which could certainly be considered unfortunate:

    1. The mother died at or soon after the birth of the child
    2. The father died before the child’s birth
    3. The child was illegitimate or was conceived before his parents married
    4. The child died soon after birth
    5. The child was apparently named for his father, a grandfather, or an uncle

    The following examples illustrate the first three of these groups. Benoni Clark, born Northampton, Mass., 22 Oct. 1775, son of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Lyman) Clarke: his mother died 27 Oct. 1775. Benoni Dickinson, born Northfield, Mass., 12 Dec. 1747, son of Nathaniel and Martha (Wright) Dickinson: his father was killed by Indians 15 April 1747. Benoni Grover, born near Grafton, Mass. 31 June (sic) 1767, son of Ebenezer and Elizabeth (Stow) Grover: his parents married 13 June 1767, only 18 days before his birth.

    NEHGS members can read Grace Pittman’s classic article, which lists 100 instances of the name Benoni, here on

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked if you have participated in DNA testing for genealogy. More than one answer could be selected. 4,400 people answered this survey. The results are:

    • 26% Yes; I’ve had my mitochondrial DNA analyzed.
    • 28% Yes; I’ve had my Y-DNA analyzed or I’ve had the Y-DNA of a male relative analyzed.
    • 25% Yes; I’ve done an autosomal test (continental origins, relative finder, family finder, etc.)
    • 15% Yes; I’ve participated in a DNA study group.
    • 52% No, I have not had my DNA tested.

    This week’s survey asks genealogical DNA testing companies. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Nantucket Historical Association, Massachusetts
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Nantucket Historical Association

    Isabel Kaldenbach’s “Inventory of Black Nantucketers”
    This alphabetical inventory lists information about Black residents of Nantucket. Sources include federal censuses; Nantucket vital records; the “Negro” cemetery; newspapers; church, court, and probate records; and unpublished notes of Frank Dorman, author of Twenty Families of Color in Massachusetts. Data fields include last name, first name, occupation, year of the record, source, and notes (which are, in many cases, very detailed).

    Lewis Funeral Home Records
    The Lewis Funeral Home Records collection covers the period from 1894 to 1965. Fourteen ledgers have been scanned and the page images uploaded to the website in PDF format. The information contained in the record of burial includes the date of death, name of deceased, maiden name, name of husband, demographic information, physician’s name, place of death, parents’ names, amount paid, services rendered, and place of interment.

    Cemetery Inscription Project
    The Nantucket Historical Association created the Nantucket Cemeteries Project to record and make available online the inscriptions of gravestones in the island’s cemeteries. Click the Cemetery Database link to search the comprehensive database. Click the Maps link for cemetery maps and directions. You can also click the individual cemetery name link to browse through lists of individuals buried in a particular cemetery. Links to some gravestone photos can be found on the search page.

    The Exhibitions link on the homepage provides information on NHA exhibitions, including Accounts of Nantucket Whaling Voyages (journals), Beloved and Honoured Parents: Reuben Pinkham Letters from Nantucket 1827–1838 (letters), Susan Veeder’s Journal of the Ship Nauticon (journal), and WWII 356th Fighter Squadron (photographs).

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    Stories of Interest

    Boston Voices Remember The March on Washington
    Boston public radio station WBUR interviewed local residents who participated in the 1963 March on Washington.

    Scientists Discover the World’s Oldest Globe of the New World — Carved on Ostrich Eggs
    A globe made of two halves of ostrich eggs, covered with “Latin inscriptions and delicate outlines of countries informed by knowledge of explorers such as Christopher Columbus,” has been dated to approximately 1504. The origins of the globe are a mystery.

    Duo’s Acquaintance Unearths Unforessen Family Treasure
    Tampa-area resident and photograph collector Tom Allison went to Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2012 to have an elaborate four-generation family tree collage appraised at an Antiques Roadshow event. Allison had purchased the item a few years earlier at an antique show. An acquaintance of Allison’s back home happened to tune in and recognized his family in the collage.

    A New Book Provides the Ultimate Quiz on New England History and Lore
    This 21-question quiz was written by Thomas D’Agostino and Arlene Nicholson, whose new book, Legends, Lore and Secrets of New England, is published by The History Press.

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    NEHGS Bookstore

    Classic Reprints

    Did you know that the NEHGS Bookstore offers library-quality copies of over 10,000 rare and out-of-print books? Some titles ordered by recent customers include:

    • History of Barnstable County, Mass., 1620–1830 (Item P5-MA0365H, $105.00)
    • History of Swanzey, N.H., from 1734 to 1890 (Item P5-NH0025H, $59.50)
    • History of the Town of Carlisle, Mass., 1754–1920 (Item P5-MA0408H, $39.50)
    • Pioneer Days and Later Times in Corning (N.Y.) and Vicinity, 1789–1920 (Item P5-NY0077H, $57)
    • Keating and Forbes Families and Reminiscences of C.A. Keating, A.d. 1758–1920 (Item P4-H16359, $38.50)

    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

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    November 3–10, 2013

    Visit the world’s largest library for genealogy and family history when we return to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for our 35th annual research tour. Daily activities include individual consultations with NEHGS genealogists, lectures, and other special events.

    Details and registration

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