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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 36
    Whole #651
    September 4, 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.

    * Doris Kearns Goodwin to Speak at NEHGS 2014 Annual Dinner
    * A Note from the Editor: Readers Respond
    * Name Origins
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Various Library Databases: Obituaries and Birth Notices
    * Stories of Interest
    * NEHGS Bookstore
    * Upcoming Education Programs


    Doris Kearns Goodwin to Speak at NEHGS 2014 Annual Dinner

    Our Annual Dinner in Boston on Friday, April 25, 2014, will feature biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as our keynote speaker and recipient of our Lifetime Achievement Award in American History and Biography. A member of NEHGS since 1995, she is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books, including Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, a New York Times bestseller and the basis of Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film, Lincoln, and No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, which received a Pulitzer Prize in 1995. Other books include The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. Her latest book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, will be released in November 2013.

    We hope you will join us for this premier event in support of our Capital Campaign. Please save the date. Further details are forthcoming.

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    A Note from the Editor: Readers Respond
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    Last week’s Name Origins article on the given name Benoni prompted a number of reader emails. Below are three responses:

    Susan Hathaway of San Diego, California: My relative Benoni was the last child born to Benjamin Hathaway (b. 1699 Mass.–d. 1762 N.J.) and his unnamed wife. Benoni Hathaway was born 6 Nov 1743 in Morristown, New Jersey. His father remarried widow Elizabeth (Mehurin) Crossman 17 Mar 1743/44 in Morristown, indicating his first wife died between Benoni’s birth and the remarriage. Given the connotations of the name Benoni, Benoni’s mother probably died soon after his birth. (Trying to identify Benoni’s mother is my biggest brick wall. There has been speculation that her surname was Clemens, since the first child born of Benjamin’s second marriage was named Clemens.)

    Niki Cotton of Alexandria, Virginia: I read with interest your column concerning the name Benoni. I looked through the 100 names and, remembering several of my ancestors with that name, decided to do a little digging of my own. I found four relatives named Benoni: 1.) Benoni Clark was identified by Grace Pittman in her article. Benoni Sr. died before his son Benoni was born. 2.) Benoni David Stout was born in 1831 in Spiceland, Indiana, to Ephraim and Mary Stout -- and died the day he was born. 3.) Benoni Dewey was born in 1750 in Lebanon, Connecticut, to Simeon and Anna Dewey. Simeon died four months before Benoni was born. 4.) Benoni Stebbins was born in 1655 in Springfield, Massachusetts, to John and Mary Stebbins. Four siblings died before Benoni’s birth and his mother died shortly after he was born. This column sparked an interest in looking at names a little more closely.

    Christie Higginbottom of Rochdale, Massachusetts: There is an apple called “Benoni” which originated in Dedham, Massachusetts, according to the citation in Beach’s Apples of New York (1905). Beach credits a Mr. E.M. Richards for introducing the variety to the market in 1832 and says it is “a fine dessert apple, very attractive in appearance and excellent in quality but not large enough to be a good market variety.” Apple historian Tom Burford includes the Benoni apple in his Apples: A Catalog of International Varieties (1998), noting that it was also called “Fail Me Never.” More information about the Benoni apple is available at Since fruit names usually promote the variety or identify its origin, it is curious that a name with so many negative connotations was chosen for this apple.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Genealogist

    Until the past two hundred years, English and American naming patterns generally involved only one given name. The very earliest New England instance I have seen of a middle name is apparently that of Israel Stoughton Danforth, b. Dorchester, Mass. 14 October 1687, son of Mr. John Danforth (Dorchester VRs 1:33) — and that seems an obvious commemoration of Massachusetts Bay colonist Israel Stoughton (1602/3–1644), someone his father respected.

    Middle names do not come into common use until the late eighteenth century. Be aware, however, that multiple given-naming is typical of German and some other European naming traditions. Jerome E. Anderson has done a great deal of work on early eighteenth-century residents of the Germantown area of Quincy, Mass., and on German enclaves elsewhere in New England, and reports regular multiple given-naming in those communities while parents in the mainstream Anglophone society of the day tended to prefer single names.

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked what company(ies) you have used for genealogical DNA testing. 2,855 people answered this survey. More than one answer could be selected. The results are:

    • 16%, 23andme
    • 1%, African Ancestry
    • 43%, Ancestry
    • 50%, FamilyTreeDNA
    • 18%, National Geographic
    • 2%, OxfordAncestors
    • 4%, The company I used is no longer in business
    • 5%, Other
    • 5%, I don’t know.

    This week’s survey asks if you have used school records as part of your genealogical research. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Various Library Databases: Obituaries and Birth Notices
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Altoona Public Library, Pennsylvania The city of Altoona is located in central Pennsylvania in Blair County. Its county seat is Hollidaysburg. The Altoona Public Library’s Digital Library contains two databases of interest to family history researchers. Scroll down to the Databases section and click the Our Databases tab.

    The Obituary database is an index to obituaries that appeared in the Altoona Mirror between 1929 and the present. The index can be searched by last name, maiden name, or first name. The data fields are last name, first name, middle name, maiden name, descriptor, date of publication, and page number. Copies of obituaries may be ordered from the library for a nominal fee.

    The Birth Notices database is an index to birth announcements found in the Altoona Mirror. The database may be searched by the child’s first and last name and date of birth; mother’s first, maiden, or married name; and father’s first and last name. The data fields in the database include last name, first name, father’s first name, father’s last name, mother’s first name, mother’s last name, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, and date the announcement appeared in the paper.

    Lincoln Public Library, Massachusetts
    The town of Lincoln is located in Middlesex County in eastern Massachusetts. The Lincoln Public Library has made an obituary database available on its website. Click the Digital Collections link and choose Obituary Database from the drop down list. The information was extracted from three local newspapers: The Fence Viewer (9/17/1959–12/26/1974), The Concord Journal (7/11/1974 – 12/31/1984), and the Lincoln Journal (1/1/1985 on). The database can be searched by name or date. The data fields in the database are last name, first name, date of death, and obituary. The information in the obituary field is newspaper title, date of publication, and page number. The results returned are in alphabetical order by surname. Click on the See Next (#) to move through the list of records found.

    Elkhart Public Library, Indiana
    The city of Elkhart is located in northern Indiana in Elkhart County. Goshen is its county seat. The Elkhart Public Library has made an obituary database available on its website. Click the Genealogy & Local History link and select it from the drop down list. The Obituary database is an index to obituaries that appeared in the Elkhart Truth from 1921 to the present. The database is a work in progress with new obituaries being added on a regular basis. The index can be searched by first and/or last name and maiden name. Searches can be limited by date. The data fields in the search results are name, obituary date, location (section/page), date of death, and date of birth. Copies of obituaries may be ordered from the library for a small fee.

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    Stories of Interest

    Sealed for Decades, State House Safe Yields Secrets
    “Inside an ancient vault in the heart of the State House, past two massive steel doors with timed locks, sits an ornately decorated safe, the size of a small car. Until recently, no one there knew the combinations to its locks or what, exactly, was hidden inside.”

    For Syracuse University Professor, Discovery of the Sunken USS Monitor Set Her Career Path
    In 1973, 16-year-old Cathryn Newton’s career began when she took part in her father’s successful expedition to locate the famous USS Monitor.

    Cindy Crawford Discovers Her Royal Roots on “Who Do You Think You Are?”
    This article offers a summary of last week’s episode, portions of which were researched and filmed at NEHGS.

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    New Titles in the Portable Genealogist Series

    The NEHGS Bookstore is happy to announce three new titles in our popular Portable Genealogist series:

    Organizing Your Research by Rhonda R. McClure
    Problem Solving in Irish Research by Marie Daly
    Massachusetts State Census by David Allen Lambert

    Other Portable Genealogist titles and topics include:

    Immigration to the U.S. by Rhonda R. McClure
    U.S. Naturalization by Rhonda R. McClure
    New York State Census by Christopher C. Child
    Building a Genealogical Sketch by Penny Stratton
    Genealogical Numbering by Penny Stratton

    Order any of the Portable Genealogists online or call 1-888-296-3447

    All Portable Genealogists include FREE USPS media rate shipping. NEHGS members, be sure to log in to receive your 10% NEHGS member discount.

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Preserving and Identifying Family Photographs with Maureen Taylor

    99–101 Newbury St, Boston, Mass.
    Friday, November 15, 2013, 9 a.m.–12 noon

    Join internationally recognized photograph identification and preservation expert Maureen Taylor for a workshop at NEHGS. In this half-day seminar, participants will learn techniques for identifying important historical and genealogical information in family photos, and how to preserve photographs from daguerreotypes to digital images. Personal consultations with Maureen Taylor will be available after the seminar for an additional charge.

    Details and registration

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