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  • 2002 Archive

  • Vol. 4, No. 15
    Whole #71
    June 26, 2002

    • New Databases on
    • New Research Articles on
    • New at the NEHGS Library
    • NEHGS Goes to Salt Lake City — November 3–10, 2002
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures, Boston, MA
    • Genealogical Research Scholar Position Open at NEHGS
    • FGS Conference, August 8–10, in Ontario, California
    • Summer Sale! 3-Volume Great Migration Begins Book Set on Sale for $99
    • The Victoria County Histories
    • Reduced Hours at Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
    • Herrick Family Association Announces Inaugural Meeting
    • Favorite Ancestor Feedback

    New Databases on

    Deaths from the New York Post 1801-1890
    Deaths from the New York Post 1801-1890 contains tens of thousands of death notices published in this newspaper during almost the entire span of the nineteenth century. Gertrude A. Barber, a prolific transcriptionist of the early twentieth century, provided these records to NEHGS in 1933. This typescript comprises 55 volumes, each with a separate surname-only index, and we present them here in a fully searchable electronic format for the first time.

    The database can be searched by first name, last name, place name, or keyword. You can also restrict your search to specific dates. The paper had a wide coverage area, with thousands of listings for individuals outside of New York state.

    A search for Stephen Smith led to the death notices of Stephen Compton Smith on November 1, 1828; his heretofore unnamed daughter Deborah P. Smith on June 1, 1832; and also heretofore unnamed grandson Elisha Blossom Smith on November 4, 1842. The listing for Deborah also gives her place of death, 68 Chatham Street.

    Places of origin for immigrant can also often be found. Take, for example, this notice from January 23, 1802: "WILLIAM GERARD, who on Wednesday last fell from one of the Docks into the North River and was drowned. He was born Aberdeen, Scotland, aged 56 yrs. left wife and 7 children." Not only does it give the circumstances of his accidental death, but his place of birth in Aberdeen around 1746.

    Currently this database contains the years 1801-1845. The years 1845-1890 will be added soon.

    US Naval Pensions
    Many of the sailors who served during the Revolutionary War were given pensions from the federal government for their service. The manuscript collection at NEHGS contains a number of original receipts with Massachusetts sailors' signatures, acknowledging the receipt of their pension funds. This searchable database contains images of the receipts, including the original signatures or marks of the pensioners. The originals can be viewed in the NEHGS manuscript collection.

    New Towns in the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 database
    Eleven new towns have been added to the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 database: Chelsea, Framingham, Gill, Haverhill, Leominster, Newbury, Plympton, Rochester, Royalston, Worthington, and Wrentham.

    Search by town, county, or in all of Massachusetts.

    Master Search
    Or master search all databases at

    New Research Articles on

    Genealogies in Vermont Town Histories, Part Two
    by Scott Andrew Bartley

    Longfellows of Maine
    by Russell C. Farnham

    Topic of the Month
    Family History Fun for Children
    by Maureen A. Taylor

    Researching in Boston's Back Bay: The Boston Public Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society
    by Rod D. Moody

    Finding Clues to Immigrant Origins
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources
    Notable Descendants of the Stanleys of Hartford, Connecticut

    Feature article
    The Wonderful World of Manuscripts
    by Timothy G.X. Salls

    New at the NEHGS Library

    The NEHGS Research Library has recently received two important collections on microfilm:

    —The 1930 census for the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont (171 rolls of microfilm)

    —The New Hampshire marriage and death records from 1901 to 1937. (Birth records from this time period are not scheduled to be available until 2038.)

    Both collections are available on the fourth floor of the NEHGS Research Library in Boston. If you have questions about using these collections at the NEHGS Research Library, please email If you are interested in using the Research Services to conduct research for you, please email or visit

    NEHGS Goes to Salt Lake City — November 3–10, 2002

    Each November, NEHGS staff genealogists lead a popular tour to Salt Lake City that features guided research in the Family History Library, group lectures, personal consultations, and social activities. See what one of our previous Salt Lake tour participants had to say about this special program:

    "Every one of us benefited from the guidance provided by the several NEHGS librarians on the tour as well as the local experts. All are available to us for consultation on individual research problems during the week. This proves particularly helpful to newcomers to the library. To me, however, the greatest joy of each tour is the spirit of camaraderie that so quickly develops among the participants and staff members. It is a very special experience. I recommend it to one and all.”

    Don't wait until the last minute! Sign up for our research program today and experience a classic NEHGS genealogical tour that will make researching in Salt Lake City lots of fun. For more information, visit /events/events/Default.asp?id=139, email, or call 1-888-286-3447 for more details.

    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures, Boston, MA

    The "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series continues with:

    • "Find Your Italian Ancestors" by David Dearborn, on Saturday, July 27

    The Nutshell series will take a hiatus in August and resume again in September with:

    • "Researching Vermont Ancestors" by Scott Andrew Bartley, on Wednesday, September 4 and Saturday, September 7

    All lectures take place at 10 a.m. Advance registration is not necessary.

    If you have questions, please call the customer service center, toll-free, at 1-888-296-3447, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

    Genealogical Research Scholar Position Open at NEHGS

    Duties of the Genealogical Research Scholar include staffing a library reference desk and researching, writing, and lecturing on genealogy. This is a either a full-time or part-time position.

    FGS Conference, August 8–10, in Ontario, California

    The Federation of Genealogical Societies' conference in Ontario, California, is less than two weeks away. NEHGS will be staffing a booth at the conference, which will feature all the latest NEHGS books and CDs, including New York State Probate Records: A Genealogist's Guide to Testate and Intestate Records and The Complete Great Migration Newsletter, volumes 1-10. If you visit the exhibit hall, please stop by and say hello.

    Conference attendees can hear the following lectures by NEHGS staff members:

    Thursday, August 8, 12:15 p.m.
    D. Brenton Simons on "The New England Genealogical Experience"
    (NEHGS luncheon talk; reservation required)

    Friday, August 9, 12:15 p.m.
    Michael Leclerc on "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Conference"
    (Genealogical Speakers Guild luncheon talk; reservation required)

    The conference will be located at the Ontario Convention Center (2000 Convention Center Way). You can find NEHGS in the exhibit hall at booth numbers 318, 320, and 322.

    The exhibit hall hours are as follows:

    Thursday, August 8: 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
    Friday, August 9: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
    Saturday, August 10: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

    You can also attend the following book signings at the NEHGS booth in the exhibit hall:

    Thursday, August 8

    3–3:30 p.m. Marsha Hoffman Rising,
    editor of Vermont Newspaper Abstracts, 1783-1816

    Friday, August 9

    1:30–2 p.m. Marsha Hoffman Rising,
    editor of Vermont Newspaper Abstracts, 1783-1816

    3–3:30 p.m. Tony Burroughs,
    author of Black Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree

    4:30–5 p.m. Paula Stuart Warren and James Warren,
    authors of Your Guide to the Family History Library

    Saturday, August 10

    10:30–11 a.m. Sharon DeBartolo Carmack,
    author of Your Guide to Cemetery Research

    If you would like to contact the New England Historic Genealogical Society about its participation in the FGS conference, please email

    If you would like information about attending the conference, you can contact the Federation of Genealogical Societies at 1-888-FGS-1500 or visit their website at

    Summer Sale! 3-Volume Great Migration Begins Book Set on Sale for $99

    Act soon to receive a special sale price on The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, discounted for a limited time to NEHGS members for only $99. (Regular price $125.) These classic volumes offer 2,386 pages of the finest scholarship on the earliest wave of New England settlers. Sale price in effect through August 31.

    Great Migration Newsletter Online
    Also, subscribe today to volume 11 of the Great Migration Newsletter Online at the special low price of $10. The online newsletter features Great Migration sketches from future volumes not yet available in print.

    The Victoria County Histories

    For years one of the English family historian's useful tools has been a vast (and famously incomplete) series of county histories, undertaken in 1899, dedicated to and named for the ancient and powerful Queen who then ruled the world's greatest Empire. I refer, of course, to the Victoria County Histories — still bound in leather red as the color that formerly denoted British territory on the world map. Queen Victoria has long since gone to her reward, but in an almost unimaginably changed world the VCH is still being compiled. Its website,, now provides a most helpful guide to what is done, what is being done, and what has yet to be done.

    The scope of the VCH remains awesome — indeed, Victorian — in its intended reach (I quote here from the website): "a reference book that when complete will record the authentic factual history of every city, town and village in England," as well as a huge amount of more general social history. Coverage of each county is divided into "general" and "topographical" volumes, the latter covering localities and parishes in detail. Funded by a wide variety of local committees and cities and towns as well as the Institute of Historical Research, publication of the series lurches forward at about three volumes yearly. It is important to remember that volumes for each county are not necessarily published in numerical order, but appear when they are finished. In this case — especially since the NEHGS owns virtually all the VCH hitherto published — our holdings of volumes I, III, IV, VI, VIII and XIV for this or that county may well not be an incomplete set! Luckily, the "county list" on the VCH website should help solve these questions.

    Despite the many administrative changes of the century just past, the VCH (for consistency's sake) is compiling county histories on the basis of the traditional boundaries and subdivisions current in 1899, which had been the case for England's history up to that time. Traditionally, the most common county subdivision was the hundred (though not the only one, witness the 'ward' and 'wapentake'; uniformity would be un-English). If you are confused by this ancient system, you are in good company: the Oxford English Dictionary cites the historian William Stubbs, who noted that the hundred "'has been regarded as denoting simply a division of a hundred hides of land; as the district which furnished a hundred warriors to the host; as representing the original settlement of the hundred warriors; or as composed of a hundred hides, each of which furnished a single warrior' (Const. Hist. 1.v.45)," as well as F. W. Maitland, who found that "it is certain that in some instances the hundred was deemed to contain exactly 100 hides of land" (Oxford English Dictionary [2nd ed., 1989], 7:491, col. 3). Whatever its origins, by Anglo-Saxon times a "hundred" would by custom support its own court and would be generally named for the place where residents met to hold court or muster for war. A great many of these "hundred" names now have no obvious connection to the places that lie within them, such as "Ossolstone [Oswald's stone]" to the areas of north London it occupies. This ancient and vexing system now may be rendered a bit more manageable, if not tamed, by modern technology. Many "in progress" county sites at key localities to their hundreds, and therefore to the relevant volume of that county's VCH. Another page notes that a "comprehensive guide" to sets already completed is itself in progress and will be published soon. A most welcome prospect!

    All of this being said, it's a rash researcher who attacks the VCH in search of raw genealogical data. The emphasis is on the topographical and historical, not primarily the genealogical picture, and tends to treat the places (and the records generated around them) rather than the majority of working people who over the centuries have passed through and maintained them. Thus, records of tenure of the local manor, showing the passage of families through a property — the alliances that kept them there, or the circumstances that ruined them — are apt to be noted. If your family indeed owned the manor, some of their land transactions may well be mentioned. Some of these manorial papers may still be in the custody of present owners, or may have been turned over to the local County Record Office. If the ancestors sought were instead the working people who toiled in the "squire's" fields, brewed his beer, or knelt with him in church, knowing which manor a family lived on is vital for tracking down manorial court records, which are important in tracing the movements of ordinary folk. For this reason, and as a peerless source of background local history, the VCH is useful to all researchers. (It is heartening to know that humble folk can indeed be traced: the above mentioned Bishop William Stubbs [1825-1901], working in pre-VCH days, "came of such solid yeoman stock that he could amuse himself in later life by working out his line of ancestors among the crown tenants of Knaresborough as far back as the fourteenth century" [Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement (1912), 3:444]).

    Happily, thirteen counties in the VCH (Bedfordshire, 3 vols.; Buckinghamshire, 4; Huntingdonshire, 4; Lancashire, 8; the extinct county of Rutland, 2; Worcestershire, 4; Berkshire, 4; Cambridgeshire, 10; Hampshire, 5; Hertfordshire, 3; Surrey, 4; Warwickshire, 8; York General, 4; and Yorkshire North Riding, 2) have been finished, some as long as 80 or 90 years ago. Several of these sets have comprehensive index volumes in addition. The number of counties "in progress" — many with websites, provided in the progress list — gives one hope (Cheshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Yorkshire East Riding, Derbyshire, Essex, Middlesex/London [Westminster], Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire, and Sussex), while those listed as "dormant" (Cumberland, with 2 vols.; Devon, 1; Herefordshire, 1; Lincolnshire, 1; Norfolk, 1; Westmorland, none; York West Riding, none; Cornwall, 10; Dorset, 2; Kent, 3; Leicestershire, 5; Northamptonshire, 4; Nottinghamshire, 2; and Suffolk, 2), not to mention "in abeyance" (City of London, and Southwark) - certainly gives one pause. Note how much of East Anglia and the West Country — parent ground of so many New England progenitors — currently dozes in the "dormant" column. While Westminster is being treated under Middlesex, coverage of the great City of London and Southwark is "in abeyance" for now; for the foreseeable future, one volume (the Romano-British era, Anglo-Saxon remains, medieval ecclesiastical history and religious houses) apparently must suffice for all that roiling tide of humanity that has since passed over the Thames. Of course, among those millions went many of our ancestors, carrying their clues with them!

    At least half of the counties "in progress" have linked sites that most helpfully index localities — most helpful for these multi-volume works that organize places by the "hundred" system which even in 1899 was growing obsolete. Also on the VCH site are sections for news which relay the welcome word that Cornwall, Durham, Kent and/or Herefordshire may be showing signs of revival. (This last is hearty news for those toiling in that lovely, under-researched county on the Welsh Marches, where half the population — armigerous or not — seems to be surnamed Thomas, and is served at present only by VCH Vol. I, a magisterial tome covering [as I remember] the local prehistoric earthworks!) Also very encouraging comes word of numerous projects and seminars, treating a wide variety of historical topics, probably in substantial detail, on a local or parish level. Not all county links (especially for those whose sets are complete) function fully as yet, but this site seems a good work well started. Where there's life, there's hope, seems to be the motto here; certainly the VCH's current efforts promise not only to help with longstanding problems in using the series, but to bear good fruit in themselves.

    —Julie Helen Otto, NEHGS Reference Librarian (with special thanks to George F. Sanborn Jr.)


    Reduced Hours at Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics

    NEHGS received the following announcement from the Massachusetts Registery of Vital Records and Statistics:

    "Due to budget restrictions and subsequent staffing reductions, the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics is reducing its hours of service effective August 5, 2002.

    New service hours will be:

    Counter (To obtain certified copies of birth, death, and marriage records)
    Monday–Friday, 8:45 a.m.–4:45 p.m.

    Public research
    Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–12 noon, and 2 p.m.–4:30 p.m.

    We apologize for any inconvenience that these changes may cause. If you have any questions or comments, please call 617-740-2613."

    Herrick Family Association Announces Inaugural Meeting
    Salem, Massachusetts
    August 23–25, 2002

    The Herrick Family Association, formed in November, 2001, is established to: 1) continue the research into the Herrick families in America and the world, 2) provide a forum for sharing genealogical information, and 3) produce the 3rd Edition of the Herrick Family Register, adding to the work of Gen. Jedediah Herrick and Dr. Lucius C. Herrick, M.D., in 1846 and 1885.

    It is fitting for the first meeting to be held in Salem/Beverly, Massachusetts where Henerie Hericke, the common progenitor of many of the Herricks in America, settled in 1629. The lives and times of Henerie and his descendants bring to life the key moments of American history from the earliest days through the present. The Herrick cousins who stayed in England or settled in New England, New York, other U.S. sites, Canada, and other spots around the world are equally important and interesting to the Herrick Family Association.

    Learn more about the Herrick Family Association and the inaugural meeting at

    Favorite Ancestor Feedback

    We continue with reader submissions to the questions "Who is your favorite ancestor? Why?" If you would like to contribute information on your favorite ancestor, please send your story to Lynn Betlock at Thank you to all past and future contributors!

    "From Paris to Neola, Iowa"
    by Georgianna Hanrahan of Norwalk, Connecticut

    The story I find myself telling the most is the one about Father Marie Theodore Schiffmacher. Born in Alsace, France in August,1834, described in family records as the son of a French General, Phillippe Conrad Charles Schiffmacher, he studied for the priesthood in Paris, and was a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Shortly after ordination, as a Holy Ghost Father, he was sent to Black Rock College, just north of Dublin, Ireland, at its opening in 1860, and supervised the erection of the first of the buildings of the College in 1861. Records describe Father Schiffmacher as "a very sensitive and excitable man," who was often teased by a fellow priest, Father Hobauer, a German, at a time when tensions between Alsace and Germany ran high. He "clocked" (struck) this fellow priest in front of the students, left the college at Christmas, 1862, and was separated from the order in 1863.

    The French Society for the Propagation of the Faith sent many young priests to the American west as a missionary assignment, for there were no American priests available for service there. Perhaps this is the means by which Father Schiffmacher was assigned to the Diocese of Dubuque, Iowa, in 1866. After working in several small parishes in Iowa — Washington, Bellevue, Red Oak, and Fairfield — he was sent to Neola where he remained. He died in Neola on Jan 24 1901 and was buried in the cemetery on the hill above Neola. The Neola parish participated in the program known as the "Orphan Trains," (now considered controversial) and Father Schiffmacher played an active role in helping the nuns find families for the orphans from New York.

    Another family researcher, Edward Schiffmacher, on a visit to Neola, met with Sister Roberta Brich and her mother, and there on the mantle of their house was a picture of Father Schiffmacher. With the help of Black Rock College, Edward then discovered that in 1868, two years after his arrival in America, Father Schiffmacher wrote to Father Leman at Black Rock College asking to return to his Order: ". . . It is beyond doubt that the secular priest has great merits — but in our wild prairies (among our Protestants, Methodists, Mormons, unbelieving Free-Masons etc.) and a life of continual touring — having no fellow brother or two and the bell which called you for duty, you become cold, disorderly, irreligious. I hope the good God will forgive me - recommend me in the prayers of the brotherhood and I hope again to work for the glory of the good God from the floor of the Congregation." But, his plea to return was refused.

    I am indebted to Edward Schiffmacher, who wrote a lengthy article about his Schiffmacher family research, which was published by the Boulder Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 29 #2, May 1997, pg. 55, which he titled: "Who was Father Schiffmacher?". Permission for this submission has been obtained from Edward Schiffmacher, and from the Boulder Genealogical Society.

    ". . . I often think about the injustice that befell her"
    By Dorothy Lordi of South Bend, Indiana

    Lydia Gilbert, born in England in 1626, was executed at the hanging ground at Hartford, Connecticut, 24 May 1653/4 when charged with witchcraft by her boarder Thomas Allyn. She lived in Windsor, Connecticut, but later the family moved to Wethersfield. She is my direct ancestor and I often think about the injustice that befell her.

    ". . . a rather picturesque life"
    By Margaret Buckridge Bock

    My grandfather, John Ninde Buckridge, died before I was born. In 1982, my husband and I retired to his retirement home and mingled our furniture with his, creating an unbelievable kinship. He had led a rather picturesque life. He had enlisted in the Navy and had been assigned to the supply ship under the command of Commodore Perry, sailing to Japan where the Treaty of Friendliness was signed in 1854. Next, he was on the Paraguay Expedition and then served in the Civil War, losing his right leg at the knee. After the war, he owned a grocery store in West Farms, NY, which he sold to become a lighthouse keeper, serving at Stepping Stones, Stratford Shoals, Eaton's Neck, and Lynde Point, Saybrook CT.

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