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  • 2002 Archive

  • Vol. 4, No. 20
    Whole #76
    August 30, 2002
    • NEHGS Membership Exceeds 20,000 Mark
    • New Databases on
    • Library Closed on Saturday, August 31
    • New Research Articles on
    • New from Newbury Street Press
    • "An Introduction to Using"
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures, Boston, MA
    • Careers at NEHGS
    • Free Admission to NEHGS Research Library on September 11
    • Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Lecture on September 14
    • Favorite Ancestor Feedback

    NEHGS Membership Exceeds 20,000 Mark

    Long a goal of the Society, NEHGS membership passed the 20,000 mark on August 23, 2002. To the best of our knowledge, this represents the largest membership ever achieved for a nonprofit, non-church-affiliated genealogical society in the United States. We believe that there is strength in numbers – for member support enables us to add to our print and online collections, thereby helping existing members and attracting new ones. Popular features of membership, such as our new website, enhanced member publications, circulating library, and many additional goods and services have bolstered our numbers in recent years.

    Thanks to everyone for your support in our programs that has brought us to this record level. We shall continue to strive to earn your support and serve you better.

    Thank you for your marvelous support of NEHGS!

    Ralph J. Crandall, Executive Director

    New Databases on

    Index to Providence, Rhode Island Probate 1646–1899

    The state of Rhode Island is unique in that probate matters are handled by the towns, not by counties or probate districts. In 1897, the City Council of Providence directed the clerk of the Municipal Court to better organize the records prior to 1891. By 1900, this organization was completed and a cumulative index from the city's founding in 1646 through the year 1899 was compiled.

    This database indexes almost 30,000 probate cases handled over the course of two and a half centuries. It is fully searchable by name, case number, date, or type of probate.

    Search the Index to Providence, Rhode Island Probate at

    New towns in the Massachusetts vital records to 1850 database
    Six new towns have been added this week: Arlington, Foxboro, Gardner, Medford, West Stockbridge, and Weymouth.

    Search by town, county, or all of Massachusetts at

    Master Search
    Master search all databases at

    Library Closed on Saturday, August 31

    Please note that the NEHGS library will be closed on Saturday, August 31, in observance of Labor Day. (The library will also be closed on Monday, September 2 - the library is always closed on Mondays.) For information on library hours and upcoming holiday closings please visit

    New Research Articles on

    New Hampshire
    The Tuck Library at the New Hampshire Historical Society
    by Sherry L. Gould

    New York
    New York's Failed Annexation of Vermont
    by Marian Henry

    Free Preview for Non-Members!
    The Computer Genealogist
    Why Johnny Can't Do Genealogy: The Case for Improvement in Online Education
    by Mark Howells

    New from Newbury Street Press:
    A Mills and Kendall Family History
    by Helen Schatvet Ullmann

    A Mills and Kendall Family History (Newbury Street Press, 2002) treats the ancestors and descendants of Bessie Delano Kendall Mills and her husband, Herbert Lee Mills, who respectively descended from two early colonial American families: George1 Mills of Jamaica, New York, and Francis1 Kendall of Woburn, Massachusetts. Bessie Delano Kendall’s patrilineal ancestry extends seven generations, while Herbert Lee Mills’s spans ten, and the book studies the disposition of their ancestors and descendants in great detail. An accompanying section on illustrious ancestors features four Mayflower lines, and such important early Americans as John Lee, a settler of Farmington, Connecticut; Rev. Thomas Hooker of Hartford, Connecticut; Sir John Pell of Pelham Manor, New York; and John Wampus, a Native American settler of Fairfield County, Connecticut, among several others. Helen Schatvet Ullmann has combed countless primary source records to assemble this groundbreaking study. Complementing the text are over fifty illustrations comprising drawings, photographs, and maps.

    Item S49040000, hardcover, 255 pages, $50.00 plus shipping.

    To purchase A Mills and Kendall Family History, please visit the product page in the NEHGS book store at /marketplace/store/browse/product.asp?sku=191406817, or call, toll-free, 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. If you have questions, email the sales department at

    "An Introduction to Using"
    September 11, 6 p.m.

    Learn how to use the NEHGS website to advance your research! In this free class, website administrator Darrin McGlinn will offer a step-by-step live demonstration of the Society's website, Participants will explore the site in depth, ask questions, and become more comfortable using a constantly growing number of online databases and research tools.

    The program will be held on September 11 at 6 p.m. in the education center at 101 Newbury Street, Boston. Advance registration is not required. This class will next be offered on Wednesday, October 9 at 11:30 a.m.

    For more information, please call 617-226-1209 or email

    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures

    After a short summer break, the "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series resumes in September with:

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

    • "Deciphering Old Handwriting" by Jerome Anderson, on Wednesday, September 11, and Saturday, September 14

    • " Preparing Your Family Genealogy for Publication" by Christopher Hartman, on Wednesday, September 18, and Saturday, September 21

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

    For more details about NEHGS education events, please visit . If you have questions, please call the NEHGS Member Services, toll-free, at 1-888-296-3447, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

    Careers at NEHGS

    Three positions are currently open at the NEHGS headquarters in Boston – grant writer, development assistant, and part-time book publications production assistant. For more information about these positions, please visit

    Free Admission to NEHGS Research Library on September 11

    NEHGS will be open to the public free of charge on September 11, 2002, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The events of September 11, 2001, have made us all more aware of the importance of traditional values of home, family, and country. The New England Historic Genealogical Society joins many of its colleagues in Boston's scholarly and cultural community by opening its doors to our community on September 11. This small gesture is made in tribute to the heroes and victims of that tragic day.

    Ralph J. Crandall, Executive Director

    Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Lecture – September 14

    The Middlesex Chapter of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists is presenting a talk by noted educator and genealogist Timothy T. Orwig, titled "Massachusetts Almshouses and the Origins of American Poorhouse Architecture: Forgotten Civic Institutions and Records." This free presentation will be held Saturday, September 14, at 1:30 p.m., at the Waltham Public Library, 753 Main Street, Waltham, Massachusetts. For more information, call (508) 485-3275 or (617) 527-1312.

    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 in 300 words or less to Lynn Betlock at Thank you to all past and future contributors!

    ". . .a woman of unusual strength of mind..."
    By Sandra Trapp

    My favorite ancestor is Hannah (Pearce) Bennett, who was my husband's third great-grandmother. She was born in Otsego County, New York, in 1802 and married Elijah B. Bennett in 1821 at Cherry Valley, New York. Her husband and two of her children died on the same day in 1854 during the cholera season, while another son died in 1858, and a daughter's death followed in 1860. She also lost her parents during this time. She must have been a woman of unusual strength of mind because she did not let these deaths shape her life.

    In about 1862, Hannah packed up her belongings and took what was left of her family (including a grandson that she raised and another older member of the Bennett family) and moved to the Rochelle, Illinois, area, where three of her daughters were living. She bought land and farmed it while taking care of a daughter who was ill for nine years. She died in 1871 at the age of sixty-nine and left in her will, among other possessions, one feather bed and pillows to a granddaughter, an old set of silver teaspoons to another granddaughter, and her other set of silver teaspoons to a third daughter.

    "I am proud to be a twelfth-generation American."
    By Byron Roff

    My favorite ancestor is my immigrant ancestor, Henry Rolfe (1585–1643) of Wiltshire, England and Newbury, Massachusetts. Henry and family left their homes in England in 1635 to take the four to six month trip by boat to the colonies. He had to experience quite a difficult voyage by sea from England to the United States in those days. Many, many people died on the way over, and Henry was fifty years of age at the time of passage. This was quite a feat for someone at that time. More importantly, Henry was my immigrant ancestor, and I am proud to be a twelfth- generation American, enjoying all the rights and privileges of being an American. I thank Henry and family for making this possible.

    ". . .the epitome of courage and selflessness. . ."
    By Meredith Boissy Donatello

    My favorite ancestors are Benjamin Waite and his wife Martha Leonard Waite. Benjamin, "The Hero of the Connecticut Valley," was a courageous, loving, and capable man. When his wife and three daughters were taken captive during the Hatfield Indian Raid of September 19, 1677, Benjamin did not sit idly by but was determined to set his wife and children free or share their fate. He and another man faced the hostile French and Indians and pursued them until he returned with his family to Hatfield. During her captivity Martha gave birth to her fourth daughter, Canada Waite. Martha Leonard Waite, like her husband Benjamin, was extraordinarily courageous. She made a three hundred mile forced march to Canada while pregnant and managed to keep her three small children alive. This feat is so extraordinary because the Indians killed those captives, especially women and children, who could not keep up. This family is and was the epitome of courage and selflessness that is embedded in the American Spirit.

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