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  • 2002 Archive

  • Vol. 4, No. 31
    Whole #87
    November 15, 2002

    • Happy Anniversary,!
    • New Databases on
    • New Research Articles on
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    • Circulating Library Holiday Special
    • A Sampler of New Circulating Library Books
    • Beginning Genealogy with Laura Prescott Duffy at the Peterborough [N.H.] Historical Society
    • From the Volunteer Coordinator
    • Did Your Ancestors Live in Andover, Maine?
    • Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step
    • "Searching the Ellis Island Database and 1930 Census with Fewer Tears"
    • Favorite Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    Happy Anniversary,!

    Dear Friends:

    This week marks the first anniversary of the current website. As we blow out the anniversary candles we would like to thank you, our members, for the support you have shown us in creating and sustaining this new site.

    Our first website, launched in September of 1995 was a simple site containing information about the Society and a copy of our sales catalog. We then moved to a more updated site with advanced information about the Society and its holdings in 1997. In 1999 we launched the first site designed and implemented by professional developers. It was this incarnation that launched the name

    As part of our commitment to provide greater access to the collections for our members, the Society made a substantial investment in creating a new website, completely redesigned with our members in mind.

    Under the leadership of D. Brenton Simons, assistant executive director, and Michael J. Leclerc, director of electronic publications, we launched the new site on November 19, 2001 with 1.8 million names in two databases: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1847–1994, and The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620–1633. Over the course of the past twelve months we have grown to 7.3 million names in over 700 databases covering a wide range of New Englanders from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.

    And there is more to come. Over the course of the past year we have made hundreds of changes to the site, large and small. Many of these changes were based on the feedback we have gotten from you, all of which is read and considered seriously.

    Two weeks ago we redesigned our Master Search page to allow searching by categories, and your results are now displayed according to the same categories. In addition, you can conduct searches using more variables, to allow more specific results. And we will soon make a significant addition to the site by providing access to the Social Security Death Index.

    Once again, we thank you, our members, for all of your support, and at this time would like to formalize a new commitment to you. Each and every week we will add new content — new databases, research articles, and other tools — to our website. We encourage you to visit the site frequently and let us show you how we are living up to our commitment, and look forward to hearing your success stories.

    We have been encouraged by the large number of new members that have come to us through the website and the overwhelmingly positive response we have received from longtime members about this new research benefit. We hope you have enjoyed our first year, and we look forward to providing you with excellent service and resources for many years to come.

    Ralph Crandall
    Executive Director

    New Databases on

    Bill of Mortality for Dover, New Hampshire — Deaths from 1708 to 1802

    Originally printed in 1803 by James K. Remich, the full title of this work is Bill of Mortality for the Society of Friends in Dover, N.H. from 1708 to 1791. Also a General Bill of Mortality for Dover, N.H. The original text is kept in our rare books collection. In addition to the sixty-four deaths recorded for the Society of Friends' Bill of Mortality, this work also includes deaths taken from Deacon Benjamin Peirce's records (who included the cause of death in many entries) and from the records of Nathaniel Cooper. The total number of deaths recorded is 653. The introduction notes that the town of Dover had much more territory at the time the deaths were recorded than it did at the time the bill was compiled. The town of Dover originally included the current towns of Somersworth, Rollinsford, Durham, and Madbury.

    Search Bill of Mortality for Dover, Hew Hampshire at

    Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, by James N. Arnold, Volumes 13 and 14

    We continue to add new volumes of Arnold's Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 to our database.

    Volume 13 contains death notices from January 3, 1820 to December 31, 1829 (surnames S to Z) from the Providence Journal and death notices from the Providence Gazette, 1762–1825 (surnames A to J).

    Volume 14 contains death notices (surnames M to Z) and marriages (surnames A to C) from the Providence Gazette, 1762–1825.

    Search Vital Record of Rhode Island 1636-1850 at

    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    This week we have added transcriptions from cemeteries in the towns of Barnstead, New Hampshire; Freeport, Maine; New London, Connecticut; Orange, Massachusetts; and Wrentham, Massachusetts.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at

    The Thomas Cary Diary – 1768

    Rev. Thomas Cary (1745–1808) was one of the ministers along the Merrimack River who encouraged the patriotism of parishioners during the Revolutionary War. He started his diary in Weston, Massachusetts, in 1762 and continued writing until 1806. This installment includes his observations from the year 1768. Entries of the previous six years are also available in this database, which contains transcriptions of Cary's notes as well as images of the diaries.

    Search Rev. Thomas Cary's diary at

    New Look for Master Search Results

    We recently redesigned our master search page by grouping each individual database under specific categories. This week we have improved our format for master search results pages. Each results page will now show the general category name (i.e., vital records, diaries and journals, military, etc) followed by a link to the individual databases within the categories that received a hit. You will also see the number of matches for each individual database and the total matches for each general category. Only databases and categories that have results will be displayed.

    Try our new master search now at

    New Research Articles on

    Connecticut Oral History Interviews
    by Joyce S. Pendery, CG

    Free Non-Member Preview!
    The Computer Genealogist
    Photo Sharing: What Genealogists Need to Know
    by Maureen A. Taylor

    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library

    The "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series continues with:

    • "The 1930 Census: Ins and Outs" by Walter Hickey of the National Archives Northeast Branch in Waltham, Massachusetts, on Saturday, November 16

    • "Newspaper Sources at the Boston Public Library" by Henry Scannell, curator of microtext and newspapers at the Boston Public Library, on Wednesday, November 20 and Saturday, November 23

    • "Find Your French-Canadian Ancestors" by Michael J. Leclerc on Wednesday, November 27 and Saturday, November 30

    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 member services at 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

    Circulating Library Holiday Special

    In celebration of the upcoming holiday season, the Circulating Library is offering members an additional free book on loan with every order. If you order online (, please place your free choice in the comments box so your credit card will not be charged.

    This offer will expire at midnight on December 31, 2002. If you have any questions, please call our toll-free number 1-888-296-3447, extension 300, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday, or email

    A Sampler of New Circulating Library Books

    Early Life in Sheffield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts: A Biography of Its Ordinary People from Early Times to 1860 by James Miller.
    This compact book covers the history of Sheffield through chapters on early settlers, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, everyday life, religion, education, medicine, and boundary development.

    Boston's Wayward Children, Social Services for Homeless Children, 1830–1930 by Peter Holloran.
    This book discusses from a historical perspective institutional care for homeless children in Boston. A number of child welfare agencies and charities are examined including those representing Protestants, Catholics, Jews, African-Americans and Italians. A full chapter is devoted to the Boston Juvenile Court and Clinic. Homeless and wayward children have been a concern in American society from its earliest times. The author concludes that understanding this problem is essential to understanding American social philosophy.

    Captain Jotham Parsons (1783–1860): A Genealogical Biography by Joan Parsons Wang. CS71/P269/2001
    The late author Joan Parsons Wang wrote this as a biography of her great-great grandparents Jotham and Olive (Greenleaf) Parsons. Captain Parsons is a descendant of John and Elizabeth Parsons who were born in the seventeenth century. The author devotes the first three chapters to the generations of Parsons who preceded Jotham Parsons. The book traces this family forward for ten generations. It includes a very complete index and bibliography.

    Early Bowdoin, Maine, Families and Some of Their Descendants by Jayne Bickford.
    The author pieces together information on this community's vital records, which were destroyed in a fire, from a variety of sources. The records covered range from the town's earliest days to 1900. The book is arranged alphabetically and there is an index.

    To order these selections or any titles from the Circulating Library, please visit If you have any questions, please call our toll-free number 1-888-296-3447, extension 300, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday, or email

    Beginning Genealogy with Laura Prescott Duffy at the Peterborough [N.H.] Historical Society
    Tuesday, November 19, 2002

    Laura Prescott Duffy, educational services coordinator at the New England Historical Genealogical Society, will present a talk for beginning genealogists on November 19. The program will start at 7 p.m. in Bass Hall at the Peterborough Historical Society (19 Grove Street in Peterborough, New Hampshire). The presentation will focus on tools and techniques for the novice genealogist.

    The program is the third in a series of special programs celebrating the Peterborough Historical Society's centennial year. The talk is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 603-924-3235.

    To view the Peterborough Historical Society's website, please visit

    From the Volunteer Coordinator

    Our members who volunteer from home are busy, and the NEHGS publishing staff has a number of projects in progress. If anyone at home has time and would be interested in proofreading material for one of our editors, I would be delighted to hear from you. There are deadlines that must be met, but we do try to allow plenty of time for the work to be done. We send out the work via Fedex, with a return postage slip.

    I hope that those of you who are already involved with a project are finding it interesting. Please do remember that I am available for anyone who has questions or concerns; I am here for you at 617-226-1276 or

    Thank you,

    Susan Rosefsky
    Volunteer Coordinator

    Did Your Ancestors Live in Andover, Maine?

    If your ancestors lived in Andover, Maine, then you won't want to miss the extensive website created by NEHGS member Robert Spidell. His historical and genealogical website features births, deaths, marriages, cemetery transcriptions, obituaries, and photos, plus a wealth of information about the history of Andover.

    Andover, Maine, located in Oxford County in the western part of the state, was settled by hardy pioneers from Andover, Massachusetts, and surrounding towns about 200 years ago.

    ViewRobert Spidell's website at

    Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step

    The Stephen P. Morse "Ellis Island Database in One Step" located at is now giving excellent response time. This site virtually obsoletes the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation search site at

    The Morse site provides the following features—across the entire database of 23 million immigrants: First name can be specified as Starts With, Is or Contains. Last name can be specified as Starts With, Is, Contains or Sounds Like. Town name can be specified as Starts With, Is, Contains or Sounds Like. The year of arrival can be isolated to a range of years. This is also true for age at arrival and year of birth. The soundex algorithm is the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex system. This system is superior to the conventional soundex in a number of ways such as soundexing to six meaningful codes instead of four (eliminating many false positives in large databases such as the Ellis Island database) and soundexing the initial letter (the conventional soundex system retains the initial letter of a name.)

    As an example, my next door neighbor is the grandson of Italian immigrants. He did not know the correct way to spell his grandfather's original name (is was Marcogiuseppe) so I keyed in Marcogiseppe. The Morse site found not only the grandfather, but seven other relatives with the following spelling variations: Marcogiuseppe, Marcoguesippe, Marcoguiseppe, Marcoguiseppi and Marcoquiseppe. When I tried the SLEIF site using Marcogiseppe, I got no hits and could not invoke the spelling variant feature. In other words I got nothing.

    In another application, I took advantage of the fact that you only have to specify the first letter of the last name when I was searching for a man whose given name was known but surname unknown or misspelled. I knew the person arrived in 1901 and was born about 1880. At the Morse site I specified the first name, limited the arrival years to 1900–1902, limited the birth year to 1878–1882 and stepped through 26 searches of possible last names (A–Z). Total time was about 10 minutes with a cable modem. Such a search would not have been possible at the Ellis Island site.

    —This article by Gary Mokotoff is reprinted with permission from the Nu? What's New?, the e-zine of Jewish genealogy published by Avotaynu. For more information on Nu? What's New?, please visit

    "Searching the Ellis Island Database and 1930 Census with Fewer Tears"
    Newton, Massachusetts
    December 8, 2002, 1:30–4:30 p.m.

    On December 8, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston will present a program entitled "Searching the Ellis Island Database and 1930 Census with Fewer Tears" by Dr. Stephen Morse. Dr. Morse, in conjunction with Michael Tobias and Erick Steinmartz, developed "One-Step" search-tool websites that simplify access to both databases. These websites have attracted attention worldwide. (It is Dr. Morse's website Ellis Island Database in One Step that is described so glowingly in the above article.)

    The program will be held at Temple Reyim, which is located at 1860 Washington Street (Route 16) in Newton. Temple Reyim is near the Newton-Wellesley Hospital and the Woodland stop on the Riverside Green Line, as well as a short ride from Route 128 at Exit 21. For further directions, please visit

    Admission to the program is free for members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston and is $5 for non-members.

    For more information, call 617-796-8522, email or visit the website of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston 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 in 300 words or less to Lynn Betlock at Thank you to all past and future contributors!

    ". . . a dedicated patriot . . ."
    By Donald Britton Miller of Saratoga, California

    Ebenezer Britton [Brettun in his personal records], born in Raynham, Massachusetts, in 1715,
    is my favorite, because of the research challenge he created and his outstanding service in establishing our country.

    He died in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, in 1788, and is still known there as "the father of us all". He had two wives and sired nineteen children, each of whom presents the researcher with an extensive descendant line. In Revolutionary days, he was a dedicated patriot and an eager signer of the "Association Test". When his neighbors were troubled by the depreciation of Continental money, he said, "I am not afraid of Continental money; it will be redeemed in good time. But redeemed or not redeemed, no soldier who has fought under George Washington shall go hungry while I have corn to feed him".

    He was active in church matters [a deacon], a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and is said to have been a member of the Continental Congress, from 1777 to 1778. He acted as treasurer of the Army several times.

    Six of his sons served in the Revolutionary War and one, Job, was wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Another, Samuel, a member of the Green Mountain Boys, served at the Battle of Bennington, Vermont. My membership in the Sons of the American Revolution was established on Ebenezer's service.

    The inscription on his marker in North Cemetery, Westmoreland, reads:

    "In memory of Ebenezer Britton
    who died January 1778
    in the 73rd year of his age.
    Return my friends, dry up your tears,
    here I must lie 'till Christ appears'.
    Draw near my friends and take a thought,
    how soon your grave may be your lot.
    Make sure of Christ while life remains
    and death will be eternal gain".

    " . . . No place for a young lady . . ."
    By Dennis N. Reed of Rochester, New York

    As the story is told, my favorite ancestor, Jersuha Bradish, was a young woman of but eighteen years when the news reached her that her brother had been wounded at Lexington [Massachusetts]. She went alone on horseback from New Salem [Massachusetts], to Lexington, riding thirty-six hours, with only four hours rest. Upon reaching Lexington, she was told she could not see her brother as a field hospital was no place for a young lady and she would not be admitted. Persevering, and after several hours of arguing with one official after another she finally gained admission and procured medical aid for her brother, who was supposedly fatally wounded. After several weeks of nursing, she was able to bring him home with her. The wounded brother later married and has descendants living in New York State.

    Joseph Corson, My Family's Hands-down Favorite Ancestor
    By Memma Kilgannon of Audubon, Pennsylvania

    Joseph Corson, born 1716, was the fourth and possibly fifth generation in America, descending from early Dutch and probably also English settlers (oh, those elusive maiden names!) of Long Island. They were whalers who followed the whales down to Cape May County, New Jersey, and began settling there in the 1680s. He married Rachel Corson, his housekeeper and second cousin, in 1759 when he was forty-two. I've read that he married her to avoid having to pay her!

    Joseph became Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1762, and a Justice of the Court of Oyer and Terminer for the county in 1773. In 1775, in a field of five candidates for the Committee of Safety, three to be elected, he ran a very, very poor third. Late in 1762, he and others petitioned the legislature for a toll bridge over Cedar Swamp Creek. A law was passed "for its building and a causeway," and a drawbridge was built. When libraries had "Silence" signs on every table, I burst out laughing when I came across the following information: Joseph was a shipbuilder and his shipyard was on the upstream side of that bridge. After some years the powers-that-be replaced the deteriorating bridge with a solid bridge instead of a new drawbridge. When Joseph had a ship ready for launching, he would tear down the bridge, and after this happened several times, they rebuilt the bridge with a moveable section so he could get his ships to the sea. Obviously, then as now, it took the authorities quite a while to get the message.

    Some of my children refer to him as "Bridge-burning Joe"; not accurate but sort of rolls off the tongue and gives some idea of his personality. Now, doesn't Joseph Corson beat the traditional fear of finding a horse-thief?!!

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