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  • 2002 Archive

  • Vol. 4, No. 34
    Whole #90
    December 6, 2002

    • New Databases on
    • New Research Articles on
    • Using A Technical Tip
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    • Announcing a Holiday Sale in the Family Treasures Bookshop
    • Save the Dates for the NEHGS 2003 Summer Conference
    • Second Annual NEHGS London Genealogical Study Tour, Sept. 23–Oct. 4, 2003
    • From the Volunteer Coordinator
    • James Coburn (1928–2002): A Genealogical Tribute
    • Lunenburg's 250th Anniversary Grand Family Reunion
    • Favorite Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    Record of Marriages Solemnized by Reverend H. F. A. Patterson in the State of Maine, 1854–1892

    Henry Fitz Allen Patterson served the Maine Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church from June 1849 to 1892. He served primarily in the counties of Cumberland, York, and Penobscot, but performed marriages in other counties and states as well. This typescript was donated to NEHGS in 1970 by Mrs. Warren C. Campbell, of Mansfield, Mass.


    Marriages by Elder Jabez True of Salisbury, Mass., 1812–1835

    Jabez True was born January 23, 1764, in Salisbury, Massachusetts. The son of Deacon Samuel True, Jr., and Hannah Haseltine, Elder True was a minister in Salisbury for forty years. He married Ruth Brown in 1786 and they had at least eight children, including three who died young. Elder True died in Salisbury, May 2, 1835, at 72 years of age.


    Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, by James N. Arnold, Vols. 19 and 20

    We continue to add new volumes of Arnold's Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 to our database. Volume 19 contains death notices (surnames N–Z) from the newspapers Providence Phenix, Providence Patriot, Columbian Phenix, as well as marriages (surnames A–G) from the Rhode Island American. Volume 20 contains marriage notices (surnames H–Z) and deaths (A–B) from the Rhode Island American.


    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    This week we have added transcriptions from cemeteries in the towns of East Haddam and Union, Connecticut; Alna, Maine; and New Rochelle, New York.


    The Diary of Rev. Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Mass — 1769

    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 1769.


    Master Search

    Or master search all databases at

    New Research Articles on

    Notable Kin
    The New England Ancestry of Clint Eastwood

    by Gary Boyd Roberts

    Rhode Island
    All the News Fit To Print: Rhode Island Newspapers
    by Maureen A. Taylor

    New Hampshire
    New Happenings at New Hampshire Vital Records
    by Sherry L. Gould

    Using A Technical Tip

    If you are experiencing difficulty with our Master Database Search, placing an online order with our store or circulating library, or trying to renew, or join the organization online, you may need to check your local settings to verify that your system accepts Javascript. For instructions on how to enable Javascript settings, visit /?page_id=592&attrib1=1&seq_num=70101.

    You may also call Member Services for assistance in ordering materials from the store and circulating library, or to join the Society or renew your existing membership. To contact Member Services, call toll-free 1-888-296-3447. The staff is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

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

    The "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series continues with:

    • "A Good Deed: Important Documents for Your Research" by David C. Dearborn on Saturday, December 7

    • "Genealogical Mining in the Granite State (New Hampshire)" by George F. Sanborn, Jr. on Wednesday, December 11 and Saturday, December 14

    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.

    Announcing a Holiday Sale in the Family Treasures Bookshop

    Do your holiday shopping at NEHGS! On Friday, December 13, and Saturday, December 14, 2002, our entire stock of books, charts, and CD-ROMs in the Family Treasures Bookshop at 101 Newbury Street, Boston, will be 10% off for NEHGS members – and your purchases will be gift wrapped free of charge! We will also offer extra savings on selected books. Supplies will be limited, so shop early for the best selection.

    Don’t live near Boston? Watch for information in the next issue of New England Ancestors about our one-day winter websale, with great markdowns on merchandise for telephone and website orders only!

    If you have any questions, please email, or call Member Services at 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday

    Save the Dates for the NEHGS 2003 Summer Conference

    Mark your calendar now for the NEHGS 2003 summer conference. The "New England Research in the (early) 21st Century" conference will take place at the John Hancock Conference Center in Boston's Back Bay on Friday and Saturday, July 11–12, 2003. There will be a terrific potpourri of guest and staff speakers speaking on topics ranging from basic research in each New England state (plus New York) to writing family histories, digitizing and using manuscripts in your research, and more! Come hear an array of speakers, including Ralph Crandall, David Dearborn, Dick Eastman, and Maureen Taylor, discuss their specialties.

    Information on how to register and additional conference details will be available soon. Watch the NEHGS eNews for further updates. If you have any questions, please email

    Second Annual NEHGS London Genealogical Study Tour, Sept. 23–Oct. 4, 2003

    NEHGS will sponsor its second annual London Study Tour from September 23 to October 4, 2003. The first tour, held in the fall of 2002, was a smashing success and the program is back by popular demand. Once again, the NEHGS group will be accommodated at a comfortable hotel in central London and will visit a host of research repositories, including the Society of Genealogists' Library, the Public Record Office at Kew, the Institute of Historical Research, the Guildhall Library, and many more. Leading the group will be noted genealogical author John Titford, and from the NEHGS staff, assistant executive director D. Brenton Simons. Each member of the NEHGS group will receive personal tutorial assistance from three English research experts: Michael Gandy, Paul Blake, and Geoff Swinfield.

    In order to provide highly personalized assistance to researchers, this tour is limited to twenty participants. Please register as soon as possible in order to reserve your space on the tour. Participants will be expected to make their own flight arrangements to and from London's Heathrow Airport, arriving before 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 23, and departing after 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 4.

    For more information about this tour, please contact Alena Tan at 1-888-286-3447 or email

    From the Volunteer Coordinator

    NEHGS volunteers had a lively and very well attended "brown bag lunch" meeting last month at the NEHGS Library in Boston. We filled the conference room with people, and Deborah Rossi gave an interesting lecture and demonstration of her work in collections conservation and preservation. This is some of the Society's behind the scenes work that our members may not be aware of but is ongoing and important.

    Our volunteers working from home are increasingly busy, and I thank everyone who responded so generously. We have plenty of work to be done, and I will be contacting by email everyone who volunteers.

    Framingham volunteers are growing in number, and we are increasing the work done for NEHGS there. Group mailing sessions are becoming a regular feature, with volunteers also helping with a variety of other tasks. Extra volunteers from the area are certainly welcome. Please contact me at, or leave a message on my voice mail at 617-226-1276, and I will happily respond.

    Thank you,

    Susan Rosefsky

    James Coburn (1928–2002): A Genealogical Tribute

    By David Curtis Dearborn

    Note: A copy of this article that includes endnotes is available on the website at /articles/research/page_id=659&attrib1=1&seq_num=5.

    It is said that there is a little bit of New England in all of us, so when I learned of the recent death of the Hollywood actor James Coburn on 18 November, I wondered if his family was connected to the well-known Coburn-Colburn family of New England.

    Though never in the front rank of Hollywood actors, Coburn's career in television and motion pictures spanned nearly fifty years. He usually appeared in westerns and in action pictures. His lean physique and angular looks led him to be typecast as a tough guy or villain, but his often sly humor won him a steady following. His breakout role was as Britt, the silent knife-fighter in "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), which also starred Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson. Coburn made other noteworthy appearances as the sinister villain in "Charade" (1963), and as a shrink on the run in the screwball comedy "The President's Analyst" (1967). He reached the peak of his fame in "Our Man Flint" (1966) and its sequel, "In Like Flint" (1967), silly parodies of the James Bond films. His career waned over the next several decades, in part because of a long bout with severe rheumatoid arthritis, and he appeared mostly in supporting roles and television commercials. But in 1999 he received an Academy Award as best supporting actor for his role as Nick Nolte's alcoholic, abusive father in "Affliction." Despite the ups and downs of his career, to a whole generation of moviegoers, Coburn was the epitome of "cool."

    With the release of the 1930 U.S. Census and the widespread availability of this and the earlier censuses, both on microfilm and online via such commercial Internet websites as, it is now possible to find genealogical information on millions of ordinary Americans who lived during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    James Coburn was born in Laurel, Cedar County, Nebraska in 1928. It was an easy matter to locate him, as a young child, with his parents in the 1930 U.S. Census. His father and Coburn grandparents and great-grandparents were located with little difficulty in the 1920, 1910 and 1900 Censuses, at Laurel. With a population of under a thousand, Laurel's population schedules could be searched with ease, and the Coburn pedigree for several generations could be traced with confidence. The actor's parents and paternal grandfather moved to Compton, Calif., during the Depression, and their death dates were located in the on-line California Death Index, confirming and adding to the information already gathered from the Censuses. Other sources consulted are referred to in the notes.

    The actor's ancestors are charted by using the Ahnentafel, or "Ancestor Table" method of numbering, in which the Subject is numbered 1, his father 2, mother 3, paternal grandfather 4, paternal grandmother 5, maternal grandfather 6, maternal grandmother 7, paternal grandfather's father 8, etc.

    1 James H[arrison] Coburn, born Laurel, Cedar County, Nebraska 31 August 1928; died Los Angeles, Calif. 18 November 2002.

    2 James H[arrison] Coburn, born [?Laurel, Cedar Co.?] Neb. 6 October 1902; died Orange County, Calif. 24 December 1975. He appears as head of household at Laurel, Cedar County, Neb. in the 1930 Census as James H. Coburn, garage mechanic. He married about 1925,
    3 Mylet S. Johnson, born Neb. 15 November 1901; died Orange County, Calif. 20 February 1984. She appears as James' wife in the 1930 Census; married five years.

    4 Daniel D. Coburn, born Wisconsin 31 May 1868; died Los Angeles County, Calif. 12 November 1946, age 78. He and his wife Altha were living at Laurel, Cedar County, Nebraska in the 1900 Census; he was described as a stockman. In 1910 he was at Laurel, described as a merchant-implements, living with wife Altha, 7-year-old son Harrison, and other children. He and his wife are described as married 12 years and she as the mother of 4 living children, all listed. He was living at Laurel in the 1920 Census, a widower, occupation merchant-automobiles. His son is listed in this census as "Harrison," age 17. He married at Lancaster County, Neb. 10 November 1898,
    5 Altha Ann Johnson, born Crawford County, Iowa about December 1876; living Laurel, Neb. 1910; died by 1920.
    6 --- Johnson, born Sweden; emigrated to Nebraska.
    7 --- Johnson, born Sweden; emigrated to Nebraska.

    8 James H. Coburn, born Vermont January 1837; living at Laurel, Neb. 1920, a widower, no occupation. His birth record has not been found in the Vermont Vital Records. He appears not to have served in the Civil War from either Vermont or Wisconsin. In the 1880 Census he was living in District 171, Yorkville, Racine County, Wis. (listed as "James H. Coboun"), described as age 45, birthplace Vt., dealer in grains. He and his wife Jane were living at Laurel, Neb. in the 1900 Census, in which he is described as proprietor of a general store. In 1910 he was living at Laurel with his wife Jane and two grandchildren. He married, probably in Wisconsin about 1864,
    9 Jane Mathews, born Ohio January 1846 (of English-born parents); living at Laurel 1910; died by 1920. Her maiden name is learned from her son Daniel's listing in the California Death Index.
    10 Noah V. Johnson, born Clay County, Missouri 22 October 1833; died Milford Township, Crawford County, Iowa March 1912; farmer and member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; at Milford Twp. in 1860–1910 Censuses; married at Crawford County 12 October 1853,
    11 Sarah Jane Mason, born Illinois June 1835; living with husband 1880 (described in Census as 44, born Iowa; parents born Ky., Ind.); living with husband 1900, 1910.
    12–15 Unknown.

    16–19 Unknown.
    20 Noah Johnson, born Randolph County, Indiana 12 October 1804; died Zions Camp, Clay County, Missouri 24 June 1834, supposedly during a cholera epidemic; married at Randolph County, Indiana 18 June 1829,
    21 Catherine Burkett, born Fairfield, Greene County, Ohio 4 December 1810; died 1846-49. She married (2) Levi Lewis Skinner.
    22 Jesse Mason, born Garrett County, Kentucky 15 May 1813; died Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa 25 October 1891; married Hancock County, Illinois 1832,
    23 Malinda Edwards, born ----; died Lee County, Iowa.
    24–31 Unknown.

    32–41 Unknown.
    42 George Burkett, born Bedford, Bedford County, Pennsylvania 18 October 1788; died Eden, Weber County, Utah 15 March 1871; married (1) at Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio 16 January 1810,
    43 Sarah Jane Smith, born Taneytown, Carroll County, Maryland 5 January 1789; died Augusta, Des Moines County, Iowa 1846.
    44–63 Unknown.

    64–83 Unknown.
    84 George Burkett, born Pike Twp., Berks County, Pennsylvania 16 August 1755; died Penn. about 1795; married 1779,
    85 Catherine Swoveland, born Germany 1758; died Penn. before 1840.
    86 John Smith, born Taneytown, Carroll County, Md. 1760; died ---; married Md. 1786,
    87 Katherine Best, born Md. 1760; died ---.
    88–127 Unknown.

    128–167 Unknown.
    168 Israel Burkett, born Germany; died Stony Creek Twp., Somerset County, Penn. about 1805; married Germany about 1745,
    169 Anna Marie Barbara.
    170 Peter Swoveland.
    171 Unknown.
    172 Francis Smith.

    Lunenburg's 250th Anniversary Grand Family Reunion

    From 1750 until 1752, roughly 2,700 people left German states (including The Palatinate, Württemburg, Darmstadt-Hesse, Saxony, Bavaria, and Baden), Swiss cantons, and the French-speaking principality of Montbéliard for Nova Scotia. This group of "Foreign Protestants" arrived in Halifax almost immediately after its founding in 1749. In June 1753, the town of Lunenburg was created and became a permanent home for approximately 1,400 of the immigrants. Situated on Nova Scotia's south shore, the new community lent itself to fishing and shipbuilding, trades that would serve the settlers and their descendants well for several generations.

    In honor of Lunenburg's 250th anniversary, the Grand Family Reunion Planning Committee invites all descendants of the town's first families to a five-day celebration beginning on July 10, 2003. "We're dedicated to creating an enjoyable and memorable experience for all Lunenburg 250 attendees," Committee Chair Chris Young said. "A shared love of genealogy and history forms the basis of our event, and we envision a week full of discovery and adventure."

    Events will include:

    • A re-enactment cruise from Halifax to Lunenburg
    • Opportunities to meet other genealogists for a mutually beneficial exchange of information
    • Guided and self-guided tours of the area, including local churches and cemeteries
    • The unveiling of a permanent memorial to the original "Foreign Protestants" settlers
    • Presentations by noted speakers who will put the unique nature of Lunenburg in historical perspective
    • Visits to family information booths, a book fair, and a marketplace

    For information on Lunenburg's 250th Anniversary Grand Family Reunion, including a master index of settlers who arrived in Lunenburg between 1753 and 1775, please visit

    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!

    "He was a true patriot"
    By R. Ferris Randall of Eden, New York

    One of my favorite ancestors was Elishama Tozer, who was born in Lyme, Connecticut on July 3, 1741. He was a true patriot, having fought in the Indian Wars. He was a lieutenant (1776) in Captain Gideon Branson's company, which was commanded by Colonel Seth Warner. He marched to Crown Point, to Ticonderoga, to Montreal, to Quebec, and back to Skensborough (now Whitehall, New York), and was in Warner's regiment at Bennington, Vermont, making him a Green Mountain Boy. He died in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, about 1833. All this information was taken from an affidavit he gave in 1829 to help Abner Blanchard receive a pension.

    The "Infamous Widow Burgess"
    by Al Rose of Fayetteville, North Carolina

    Waite Preston Burgess was born on April 4, 1790, in the border area of Foster, Rhode Island and Sterling, Connecticut, the daughter of justice Daniel (1763–1831) and Mary Baker (1761–1830) Preston.

    The sixth of thirteen children, she was married about 1812 in Windham County, Connecticut, to Welcome (1790–1826) Burgess, the son of Jacob Burgess and Rachel Eames Burgess (1770–1832); Rachel was a Mayflower descendant of Richard Warren.

    Welcome died at age thirty-six and the Widow Burgess was left to fend for herself with her five young children. Her youthful experiences had prepared her to cope in a way not pleasing to her neighbors.

    Prior to her marriage, Waite was "well known" among the young men of the area. She once said that "she'd rather spend an evening at a military camp than at a stuffy ball." Another quote attributed to her was "give me five minutes with any man and I can have him bent to my ways."

    I was surprised that I've been unable to find any mention of Welcome Burgess being involved in the militia build-up for the War of 1812. At any rate, when he died of fever in 1826, leaving Waite with five youngsters, she managed to have her eldest son employed by various farmers in the Killingly area. Yes, innocent it would seem at first . . . but she did not stop there. According to historical information found at the Killingly Historical Society Library, she became known as "the infamous widow Burgess."

    She made it a habit to visit with the married farmers who would employ her son. Soon, the men were seen visiting her home. . . a bit too often in the minds of the other women of the town. The citizenry of the town were eventually convinced to run her out of town. They pulled up her garden and removed the window sashes from her house and "warned her out." Eventually, she made her way back to the vicinity of Sterling, Connecticut, where her father was a well-respected farmer and served as a Justice of the Peace. According to the write-up found at the Killingly Historical Society, her father wanted no part of her return but Waite prevailed.

    Soon, the same problem began to occur in Sterling among the local married farmers. So, her father confronted her with the intention of putting her out. She persuaded him to let her occupy a small outbuilding near the limit of his property so he would not be bothered anymore. This only made matters worse. The most ardent of her admirers was Oliver Watkins. He eventually strangled his wife, Roxana Adams Watkins (who, coincidentally, is buried in the same cemetery as Waite's son and Civil War veteran, Sampson Burgess) and tried to make it look like an accident. After the trial where Oliver Watkins was found guilty, Waite was again run out of town.

    This time she wandered across the state border to nearby Foster, Rhode Island, where her father-in-law, Jacob, reportedly took in her children. She sat by the road, despondent, and a local man "took pity on her" and invited her to use one of the rooms in his house. Other town residents are reported to have thrown rocks at the house in protest, so she was shown out of town the next day.

    From that point, I lose track of her. . . no further record or mention have I been able to find of Waite Preston Burgess. I suspect she was with a son in Connecticut a few years later. An incomplete record in the Barbour collection may be a clue:

    Death record from Barbour Collection for the vital records of Sterling, Connecticut:
    WAIT:_____, female, d. Sept. 12, 1859; 2; 64

    I think it possible that the Wait(e), noted here as a surname, might be a given name.

    Note: Waite Preston Burgess' descendants, nearly one hundred known, include a son and grandson who fought in the Civil War, a volunteer fire chief of Martha's Vineyard who died responding to a fire, a fire chief of Norton, Massachusetts, a Korean war veteran and Coast Guardsman who died on active duty, and a great number of other men and women who for the most part are model citizens. In the current generation alone, there are four men and one woman among her descendants on active duty or recently retired from military service. One is a crew technician and quality control staff sergeant with the famous USAF "Thunderbirds"; another is a sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division and is a Blackhawk helicopter crew chief.

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