American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS
  • 2002 Archive

  • Vol. 4, No. 7
    Whole #63
    April 5, 2002

    • New 2002 Circulating Library Catalogs Now Available!
    • Announcing the NEHGS Bible Records Recruitment Campaign
    • Wednesday Evening Hours Resume at NEHGS Research Library
    • NEHGS Weekend Seminar in Cleveland
    • New Research Articles on
    • NEHGS in the News
    • Coming Soon in the April 2002 Register
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    • When In Doubt, Try Another Name: Strategies for Finding Elusive Ancestors
    • A Search for A Southard Family
    • New in the NEHGS Book Store

    New 2002 Circulating Library Catalogs Now Available!

    Hot off the press! The 2002 edition of the Circulating Library catalog set is now available for purchase through the NEHGS online book store, or at the Family Treasures book store at 101 Newbury Street in Boston. These catalogs list the holdings of the NEHGS Circulating Library in two volumes; volume one contains genealogies and volume two contains local histories. The library catalogs are $15 for the two volume set, plus $4 for book rate shipping or $6.50 for UPS or first class shipping.

    To order the catalogs, call toll-free 1-888-296-3447 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

    Announcing the NEHGS Bible Records Recruitment Campaign

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society has begun a new initiative that will promote the preservation and dissemination of genealogical records, particularly Bible records. NEHGS is seeking donations of Bibles and other family records — either the original record itself or copies of the genealogically-relevant material.

    Since 1845 the New England Historic Genealogical Society has been caring for artifacts — and we have the facilities, equipment, and personnel to preserve family heirlooms far into the future. But the scope of this project extends beyond mere preservation — making the information accessible to other genealogists is essential. Housed at the NEHGS research library in Boston, the records will be made available to on-site researchers and to those using the NEHGS Research Services from a distance. In 2001, NEHGS published a CD-ROM entitled Bible records from the manuscript collections of the New England Historic Genealogical Society that contained thousands of birth, marriage, and death records. Future CDs will continue the Bible records series and further publicize the data found in the Bibles.

    The NEHGS Bible Records Recruitment Campaign was officially inaugurated in March 2002 with a donation by Mr. Richard Bonney, an NEHGS member and volunteer from Needham, Massachusetts. Mr. Bonney donated a copy of a book titled Earthly Trials and Glory of the Immortal Life, published in Canastota, New York, in 1878. Although the book is not a Bible, it is close enough! Three pages of handwritten Whiting family records make it a valuable family record artifact.

    While NEHGS is always pleased to receive donations of original material, the Society is also grateful when xerox copies of original records are donated. Even if you would rather not donate your family heirloom, please consider sharing the genealogically valuable information contained within it. Your distant cousins and future descendants will thank you for your foresight!

    The NEHGS Archivist has established guidelines for donations to the NEHGS Bible Records Project. NEHGS is seeking:

    - Original bibles (or other books containing family records), or
    - Photocopies from such books with all pages containing family information as well as the title page

    In either case, please include a short note with the donor's name, address, and how the Bible was acquired.

    People who donate Bibles or records to NEHGS will be recognized with a decorative certificate.

    Please consider donating your family Bible (or a photocopy of its family record entries and title page) to NEHGS today! For more information about the Bible records project, please contact the special collections department staff:

    Tim Hughes at 617-226-1223 or, or
    Tim Salls at 617-226-1232 or

    Donations of Bibles or family records may be sent to:
    Special Collections Department, NEHGS, 101 Newbury St., Boston MA 02116.

    Wednesday Evening Hours Resume at NEHGS Research Library

    This first week of April marks the return of extended Wednesday evening hours at the NEHGS Research Library in Boston. The Library is now open both Wednesday and Thursday evenings until 9 p.m.

    NEHGS Research Library hours of operation:

    Tuesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Wednesday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Sunday – closed
    Monday – closed

    NEHGS Weekend Seminar in Cleveland

    May 10–11, 2002
    At the Cleveland Holiday Inn Select City Center Lakeshore
    Co-sponsored with the Genealogical Committee of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

    Join NEHGS in Cleveland, Ohio, for a two-day conference at the Holiday Inn Select City Center Lakeshore. NEHGS professional genealogists David Dearborn, Henry B. Hoff, David Allen Lambert, and Ruth Quigley Wellner will present both new and classic lectures on methods and techniques for genealogical research.

    For further information or to register, please contact the education department by calling 1-888-286-3447, ext. 227, or emailing

    New Research Articles on

    Deaths and Funerals at Brooksville, Maine — Recorded in the Diary of Margaret (Lord) Varnum
    By Russell C. Farnham
    "Diaries are rewarding to genealogists for a number of reasons. They provide a fascinating look at events that occurred many years ago written by a person who had lived through them. Many diaries identify family members or at least give clues about their identity. Additionally, diaries often contain the answers to elusive questions about a birth, death, or marriage. Many diaries, however, only cover a very short period of time, which limits their ability to provide a broad-based, detailed look into the window of years past."

    Rhode Island
    Rhode Island Soldiers in the Civil War — Books and Resources
    By Maureen A. Taylor
    "Ken Burns immortalized two Rhode Island soldiers in his PBS-TV documentary on the Civil War — Sullivan Ballou and Elisha Hunt Rhodes. The recitation of the poignant words written by Sullivan Ballou to his wife one week before his death on the battlefield was among the most affecting moments of Burns's documentary. Elisha Rhodes kept a diary during his years of service that a descendant published as All For The Union: a history of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Great Rebellion as told by the diary and letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes… (edited by Robert Hunt Rhodes, A. Mowbray, 1985). Yet these men were only two of the more than 24,000 soldiers who served in the infantry, cavalry, heavy artillery, light artillery, and in the hospital guards. The best way to begin searching for your own Civil War ancestors in Rhode Island is to seek out the many print and manuscript resources that are available. They may help you discover some new facets of your ancestor's participation in the war.

    The English Poll Taxes
    By George Redmonds
    "It is possible that some genealogists in America are unaware of a recent and very significant publishing project in England entitled The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381. This three-volume work, edited by Carolyn C. Fenwick, is part of the New Series of the Records of Social and Economic History, published for the British Academy by the Oxford University Press. The aim has been to cover all the records of the English poll taxes, county by county, in alphabetical order. The first volume, covering Bedfordshire-Leicestershire, appeared in 1998 and was followed by Lincolnshire-Westmorland in 2001. The third volume will complete the county sequence and also include indexes, glossaries, and other information relevant to the series as a whole."

    Coming Soon:

    Topic of the Month
    Access Denied: New Restrictions for Online Public Records Databases
    By Leigh Montgomery

    Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources #57
    Notable Descendants of John Dwight of Dedham, Especially via Grandsons of Northampton and Hadley
    By Gary Boyd Roberts

    Adoption By Law
    By Scott Andrew Bartley

    NEHGS in the News

    We are pleased to report that the new NEHGS book The Art of Family: Genealogical Artifacts in New England, edited by D. Brenton Simons and Peter Benes, is prominently featured in the highly-respected publication, Antiques and the Arts Weekly. Antiques and the Arts Weekly is known as the nation's leading source of information on antiques and the arts.

    The four-page illustrated story can be found in the April 5, 2002 edition of the print publication or online at

    In other news, several NEHGS staff members were on hand at midnight on April 1 at the National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts, for the opening of the 1930 census. Interviews with NEHGS director of electronic publications Michael J. Leclerc appeared on Monday, April 2, in The New York Times ( and The Hartford Courant (

    And, finally, the New England Ancestors portion of the NEHGS website, was chosen as the Family Tree Magazine Site of the Day on March 14. The Family Tree Magazine website can be found at

    Coming Soon in the April 2002 Register

    This issue has five compiled genealogies — and three of them involve the same family structure: The oldest son is married, with children, but dies before his father. The result for all three families (Baldwin, Mills, Goddard) is that prior accounts have been flawed because of failure to recognize this important event.

    David Kendall Martin's article on Joseph Baldwin, Jr. of Milford, Connecticut, and Hadley, Massachusetts, shows us how inadequate compiled accounts can be. He was looking for the family of Mary Baldwin who married in 1687 Samuel Allen. Genealogies of the Allen family ignored this marriage and the resulting two children, while genealogies of the Baldwin family made impossible identifications for her.

    For a forthcoming book from Newbury Street Press, Helen Schatvet Ullmann, researched some descendants of the immigrant George Mills. Her work on a grandson, Samuel Mills of Jamaica, New York, and Greenwich, Connecticut, clarifies his position in the family while correcting published and typescript accounts of his life and descendants.

    William Edgerton of Bozrah, Connecticut, was married in 1775 but his children are not in vital or church records. Only by finding an 1812 deed and an 1841 probate was Mark Armstrong able to piece together this small branch of a large family.

    A line of royal descent has been in print for immigrant William Goddard, but the identity of Anne Gifford, Wife of Thomas Goddard, has always been a question. Paul Reed and Dorothy Hopkins identify Anne Gifford, provide the first documented account of the royal line, and include information on Anne's maternal ancestry.

    Gale Ion Harris's work on Harris families of New England is well known to readers of the Register and other genealogical journals. In Part 1 of Walter and Mary (Fry) of New London, Connecticut, he traces the descendants of this couple in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Their oldest grandson, Thomas Harris, died on Barbados, and his grandchildren moved to Albany and Schenectady, New York.

    Until 1996 the Society's annual reports were published in the Register each year. Then the annual reports for fiscal years 1996 through 2000 were published separately. Starting with the 2001 Annual Report, they will again be published in the Register. We welcome the opportunity for members to see for themselves the extent of NEHGS activities and support.

    Subscription to the Register is a benefit of NEHGS membership. If you are not a member, you may join online at, or call toll-free 1-888-296-3447.

    -Henry B. Hoff, Editor of the Register

    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures

    This season's "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series continues with two new lectures:

    • "Family History through CD-ROMs and the Internet" by David Allen Lambert on Saturday, April 6
    • "Beyond the Grave: Using Cemetery Records" by Ruth Quigley Wellner on Wednesday, April 17

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

    To register or inquire about programs, please contact the education department, toll-free, at 1-888-286-3447, ext. 227, or email

    When In Doubt, Try Another Name: Strategies for Finding Elusive Ancestors

    Over the years I have often been approached by patrons with worried brows. Brows may be worried for any number of reasons, but many such cases arise because even though Honored Progenitor ("HP"), whom they knew personally, was born in some place with good records which we have, looking high and low in said records has failed to smoke out a trace of the ancestor in question. Why? There are several possibilities:

    Several 'faith traditions' prefer to name a child at baptism (or an equivalent ceremony) so the first name may appear in civil records as "(Male)" or "(Female)." We often assume such entries are associated with stillbirth, early death, or even abandonment (as typical today) and overlook them. If you do not find "HP" in that part of the index covering the years around his/her birth, the first thing I would do — regardless of the family's religion — would be to check birth records for all unnamed children of the relevant sex at the appropriate time and place (and neighboring communities).

    1) "HP" may have transposed multiple names in later life (or used them interchangeably). An early example: James Addison Potter (1771–1809) of New Fairfield North (now Sherman), Connecticut, and Jericho, Vermont, is often called "Addison" in his years as an adult while his father James Potter, M.D. (1736–1804) of New Fairfield North was still living; afterwards he was often (but not always!) known as "James A." Potter. He may at some point have straightened himself out, but died before he could do so; a loyal brother named one of his sons James Addison Potter (1798–1878), so one must be careful not to confuse uncle and nephew. Some months ago, a patron came looking for her Boston Italian ancestor, whose first name was Theresa. Nowhere in the five-year index for the time of her birth was a Theresa or Teresa to be found. A closer look under the surname, however, revealed a "Mary T.," who turned out to be our girl. Catholics of several nationalities traditionally prefaced all girls' names with "Mary" [Maria, Marie, etc.]. French-Canadians very often prefaced boys' names with "Joseph," while some [not all] Palatine Germans used "Johann" [John] before most boys' names.

    2) Perhaps the names conferred (nay, in some cases inflicted) at birth were just plain unacceptable to those trying to live with them. I have no evidence that Citizen France Volney Randall (1839–1871) of Northfield, Vermont, ever rebelled against his parents' innovative choice in monikers; but if he had, would you blame him? (Gurdon and Laura Scott [Warner] Randall of Northfield, Vermont also had sons Francis Voltaire Randall (1824–1885) and Jean Jacques Rousseau Randall (1828–1891), just in case anyone doubted their fondness for anything French.)

    3) In the case of home birth, a doctor, midwife or other attendant might have intended to deliver the information to the relevant authority, but an emergency came up and somehow that was delayed or never happened. My first boss, the late Leonard H. Wheeler of many places including Ontario, California, was born on September 22, 1916, in Temple, Oklahoma, delivered by a kindly country doctor who had been making the rounds of the county for a few weeks, introducing perhaps ten or twelve infants to this world. He got to the county seat on September 29, 1916, and filed all the birth records as of that day. On joining the Army about 1934, Mr. Wheeler found that using his real birthday would have further tangled already intricate paperwork, so he shrugged and used the doctor's date as his birthday of record. He was fortunate: Some months ago, a patron here told me of the circumstances of her birth, which occurred in the 1920s in a reasonably tony Boston suburb. She too was delivered at her parents' home, but the doctor never filed a birth record at all. Throughout her childhood and youth my patron never worried about the matter, as she and her parents and acquaintances had ample proof of her identity — but when, aged twenty or so, she applied for a passport, she was disagreeably surprised to learn that she did not exist. It took a great deal of time and trouble to straighten the mess out, but she persevered. Her birth record is now filed (in the 1940s) in a supplementary index of "Additions and Corrections." (The FHL has apparently not filmed Massachusetts changed records, even for events which occurred before 1910 — so NEHGS has only the index to them; those records in this series prior to 1900 may be consulted at the Massachusetts State Archives, Columbia Point, Dorchester, Mass.)

    4) Consider that "HP" may have been known at some or all points in life by a nickname that may be surprisingly different from the formal name bestowed at birth. How many of us realize that "Patty" traditionally meant "Martha," not "Patricia" (the latter a name practically unheard-of until the late nineteenth century)? Or that "Mary," "Molly," and "Polly" are the same name and were often used interchangeably? (I recently saw online the confident assertion that "Mary" was the name given a girl at birth, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and that when she married or cohabited her name changed to "Polly" or "Molly" so as to connote her now non-virginal state. This, like so much seen online, is errant nonsense, and would have been "fightin' words" indeed to the numerous Protestant Puritan women of these names in colonial New England and the American colonies. "Polly" and "Molly" [and, in northern England, "Mally"] for "Mary" are formed by the same M-to-P and L-to-R sound changes in the human mouth that produce "Patty" and "Mattie" for Martha, as well as "Meg," "Maggie," "Peg," and "Peggy" [and in parts of Scotland, "Maisie"] for "Margaret.") Until recently, descendants of a prolific Pratt family of Weymouth, Mass. knew their immigrant ancestor as "Matthew" Pratt, following the 1889 book on this family by Francis Greenleaf Pratt. Frederick J. Nicholson established the English ancestry of "Macuth (or Matthew)" Pratt in The American Genealogist (TAG) 65 [1990]: 33-43, 89-96) and Mary Ann Long Skinner proved that "Macuth" is indeed discrete from "Matthew," being instead a form of the Welsh name "Machute"; a Welsh saint of this name was St. Malo, the "apostle of Brittany" (TAG 68 [1993]: 31-32).

    The English are not the only nationality who "mix and match" seemingly interchangeable given names. An Irish ancestor known as "Delia" may have been christened as "Bridget" - these names were also used interchangeably. The Gaelic name Domhnall may be anglicized as either "Daniel" or "Donald," and often is used for the same person. Lest this subject of nicknames and alternate names, etc., loom suddenly, uncomfortably too large, you might bring up the NEHGS library catalog from the website and type in "nicknames" into the title or subject field. Several useful works will be found there; while none of them at present are available from the Circulating Library, they can be used here in Boston and probably at genealogical libraries elsewhere in the country. More information should also be available from the links on "Names" section of Cyndi's List — or similar sites.

    I hope that the above ideas may help to ease some worried brows.

    -Julie Helen Otto
    NEHGS Reference Librarian

    New in the NEHGS Bookstore

    Just released! A new book, Your Guide to the Federal Census by Kathleen W. Hinckley, CGRS, published by Betterway Books, has arrived just in time to hone your census research skills for exploration of the newly released 1930 census! This guide will help you decipher census data with great tips supplemented by case studies, appendixes, a glossary of terms, and extraction forms.

    A Search for A Southard Family

    NEHGS received the following enquiry earlier this week. We are publishing it in the hope that one of our the enewsletter readers will know something about the family of Frederick Dean Southard.

    I am looking for the family of Frederick Dean Southard. He was born in Massachusetts on July 9, 1883, and, according to his death certificate, died in San Diego, California, May 14, 1975. He graduated from the University of Maine in 1906. He married Georgia Black of Nova Scotia in 1927, and moved to San Diego in 1930.

    The reason I am looking for his family is because I have a book of poems he wrote. It was notarized by his father, Louis C. Southard, with a stamp from Easton, Bristol County, Massachusetts. His mother was Nellie Copeland of Massachusetts. Louis appears to be from Maine originally. He also graduated from the University of Maine. I believe Frederick and Georgia did not have children. I would like to pass this book on to family members who might still be in the area.

    If you know of anyone who is working on the family history of either the Southard or Copeland families or if family members are still in the area, I would like to contact them. This book of poetry is a treasure. His family should have it.

    Thank you.

    Christine Woolery
    San Diego, CA

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society