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  • 2003 Archive

  • Vol. 5, No. 14
    Whole #107
    March 28, 2003
    Edited by Lynn Betlock and Rod D. Moody

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This free newsletter has been sent to NEHGS members and friends who have subscribed to it, or submitted their email addresses on various membership and sales department forms and website notices. NEHGS recognizes the importance of its members' privacy, and will not give away, sell or lease personal information. If you would like to unsubscribe, please click on the link at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions provided.

    © Copyright 2003, New England Historic Genealogical Society


    • New Databases on
    • New Research Articles on
    • New Procedures for Credit Card Transactions
    • Summer Conference Update — Tours Full!
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    • NEHGS Research Library Resumes Regular Hours
    A Mills and Kendall Family History Wins Connecticut Society of Genealogists' Literary Award
    eNews Contest Winners Announced
    • From the Volunteer Coordinator
    • Getting Started in Genealogy Program
    • Come Home to New England
    • Massachusetts Vital Records Fees Increase
    • Do You Have Lowe Ancestors?
    • "Atlases: A Window into your Past" Lecture
    • National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts, Offers Spring Genealogical Workshops
    • Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    Vital Records of Wells, Maine

    These records were abstracted from the town books of records by Joshua Hubbard in 1860. The Reverend John Wheelwright was responsible for the founding of the town of Wells. According to Wells: The Frontier Town of Maine by Esselyn Gilman Perkins, Wheelwright, a Puritan, was persecuted while in his native England and migrated to Boston, where his brother-in-law, William Hutchinson, and his notable wife, Anne, were living. At the time Anne Hutchinson was preaching doctrines inspired by the Reverend John Cotton, who strongly advocated opportunities for religious freedom in America and denounced the continuing Catholic influence in the Church of England. Rev. Wheelwright shared these views and began preaching similar doctrines. The clergy of Massachusetts thought that Anne Hutchinson was a strong — and dangerous — influence on the people that she preached to and banished her, Wheelwright, and other like-minded individuals from the colony. Wheelwright and several of his followers moved to Exeter, New Hampshire, for a short time before moving north to "Mayne." In 1641 Wheelwright was given a grant of land in the area now known as Wells. Massachusetts claimed jurisdiction over the territory a decade later, and in 1653, Wells became a Massachusetts town.

    Search Vital Records of Wells, Maine, at /research/database/JoshuaHubbard/Default.asp.

    The Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Database

    The Society of the Cincinnati was established in 1783 by and for the officers in Continental Service. It was organized in fourteen constituent societies, one of which is the Massachusetts Society. Membership in the Society of the Cincinnati was extended to the officers of the Continental Army — as well as Continental Navy and Marine officers — who had served until the end of the war, plus those who had been declared no longer needed by acts of Congress and those who had served honorably for three years during the war. Also eligible were the oldest male lineal descendants of officers who died in service. The officers of the French Navy and Army who served with the American Army were also entitled to join. This database contains information on those Massachusetts officers eligible for membership. Absence from this list does not conclusively exclude eligibility.

    New sketches are now available for the following individuals:

    James Hall
    Africa Hamlin
    Belcher Hancock
    John Hart
    Thomas Hartshorn
    Elisha Harvey
    Elnathan Haskell
    Jonathan Haskell
    John Hastings
    William Hasty
    William Heath
    Benjamin Heywood
    William Hildreth
    Jeremiah Hill
    John Hiwell
    Bartlett Hinds
    John Hobby
    David Holbrook
    Aaron Holden
    Abel Holden
    John Holden
    Ivory Holland
    Park Holland
    Jesse Hollister
    John Homans

    Search the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati database at:

    Master Search

    Master search all databases at

    New Research Articles on

    Upstate New York
    Records of the Holland Land Company
    by Marian S. Henry

    African American Research in New England
    Researching African American Participation in the Civil War, Part I: New England Regiments
    by Beth Ann Bower

    New Procedures for Credit Card Transactions

    In an effort to provide an additional level of security to our customers, NEHGS now requires all customers to provide their credit card security code for all credit card purchases and payments, including Internet, phone, and mail order transactions. This three- to four- digit code is usually found on the back of a credit card in the signature field, where the code typically follows the last four digits of the credit card number. The code is not part of the credit card number itself.

    On most cards, all or part of the credit card number appears before the security code. For example,
    1234 567 might be displayed on the back of the card. 1234 are the last four digits of the credit card number and 567 is the security code. An exception is the American Express card. Some of these cards may have the security code on the face of the card just above the last series of raised digits of the fifteen-digit card number. Older cards may not display the security code at all. If you have difficulty locating the security code, please call the Member Services toll-free number at 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday.

    We are instituting this policy at the request of one of our credit card processors, and we expect other card companies to follow suit shortly. We cannot process or fill an order unless we receive the security code.
    The security code is currently required for all Internet and telephone transactions, and we will soon be requesting it for all mail order transactions as well. Recent mail order customers may also be contacted to provide us with the security code, since our current order forms do not request this information.

    The security code is an added security measure designed to protect the cardholder, the merchant, and the credit card company against credit card fraud. Since the security code appears nowhere else except on the card itself, the purchaser must actually be in possession of the card to be able to supply the number. Fraud perpetrators typically obtain the main credit card number from a transaction or a record of a transaction, and do not have physical possession of the card.

    This extra step enables businesses, non-profits, and financial organizations to give consumers an additional level of security during credit card transactions.

    If you have any questions, please contact Member Services for additional information at 1-888-296-3447 or

    Summer Conference Update — Tours Full!

    The popularity of the research trip to the Massachusetts Archives and the President's Tour of the Boston Public Library have exceeded our expectations and both events are now full. Anyone registering for the summer conference who wishes to be placed on a waiting list for either trip can email Laura Prescott, the conference coordinator, at If you have recently mailed in a registration with a credit card, you will not be charged for a tour and, if you recently mailed in a check, you will be refunded the tour price.

    Anyone who has already received a confirmation of either tour is guaranteed a space. If your plans change and you are unable to fit a tour into your summer conference plans, please let Laura know so she can open the space for someone on the waiting list. Consultations with Senior Research Scholar Gary Boyd Roberts are still available at $30 for a half-hour session.

    Space is still available for the summer conference itself, which will be held in Boston on July 11 and 12. To learn more about the conference and register online, please visit /events/events/Default.asp?id=211. If you have questions about the conference, please email

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

    The 2003 "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series continues with:

    • "Researching Your Ancestors on the Internet" by Laura G. Prescott on Saturday, March 29.

    • "The Massachuset-Punkapoag Indians of Southeastern Massachusetts" by David Allen Lambert on Wednesday, April 2 and Saturday, April 5.

    • "Canadian Census Records: 17th Century to 1921" by George F. Sanborn, Jr. on Wednesday, April 16.

    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.

    NEHGS Research Library Resumes Regular Hours

    Beginning on Thursday, April 3, the NEHGS Research Library will resume regular hours, and the library will be open until 9 p.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The library hours are as follows:

    Sun–Mon closed
    Tues 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    Wed 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
    Thur 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
    Fri–Sat 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

    If you have any questions, please email

    A Mills and Kendall Family History Wins Connecticut Society of Genealogists' Literary Award

    A Mills and Kendall Family History: American Ancestry and Descendants of Herbert Lee Mills and Bessie Delano Kendall, written by Register associate editor, Helen Schatvet Ullmann, and published by the Newbury Street Press, was recently selected by the Connecticut Society of Genealogists as the winner of the 2003 Brainerd T. Peck Award for New England History.

    Formal presentation of the award and the $500 prize money will be made at the Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc. on May 17, 2003.

    Winners of the 2003 Literary Awards including the CSG Jacobus Award for Genealogy and the CSG Peck Award for Family History will be announced in a future issue of Family History magazine.

    A Mills and Kendall Family History is available from the NEHGS store at

    eNews Contest Winners Announced

    To mark the 100th issue of NEHGS eNews, NEHGS sponsored a contest in February in which readers were asked how had helped people in their research. Ten entries were selected to receive $10 gift certificates to NEHGS, which can be applied to the store, circulating library, membership, research services, Great Migration Newsletter subscription, or an education program.

    Here are some of the winning entries:

    "I was delighted when the Arnold Collection of Rhode Island vital records was posted on your website. When I read in eNews that the records from the town I needed had been added to the website, I couldn't wait to conduct my search. I was able to find birth, marriage, and some death records for four or five generations of my ancestors, which took me back to Elizabeth Alden, daughter of John Alden of the Mayflower Pilgrims. I was able to view the sources on microfilm at the DAR library in Washington DC, where I live. I knew what to look for and where to find it because I already had the information from the website. These records were the last ones needed for application to the Society of Mayflower Descendants. I eagerly await the weekly eNews every Friday, because there are still a lot of ancestors on whom I am missing information. With the addition of new databases, I know that this information will be discovered bit by bit! Thanks for this wonderful service!" —Vicki Embrey

    "My ancestor, Nancy (aka Anne) Wakefield, was one of my most difficult research problems. I knew she married Elijah Leland in 1797 at Hollis St. Church, Boston, the names of their children, and that they had been farmers in Bloomfield, now Mendon, Monroe Co., N.Y. But I could find nothing about her parents or birth date and place. My breakthrough came when I checked the NEHGS database and discovered the baptism of Nancy, daughter of Mr. Mathew Wakefield, at the West Church, Boston, March 1, 1778, as listed in the NEHGS Register, vol. 92, page 26. Subsequent research led me to related records, which contained the birth of Mathew's other children, and Mathew's own ancestry back to the waterfront. The baptismal record of Nancy Wakefield in the Register was the essential discovery in tracing her identity." — Mary B. Sherwood

    "Since subscribing to NEHGS several years ago, I have used the online databases on the website extensively in my position as historian for the Iowa Mayflower Society. In the last couple of days I have been able to help a prospective member secure documentation for two generations of his lineage, by searching the NEHGR, Vital Records for Rhode Island (Arnold), and Massachusetts Vital Records transcriptions for his surnames. These resources are not easy to access in Iowa, and otherwise, I would have had to travel at least 90 to 125 miles to find this information." — Ruth M.F. Tucker

    The contest winners are:

    Sarah Cushman of Hollis, New Hampshire
    Vicki Embrey of Savage, Maryland
    Warren Field of Centerville, Massachusetts
    Marge Matteson of Coventry, Rhode Island
    Leslie Nutbrown of Lennoxville, Quebec
    Frank Pafume of Warwick, Rhode Island
    Joy Hartwell Peach of Lancaster, Massachusetts
    Cheryl Prior of Torrington, Connecticut
    Mary B. Sherwood of Alexandria, Virginia
    Ruth M.F. Tucker of Cedar Falls, Iowa

    From the Volunteer Coordinator

    As many of you know, NEHGS has volunteers from all over the country working on projects. One group has been transcribing and another has been proofreading the files from the Corbin Collection — a collection of records of Western Massachusetts towns. These are being worked on county by county, and we have now completed Hampshire County, which is by far the most voluminous.

    My heartfelt thanks go to those of you who have helped, and continue to help as we now proceed to the Hampden County records. We could not do this project without volunteer help. I have a long list of members who have offered to help with a variety of transcribing projects, and I will contact people as we prepare this material.

    If any member has a particular interest in Western Massachusetts town records, this work may be of interest. If so, please contact me at

    —Susan Rosefsky, Volunteer Coordinator

    Getting Started in Genealogy Program
    Wednesday, April 2, 12 noon and 6 p.m.

    NEHGS invites you to attend its free Getting Started in Genealogy program, a quick course designed to introduce beginners to the main principles of genealogical research. This informative program also includes a tour of the NEHGS Research Library.

    "Getting Started" is an hour-long class, offered on the first Wednesday of every month, at noon and 6 p.m. in the Richardson-Sloane Education Center at NEHGS in Boston.

    For more information, please email or call 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

    Come Home to New England
    August 3–10, 2003

    The program features:

    • A small group (around thirty-five people), which allows for plenty of individual attention
    • Thorough orientation of all four floors of the library
    • Daily morning lectures on genealogical research and methodology
    • Exclusive extended research hours in the library
    • Private consultations with NEHGS librarians
    • A chance to meet other genealogists
    • Quality accommodations at the John Hancock Conference Center, just a short distance from the NEHGS Library

    Add this classic NEHGS program to your summer plans and join “Come Home to New England,” from August 3–10, 2003. This intensive week-long program is a special opportunity for all serious genealogists to immerse themselves in their research. The instruction and guidance that participants receive from our staff during this program will widely extend the scope of research possibilities and offer many opportunities to mingle with fellow genealogists, making the week both fun-filled and highly productive!

    See what previous “Come Home” attendees have said:

    “The librarians had wonderful knowledge to draw on. They were so willing to share many good leads. I feel very comfortable (in the library) now and could walk in and feel right at home. You provided a positive and supportive atmosphere. Thank you for a wonderful, productive, “learning” week. I especially appreciated the extra time the staff spent with us.”

    “The preparation the librarians had done on our queries was great. They pointed me in the direction I would have had a hard time finding by myself. Every staff member and librarian seemed willing to go out of his or her way to help. I have never had such a friendly, helpful and productive experience. Better than the Newberry Library and Salt Lake. I had an absolutely marvelous week. To have access to so much material was fantastic. I am so glad I joined NEHGS.”

    Program fees: $1050 double; $1495 single; $600 commuter rate.

    For more information, please call 1-888-286-3447 or email

    Massachusetts Vital Records Fees Increase

    The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics maintains birth, marriage, and death records that occurred in Massachusetts from 1911 to the present. (Records for events that occurred from 1841–1910 are available at the Massachusetts State Archives. Earlier records may be available in the town or city where the event occurred.) The Registry is doubling its fees on April 1, 2003. Individuals performing their own research at the Registry will now be subject to a fee of $6 per hour — previously $3 an hour. The cost of a birth, marriage, or death certificate ordered in person will now be $12 per certificate — previously $6 per certificate. The cost of a birth, marriage, or death certificate ordered by mail will now be $22 per certificate — previously $11.

    The new schedule of fees is available at The Registry's website may be viewed at

    Do You Have Lowe Ancestors?

    NEHGS member Charles A. "Skip" Lowe wrote to eNews to say that he has been doing research on the Low/Lowe families of New England for over twenty years. He believes that for the time period 1636 to 1850, there is not a Low/Lowe in New England that he can't identify. There are five different Low/Lowe families that were present in New England before 1700 — in the Massachusetts towns of Ipswich, Hingham, Marshfield, Chelsea, and in Warwick, Rhode Island. In the course of research to trace his own lines — descendants of Thomas Low (1605–1677), who settled in Ipswich — he has managed to compile information on each of these five Low families into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    Mr. Lowe is willing to share his Low/Lowe information and answer any Low/Lowe queries in exchange for information about other Low/Lowe connection(s). His email address is

    "Atlases: A Window into your Past Lecture"
    Thursday, May 15, 7 p.m., Monson, Massachusetts

    Early atlases are oft-neglected research tools that can provide us with a fascinating glimpse into our local past, on a very personal scale. In the final third of the nineteenth century, advances in lithography and improvements in transportation and communication allowed the successful commercial publication of county atlases for much of the United States. These early atlases were much more than mere road maps, however, as each community was recorded in considerable detail. These treasure troves of information are fascinating glimpses of what the land we now inhabit once looked like. One might learn who once lived in your house, or discover that what is now just a pile of stones in the woods was once a bustling factory. Atlases are often as useful to local historians and genealogists today as they must have been to contemporaries trying to navigate the roads of nineteenth-century America. Historian Tom Kelleher will recount who compiled these records and why, and give some examples of how homeowners, teachers, genealogists, and local historians can mine old atlases for a wealth of historical information.

    The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 15, at the Monson Free Library in Monson, Massachusetts. The library is located at 2 High Street in Monson. Directions are available at; click on "about the library." The lecture is free to the public, and pre-registration is not required. For more information, please contact Theresa Percy at 413-267-3866.

    National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts, Offers Spring Genealogical Workshops

    The National Archives–Northeast Region is offering free genealogical workshops during the spring of 2003.

    Most of the workshops are beginner level (B), although a few are aimed at all levels of researcher (A), and one is intermediate (I). Participants will learn what they need to know in order to locate records as well as what they might expect to find in the records.

    The workshops will be offered at the Regional Archives building, located at 380 Trapelo Road in Waltham, Massachusetts, according to the following schedule. Workshops marked with an asterisk (*) are followed by an optional behind-the-scenes tour of the archives.

    April 10, 6:30 p.m. Revolutionary War Records: Sources for documenting soldiers other than the traditional Pension and Military records (A)
    April 15, 2:00 p.m. * Naturalization and Passenger Arrival Records (I)
    April 22, 2:00 p.m.* The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Electronic Resources (B)
    April 24, 6:30 p.m. Canadian Border Crossings: The "St. Albans" records, 1895–1954 (A)
    May 6, 2:00 p.m.* Census I, 1790–1870 (B)
    May 15, 6:30 p.m. Census III, 1930 (B)
    May 20, 2:00 p.m.* Census II, 1880–1920 (B)
    May 29, 6:30 p.m. Census, Naturalization, & Passenger Lists (B)
    June 3, 2:00 p.m.* Beyond the Census: Local History Resources in Federal Records (A)
    June 12, 6:30 p.m. Beyond the Census: Local History Resources in Federal Records (A)
    June 17, 2:00 p.m.* Naturalization and Passenger Arrival Records (I)
    June 26, 6:30 p.m. Census I, 1790–1870 (B)

    Workshop and tour space is limited to twenty participants. Call 866-406-2379 to register and for more details. There is no fee.

    The National Archives–Northeast Region has more than 28,000 cubic feet of archival material dating from 1789 to the 1970s, including primarily textual documents but also some photographs, maps, and architectural drawings. These records were created or received by the Federal courts and over eighty Federal agencies in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

    Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, 8 a.m.– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m.–9 p.m., and the first and third Saturday of each month, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., excluding all Federal holidays.

    Visit the website of the National Archives–Northeast Region at

    Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback

    Here are the latest reader submissions to the questions "Who is your favorite ancestor? Who is your favorite black sheep ancestor? Why?" If you would like to contribute information on your favorite and/or black sheep ancestor, please send your story in 300 words or less to Lynn Betlock at Thank you to all past and future contributors!

    My "Black Sheep" Ancestor, Silas St. John
    by Esther Mott of Belvedere Tiburon, California

    My great-great-grandfather, Silas St. John, was born on June 23, 1788, in Rutland, Vermont, and died in Seneca County, Ohio, in 1860. He married Eunice Cady in Rutland in 1809. Their children were born in Vermont, Ontario West, Canada, and Painesville, Ohio. However, searches in these locations failed to produce anything but census records. I was looking in the more typical sources — like land records — where we normally expect to find our ancestors.

    Silas appeared with his family in an 1828 census of Thorold, Niagara District, Ontario. He owned no land there, and his life remained a mystery until he turned up on a list headed "Return of Prisoners confined to the Niagara Gaol. . . " dated July 9, 1834. He had been imprisoned for a debt of £10. Aha! Well, all right, maybe he just fell on hard times? Maybe not. Read on.

    He evidently left Ontario after that (perhaps not surprisingly), and returned permanently to Ohio. Again, he was not found in the deed indexes or on the real estate tax lists. He was in the 1841 census of Lake County with his family, and was assessed personal property taxes in Geauga/Lake County for several years, usually for a horse or two and a couple of cows. The annual tax lists show that he was always in arrears for these payments, and left Lake County in 1845 still owing money.

    Knowing by now to look for him where trouble lurks, I found him in the Lake County court records as the defendant in a lawsuit in 1841. The Clyde Iron Works claimed that on various occasions in 1835 and 1836 Silas had purchased goods, paying with promissory notes, and although the goods had been delivered, the promissory notes were never paid — the total amounting to just over $300. They also claimed that they had loaned him money in the amount of $300. He must have been very convincing!

    Silas didn't bother to appear in court, and Clyde Iron Works won their case. Of course, they almost certainly didn't collect anything! It seems that Silas spent his life walking on the edge of financial honesty — and sometimes stepped off on the wrong side.

    My favorite ancestor
    by Ivan (Buz) Sawyer of LaVista, Nebraska

    My favorite ancestor is William Mearl Sawyer, my grandfather, who was born in Burwash, Sussex, Great Britain, about 1860. He was notable in that it took me over twenty-five years to find him. (He died before I was born.) He was in the British Army and married my grandmother in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while he was stationed there. They had children born in London and Falmouth, England; Glasgow, Scotland; and in the Orkney Islands.

    I seemed to have unconsciously emulated him in that I was born in Massachusetts but managed to marry a German girl in Paris, France, and our children were born in France, the USA, Morocco, and the Philippine Islands. A genealogist's nightmare!

    The reason I really like him, though, is that it was while searching for his birth records in parish registers that I came across the following (probably written by a frustrated minister who had been bothered once too often by a genealogist's query about a birth, marriage, or death):

    "Those who boast of their ancestors are like potatoes, in that their best part is underground."

    I've used it as my guide ever since.

    NEHGS Contact Information

    We strongly encourage you to email this newsletter to others who might be interested. To subscribe or view back issues of eNews, please visit

    To view the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

    To become a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

    If you have questions, comment or suggestions about the enewsletter, please contact Lynn Betlock at

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