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  • 2003 Archive

  • Vol. 5, No. 15
    Whole #108
    April 4, 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 Database on
    • New Research Articles on
    • New! The Benson Family of Colonial Massachusetts, by Richard H. Benson
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    • NEHGS Research Tour to Dublin, Ireland
    • An Introduction to Using at NEHGS in Boston
    • Coming Soon in the Spring 2003 Issue of New England Ancestors — An Interactive Learning Experience
    • Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Probate and Family Court to Relocate
    • "Where Do You Come From? Learning Your Irish Ancestry" Lecture at Boston College
    • Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Lecture on April 12
    • Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    New Database on

    Marriages at Easton, Massachusetts, 1725–1802

    These records of Easton were abstracted in 1942 by Lester Card of Norwalk, Connecticut, from a copy of town records transcribed by a town clerk fifty years earlier. Card cautions that "at least two of the pastors of the Easton Churches entered all feminine members of their parish as Mrs. whether they were maid, wife or widow. Therefore, all entries marked as Mrs. should be given careful consideration." Easton, Massachusetts, located in the northeast corner of Bristol County, was established in 1725. This area was originally part of the Taunton North Purchase of 1668. Many boundary line disputes followed the purchase, some of which were not completely settled until 1772.

    In 1711 the north precinct of Taunton was incorporated as the town of Norton, and in 1722, the east precinct of Norton was established. In 1725, this precinct was incorporated as the town of Easton, an abbreviated form of "east of Norton."

    Search Marriages at Easton, Massachusetts, at /research/database/eastonma/.

    Master Search

    Master search all databases at

    New Research Articles on

    New Hampshire
    New Hampshire Town and County Development, Part II
    by Sherry L. Gould

    Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources
    Descendants of William Randolph and Henry Isham of Virginia
    by Gary Boyd Roberts

    New! The Benson Family of Colonial Massachusetts, by Richard H. Benson

    This new work, published by Newbury Street Press, begins with a study of Thomas Benson of Shiplake, Oxfordshire. He and his wife, Maude (Warner) Benson, married in 1575, were the likely grandparents of John Benson who emigrated to New England in 1638 and settled at Hingham, Massachusetts. This book examines not only these Bensons, but also the Benson families of Kittery, Maine; Newport, Rhode Island; and Salem, Massachusetts. The book also considers African-American Bensons, unplaced Benson family members, and the lineage of Ezra Taft Benson, a past president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and secretary of agriculture in the Eisenhower administration. Many unpublished records were consulted in the preparation of this genealogy. The book is hardcover, 489 pages in length, and includes a full name and place index, an appendix, and maps, portraits, and views.

    The Benson Family of Colonial Massachusetts is available from our online book store for $40 plus shipping. To order, visit or call 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

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

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

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

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

    • "Irish Presbyterians in Eighteenth-Century New England" by Jerome E. Anderson on Wednesday April 23 and April 26.

    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 Tour to Dublin, Ireland
    July 13–20, 2003

    Experience a wee bit o' Dublin with the New England Historic Genealogical Society in this week long research program! The tour features guided research at various repositories in central Dublin, including the General Register Office, National Library, National Archives, and Registry of Deeds, among others. In addition, you will benefit from genealogical lectures and personalized consultations throughout the week with NEHGS Director of Library User Services Marie E. Daly; Dublin-based independent researcher Eileen M. O’Duill, MA, CGRS; and Massachusetts State Archives Reference Archivist Janis P. Duffy, as well as local genealogical authorities. Why travel on your own when you can join experienced genealogists and other avid researchers who have the same interests as you? Use this tour as your opportunity to perform research before you visit your ancestral townland or village!

    Some of the repositories we will visit include:

    The National Library is within walking distance of our accommodations, and contains Griffith's Valuation, microfilm copies of Catholic parish registers, local and commercial directories, Irish newspapers, estate papers, maps, old photographs and other sources that may be searched for genealogical information.

    The Valuation Office holds maps that correspond with Griffith’s Primary Valuation for the twenty-six counties in the Republic of Ireland. In addition, it holds the revised valuations, which enable researchers to pinpoint their ancestors’ birthplaces and determine twentieth-century ownership.

    The National Archives of Ireland keeps copies of Griffith’s Valuation, the Tithe Applotment Books, wills and testimony records, pre-1901 census fragments, the 1901 and 1911 censuses, and law union records for the poor.


    Lodging for this program will be provided at Trinity College, right in the heart of Dublin’s cultural, retail, and entertainment center. Within walking distance are the National Museum, National Gallery, and various bookstores. These comfortable on-campus rooms have private bathrooms, and are convenient to the research repositories. Many will offer unique views of the historic grounds and architecture of the college. A continental breakfast is included during the week, and participants will enjoy a complimentary dinner at the beginning and the end of the program.

    Proposed Daily Itinerary

    Sunday, July 13

    After 3 p.m. – Check in to Trinity College rooms.
    Optional tour to the Wicklow Mountains, Powerscourt Estate, and the early Christian Glendalough monastery with Sean O’Duill.
    Registration, announcements, and welcome dinner at Trinity.

    Monday, July 14

    9 a.m. – Lecture: General Orientation to Researching in Dublin, Eileen O’Duill

    11 a.m. – Group will split up to visit the repositories

    11 a.m. - 5 p.m. – Research time and personal research consultations

    Tuesday, July 15

    9-10 a.m. – Lecture: Orientation to the National Library

    10 a.m. – Group will split up to visit the repositories

    10 a.m. - 5 p.m. – Research time and personal research consultations

    6 p.m. – Casual group dinner in Dublin city center

    Wednesday, July 16

    9-10 a.m. – Lecture: Griffith’s Valuation and Valuation Office Research, Marie Daly

    10 a.m. – Group will split up to visit the repositories

    10 a.m. - 5 p.m. – Research time and personal research consultations

    Thursday, July 17

    9-10 a.m. – Lecture: Probates and Deeds at the Deed Office, Paul Gorry

    10 a.m. – Group will split up to visit the repositories

    10 a.m. - 5 p.m. – Research time and personal research consultations

    6 p.m. – Casual group dinner in Dublin city center


    Friday, July 18

    9-10 a.m. – Lecture: Researching Genealogical Sources Beyond the City of Dublin, Janis P. Duffy

    10 a.m. – Group will split up and visit the repositories

    10 a.m.-5 p.m. – Research time and personal research consultations

    Saturday, July 19

    9 a.m. - 5 p.m. – Research time; personal research consultations will be offered until 3 p.m.

    6 p.m. – Closing dinner banquet

    Sunday, July 20

    12 noon or earlier – Check out of Trinity College.

    Scheduled lectures and speakers are subject to change.

    Program Fees

    Double: $1150 per person, double occupancy, shared with another participant.
    Double with a non-researching spouse or friend: $1900 for both.
    Single: $1400 per person.

    Please send your deposit of $500 per person with your registration. Final payment is due on May 16, 2003. Written cancellations received before May 16 will be subject to a $100 per person processing fee. No refunds are possible after this date.

    Please note: Space on this tour is extremely limited. For more information or to register, please call 1-888-286-3447 from 9 a.m to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, (Eastern time), write to NEHGS Tours, 101 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, or email

    An Introduction to Using at NEHGS in Boston

    April 9, 6 p.m.

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

    This program will be held on April 9 at 6 p.m. in the education center at 101 Newbury Street, Boston. Advance registration is not required.

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

    Coming Soon in the Spring 2003 Issue of New England Ancestors

    Michael J. Leclerc provides a history of the Massachusetts and Maine 1798 Direct Tax, the newest major database on

    In honor of the publication of the newest volume in the Great Migration series, Lynn Betlock gives an overview of the historic movement that came to be known as the Great Migration.

    Sharon DeBartolo Carmack introduces her new Newbury Street Press publication, Italians in Transition: The Vallarelli Family of Terlizzi, Italy.

    George F. Sanborn Jr. explores genealogical research in Nova Scotia.

    Christopher Hartman presents a short history of genealogical publishing.

    Laura G. Prescott interprets and explains the many acronyms associated with genealogical certification, accreditation, and fellowship.

    Also in this issue . . .
    • New England Online: The Social Security Death Index on
    • The Computer Genealogist: Reunion 8.0 for Mac Users
    • Computer Genealogist Spotlight: Genelines 2.0
    • Around New England: Boston - New England's Research Hub
    • Genetics & Genealogy: Early Rockwell Settlers of Connecticut
    • Manuscripts at NEHGS: Ministers' Records at NEHGS
    • Pilgrim Life: William Williamson, the Englishman

    And, as always, news of NEHGS and the world of genealogy, upcoming NEHGS programs and tours, new publications, and notices of family association events, genealogies in progress, genealogies and other books recently published, and member queries.

    Subscription to New England Ancestors 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, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern time.

   — An Interactive Learning Experience is a website that combines history and education in a unique way. While its primary focus is Martha Ballard, the Maine midwife whose diary provided the basis for Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812, the site's creators have expanded this single case study into an entertaining and educational web destination.

    A digital version of Martha Ballard's diary is offered, along with search or browse options, but the real treat is the interactive "practice reading the diary" area. Here you are able to load a "magic lens," a small rectangular window that can be moved by the mouse over the actual handwriting in the diary. In the window, the difficult-to-read handwriting is "magically" transformed into clearly printed words. It is a digital transcription with a purpose — to help you become familiar with the handwriting of the past. A challenge is found in the "Try Transcribing" area, where a handwritten line of the diary is displayed with a blank area underneath it. You may type in your own transcription in that space, and then. check your work for accuracy.

    The "Archive of Primary Documents" goes far beyond the rote listing of primary source material found in a typical publication. Instead, actual images of the materials used in the website are provided, and they can be accessed via a page of thumbnail versions of the images, or browsed by document type, topic, author, or title.

    Another area is devoted to A Midwife's Tale. Here the author shares the methodology she used in the eight years she spent researching and writing the book, as well as her views on social history and the roles of women in the past. This section also provides digital versions of various sections of the book itself, and includes a special area about the making of the movie version of A Midwife's Tale, complete with video clips.

    Of particular value to educators and students alike is the "History Toolkit," which provides a list of links to short how-to essays "designed to help the beginning historian conduct and organize his or her own historical research." Topics include:

    • Using Primary Sources
    • How to Read 18th-Century Writing
    • What to Do With a Diary You've Found
    • Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History
    • How to Read Probate Records
    • How to Search Deeds
    • How to Read a Graveyard

    Educators should also not miss the "Teaching with this Website" page, which offers a plethora of study and activity options using the website. provides a terrific example of the potential that the Internet can offer in the form of an educational tool. Plus, the interactive elements of the site are fun enough to make one want to stay a while. Visit the website at

    Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Probate and Family Court to Relocate

    The Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Probate and Family Court is planning to move over the weekend of April 4-5, 2003, from its present quarters at 649 High Street, Dedham, to new quarters, less than six miles south, at 35 Shawmut Road, Canton, Massachusetts.

    The move is a result of legal action brought by court employees, who sought relief from inadequate ventilation, violation of fire codes, overcrowding, and poor security in the old building.

    The new facility is located in an office park off Dedham Street in Canton, not far from the Route 128 railroad station. To reach the new facility by car from the north or south, take Rte. 128 (I-95) to Exit 14, the East Street exit, which is essentially a large rotary. Follow the rotary to Canton Street. Turn right onto Canton Street (which becomes Dedham Street as you enter Canton), and follow for about two miles. Shawmut Road is the first right after crossing over I-95 (do not turn right onto the I-95 on-ramp!). It is expected that the public hours of Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., will remain the same.

    This move will not affect the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, which will remain in the old courthouse at 649 High Street, Dedham.

    For further information, visit the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court's website at:

    NEHGS has microfilms of volumes 1 through 274 (1793–1916) of the records of the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court, as well as of the index (1793–1929), available in the Research Library's Microtext Department.

    "Where Do You Come From? Learning Your Irish Ancestry" Lecture at Boston College
    Wednesday, April 30, 7:30 p.m.

    Join Boston College's Library of Rare Books Director Robert K. O'Neill for a free discussion of Irish research techniques, using resources from his book, A Visitor's Guide to Irish Libraries: Archives, Museums, and Genealogical Centres (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2002). O'Neill will share tips about tracking ancestors and advice about visiting Irish libraries, museums, and churches. O'Neill is the recipient of the Eire Society of Boston's 2003 Gold Medal and is one of Irish America magazine's Top 100 Irish Americans for 2003.

    This lecture will be held at Boston College's Devlin Hall 101, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. For more information, contact Jeanne Courtemanche at 617-552-4576 or email

    Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Lecture on April 12

    The Middlesex Chapter of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists is presenting a talk by noted historian, lecturer, and genealogist Dr. Peter H. Viles, titled "A Brief Overview of the Civil War for Genealogists" This free presentation will be held Saturday, April 12, at 1:30 p.m., at the Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack Street, Lowell, Massachusetts. For more information, call 508-485-3275 or 617-527-1312.

    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, Justus Seelye
    by Karen Martin of Manzanita, Oregon

    Who would have guessed that a boy named Justus (sometimes spelled Justice) would grow up to be the black sheep of the family?

    Justus Seelye (my fourth great grandfather) was born in 1771 in upstate New York during a time when the people of the colonies were choosing sides between Tories and Whigs. In 1780, little Justus made a start at becoming someone of whom the family could be proud. He was smuggled into a neighbor's house where a meeting of Tories, disguised as Indians, was being held. He listened to the proceedings, then escaped to his home to report the events and conversations of the evening. The Tories were subsequently captured, court martialed, and hung.

    That would be a "fun" piece of information to add to my family history story, but Justus would provide an even juicier tidbit later in his life. By 1815, Justus was married to Betsy Fuller and they had fourteen children. Then, in May 1815, an indictment was filed in Warren County against Justice Seelye for bigamy. (Personally, I'm thinking that after fourteen kids Betsy told him to get out.) Amongst a bevy of "towit"s and other lawyerly language, it was stated that he "with force and arms …did marry one Elsa Phillipton and take her… to be his wife, when at the same time… the former wife… being alive." Since there are no further records about this case it isn't clear whether he was convicted.

    There are also a number of papers showing he owed a great deal of money to a variety of people and refused or was unable to pay it back. One judgment against him in 1817 required him to repay $4,000 "lawful money of the State of New York," which he owed to two local men. Again, in this case his name was spelled Justice.

    At a distance of nearly two hundred years, this no longer seems the scandal I'm sure it was at the time. Justus returned to Betsy and they had three more children (can you believe it?) and they are buried together in a small family cemetery outside Queensbury. And I, as their descendent, am happy to add both of them to my family tree. The color of one's wool is after all not very important.

    "A Pair of Black Sheep"
    by Marian Foster Fraser of Salvador Bahia, Brazil

    Apparently Nathaniel Hawthorne heard the story of Mary Batchelder, who was presented at court for adultery and forced to wear an insignia indicating her guilt. It is presumed that Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter was based on her story. Even today the men in the case (and the lady could not have committed her crime all by herself) would not have been subjected to the same sort of punishment as the Hester prototype, but surely their behavior rates them as black sheep. On October 16, 1651, George Rogers was convicted of adultery with Mrs. Stephen Batchelder, and his children were placed with other families. In June 1654, the court of Kittery, Maine, ordered Thomas Hanscom not to live with Mary Batchelder. Since Thomas's grandson, another Thomas, married George's granddaughter, Alice, both of these rascals are my ancestors. One must find greatness (or notoriety) where one can, so I am charmed to be thus connected to Hawthorne and Hester Prynne.

    NEHGS Contact Information

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

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