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  • 2003 Archive

  • Vol. 5, No. 22
    Whole #115
    May 23, 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
    • Special Hours in the NEHGS Research Library
    • New Research Articles on
    • New Arrival at NEHGS Library — Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Probate Records, 1636–1916
    • The NEHGS 2003 Summer Conference
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    • Special Hours in the NEHGS Research Library
    • Cemetery Research in New Hampshire, Part 2
    • Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Volume 1

    NEHGS is proud to present the online debut of The Settlers of the Beekman Patent series, by Frank J. Doherty. The Settlers of the Beekman Patent contains data on over thirteen hundred families who settled in the Beekman Patent, an original land grant given to Col. Henry Beekman in 1697 by the English Crown and the second largest patent in present-day Dutchess County, New York. Many emigrants from New England lived in and passed through the Beekman Patent on their way west. Others, such as the Palatines and Quakers (almost all from New England), were early settlers and remained for several generations or more. There are currently six published volumes in this series, and these will be added to over time.

    The first volume of the series was published in 1990, and included all early information available on the Patent — the lease system, precinct (town) records, road dedications, the rent wars, over three hundred pages of local Revolutionary War data, and more. This installment also contains previously undiscovered Revolutionary War muster rolls for four of the nine companies of minutemen in Dutchess County as well as important information found in the two newspapers that were published in the county during the Revolution.

    Subsequent volumes of Settlers of the Beekman Patent contain detailed family histories of the eighteenth-century residents of the Patent, many of which were drawn from sources previously unavailable to family historians, such as the original lease records of Henry Beekman and original daybooks and over sixty ledgers from early Dutchess County stores.

    Compiler and author Frank J. Doherty has researched the settlers of the Beekman Patent for over thirty years and is considered the foremost expert on these families. He began his research after he purchased property in the town of LaGrange in Dutchess County and became interested in the history of the area. His research includes all eighteenth-century records from Dutchess County courts, probate, cemeteries, churches, stores, leases, tax lists, military, census, and other documents pertaining to the area.

    Beginning in June, will be offering family sketches from the Beekman Patent series on a monthly basis. This month we present Volume 1, which contains the early information on the area as described above. In addition to search options, we are including a linked list of all of the topic areas available in this volume to enable you to quickly locate your topic of interest.

    Search Settlers of the Beekman Patent at

    Massachusetts and Maine 1798 Direct Tax

    The newest addition to this ongoing database is Hampshire County, Massachusetts (Division 8, Volumes XVI-XX [4]). Towns included in this update are:

    Amherst, Ashfield, Belchertown, Bernardstown, Brimfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Chester, Chesterfield, Coleraine, Conway, Cummington, Deerfield, Easthampton, Gill, Goshen, Granby, Greenfield, Greenwich, Hadley, Hatfield, Hawley, Heath, Holland, Leverett, Leyden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Middlefield, Monson, Montague, Montgomery, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Northwich, Orange, Palmer, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Russell, Shelburne, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Southampton, Springfield, Sturbridge, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendall, Westfield, Westhampton, Whately, Wilbraham, Williamsburg, and Worthington.

    The Massachusetts and Maine 1798 Direct Tax may be used as a companion to the 1800 U.S. Federal Census, and to track the movement of individuals between the 1790 and 1800 censuses.

    We will be adding further geographical areas in the coming weeks until the entire tax list is complete.

    Search the Massachusetts and Maine 1798 Direct Tax at

    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    This week we have added transcriptions from Harris (aka Streeter District) and Salmon Hole cemeteries in Lisbon, New Hampshire, and stones "on the Hill Road from Chesham To Marlboro" in Marlboro, New Hampshire.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at

    Master Search

    Master search all databases at .

    Special Hours in the NEHGS Research Library

    Please note that the NEHGS Research Library will be closed on Saturday, May 24, in observance of Memorial Day. NEHGS offices will also be closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26.

    Also, keep in mind that the research library will be open on Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. from July 13 to August 24. NEHGS members may bring a guest for free on Sundays.

    New Research Articles on

    New York
    A Finding Aid for New York State Cemeteries
    By Marian S. Henry

    Compared with much of New England, finding vital records in New York State can be challenging. The state's vital records do not begin until 1881, but cemetery records can help to fill the gap. To aid researchers, the Association of Municipal Historians of New York State (AMHNYS) undertook a project in 1997 to survey all of the known cemeteries in the state. This inventory, compiled by municipal and county historians, was the first statewide community service project of AMHNYS. The result is a three-volume set titled The Association of Municipal Historians of New York State Name/Location Survey Project 1995–1997 (Bowie, MD, Heritage Books. 1999).

    NEHGS members may view the full article at

    Free Non-Member Preview Article
    Member Submission
    James Densmore's Account: A Letter From the Early Years of the Typewriter
    By Hugh L. Whitehouse

    James Densmore (1820–1889) gained his fame and fortune from the development of the Remington typewriter. He was not the inventor; Christopher Latham Sholes, a Milwaukee printer, held the 1868 U. S. patent. Sholes knew Densmore and wrote to him in Pennsylvania (on a prototype typewriter) in 1867, seeking financial backing for development. Upon reading the typewritten letter, Densmore was overwhelmed with the possibilities of the machine, and immediately sent $600 to pay Sholes’ expenses for the prototype, along with a contract proposing a twenty-five percent share in the venture for the $600, and for finding further backing.

    View the full article at


    New Arrival at NEHGS Library — Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Probate Records, 1636–1916

    The NEHGS Library has just received the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Probate Records, 1636–1916, on 478 rolls of microfilm. This collection, covering volumes 1–1102, is now available at the fourth-floor technology room at NEHGS. The records from 1636 to 1899 include the probate record books and complete name and docket indexes, while the records from 1900 to 1916 include the record books and a partial docket index. The call number for these films is F72/S9/S835.

    NEHGS microtext manager David Allan Lambert says, "This collection of microfilm will allow our patrons access to Suffolk County probates from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. With the docket index patrons will easily be able to move from printed index to the original docket books. This collection will become one of our more popular microfilms requested due to its magnitude and scope."

    If you have questions about using these collections at the NEHGS Research Library, please email If you are interested in using the Research Services to conduct research for you, please visit

    The NEHGS 2003 Summer Conference
    July 11–12, 2003; Boston, Massachusetts

    Don't wait until summer to register for the NEHGS Summer Conference! "New England Research in the Early 21st Century" will take place at the John Hancock Conference Center in Boston's Back Bay on Friday and Saturday, July 11 and 12, 2003. There will be a potpourri of guest and staff speakers presenting 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! Here is just a sampling of the lectures offered at the conference:

    • NEHGS executive director Ralph J. Crandall on "Geography, Religion, and Warfare: Why People Moved Within Colonial New England"

    • National Archives - Northeast Region specialist Walter V. Hickey on "Determining Immigrant Origins in Various Federal Records"

    • Massachusetts Historical Society librarian Peter Drummey on "Just Beyond Newbury Street: Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society"

    Register editor Henry B. Hoff on "Upstate New York Research"

    • NEHGS assistant executive director D. Brenton Simons on "Boston Scandals: Misbehavior, Deviance, and Crime in the 17th and 18th Centuries"

    • Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter on "Genealogy Research on the Internet: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (advance registration required)

    • NEHGS senior research scholar Gary Boyd Roberts on "The New England Core in Print: The Best Reference Works and Compiled Genealogies"

    And that's only the beginning! Arrive early and go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Boston Public Library given by BPL president Bernard Margolis (this event is not included on the registration form, interested parties must reserve by email [] or phone [888-296-3447] after registering for the conference to sign up for the tour). Sign up for a half-hour consultation with NEHGS senior research scholar Gary Boyd Roberts. Peruse the exhibit area, view demonstrations of, and browse through the latest NEHGS publications. Take a "Duck Tour" around the city. Above all, enjoy the summer season with NEHGS in Boston!

    The complete schedule, information on how to register, and additional conference details are available at If you have any questions, please email


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

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

    • "Researching Your Civil War Union Ancestor" by David Allen Lambert on Wednesday, May 28 and Saturday, May 31
    • "Maine Lines: Finding Your Downeast Ancestors" by David C. Dearborn on Wednesday, June 4 and Saturday, June 7
    • "Best Sources for Mayflower Research" by Gary Boyd Roberts on Wednesday, June 11 and Saturday, June 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.

    Cemetery Research in New Hampshire, Part 2
    by Sherry L. Gould

    This article is continued from eNews #114. To read the first part of this article, visit

    The U.S. Department of the Interior has a Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), which can be searched on the web. This site allows the researcher to search for all cemeteries in a given town, county, or state. A form is provided that allows the user to enter information via drop down lists to complete the query of the database. All that is needed for this purpose is to select the state, which enables the county to be selected. Next, the user will select the cemetery in the drop down list titled "Feature Type." If a specific town is known, the user can then type that town name into the field titled "Topo Map Name." The results will be a listing of all cemeteries known in a given state, county, and town with links to maps of the location. The latitude and longitude are given for the location that can then be used with a GIS hand-held device (click here for more information about GIS [Geographic Information Systems]). After a specific cemetery is selected, the most helpful map choice for location by automobile is "Show Feature Location using maps produced from the U.S. Census Bureau's Tiger Map Server." After selecting this item, scroll down the page and use the zoom-in feature several times to get a street map for the selected cemetery. The information you receive is only as good as the information in the database. In this instance, a search for all cemeteries in Bradford, NH, includes one that is actually located in Sutton, NH, and the Presbury Cemetery in Bradford is listed under Hillsboro Upper Village, NH. However, one of several family plots located in Bradford does appear on the list.

    Transcriptions of the gravestones of many New Hampshire cemeteries have been made and printed copies deposited in various libraries and historical societies. These transcriptions are attributed to members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Works Progress Administration (WPA) groups, or other historians. An impressive collection can be found at the New Hampshire Historical Society Tuck Library located at 30 Park St, Concord, NH, 03301. In preparation for a visit to the library, a search of their collection for a specific cemetery can be done online. Entering the search word "cemetery" in that search engine produces 327 items. The NEHGS Library also has an online catalog. Using that search, it is necessary to search for variants such as "Gravestone Inscriptions New Hampshire" as well as "Cemeteries NH" to get a more complete listing. [Editor's note: has added transcriptions for over two hundred cemeteries in sixty-four New Hampshire towns and villages to their Cemetery Transcriptions database at] The DAR Library in Washington, DC has many transcription records in their holdings. A search can be completed online for these as well. The most effective way to isolate your search on that engine is to enter a search for a title as follows: "Cemetery Records {Insert Town Name}, {Insert State Abbr.}." It is also a good idea to check with the local historical society when the researcher has an idea of the location of an ancestor's burial to see if they may have transcription records not published or deposited elsewhere. The benefit of these records is that the researcher can check out a hunch of an ancestor's burial location and if luck prevails, obtain inscription information without an intensive stroll through the many cemeteries of a given locality.

    The next step is a visit to the cemetery. You should first check with the town to see what, if any, restrictions and guidelines exist for the cemetery in question. The following items will assist you with transcribing the gravestones:

    • writing utensils
    • paper
    • outdoor clothing appropriate for the weather
    • hat with visor
    • sunglasses
    • bug repellent
    • sunscreen
    • mirror
    • flashlight
    • cardboard roll such as an empty paper towel roll
    • mild soap
    • lots of water
    • soft nylon or natural brush
    • wooden scraper such as a popsicle stick
    • grass cutters, trowel, etc.
    • camera

    Depending on where the light is at the time, and given the weather conditions on the day of your visit, you may find the inscription difficult to read. By maneuvering the light over the inscription using the mirror, flashlight and tube you will find that readability can be greatly increased. Do not use any chemical ingredients on the stone to highlight the inscription or clean it, as this may damage the stone. You may find that lichen or other organic matter has covered the inscription. In this event soak the debris with mild soapy water and work it off with the soft brush or wooden scraper. Metal and chemicals should never be used. Be sure to thoroughly flush the detergent from the stone when done. If you intend to do plantings, trim grass or clear the base of a sunken stone, be sure you have the tools you will need and know just what the guidelines are for the cemetery.

    It is important to record the inscription even if you intend to photograph the stone. It's a good idea to take a thorough look at the stones surrounding that of your particular interest. Take a record of anything that appears remotely related, to avoid repeating a trip when some new evidence makes the remotely possible now probable! Following these methods should assist researchers in finding valuable information about their New Hampshire ancestors.

    This article, plus over a hundred other articles, are available to NEHGS members online at /articles/research/.

    Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback

    Here is the latest reader submission 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!

    "... a religious zealot who gave her money to the missionaries."
    by Lynn Hay Rudy of Jenner, California

    Our great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Woods (Richardson) Wate, also known as "Old Betsy," was an admirable, upstanding woman, but I'm glad I was not her child. Born in Ashby, Massachusetts, in 1810 to Richard Richardson and Mrs. Elizabeth (Wyman) Parks, Betsy married, had a family, and lived to age seventy-nine. She documented her life and the lives of her family members with letters and diaries, and packed statistics, mementos, clippings, and her own verses into the pages of her big calfskin Bible. She saved everything. Betsy's first likeness was taken as a sweet-faced seventeen-year-old in a silhouette by a neighbor, Ruth Bascom. In the last, she is a stern old lady in a bonnet. In between, she taught school, married a young blacksmith, Jacob Niles Wate, and had ten children: a proper, conventional, and not particularly interesting history.

    But this was a very strong-willed woman. At eighteen, she decided she was often unruly and a disobedient daughter. Her solution, in the quite constricted New England social environment of 1828, was to join an evangelical Baptist church and put herself into the hands of some very charismatic preachers. She prayed hard for all decisions, and was sure God gave her specific advice. Thus, her willfulness, great energy, and intelligence were channeled and rationalized. Betsy became an obedient wife, a matriarchal tyrant, and a religious zealot who gave her money to the missionaries.

    Her five schoolteacher daughters kept their secrets, left home when they could, and rolled their eyes often. They saved their letters, and, without comment, "One of Mother's Journals, 1870–1879," an account of visits made to Boston homes. But why did she keep such a journal? She was not a social butterfly. The answer: it contained Betsy's report of several visits spoiled by "rude rebuffs." The widow Wate was busily knocking on doors to proselytize for her church.

    Response to Last Week's Favorite Ancestor Story

    Deborah J. Mason wrote to us in response to Grace Morse Sargent's Favorite Ancestor story featured in eNews #115 last week. She writes:

    I would like to submit this correction to Grace Morse Sargent's story. She wrote, "Now after all these years of being asked my relationship to Samuel F.B. Morse, I can answer, 'No, I am not related to him, but my children are!'This is because their ancestor, Sarah Morse, is a granddaughter of Anthony, the daughter of Anthony’s son Benjamin, who is the brother of Samuel F.B. Morse’s great-grandfather Peter Morse."

    SAMUEL FINLEY BREESE MORSE (JEDEDIAH6, JEDEDIAH5, JOHN4, PETER3, ANTHONY2, ANTHONY1) was born April 27, 1791 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, and died April 2, 1872 in New York City, New York. He married (1) LUCRETIA PICKERING WALKER September 29, 1818. He married (2) SARAH ELIZABETH GRISWOLD August 10, 1823.

    Anthony Jr. (Anthony1) is a brother of Benjamin and Peter Morse. Samuel F.B. Morse's ancestor is Anthony Jr. (Anthony1), not Peter Morse, though I believe Grace Morse Sargent perhaps meant Samuel's ancestor is Peter2 Morse, son of Anthony1.

    I am a descendant of Anthony Jr's brother, Benjamin Morse.


    NEHGS Contact Information

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