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  • 2003 Archive

  • Vol. 5, No. 28
    Whole #121
    July 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


    • Happy Independence Day!
    • Special Independence Day Exhibit on
    • Only One Week Until the NEHGS Summer Conference!
    • New Databases on
    • New Research Article on
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    • An Introduction to Using at NEHGS in Boston
    • Using Compiled Genealogies to Avoid Duplication in Research
    • New Acquisitions in the Circulating Library
    • Free Access to ATAVUS, the Online Magazine for Burke's Peerage & Gentry Subscribers
    • Do You Have Stonington, Connecticut, Ancestors?
    • Research Your Irish Ancestors with
    • Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    Happy Independence Day!

    Please note that the NEHGS Research Library will be closed on Friday, July 4, and Saturday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day.

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

    If you have any questions about library hours, please email

    Special Independence Day Exhibit on

    In honor of Independence Day, we are presenting a variety of items from our manuscript collections related to this historic event. Included in this exhibit is a 1776 letter from soldier Samuel Hovey to his father Ivory, in which the son describes witnessing the reading of the Declaration of Independence to the army in New York; Daniel Rogers' 1776 diary entry noting the publishing of the Declaration; various broadsides announcing Independence Day celebrations (1853, 1855, and 1858); and a sample of penmanship by thirteen-year-old Lemuel Blake, illustrating the arrangement of the first legislature of the United States.

    See the exhibit in Tales from the Manuscript Collections at /libraries/manuscripts/.

    Only One Week Until the NEHGS Summer Conference!

    The NEHGS summer conference will be held on Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12, at the John Hancock Conference Center in Boston, just a few blocks from the NEHGS library. Space is still available, and conference registrations will be accepted through Tuesday, July 8. After that date, please phone for availability of walk-in status.

    Please note: The Saturday luncheon is full. If you have not yet registered and wish to attend Friday's luncheon or the Friday banquet please do so before noon on Monday, July 7. Also, the John Hancock Conference Center has reached its capacity for accommodating overnight guests for some of the summer conference dates. If you have not yet made a reservation and are coming in from out of town and need accommodations, the NEHGS website lists alternatives at:

    In this issue of eNews, we continue to highlight summer conference topics:

    Three speakers from Boston-area repositories will offer insights into their collections. After presenting an insightful Nutshell lecture last fall, we asked Dr. Harold Worthley, librarian-historian at the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston, to reprise his talk, "Congregational Church Records: More or Less Than Meets the Eye?" for conference attendees on Friday morning.

    On Friday afternoon, Walter Hickey, archives specialist at the National Archives — Northeast Region, will go beyond passenger manifests and naturalization papers in "Determining Immigrant Origins in Various Federal Records." Hickey will discuss draft registrations, alien registrations, immigrant visa applications, and Canadian border crossing records. Participants will also learn how to obtain records not in the National Archives.

    And on Saturday morning, Peter Drummey, the Stephen T. Riley Librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society, will explain how the collections at NEHGS and the MHS complement one another in "Just Beyond Newbury Street: Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society." This lecture will also highlight particular collections as well as leave time for the audience to ask about specific collections, families, or ancestors.

    On Saturday afternoon, the agenda will include back-to-back talks on writing and publishing your genealogy. Maureen Taylor will tell you how to bring your genealogy to life with illustrations, social history, and artifacts in "Writing a Family History: Making Your Genealogy a 'Good Read'." Then, Henry Hoff, following up on the success of his book Genealogical Writing in the Twenty-First Century: A Guide to Register Style and More will present "Genealogical Writing: Style Guidelines and Practical Advice" where he will explain some of the "whys" of style guidelines and give further practical advice, including examples.

    This listing provides just a few highlights. There are many more conference topics. We invite you to visit the NEHGS website at for full details.

    New Databases on

    Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database Index

    The Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project was begun by genealogists in 1990 as a way of pooling existing information on gravestone inscriptions in the state. Under the direction of project coordinator John Sterling, volunteers were to find all existing transcriptions of Rhode Island cemeteries, whether or not the burial ground still remained, enter the data into the computer, and then use the printout to check surviving stones. Sterling and his volunteers found over a hundred transcriptions covering about two thousand cemeteries — some running to several thousand pages — and entered the data into a database. They then sent volunteers into the field with a printout to see which stones were still there, whether they were correctly transcribed, and if new stones had been added. They also mapped the location of each stone within each cemetery.

    When all of the cemeteries of a town were recorded and checked, a book was published containing the transcriptions. Eight books have been published so far and are available through the Rhode Island Cemeteries Database Home Page ( Please remember that the Rhode Island Cemetery Transcription Project is a work in progress. The original goal was to transcribe all seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century gravestones, and probably ninety-five percent of these are now recorded. Some cemeteries included in the database are still being worked on, in which case not every name will be found in the index.

    This database contains only the index for the complete transcription database. If you find your ancestor, you will want to visit one of the locations with the full database to see the rest of the information on the gravestone. Please refer to the following article written by John Sterling for detailed information on the project and repository locations.

    Read about The Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Transcription Project at

    Search The Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database Index at

    The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Volume 2

    The newest additions to the ongoing Settlers of the Beekman Patent database are the first of several installments of family sketches contained in Volume 2 of the series. The following families were added this week: Abbot/Abbott, Abel, Ackerly, Ackert, Adams, Adriance, Adsit, Agard, and Akin.

    This database is derived from Frank J. Doherty's The Settlers of the Beekman Patent series, which 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.

    There are two ways to access the information in the family sketches. You may search on a name or browse through the sketches page by page. When using the search mechanism, please keep in mind that search results are not limited to the names appearing in Volume 2. Matches from Volume 1 (Early History) of the series will also be included — and clearly indicated as such — in the results. If the desired name appears in another family's sketch, this will be included in the results as well.

    If you prefer to go directly to the beginning of each family sketch, click on the "The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Volume Two" link from the main database page. You may then use the arrow keys at the bottom of each page to browse through the family chapter.

    For your convenience, links to both pages are given below.

    Search and Introduction to Volume 2 of The Settlers of the Beekman Patent

    Browse Family Sketches from Volume 2 of The Settlers of the Beekman Patent at

    Records of the First Congregational Church at East Haddam, Connecticut, 1704–1802

    The First Congregational Church in East Haddam, Connecticut, was formed January 6, 1704. The first meeting house was thirty-two feet square and took five years to build. It was used for twenty-three years until a second house was built in 1728. The first minister was Rev. Stephen Hosmer, who presided from 1704 to 1749.

    This typescript was acquired by NEHGS in 1927.

    Search Records of the First Congregational Church at East Haddam, Connecticut, 1704–1802 at

    Massachusetts Society of Cincinnati Profiles

    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:
    Joseph Loring, Obadiah Lovejoy, James Lovell, Ebenezer Lowell, Daniel Lunt, Cornelius Lyman, Elijah aka Elihu Lyman, Henry Marble, Christopher Marshall, Thomas Marshall, Adam Martin, David Mason, David Mason Jr., Hugh Maxwell, John Maynard, Ebenezer Williams, John Williams, Joseph Williams, Robert Williams, Thomas Willington, Jonathan Wing, Ebenezer Winship, John Winslow, Christopher Woodbridge, and Samuel Woodward.

    Search the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati database at:

    Master Search

    Master search all databases at

    New Research Article on

    Genealogy and Technology
    Searching for American Revolution Ancestors and History Online
    by Rhonda R. McClure

    One of the first places that a researcher is likely to establish a connection to the American Revolution is through a compiled pedigree database. Sites such as WorldConnect at RootsWeb offer a place for those willing to share their databases. Unlike earlier lineage-linked databases such as Ancestral File at, the newer breed includes more than just the names, dates, and places. The newer lineage-linked databases often include notes and elaborate biographies on some of the individuals included in the database.

    Read the full article at

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

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

    • "The Ins and Outs of City Directories" by David Dearborn on Wednesday, July 9.

    • "The Great Migration" by Robert Charles Anderson on Wednesday, July 16 and Saturday, July 19.

    • "Researching Québec Ancestors" by Michael Leclerc on Wednesday, July 23 and Saturday, July 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 toll-free at 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

    An Introduction to Using at NEHGS in Boston
    July 9, 11:30 a.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 July 9 at 11:30 a.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

    Using Compiled Genealogies to Avoid Duplication in Research
    By Christopher Hartman, Director of Book Acquisition

    In preparing a family history, one has to be mindful of what has already been put into print. In Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century — A Guide to Register Style and More edited by Henry Hoff, it is noted that "Most of the information in your proposed book should be new. If a branch of your family history is already in print, explore areas that have not been researched. This helps expand the existing body of knowledge and avoids unnecessary overlap." The key point here is to add to what already exists, not "re-invent the wheel" and equally importantly, avoid perpetuating the research mistakes of your predecessors.

    Good, groundbreaking research most often relies on primary source material (i.e. unpublished information derived from letters, documents, photographs, oral histories, family heirlooms, and other heretofore unprinted research). But this is only one segment of the process. For the sake of accuracy and completeness, it is important as well to look at what has already been published (often referred to as secondary source material).

    One of the best sources to check for published family histories is Marion J. Kaminkow's Genealogies in the Library of Congress, a Bibliography. It consists of four volumes and lists those compiled family histories that were submitted to the Library of Congress into the 1980s. It is by no means complete, but is an excellent resource nonetheless.

    It is also advisable to check older reference books, such as The American Genealogist: Being a Catalogue of Family Histories published variously by Joel Munsell and his sons in several editions from the late 19th century into the early 20th; also, American and English genealogies in the Library of Congress, published in 1919.

    When looking in published family histories, take a careful and critical approach to their various components, such as citations and bibliography. Any work derived from solid research will contain a bibliography, and explanation of research methods. The text will also have comprehensive and useful citations; research these citations thoroughly and see where they came from. You can then examine those sources and cull additional information. Additionally, see if the book includes an appendix or appendixes. These often contain documents transcribed in full (such as wills or inventories) that may have useful information.

    After checking with all available printed sources for related family materials, go online and see what others are doing — such as a family association. See what sources they are using for their notes, and if they apply to your family. You may also wish to contact the principals of the website and ask them about their sources — they may have gotten their hands on material that eventually could prove valuable. You can also subscribe to Internet forums and mailing lists, such as those on or Just be sure not to accept anyone's claim without checking it out yourself first; as with a printed book no publication is infallible.

    In summary, searching for sources can be a labor-intensive process, but it is critical that you be aware of everything (or as close to everything as possible) published on your topic. Erroneous information can be corrected, additional and more relevant information can be found and expanded upon, and together with primary sources, research of integrity and reliability can then enter the realm of published family history.

    Select Bibliography:

    Hoff, Henry B., edit. Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century, a Guide to Register Style and
    ." (NEHGS 2002) [Available from the NEHGS sales and circulating library departments];

    Barrow, George Battiscombe and George W. Marshall. The Genealogist's Guide. An Index to Printed British Pedigrees and Family Histories, 1950-1975. London & Chicago, Research Publishing Co., 1977. [Available from the NEHGS circulating library.]

    Kaminkow, Marion J., edit. Genealogies in the Library of Congress, A Bibliography. 2 vols. (Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988).

    Kaminkow, Marion J., edit. Genealogies in the Library of Congress, A Bibliography. Supplement, 1972-6. (Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988).

    Kaminkow, Marion J., edit. Genealogies in the Library of Congress, A Bibliography. Supplement, 1976-1986. (Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988).

    Whitmore, William Henry. The American Genealogist: Being a Catalogue of Family Histories. 5th Edition. Albany, N.Y., Joel Munsell's Sons, (1900). [Available from the NEHGS circulating library.]

    New Acquisitions in the Circulating Library
    By Alexander Woodle, Circulating Library Director


    • Descendants of the Reverend James Fitch 1622–1702, Volume 3, Generations Eight through Tenby John T. Fitch. CS71/F545/1997/v.3.
    This volume completes the comprehensive three-volume set of the James Fitch family tree. It also contains a number of corrections and additions for the seventh generation found in volume two. This third volume covers the family into the 1990s.

    • Simsbury Cemetery Gravestone Inscriptions, Simsbury, CT 1688–2000; volume I The Old Section compiled by Joyce A. Cahill. F104/S6/S59/2001/v.1.
    This book is a fine addition to the growing number of books documenting cemeteries. There is a brief history together with a map showing the sections within the graveyard. The book is organized alphabetically by row and includes the name, date of birth, date of death, age, relationship, section/row, and additional info/remarks. A second section is arranged alphabetically by decedent. It is a nicely designed book and easy to use.

    • Naval Pensioners of the United States, 1800-1851 by Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck. V11/U7/B63/2002.
    This book contains a list of over 3,000 pensioners, organized alphabetically, with rank, state of residence, and the amount of the pension. Additionally, the nature of the disability, the date of death, and the name of vessel is also provided.

    • Founders of Early American Families, Immigrants from Europe 1607–1657 (2nd revised edition) by Meredith B. Colket and revised by Keith M. Sheldon. CS61/C64/2002.
    This classic work has been further revised by Keith Sheldon to include some corrections and the addition of ninety more Founders. Those listed emigrated to Massachusetts (32 immigrants); Virginia (31); Maryland (9); New Netherlands (7); Maine (4); New Hampshire (2), Connecticut (2); Rhode Island (2); and New Jersey (1).

    If you have any questions about using the circulating library, please call, toll-free, 1-888-296-3447, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time) or email To learn more about the circulating library and borrow books online, please visit

    Free Access to ATAVUS, the Online Magazine for Burke's Peerage & Gentry Subscribers

    Throughout the month of July, Vol. 1, Issue 2 of ATAVUS is available free to all visitors to the Burke's Peerage website.

    This issue contains the following features:

    • The Cabinet War Rooms: Churchill's Bunker
    • The O'Neill's of Ulster
    • The Gore Roll: the oldest catalogue of American Arms
    • The Earl of Sandwich
    • Bolton Abbey and other great houses of Yorkshire
    • Clanship and Chiefs Dress and Arms
    • Charles and Camilla

    Read these articles and more now at

    The article on the Gore Roll was written by NEHGS assistant executive director, D. Brenton Simons. The Gore Roll, widely considered to be the oldest surviving catalogue of American arms, is part of the Manuscript Collections at NEHGS.

    ATAVUS is a bi-monthly publication containing articles on genealogy, British history, traditions, and related topics. It is available to subscribers of Burke's Peerage & Gentry's online database.
    Find out more at

    Do You Have Stonington, Connecticut, Ancestors?

    If you have Stonington, Connecticut, ancestors, you won't want to miss the July issue of The Magazine Antiques. NEHGS board member Emily Wharton writes that "It has a real gem — a ten-page article on the Borough of Stonington featuring many of the houses here that adorn the village. The superb article was written by NEHGS member Mary Thacher, the Stonington Town Historian, and is illustrated by magnificent photographs of many of the houses mentioned. Wendell Garrett has a nice piece introducing the article."

    Antiques is not readily available through newsstands and does not have a website, but most libraries carry it. Subscription information for the publication is available at 1-800-925-9271.

    Research Your Irish Ancestors with

    Irish Origins is offering a free day's access (24 continuous hours and 300 credits) on July 4th to all users. Simply go to and enter the promotional code "july4id92" after you have signed up. Then search over three million names, during the time period 1847 to 1864, derived from ships passenger lists, church records, census records and Irish Origins exclusive data — the definitive Griffith's Valuation.

    Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback

    Each week we ask 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 response to last week's black sheep ancestor story:

    Dear Editors,

    As a non-descendent psychological story-writer about our Separatist kin, I do so especially love your section on black-sheep ancestors, many of whom actually can inspire courage. In the case of Ann Noyes of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and her Billington ties, I have two comments: The first of course is, if she wishes to establish her connection to the first man hung for murder in Plymouth Colony, she must refer to him as none other than the father of the clan John [1] Billington, and not his son Francis [2] Billington.

    Now, if you wish to attach ancestry to the two scamp children who shot off a gun near a keg of gunpowder on the Mayflower and came close to sending them to the beyond sooner than those who did not survive that awful first year, then you probably could say you are descended from Francis [2] Billington. John [2] Billington, the other son, died at about age 23 and did not seem to have issue.

    As to Ms. Noyes noting the good cheer of her father at being a descendent of a murderer, I too have come across what I call "Billington cheer" in two other descendents. One was a dinner partner in my Cleveland Park neighborhood in DC. She hadn't done any research but was not in the least dismayed by her ancestor when I confirmed that for her. She is a lawyer.

    The other was none other than Dr.James Billington, the head of our Library of Congress, who also took the fact of his notorious ancestor in good humor when we discussed it. The original John [1] Billington family had always shown zest and endurance — and was one of the few families to survive intact that terrible first year. The positive aspect of what may have been handed down to their descendents was a capacity to be of good cheer .When another scholar told me in confidence that he believed Dr. Billington was not related to John [1] Billington of the Mayflower but rather to a 1630 emigre (my later best source said there was no such) I responded, "Why would anyone claim ancestry to a murderer if they didn't have to?""

    I've been interested in John [1] Billington because he is one of the few people that the temperate and statesmanlike William Bradford referred to with acute annoyance in his masterful Of Plimoth Plantation. It is clear that the elder Billington had personality problems. Bradford was not easy to ruffle and history proved him right.

    Actually, I am very curious about the first Mrs. Billington (Elinor) for I have a dim memory that she was chastised for sexual misconduct but I have not researched that further. As an analytic psychologist that had a special ring to it. Any information from her good descendents would be of much interest.

    Rochelle Kainer, Ph.D.

    NEHGS Contact Information

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

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