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  • 2003 Archive

  • Vol. 5, No. 40
    Whole #133
    September 26, 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


    • A New Database Every Weekday on!
    • New Databases on
    • New Research Article on
    • "Ask a Librarian" Answers Your Research Questions!
    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    "Getting Started" Class Offered in Boston on Wednesday, October 1
    Online Census Indices — Advantages and Limitations
    Virginia Resources in the Circulating Library
    New Arrivals at the Library Listed on
    Loyalist Confiscation Acts: Adjusting to the Fact of Independence
    National Institute on Genealogical Research
    • Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    A New Database Every Weekday on!

    Can't wait until Friday to see what's new at NEHGS will begin offering a new database each weekday beginning Monday, September 29. We are pleased to now be able to offer new vital records, genealogies, cemetery transcriptions, church records, and more — five days a week! You will find a link to the newest database along with a brief introduction in its usual location on the home page, followed by links to recently added databases. This change will not affect the schedules of any other feature or publication at this time. We will continue to produce NEHGS eNews every Friday and a new research column will be added each week.

    New Databases on

    Members of the First Baptist Church, North Adams, Massachusetts (before 1860)

    The First Baptist Church of North Adams, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, was organized on October 30, 1808, by Elder Calvin Keyes. The first minister was Reverend George Witherell. This record of members who joined the church before 1860 includes admissions, dismissions, baptisms, and deaths. There are also occasional records of relationships, places of burial, and migration information.

    Search Members of the First Baptist Church, North Adams, Massachusetts (before 1860) at .

    Records of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Danbury, Connecticut, 1848–1851

    The first reference to Methodism in Danbury is a record of a meeting that took place on September 1, 1812. There is no record of the building of the original church, but there is evidence that a new church was erected during the years 1829 to 1836. These records were transcribed by Lester Card of South Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1942.

    Search Records of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Danbury, Connecticut, 1848–1851

    Family Genealogy:
    Genealogical history of Samuell Hartt from London, England, to Lynn, Mass., 1640 and descendants, to 1903

    This genealogy of the Hartt/Hart family was written by James M. Hart in 1903.

    From the introduction:

    "Samuell Hartt was born in 1622 in London, England, as supposed, son of ___. He married Mary How, a widow and daughter of Edmund and Jane (___) Needham of Lynn, Mass., about 1653, and resided at Lynn; a blacksmith by trade. His wife Mary died Oct. 24, 1671, and he married, second, Jan. 29, 1673, Mary Whiteridge. Samuell Hartt died June 25, 1683, aged 61 years. His widow, Mary, married March 5, 1684, William Beal of Lynn, Mass., by whom she had children.

    "In a deposition, sworn to by Samuel Hartt, at Lynn, Mass., 'ye 27th of October, 1653,' he called himself 31 years of age, and said he was sent over by the London, England, Iron Company 'to their Iron Works, Lynn, Mass., the year 1640."

    Search the Hartt/Hart genealogy 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:

    Nathaniel Nason, Nathaniel Nazro, Henry Nelson, Ezra Newhall, Samuel Newman, Samuel Nicholson, Thomas Nixon, David Noble, William North, Zachariah Nowell, Benjamin Parker, William Palfrey, Silas Peirce, John (Joshua) Peirce (Pierce), Edward Phelon, James Warren Jr., John Warren, William Watson, Mason Wattles, George Webb, Daniel Webber, Elisha Wellington (Willington), Thomas Wells, Benjamin Wells (Welles), James Wesson.

    Search the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati database at:




    New Research Article on

    Rhode Island
    Rhode Island Local and State Censuses
    By Maureen A. Taylor

    While the use of federal population schedules is common practice to most genealogists, state and local census materials are often neglected. This is probably due to the fact that many researchers aren’t aware of the wealth of census documents that exist on the state or city level.

    Rhode Island state censuses were taken at ten-year intervals between 1865 and 1935, although the 1895 returns are missing. The Rhode Island State Archives (337 Westminster St., Providence, RI 02903) has microfilm copies of all the state material mentioned here. If you need additional information about their holdings, contact archivist Ken Carlson at 401-222-2353. The Rhode Island Historical Society has microfilms of the 1865, 1875, and 1885 censuses.

    Read the full article at

    "Ask a Librarian" Answers Your Research Questions!

    A new selection of "Ask a Librarian" questions and answers is now available to NEHGS members at "Ask a Librarian" is a monthly feature that enables NEHGS members to ask staff librarians questions about research methodology, localities, sources, NEHGS holdings, and much more! Answers to questions in the "Ask a Librarian" feature are available to NEHGS members only.

    Email your research question to

    Please note that we do not accept questions about specific families and individuals in this forum, nor do we perform "look-ups" — please visit our Research Services department page at for assistance with these types of queries.
    Due to the high volume of questions submitted, please allow two to three months for questions to be answered. Because of their busy schedules, NEHGS librarians are only able to answer a certain percentage of questions. You will be notified if your question has been chosen for inclusion.

    Here are the questions for this month:

    Debbie Barngrover asks:

    What circumstances would cause a court in colonial New England to name a guardian for children? Did both parents have to die? If a guardian was named after a father's death, but while the mother was still living, were there particular circumstances that would cause a guardianship, such as the financial state of the mother, the number of minor children, or the remarriage of the mother?

    Rebecca Collins asks:

    I am trying to find death information regarding an ancestor of mine who died in Wisconsin sometime in the 1870s. She and her husband moved to Wisconsin from Tyringham, Massachusetts, and her family lived in that town until long after her death. I'm hoping to find a notice of her death in a local Berkshire County newspaper. I'm having a hard time finding out which papers were published in the 1870s that local Tyringham residents might have read, and if any libraries hold copies that can be perused. Could you help me on this?

    Barbara O'Neill asks:

    I am beginning to write up my genealogical facts into a genealogy, I hope. I want to know if the information I have gathered from books and the NEHGS Register are accepted as authentic enough to use as sources or do I need to find the primary sources myself? This would be practically impossible for me to do. Any other information on writing a genealogy would be appreciated. Thank you.

    Chyrene asks:

    I know you can't plug certain products, but I hope you can put me on the right track. I had over 26,000 names entered in a previous software program which (many years ago) decided to crash. I have been told there is no way to retrieve this data, so I'm looking into a new program. There seem to be so many on the market and as it will be a significant investment in time I would like to be sure I have chosen a good product.

    Nancy Willis asks:

    I have heard and read that my great grandfather was with George Washington in the crossing of the Delaware. I am interested in his Revolutionary War record. How can I obtain these records?

    Dotty Dill asks:

    I believe my ancestor arrived in this country with the British army but deserted and joined with our side. He was pensioned in 1821 after fighting with the 1st Pennsylvania line, stationed at Ticonderoga, and then marching to Montreal. He had other service documented up to 1780. I need to know if there are any materials available about the men who "deserted" the British and fought for America.

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

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

    • "Preparing for Your Trip to Salt Lake City" by David Lambert on Saturday, September 27

    • "Highlights of Unusual Boston Records" by Ann Lainhart on Wednesday, October 1 and Saturday, October 4.

    • "Caring for Your Treasured Books" by Deborah Rossi on Wednesday, October 8 and Saturday, October 11.

    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.


    "Getting Started" Class Offered in Boston on Wednesday, October 1

    Those new to genealogy are invited to attend a free "Getting Started" class at either 12 noon or 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 1. The one-hour classes will be held at NEHGS, 101 Newbury St., Boston. Registration is not required.

    The program will introduce beginners to the fundamentals of genealogy and take participants on a tour of the NEHGS Library. For more information about "Getting Started," please visit, email the NEHGS Library Director, or call 617-226-1231.

    Online Census Indices — Advantages and Limitations
    by NEHGS Reference Librarian Christopher Challender Child

    With the gradual addition of the 1900 census to the website, there is currently some form of an online index for every census from 1790 to 1930 (except the 1890 census, which was destroyed). However, finding your ancestors in online censuses is not always as quick and simple as some might think.

    Most of these indices are by head of household only, with the exceptions being the 1880 census on and the 1930 census on, both of which have every name indices. It is important to note the advantages these search engines can have.

    The main advantages of a book index are its convenience and the ease with which a researcher can find names with alternative spellings, or even alternative names (i.e. Mary/Polly). For instance, if you cannot find a "James Child" you could look on the same page for similar names such "Jas Child" or "James Childe" or "James Childs." With an online index, it is often necessary to type in the name exactly as it is written. However, many of these indices have advantages over a book index. Some people were not listed by their real names or often their names were spelled incorrectly. The results include spelling variations, which can help locate these normally hard-to-find people. This database has an additional advantage in that users can search for someone via their head of household.

    When I used the 1880 census on for my ancestor Mary Rosella Through in Pennsylvania, I didn't find anything when I searched for her by name. I knew she was born in Ohio and her mother was Anna (Sampson) Through. I also knew that her father left or died when she was young. I then entered only the first name Mary, and then added the first name of her mother Anna in the head of household field. I selected Pennsylvania as the census state and Ohio as the state of Mary's birthplace. This search was not restrictive to the unusual name, through which perhaps an alternate spelling of the name would not be picked up in a Soundex search. This search produced only three hits. It turned out that my ancestor was not listed under the surname "Through" at all, but Brown. Her mother later married and was widowed by 1880 to a Mr. Brown. Anna is listed with her three "Through children" although they are all listed as Brown. Also in the household is a boarder, "Hubbard Helman," who later became her husband "Herbert Heath Helman." He also would not have been found through traditional searching methods.

    It can be very difficult to find your ancestor via the index if an indexer misspelled or misread a surname. But these websites offer alternative searching strategies. Searching on just a first name can help you determine where your ancestor is located. Try the more unique first names to learn how the indexer read your family's last name. An online search of the 1920 Kansas census for my great grandfather Alton Challender produced no results. However, limiting my search to just "Alton" produced forty-three results and only one in his residence of Harvey County. He is listed as "Alton Challendar." While this would be much easier to find in a book index, the computer index is convenient and these simple tools still make searches fairly straightforward.

    Some searches might not be so easy. Searching for my grandmother "Daisy Dolores Horton" in the 1930 census for Kansas proved to be a difficult task. Searching on both "Daisy" and "Dolores" did not produce results, even when I broadened it to a Soundex search. I did not know the county she was living in at the time, so this proved to be more difficult. I then added the estimated age of Daisy into the search and found her listed as "Daisy Delaie Haton" in Westminster, Reno Co., Kansas. Haton would be very far away from Horton in a book index. This shows some clear advantages to the Internet searches.

    The search options offered by 1880 census index can also be utilized to determine who a daughter married — although these searches are often more difficult and the results should always be checked further. Even discovering the maiden name of an ancestor via the 1880 census is possible. An example was when I traced the ancestry of talk show host David Letterman. I found his father in the 1930 census in Stockton, Greene County, Indiana, — Harry Joe Letterman, age 15, b. Indiana. Harry was living with his parents, Frank A. & Anna M., as well as Harry's widowed grandmother, Adalia Letterman, b. Iowa, father born in Ohio and mother born in Pennsylvania. This places Adalia's birth year around 1859 and it also says she married at age twenty-seven, after 1880. I performed an 1880 search for an Adalia, born around 1859 in Iowa, and living in Indiana. I found an Adalia Adams, age twenty-one, living in the very same town listed in the 1930 census. It also showed her parents John and Susan, born in Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively. I was able to find Adalia's maiden name without her marriage or death record!

    Internet searches of the census and other resources can have many more advantages than the traditional book index. As search engines become more sophisticated, your long-unsolved genealogical mysteries may become easier to unravel.

    Virginia Resources in the Circulating Library
    By Alexander Woodle, Circulating Library Director

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is widely known for its vast collection of materials on the New England states. However, what is perhaps less well known are its tremendous resources from other areas of the country. From time to time this space will highlight other states or geographic regions that are well covered by the Circulating Library. If you have any personal suggestions for areas to explore or topics to discuss, please send us an email at

    Using the online catalog's search menu on the left side of your screen, click on "Title." A title search of the Circulating Library holdings using the keyword "Virginia" yields a whopping 640 titles! Similarly, if we search the same keyword doing a subject search we receive 373 hits. These lists are too long to look through. You can narrow your search by using more keywords. For example, if we search "Virginia Loudoun County" we receive a manageable two hits. Using the keywords "Virginia" and "census," we receive only five hits. Experiment on your own to explore our Virginia resources. In a later article we will examine some Virginia periodicals in the library.

    As always, 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 or borrow books online, please visit

    New Arrivals at the Library Listed on

    The latest list of new titles added to the NEHGS library has been posted on To view the list, go to and click on "September 2003." Here are some of this month's titles:

    Lithuanian religious life in America: a compendium of 150 Roman Catholic parishes and institutions
    Getting it right: the definitive guide to recording family history accurately
    William Case of Rhode Island and some of his descendants
    Records of the Rockland Congregational Church, Rockland, Maine, 1835–1945
    Touring the Forefathers Burying Ground, Chelmsford, Massachusetts
    Baptisms, marriages and burials of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, West Thompson, CT, 1879–1990
    Marriage and death newspaper notices, Wayne County, Michigan, 1809–1868
    The people of Insch, Culsalmond, and Rayne, 1696
    Memorial inscriptions of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Co. Dublin, Ireland

    Loyalist Confiscation Acts: Adjusting to the Fact of Independence
    Friday, October 10, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
    Golden Ball Tavern Museum, Weston, Massachusetts

    This fall the Bay State Historical League is presenting a series, "Massachusetts History: A View from the 21st Century." The first talk in the series will be presented by Jonathan Chu of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, on the topic "Loyalist Confiscation Acts: Adjusting to the Fact of Independence."

    The talk will examine the impact of the American Revolution on Loyalist families. During the American Revolution, state governments solved the problem of absentee Loyalist landowners by confiscating their property in lieu of taxes. While conventional in times of peace — it is still the basic legal remedy for abandoned real property — the confiscation acts provided the first examples of the federal problem because the Treaty of Paris guaranteed the American property rights of British citizens. As such, the experience of Loyalists with American property provides a window into the troubled and unexpected consequences Americans faced in the aftermath of the Revolution. Tamsen George, of the Shirley-Eustis House Association, and Joan Bines, of the Golden Ball Tavern Museum, will explore interpreting Loyalists at historic sites in Massachusetts.

    Admission to the program is $25 for Bay State Historic League members and $35 for non-members. For more information about the program and registration information, please visit

    National Institute on Genealogical Research
    July 11–17, 2004, Washington, D.C.

    The National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) in Washington, D.C. will be held at the National Archives building in Washington D.C. and in College Park, Maryland. It offers on-site and in-depth examination of the common and less-known federal records found at the Archives. This intensive week-long study opportunity is for experienced genealogists, and for archivists, historians, and librarians interested in using federal records for genealogical research. It is not an introductory course in genealogy. The 2004 program will feature sessions on the census and records for African American, military, land, Native American, legislative and cartographic research. Additional lectures on less-frequently-used sources along with popular sessions on naturalization, citizenship, and immigration documents will round out the program.

    Brochures with an application form will be mailed in early 2004. Tuition is $325 for applications postmarked on, or before, 15 May 2004, or $355 for applications postmarked after that date. For more information about the 2004 program, or to obtain an application brochure, see the Institute's website at; or email; or write to NIGR, P.O. Box 724, Lanham, MD 20703-0724.

    Two scholarships are available, each offering a $500 stipend to help defray expenses of attending the Institute. The NIGR Alumni Association offers the Richard S. Lackey Scholarship to "an experienced researcher in either a paid or volunteer position in the service of the genealogical community." For information, see the Institute's website where an online application form will be available after October 1, 2003, or write to Lackey Scholarship, NIGRAA, P.O. Box 14274, Washington, D.C. 20044-4274. Applications must be received by February 1, 2004. Winners will be notified no later than February 15, 2004.

    The American Society of Genealogists offers the ASG Scholar Award, based on a manuscript or published paper of at least 5,000 words. Application deadline is January 1, 2004. For details, see the Society's website at, or write to ASG Scholarship Committee, 2324 East Nottingham, Springfield, MO 65804-7821.

    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!

    "My Favorite Ancestor Story"
    by Roger Cunningham of Windsor, Ontario

    One of my favorite ancestor stories has been passed about for a few generations now and I have enjoyed retelling it.

    It seems that my maternal great grandfather went to live with one of his sons after his wife had passed on. Unfortunately, while the son was happy to have dad with him, it seems his wife was less than enthralled. The old man's relationship with his daughter-in-law apparently ranged from cool to fiery exchanges.

    The way the family tells it, the old man died suddenly, having been in apparent good health. They lived in a small village in Nova Scotia and there was no undertaker to do the honors, so the body was prepared by family members and laid out in the "parlor," for the customary visitation. To the surprise of all, the body turned black overnight and began to give off an odor which meant it could not remain in the house. It was moved to a shed in the yard to allow friends to pay their respects.

    No one in that village could recall a body changing like this one and someone devised a reason for the mystery event. The story became that the son's wife had poisoned her father-in-law to get him out of her home. To this day it seems no person wishes to dispute the tale. I like it because it adds a bit of color to the family history. I doubt it is the truth and would guess that he died of an illness not often seen. Let us note that in that area, at that period, many death certificates showed the cause of death as "heart stopped" or "old age." Medicine was not much more sophisticated than the locals who came up with an explanation for the sudden death and subsequent events.


    NEHGS Contact Information

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