American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS
  • 2003 Archive

  • Vol. 5, No. 43
    Whole #136
    October 17, 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


    • NEHGS Names Dick Eastman to Head Technology Department
    • New Databases on
    • New Research Article on
    • New NEHGS CD-ROM! Plymouth Church Records 1620–1859
    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    Register Now for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference!
    Crashed Computers and Lost Ancestors — What to Do?
    • Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    NEHGS Names Dick Eastman to Head Technology Department

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society is pleased to announce that Richard Eastman will be joining its senior management team as Assistant Executive Director for Technology on November 3, 2003. In his new role, Mr. Eastman, a recognized genealogy technology expert, will oversee the Society's website,, and CD-ROM production, as well as all aspects of digital technology at NEHGS.

    Mr. Eastman is well-known in the genealogical community as the creator and author of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, which began in 1996. He has been a member of NEHGS since 1991 and is a former member of the NEHGS Council. He has extensive genealogical speaking experience and has spoken at a number of genealogical conferences. Mr. Eastman also served as Forum Manager of the CompuServe Genealogy Forum from 1988 until 2003 and was a member of the Board of Directors of GENTECH.

    Mr. Eastman's background also includes extensive experience in the computer hardware and technical support industries. He has held important management positions at Honeywell and several other computer firms in the New England area.

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society welcomes the addition of Mr. Eastman to the NEHGS staff and looks forward to his contributions to the Society.

    New Databases on

    Added Friday, October 17

    Deaths Published in the Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church
    From 1830 to 1871

    In 1830 the Association of Members of the Reformed Dutch Church in New York City began publishing the Christian Intelligencer. From 1830 to 1871 the paper published notices of death sent by readers across the country. Many of the obituaries contained detailed information of interest, which was uncommon in newspapers of this era

    This database represents seven volumes of death records compiled and edited by Ray C. Sawyer in 1931. Ten volumes of marriage notices from the Intelligencer were previously added to this website, and may be searched at

    Search Deaths Published in the Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church

    Added Thursday, October 16

    The Diaries of Rev. Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Massachusetts — 1778

    Rev. Thomas Cary (1745–1808) was one of the ministers along the Merrimack River who encouraged the patriotism of parishioners during the Revolutionary War. He began his diary in Weston, Massachusetts, in 1762 and continued writing until 1806. This installment includes his observations from the year 1778. Please note that the year 1777 is missing from the diaries.

    Search the Diaries of the Rev. Thomas Cary at

    Added Wednesday, October 15

    Vital Records of Nottingham, New Hampshire, 1734–1877

    The town of Nottingham, in Rockingham County, was originally part of Dunstable, Massachusetts, before being established in 1732. A long-disputed boundary line was adjusted in 1741, placing the town in the province of New Hampshire. These records were transcribed and compiled by Priscilla Hammond in 1934.


    Search Vital Records of Nottingham, New Hampshire, 1734–1877 at

    Added Tuesday, October 14

    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    Cemeteries from Sherman, Fairfield Co., Connecticut

    Sherman Center Cemetery
    Leach Hollow Cemetery
    Old Leach Cemetery
    Congregational Church Yard Cemetery
    Bennet Cemetery
    Pepper Family Cemetery

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at

    Added Monday, October 6

    Vital Records of Westfield, Vermont, 1793–1860

    These town records include births, marriages, and deaths to 1860. The town of Westfield, located in Orleans County, was established in 1780. The birth records were recorded in family groups.

    Search Records of the Vital Records of Westfield, Vermont, 1793–1860, at



    New Research Article on

    Learn About Your Ancestors Through Local History
    By Maureen A. Taylor

    Sometimes the key to finding information about your ancestors is through local history. The material you gather studying the development of geographic areas can not only lead you to new data, but also help you visualize the world in which they lived. All these facts help you to understand them as people rather than just names and dates. You can start with general histories of Massachusetts to read about immigration patterns or work from specific details such as place names. In either case it's a good idea to begin by searching card catalogs, online bookstores, and websites for available resources. Then develop a bibliography of printed materials that can help you fill in the blanks on your family tree.

    Here are some of my favorite printed local history sources to help you get started. Watch for additional material on these resources in future columns.

    Read the full article at

    New NEHGS CD-ROM! Plymouth Church Records 1620–1859

    In partnership with The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, NEHGS presents a new CD-ROM titled Plymouth Church Records 1620–1859. Originally published in 1920 as volumes 22 and 23 in the Publications of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts series, this CD is the most informative source about members of the First Church of Plymouth from the arrival of the Mayflower to the brink of the Civil War.

    The original publication contained over 700 pages of information transcribed from the first three volumes of records of the First Church, much of which had never previously been published. This CD-ROM contains the complete text of the original and all images and indexes found in the Colonial Society volumes. The church records can be broken down into five main catagories: baptisms, marriages, deaths, church members, and church transactions, such as dismissions granted to church members leaving to join another church (a great resource for tracking migrating ancestors).

    In the summer of 1622 the Plymouth colonists erected a fort for their protection. This fort also served as the meetinghouse for the First Church of Plymouth until 1648. New meetinghouses were erected that year, and in 1683, 1744, and 1831. In 1892, this last building burned to the ground during a restoration project. In 1897, a fifth building was constructed on the town square and is still the home of this stalwart congregation. Over 381 years, the church has given rise to over half a dozen offshoots.


    Plymouth Church Records 1620–1859 is sure to provide a great deal of information for those researching Mayflower and other Plymouth ancestors. NEHGS is pleased to have worked with the Colonial Society to present this valuable resource in a fully-searchable electronic format to a new audience eight decades after its original publication.

    Plymouth Church Records 1620–1859 is available now from our online store at It is priced at $39.99 (plus shipping & handling).


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

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

    • "Genealogical Research in Connecticut" by Joyce Pendery on Saturday, October 18.

    • "Beyond Clans and Tartans: Scottish Genealogical Research" by George F. Sanborn, Jr. on Wednesday, October 22 and Saturday, October 25.

    • "Finding Jewish Ancestors in Europe: A Case Study from Bohemia" by Alexander Woodle on Wednesday, October 29 and Saturday, November 1

    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.

    Register Now for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference!

    The seventh New England Regional Genealogical Conference will be held November 6–9, 2003, at the Sea Crest Oceanfront Resort and Conference Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Over sixty-five lectures or workshops will be given by more than forty speakers, including the following lectures by NEHGS staff members:

    Thursday, November 6

    4 p.m. - "Locating Digitized Images Online" - Laura G. Prescott

    Friday, November 7

    8:30 a.m. - "Timelines – Placing Your Heritage in Historical Perspective" - Laura G. Prescott
    10 a.m. - "Nuggets, Gems and Jewels or Fools’ Gold: Mining the U.S. Federal Census" - Ruth Q. Wellner
    10 a.m. - "Jewish Genealogy: How to Do It" - Alexander Woodle
    NEHGS Sponsored Luncheon: "What, Me Worry? Genealogy of the Alfred E. Neuman Family and Other Little Known Treasures at NEHGS" - Henry B. Hoff (pre-registration required - additional $14 fee)
    3:15 p.m. - "When the Last Document Has Been Searched: Finding the Answer in the NEHGS Manuscript Collection" - Ralph J. Crandall
    3:15 p.m. - "Keeping Your Computer (and Your Data) Healthy!" - Dick Eastman
    4:45 p.m. - "City Directories: A Great Source Waiting to be Discovered" - Ruth Q. Wellner
    4:45 p.m. - "Transcending the Myth of Irish-American Culture: Woburn, Mass." - Marie E. Daly

    Saturday, November 8

    10:00 a.m. - "What Genealogists Should Expect of the Internet in the Next Few Years" - Dick Eastman
    1:45 p.m. - "New Hampshire: Crossroads of Northern New England" - David C. Dearborn

    We invite all attendees to visit the NEHGS booth, where you can view the latest in NEHGS books and CDs, demonstrations of, participate in book signings, and more.

    To register for the conference, visit the NERGC website at To arrange for accommodations at the Sea Crest Oceanfront Resort, contact the resort directly at 1-800-225-3110. Room reservations at the resort are filling up quickly, so don't delay!

    Crashed Computers and Lost Ancestors — What to Do?

    A recent "Ask A Librarian" question spotlighted the computer genealogist's worst nightmare — a computer "crash" that results in the irretrievable loss of family data kept in a genealogical software program. The unlucky NEHGS member who asked the question had entered over 26,000 names in her program before it crashed, and was told that there was no way to recover the information. She then asked for advice on how to find information about current software programs, to ensure that she was making the right choice. NEHGS archivist Timothy Salls advised the member to visit the "Software & Computers — Articles, Comparisons & Reviews" web page on, an excellent resource when trying to choose a program.

    However, member and self-described "computer nut" John D. Leith wrote us with several options that she may have to restore her old data. He writes:

    Your reply to Chyrene seemed a bit brief. [She] seems to also wish to know if her old database of 26,000 names might still be usable, say, by some new program that she might buy.

    I would suggest several approaches to this possibly difficult problem of saving her data. I know how she feels — I had similar problems with data and with my old program. But I was able to repair the data files and I switched programs before the old one died. In fact, I still have them around and refer to them now and then when my current program turns out to have had a problem importing the old data — I can figure out what it should be saying by referring to the old program and its data files.

    1) What program was she using? Is it or its successor still around? Does one of her friends perhaps still have this program, and be able to loan it to her?

    2) What storage format did it use for its data (e.g., MS Access)? In how many separate data files are the 26,000 people stored? How big is each file? If she views it with something like Notepad, can she see the data? Can she open a data file in MS Word, say, as a text file (in which case the data might be extracted via a macro)?

    3) Before buying a new program, she should look for and study reviews of current genealogy programs. You could recommend magazines or journals and websites that carry such reviews. She should ask her genealogical friends what they use and how they like those programs. If she wants to exchange data with them, how easy or hard would it be? Her friends can probably tell her what kinds of data files their programs can understand, import, and incorporate into their own data files.

    I got a highly rated program some years ago which, despite the ratings, proved impossible on my computer — it was far too slow and crash-prone. Maybe in "today's computers" it would be better — anyhow, her computer configuration needs to be factored in (the computer she will be using). Too many reviewers have the very latest, fastest, and biggest computer.

    As a mild to moderate computer nut, if she were my neighbor I would want to pay her a house call and try to analyze her data file structure, and to find out just what she meant by her vague and almost useless phrase, "decided to crash." It seems conceivable that her [data] might be recoverable. Considering the size of her investment (26,000 records!), she should hire a guru (or high school computer nut?) to come over and see what could be done. It might be worthwhile to buy one program that can read her data and save it in a format that some more-favored program can import and use: the extra cost of an intermediary program would be well worth it!

    She does not mention having the original vendor disks for her "crashed" program. Has she tried reinstalling it? After reinstalling, does her old program work at all, such as on a newly-created small test file? Can she install this old program on her present computer, if it is different from her old computer? How large are the data files (larger than a floppy?) — how can she move them to another computer?

    a) Consult one or more gurus about the program "crash" and about whether the program and the data files are still usable. Hire someone if necessary. An effort should be made to revive her old program at least long enough to export the data to a common format, such as GEDCOM, even if some data gets lost that way.

    b) She should be sure to store her data onto a current storage medium. I'm thinking of my old computer that stored onto 5.25" disks, now practically useless. I'm also thinking of the direct wire transfer I made from the old computer to a newer computer that got me around that problem. Regardless of whether anyone thinks her old data can be read now, she should save the data to current media that will last for a while, such as several 3.5" floppy disks or a CD. She could also investigate storing the data to an online web storage site from which she can download it sooner (or later) to a new computer that can store the data onto a CD. Every effort needs to be made to hold onto the data until something comes along that can use it.

    c) She needs to consult friends and printed and online reviews of current genealogy programs to arrive at a choice for a new program. (It should be able to handle source citations, of course!) I use Family Tree Maker. It's not perfect, but it has a huge following, it's easy to exchange data with friends, and it is much more fun to use that the other five or six programs that I've tried over the years. It also has a huge linked website,, which offers family trees in formats that FTM can import directly — even though the data may be junky. And FTM is still being actively supported and updated. I also use "QuicKeys" (CE Software) to run macros in FTM that make data entry much faster. But that's another story.

    d) She needs to be sure that the next program she chooses can import her old data files, and ask for detailed advice and reassurance from the vendor before she buys. I have seen websites that discuss the export-import problem usefully, charting which programs exchange with which others, and the error rates, and so on. If the vendor says it's easy, all she has to do is export her data as GEDCOM — well, her program doesn't work, so that option seems to be out! That's another reason to try to get her old program working again!

    e) If the program in (d) that can import her data is not the one she really wants, then she should also buy the one she wants, after being sure that (d) and (e) can talk to each other. She should understand, however, that no program will import everything from another program without omissions and errors — that's the nature of the genealogical program beast, unfortunately. I still have errors and omissions hiding in my data, imported to FTM when I had about 10,000 records.

    Thanks to John for such helpful information! We welcome further discussion on this topic from other "computer nuts" out there — email to participate.

    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!

    Thomas Blood and the Crown Jewels
    By Becky Barben of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    After a long time, I finally think I have made the connection on my tree to Thomas Blood. He was my 9th great-great uncle. He was born in Ireland in 1628. The first thing he tried to do was take control of Dublin Castle and take Lord Ormonde prisoner. When this plot failed he had to flee, and had a price on his head. He was the most wanted man in England, and he practiced medicine under the name "Dr. Ayloffe." He then attempted to finish what he had started and tried to imprison Lord Ormonde. And again he failed. That is when he got the brilliant idea to steal the Crown Jewels. They were kept in the Tower of London, under the watchful eye of Talbot Edwards. In 1671, Thomas disguised himself as a "parson" and went to see the jewels. On May 9th, he returned and was again taken to see the Crown Jewels. He knocked Talbot Edward unconscious with a mallet and stabbed him with a sword. Thomas Blood was captured, but refused to say anything until he could talk to King Charles. Thomas was pardoned, awarded land, and was given the position of castle security. No one has attempted to steal the Crown Jewels since then. I found Thomas Blood a nice addition to the other "scoundrels" on my tree.

    NEHGS Contact Information

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

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

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

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

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society