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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 18
    Whole #164
    April 30, 2004
    Edited by Rod D. Moody and Valerie Beaudrault

    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 or change your email address, please click on the link at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions provided.

    Copyright 2004, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116


    * New Databases on
    *New Research Article on
    * Spring 2004 Issue of New England Ancestors Magazine Now Online
    * Participate in the NEHGS Membership Rewards Program!
    * Circulating Library Announces New Borrowing Options
    * NEHGS and Family Associations
    * NEHGS Event: Electronic and Online Genealogical Resources
    * Careers at NEHGS
    * New Weekend Edition of Getting Started in Genealogy
    * Take the New NEHGS Survey!
    * Celebrity Wills on the Web
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    * Matteson Reunion Announcement
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on


    Heads of Families, Woonsocket, Rhode Island - 1842

    In 1842 Alanson S. Daniels was asked by residents of the village of Woonsocket to record the names of each head of family. No additional information relating to the family was recorded, but information about the history of the village and its industries were included with the census when it was printed.

    Twenty-four years after the census was taken, the town of Woonsocket was established. It is located in Providence County.


    The original text is part of the NEHGS Rare Books Collections, call number RB F104 C18 H57.


    Search Heads of Families, Woonsocket, Rhode Island - 1842 at

    Catalogue of the First Congregational Church, Canterbury, Connecticut

    This catalogue was published in 1853. It lists members and officers of the church from its organization in 1711 to December 1853.

    Due to unusual formatting and the presence of many characters and abbreviations in this catalogue, we recommend that you examine and print out the database key ( before searching.



    This original text is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections, call number MSS A 1799.



    Search the Catalogue of the First Congregational Church, Canterbury, Connecticut, at

    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    This week we have added the transcriptions of the following six cemeteries in Tyngsboro, Middlesex County, Massachusetts:

    Thompson Burying Ground
    Sherburne Cemetery
    Bennett Cemetery
    Flint Burying Ground
    Fletcher Burying Ground - Private
    Gould Burying Ground - Private


    Source: "Tyngsboro, Mass. Epitaphs" Unpublished manuscript, P. Hildreth Parker, 1907. Call number MSS MS 70 TYN 2.


    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at

    Deaths at Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1732-1781

    This database is derived from a handwritten transcription of records kept by Samuel Withington (1720-1781). It lists individuals who died in Dorchester between March 1732 and October 3, 1781.

    The original manuscript is available to NEHGS members at the R. Stanton Avery Collections room at the NEHGS Library, call number MSS A 3267.


    Search Deaths at Dorchester, Massachusetts, at



    New Research Article on

    Free Access to Non-Members!

    The Computer Genealogist:
    Getting the Most Out of NEHGS CD-ROMs

    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Over the course of the last few years, NEHGS has made a serious commitment to providing easier access to many of its collections through electronic publication. Bible Records from the Manuscript Collections of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and New England Marriages Prior to 1700 were published in May 2001. Since that time the catalog has grown to fourteen titles, with more releases scheduled for the future.


    The full article is available at

    Spring 2004 Issue of New England Ancestors Magazine Now Online

    The latest issue of New England Ancestors magazine is now available on NewEngland! The Spring 2004 issue focuses on New York, with articles on Frank Doherty's project "The Settlers of the Beekman Patent," Richard H. Benson on new developments in New York State research, and Peter Judd's story of an elusive nineteenth-century New York merchant. Elsewhere in the issue are Michael J. Leclerc's tips on using NEHGS CD-ROMs; Dick Eastman describing a new genealogy program for Macintosh users, Timothy Salls with news about manuscripts and NEHGS Bible records; Diane Rapaport's latest Tales from the Courthouse column, "The Case of the Wandering Wife;" and much more!

    Read the latest New England Ancestors at


    Participate in the NEHGS Membership Rewards Program!

    We would like to remind you of our incentive program to encourage members to spread the word about the benefits of NEHGS. The New England Historic Genealogical Society is the oldest and largest genealogy society in the country, yet many people interested in family history are unaware of the resources and benefits we offer, such as:

    * Nearly eighty million ancestors' names stored in the searchable databases on
    More than thirty thousand titles available for loan to NEHGS members by mail through our Circulating Library
    * The vast number of reprinted genealogies and town histories for sale in our online store
    * Thorough and professional research services offered by our expert staff
    * An extraordinary library filled with genealogical materials collected since 1845, including millions of items - most of which are not available elsewhere - in our Manuscripts Department.

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg! Add our periodicals, educational programs, research articles, and most importantly, the unparalled expertise of our staff to the mix, and you begin to understand what we can offer to the family historian.

    We know that word-of-mouth can often be the most effective marketing tool, and we are asking you to spread the word! By telling friends about NEHGS, you can help us increase our membership so that we can bring more databases, programs, benefits, and other important resources to both current and future members.

    Members will receive credits for every new member referral. Credits are used to claim prizes that every genealogist can use: a CD holder or a briefcase, both with an NEHGS insignia. If you introduce more than three new members to NEHGS, we'll enter your name into a drawing for a one-hour consultation with one of our expert staff genealogists or one hour of research services provided by the NEHGS Research Services department.

    For more information about the the NEHGS Membership Rewards Program please visit

    Circulating Library Announces New Borrowing Options

    Beginning May 1, the Circulating Library will offer new borrowing options for library users. The latest issue of the Register now arriving at your home includes an order form and an announcement of these new services. You will be now be able to order one, two, or three books, which will arrive in a returnable courier pouch with return postage prepaid. To return the books, simply repack them in the pouch, secure it with the enclosed plastic tie, flip the address tag to reveal the Merchandise Return Label, and take it to the nearest post office.

    The cost per book is $9, which includes book rental, round-trip postage, and handling. Please be aware that this service is optional. We will continue to use the standard order form and current pricing structure for orders of four to six books and any order not requesting this service. At this time, we cannot provide this service via the Internet or UPS and international shipments. You can also place your order by fax (508-788-9500), phone (888-296-3447) or by mail (NEHGS Circulating Library, 1 Watson Place, PO Box 5089, Framingham, MA. 01701).

    Finally, the borrowing period on all Circulating Library orders will be extended to three weeks beginning May 1.

    We hope you will enjoy these changes and as we go forward, please send us your feedback so we know how things are going.

    As always, if you have any questions about using the Circulating Library, please call our toll-free number, 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

    NEHGS and Family Associations

    The Sikes/Sykes Families Association

    The Sikes/Sykes Families Association was formed in 1991. Most of the association’s organizers were direct descendants of Richard Sikes and his wife, Phebe, first of Roxbury and later Springfield, Massachusetts. The membership currently consists of one hundred fifteen individuals from thirty states. Membership is open to any individual or family with an interest in the surname and in assisting in the preservation of the Sikes/Sykes family history for posterity.

    One of the association’s long-range goals is to place information on the family history of the descendants of Richard and Phebe Sikes on its website. To that end, you will find that the first four generations from the family genealogy, Richard Sikes and his Descendants: The First Seven Generations by Arthur Sikes, have already been uploaded to the site ( The website also contains a report on the 2004 reunion, data on associated families, military service, some biographical sketches, photographs, queries, information on purchasing the family genealogy mentioned above and much more.

    While many of its members share a common ancestry as descendants of Richard and Phebe Sikes, the association has identified several other ancestral lines of interest. Information on some of these lines has been published in the association’s quarterly newsletter, while information on Sikes and Sykes families in the Southeastern United States has been included on the website.

    The Tributaries, the quarterly newsletter, contains previously unpublished genealogical information including ancestor charts, wills, probate, and memoirs, as well as member news, letters to the editor, meeting schedules, photographs, and queries. The newsletters from the first ten years of publication have been published on a CD titled The Tributaries, Our First Ten Years. It is currently available for purchase by the association.

    There are a number of hits on the surnames “Sikes” and “Sykes” in the NEHGS online databases, particularly those concerned with the records of Worcester County, Massachusetts. And, there are eleven titles relating to Sikes/Sykes in the Research Library stacks at 101 Newbury Street and three Circulating Library books available for loan. The Research Library holdings include Richard Sikes and his Descendants: The First Seven Generations by Arthur Sikes (CS71/S987/2000). The NEHGS manuscript collections contain seven items with Sikes/Sykes as a subject. In addition, The Tributaries is available in the NEHGS Research Library stacks (CS71/S987).


    There is a wealth of information on this website just waiting to be explored. Visit

    NEHGS Event: Electronic and Online Genealogical Resources
    Saturday, June 26, at the Bill Bordy Auditorium at Emerson College in Boston

    Need help wading through the monstrous amount of genealogical material on the Internet? Want to make sure you are getting the most out of your database searches on,, and Then this is the program for you!

    NEHGS staff "techies" will show you how to use the technology of today to find your ancestors of times past. Make sure your genealogy toolkit includes the best of what today's technology has to offer!

    NEHGS assistant executive director for technology Dick Eastman will discuss and demonstrate modern devices that can assist the genealogist in locating records, finding old (and even abandoned) cemeteries, plotting grave locations, locating ancestral homesteads, and more. Laura Prescott, NEHGS membership campaign director, will speak on researching your ancestors on the Internet. NEHGS electronic resources, including CD-ROMs and the NewEngland website, will be surveyed in detail by NEHGS director of electronic publications Michael J. Leclerc. David Lambert, NEHGS microtext supervisor, will demonstrate how to research U.S. and Canadian military records online.


    For more information on this seminar or to download a registration form, please visit, email, or phone toll-free 888-286-3447.



    Careers at NEHGS

    NEHGS is currently seeking to fill the positions of Executive Assistant and Director of Publications. Both positions are based in Boston, at our Research Library. For more information about these positions please visit our careers page at

    New Weekend Edition of Getting Started in Genealogy

    Join us for the new Sunday edition of Getting Started in Genealogy. Starting in May, we will hold the Getting Started in Genealogy program on one Sunday each month, in addition to our Wednesday edition. Now you have twice the opportunity to get the best tips and tricks for starting your family history research. This program is recommended especially for new or prospective members who would like to get started in their research, or continuing members who would like a refresher on the Society and its collections. No registration required. The Sunday programs are offered on May 2, June 6, July 11, August 1, and September 12, at 2 p.m., and includes a library tour. And, don't forget about our Wednesday Getting Started programs on May 5, June 2, July 11, August 4, and September 1, at 12 noon and 6 p.m.

    Take the New NEHGS Survey!

    Are you a research omnivore, gathering information from local libraries, archives, and online sources? Or, do you prefer one type of research experience over the other? Do you enjoy crawling through the stacks of local repositories? Or would you rather scour the Internet from your home computer? Tell us how you like to research your family history so we can serve you better!

    Take our new survey at

    Celebrity Wills on the Web

    Popular interest in celebrity wills seems to be on the increase. You can find information about the wills of famous people on a number of websites. Many include transcriptions and digital images of the actual wills. Some sites are family history oriented while others are more commercial.

    One of the commercial sites featuring celebrity wills is the Court TV website ( There you will find the wills of a number of individuals who were famous and died during the twentieth century - Diana, Princess of Wales; John F. Kennedy, Jr.; Warren Burger, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; and Babe Ruth to name a few. Other websites have posted the will of a single individual. For example, a transcription of Benjamin Franklin's will can be found at and digital images of several pages of championship golfer Ben Hogan's will are posted at

    A family history related website with a collection of celebrity wills is that of Britain's National Archives. Here the wills of over one hundred famous people have been grouped together for easy access under the PROB 1 series ( These famous wills are dated from 1553 through 1858. Individuals whose wills appear in this series include well-known figures like Jane Austen, Sir Francis Drake, John Donne, and Sir Francis Bacon. Through the website's DocumentsOnline feature, you can search for and download any of these wills for a fee. The DocumentsOnline feature allows the user online access to The National Archives' collection of digitized public records, including both academic and genealogical sources.

    Clicking on the Famous Wills link on the main page will bring you to the catalog of wills. Once there, you can browse the list in its entirety or restrict your browsing by date. The catalog provides the following information at no charge: first and last name of the individual, the date the will was written, and when it was proved. The record also notes whether the will is a copy, if there are codicils, and if any other items are included in the file such as affidavits or personal diaries. You can use the Advanced Search feature to search for a particular will or group of wills. The wills can be searched by first and last name, place, occupation, and date of probate. William Shakespeare's will can be downloaded free of charge, however, you must pay a fee to download any of the other wills. To find out how to download these wills, click on the "View details" link in the catalog. You should note that there is also an overview on using wills in family history research, through which you can view sample wills (including Jane Austen's) that may be found on the About the Wills web page at

    Whether your interest is in historical or contemporary figures, we hope you can find a celebrity will of interest. Enjoy!

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


    The 2004 "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series continues with:

    * "Italian Genealogy" by David C. Dearborn on Saturday, May 1

    * "African American Historical Sources in New England" by Beth Bower on Wednesday, May 5

    * "New England Colonial Wars Research" by David A. Lambert on Wednesday, May 12 and Saturday, May 15

    All lectures take place at 10 a.m at the NEHGS Library in Boston. Advance registration is not necessary.

    Download a pdf of the May NEHGS Events Calendar by clicking this link -

    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.

    Matteson Family Reunion Announcement

    The sixty-fourth Anniversary Celebration of the Matteson Historical Congress of America, Inc., is being held July 25 to 28, 2004, in the Hampton Inn in Coventry, Rhode Island. The Matteson genealogical lines branch off in many directions and include surnames such as: Andrews, Bailey, Sweet, Brown, Fish, Capwell, Spencer, Potter and many other surnames common to the founding of our country.

    This year a very special reunion is taking place in the area where the first American ancestors settled. Anyone who has a connection to Henry Matteson and Hannah (Parsons) Matteson is welcome to attend. Some of the events planned include a special remembrance at the Henry Matteson burial site in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, an excursion on the Rail and Sail Dinner Train, and an historical tour of the area featuring a few of the historical Matteson homes. Reservations are required for the hotel and for the dinner train.

    In order to determine bus requirements for the historical tour on the 26th, the organizers ask that those who definitely plan to participate in the tour contact Herman Matteson as soon as possible. Herman can be reached by mail at: 136 Crompton Road, East Greenwich, Rhode Island, 02818 or by calling 401-828-5596.

    The organizers ask those interested in attending the reunion to please book early, as it is shaping up to be a very popular event. More information can be obtained by following these links - and

    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 Rod Moody at Thank you to all past and future contributors!

    "He became younger as he got older"

    by Fran Patten of Santa Ana, California

    Thomas Doyle, a great grandfather on my father's side, is one of my favorite ancestors. A possible black sheep, but certainly a character. We grew up thinking he was Irish and celebrated St. Patrick's Day accordingly. As I began working on the family genealogy I discovered that he became younger as he got older. He cites a different birth year on every census, and on his four marriage licenses as well. On one census he says he was born at sea between Ireland and Canada, and on a marriage license he says his mother was born in Canada. We do know that he came down from Canada and joined the Union Army. He deserted and changed his name from Francis Reed to Thomas Reed Doyle. His first wife left him taking their two sons, and his second wife died leaving him with four children. The youngest was my grandmother, another was Elmer Doyle, a grandfather of our cousin, Alice. For the complete and fascinating story of Thomas Doyle visit Alice's web site at:

    Grandma's Feather Bed

    by Linda Plant Wagoner of Dover, New Jersey

    My favorite ancestor story belongs to my husband's great-great grandmother, Lydia Jane Lawson, who wrote:

    "My grandfather James Morris was taken prisoner by the English in the Revolution. I remember my grandmother received a pension and one time she had it stolen from under her feather bed where she kept it. At one time when the English raided her house she put children in her feather beds to save them. When they went in the cellar to rob her pork barrels they made a chalk line and told her if she stepped over it they would shoot her, but she did step over and they did not shoot her. One time she sat with her hams under her skirt to save them."

    Lydia was the daughter of Robert Morris of Monmouth County, New Jersey and married James C. Lawson of New York City in 1849.


    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 Rod Moody at

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

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