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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 20
    Whole #166
    May 14, 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
    * Ask a Librarian Answers Your Research Questions!
    * Visit the NEHGS Exhibit Booth at the NGS Conference in Sacramento
    * Register Now for the NEHGS Research Tour to Dublin
    * Recent Additions to the Circulating Library
    * The Farber Gravestone Collection
    * Establish a Charitable Gift Annuity With NEHGS
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    We are grateful to NEHGS members Helen A. Shaw and Michael Pachomski for recently donating their respective transcriptions of the Vital Records of Dover, Vermont, and the New North Pembroke Cemetery, North Pembroke, New Hampshire. We have added both of these transcriptions to our searchable databases this week. If you have transcribed New England records or cemeteries and wish to submit them for consideration as a database on, please email with details.


    Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850
    New towns added!

    At the turn of the twentieth century NEHGS was instrumental in the effort to purchase books of vital statistics to the year 1850 for the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By 1945 the vital records for over 200 of these municipalities had been published. Many of these volumes were added to in weekly installments during 2001-02. This marked the first time these records were made available online in their original context, including the original source citations.

    Unfortunately, it was not possible to add all of the towns included in the series to our database. However, this week, we have added the Vital Records to 1850 data for Halifax, Malden, Medford, Mendon, Sudbury.

    The Vital Records to 1850 series is available at the Research Library, and most volumes are available to NEHGS members through the Circulating Library. Call numbers are as follows: Halifax: REF F74/H16/H2, Malden: REF F74/M2/M22, Medford: F74/M5/M32, Mendon: F74/M59/M55.



    Search Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 at

    The Great Migration Newsletter Online
    New Family Sketches for GMNL Subscribers

    Subscribers to the Great Migration Newsletter Online may now access ten new unpublished Great Migration sketches by Robert Charles Anderson. Sketches for the following individuals were added this week: Hugh Alley, William Almy, William Ballard, Guy Banbridge, Richard Betscombe, Richard Lambert, John Lawrence, John Livermore, John Lovering, and George Ludkin.

    Note: You must be logged in to and be an active subscriber to the Great Migration Newsletter Online to access these sketches.

    Subscribers to the Great Migration Newsletter Online may view the new sketches at

    To subscribe to the Great Migration Newsletter Online go to


    Vital Records of Dover, Vermont

    Our thanks to member Helen A. Shaw, who recently donated these transcriptions to Her full description of the records can be viewed by clicking on the link below.


    Dover, Windham County, Vermont, was originally part of Wardsborough (later spelled Wardsboro) but, due to the rugged terrain, it was difficult for residents to travel between the two settlements for administrative meetings. Thus, of geographic necessity, the area was divided into two quasi-independent towns which were designated the "North" and "South" districts. In 1789 Wardsborough, South District, began to hold its own town meetings and to keep its own records of those meetings and other town business, including records of births, marriages, and deaths. In 1812 the town was officially separated from Wardsborough, North District, and was renamed Dover.

    Search Vital Records of Dover, Vermont at


    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    Our thanks to member Michael Pachomski, who recently donated his transcription of the New North Pembroke Cemetery, in North Pembroke, New Hampshire, to

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at






    New Research Article on

    New York Research Guide, Part Two

    by Leslie Corn, MA, FGBS

    This is the second segment of the three-part New York City Research Guide. Part One included information about vital records, property records, and estate records. Part Two features naturalization records, immigration records, court records, religious records, and city directories.


    The full article is available 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 regular feature in which staff librarians answer your 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.

    Please note that questions about specific families and individuals, or requests for "look-ups" will not be accepted or acknowledged. Please visit our Research Services department page at for assistance with these types of queries.

    Due to the high volume of questions submitted, it will take time to answer your question. Because of their busy schedules, NEHGS librarians are only able to answer a certain number of questions, and there is no guarantee that your question will be answered.


    NEHGS members can view all the answers at

    Here are the questions for this month:

    Joe Ready asks:

    My great grandfather John Ready immigrated from County Kilkenny, Ireland (probably with his wife), landing in New York in June 1842. He became a citizen, settled in Brighton, Massachusetts, and became a fairly wealthy farmer. The Readys were among the first members of St. Columbkille's Roman Catholic Church when it became a parish.

    "The Ready farm" is mentioned in the history of St. Columbkille and the land on which its first church was built was sold by my great-great grandfather, John Ready. I don't know whether my great grandfather purchased the property or inherited it from Readys who had preceded him to America. Where can I get the land records for the John Ready farm on Bennett Street?

    In searching the various unindexed censuses, it would be helpful to know which county, district number, ward, and precinct Bennett Street was located in down through the years (from the first census available through to the 1950s). How can I get this information?

    Also, my father was born in Brighton in 1905. He lists his county of birth as Middlesex, but Brighton is now located in the county of Suffolk. When did this change?

    Dori Wegehaupt asks:

    Could you please explain surrogate records to me? I know they have something to do with court records, but don't understand exactly what. What is their value? If I send for the surrogate record of an individual, might there be information that will positively identify him/her as the individual I am seeking?

    Patricia Ross asks:

    I've been doing generations of research in genealogy and I keep finding a profusion of what I would call "serial marriages" by men of the 1600-1850 period that has me quite confused.

    First, I was unprepared to find them in a land that emphasizes lifetime monogamy, and secondly, I'm amazed at the number of them - seemingly far too many to consider that they were all by accident or by coincidence. The result is that there are far more families associated as step-siblings and cousins than I anticipated.

    Do you know of any articles written about the disparity of early female deaths and these serial marriages as opposed to the long lives of the males who took these wives? In many cases, the male would live up to three times longer than the wife, and my sense is that childbirth and poor health practices cannot have been the entire reason. There are just too many to be coincidental, and appears to be more a pattern of intentional action. I'm interested in the issue and social outlook of men during that time that would promote such an outcome.

    Any idea where I could look?

    Sarah Lukas asks:

    I am tracing my maternal grandmother's family. I know my ancient relative was Simon Willard, who arrived in New England in 1634, but connecting to my grandmother is a challenge. There is a branch of Willards that were Tories during the American Revolution and they immigrated to townships east of Montreal.

    My grandmother was born in Canada and lived in Brooklyn, New York, but I do not know her parents' names. Her grandparents lived in Canada. How do I begin researching?

    Mary Anne Wormsted asks:

    I know our family resided in the vicinities of Newbury, Newburyport, and Boston in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as we have newspaper clippings of death notices, letters, etc. Yet when I do a search for Wormsteds in the area, I invariably get zero results. Is there a better way to track down cemetery locations, family connections, and other information?

    Walter W. King asks:

    Could you direct me to a genealogist in Scotland who could conduct some research on my great-great-great grandparents? They married in 1793 in Paisley, Renfrew, Scotland. At least one of their four sons came to the United States prior to 1823 and married in Brewster, Massachusetts.

    Gordon S. Hay asks:

    I am trying to locate the date of death of my great-great gandfather in Rhode Island between 1870 and 1875. I have checked the records in Pawtucket where he and his family lived, the Rhode Island State Archives, and the Massachusetts State Archives, but I have not had any luck. I know he died in that period because of information in the 1870 and 1875 census reports. Are there any other sources that I could explore?

    Linda Tillotson asks:

    How does one preserve a Civil War letter, or any old letter for that matter?

    NEHGS members can view all the answers at

    Visit the NEHGS Exhibit Booth at the NGS Conference in Sacramento

    Representatives from the New England Historic Genealogical Society will be attending the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference in the States in Sacramento, California. The conference will be held May 19 to 22 at the Sacramento Convention Center. The NEHGS exhibit booth will offer electronic tours of the website, membership information, and, of course, a collection of books, CDs, and videos for sale.

    Gary Boyd Roberts will be signing his newly-published The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States on Thursday, May 20, from 1 to 3 p.m., and again on Saturday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Alvy Ray Smith will sign his award-winning Dr. John Durand (1664-1727) of Derby, Connecticut on Friday, May 21, from 2 to 3 p.m.


    Whether or not you are planning to attend the conference, we hope you'll stop by our booth (#301) to say hello. The exhibit hall is free and open to the public. Information about the conference is available at

    Register Now for the NEHGS Research Tour to Dublin

    August 15-22, 2004

    Research opportunities abound during this one-week research tour to Dublin! The tour features guided research at various repositories in central Dublin, including the National Library of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland, the General Register Office, the Registry of Deeds, the Valuation Office, and more. In addition you will benefit from genealogical lectures and informal consultations throughout the week with NEHGS director of library services Marie E. Daly; Dublin-based independent researcher Eileen M. O'Duill, MA, CGRS, CGL; and Massachusetts State Archives reference librarian Janis P. Duffy. Special activities include a guided tour of the James Joyce exhibit at the National Library, a "behind the scenes" orientation to the National Archives, and a reception with the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

    Lodging will be at Trinity College, in the heart of Dublin's cultural, retail, and entertainment center and within walking distance of many of the repositories and other institutions.

    NEHGS member Sheila Byrnes participated in last year's tour to Dublin and took full advantage of all that it had to offer. She advises participants to learn as much as they can about their Irish ancestors before attempting to use Irish records, and offers the following tips and information:

    * In order to find Irish ancestors you must know the name of the townland or parish where the ancestor lived. It is not enough to know "they came from County Cork."

    * Irish genealogists are particularly handicapped by the loss of nineteenth-century census records and the lack of civil registration of births, deaths, and marriages before 1864.

    * A particularly good book, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors by John Grenham, is a comprehensive guide to Irish genealogy. Grenham's book examines basic sources and is a county reference guide.

    * A reader's ticket is necessary in order to use most library materials at the National Library. If you are planning a research trip to Dublin, bring two passport pictures. One photograph will be laminated to your ID card and the other will be kept in the National Library files.

    * Our base at Trinity College Dublin was within easy walking distance or a short cab ride to the National Library of Dublin, Valuation Office, National Archives of Ireland, Representative Church Body Library, Registry of Deeds Office, and General Register Office (GRO).

    Sheila was wise to do her homework before "crossing the pond" - and it paid off! "After our morning lectures, which included talks by Irish genealogists, we broke into small groups to visit local repositories. I had fantastic luck in finding information on my O'Connor/Connor family. At the Registry of Deeds I was able to trace land ownership back to 1709. I ordered copies of these deeds to be sent home for closer evaluation once I returned to the U.S. At the National Library I found indexes and abstracts of Prerogative Court wills and administrations prepared by Sir William Betham. Although all the original wills and administration bonds in the Public Record Office were destroyed by fire in 1922, the indexes survived. These records list name, address, and occupation of testator; names of beneficiaries, executors, and witnesses; the date the will was made; and the date of probate. I was able to find names of children, spouses, and maiden and married names of females."

    After a week of research, Sheila rented a car and went off to West County Cork in search of her ancestors. Her adventures there will be featured in a future issue of New England Ancestors magazine.


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



    Recent Additions to the Circulating Library

    By Alexander Woodle, Circulating Library Director

    This week the Circulating Library received several books of vital record for various towns in Maine. These books were previously only available at our Boston library.

    Vital records of Acton, Maine 1830-1893 compiled by Angela M. Foster. F29/A18/F67/2003.

    Acton was incorporated in 1830 and the records are drawn from the town record books. Earlier records for this area should be checked in the Shapleigh town records. The Acton records include all births, marriage intentions, and deaths. The records are transcribed directly from the originals, but an every name index will ease the researcher’s task.

    Vital Records of Addison, Maine 1850-1892 compiled by Angela M. Foster. F29/A22/F67/2003.

    Addison was incorporated as a town in 1797, but earlier records were lost in a 1938 fire. The records include all the births, marriage intentions, marriages, and deaths from the town records. The book ncludes an every name index.

    Vital Records of Fairfield, Maine: Births, Marriages and Deaths compiled by Christine R. Brown. F29/F18/B76/1980/v#.

    Earliest settlement in the Fairfield Plantation took place around 1781. However, the county jurisdiction of Fairfield has experienced many changes over the course of its history. It was finally incorporated as a town in Maine in 1788. Historically the Maine towns kept good records for births, marriages, and deaths. Fairfield’s records have one glaring gap between the years 1875 to 1895.

    There is a section in the front of this two-volume set that lists the cemeteries, family bibles, miscellaneous records, and personal records available. The birth, marriage, and death records are in three sections, all listed alphabetically. Volume II is a compilation taken from the records of the neigboring town of Waterville between 1830 and 1943, which includes persons living in Fairfield when an event occurred and individuals born in Fairfield.

    Vital Records of Gardiner, Maine to the year 1892 edited by Henry Sewall Webster. F29/G3/G352/1914.

    Part I of this book includes births while the second part combines marriages and deaths. Gardiner was incorporated in 1803.

    Stockton Springs Vital Records, 1857-1891 compiled by Nancy S. Parsons. F29/S78/P37/1979.

    Stockton separated from Prospect in 1857 and became Stockton Springs in 1889. The records are copied from town books and an index is included.

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

    The Farber Gravestone Collection

    In last week's eNews we wrote about the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection website ( We now would like to tell you about a hidden gem on that website just waiting to be discovered by anyone with an interest in old gravestones—The Farber Gravestone Collection, which is owned by the American Antiquarian Society. The Farber Collection contains over 13,500 images documenting the sculpture of more than 9,000 gravestones. Most of the gravestones found in the collection were made prior to the 1800s. The images from this collection and two smaller collections, one of mainly Massachusetts gravestones photographed by Harriette Merrifield Forbes in the 1920s and the other of Connecticut stones documented by Dr. Ernest Caulfield, were digitized by the American Antiquarian Society. They have been made available to the public for free through David Rumsey’s digital publishing company, Cartography Associates.

    The late Daniel Farber and his wife, Jessie Lie Farber, spent more than twenty years photographing historic gravestones. Mrs. Farber has written an introductory essay on the collection, “Early American Gravestones,” which may be accessed via a link on the Farber Gravestone Collection homepage.

    You can access the images in the Farber Collection by first clicking on the link titled "Farber Gravestone Collection Now Online," located beneath the "Breaking News" heading on the left menu of the home page. You can then click on the type of browser that you want to use, which will bring you to the search page.

    Searching the collection is quite similar to the way you search the Historical Map Collection. Your search options here include keyword searches and searches by data field. If you click on “Show All,” the full list of search possibilities will appear. There are sixteen search categories. They include name, date, location (four different options), carver, ornamental carving, and verse, as well as stone type and monument type. Once you have run your search, double-clicking on the thumbnail will enlarge the gravestone image. Using the tools that appear with the new window for the enlargement, you can not only navigate and zoom the image but also print it. Clicking on the data tab in the menu on the left side of the page and then selecting an image will bring up the image’s file data in the smaller window.

    Many individuals are represented in the gravestone collection. One such person is Joseph Stockbridge of Hanover, Massachusetts, who died in 1768. You can run a “name” search to find two images of his gravestone. According to the inscription on his gravestone, Joseph Stockbridge’s death was “sudden, premature, awfull (sic) & violent, providentially occasioned by the fall of a tree.” Just in case the circumstances surrounding his death were unclear, the carving on the gravestone shows a tree limb striking a man in the head, presumably Mr. Stockbridge.

    The collaboration between American Antiquarian Society and David Rumsey has made a valuable research tool readily available. Regardless of where you live or whether there is a foot of snow on the ground in the graveyard, you have free access to more than 13,000 images of early gravestones, completely documented and catalogued.

    Visit the Farber Gravestone Collection at

    Establish a Charitable Gift Annuity With NEHGS

    A Charitable Gift Annuity is a contract between you and the New England Historic Genealogical Society that will provide you with a steady income stream for life. You will receive a fixed dollar amount each year based on the size of your gift and your age at the time of the gift.

    The Charitable Gift Annuity offers you a unique opportunity to have a stable and secure life income in combination with fulfilling your charitable giving wishes towards NEHGS. Further, you will receive a charitable deduction for a portion of the gift value. NEHGS members who establish a Charitable Gift Annuity are automatically recognized in the Ashburton Circle leadership designation of the Dr. Henry Bond Heritage Society.

    A Charitable Gift Annuity income beneficiary must be at least 65 years old and the minimum gift is $25,000.

    Examples based on a single individual and a $25,000 gift:*

    Age - Percentage Rate - Your Annual Income

    65 - 6.0% - $1,500

    70 - 6.5% - $1,625

    75 - 7.1% - $1,775

    80 - 8.0% - $2,000

    85 - 9.5% - $2,375

    90 & above - 11.3% - $2,825

    *Rates approved by the American Council on Gift Annuities, effective July 1, 2003.

    Can we prepare a charitable gift annuity calculation for you? Please contact D. Brenton Simons, Assistant Executive Director, by telephone at 617-226-1203 or by email at Or write to D. Brenton Simons, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116-3007. Please include your birth date and gift amount for calculation purposes. We look forward to hearing from you!

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


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

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

    * "Scots for Sale: The Fate of the Scottish War Prisoners in Seventeenth-Century New England" by Diane Rapaport on Wednesday, May 19 and Saturday, May 22

    * "Central Massachusetts Research in the Corbin Collection" by Robert Dunkle on Wednesday, May 26

    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.

    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!

    We are quickly running out of favorite and black sheep ancestor stories! Please send your submission today and share your story with the readers of eNews and New England Ancestors magazine!

    My Favorite Ancestor

    by Barbara Rios of Cleveland, Tennessee

    George Washington Rennard, my great-great grandfather, was a shoemaker descended from French Huguenots. He married Mary P. Russell, a descendent of Rebecca Towne Nurse (who was a victim of the Salem Witch trials) and they had three children. He enlisted twice in the Union army during the Civil War. During his second enlistment he was involved in the Battle of the Wilderness, mostly carrying his wounded buddies back to the hospital. He became so exhausted that he also was hospitalized. He spent the rest of the war in various military hospitals, suffering from heart problems and "salt rheum" (eczema). He never fully recovered from the strain of the Battle of the Wilderness. Because of the eczema, he was unable to continue shoemaking, so took light, odd jobs from his neighbors. One child died as a teenager after a lingering illness (TB?), the other two helped with family finances by working in the local shoe factory. His daughter, Alice, married a sailor and gave him three grandchildren (his remaining son did not marry until after his death). In 1888 he applied for a veteran's invalid pension from the government. He died a year later of a stroke at the age of sixty-three. His wife received his pension of $4 each month. He is my favorite ancestor because his life and livelihood were forever changed by his devotion to his country.


    NEHGS Contact Information

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

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    If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about the enewsletter, please contact Rod Moody at

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