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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 21
    Whole #167
    May 21, 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
    * Seeks Authors for Research Articles
    * NEHGS Library Closed May 29-31 and July 27
    * Tales from the Manuscript Collection: Rev. Richard Mather's "Journal to New England," 1635
    * NEHGS Event: Electronic and Online Genealogical Resources
    * Website Focus: Connecticut Research
    * Family History Library Remodeling News
    * Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Probate Court Relocated to Canton
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on


    Parish Register of Brixham, Devon, England, 1556-1646

    In the Middle Ages, Brixham was the largest fishing port in the South-West, and at one time it was the greatest in England. The main church in the town is St. Mary's, about a mile from the sea. It is the third to have been on the site, which was an ancient Celtic burial ground. The original wooden Saxon church was replaced by a stone Norman one that was in its turn built over in about 1360. Many of the old Brixham worthies are buried in the churchyard.1

    The Brixham parish register was transcribed by Dr. Charles E. Banks in 1923.

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

    (1. Text taken from Brixham website at





    Search the Parish Register of Brixham, Devon, England, 1556-1646 at

    The Diaries of the Rev. Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Massachusetts - 1782

    The Rev. Thomas Cary (1745-1808) was one of the many ministers along the Merrimack River who encouraged the patriotism of their parishioners during the Revolutionary War. He started his diary in Weston, Massachusetts, in 1762 and continued writing entries until 1806, two years before his death. This installment covers the year 1782.

    The original diaries are part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections. The call number is MSS 640.

    Search the Thomas Cary Diaries at

    Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910
    Added this week:
    Indexes: 1861 to 1865
    Records: 1850 births, marriages, and deaths.

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes the indexes to all Massachusetts birth, death, and marriage records from 1861 to 1865 and actual records from 1850. The indexes include name of individual, town or village of event, year of event, and volume and page number of the original record.

    View a chart that tracks which records are currently available and which are forthcoming at

    For detailed information about this database, please refer to "Introduction to the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 Database" page found at This contains information that will contribute greatly to the success of your searches and will also answer questions that you may have about these records and our database. If you have questions that our article does not address, or if you are having difficulty with this database, please email

    Search Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910 at



    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    New this week: Transcriptions of fifty-six cemeteries located in the following towns of Monroe County, New York: Chili, Clarkson, Gates, Greece, Hamlin, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Mendon, Ogden, Parma, Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford, Riga, Rochester, Rush, Webster, and Wheatland.

    Source: "Monroe Co. N.Y. Epitaphs," donated by Mrs. S.C. Douglas and Mrs. Annah B. Yates of Rochester, N.Y., call number MSS NY 107 25.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at

    Alphabetical Index of the Births, Marriages and Deaths Recorded in Providence, Rhode Island

    Published by the city in twenty-five volumes from 1879 to 1945, this series provides the name of individual, date of event, and the volume and page numbers of the statistic in the city records. We will continue to add volumes from this series to over time.

    The most recent addition to this database is Volume 7: Deaths from 1871 to 1880.

    For information on ordering Rhode Island vital records, see Maureen A. Taylor's "Rhode Island Vital Records" article at

    The entire series can be viewed at the NEHGS Research Library, call number F89/P9/P86/1879. Volumes 1 through 8, 10 through 14, 17, 18, and 20 through 22 may be loaned to NEHGS members through the Circulating Library.

    Search the Alphabetical Index of the Births, Marriages and Deaths Recorded in Providence, Rhode Island at







    New Research Article on

    Gary Boyd Roberts' 75th Online Column!

    "New England and Rock," Part 3:
    The Ancestry of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, with an Addendum on Further New England Ancestors of the Beach Boys

    To the psychedelic generation of the late 1960s - the world of the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms and perhaps the greatest poster art since the Gibson Girl - Grace Slick and the song "White Rabbit" were the ultimate icon and anthem. Both hugely creative and unfortunately often drug-addled, this enormously energetic culture produced "hippies," be-ins, "free parks," and some political and social "revolution." The movement was centered in San Francisco during the year I was in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. I never danced with Grace Slick, as I probably did with Janis Joplin (see column #37), but I certainly attended several performances and danced to "White Rabbit" at both of the aforementioned ballrooms. Later the Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship and then simply Starship; after the mid 1970s its popularity waned and Grace left the group in 1988. In addition to "White Rabbit" however, songs such as "It's No Secret," "Somebody to Love," "Volunteers," and others certainly give Grace the status chronologically of "first lady of rock," slightly older than Janis, and a "harder" rocker than "pop" stars such as Cher, Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Madonna, Janet Jackson, etc.


    The full article is available to NEHGS members at Seeks Authors for Research Articles

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society is seeking skilled genealogists with writing credentials to author research columns for its website, Specialists are needed for the following topic areas: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Ireland, England, Military, and Genetics. Writers will be expected to contribute columns consisting of 1,500 to 1,800 words on a regular basis. Writers will be compensated for each article. NEHGS is also seeking writers to author single columns on a variety of genealogical topics for our "Hot Topics" section. All candidates will be asked to send writing samples and/or to provide examples of published works. To view a list of previously published research articles, please visit and click on the various topic headings. NEHGS members may view the entire articles by logging into

    For more information please email NEHGS electronic publications editor Rod Moody at

    NEHGS Library Closed May 29-31 and July 27

    The NEHGS Library and offices will be closed Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30 in observance of Memorial Day. The Library is always closed on Mondays. Regular operating hours will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 1.

    Please also note that NEHGS has recently made the decision to close the Library on Tuesday, July 27, due to the traffic disruptions anticipated in Massachusetts during the Democratic National Convention.

    Tales from the Manuscript Collection: Reverend Richard Mather's "Journal to New England," 1635

    Richard Mather was born in 1596 in the town of Lowton, in Lancaster County, England. He was the father of Increase Mather, and the grandfather of famed Boston minister and Salem witch trial advocate Cotton Mather. After completing his education, he became minister of the Episcopal Church at Toxteth, near Liverpool. His Puritan beliefs conflicted with the policies of the Church of England and he was removed from the ministry in 1633. To avoid further persecution, Mather made the decision to sail to New England. He and his family began their journey from Brighton, England, on May 23, 1635, arriving at Boston on August 17 of that year. He became minister of the church in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1636, where he remained until his death in 1669.

    Rev. Mather kept a journal of his entire voyage, in which he describes in rich detail the wonders and hardships of the sea, and vividly depicts a life-threatening hurricane that occurred near the end of the journey. NEHGS has the original journal in its R. Stanton Avery Collections, and we are pleased to share the images and transcription of this historic treasure with you in this latest installment of "Tales from the Manuscript Collections."

    The journal was originally in the collections of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, which was instituted on January 27, 1843, for the "collection and preservation of books, pamphlets, manuscripts and curiosities, bearing on the biography and history of men and things in the United States, from the earliest period." The Society was incorporated on May 3, 1855. On September 18, 1871, the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society deposited a large number of books, pamphlets, "and other objects" at NEHGS including the 1635 journal of Rev. Richard Mather [Mss 624, folder 150] and a transcription of the journal published by this Society [Rare Book F74/D5/D5 v.3]. After the deaths of William Blake Trask (also NEHGS librarian and editor of the Register) in 1906 and Henry G. Denny in 1907, all records and activity of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society ceased. For more information on this collection see "Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society Records" in the Summer 2002 edition of New England Ancestors magazine (online at

    View the Richard Mather Journal at

    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 vast 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 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.

    The Bill Bordy Auditorium is located at 216 Tremont Street, across the street from the Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts. It is easy to reach by car (with parking garages nearby), subway, or train. Register now to attend this very special event!



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



    Website Focus: Connecticut Research

    If you are researching Connecticut ancestors, you should check out this website - The site contains over 1,200 data files and more than 500 will and probate files. Connecticut is the geographic focus for the majority of the databases and for all the will and probate files. Other states represented on this site are: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and Michigan. You can click on the state name in Reference Data section to go directly to a particular state's index. New data, added since October 1, 2003, is marked with a star. A link to a complete list of "What's New" is found in the Reference Data section. The website was last updated May 15, 2004.

    The Connecticut materials are organized by county. You will find transcriptions of cemetery and church records, land grants, census information, tax lists, vital records from the Barbour Collection, lists of settlers and freemen, and Revolutionary War returns, as well as lists of physicians, lawyers, graduates, and military rolls.

    There are currently 512 early to mid-eighteenth century will and probate files for Middlesex County, Connecticut, on the site. These files have been extracted from the Digest of Early Connecticut Probate Records (Hartford District) by Charles W. Mainwaring (1902). To access these files, click on the first link in the Middlesex County section. In addition, the website has about 40 links to transcribed Connecticut town and county histories, as well as links to a number of biographies and memoirs. The biographies are primarily those of "prominent" men, which have been transcribed from The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885 (J.H. Beers & Co., NY, 1884).

    Another website with Connecticut-related genealogical data is that of the Historical Society of East Hartford ( The site has a narrower focus, however, if you have ancestors who lived in East Hartford, it could prove useful. In the table of contents on the Society's homepage, there is a link under "History Online" to "East Hartford Refs." It should be noted that most of the links from this page will take you sites outside of the Historical Society. The links are divided into categories, which include Genealogies, Historical Works, and Lists of Names.

    Under Historical Works, you will find scanned images of the "1886 History of East Hartford" by J. Goodwin, which was originally published in 1886 in The Memorial History of Hartford County Connecticut 1633-1884, Volume II, Town Histories. (Edward L. Osgood, Publisher, Boston: 1886)

    Of particular interest are the links under the Lists of Names. The lists include transcriptions of census records, a list of early East Hartford marriages, and East Hartford deaths in 1838 from the Old Newspaper Collections Project website. An especially interesting link is that of "Amherst Students Having East Hartford, Ct in Their Biographies." Clicking on this link will bring you to the East Hartford page of a website containing a transcription of the Amherst College Biographical Record, Centennial Edition (1821-1921), which was published in 1927. The volume contains biographical sketches of all 9,110 graduates and non-graduates of Amherst College in the classes of 1822 to 1921. Just click on a student's name to read his biography. Students with links to 231 Connecticut towns passed through Amherst College's doors during this period. The site is indexed by name, by place, and by class year. The place index is organized by state, country, and continent and may, therefore, be of interest to researchers whose focus goes beyond Connecticut. To visit this site, go to

    If your research brings you to Connecticut, you should take a few minutes to visit these sites to see what they have to offer.

    Family History Library Remodeling News

    Research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake may prove to be more difficult than usual this summer due to extensive remodeling that is taking place. Some projects will necessitate the relocation of resources and other collections will be temporarily unavailable. Major developments are as follows:

    * The United States and Canada book collection (parts and at times all of the collection) will not be available from mid-June through mid-August; this collection is being moved from the main floor to the third floor. Books for the following thirty-seven states will not be available from June 25 to July or August 2004:

    Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina (from 975.6755), North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

    * Family Histories and Biographies have been relocated to the Library.

    * The Family Group Records Archive is now a film only collection.

    * Special Collections closed in April 2004 and is scheduled to reopen in June 2004. Patrons can inquire about using the restricted LDS temple microfilms at the main or second floor reference desks.

    * The International book collection is currently in high-density storage; the collection may be accessed by request at the International library attendant window on floor B-1.

    On the plus side, computer workstations have been added (as well as a computer training area) and patron research space has been increased. Best of all, the work is scheduled to be completed well before the annual NEHGS research trip to the Library in October!

    For more information visit

    Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Probate Court Relocated to Canton

    The Probate and Family Court of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, was recently moved to the city of Canton. All Probate and Family Court records are now at the Court's new location. The Trial Court BASCOT Probate Docket terminal will continue to be available in the Registry of Deeds record hall in Dedham.

    The Court's new address is 35 Shawmut Road, Canton, MA., 02021, and the phone number is 781-830-1200. The Court's hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    The Microtext Department at the NEHGS Library (fouth floor) has the Norfolk probate dockets from 1793 to 1916 and indexes from 1793 to 1929.

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


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

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

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

    * "Sequestered Nooks: Genealogical Research in Rare Books" by Christopher Hartman on June 2 and 5.

    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!

    "One of Colonial America's Earliest Crazy Aunts"

    by Sherry Sylvester Ramsey of Garden Ridge, Texas

    There's little doubt that my favorite ancestor, Dinah Sylvester, deserves a place in the black sheep hall of fame. Dinah, the daughter of Richard and Naomi Sylvester, was born in Plymouth Colony in 1642. At the age of nineteen, she falsely accused a neighbor of witchcraft, swearing she'd seen her transform into a bear.

    This event occurred thirty years before the Salem witchcraft hysteria and history indicates that Plymouth officials were more thoughtful in their handling of the charge. Dinah's allegation is the only one on record in Plymouth and during her interrogation by the court, she admitted she'd made the whole thing up and was fined 5 pounds in court costs.

    The false accusation cost her a fiance who broke their engagement because of his friendship with the family of the wrongly accused neighbor. Dinah sued him for damages in court and won 20 pounds - but apparently never regained his heart. Plymouth records indicate she never married and that the lingering rancor over the breach of promise led to other disputes between the two families.

    Dinah was later named in a fornication allegation and in 1669 was back in court again, this time charging another man with the paternity of her child.

    The Puritans provided us with many strong and honorable founding mothers, but Dinah Sylvester appears to have been one of colonial America's earliest crazy aunts.

    I am a direct descendant of Richard and Naomi Sylvester and Dinah's great (8x) niece.


    NEHGS Contact Information

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