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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 38
    Whole #184
    September 17, 2004
    Edited by Rod D. Moody and Valerie Beaudrault

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This 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
    * NEHGS Seminar: Digging for Your Roots in Massachusetts
    * New Research Article on
    * NEHGS Open House Next Week!
    * Visit NEHGS in Western Massachusetts at the Big E
    * The 2004 NEHGS Technology Excellence Awards
    * Featured Website:
    * Events in New England
    * New Arrivals at the Library Listed on
    * French Scholar Visits NEHGS
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    Marriages of Lyme, Connecticut

    These transcriptions of town records were extracted from a manuscript donated to NEHGS in 1952. The town of Lyme, located in New London County, was established in 1665. The marriages were recorded between 1834 and 1855.

    The manuscript is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections, call number SL LYM 7-4a.

    Search Marriages of Lyme, Connecticut at




    The Diaries of the Rev. Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1762-1806
    Added this week: 1785 diary entries

    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 1785.

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


    Search the the Diaries of Rev. Thomas Cary at


    Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910

    Added this week: Records for 1857

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes actual records from 1857 (vols. 105-113). The addition of indexes from 1841 to 1910 has been completed. The indexes include name of individual, town or village of event, year of event, and volume and page number of the original record. The records themselves typically include far more details.

    For detailed information about this database, please refer to the link found on the database search page (see link below) titled "Introduction to the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 Database." A link to a chart displaying records currently available and those forthcoming is also available on this page.

    The "Introduction" contains information that will contribute greatly to the success of your searches and answers common questions 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

    Added this week: Transcriptions of following cemeteries in the counties of Essex and Warren, New York.

    Town of North Hudson (Essex County)
    Catholic Church Cemetery
    Catholic Section of Wathsock Cemetery
    Protestant Section of Wathsock Cemetery
    Black Brook Cemetery

    Town of South Schroon (Essex County)
    Union Cemetery

    Town of Pottersville (Warren County)
    London Hill Cemetery

    Source:"North Hudson, NY Epitaphs" Transcribed by Grace E. Campbell, 1935. Unpublished manuscript, 2 vols. Call numbers SL 40 and 40A.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at



    Master Search

    Master search all databases at



    NEHGS Seminar: Digging for Your Roots in Massachusetts

    Saturday, October 23, 2004

    Digging for Your Roots in Massachusetts, the first program in our New England States Seminar Series, will take place Saturday, October 23, at the NEHGS Library in Boston. The series is designed to assist beginners and seasoned researchers alike. Massachusetts research has consistently been rated as the most desired research topic by our membership. This practical seminar will cover a host of topics: researching the families of Massachusetts from the earliest beginnings of Plymouth Colony; migration patterns within the Commonwealth and beyond; the extensive Corbin Collection of church, cemetery, vital records, and family records from seventy-six towns of western Massachusetts; an overview of the history and structure of the Massachusetts state court system and wills, naturalizations, and criminal and civil cases; and the extensive collection of newspapers dating from the 1700s at the Boston Public Library and how to use them. Join us for this very special event and advance your Massachusetts research goals!

    Lectures will include:

    The Pilgrim Migration: The Settlement of Plymouth Colony, 1620-1633
    Robert Charles Anderson, director of the Great Migration Study Project and co-editor of The American Genealogist.

    Describes the mix of Leiden Pilgrims and immigrants of other origins who made up the early population of Plymouth. Includes discussion of recent discoveries in the English origins of some of these immigrants and of the production of a new book on the subject.

    Massachusetts Migrations
    David Dearborn, NEHGS reference librarian.

    This talk focuses on migration trails and migration patterns, both within the state and to points beyond, including other areas of New England, New York, and the Canadian Maritimes. The majority of our ancestors adhered to fairly predictable migration patterns and understanding these allows us to make an educated guess as to a possible place of origin.

    Researching Western Massachusetts Using the Corbin Collection
    Robert J. Dunkle, co-author of many books on colonial Boston and editor of several NEHGS CD-ROMs.

    The Walter E. Corbin Papers comprise the most extensive compilation of church, cemetery, vital, and family records extant for seventy-six towns in western Massachusetts. Acquired by the Society from Mr. Corbin's estate, it occupies some sixty linear feet in the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections. It is unique in its breadth and by the fact that a major portion is available from no other source.

    An Overview of Massachusetts State and County Court Records
    Elizabeth Bouvier, head of archives at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

    An overview of the history and structure of the Massachusetts state court system will be presented. This lecture will include basic information on the probating of wills and administration, naturalizations found in court records, and criminal and civil cases.

    Newspaper Research at the Boston Public Library
    Henry Scannell, curator of microtext and newspapers at the Boston Public Library.

    The lecture will include discussion of the newspaper collections of the Boston Public Library, tips for searching newspapers, and the information of genealogical value that can be found in them.

    To obtain more information or download a registration form for the conference, please visit

    New Research Article on

    New York City Research Guide, Part Three: Censuses, Cemetery Records, Military Records, Newspapers, and Libraries

    by Leslie Corn, MA, FGBS

    This is the third and final segment of the New York City Research Guide. Part one included information about vital records, property records, and estate records. Part two covered naturalization records, immigration records, court records, religious records, and city directories.

    NEHGS members may access the entire article at

    NEHGS Open House Next Week!

    Don't forget to mark your calendar for the NEHGS open house taking place at 101 Newbury Street in Boston on Thursday, September 23, 2004. We will open our doors to the public from 2 to 6 p.m. to offer tours, refreshments, and a 15% discount on books in our library store.

    The theme is "Celebrating Forty Years on Newbury Street," in recognition of the Society's move to its present location in the fall of 1964.

    Special mini-seminars will also take place beginning at 3 p.m. They include the following:

    Remarks by Ralph Crandall, NEHGS executive director
    "An Introduction to the new" with Michael J. Leclerc
    "Getting Started in Genealogy" with David C. Dearborn
    "Researching Immigrant Ancestors" with Marie Daly
    "Probing Probate Records" with Ruth Wellner
    "Gems of the NEHGS Manuscript Collection" with Timothy Salls

    For more information call 617-536-5740.

    Visit NEHGS in Western Massachusetts at the Big E

    NEHGS will be exhibiting at the Big E, September 17 through October 3, 2004. Formally known as the Eastern States Exposition, the Big E takes place in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It is the largest fair in the northeast, serving as a combined "state fair" for all six New England states.

    NEHGS staff members will be available to demonstrate the newly redesigned website and answer questions about NEHGS, New England research, and family history in general. We will have several books and other references available to browse through. More than one million visitors are expected at this year’s Big E event. We encourage members and non-members alike to stop by the NEHGS booth and meet our staff and volunteers.

    The NEHGS booth will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the New England Center on the Big E fairgrounds, adjacent to Storrowton Village. This location is near the center of the fairgrounds. The village is an authentic restoration of a nineteenth-century New England town complete with meeting house, tavern, and historic homes. Directions and information about the fair are online at or by calling the Big E Info Line at 413-205-5115.

    The 2004 NEHGS Technology Excellence Award

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society is pleased to announce that the 2004 winner of the NEHGS Technology Excellence Award is A Very Grave Matter ( The award was presented to site owner Jennifer Marcelais of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, by NEHGS director of electronic publications Michael J. Leclerc at the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Annual Conference for the Nation's Genealogists in Austin, Texas.

    A Very Grave Matter is "dedicated to promoting the restoration, preservation, and awareness of the value of historic cemeteries and gravestones of the New England area." Jennifer clearly states the purpose of the site on its home page:


    "The heart of the history of any New England town can be found in its cemeteries. This web site is a collection of photographs and historical information of colonial cemeteries and gravestones of New England in southern Maine, southern New Hampshire and northeast Massachusetts. There are so many significant aspects of tombstones, from the symbolism and artwork of the carvings themselves, to the marks the individuals themselves made on history. They are a valuable learning tool that must be preserved. These headstones represent our past. They are a tangible glimpse of history. By preserving these cemeteries we gain something more to learn history by besides reading it out of a book. In genealogy research, they are often overlooked for the valuable resource they are."


    A Very Grave Matter features Jennifer's transcriptions and photographs of dozens of cemeteries, along with biographical information when available. To date there are over seven thousand images of gravestones and graveyards on the site.


    In addition to the transcriptions and images, Jennifer calls attention to the plight of cemeteries and graveyards everywhere, as they suffer the ravages of time, vandalism, and urban sprawl. Her dedication to the preservation of this information is to be commended. NEHGS is proud to present her with the 2004 Technology Excellence Award for making these records available over the Internet.

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society, in an effort to encourage and foster the development of rigorous genealogical research techniques in computerized or electronic formats, created the NEHGS Technology Excellence Award in 2000. The award is presented to projects that demonstrate or enable the highest standards of genealogical research in electronic form, and do so in an innovative and replicable manner. The award is intended to recognize appropriate use of technology to achieve genealogical results; eligible projects must therefore present a worthwhile genealogical result obtained through technological tools.

    Previous winners of the Technology Excellence Award include:

    Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center's Obituary Index

    Programme de recherche en demographie historique (PRDH)

    Illinois State Genealogical Society

    Alberta Family Histories Society, Canadian Genealogical Projects Registry

    For more information about the NEHGS Technology Excellence Award, and a complete list of past winners, visit


    Featured Website:

    The website contains both databases and digital images from a variety of sources. Records within its collections include obituaries, city directories, school yearbooks, military records, cemetery records, and more.

    There are a number of ways to access the records on this site. You can search all of the databases and images from the home page via the site's surname search. From this location, you can either search the entire site or limit your search to a specific category of records by selecting from a dropdown list. You can also perform a more targeted search by clicking on the "Try Focused Genealogy Search" link. This link opens a page that allows you to target your search to one of eight categories. The record categories include City Directories and Tax Lists, Obituaries, Alumni Lists, Military Records, and Cemetery Records. Several of the categories have dropdown lists, which enable you to refine your search by location. In addition, you can access the databases and images by selecting a record category from the list across the top of the page or you can browse through the site's collections via the links in the Browse DistantCousin Genealogy section located in the lower area of the home page.

    Click on the United States Genealogy link to open a page from which you can view all of the site's state links. You can then click on a state link to obtain a complete listing of the site's databases for that particular state, as well as links to sites outside of While access to's data and images is free of charge, some of these links will bring you to sites that charge fees to view their data.

    The City Directories section of the website contains printable scanned images of original directories, as well as those of town annual reports, tax lists, and town censuses. All six New England states are represented in this category.

    The website's cemetery database includes approximately 120,000 gravestone transcriptions. In most cases there are also photographic images of the gravestones. The majority of the cemeteries in the database are located in New Jersey and Pennsylvania; however, other states are represented and may be searched via the "all cemeteries" search on the cemetery main page. To access the database, click on the cemeteries link in the Browse DistantCousin Genealogy section of the home page. A couple of recent additions to the cemeteries database are transcriptions and gravestone photographs from the Brockton Union Cemetery in Brockton, Massachusetts and the Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Being able to view and print photographs of the gravestones is a nice feature.

    New records are added to on a regular basis. A list of recent additions to the site may be found on the home page. You can also choose to receive e-mail notices of new additions to the site by clicking on the link below the Recently Added to list.

    Take a few minutes to visit Perhaps you will find a record of one of your ancestors there.

    New England Events

    Lecture at the Old South Meeting House

    On Wednesday, September 29, 2004, the Old South Meeting House will present "Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier," a lecture by Alfred Young, author of Masquerade, and historian and Pulitzer Prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (A Midwife's Tale; The Age of Homespun). Deborah Sampson fought in the American Revolution as Robert Shurtliff and later wrote about her experience. The lecture will look at America's public memory of Sampson and other women during the Revolutionary era. In addition Joan Gatturna, performer and storyteller, will present a first-person performance as Deborah Sampson.

    The program will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts. Admission is free. This lecture is being sponsored by the Old South Meeting House and The Massachusetts Historical Society. For additional information call 617-482-6439 or visit

    The First Annual Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution

    The first annual Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution will be held on October 2 and 3, 2004. The seminar is intended for individuals with an interest in the military and social history of the American Revolution. The following is a partial list of speakers and topics:

    John Buchanan, author of The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas, will speak about war in the Carolinas in "'Boys, get up, Benny's coming!': Daniel Morgan and the Battle of Cowpens, 17 January, 1781."

    Arthur B. Cohn, executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, will speak on "New Underwater Research on the American Revolution on Lake Champlain."

    Barnet Schecter, author of The Battle for New York, will speak about the struggle for the port of New York City during the Revolution in "The Battle for New York City - The Other Key to the Continent."

    Nicholas Westbrook, executive director of Fort Ticonderoga, will speak on "'A Damn Sink of a Place': The Winter of 1776-1777 at Fort Ticonderoga & Mount Independence."

    On Saturday evening, Howard Burnham, a noted English writer and performer of Revolutionary War characterizations, will present "General John Burgoyne."

    On Sunday, October 3, from 12 noon to 3 p.m., a guided tour of Mount Independence will be offered. The cost is $5 per person.

    The regular registration deadline is September 25, 2004. General public registration is $80 per person. The late registration fee is $105. There are reduced rates for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga. The registration fee includes all lectures and the evening's entertainment on Saturday, as well as seminar handouts and morning refreshments. Meals and the guided tour are extra. Please note that pre-registration is required for meal packages and the guided tour of Mount Independence.

    For additional information contact Karl Crannell at 518-585-2821 or

    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 "August 2004."

    Here are some of this month’s titles:

    * Bresson family history.
    * The Le Roy family in America, 1753-2003.
    * The monumental inscriptions of Peel Cemetery, Isle of Man.
    * The Bradys of Cavan in history and genealogy.
    * Complete records of Central Avenue Baptist Church, Dover, NH, 1828-1918.
    * Index to History of Great Barrington, Massachusetts by Charles J. Taylor, 1882.
    * Index to History of West Stockbridge, Massachusetts 1774-1974.
    * Index to Biographical review of Litchfield County, Connecticut.
    * Adventurers of purse and person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5.

    French Scholar Visits NEHGS

    Francois Weil, a 2004 recipient of a New England Regional Fellowship grant, recently visited NEHGS to research for his upcoming book on the history of genealogy in America, which Harvard University Press will be publishing. Weil, at present a professor of North American history at the School of High Studies in Social Sciences in Paris, spent four weeks researching in the Society's R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department, and was quite pleased with his findings.

    From his final report:

    "I had envisioned to explore a few core collections and then attempt to take advantage of the many other sources kept at the NEHGS that would be helpful, and here again I was not disappointed. For the colonial period, I looked at many Bible records and family registers (one example among many, the record made by Benjamain Ballou of Providence R.I. in 1774, in the Hosea Starr Ballou Papers), as well as printed sources in the Society's library. For the nineteenth century, I spent considerable time reading the Horatio Gates Somerby Collection. Somerby was an American who did genealogical work in England for American clients from the late 1840s to his death in the early 1870s. He was one of the most famous and trusted genealogists at the time - and remained so until several of the pedigrees he had produced were revealed to be false. His correspondence and notebooks, however, reveal a more complex character than his current mostly negative standing among contemporary genealogists would suggest. Somerby did a lot of genealogical research in England, and much of it was based on a patient exploration of local sources. His account-books, which I believe have never been used before by historians, will allow me to describe the financial situation of a nineteenth-century genealogist.

    "I looked literally at dozens of collections, with a particular emphasis on the colonial and early national periods ... for which I had but little material at the beginning of my visit here. Diaries, account books, Bible records, family registers all proved to be extremely useful sources, and I look forward to processing all the information I accumulated at the NEHGS in the months to come."

    NEHGS is a member of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, which consists of sixteen regional scholarly institutions, including private and academic libraries as well as historical societies. For more information, including grant applications, see its website:

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

    "Cape Cod Genealogy" with Timothy Salls on September 18.

    Please join NEHGS manuscripts curator, Timothy Salls, as he discusses Cape Cod genealogy. His highly informative lecture will focus on sources in the NEHGS library and manuscripts collections for researching seventeenth and eighteenth century Cape Cod families.

    "Irish Immigration to New England: 1815-1845" with Marie Daly on September 22 and 25.

    Most people think of Irish immigration as occurring during the Great Famine period of 1845-1855. But an earlier, significant migration laid the foundation for the subsequent exodus from Ireland. NEHGS Irish expert Marie Daly will discuss the history of Irish immigration to New England and Eastern Canada in the early nineteenth century.

    All lectures take place at 10:15 a.m. at the NEHGS Library in Boston. Advance registration is not necessary.

    For more details about NEHGS education events, please visit our online Education Center at 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!

    Please note that NEHGS does not verify responses.

    Uncle Fred - One Black Sheep Ancestor
    by Duncan Morrill of Merrimack, New Hampshire


    My father, Harold, and his kid brother, Frederick Merton Morrill, weren't very close so we heard little about Uncle Fred. During World War II when Harold was up in the jungles of north Burma and we were living on the North Shore above Boston, mother thought it would be quite appropriate to invite Uncle Fred to Thanksgiving dinner and introduce us four boys to him. I don't think mother had ever actually met Uncle Fred either. So somehow she discovered Uncle Fred in Southborough, Massachusetts (a bit southwest of Boston), called him up, and invited him to Thanksgiving dinner.

    Uncle Fred arrived around noon on Thanksgiving Day in his old woody station wagon, which had signs announcing the Reverend Luther Merton Morrill. Uncle Fred demonstrated for us four boys, ages 6 to 16, the marvelous mechanism of springs and levers he had on his station wagon, which upon release of a latch would unfold and telescope upwards and outwards on the tailgate into a rostrum complete with large Bible. With a leap Uncle Fred would appear behind it and, as a call to order, a bright purple cloth would roll down the front of the rostrum displaying a large embroidered cross of gold. How impressive!

    While my mother and grandmother did the final preparations for dinner, Uncle Fred entertained us kids. Among other powers, Uncle Fred could see demons: "There's a yellow one on the lamp shade. And a purple one scampering up the wall. Can't you see the red demon on top of the piano?" he exclaimed. My fourteen-year-old kid brother and I tried hard not to bust out laughing. But the youngsters, who were eight and six, were truly fascinated. On we moved to the dinner table. Mother had outdone herself; before us was a grand feast, doubly remarkable because she was crippled and could hardly hobble due to a bad leg and arm from a polio epidemic in Boston in 1909. Mother decided to start off with Uncle Fred saying grace - not our usual habit. So Uncle Fred started off modestly and got to blessing loved ones not present, his brother in Burma and mother's kid brother George flying for the Navy out in the Pacific. Then there was the president, Mr. Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, General Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, General Patton, members of Congress, and on and on and on. It took over an hour! And everything turned stone cold before us. Mother, in whom the milk of human kindness flowed copiously, could have cut his heart out with the butter knife. Uncle Fred had to leave shortly after dinner to make his hour and a half trip back to Southborough before it got too dark.

    We saw Uncle Fred but once more, at his instigation the following summer. It was an even more disastrous encounter, and one not suitable for a family publication.

    NEHGS Contact Information

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

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