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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 42
    Whole #188
    October 15, 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 Presents Gary Boyd Roberts Online at!
    * Research Article from the Archives
    * New From Newbury Street Press
    * More Genealogies on Sale at the NEHGS Online Store
    * Featured Website: The Poorhouse Story
    * Digging for Your Roots in Connecticut Seminar
    * From the Volunteer Coordinator
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on


    Index to Maine Marriages 1892-1966, 1977-1996
    Index to Maine Deaths 1960-1996

    These indices were created by the Maine State Archives. The marriage index and death index are in separate databases. The Archives' website stresses that "the index may not reflect the official information on the actual records and that the databases are available on an 'as-is' basis. One may verify the official information by requesting a copy of the record in question."

    To order a copy of a specific marriage record for the years 1892 to 1922, send an e-mail request to the Archives. The basic fee for searching and copying marriage records is $6 for a non-certified copy and $10 for a certified copy.

    For marriage records for 1923 and later, contact Maine Department of Human Services, Office of Data Research and Vital Statistics at 207-287-3181 or U.S. mail at 11 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

    To order copies of a death certificate, contact the Bureau of Vital Statistics, 11 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0011. Telephone (207) 287-3181.

    NEHGS also has Maine vital records from 1892 to 1955, as well as some pre-1892 records on microfilm. For more information on NEHGS research and photocopying services, please visit


    Search the Index to Maine Marriages 1892-1966, 1977-1996 at

    Search the Index to Maine Deaths 1960-1996 at


    Social Security Death Index Update- Free Database!
    August 2004

    The SSDI, taken from the U.S. Social Security Administration's Death Master File, is one of the key resources available to genealogists today. It contains those individuals who were assigned Social Security numbers and whose death was reported to the SSA. It contains the names of almost seventy million individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

    Search the SSDI at






    Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910

    Added this week: Records for 1859

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes actual records from 1859 (vols. 123-131). 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

    New this week: Transcriptions of the following cemeteries in North Adams, Massachusetts; Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Newport, Rhode Island

    North Adams (Berkshire County), Massachusetts
    Oldest Cemetery
    "Cemetery on the hill out of the town"

    Williamstown (Berkshire County), Massachusetts
    "Old graveyard in the west end of town"

    Newport (Newport County), Rhode Island
    Old graveyard of North Baptist Church

    The stones were transcribed by William John Potts in 1873. The manuscript is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections, call number SL NOR 10.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at

    Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Angell Who Settled in Providence, 1636

    This family genealogy tracing the descendants of Thomas Angell was authored by Avery F. Angell and published in 1872.

    This original text is available at the NEHGS Library and through the Circulating Library. The call number is CS71/A58/1872.


    The original text is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections, call number F 104/E2/D6.

    Search the Angell genealogy at




    Master Search

    Master search all databases at

    NEHGS Presents Gary Boyd Roberts Online at!

    NEHGS is pleased to announce the launch of senior research scholar Gary Boyd Roberts' new website,! Just in time for election day, the website contains full genealogical charts of both presidential candidates, which show their connections through at least eight Massachusetts and English ancestors. You can also download your own pedigree charts and family group sheets to help you keep track of your own connections. The website, which is accessible to all, will soon feature an interview with Gary, in which he discusses his thirty years at NEHGS. Links to selected articles he has authored on celebrities, royalty, politicians, and other Notable Kin will also be added at a later date.

    Visit at

    In related news, Gary was recently interviewed on the topic of presidential candidates and their families for the National Public Radio show Marketplace. The segment, titled "I'm related to Kerry and Bush. Are you?," is available from the Marketplace archives at You must have either the RealAudio or Windows Media player installed on your computer in order to listen (both players are available as free downloads from

    Research Article from the NewEnglandAncestors.orgArchives

    Research in Connecticut Towns Part I: Records Kept in Connecticut Town Halls

    by Joyce S. Pendery, CG

    Visiting Town Halls
    Although many Connecticut records have been microfilmed and are widely available, many researchers like to visit town halls where they can do "hands-on" research from original records or first-generation copies of those records. Researchers planning such a visit may wonder what they will find and whether it will be worthwhile.

    Much ink has been spilled over how to get the most out of visiting a town hall. If you plan your research in advance, allow enough time for careful and thorough research, and use common sense, your visit can be rewarding. Offices of town clerks and registrars of vital records, as well as probate offices, may be open to the public during limited hours. In small towns, the town clerk may, in fact, hold more than one town position. Call for more information before visiting these offices.

    When planning your trip, determine when the town of interest was founded. Records there will begin at that date, and earlier records will be found in the parent town. This information can be found in Betty Jean Morrison's Connecting to Connecticut (Glastonbury, 1995) and in Marcia D. Melnyk's Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research (Boston, NEHGS, 1999 and 2001). For example, vital records for the town of Cromwell begin in 1851, but earlier Cromwell records are found in Middletown. Until the early 1800s New Canaan and Darien were part of Stamford, where their early records will be found.

    Town Clerks and Registrars of Vital Records
    Town clerks have always been responsible for recording information pertaining to Connecticut's 169 towns, including birth, marriage, and death records. Vital records in Connecticut have never been kept on the county level. As towns grew, that work was sometimes reassigned to registrars of vital statistics, whose offices may not be in the town or city hall. Among the towns with separate registrars of vital statistics are Bridgeport, Greenwich, Hartford, Middletown, New Haven, and Waterbury.

    Town clerks, registrars, and other town officials fit requests of genealogists into busy schedules, so be patient and courteous to personnel and other researchers in the offices. Present your driver's license or other identification and explain the reason for your visit. Some town halls have open stacks, while in others clerks bring out requested volumes, perhaps one at a time. If you follow all the procedures and ask if there are other records of possible interest, you may be rewarded with an opportunity to see special records that are not on the open shelves. One Connecticut town clerk, who used to have a "goodie cabinet" where she stored old records under lock and key, could sometimes be persuaded to bring them out. Another clerk in a small Connecticut town who was helping me find information about a certain family brought out an early nineteenth century handwritten compilation of information about town residents of that era.

    Vital Records
    Town halls or bureaus of vital statistics in Connecticut towns and cities are the only places where you will find all the vital records of a town, dating from its founding to the present.

    The majority of vital records up to about 1850 have been included in the Barbour Collection of vital records or in separate town volumes. Many have been microfilmed and are available at the NEHGS Research Library, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Connecticut State Library, or through the various Family History Centers. While generally accurate and complete, these compilations are derivative sources, and genealogists often prefer to examine the original records kept by town clerks. Even then, some records may be missed or omitted. In a recent article in Connecticut Ancestry, "Darien Vital Records, Book 1: Another Barbour Omission," Harlan R. Jessup discusses vital record keeping in Darien after its separation from Stamford in 1820. For some time, the new Darien town clerk used the same volume for recording vital and tax records. Because that volume was eventually filed with tax records, agents collecting vital records for the Barbour compilation failed to find the book and omitted early vital records for about sixteen Darien families.

    Connecticut vital records from about 1850 to 1897 are available from town clerks or registrars, on microfilm at the Connecticut State Library, or through the FHL. Vital records from July 1897 to the present are kept by town clerks or registrars, who send copies to the Department of Public Health in Hartford. The vital records office is currently closed for microfilming of its holdings. In Connecticut, access to birth records for the last 100 years is restricted to the actual person or a close family member, public officials, attorneys, persons authorized by court order, or members of genealogical societies authorized to do business in Connecticut. You will need to present identification and show your credentials to see these records or obtain copies.

    For information on ordering vital records by mail, consult Barbara Mathews' earlier column on Connecticut vital records or read the general guidelines online. You may also find information about obtaining vital records from specific towns at this site.

    Beginning in the 1640s and continuing through the mid-nineteenth century, residents of Connecticut towns were required to register the earmark or brand they used to identify their cattle and swine. Town clerks recorded descriptions and sometimes included drawings of these marks along with other town records. In early volumes, earmark registrations were often interspersed with vital records and town meeting minutes. In later volumes they were usually grouped on special pages in town record volumes.

    Earmarks are an overlooked and important source of genealogical information. They indicate that the registrant was resident in a certain town at a certain date. They may state family relationships, such as the following Stamford, Connecticut, earmark, entered into town records on September 4, 1790: "Catherine Bishop enteres for her Son Isaac Bishop's ear mark the same that was formerly entred to his Grand Father Isaac Bishop decd., viz. a crop on the end of the near ear, and two slits in the end of the off ear." Some earmarks were transferred during a registrant's lifetime, proving that both individuals were living in the town at that date. Again from Stamford Town Records, February 1, 1792: "Joseph Stevens junr. enters for his ear mark the same that was formerly entred to Nathaniel Hoyt & by his permission as he saith, viz., a crop on the end of the near ear and a hole in the same."

    Town Meeting Minutes
    Town clerks sometimes recorded minutes of town meetings in the same volumes as vital and land records. In some Connecticut towns, these early volumes no longer exist; elsewhere you may find originals or early copies. Microfilmed copies of original or transcribed town meeting minutes are available for some towns.

    Each town held an annual meeting of freemen or property owners and additional meetings took place during the year, as needed to transact town business. Elections of town officials were held at annual meetings. Reading town meeting minutes is a good way to learn about the history of your ancestor's town and to flesh out the skeletons of (male) ancestors who actively participated in town government. One of your ancestors may have served as a selectman, grand juryman, surveyor of highways, sealer of weights and measures, brander of horses, or pound keeper. When someone fell upon hard times, they might be "warned out" of town or assigned to a townsman as a boarder. In Cornwall in December 1774: "Daniel Steward agreed to keep Abiel Dudley one year next ensuing for L6-15s-0 lawful money and keep his clothes in good repair…" For several years, responsibility for the care of Abiel Dudley was passed around to the lowest bidder. Town meeting minutes also include discussions on schools, taxes, smallpox inoculations, bounties for killing rattlesnakes, foxes, and wildcats, annexations, Sabbath Day houses and meeting house pews, construction of highways and bridges, liquor licensing, and other topics of local concern.

    Land Records and Town Maps
    While some Connecticut deeds have been microfilmed, visiting a town hall enables the researcher to see every deed of interest. Since the founding of their towns, Connecticut town clerks have been responsible for keeping land records that include deeds, mortgages, attachments, liens, tax liens, judgments, releases, conveyances, and grantor-grantee indexes to those records. Maps of towns and subdivisions, surveys, and planning and zoning records may also be found in town clerk offices.

    Deeds are a source of information that no family historian should overlook. Information about family relationships included in deeds has solved many genealogical problems. Other important genealogical information found in deeds may include places of residence of both grantor and grantee and occupations or titles. Relationships may be stated as well as the names of earlier owners of the same parcel of land, often family members. Since indexes to land records include only the names of grantors and grantees, studying deeds is essential for ferreting out important information. For more about land records, consult Patricia Hatcher's article Land Records: An Under-Appreciated Genealogical Resource.

    One of my favorite projects that used information from land records is Genealogical References in Stamford, Connecticut. Land Records, Volumes A-S, 1666-1800+ (Stamford, Connecticut Ancestry Society, 1999), available as both a book and CD-ROM. While abstracting early Stamford deeds, Edith Wicks noted and later prepared a separate index of all genealogical references in those deeds. Under entries for the surname "Allen," for example, one finds the names of Eunice Allen and her deceased husband John, originally of Stamford and later of Mamaketing, Ulster Co., New York. Also listed are the names of their children, Lydia, Reuben, and Seymour of Ulster Co., and Trowbridge, who had moved to Irish Settlement, Northampton Co., Penn.

    Other Records Kept by Town Clerks

    * Voter registration records: Town clerks keep current voter registration lists, and some town clerks save old voter registration books. They might be in the town hall basement or attic or in out-of-the way storage rooms. In Stamford, for example, the town clerk still has the separate registration books for men and women used after 1893 when, in Connecticut, women were granted the right to vote in local school elections.

    * Election and absentee ballot information

    * Veterans' Records: Town clerks keep on file limited military records of veterans who apply for tax exemptions or for patients in veterans' hospitals who require assistance.

    * Trade name registrations

    * Notary Public applications, filings, and certifications

    Probate District Court Offices

    Probate Records
    For an historic overview of probate record keeping in Connecticut, consult Barbara Jean Mathews' column on probate records previously published in this series.

    Connecticut's probate records are kept in 131 probate district court offices, not quite one district office for each of Connecticut's 169 towns. Over the years there have been many changes in district boundaries, so consult Connecting to Connecticut or Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research to determine where you should look for probate records that include the years of interest to you.

    Probate district courts handle estate settlements of deceased town residents, guardianships for minors and jurisdiction over their trusts, legal matters pertaining to adoptions, and powers of attorney for adults judged incompetent. Probate offices in town halls maintain indexes to probate records of their district. Most Connecticut towns sent their probate packets of original documents through about 1880 to Hartford, so most original probate records for the early years are available only at the Connecticut State Library or on microfilm. Towns maintain an index of records sent to Hartford. However, most town probate district offices have probate court record books containing handwritten copies of the original records, and these volumes are available for research. As Barbara Mathews points out, information in original probate packets and in probate court record books may vary, so both should be consulted.

    Most twentieth century probate packets of original documents as well as record books with copies of those documents will be found in probate district offices.

    Assessor's Records
    Grant lists or property valuations for tax purposes are kept in assessor's offices in town halls. Although information for several recent years may be found there, historic tax lists may be in town archives, historical societies, or at the Connecticut State Library.

    New From Newbury Street Press

    More Lasting than Brass: A Thread of Family from Revolutionary New York to Industrial Connecticut, by Peter Haring Judd

    A follow-up to the 1999 award-winning Hatch and Brood of Time, this new volume treats Peter Haring Judd's Phelps, Haring, and related New York and Connecticut families during the Revolutionary War period. It is a genealogical, cultural, and social history that vividly describes how this accomplished family worked, lived, and reacted to historical events. This new Newbury Street Press title treats the Haring, Herring, Clark, Denton, Phelps, White, Griggs, and Judd families, as well as related families.

    Priced at $50, More Lasting than Brass: A Thread of Family from Revolutionary New York to Industrial Connecticut is available through the NEHGS Online Store at

    The Ancestry of Eva Belle Kempton, Volume 3,Dean Crawford Smith, edited by Melinde Lutz Sanborn

    Families covered in this volume include the ancestry and some descendants of New England immigrants William Allen, William Ames, Thomas Axtell, Francis Barker, Henry Bartlett, John Bush, John Coolidge, Jonathan Fairbanks, Edmund Goodenow, Nathaniel Harwood, Edward Hawes, John Hayden, William Hayward, John and Abraham Howe, Edward Larkin, George Minot, Richard Snow, John Stow,Thomas Thayer, John Thurston, Joseph Twitchell, George Wheeler and Edward Wood. There are new discussions of the English origins of Abraham and John Howe of Marlborough, Richard Snow of Woburn, and the Harwoods of Boston.

    Priced at $35, The Ancestry of Eva Belle Kempton, Volume 3, is available through the NEHGS Online Store at

    More Genealogies On Sale in the NEHGS Online Store!

    To make room for new stock, the NEHGS Store is slashing prices fifty to eighty percent on selected photoduplicated genealogies. Each title is hardbound and reproduced from the original on acid-free paper. We have limited quantities of these titles, so first come, first served! You can place orders or view additional infomation about these genealogies (including full title, author, and book length) in our online store by clicking on the "Search Our Store" link ( and entering the item number listed below in the corresponding field.

    The sale is on now and will continue until October 25. Watch for announcements of more sale items in future issues of NEHGS eNews.

    The following genealogies are currently on sale. The number in parentheses following the title indicates how many copies are available:

    MacDONOUGH-HACKSTAFF, 1901: Item # P33635000, Was $70.00, Now $20.00 (5)
    MARSHALL, 1885: Item # P33740000, Was $68.00, Now $28.00 (1)
    MAULSBY, 1902: Item # P33790000, Was $31.00, Now $11.00 (8)
    McGAVOCK, 1903: Item # P4-H19020, Was $36.50, Now $13.00 (5)
    McGILL, 1910: Item # P4-H19026, Was $56.00, Now $15.00 (3)
    MERIVALE, 1884: Item # P4-H19227, Was $64.00, Now $15.00 (3)
    MERRIAM, 1906: Item # P33925000, Was $81.00, Now $32.00 (1)
    MIDDLEBROOK, 1909: Item # P4-H19332, Was $64.00, Now $28.00 (2)
    MILLER, 1906: Item # P4-H19380, Was $130.00, Now $65.00 (1)
    MORSE, 1903-1905: Item # P34070000, Was $115.00, Now $55.00 (1)
    MORRELL, 1916: Item # P4-H19728, Was $33.00, Now $15.00 (1)
    NOURSE, 1897: Item # P4-H20295, Was $34.50, Now $14.50 (4)
    OBERHOLTZER, 1908: Item # P4-H20379, Was $45.00, Now $13.00 (2)
    PAGE, 1911: Item # P34291000, Was $35.00, Now $17.00 (1)
    PARSHALL, 1903: Item # P4-h20787, Was $53.00, Now $21.00 (2)
    PEARCE, 1888: Item # P34406300, Was $31.00, Now $16.00 (1)
    PEIRCE, 1874: Item # P34420000, Was $53.00, Now $18.00 (2)
    PELTON, 1892: Item # P4-H21018, Was $103.00, Now $58.00 (1)
    PENN, 1899: Item # P4-H21066, Was $46.00, Now $20.00 (1)
    PETERS, 1903: Item # P4-H21225, Was $71.00, Now $27.00 (3)
    PLANT, 1900: Item # P4-H21420, Was $45.50, Now $19.00 (5)
    POPE, 1888: Item # P4-H21549, Was $56.00, Now $27.00 (1)
    PORTER, 1910: Item # P4-H21573, Was $38.50, Now $19.50 (1)
    POTTS, 1895: Item # P4-H21612, Was $66.00, Now $32.00 (1)
    POWELL, 1880: Item # P4-H21636, Was $69.00, Now $19.00 (4)
    PUFFER, 1915: Item # P4-H21816, Was $60.50, Now $29.50 (1)
    RAVENEL, 1898: Item # P4-H21990, Was $55.00, Now $20.00 (3)
    REQUA, 1898: Item # P4-H22164, Was $27.00, Now $9.00 (5)
    RICHARDSON, 1876: Item # P34930000, Was $142.00, Now $71.00 (1)
    ROGERS, 1902: Item # P35050000, Was $82.00, Now $41.00 (1)
    SEVERANCE, 1927: Item # P35219900, Was $38.00, Now $16.00 (1)
    SHANNON, 1905: Item # P4-H23466, Was $85.00, Now $30.00 (5)
    SHARPLESS, 1887 (2 volumes): Item # P4-H23502, Was $190.00, Now $95.00 (1)
    SHUEY, 1876: Item # P4-H23691, Was $47.50, Now $20.00 (3)
    SPOONER, 1883: Item # P35370000, Was $107.00, Now $45.00 (4)
    STANTON, 1891: Item # P35397500, Was $96.00, Now $40.00 (1)
    STEELE, 1862: Item # P35433500, Was $33.00, Now $15.00 (1)
    STEVENS, 1904: Item # P35440000, Was $43.00, Now $21.00 (1)
    STODDARD, 1872: Item # P4-H24633, Was $20.00, Now $9.00 (1)
    STODDARD, 1912: Item # P4-H24657, Was $35.00, Now $17.00 (1)
    SWIFT, 1900: Item # P35595000, Was $36.00, Now $14.00 (1)
    WARREN, 1908: Item # P35860000, Was $40.00, Now $12.00 (2)
    WEBSTER, 1912: Item # P35890000, Was $43.00, Now $15.00 (1)
    WELLES, 1876: Item # P35922500, Was $68.00, Now $22.00 (1)
    WELLS, Col. Daniel, No Year Given: Item # P4-H26913, Was $25.00, $10.00 (1)
    WEMYSS, 1888, Volume 3 Only: Item # P35942000A, Was $57.00, Now $18.00 (1)
    WEMYSS, 1932: Item # P35942000B, Was $70.00, Now $28.00 (2)
    WHIPPLE, 1873: Item #P4-H27135, Was $24.50, Now $10.00 (1)
    WOLCOTT, 1881: Item # P36110000. Was $69.00, Now $25.00 (2)
    WOLCOTT, 1912: Item # P36110500, Was $68.50, Now $29.00 (1)
    WOOD, 1901: Item # P4-H27918, Was $69.50, Now $30.00 (1)

    Featured Website: The Poorhouse Story

    The Poorhouse Story website's purpose is "to provide a clearinghouse for information about 19th century American Poorhouses for . . . history buffs, genealogists, and teachers/students and others with a similar interests." The following are among the site's goals: making American poorhouse records accessible for genealogical or historical research, making the history of the poorhouse better known, and dispelling the negative image attached to those who lived in poorhouses. Poorhouse residents, by virtue of their poverty, have tended to remain undocumented and anonymous. In a "Letter to Genealogists" by the site's host, we are reminded that poorhouse residents have frequently been stereotyped but might include unwed mothers, families who lost everything to floods or fire, handicapped or sick individuals, seasonal workers, or those injured on the job. She also notes that you just might find a solution to one of your "brick walls" on the local poorhouse rolls, as she did.

    Clicking on the "History" link will bring you to an overview of the treatment of the poor covering the period from before the creation of poorhouses through their development into the post-Civil War period. There are links from this page to transcriptions or scans of such items as the 1824 law establishing county poorhouses in New York, an indenture bond (1835) and articles of vendue (terms of auction) of the poor (1832). There are also links to information about a few famous people who resided in poorhouses and to a Victorian Poorhouse website.

    You will find some poorhouse records on the site by clicking on the "Poorhouses by State" link at the bottom of the "History" page or on the left menu of the home page. The following is typical of what is available when clicking on the name of a state. For Connecticut, there are photographs of poorhouses and the U.S. government report summary on state poor laws (1904). In the "Local Notes" section you will find extracts from an undated account book of indigents covering the period from 1860 to 1866. There are also historical notes and messages from readers, which sometimes include information about where poorhouse records are housed or links to online resources. There are records of poorhouse residents from town annual reports, census lists, and poorhouse cemetery records in some cases. Among the Maine materials, you will find digital images of historic poor relief receipts, a letter denying legal settlement or residence of an individual from 1886, and newspaper articles. For Massachusetts, you will find the Salem Overseers of the Poor clerk's ledger, Volume 17, January 1870-February 1879.

    Anyone who would like tips on how to locate poorhouse records should definitely visit the "Records" page where you will find links to "Suggestions" on how to find them, "Census Reports" information, and details about "Inmate Registration Certificates" for the state of New York.

    In the website's newsletter archive you will find articles, news alerts, photographs, historical notes, and readers' commentary, as well as images of historical memorabilia, cemetery lists, poorhouse resident lists from the census (both new material and off-site links on the web).

    Don't overlook the poorhouse when searching for missing ancestors or when trying to break down that brick wall. This website offers useful tips on how to do this type of research.



    Digging for Your Roots in Connecticut Seminar

    Saturday, November 6, 2004, at NEHGS

    Digging for Your Roots in Connecticut is the second seminar in our New England States Seminar Series of one-day programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. The series is designed to assist beginners and seasoned researchers alike. This intensive seminar will address basic genealogical research as well as printed sources relevant to the geographical core of the state, probate records, and the resources of the Connecticut State Library. It will conclude with several interesting case studies. Join us to enhance your Connecticut research skills!

    Lectures will include:

    An Overview of Genealogical Research in Connecticut
    Joyce S. Pendery, certified genealogist, NEHGS trustee, and contributor to the Connecticut research area of

    This talk will provide a brief overview of genealogical resources in Connecticut from the 1630s to today with an emphasis on information that can be found in Connecticut town halls, libraries, and historical societies, as well as on the Internet and at major libraries outside the state, including at NEHGS.

    The Connecticut Core In Print - Updated
    Gary Boyd Roberts, senior research scholar at NEHGS.

    The "Connecticut Core" is the area bounded roughly by New London, New Haven, Hartford, and Woodstock, within which area sources are superb and a majority of genealogical problems can probably be solved through printed sources.  Outside this geographic core are western or “pioneer” Litchfield County (“on its way to Duchess County, New York”) and Fairfield County in the south, now largely suburban New York City.

    Negotiating the Maze of Connecticut Probate Records
    Barbara Mathews, certified genealogist specializing in colonial Connecticut research, contributor to the Connecticut research area of

    This lecture reviews the types of estates and documents found in Connecticut probate records, including testate, intestate, and insolvent estates, as well as documents such as wills, inventories, bonds, guardianships, and distributions.  The presentation identifies where probate was recorded at different periods in Connecticut history and closes with examples of how to locate the records on microfilm.

    Resources of the Connecticut State Library
    Richard C. Roberts, head of the history and genealogy department of the Connecticut State Library.

    The Connecticut State Library maintains and provides access to comprehensive collections of materials on the history of Connecticut and its people.  Learn more about its services and genealogical resources such as the Barbour Collection of Vital Records, the Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions, and the Church Records Index.

    Some Connecticut Case Studies: Thinking Out of the Box
    Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG, associate editor for the Register, author of Descendants of Peter Mills of Windsor, Connecticut (1998); Congregational Church Records Of Naugatuck,Connecticut (1987); A Mills and Kendall Family History and compiler of an index to The Connecticut Nutmegger.

    Compiled genealogies and vital, church, cemetery, newspaper, and probate records are usually consulted first when starting genealogical research. In Connecticut many ancestors have fallen through the cracks of the box of what is typical. This lecture will review several case studies which venture outside the box of expected research tools to explore other options and solutions.

    For more information or to download a registration form, please visit

    From the Volunteer Coordinator

    I would like to express my gratitude to all the volunteers who helped at the NEHGS booth at the recent Big E event. This exposition is the largest of its kind in New England, running for seventeen days from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Many members from central and western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, and southern New York responded to my request for volunteer help.

    Every single volunteer arrived on time for their shifts, despite obstacles like the traffic congestion and occasional bad weather. Every single volunteer contributed their knowledge of genealogy and NEHGS, which helped to make our booth a big attraction -- and a big success! The volunteers thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and the NEHGS staff enjoyed working with them.

    I sincerely thank all of our volunteer staff for their assistance.

    Susan Rosefsky
    NEHGS Volunteer Coordinator



    Events in New England

    Vermont Genealogy Workshops

    The Vermont Historical Society with the Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Genealogical Society of Vermont will sponsor a day of genealogy workshops at the Vermont History Center, 60 Washington Street (Route 302), Barre, Vermont, on Saturday, October 30, 2004.

    Workshop A topics are as follows: Getting Started, Census Records, Computer Resources, Military Pension Records, Introduction to Repositories, and Preparing Heritage Society Applications. Workshop B topics are Irish Genealogy, French-Canadian Genealogy, Italian Genealogy, Using Town Records, Colonial Records from 1770 to 1850 and Researching in the Collections of the Vermont Historical Society Library. The "A" and "B" workshop sessions will run concurrently. The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    The registration fee is $25 per person; $20 for members of sponsoring organizations. Lunch is included in the registration fee. Checks should be made payable to the Vermont Historical Society. Mail payments to: Vermont Genealogy Workshops, Vermont Historical Society, 60 Washington Street, Barre, Vermont 05641. For additional information contact the Vermont Historical Society Library at 802-479-8509 or email

    The African American Experience in Connecticut

    The Association for the Study of Connecticut History, Connecticut League of History Organizations, and Manchester Community College will hold a daylong conference on "The African American Experience in Connecticut" on Saturday, November 6, 2004. The conference will take place in the Arts, Sciences, and Technologies Center at Manchester Community College.

    This is the first full-day conference on African Americans in Connecticut. The conference will feature concurrent sessions. Session topics include Africans in seventeenth-century Connecticut, African Americans before the New London County Court, enslaved African Americans in Wethersfield, slavery in Fairfield County, Connecticut's black governors, the twenty-ninth Connecticut infantry, and a number of biographical studies. "Speaking for Ourselves: African American Life in Farmington, CT," an award-winning exhibition from the Farmington Historical Society will be on display for the entire day.

    The program runs from 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a closing reception from 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Registration for the day's program begins at 8:15 a.m. Refreshments will be served. The registration fee is $35 for members of the sponsoring organizations, $40 for non-members. The student registration fee is $25. The registration deadline is Wednesday, October 27, 2004. Lunch is included in the registration fee. Make checks payable to ASCH and sent it to: Professor Guocun Yang, Social Sciences Department, Manchester Community College, Great Path, M.S. #4, P.O. Box 1046, Manchester, CT 06045-1046. For maps and directions to Manchester Community College, visit For additional information about the program, contact Professor Yang at

    Upcoming Genealogy in a Nutshell Lectures at the NEHGS Library

    "The Collections of the State Library of Massachusetts" with Eva Murphy on October 16.

    Unknown to many genealogists, the Massachusetts State House maintains a genealogical and historical gem of a library. State Library of Massachusetts reference librarian Eva Murphy will discuss the contents of the library's collections, and their use to genealogists.


    "Researching Quebec Ancestors" with Michael J. Leclerc on October 20.

    Researching French Canadian ancestors from Quebec can be both rewarding and frustrating. Please join NEHGS French-Canadian expert, Michael J. Leclerc, as he relates common and lesser-known resources for Quebec research.

    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.

    My "Black Sheep" Ancestor
    by Lisa Cantrell


    My favorite black sheep is actually my husband's ancestor, Israel Jacob Gordon. My husband's family has, for at least two generations, purported to be Scottish. They have gone so far as giving each new fiancee a family crest and full length cashmere kilt in the Gordon tartan. When asked where in Scotland they are from, they answer with a vague "the Highlands" and my husband's grandfather always said jokingly, "my ancestors were horse thieves in Scotland."

    When I began on a genealogy for my son I was stuck trying to find any ancestors of this aforementioned grandfather. My father-in-law refused to tell me what his grandmother or grandfather's names were, which led to rumors of a "dark secret."

    Finally, last year, while searching the 1910 census in the town where they lived, I found the original family members. They were listed as German-Russians who arrived in 1876 (maybe the boat came from Scotland?). More recently, I discovered a stash of my husband's uncle's letters from the summer he spent with his Ohio cousins. This treasure trove of family names and places enabled me to follow new leads.

    No, the great grandparents were not German-Russians. The great grandfather, Israel Jacob Gordon, was Russian and Jewish. He lived in New York with his parents and siblings before he married his wife, who was German and Jewish, and moved to Ohio.

    Actually, while I believe he has been treated by my father-in-law's generation as a black sheep, I find him an admirable character. He left what had to have been a miserable existence, and came to America in search of a place where he could provide his family (6 children) with a good life. He and his wife established a dry goods store in Findlay, Ohio, and from there two of his sons became doctors and one daughter a speech teacher.

    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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