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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 5
    Whole #151
    January 30, 2004
    Edited by Rod D. Moody and Valerie Beaudrault

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This free newsletter has been sent to NEHGS members and friends who have subscribed to it, or submitted their email addresses on various membership and sales department forms and website notices. NEHGS recognizes the importance of its members' privacy, and will not give away, sell or lease personal information. If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address, please click on the link at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions provided.

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


    • New Databases on
    • New Research Article on
    • Coming Soon in the Winter 2004 Issue of New England Ancestors
    • Help NEHGS Meet the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge
    • Announcing NEHGS Weekend Matinees
    • Take the New NEHGS Survey!
    • New Arrivals at the Library Listed on
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    Website: The Rich and Famous in the United States Census
    • Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    • NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    Birth Records of Colrain, Massachusetts

    These records were originally in the form of notes and cards made by Mrs. Katherine Holton Cram. They were later compiled by Oscar Frank Stetson, of Barrington, Rhode Island, who wrote in the introduction:

    "About forty years of the records of Colrain were destroyed by fire. Mrs. Cram spent many years searching family Bibles, cemeteries and private as well as such public records as she could find and this compilation is the edited result of her work. There will be found many records which never were on town books, some of the records of adjoining towns and over the line into the state of Vermont, but they are records which have to do with Colrain families."

    The town of Colrain was established in 1761. It is in Franklin County.

    The original manuscript is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections. It can be viewed by NEHGS members at the our research library in Boston. The call number is MSS MS COL 512a and 512b.

    Search Birth Records of Colrain, Massachusetts, at

    Roster of Maine Soldiers in World War I

    This database contains the names of the men and women of Maine who served in the armed forces of the United States during World War I. Information in these records typically include name, serial number, race, residence, place of birth, age or date of birth, organizations served in (with dates of assignments and transfers), grades (with date of appointment), engagements, wounds or other injuries received in action, service overseas, discharge notations, and general remarks.

    These records were originally published in two volumes by authority of the Maine State Legislature in 1929. The full title is Roster of Maine in the military service of the United States and allies in the World War, 1917–1919.

    The original text can be viewed at the NEHGS Research Library or borrowed by NEHGS members through the Circulating Library. The call number is F18/M352/1929.

    Search the Roster of Maine Soldiers in World War I at

    The Diaries of the Rev. Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Massachusetts — 1780

    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 1780.

    NEHGS members may view the original diaries at our research library in Boston. The call number is MSS 640.

    Search the Diaries of the Rev. Thomas Cary at

    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    This week we have added a transcription of the Farnumsville Burying Ground in Grafton, Massachusetts.

    The original manuscript is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections. NEHGS members may view the original text at our research library in Boston. The call number is MS 70 GRA.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at

    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Worcester, Massachusetts

    Worcester County was established in 1731 from the counties of Middlesex and Suffolk. The index to the county's probate records was published in five volumes between 1898 to 1920. The years covered in the complete series are 1731 to 1910.

    This first installment includes volumes 1 and 2 of Series A, which spans the years 1731 to 1881. Information in the index includes year of record, name, residence, type (or nature) of probate, and case number. Series B, which includes the years 1881 to 1910, will be added to the database at a later date

    NEHGS has the docket books from 1731 to 1881 on microfilm at the research library in Boston. For information about photocopies please visit the NEHGS Research Services web page.

    Please note that additions to the original volumes and corrections to entries in this series were published in a later volume. This database displays the corrected entry either immediately before or after the erroneous entry. Both additions and corrections are identified in the original publication and in this database by the letter A preceding the case number.

    For example, the following similar records are shown below for Galon Amsden. Note that the dates are different and that the letter A precedes the case number of the first entry. This indicates that the first entry is the corrected one.

    Date / Last Name / First Name / Town / Nature / Case Number

    1816 / AMSDEN / Galon / Southborough / Guardianship / A 1686

    1817 / AMSDEN / Galon / Southborough / Guardianship /1686

    Entries with an A preceding the case number but bearing no resemblance to neighboring entries represent subsequent additions to the volumes.

    The original volumes can be viewed at the NEHGS Research Library and can be borrowed by NEHGS members through the circulating library. The call number is F72/W9/M45/1898-1920.

    Search the Index to the Probate Records of the County of Worcester, Massachusetts, at


    New Research Article on
    Sources and Methods — the Origins of Whitham, Whittam, Whitwam, Whitwham, and Witham

    By George Redmonds

    For those engaged in English genealogy the surname is usually the starting point, and yet quite often we fail to take full advantage of it. It is not enough to use one of the standard surname dictionaries, for the help they can give is probably more limited than most researchers realise. Such reference works are concerned with meaning and etymology rather than with family history, and the truth is that we are likely to learn far more from a name's historic distribution than from its linguistic origins. Fortunately, there are now excellent sources available that will help in that respect, and I hope to illustrate that by looking at one group of surnames — Whitham, Whittam, Whitwam, Whitwham, and Witham.

    Read the full article at

    Coming Soon in the Winter 2004 Issue of New England Ancestors

    Julie Helen Otto recounts tales and details of colonial-era New England lightning casualties in Slain with the Thunder and Lightning.”

    Kevin Sweeney discusses origins and implications of the 1704 French and Indian raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts.

    Michael J. Leclerc introduces the new CD-ROM, New Hampshire Military Records, 1623–1866.

    Laura G. Prescott reveals the results of an email poll in Distance Presents No Barriers for NEHGS Members Abroad.

    Michael J. Leclerc details the varied and plentiful resources available in the upcoming database Massachusetts Vital Records 1841–1910.

    Also in this issue . . .

    • The Computer Genealogist: The Power is in You, Not the Tool — Using the Power of the Windows Clipboard in Genealogy

    • Computer Genealogist Spotlight: Finding Old Cemeteries Using Today’s Technology

    • Genetics & Genealogy: Y-DNA Instigated a Search for a Royce Father and Reveals Many Different Rice or Royce Families

    • Manuscripts at NEHGS: My NEHGS Experience — The John A. Comstock Jr. Papers

    • Bible Records at NEHGS: Record of the Gilbert Aspinwall family, 1708–1982

    • Pilgrim Life: The Grave of Edward Paige of Boston, 1680

    NEW COLUMN! Tales from the Courthouse: The Case of the Purloined Pigs

    And, as always, news of NEHGS and the world of genealogy, upcoming NEHGS programs and tours, new publications, notices of family association events, genealogies in progress, and member queries.

    Subscription to New England Ancestors is a benefit of NEHGS membership. If you are not a member, you may join online at, or call toll-free 1-888-296-3447, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern time.

    Help NEHGS Meet the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge!

    We received word in December that the Society is the recipient of a $400,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, DC. This announcement is wonderful news for NEHGS, since the grant offers us funding to build a substantial endowment in support of

    The NEH stipulates that in order to receive this award we must match the grant on a 4 to 1 basis by raising $1.6 million for website endowment (for a total of $2 million) in the next three years. The grant will be awarded in phases; for example, by June 2004 we must raise the first $200,000 of this match.

    We urge members to join us in this effort; your gift will help us to strengthen your research capabilities at the Society while generating a matching gift from the NEH.

    The happy news is that for every $4 that you donate to the Society, the federal government, through the National Endowment for the Humanities, will give the Society an additional $1. has quickly become the primary tool employed by our members to research their family history. Technological advances in the two years since the new site was launched have necessitated a complete upgrade of the capabilities of the website. These improvements are in progress and we expect them to be completed in 2004.

    As the website’s popularity has surged, the costs associated with maintaining, upgrading, and adding content to the site on a daily basis have skyrocketed for the Society. Today these costs generate expenses that comprise one third of the Society’s annual budget. We are nevertheless committed to continually identifying and adding significant content to the site that will aid members in their research. How wonderful it is that we will be able to rely on revenue from the endowment generated by the NEH grant on an ongoing basis to support both the infrastructure and content development for in years to come.

    For information on ways to help the Society meet the NEH Challenge, please call Barbara Waters at (617) 226-1238.

    Join Us for NEHGS Weekend Matinees!

    NEHGS is adding a great new feature for weekend visitors — videos by well-known speakers on genealogical topics. The videos, free to all visitors, will run on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m. in the Sloan Education Center. We invite you to join us in the NEHGS Library and enjoy some interesting topics.

    January 31 and February 1
    Immigration & Passenger Lists with John Philip Coletta

    February 7-8
    American Court Records with Diane V. Gagel

    February 21-22
    Finding a Wife’s Maiden Name with David C. Dearborn

    March 6-7
    King Philip’s War: America’s Forgotten War with Eric B. Schultz

    March 13-14
    U. S. Military Records with James C. Neagles

    March 20-21
    Getting Started in Irish Genealogy with Marie E. Daly

    April 10-11
    Time Was, Time Is with David McCullough

    April 17-18
    Self and Family: Genealogical Possessions in Early New England with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    May 1-2
    Finding Your Family History in the Attic with Tony Burroughs

    Take the New NEHGS Survey!

    Tell us what brought you to our website! Take this week's survey and tell us about your online research habits. The more we know about how you use, the better service we can provide. Take the survey now at


    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 /libraries/main/?page_id=604&attrib1=1&seq_num=101 and click on “January 2004.”  Here are some of this month’s titles:

  • Four centuries Americans: Van Fleet/Van Vliet/Van Vleet, 1634–2001.
  • Sources for Irish family history: a listing of books and articles on the history of Irish families.
  • The Wampanoag genealogical history of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts: referenced to Banks’ History of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
  • Roll of the dead: 1886–1906: Department of Minnesota, Grand Army of the Republic.
  • Calais Maine families: they came and they went
  • Genealogical abstracts from early New Hampshire newspapers.
  • The vital birth records of Nashua, New Hampshire, 1887–1935.
  • Beneath these stones: more Granby, Connecticut cemeteries.
  • Historical sketches of Franklin County (NY) and its several towns with many short biographies.
  • Some early tax digests of Georgia.
  • The life and writings of Betsey Chamberlain: Native American mill worker.

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

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

    • "Passenger Arrivals Project at the Massachusetts State Archives" by Janis Duffy on Saturday, January 31

    • "Naturalization Records as Immigration Sources" by Marie Daly on Wednesday, February 4 and Saturday, February 7

    • "From Sydney to Yarmouth: researching in Nova Scotia" by George Sanborn on Wednesday, February 11

    All lectures take place at 10 a.m. Advance registration is not necessary.

    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.

    Website: The Rich and Famous in the United States Census

    What did Orville and Wilbur Wright list as their occupations in the 1910 census? Where was John Dillinger was when the census taker came around in 1930? What made Wyatt Earp hang up his guns in 1900?

    You can discover the answers to these questions and many more by accessing The Rich and Famous in the United States Census website ( The site, hosted by John Michael Neill, currently has over 200 census enumerations for both famous and infamous individuals.

    To entice you to explore the site, Mr. Neill has set up annotated links to actual census images for about thirty well-known individuals. On the left-hand side of the page, you will find links for the census years from 1850 to 1930. Clicking on a census year link will bring up a page with numerous links to census images for people ranging from sitting presidents to actors, authors, inventors, and more. The year with the greatest number of links is 1930. And, you will find Hollywood and the music industry well represented there. In addition, individual pages have been created for a number of people. These pages contain the links to all found census listings for the individual grouped together. You can follow Wyatt Earp across five states (Iowa, Missouri, Arizona, Alaska, California) — from when he was two years old in 1850 to seventy-two in 1930. It should be noted here that the census images come up fairly quickly, even with a dial up connection.

    If you would like to find out where a famous individual not yet listed on the website lived during a particular census year or would like to contribute to the website by providing information on a famous person whereabouts, you can do so by sending an email to You can also join the site's mailing list to receive electronic updates on the project.

    Answers to the questions above:

    The Wright brothers were both listed as inventors of the "aeroplane" in the 1910 census.

    John Dillinger was an inmate at the Indiana State Prison working as a machine operator in the shirt shop.

    Wyatt Earp and his wife took a steamship to Nome, Alaska, where he operated a saloon during the Gold Rush.

    Visit The Rich and Famous in the United States Census website at

    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!

    My Favorite or My Black Sheep Ancestor?

    by Bruce Chilton of Northport, New York

    Was Richard Osborne (1612–1685), my eighth great-great grandfather, an exemplar or a black sheep? The generally accepted story is that he departed from London, England, in February 1634, aboard the ship Hopewell for the perilous voyage to the New World and settled first in Hingham, Massachusetts, where he drew a house-lot in 1635. He removed later to the newly established town of Windsor, Connecticut, and was a volunteer in the Pequot War in 1637, where he supposedly attained the rank of captain in the colonial militia. For his services in the war, he was granted eighty acres in Westchester County, New York. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had eight children. He died in 1685 a solid and well respected member of his community. But, a bit of digging unearths a darker past. True, he embarked on the Hopewell in February 1634, but the ship was bound for Barbados, not New England. He was listed in the register of passengers as one of seventy young men — not a woman among them — who were to be "transported" to Barbados. In a search of the records of English settlers in Barbados, no Richard Osborne is to be found. Taken together, the evidence indicates that Richard was very likely a convict who might well have been given, in the custom of the time, a choice between the gibbet and indentured servitude in the colonies. Incredibly, he was able to somehow escape this dreadful situation and make his way, perhaps as a stowaway, to New England. Does this later discovery somehow sully his name or reputation? To the contrary, I believe that it contributes to his favor. Richard Osborne's story is that of one man who, on hitting bottom, refused to surrender to his fate, overcoming daunting odds and great adversity. His is truly a story of the triumph of the human spirit.

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