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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 9
    Whole #155
    February 27, 2004
    Edited by Rod D. Moody and Valerie Beaudrault

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

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


    New Databases on
    New Research Article on
    "Ask a Librarian" Answers Your Research Questions!
    NEHGS Survey Results
    New Nutshell Lectures Available for Loan
    Images from the Manuscript Collections
    New Arrivals at the Library Listed on
    Massachusetts Genealogical Council Seminar with Helen Leary
    NEHGS Event: Genealogy and Genetics
    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    Careers at NEHGS
    Favorite — and Black Sheep — Ancestor Feedback
    NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    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.

    The most recent addition to this series includes the first volume of Series B, which includes July 1, 1881 to July 1, 1897. Volumes 1 and 2 of Series A, which spans the years 1731 to 1881, were previously added. Information in the index includes year of record, name, residence, type (or nature) of probate, and case number.

    NEHGS has the docket books from 1731 to 1881 on microfilm at the research library in Boston. If you are unable to visit the library, you may obtain photocopies by ordering an In-Depth Research request from our Research Services department. For more information please visit the NEHGS In-Depth Research web page at

    Please note that additions to the original volumes and corrections to entries in them 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


    Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Profiles

    The Society of the Cincinnati was established in 1783 by and for the officers in Continental Service. It was organized in fourteen constituent societies, one of which is the Massachusetts Society. Membership in the Society of the Cincinnati was extended to the officers of the Continental Army — as well as Continental Navy and Marine officers — who had served until the end of the war, plus those who had been declared no longer needed by acts of Congress and those who had served honorably for three years during the war. Also eligible were the oldest male lineal descendants of officers who died in service. The officers of the French Navy and Army who served with the American Army were also entitled to join. This database contains information on those Massachusetts officers eligible for membership. Absence from this list does not conclusively exclude eligibility.

    New sketches are now available for the following individuals:

    Josiah Abbot, Judah Alden, Nathaniel Alexander, Nathaniel Coit Allen, Noah Allen, Job Alvord, Jotham Ames, William Andrews, Samuel Armstrong, Moses Ashley, John Austin, Samuel Bradford, Joshua Clap, Silas Walker, Edward Wigglesworth, Ebenezer Wild, and Abraham Williams.

    Search the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Profiles at

    Family Genealogy
    Van Deursen Family

    This genealogy was compiled by Captain Albert Harrison Van Deursen in 1912. It traces the descendants of Abraham Pietersen (Van Deursen), who was was born in Haarlem, Holland, where he was baptized November 11, 1607, in the Dutch Reformed Church.

    The author states that "It is probable that Abraham Pietersen and his wife left Haarlem for America very soon after their marriage, as no baptismal records of any of their children are found at that place between 1630 and 1635, and he is known to have been in New Amsterdam, now New York, in 1636, when he was recorded as 'of Haarlem.'"

    "Abraham Pietersen lived on the Heerewegh Straat, or Broadway, New Amsterdam, where he carried on the occupation of miller and innkeeper, trading also in land and cattle. The date of his death is not known."

    The original text is available at the NEHGS Library and to NEHGS members via the circulating library. The call number is CS71/V243/1912.




    Search the Van Deursen genealogy at

    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    This week we have added transcriptions of the following cemeteries of Salem, New Hampshire: Old Parish Burying Ground, Marston Burying Ground (private), Pine Grove Cemetery, North Salem Cemetery, and Shear Hill Burying Ground.


    The original transcription is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections. NEHGS members may view it at our research library in Boston. The call number is NH SAL 3.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections at


    Master Search

    Master search all databases at


    New Research Article on
    Rhode Island
    Strategies for Researching Twentieth-Century Rhode Islanders

    By Maureen A. Taylor

    One key piece of advice experienced genealogists give to beginners is start with yourself and work backwards. This means researching records for evidence of living family members or those born between 1901 and 2000. Some of the records you consult will be similar to those you'll use for earlier generations, but a few are unique to the twentieth century. Kathleen W. Hinckley's Locating Lost Family Members & Friends (Betterway, 1999) is an excellent guide to twentieth-century resources nationwide. This column will offer advice on how to uncover this recent history in Rhode Island. We will review a few sources covered in earlier columns, as well as some that apply only to the twentieth century.


    Read the full article at

    "Ask a Librarian" Answers Your Research Questions!

    A new selection of "Ask a Librarian" questions and answers is now available to NEHGS members at "Ask a Librarian" is a monthly feature that enables NEHGS members to ask staff librarians questions about research methodology, localities, sources, NEHGS holdings, and much more! Answers to questions in the "Ask a Librarian" feature are available to NEHGS members only.

    Email your research question to

    Please note that we do not accept questions about specific families and individuals in this forum, nor do we perform "look-ups"—please visit our Research Services department page at for assistance with these types of queries.

    Due to the high volume of questions submitted, please allow two to three months for questions to be answered. Because of their busy schedules, NEHGS librarians are only able to answer a certain number of questions. You will be notified if your question has been selected for publication.

    Here are the questions for this month:

    Richard D. Warner asks:
    It never occurred to me that NEHGS would have copies of Middlesex County probate records on microfilm. Do you know if the microfilmed copies contain all the bits and pieces of information found in each individual docket file?

    Also, do you happen to know if the Massachusetts Archives still allows researchers who show up in person to make copies of the contents of probate dockets, in the event that the microfilm on file at NEHGS does not contain images of the entire contents of the respective probate folders?

    Janet Nelson asks:
    In the article "Scots for Sale: The Fate of the Scottish Prisoners in Seventeenth Century Massachusetts" by Diane Rapaport posted on the NEHGS website, there was a place to click to see the list of all prisoners sent on the John & Sara to Boston.

    Is there a similar listing available on the Scottish prisoners sent over on the Unity a year earlier to Boston?

    Joseph Wadsworth asks:
    I have been trying to find information about the arrival of Edmund Nicholson, a fisherman who came from St. Bees, England, around 1640-ish. (My earliest date is 1644). I realize this was part of the Great Migration era but I suspect the reason he and his son do not appear in the Great Migration volumes is because they worked as crew on the ship from England to America. What sources might give information on those who crewed en route, then got off in New England? Where might they be found?

    Heather Wilkinson Rojo asks:
    My great-great grandmother died in Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts, in 1921. Her death records from there list her parents, but they are listed with wrong names, and I wonder if in her mental state she gave incorrect information to the authorities. Her grave records from Harmony Grove Cemetery, in Salem, Massachusetts, match the information found on her marriage records, and on her Civil War widow's pension records (which we presume to be the correct names). We wanted to have copies of her records from Danvers State Hospital, but we were told we needed a court order or judge's order. Before we go ahead with such an expensive (and probably very lengthy) procedure, what would be included in these records? Anything of genealogical value?

    Cliff McCarthy asks:
    Is the given name "Bezaleel" generally male or female?

    John Morrison asks:
    From the Social Security Death Index, I found a missing cousin who died in 1972 in Virginia. However, the state of Virginia will not allow me to obtain a death certificate because only direct relatives (children, parents) are allowed to get the document. Is there any way to get this information? I do not know what city he died in.

    Stafford-Ames Morse asks
    There seems to be a lot of difference in the dates of people reported by Mayflower Society data and that of a town's vital records, or, for that matter, even the church record in that town. Who should we believe?

    Elaine Shuman asks:
    I have tried to order microfilm via interlibrary loan for a Medford, Massachusetts, newspaper. I want to browse the paper for any tidbits on my great-great grandfather who lived there from the 1930s through 1950s. I was told the Boston Public Library won't loan microfilm. Do you have any suggestions on how I can do this kind of research?

    Do you have something to add to these answers? Want to make contact with the submitter? Just email!

    NEHGS members can view the answers at


    NEHGS Survey Results

    It's time for another roundup of NEHGS survey results! Here are the questions, the results, and comments from our most recent survey concerning the NEHGS eNews. We thank you for participating in our surveys!

    NEHGS eNews Survey Results

    Over eighty-five percent of respondents are members of NEHGS and nearly that number are subscribers to NEHGS eNews. Over ninety percent think the length of eNews is just fine the way it is and over ninety-five percent want us to continue with Friday delivery (as opposed to other days of the week). Your favorite parts of eNews are the announcements of new searchable databases, new research articles, website reviews, and favorite and black sheep ancestor stories. Many of you had little use for the Genealogy in a Nutshell schedules and NEHGS event announcements, as you lived far from Boston, but several acknowledged the value that these programs have for our local members.

    Here is a small sampling of the comments that we received, along with some responses from the editor.

    "The ever expanding research database is the most exciting that's happened in in genealogy in 50 years! Please keep it up!"

    "It's an awesome (dictionary meaning) array of material that may leave other viewers as over-stimulated as I."

    "I love the eNews. It generates questions and other ways to research. One article got me to really study the research articles in depth. I realized what a wonderful resource NEHGS is."

    "It would be helpful to have hyperlinks in the newsletter so I can skip down to the sections that interest me."

    Editor's Note: Consider it done! Thanks for the suggestion!

    "I appreciate the newletter. In general it is the most useful of the email gen. mailings that I receive. I wish that database searches would allow refining of results for time period and locality searching."

    Editor's Note: While you cannot refine the results for time period on the Master Search, you can on most individual database pages. Clicking on Search from the home page, then on the Search Our Databases link will bring you to a page that offers menus of the databases sorted by place, by record type, and an alphabetical list of all of the databases. Clicking on the names of the databases from any of these lists will bring you to the individual database page.

    For whatever reason, my "subscription" to eNews keeps disappearing, and I read it each Friday by going to the archives
    []. Several times I've been reinstated as a subscriber, but perhaps my server rejects the eNews. Anyway, it works for me to get it on the archives. I look forward to eNews every Friday!

    Editor's Note: Thank you for bringing this up, as it is becoming a problem for several subscribers. We use Microsoft's bCentral mailing list tool to send out the eNews each week. I wrote to their customer service department and asked why this was occurring, and they responded with a list of several possible causes:

    • Subscriber's ISP may be blocking the newsletter (spam blocking software, etc)
    • The email was bad or because the system was unable to reach the correct ISP
    • The subscriber might have an issue with his email box size limit (Example:Hotmail has 2 MB limit) and not receiving our email.
    • The ISP may have been experiencing technical difficulties at that time. The subscriber may have a firewall enabled that is preventing mail from going through.

    Here is the interesting part:

    "We would like to inform you that if our system is having a difficulty reaching your subscriber, we will again send your message (three times in a week). If our system is still failed to deliver your message they will be removed from your list and you will receive a list of email addresses that were removed due to bounces."

    It is likely that your server may indeed be blocking the delivery of the eNews. A call or email to their customer service department may give you the answer.

    Stay tuned for more survey roundups in future issues of NEHGS eNews.

    New Nutshell Lectures Available for Loan

    The Circulating Library has just received several new Nutshell lecture audiotapes, which are now available for loan to NEHGS members. To order, visit our online Library Catalog at and search by title, author (speaker), or call number. Do not search for "Nutshell" in the catalog.

    Highlights of Some Unusual Boston Records by Ann Lainhart

    Beyond Clans and Tartans: Scottish Genealogical Research by George F. Sanborn Jr.

    Recovering the Memory of the Hidden People: an Introduction to Estate Papers as Sources for Local History by Dr. Susan Hood

    Jewish genealogy: a Common-Sense Approach to Finding your Ancestors by Alexander Woodle

    Doughboys: Researching World War I Ancestors by David Allen Lambert

    Tracing Present-Day Relatives by David Curtis Dearborn

    Caring for Your Treasured Books by Deborah Rossi

    Researching Connecticut Ancestors by Joyce Pendery

    Overview of Massachusetts State and County Court Records by Elizabeth Bouvier

    As always, if you have any questions about using the Circulating Library, please call our toll-free number, 888-296-3447, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time) or email To learn more about the Circulating Library and borrow books online, please visit


    Images from the Manuscript Collections

    We continue to experience difficulties digitizing the scrapbooks of Capt. George Lane, the missionary of Malaga Island, Maine. We are sorry to say that the publication of this feature will be delayed once again.

    In the meantime, we are pleased to offer the debut of our newest website feature, "Images from the Manuscript Collection. This week we spotlight the silhouettes of two members of the Northend Cogswell family of Berwick, Maine. Both silhouettes were made in 1805. The first is of Northend Cogswell, who was born circa 1762, probably in Berwick. He married Elizabeth Lambert (c1774–1828), possibly of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1794. Northend and Elizabeth had at least seven children: Elizabeth , Charles Northend, Mary Ann, William L., Frederick, Maria, and Maria. The second silhouette is of the second child, Charles Northend Cogswell, who was born April 24, 1799, in Berwick.

    Northend Cogswell died February 12, 1837, at the age of seventy-five and Charles Cogswell died October 11, 1843, at age forty-six.

    View the Cogswell silhouettes 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 and click on "February 2004." Here are some of this month's titles:

    Family tree of the Jewish people [electronic resource]
    Thomas Burr, son of Hingham Centre
    The Descendants of King George I of Great Britain
    Stratford-upon-Avon inventories, 1538-1699
    Unpublished London diaries: a checklist of unpublished diaries by Londoners and visitors with a select bibliography of published diaries
    Men of Bern: the 1798 Bürgerverzeichnisse of Canton Bern, Switzerland
    Prince Estabrook: slave and soldier
    Grand Army of the Republic [electronic resource]: Civil War veterans, Department of Massachusetts, 1866 to 1947
    Vital records of Carmel, Maine to 1891
    Catholic Pittsfield and Berkshire
    Abstracts of wills, estates and guardianships, Cuyahoga County, Ohio Common Pleas Court, 1811-1852

    Massachusetts Genealogical Council Seminar with Helen Leary

    The Massachusetts Genealogical Council will present a full day seminar, on Saturday, March 27, 2004, at the Best Western Hotel, 477 Totten Pond Road, Waltham, Massachusetts. The seminar lectures will be presented by renowned genealogist and educator, Helen Leary, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS. Mrs. Leary has been active in the field of genealogy for more than twenty-five years and has been a professional genealogist since 1978. She frequently gives lectures on a wide range of topics at national conferences, regional and local seminars and historical symposia.

    The first lecture begins at 9:30 a.m., following the Massachusetts Genealogical Council Annual Meeting. You may pick up your registration materials between 8 and 10 a.m. The seminar presentations are as follows: Is This the Same Man, or a Different One With the Same Name; Time-Lines and Real Lives—Using Ancestor's Life Patterns to Find Their Parents; Our Ancestors' Voices—Getting the Records To Tell Us Everything They Know; and The Hemings-Jefferson Connection: A Genealogical Evaluation of the Evidence.

    Members of the Association of Professional Genealogists will serve as luncheon discussion hosts. Names of the discussion leaders and their special areas of expertise may be found on the website. Discussion topics include LDS records; military, Irish, colonial New England, and Jewish research; and the Board of Certification of Genealogists.

    Early registration fees are $40 for members and $50 for non-members. To qualify for those rates your registration must be received by February 29, 2004. The fees for registrations received between March 1 and March 24, 2004, are $50 for members and $60 for non-members. Please note that the deadline for receipt of registrations is March 24, 2004. The buffet style luncheon is included in the registration fee. For more information visit the Massachusetts Genealogical Council website at

    NEHGS Event: Genealogy and Genetics
    April 24, 2004, at the NEHGS Library

    Never has the subject of genetics been more important to your genealogical research! Join us at the NEHGS Research Library in Boston for a one-day program featuring several leading genetics experts in a series of informative lectures and discussions.

    The lectures include Tracking Your Genes in Genealogy: DNA Testing; Designing the DNA Family Study; Surname-based DNA Studies: An Inside View; mtDNA and Y Chromosomal Analyses; and Compiling Your Family Health History. Among the featured speakers will be Dr. John Chandler, New England Ancestors genetics editor and certified genealogist Anita A. Lustenberger, Dr. Thomas H. Roderick, and Dr. Thomas H. Shawker.

    The program will conclude with a panel discussion featuring all of the featured speakers, plus former NEHGS trustee and retired pathologist Dr. Edwin Knights Jr., co-founder of GeneSaver, a DNA preservation service.


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

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

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

    • "Manuscripts: No Longer a Last Resort" by Timothy Salls on Wednesday, March 3 and Saturday, March 6

    • "Getting the Most from Federal Census Records" by Walter Hickey on Wednesday, March 10 and Saturday, March 13

    • Genealogical Armchair Travel to Ireland by Marie Daly on Wednesday, March 17 and Saturday, March 20

    All lectures take place at 10 a.m at the NEHGS Library in Boston. 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.

    Careers at NEHGS

    NEHGS is currently seeking to fill the position of Member Services Assistant in our Framingham office. For more information about this opportunity please visit our careers page 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!

    An Ironic Ancestral Situation

    by Elizabeth Goodfellow Engle of Woodway, Washington

    In August of 1814, two of my kinsmen (one on my mother’s side of the family and the other on my father’s side) played opposing roles—one constructive and the other destructive—during the burning of Washington City by British soldiers.

    Lewis Henry Machen (1790–1863) was then, at age 24, clerk in the office of the secretary, U.S. Senate. The first secretary, Samuel Otis, had died in April 1814, and had not yet been replaced. As no safeguards then existed to preserve documents in case of emergency, Lewis took the responsibility upon himself. “As panic and fear gripped the Capitol,” he and the office messenger, Tobias, hurriedly rounded up the Senate executive proceedings and spirited them away by wagon to Brookesville, Maryland, thus preserving them for future generations.

    At the same time, contributing to the fear and panic in Washington City was Lewis Agassiz (1793–1866), my paternal great-great grandfather. Lewis, age twenty-one, was an officer in the invading British Army in Washington City “where the public buildings, including the Capitol, were destroyed by fire, in which act of devastation he assisted, having been in charge of one of the firing parties.”

    In later years, Lewis Henry Machen married Caroline Webster, daughter of Toppan Webster and Elizabeth Flagg, and sister to Harriet Webster Lalanne, whose daughter (my second great grandmother) Caroline Veronique Lalanne, lived with the Machens in Washington D.C. before her marriage to George Stettinius. From 1836 to 1859 Lewis Henry Machen was principal clerk of the U.S. Senate.

    Lewis Agassiz returned to his home in Essex, England, where he lived out the remainder of his life. But his son, Lewis Nunn Agassiz (my great grandfather, who was an officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers) eventually settled in British Columbia, Canada. Many of his descendants are now U.S citizens.

    NEHGS Contact Information

    We strongly encourage you to email this newsletter to others who might be interested. To subscribe or view back issues of eNews, please visit

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

    To become a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

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

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