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  • 2005 Archive

  • Vol. 7, No. 16
    Whole #215
    April 20, 2005
    Edited by Daniel L. d'Heilly and Valerie Beaudrault

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This newsletter has been sent to people who asked to receive it. If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address, please click on this link, and follow the instructions provided.


    * Coming Soon: A New Online Library Catalog
    * Celebrate Patriotism with Free Online Access to Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850
    * New Database on NewEnglandAncestors.Org
    * New Research Article for Members on NewEnglandAncestors.Org
    * Spotlight on State Libraries and Archives: Texas
    * You Can Buy or Borrow
    * Research Opportunities
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * Preview the April Issue of Register
    * From the Volunteer Coordinator
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestors
    * NEHGS Contact Information 


    Coming Soon: A New Online Library Catalog
    NEHGS has had the same automated library system for twenty years - a very long time in computer-software years. There is a wealth of new technology available today that would bring us the improvements and enhancements our genealogical researchers require, such as:

    - Ease of use
    - Personalization
    - Flexibility
    - Powerful searching
    - Access to more content
    - Improved display 

    To make this new technology a reality at NEHGS, we need help from all of you who care about the Society's reference library collections and the access you have to them.  

    Please help us bring this new tool to you through a tax-deductible donation to the Society's Library Catalog Project.

    Please call 617 226-1217 or 617 226 1238 for more information or to make a gift or pledge.  


    Celebrate Patriotism with Free Online Access to Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850

    In recognition of Patriots' Day this week, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is offering free online access to the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (MVR) database for three days - beginning immediately and continuing until Saturday at noon. If you are not yet a member, but want to spend some time researching your pre-1850 roots, this is a unique opportunity.

    Patriots' Day commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord which took place on April 19, 1775. A state holiday in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin, Patriots' Day is also known for the running of the Boston Marathon. NEHGS would like to invite patriotic genealogists (and loyalists too, for that matter) everywhere to use this special database to rediscover another piece of their Yankee heritage.

    To participate, click here to go to our launch page, where we will offer you more information and ask you to fill out a short online survey. From there, you will click through to the MVR database where you may search to your heart's content. 

    We invite you to forward this offer to a friend. 


    New Database on


    Social Security Death Index - Free Access. Updated through April 1, 2005

    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.

    Note: Access to the SSDI is FREE to all who visit This database contains the names of more than 73,644,336 individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965. Search this database at



    New Research Article on

    Researching Your Mayflower Ancestors
    Part II: Who Came on the Mayflower: Separating the Facts from the Myths
    By Alicia Crane Williams  

    "If all the people who have been claimed to have come on the Mayflower to New England in 1620 actually had come on that boat, it would have sunk mid-Atlantic. Likewise, all the ink used to write about the ship and her passengers in the succeeding 385 years could have floated her back to England. A great deal of what has been written is mistaken, imaginary, or outright fraudulent. So how do you know what is correct? 

    The best place to start..." is at  


    Spotlight on State Libraries and Archives: Texas

    The Texas State Archives collects and makes official records of the Texas government and other significant historical resources available for research. A number of these resources may be accessed via the Archives and Manuscripts homepage on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission web site Click on the Finding Aids link to locate the links to these resources.

    Map Collection
    This searchable database contains descriptions of more than 8,000 maps that cover the period from the early seventeenth century through the late twentieth century. Search results comprise a list of relevant maps. Click on map number links to bring up the descriptions of individual maps. The information provided includes the map number, date and title; publisher and/or cartographer; size and scale, format, type of map, donor, language and a list of related maps. In addition, there are approximately 700 digital images of maps in the collection.  

    Republic Claims
    The database forms an index to papers submitted to the Texas Comptroller or Treasurer as documentation of goods or services provided to the government during the era of the Republic of Texas, 1835 - 1846. The index contains more than 48,500 names. The search results provide links to digital images for each claim. Examples of services provided to the Republic for which one could expect payment include military service or association with any military engagement during the period, attendance in an official capacity at a convention, or services as a witness in a county court case, to name a few. The record groups include Audited Claims, Republic Pensions, Public Debt Claims, and Unpaid and Miscellaneous Claims. As each record group contains very different types of papers, it is important to read the introduction to and overview of the database before beginning your search. 

    Confederate Pension Applications
    The Confederate Pensions database is an index to the 54,634 approved, rejected and home pensions issued by the government of Texas between 1899 and 1975. The index provides names, county of residence and pension number. You should note that this database does not include all Texas residents who served in the Confederacy as Texas, like most southern states, only awarded pensions to veterans or their widows residing in Texas since 1880 who were disabled or indigent.  

    Adjutant General Service Records
    This database contains official service records from the Adjutant General's Office and files created by other agencies, which contain information related to an individual's military service. Fifteen military organizations are represented in this database. The records cover the period from 1836 through 1935. The information in the files may include measurements of uniforms, payments for mustering in, warrants of authority, individual equipment records, general orders, oaths of allegiance, pay vouchers, powers of attorney, and discharge verifications. These documents have been scanned and saved as PDF documents. They are formatted to print on standard letter size paper. 

    Confederate Indigent Families List
    In 1863, the Texas Legislature passed an "Act to Support the Families and Dependents of Texas Soldiers." The Act set aside funds to be paid to the families, widows and dependents of soldiers who were at the time serving in state and Confederate military forces or of soldiers who had been killed or disabled. This database is an index to county-wide lists of the dependents of the soldiers and their dependents who were eligible for assistance. Not all counties collected this information. The information varies from county to county and may include the name of the soldier, currently in service, disabled or killed in service, unit, and acting head of household in addition to the number of dependents, which is always included.  

    If your family history research takes you to Texas, a visit to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission web site might be in order. Visit  


    You Can Buy or Borrow

    On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes rode from Boston to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the approaching British Redcoats. Stories and poems of these men stir Americans' souls. On the anniversary of this famous date that marks the beginning of the Revolution, you can read about these patriots and their families in the following volumes borrowed from the Circulating Library - - or bought from our online store at  

    Genealogical History of Henry Adams of Braintree P3002000 - CS71/A2/1898
    History of the Adams Family P4 H00252 - CS71/A2/1893
    Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines P4 H07821 - CS71/D269/1931
    William Dawes and his Ride with Paul Revere P4 H07827 -
    Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence B26207300 - E21/P96/1997/v1  

    Available only from the Circulating Library  

    "The Revere Family" in the New England Historical Genealogical Register (Oct 1991) - F1/N56/v145
    "Founders and Patriots: Researching Notable Early Americans" Sound Cassette of a Nutshell Lecture by Gary Boyd Roberts (for Patriots' Day 2004) - CS69/R77/2004  


    Research Opportunities

    - Come Home to New England this Summer!

    We invite you to participate in our classic intensive week-long program "Come Home to New England" this summer. There are currently two programs scheduled: June 19-26, and July 31-August 7. Visit for more information 

    Research your roots with our help at the extensive NEHGS Library, one of the finest facilities for genealogical research in the country. Whether you are a first-time participant or have enjoyed this program in the past, you are sure to benefit from a visit to our library. We hope you will come spend this time with our staff and librarians as they welcome you "home" to New England. 

    Enjoy a week of guided research in our library, personal one-on-one research consultations, morning lectures, and special access to the library when it is normally closed to the public. The lectures will include a tour of NEHGS which introduces first-time researchers to the library and updates long-time participants on the latest resources. This year's Come Homers can opt to take part in an optional tour and lecture at the Boston Public Library to learn about its vast genealogical resources. 

    - "Digging for New York Ancestors"April 23 - Program Full, Registration is Closed

    - NEHGS Research Tour to Salt Lake City

    Please Note Date Change: previously announced as October 16-23, 2005, the new date for this program is October 30 to November 6, 2005. This date change will allow us to avoid a huge city wide convention which will be held the week of October 16. For more information and fees, please email Amanda Batey at  


    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures

    Our "Nutshell" lectures explore a wide range of research skills and sources and are free and open to the public. Offered in the Richardson-Sloane Education Center at 101 Newbury Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:15 A.M. unless otherwise stated. Advance registration is not necessary 

    April 27, 30 - Scanning 101 - Doug Sisko, NEHGS Staff
    Are you intimidated by your computer? Do you have many family photographs that you would like to include in your genealogy? NEHGS computer expert, Doug Sisko, will demystify the process of scanning your family documents into digitized files.

    May 4, 7 - Records from the Ivory Tower: Researching in Academic Institutions - Laura Prescott, NEHGS Staff
    New England is blessed with hundreds of colleges and universities that offer genealogically useful library collections. For those institutions that allow public access, their regular and special collections can be treasure troves of information for family historians. NEHGS Marketing Director, Laura Prescott, will discuss identifying these academic libraries, and will highlight the some of their materials of interest to genealogists.  

    May 11 - Oral History - Verify It! - Richard Hite, Rhode Island State Records Coordinator
    One of the first steps in compiling a family history is to interview your relatives. But frequently family historians have been lead down the wrong path by the exaggerations, misconceptions and outright lies in their Aunt Tillie's version of the family history. Please join Richard Hite, State Records Coordinator at the Rhode Island State Archives, as he discusses the value and drawbacks of using oral history, and the need to verify the information we receive from relatives.  

    May 18, 21 - Grandpa in Your Pocket: Using High-Tech Devices to Simplify Your Research - Dick Eastman, NEHGS Staff
    With the current explosion of portable computer devices, laptops, PDA's, Blackberries, and even cell phones, genealogists are finding that they can do much more than manage calendars. NEHGS computer expert, Dick Eastman, will discuss the use of these devices for genealogical research.  

    May 25 - Walking Tour of the Massachusetts Transportation Library - TBA
    Unknown to many researchers, a state library open to the public lies within walking distance of NEHGS' doors. Devoted to maintaining information about the region's transportation systems, the Transportation Library houses many records and books of use to family historians. Whether you are a train aficionado, a genealogist wondering where some ancestors lived, or just plain curious about this unusual library, please join us in the NEHGS lobby at 10:15. We will walk 4-5 blocks to the State Transportation Building in Park Square to visit and tour this nearby facility.  


    Preview the April Issue of Register

    As time marches on, there are more and more books, CDs, websites, and periodicals containing material that might help us, directly or indirectly. More places to look may mean more success - or simply more places to look and find nothing. That is the paradox of current research. Rarely, if ever, will you open an issue of this journal and find an article about one of your brick wall families. Yet the indirect answers to some of your brick wall problems for New England, at least, are in the pages of this journal. See what relevant sources our authors have used in their articles - and seek out those sources. Notice how authors have pieced together an identification or tracked a migrating family. Allow yourself to be reminded of small, but potentially crucial, examples of human behavior.  

    For instance, in the Parker-Hickok article in this issue, a widow, Sally (Pierce) Hickok, remarried in the late 1840s. She was mentioned only once with her new husband, Mr. Hamilton. By the time of the 1850 census she had reverted to the name Hickok which she used for the rest of her life. One of her daughters appeared with her in the 1850 census as Candice M. Hickok but in 1880 the same daughter appeared as Maria Hickok, using her middle name as her first name. Do you find similar naming "events" in your own research? 

    For all the readers who have given up hope of finding a wife's maiden name in colonial Massachusetts, we present the lead article, part 1 of Marriages Noted by the Rev. Cotton Mather and His Son, the Rev. Samuel Mather, Boston, Massachusetts, 1655-1737. The author, Sally Hill, discovered at the Massachusetts Historical Society a small book kept by Cotton Mather (and continued by his son, Samuel Mather) listing the members of the Second Church in Boston and, for female members who married after joining, their new married surname. This article lists only these female members. Thirty percent of the marriages are new, usually giving a maiden name to a woman whose maiden name was previously unknown. Some of the new marriages are childless marriages of widows and widowers, but their marriages are new information nevertheless. All marriages noted took place in Massachusetts, most in Boston. 

    Because of the incompleteness of Massachusetts vital records in the first half of the nineteenth century, family Bibles may be the only source for a name, a date, or a relationship. Nevertheless, questions may still remain, as in the case of A Brown - Pratt Bible: The Enigma of Martha Pratt's Identity. For Martha Pratt the Bible provides dates (birth, death, two marriages) and the names of two husbands. But we do not know the names of her parents or even if Pratt was her maiden name. 

    In a familiar scenario, two Parker families interacted in the mid-nineteenth century - and descendants assumed they were related. By careful research, author Marjean Holmes Workman determined the correct Parentage of Lucinda Parker, Wife of Heman Hickok of Connecticut, New York, and Ohio. The crucial document, an 1852 letter, had been published in a poorly-regarded Parker genealogy, but it effectively provided a research outline for this article that also identifies Lucinda's eleven children and their spouses and children. 

    Sometimes there is no compiled account of a family -- and sometimes there are many, all of which must be reviewed. Such was the case with the family of Mary (Mapes) Wines, Daughter of Thomas1 Mapes of Southold, Long Island, New York. The author located and compared eight compiled accounts of the Mapes family. The truncated will of Thomas1 Mapes could have been a problem, but fortunately, a transcript was made before 1940 -- and there was other evidence to support the previously incompletely documented identity of Mary Mapes' husband as Samuel Wines. 

    In her ongoing series on Massachusetts and Rhode Island families with the surname James, Marya Myers presents New Information on William2 James of Newport, Rhode Island, Mariner. Besides combing the Register, the Great Migration volumes, and other published sources for information, she has made excellent use of original material in the Newport Historical Society and other Rhode Island repositories. Readers with Rhode Island problems would benefit from reading the footnotes for this original material. 

    The second (and final) part of the 1776 Census of Providence, Rhode Island, lists the inhabitants of the west side of the city. At the end of the article, the author gives a valuable list, "Sources for Providence Residents, 1749-1798." 

    We conclude Burial Records from the Account Book of Thomas Clap of Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1762-1797, and we look forward to receiving an article that makes use of these records! 

    The Society's 2004 Annual Report appears at the end of this issue. We welcome the opportunity for members to see themselves in the long lists of supporters of NEHGS. 

    Henry B. Hoff, Editor 


    From the Volunteer Coordinator's Desk

    Volunteers, and Potential Volunteers, are Invited for a Brown Bag Lunch, Thursday April 28!

    We are having a "volunteer brown bag lunch" on Thursday, April 28th - 12:00 noon - at the NEHGS facility, 1 Watson Place, Framingham, 508-877-5750. Michael Leclerc, Director of Special Projects, and a renowned genealogy speaker, will join the group to discuss his work as well as answer genealogy questions from volunteers. This should be a lively and enjoyable time for all. 

    Any NEHGS member who lives within commuting distance of Framingham and is considering becoming a volunteer is very welcome to come to this lunch. You will meet interesting people, tour our Framingham resource center, and learn more about volunteer opportunities at NEHGS. Just bring a sandwich - we will provide the dessert and beverages. Please contact me at: or call at 617-226-1276. 

    Thank you, 

    Susan Rosefsky  


    Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestors

    Our stock of stories is getting low, so if you would like to contribute a short story on an interesting ancestor, please draft a piece that is 300 words or less, and send it to If your story is selected, it may be revised for length and clarity. Thank you to all past and future contributors! 

    Last week, we offered a very short version of an ancestor piece submitted by Pete Coggeshall ( We received over 3 dozen requests for the entire document. Mr. Coggeshall also wrote to say that we should have included another quote in the eNews version. He thought it important because it supports a perspective on the early Massachusetts Bay Colony that is not universally appreciated. 

    The leaders, such as Winthrop, Dudley, Endicott and the Rev John Cotton were strongly opposed to democracy, were zealous to prevent any independence in religious views, and had no trust in the people at large." quoted from History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, by Samuel Greene Arnold, 1:14ff  


    NEHGS Contact Information

    We 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

    Copyright 2005, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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