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  • 2005 Archive

  • Vol. 7, No. 31
    Whole #230
    August 3, 2005
    Edited by Michael J. Leclerc 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 the link at the bottom of the email and follow the instructions provided.

    * Changes to NEHGS Circulating Library Service
    * New Database: Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910: 1873, vol. 250-258
    * Castle Garden Website Launches
    * NEHGS Education Programs Survey
    * Custody of Massachusetts Vital Records 1911-1915 Transferred
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * Spotlight: Library of Virginia
    * NEHGS CD Sale
    * Upcoming “Genealogy in a Nutshell” Lectures
    * Society to Participate in Boston Charter Day Events
    * Favorite – and Black Sheep – Ancestors
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Changes to NEHGS Circulating Library Service

    NEHGS continually strives to respond to the changing needs of our members and the world of genealogy. In order to focus its resources in an optimal manner, the Society is making plans to discontinue its Circulating Library service in Spring, 2006.

    Keeping on top of current trends in online services, NEHGS will offer other benefits to its members such as HeritageQuestOnline, currently being phased in on the NEHGS website, The Society will also make lectures available for members to download, and provide assistance in helping members locate copies of books previously available through the Circulating Library.

    The Circulating Library Catalog is still available and will continue to be a useful resource even after the NEHGS Circulating Library has closed. The 2-volume catalog, listing over 30,000 titles, is a core reference of resources for anyone doing New England research and genealogical research in general.

    The service will continue to operate until next spring with a few minor changes. Loans will be limited to three books at a time and payment for orders will be by credit card only. The return pouch system will be discontinued and all books will be shipped via UPS and must be returned with tracking or delivery confirmation.

    NEHGS is currently updating its website to reflect changes in its Circulating Library ordering procedures. For assistance with requests from the Circulating Library, please contact NEHGS Member Services toll-free at 1-888-296-3447 (Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm ET) or via email at

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    New Database: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910
    New this week: Records from Volumes 250-258, 1873

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes actual records from 1873 (Volumes 250-258). The indexes, which were previously added to the database, include the name of individual, town or village of event, year of event, and volume and page number of the original record. The records themselves include much more information. 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. Here you will find a link to a chart displaying records currently available.

    The Introduction contains information that will contribute greatly to the success of your searches. It answers common questions about these records and about our database. If you have questions that this article does not address, or if you are having difficulty, please email

    Search the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 at

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    Castle Garden Website Launches

    Millions of Americans are descended from the immigrants who crowded through the gates of Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. Many people are unaware that Ellis Island opened quite late in the nineteenth century, and prior to that time immigrants were processed in other facilities. Castle Garden (formerly Castle Clinton) in the Battery was responsible for handling incoming passengers from 1855 until closing its doors in 1890. During that time, millions of immigrants entered America. In 1896, Castle Garden was converted into the New York Aquarium, one of the first public aquariums in the country.

    The New York Times reports that according to an analysis of census calculations by Joseph P. Ferrie, professor of economic history at Northwestern University, about 30 percent of native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who arrived between 1820 through 1892 through the Port of New York. About 18 percent are related to immigrants who came through Castle Garden and 9 percent to arrivals at Ellis Island during its peak, from 1892 to 1924 (

    The Battery Conservancy was founded as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational corporation in 1994 to rebuild and revitalize The Battery and Castle Clinton National Monument. To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the opening of Castle Garden as an immigration center on August 1, 1855, on Monday the Conservancy launched the new website.

    This website contains transcriptions of 10 million passenger arrivals. There are an additional 2 million names still being transcribed. The site also includes information on the records of the Barge Office, which handled immigrations between 1890, when Castle Garden closed, and 1892, when Ellis Island opened. The noted historian Ira Glazier coordinated the work on transcribing the records, and information from a number of other ports important to his research is also included on the site, but coverage is spotty. No list of which ports and which time periods is available at the moment.

    The Conservancy is investigating the cost of scanning the microfilms of the passenger lists and making the images available on the website at some point, but there are no plans to do this in the immediate future. Unfortunately, NARA reports that the originals are too fragile to be handled any longer. Until images are available online, microfilm copies are available through the National Archives and Records Administration, as well as the Family History Library.

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    NEHGS Education Programs Survey

    We've received some very helpful replies to our current online survey regarding tours and events at NEHGS. We'd like to hear from more people before the survey closes on August 9. If you want to weigh in on where you'd like to see the Society schedule an upcoming event, please visit the homepage and click on the survey link, or go straight to it at

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    Custody of Massachusetts Vital Records 1911-1915 Transferred

    As reported last week on, records of births, marriages, and deaths taking place in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts between 1911 and 1915 were transferred this month from the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to the custody of the Massachusetts State Archives. Records older than 90 years are transferred to the Archives every five years.

    Archives staff are currently reviewing the records and taking care of those needing conservation. They will also be microfilmed for preservation purposes. The records are closed to the public while they are undergoing this process, which will hopefully be completed in a few months. At present if you need to obtain a 1911-1915 Massachusetts Vital Record you will need to obtain it from the town/city it was recorded in. Once they become available, certified copies can be ordered from the Archives directly.

    The vital record indexes for 1911-1915 are in the archives reading room for viewing. You can also review these indexes at NEHGS in the microtext area.

    Visit the Massachusetts Archives online at

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    New England Heritage Series
    Plimoth Plantation – Saturday, October 8, 2005
    Historic Deerfield – Saturday, November 12, 2005

    NEHGS is offering two new one-day fall programs with a focus on daily life in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New England. In October, Robert Charles Anderson, F.A.S.G., leads the first program at Plimoth Plantation, where we can experience the world our Pilgrim ancestors knew at the recreated 1627 Plymouth village and the nearby Wampanoag Indian settlement.

    A month later, we will visit Historic Deerfield in western Massachusetts, where the mile-long Old Main Street is the setting for more than a dozen eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses and the Flynt Center for Early American Life.

    Fall Research Weekend Getaway, October 20-22, 2005

    Treat yourself to Boston in October, and join fellow genealogists for a Research Weekend Getaway. This popular program gives researchers one-on-one consultations with the expert NEHGS staff, informative lectures, and special access to the society’s extensive collections. Past participants have made significant progress on their ancestral puzzles, and enjoyed the opportunity to share discoveries and exchange stories with researchers from across the country.

    Call early to inquire about availability at the Charlesmark Hotel (617-247-1212). Hotel room availability and prices are at a premium during October, the busiest tourist and convention month of the year. The Charlesmark cannot guarantee availability and is not holding a block of rooms for this event.

    For more information on any of these exciting programs, please email tours coordinator Amanda Batey at

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    Spotlight: Library of Virginia

    The Library of Virginia has a wealth of materials of interest to individuals involved in genealogical research and a number of these resources have now been made available online. Click on the 'What We Have" link on the homepage to access the collections. An overview of just a few of the available items follows.

    Business Records and Resources
    Click on the Historical Business Records link to find the following databases.

    Mutual Assurance Society (Richmond/Henrico County, Virginia Policies)
    This index contains insurance policies issued by the Mutual Assurance Society for the period from 1796 to 1867 for buildings in Richmond and Henrico County. Images of the documents are available.

    J. Henry Brown Monuments, Inc. Order Books
    This database is an index to the first three volumes of the order books of J. Henry Brown Monuments, Inc. for the period from 1899 to 1907. The company, located in Richmond, Virginia, manufactured tombstones. The order books contain sketches of cemetery monuments and tombstone inscriptions, as well as the names and address of the individual who ordered the monument. The cards in the index are arranged alphabetically by last name and contain birth and death dates. In some cases family information is also included. The complete collection covers the period from 1899 to 1920.

    L.T. Christian Funeral Home Records Database
    The L.T. Christian Funeral Home was located in Richmond, Virginia. This alphabetical database lists the full names of each client, the year of death or the year the funeral home rendered its services, and data about the box and folder in which this information may be found in the collection. Other services noted in the database, which were rendered by the funeral home, include disinterments and reinterments. The names of infants are recorded along with their parents' names, if known. The collection is located in the manuscripts reading room at the Library of Virginia.

    County and City Records
    Chancery Records Index
    This records index was created from archival processing projects sponsored by the Virginia Circuit Court Records Preservation Program at the Library of Virginia. Through this program each of Virginia's circuit courts is eligible to receive a grant to "process and index the pre-1913 chancery records in the circuit courts clerk's office." These records may contain a great deal of genealogical information. Some cases involve the estates of individuals who died intestate and include lists of heirs and other pertinent information. Other types of cases in Chancery Records include the resolutions of land disputes, settlements of dissolved business partnerships, and divorces. The data indexed in the records will include the locality, index number, names of the primary plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) and surnames of others involved in the case. To search the database you must know the last name of at least one of the parties involved (plaintiff, defendant, or other individuals) in the case.

    Burned Record Counties Database
    This database contains records that were originally recorded by local courts in Virginia, which were destroyed during the Civil War and at other times, as a result of fire or other disasters. The records, primarily deeds and probate records, were found in the course of processing chancery cases and other materials in various localities. The original records have been photocopied and are available in the Burned Records County Collection. You can search this database by locality, name and record type.

    Private Papers and Biographical Resources
    The Private Papers and Biographical Resources collection documents the history of individuals, families, churches, businesses, and organizations of Virginia. These resources contain a wide variety of materials, including architectural plans and drawings, correspondence, diaries, financial records, manuscript notes, Bible records, military records, and tombstone inscriptions.

    Among the biographical resources you will find are S. Bassett French Biographical Sketches, a digital collection of the images of biographical information on nearly 9,000 men, which were compiled by Mr. French between 1890 and 1897. WPA Life Histories are another important biographical resource. This fully-searchable index contains about 1,350 life histories, social-ethnic studies and youth studies. Included in these materials are interviews with more than 50 former slaves, which were created by the Virginia Writers' Project. Images of the documents are available online.

    There are also a number of indexes and guides, including the Bristol Church and Family Cemeteries Index, several family collections, the Dictionary of Virginia Biography - Classified Index and a bibliography of African American Church Histories at the Library of Virginia.

    A visit to this web site is a must for anyone planning to go to the Library of Virginia in the course of his or her research.

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    NEHGS CD Sale

    Enjoy the savings on several of the most popular CD-ROM titles from NEHGS:

    Bible Records from the Manuscript Collection of NEHGS
    Item SCDBR, Was $39.99, Now $24.99!

    Genealogies of the Families of Braintree
    Item SCD-BF, Was $39.99, Now $24.99!

    Records of Barnstable, MA
    Item SCD-RBM, Was $39.99, Now $24.99!

    Vital Records of Springfield, Massachusetts to 1850
    Item SCD-SVR, Was $39.99, Now $24.99!

    Inhabitants and Estates of the Town of Boston and The Crooked and Narrow Streets of Boston
    Item SCD-TH, Was $39.99, Now $27.99!

    Records of the Churches of Boston
    Item SCD-BCR, Was $39.99, Now $24.99!

    New England Marriages Prior to 1700
    Item SCDTY, Was $89.99, Now $44.99!

    Special Torrey Bundle
    Order both the New England Marriages Prior to 1700 CD (regularly $89.99) and the Third Supplement to Torrey's New England Marriages (regularly $35.00) for only $75.00!
    Item SCD-SPECIAL, Reg $124.99, Now $75.00

    Prices are good through Friday, August 12, 2005.

    Take advantage of these special prices now at

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    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. They are 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.

    As a reminder, there will be no Nutshell lectures during the month of August, but please join us for the following regular programs:

    August 3 - Getting Started on Your Family History
    Noon and 6:00 p.m.
    Getting Started on Your Family History is a quick course designed to introduce the beginning genealogist to the main principles of genealogical research. This informative program also includes a tour of the NEHGS library. Classes take place at noon and 6 p.m. If you're in the Boston area, we invite you to just stop by.

    August 10 - Introduction to
    11:30 a.m.
    Darrin McGlinn and David Allen Lambert has grown to include access to over 109 million names in 2,200 databases! Discover the depth of material available on this genealogy megasite. With a site this extensive, it is easy to concentrate on the most popular feature - databases - and overlook the many other valuable resources available elsewhere in the site. All will be revealed in this informative lecture! Learn how to use the new NEHGS website to advance your research! In this free monthly class, NEHGS content delivery specialist Darrin McGlinn and Online Genealogist David Lambert will offer a step-by-step live demonstration of

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    Society to Participate in Boston Charter Day Events

    The Society is proud to be a participant in the fifth annual Boston Charter Day celebration. The celebration, held in the fall to commemorate the granting of Boston’s charter on September 7, 1630, is principally organized by the Massachusetts Historical Society and the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston.

    In addition to NEHGS, the participating organizations this year include the Boston Public Library, First Church of Boston, Old State House Museum, Massachusetts Archives, Boston Stock Exchange, Old North Church, and the Whipple House Museum and Heard House Museum, both in Ipswich.

    Robert Charles Anderson, director of The Great Migration Study Project, will present a combination lecture and walking tour entitled Boston in 1645 on Wednesday, September 7. The lecture will be held at 10:00 am in the Society’s Sloane Education Center. The tour will depart from the Samuel Adams statue in front of Faneuil Hall at 2:00 pm that afternoon.

    For more information about Boston Charter Day events, please visit

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    Favorite – and Black Sheep – Ancestors

    This feature is very popular with our readers, and NEHGS eNews is always looking for stories of interesting ancestors. 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!

    The Money Maker, by Kathleen D. Fenton

    When William L. Weaver wrote the standard genealogy of the Robert Fenton family back in 1867 he called Robert's son, Francis Fenton, Sr., the "Money Maker." Perhaps Francis was, but if so, he was merely following in his father's footsteps.

    Robert Fenton of Birmingham, England, was convicted in Midland Circuit Court in July 1682 and transported to Pennsylvania with some of the earliest settlers. The next year, he was involved in a counterfeiting scheme there. By February 1688 he was in Woburn, Massachusetts, for his marriage to Dorothy Farrar. In 1691 Robert Fenton of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, was sentenced to the pillory for counterfeiting. He moved to Windham, Connecticut, between May 1693 and April 1694. In January 1699, he was again accused of counterfeiting — though he may not have been prosecuted as he made only foreign coins, an activity not then prohibited by Connecticut law.

    Certainly son Francis, born in 1688, was not involved in the first episodes - and it's hard to believe that a 10-year-old had the expertise required for the 1698 counterfeiting! Moreover, contemporary records clearly implicate Robert in all instances. So ALL descendants of Robert (not just those of Francis) can claim a counterfeiter and transported criminal as their immigrant ancestor.

    For more information on Robert Fenton, see Kathleen Fenton’s article in The Connecticut Nutmegger, September, 2004 (Vol. 37, no. 2), pp. 202-212.

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    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

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New England Historic Genealogical Society
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Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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