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  • 2005 Archive

  • Vol. 7, No. 41
    Whole #240
    October 12, 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.

    * D. Brenton Simons Named Executive Director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society
    * Meet the New Executive Director of NEHGS at Boston Area Book Events
    * New Databases on
    * Hartford County, Connecticut, County Court Minutes, Volumes 3 and 4, 1663-1687, 1697
    * New Article by Gary Boyd Roberts
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * Spotlight: Georgia Archives
    * Census Index CDs on Sale
    * Upcoming “Genealogy in a Nutshell” Lectures
    * Favorite – and Black Sheep – Ancestors
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    D. Brenton Simons Named Executive Director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society

    The board of trustees of the New England Historic Genealogical Society is pleased to announce that D. Brenton Simons will succeed Ralph J. Crandall as executive director of the organization, effective December 1, 2005.

    Brenton Simons, who was appointed the organization’s first chief operating officer in December 2004, has been on the Society’s staff since 1993. He was unanimously elected by the board of trustees after a national search was conducted in conjunction with the firm of Susan Egmont Associates. “Brenton Simons is uniquely qualified to lead the Society into the twenty-first century,” stated Ralph J. Crandall. “I congratulate the Board of Trustees on selecting such an able new leader, who possesses a great understanding of the Society and the field of American genealogy.” On his appointment, Mr. Simons said “I am deeply honored to be selected as the Society’s next executive director. I hope to continue the many successes achieved by Ralph Crandall over more than twenty years and build upon the Society’s great heritage of genealogical excellence.” The position of executive director (called librarian prior to 1973) was established at the Society’s founding in 1845.

    During his tenure, Mr. Simons has overseen numerous areas of the Society’s operations. He expanded the Society’s educational offerings, established the Newbury Street Press in 1996 and New England Ancestors magazine in 2000, and launched the organization’s first content-based website in 2001. He is also the author of several books, including most recently Witches, Rakes, and Rogues, a collection of nonfiction stories about early Boston published by Commonwealth Editions. In 1997 he published a compiled genealogy, The Langhornes of Langhorne Park, and in 2002 was the originator and co-editor of The Art of Family: Genealogical Artifacts in New England. His articles have appeared in Ancestry, Folk Art, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine. A native of New Haven, Connecticut and a graduate of Boston University, he lives in Boston.

    Dr. Crandall, who has served as executive director since 1982, has had a distinguished career at NEHGS, during which he oversaw the growth of the organization’s endowment to $17 million and the expansion of its membership to nearly 21,000. After December 1, he will become executive director emeritus and head a special project for NEHGS in collecting and organizing New England town and family records. Dr. Crandall will be honored at a banquet in Boston next spring.

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    Meet the New Executive Director of NEHGS at Boston Area Book Events

    NEHGS members are invited to meet the Society’s incoming Executive Director, D. Brenton Simons, who will be speaking at several locations in the greater Boston area this fall on his new book, Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem, in Boston, 1630-1775. The September-October issue of Ancestry magazine calls Simons’s collection of nonfiction stories “both riveting and entertaining … get the real story behind some of the most notorious people you may never have heard of.” Witches, Rakes, and Rogues is available from NEHGS; to order call toll-free 1-888-296-3447 or order online at


    Schedule of events:

    Friday, October 21, 4 p.m.
    Lecture and book-signing at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 101 Newbury Street, Boston

    Wednesday, October 26, 3 p.m.
    Lecture and book-signing at Linden Ponds Retirement Community, 300 Linden Ponds Way, Hingham, MA

    Friday, October 28, 6 p.m.
    Book-signing, Appleton Bakery Cafe, 123 Appleton Street, Boston

    Saturday, October 29, 2 p.m.
    Book-signing, Borders Books and Music, intersection of Route 128 and Route 114, Peabody, MA

    Monday, October 31, 12:15 p.m.
    Lecture and book-signing at the Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington Street, Boston

    Wednesday, November 16, 6 p.m.
    Reading and book-signing at the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston

    Saturday, November 19, 2 p.m.
    Book-signing, Borders Books and Music, Cambridgeside Galleria, Cambridge, MA

    Tuesday, November 22, 12:30 p.m.
    Book-signing, Borders Books and Music, Downtown Crossing, Boston

    Thursday, December 1, 7 p.m.
    Book-signing, Harvard Coop, Harvard Square, 1400 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA


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    New Databases on
    New this week: Volume 10, 1993

    From 1983 to 1999, the NEHGS Nexus newsletter presented a variety of research articles from genealogists, authors, and staff librarians, as well as Society happenings, genealogy news, queries, and reviews. Here you will find new volumes added on a regular basis.

    Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910
    Just Added: Records for 1880, Vols. 313-321

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes actual records from 1880 (Volumes 313-321). 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

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    Hartford County, Connecticut, County Court Minutes, Volumes 3 and 4, 1663-1687, 1697
    transcribed and indexed by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG

    Hartford County court records begin in June 1663, first as a continuation of the Connecticut Colony court records but then in 1666 as a county court. These records deal mainly with debt and land disputes as well as probate matters, but many other items appear: theft, troubled marriages, illegitimate children, constables appointed, older men freed from training, young men disturbing the peace, sales of cider to the Indians, and so on. The record books have two sides. One side has probate documents such as wills and inventories, and the reverse of the book contains the minutes of the court.

    NEHGS recently published some of the minutes as Hartford County, Connecticut, County Court Minutes, Volumes 3 and 4, 1663-1687, 1697, transcribed and indexed by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG. (Volumes one and two are the old Connecticut Colony records.) In 1687 Governor Andros closed the court, and book five continues later. However, a few documents generated in 1697 were left out of their proper place and copied onto the blank pages at the end of the curtailed volume four.

    The Connecticut State Library has granted permission to publish these records as a book (but not electronically). To make it easier to determine whether or not this book would be helpful to you, the Society has made the index available online at It includes many subject headings as well as names. Page numbers in the index refer to the published book. The original records appear on Family History Library microfilms 0,004,572 and 0,004,550, both available in the microtext department at 101 Newbury Street.

    This new book is on sale now through October 19 for 10% off.
    Hardcover, Item S50102000, reg. $30.00, now $27.00
    Softcover, Item S50103000, reg. $19.00, now $17.10

    Order now at


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    New Article by Gary Boyd Roberts
    Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources #78
    by Gary Boyd Roberts
    Ten Further Hollywood Figures (or Groups Thereof)

    In the last several columns I covered the New England and some other ancestry of a wide variety of Hollywood figures—Carole Lombard, Jane Wyman, Rhonda Fleming, Janet Leigh, and Jamie Lee Curtis (col. 73); Richard [Tiffany] Gere (col. 74); and Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Tom Hanks, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Keanu Reeves, Henry Fonda, William Holden, Vincent Price, and Christopher Reeve (col. 77). In columns 73, 74, and 77, moreover, I list a group of “lesser” or “minor” Hollywood, television, or theatrical figures whose ancestry I have also traced—again, with the help of several Internet colleagues (Reitwiesner, McClure, Martindale, van de Pas, Battle, and Larsen). These figures include producer Leland Hayward and his daughter Brooke, author of Haywire and wife of actor Dennis Hopper and orchestra leader Peter Duchin; Robert Montgomery and his daughter Elizabeth; Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgwick; the Baldwin brothers (Alec, William, Stephen, and Daniel); Patrick Swayze; John Lithgow; and Leonard Franklin Slye, the cowboy Roy Rogers. A pre-1978 Cash and Buffington genealogy by Ben Le Grande Cash, on p. xx, covers the known patrilineal ancestry of country singer Johnny [John R.] Cash. From Rhonda McClure’s website we can trace a relatively small part of the New England ancestry of Spencer Tracy, and the fine new LeRoy genealogy covers the distinguished New York ancestry of Helen Schermerhorn Morris, current wife of director Martin Scorsese and great-great-granddaughter of both a Newbold and two sisters of the Mrs. Astor (Caroline Webster Schermerhorn) of the “400.”

    Read the entire article at

    In celebration of Gary's achievements at the NEHGS, we are offering free access to all of GBR's columns for a limited time. Read all of his articles at

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    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.

    Here is what one member said about her experience at a weekend research getaway:

    “The NEHGS programs are a very special experience for me. The Society is a double treasure for anyone with northeastern US ancestors. The collections are the most comprehensive to be found. Additionally, the open stack and self-photocopying privileges are almost unique in any repository and such a time saver while researching. An equally important treasure is the NEHGS staff! The resources that they add to your research are incalculable! Their ability to analyze your research problem and lead you to the relevant sources is amazing; in fact, they normally jump up from the desk and reappear from the stacks with all the applicable materials. The staff assistance and expertise makes your own research so much more effective. I can attest to numerous areas of research that I accomplished only because of the staff's expertise. I would encourage anyone who is considering attending a NEHGS research program to do it soon. It will be a memorable and rich research experience."

    For more information on this exciting program, please visit email Amanda Batey at

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    Spotlight: Georgia Archives

    The Georgia Archives has a growing online collection of historical documents. You can access these collections from the home page. Clicking on the Headlines link will bring you to a page with links to the following collections: Colonial Wills, Confederate Pensions and the Virtual Vault.

    Colonial Wills, 1733 - 1778
    This collection contains wills made during the Trustee period, 1733 to 1753, and the period from 1754, when Georgia became a royal colony, through 1778. Each will in the collection includes "the name of the testator, the date and residence of the testator when the will was written, bequests, and any instructions regarding the estate of the decedent." Many files include attestations of the will, which contain the date the will was proved and/or the date the will was recorded. In some cases there are also codicils, letters of administration, warrants of appraisement, and estate inventoried. There is a simple search feature, including first and last name search boxes.

    Confederate Pensions
    Georgia first gave pensions to maimed Confederate soldiers in 1877. Over time the pension law was broadened to include other disabled and indigent soldiers. In 1890 the indigent widows of Confederate soldiers who had died in service or as a result of their service were also allowed to receive pensions.

    Pension application files can include the following documents: applications, correspondence, affidavits, receipts, transfer of assignment of pension funds, and military records. Information in the pension applications usually includes the soldier's unit, date of enlistment and discharge, disabling wounds received, length of residence in Georgia, and residence, state of health and value of personal property at the time of filing the application for a pension. For widows' pension applications, the information includes the husband's name, name of his unit, date of marriage, husband's death date, and her means of support.

    The documents in the pension database are indexed under the most complete version of the name of the person receiving the pension. Records are regularly being added to this online collection.

    The Virtual Vault
    The Virtual Vault is a searchable database containing images of documents and photographs related to Georgia's history. The state has a long-term plan to digitize specific items, such as county and district plat maps, to include them in the Virtual Vault. Other items have been added on a more ad hoc basis, such as digital copies of photographs ordered by patron or documents scanned for exhibit displays.

    The database may be searched by keyword, including search fields such as date, caption, description, and significance. Database users can also browse through the Vault by category. Some of the categories into which the Virtual Vault has been organized include Geographic Area, Topic, Time Period, and Record Type.

    The subcategories under Geographic Area include city, county, Georgia, and other areas outside the state. There are eleven Time Period subcategories from the Colonial period (1732 - 1763) to the Modern Era (1946 - present). Examples of documents from the Colonial period include "An Account of the Battle of Bloody Marsh," circa 1742; "Estate Papers of Neale Napleton," 1760; "Original Grantees of the Colony of Georgia," 1733; and the "Record of the First Council Meeting of Governor John Reynolds," 1754.

    Under Record Type, you will find many maps from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One map, the "Doodle" plat, is a circa 1784 map of land in Georgia granted to William Few. In addition to the property lines and other pertinent information, the map includes 'doodles' of a hunter, a stag and land surveyors drawn by an unknown individual.

    To explore these resources visit the web site of the Georgia Archives at

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    Census Index CDs on Sale

    Pick up some US Census CDs at terrific prices. There are LIMITED QUANTITES on all of the CDs, so orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last.

    1850 U.S. Census Index: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT
    Item CD-AN1850NE, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1850 U.S. Census Index: New York
    Item CD-AN1850NY, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1860 U.S. Census Index: CT, ME, MA, NH, VT
    Item CD-AN1860NE, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1860 U.S. Census Index: New York
    Item CD-AN1860NY, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1880 U.S. Federal Census Index
    Item CD-AN1880, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: CT, RI
    Item CD-AN1920CTRI, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: MA (Except Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth & Suffolk Counties)
    Item CD-AN1920MA, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: MA Southeast (Includes Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth & Suffolk Counties)
    Item CD-AN1920MASE, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: NY State East (Except Long Island and New York CIty)
    Item CD-AN1920NYSE, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: NY State West
    Item CD-AN1920NYSW, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: VT NH ME
    Item CD-AN1920VTNHME, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: NY City Brooklyn Borough
    Item CD-AN1920NYCB, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: NY City Manhattan Borough
    Item CD-AN1920NYCM, Was $19.95, Now $12.95

    The following are available as DELUXE CDs, which allows you to view the original census image online for any record contained on that CD (Internet access required):

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: CT, RI DELUXE
    Item CD-AND1920CTRI, Was $49.95, Now $24.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: MA (Except Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth & Suffolk Counties) DELUXE
    Item CD-AND1920MA, Was $49.95, Now $24.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: MA Southeast (Includes Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth & Suffolk Counties) DELUXE
    Item CD-AND1920MASE, Was $49.95, Now $24.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: NY State East (Except Long Island and New York CIty) DELUXE
    Item CD-AND1920NYSE, Was $49.95, Now $24.95

    1920 BASIC U.S. Census Index: NY State West DELUXE
    Item CD-AND1920NYSW, Was $49.95, Now $24.95

    Sale prices good through October 21, 2005, while supplies last.

    To find further descriptions of these items or to make an order, please go to Orders can also be made by calling toll free at 1-888-296-3447.

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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 10:00 A.M. unless otherwise stated. Advance registration is not necessary.

    October 13, 2005, 2 p.m., Boston Public Library staff
    Genealogy and Family History at the Boston Public Library
    The Boston Public Library has extended a special invitation to NEHGS members for a genealogical tour of this world-renowned library in Copley Square. "Genealogy and Family History at the Boston Public Library" an orientation and tour of the Boston Public Library's resources, will be presented by Henry Scannell, Curator of Microtext, and Marta Pardee-King, Curator of Social Sciences. Participants can meet at NEHGS at 1:45 p.m., or proceed directly to the Dartmouth Street entrance to the McKim building at 2:00 p.m.

    October 19, 10 a.m., David C. Dearborn, FASG
    Strategies for Internet Research
    The Internet has profoundly changed the way we search for our ancestors. Despite the tremendous power of Internet search engines, genealogists must sift through mounds of unhelpful sites to find the genealogical gems. NEHGS genealogist David Dearborn will call upon his years of experience in mining for ancestors, and guide patrons through his private collection of really useful Internet sites.

    October 21, 4:00 p.m., D. Brenton Simons
    Witches, Rakes and Rogues
    While the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 are well-known to the public, few people realize that colonial Boston experienced a series of witchcraft trials and other demonic episodes throughout the seventeenth-century. Come hear the author of Witches, Rakes and Rogues: Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775 – NEHGS Chief Operating Officer Brenton Simons – as he demonstrates convincingly that the narrow, twisting streets of colonial Boston were crawling with suspected witches, murderers, impostors, con men, and other blackguards. Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing after the talk.

    October 29, 10:00 a.m., Marilynne Roach
    The Salem Witch Trials
    Marilynne Roach will present an overview of the Salem witch trial tragedy of 1692 with genealogical asides on the cast of characters. Ms. Roach - writer, illustrator, and member of NEHGS – investigated a sizeable part of the twenty-seven year project that became The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege. Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing after the talk.

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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!

    My Favorite Ancestor, by Denise Plested, San Antonio TX

    Undoubtedly, my favorite "ancestor" is an indirect one, being the brother a direct ancestor, Bethia Hutchins, who married Dudley Ladd.

    Levi Hutchins was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1761. Levi and his younger brother Abel were clockmakers, and today I would like to be able to afford to own one of their clocks. I have read in several accounts that Levi devised an ingenious clock that would actually sound an alarm to awaken him. Sounded like a good idea to him, and the clock worked well, but there was never a patent, and so it has become a part of our lives, for good or evil, without credit to him.

    Levi Hutchins leaves behind not only his clocks for those who are fortunate enough to own one, but a charming autobiography detailing family statistics and movements and day to day activities, "The Autobiography of Levi Hutchins," with additonal notes by his son. I thank them both for the genealogy and a good story!

    I was REALLY surprised when my youngest child brought the story home in his Weekly Reader many years ago. The name was incorrectly "Hutchinson", but it was our Levi!

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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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