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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 12
    Whole #263
    March 22, 2006
    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.

    * New On
    * New Research Article On
    * Celebratory Dinner to Honor Ralph Crandall
    * Nominations Sought for Filby Prize
    * New England Ruled the Slave Trade
    * D. Brenton Simons Visits Westwood
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Program
    * Spotlight: Western Michigan Genealogical Society
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations: Family Naming Traditions Part II
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New on

    Social Security Death Index - Free Access
    Updated through February, 2006

    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.

    Data is now current through February, 2006. Access to the SSDI is FREE to all who visit This database now contains the names of over 76,000,000 million individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

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    New Research Article on
    Researching Your Mayflower Ancestors
    Part V: Primary Research: Finding the best records to prove your case.
    By Alicia Crane Williams

    In the hierarchy of documenting a lineage, primary records are the most desirable. Even when secondary sources seem to give reliable information, it is always prudent to track down as much primary documentation to support the secondary source as possible. However, because primary records can be difficult to find, or to understand once found, many people applying for membership in hereditary societies make the error of providing minimal or inadequate primary sources.

    Members can read the article at

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    Celebratory Dinner to Honor Ralph Crandall

    Members and friends are invited to join NEHGS in honoring Executive Director Emeritus Ralph J. Crandall at a celebratory dinner on Sunday, April 23, 2006. It will be held at 6pm at the Harvard Club on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Tickets are $500 for Patrons ($375 tax-deductible) and $350 for Sponsors ($225 tax-deductible). Patrons will be listed in the event program. Proceeds will benefit “Bringing Your Heritage Home: A Campaign for Family and Local History” in the name of Ralph J. Crandall. Please email with any questions about the event or to receive an invitation.

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    Nominations Sought for Filby Prize

    Named for the late P. William Filby, Director of the Maryland Historical Society and author of many outstanding genealogical reference books, the Filby Prize was created and first presented at the 1999 National Genealogical Society's Conference in the States by publisher Scholarly Resources. The prize is awarded annually to a librarian who has made significant contributions to the field of genealogy and local history. The award is now being sponsored by ProQuest Information and Learning.

    The National Genealogical Society, in cooperation with ProQuest Information and Learning, is seeking nominations for the 2006 award. The nominee must have at least five years experience in a public or special library. Past recipients of the Filby Prize review nominations and select the winner.

    Past recipients of the Filby Prize:
    1999: Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Dallas Public Library, Dallas, Texas
    2000: Pamela Hall Cooper, Indian River County Public Library, Vero Beach, Florida
    2001: Martha Henderson, Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, Missouri
    2002: James Hansen, Wisconsin Historical Society Library, Madison, Wisconsin
    2003: Carole C. Callard (1941-2005), Library of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan
    2004: James Jeffrey, Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado
    2005: Ron D. Bryant, Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Parks Department

    The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2006. Visit for criteria and submission information. The award will be presented at the 2006 NGS Conference in the States in Chicago, Illinois, June 7-10, 2006.

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    New England Ruled the Slave Trade

    Slavery conjures images of plantations in Georgia and North Carolina, and people of color picking cotton under a broiling Southern sun. Many people don't realize that Rhode Island was the leader in the slave trade for over 75 years, accounting for 60% of the traffic. The founders of Brown University had large interests in the slave trade, and slave labor was used in construction of the school's buildings. Last week the Providence Journal published a seven-part series by staff writer Paul Davis entitled"The Unrighteous Traffick: Rhode Island's Slave History."

    From Davis' introduction:

    "On sloops and ships called Endeavor, Success and Wheel of Fortune, slave captains made more than 1,000 voyages to Africa from 1725 to 1807. They chained their human cargo and forced more than 100,000 men, women and children into slavery in the West Indies, Havana and the American colonies.

    The traffic was so lucrative that nearly half the ships that sailed to Africa did so after 1787 -- the year Rhode Island outlawed the trade.

    Rum fueled the business. The colony had nearly 30 distilleries where molasses was boiled into rum. Rhode Island ships carried barrels of it to buy African slaves, who were then traded for more molasses in the West Indies which was returned to Rhode Island.

    By the mid-18th century, 114 years after Roger Williams founded the tiny Colony of Rhode Island, slaves lived in every port and village. In 1755, 11.5 percent of all Rhode Islanders, or about 4,700 people, were black, nearly all of them slaves.

    In Newport, Bristol and Providence, the slave economy provided thousands of jobs for captains, seamen, coopers, sail makers, dock workers, and shop owners, and helped merchants build banks, wharves and mansions. But it was only a small part of a much larger international trade, which historians call the first global economy."

    You can read the entire series, and view a multimedia presentation about the slave trade, at Please note: the Journal requires users to register their email for free in order to view their stories. If you are not registered you can do so on their home page at

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    D. Brenton Simons visits Westwood

    NEHGS Executive Director D. Brenton Simons will give a talk on his latest book, Witches, Rakes and Rogues, which includes true stories of scam, scandal, murder and mayhem in Boston, 1630 - 1775, on Thursday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the main branch of the Westwood Library, 668 High St. in Westwood, Massachusetts. For directions or other information about the program, please visit

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    Stories of Interest

    Massachusetts Moments- Maine becomes a State
    Last week Maine celebrated the 186th anniversary of its separation from Massachusetts. Originally a part of Massachusetts, Maine was granted statehood March 15, 1820. You can read about it at To find out more about MassMoments or to sign up for free daily historical essays, visit

    New Homes for Old Barns
    Will your name and your life be used as a sales pitch? Find out more about Brian Dumais and his unique line of work at:

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    What's New in Essex County Research: A Day of Personal Research and Consultations with NEHGS Genealogists
    May 20, 2006 at the Phillips Library of the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem
    Bring your family charts as well as your Salem and Essex County problems to NEHGS staff experts David Dearborn and Christopher Child for their advice and opinions. Our one-day program begins with the lecture "A Cornucopia of Records: Researching Essex County Ancestors," includes time for your personal research and consultations with our expert genealogists, and concludes with a time for sharing the day’s success stories.

    Registration Fees: $95 for members, $115 for non-members.

    Visit for more details.

    Your Family History: Plan Before You Write

    April 8, 2006
    Many genealogists love the research but postpone — or don’t like — writing. Come and hear experienced genealogical writers talk about the benefits of writing up your research, the choices involved, and how to avoid mistakes. The goal of this seminar is to give participants the benefit of other writers’ hindsight! The suggestions and hints presented at this seminar will be helpful to those who wish to leave the results of their research to their families as well as for those who are serious about publishing their family history. Participants will be invited to submit their goals for attending the seminar so that the speakers can try to shape their presentations accordingly.

    Registration Fees: $95 for members, $115 for non-members.

    For more information on this program visit or email Amanda Batey at

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    Spotlight: Western Michigan Genealogical Society
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The Western Michigan Genealogical Society offers a number of searchable databases on its web site. Click on the Databases link on the homepage to access these resources, which include:

    Black Monument Company
    This database comprises an index to the names in the Order Books of the Black Monument Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The records contain the names and dates placed on grave markers ordered from the company. The name of the cemetery in which the marker was placed is also indicated. The database can be searched by the name of the deceased, the name of the person who ordered the marker, and the year in which the marker was ordered. Results include a serial number, date of order, surname, name on the marker, marker ordered by name, address, cemetery name, cost, dates on the marker, and notes.

    Kent County Marriages
    The Western Michigan Genealogical Society is in the process of creating a searchable online database from the early Kent County marriage records index, 1849 – 1929. Currently there are more than 110,000 records in the database. The database can be searched by surname and first name. Copies of the records can be ordered from the Kent County Clerk’s Office.

    Western Michigan Obituaries
    This database contains an index to the death notices and obituaries found in the Grand Rapids Press and Herald, 1910 – 2004 and death notices published in the Rockford Register from 1871. Notices of engagements, weddings and anniversaries published in the Saturday papers since 1988 have also been indexed. The search results include the date that the event was first published in the newspaper, the name of the newspaper, and, in some cases, the page number. Photocopies of the original records can be ordered by completing the downloadable order form.

    Kent School Records
    This index with more than 232,000 names contains names of students and teachers gleaned from copies of the “Annual Statistical Report” of Kent County Schools for the period from 1903 to 1925. The database can be searched by surname, first name, year and township of residence. Ages, birthdates and parents’ names have not been included in the index because many of these people are still living. Search results include Soundex code, surname, first name, year, film number, book, page, and town of residence. Copies of the records are available from the Genealogical Society for $5 per copy.

    Latzek Funeral Home
    This database comprises an index to ten volumes of Latzek Funeral Home Registers covering the period from 1903 to 1962. Data in the registers includes: date of birth and death, spouse’s name, parents’ names, places of birth and death, cause of death, cemetery name, and invoicing information. Many records also include additional information. This database indexes the names of the deceased found in the register and any names included in the register indexes. The volumes have not been microfilmed. They are quite fragile and cannot be photocopied, but the Genealogical Society is willing to view and transcribe records by hand upon request.

    World War One Veterans Census
    This index is a searchable database of veterans of World War I living in Kent County after the war. The information in the records includes veteran’s name, serial number, address, parents’ names, birth date and place, information about the veteran’s military service, and much more. The database can be searched by surname, first name, father’s name and mother’s name. Search results include Soundex code, surname, first name, birth year, father's name, mother's name, place of birth, and film number.

    Veterans Index
    This database lists residents of the Michigan Veteran’s Facility, formerly the Michigan Old Soldiers’ Home, Kent County, Michigan. Currently, the searchable online database is indexed by the names of the women who resided in the facility only. These women were either the mothers or spouses of soldiers. An index to male residents is being prepared and will be uploaded when it is ready. The database can be searched by surname, first name, and by company and regiment.

    The searchable databases on this web site also include indexes to the Kent County 1860 Census; Kent County Farm Bureau News, 1918 – 1926; and two local histories, Chapman’s 1881 History of Kent County and Goss’ History of Grand Rapids and its Industries, 1906. Page images are available for the Goss history.

    Visit the Western Michigan Genealogical Society web site 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 10:00 A.M. unless otherwise stated. Advance registration is not necessary.

    March 25, 10 a.m., Diane Rapaport
    Finding Your Ancestors in New England Court Records
    Court records reveal fascinating stories and genealogical detail about ordinary people, but these valuable resources remain underutilized. Learn how to find and use New England court records, from the 17th to the 21st centuries - in courthouses, archives, books, microfilm, CDs and Internet databases. Diane Rapaport (attorney and author of "Tales from the Courthouse" in New England Ancestors magazine) shares tips from her new book, New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians, and signs copies of her book following the lecture.

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    From the Online Genealogist

    “I am looking for a newspaper for Hyde Park, Massachusetts for the 1880’s. Does NEHGS have this paper? I would like to read this for news stories when I come to Boston this summer.”

    NEHGS does not currently have any holdings for Hyde Park newspapers, and the Early American Newspapers 1690-1876 database on does not cover the timeframe you need. The Microtext Department of the Boston Public Library should solve your problem. Their holdings include the following nineteenth-century newspapers: the Hyde Park Independent (1884 – one year only); Hyde Park Times (1886-1901); and the Hyde Park Gazette (1899-1912). I would suggest consulting the online listing of their newspaper holdings at: We do have copies of the Boston Evening Transcript, Columbian Centinel, New York Times and Boston Pilot for selected years in the Microtext Room on the 4th floor of the NEHGS Research Library.

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    Research Recommendations

    Family Naming Traditions, Part II
    by Julie Helen Otto
    (continued from eNews 262)

    Political events. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon was told me years ago by Bill Powers of Acton, Mass., who told me of Federal Constitution Vanderburgh (1788-1868, known as “Federal C.”), son of James and Helena (Clark) Vanderburgh of Beekman, N.Y. In the year of his birth the Constitutional Convention was the great current event, and a family friend suggested the name to the newborn’s patriotic parents. (His mother balked at the middle name “Constitution,” so in the end they just went with the initial.). In the late eighteenth century, some Vermont boys ran an extra hazard: at least two were named for Col. Udney Hay of Underhill, Vermont, a childless Scot (named by homesick parents for their native parish in Aberdeenshire, and/or perhaps a maiden name) who served on the Continental side. Among these boys were my great-great-great-uncle Udney Hay Penniman (1796-1862) of Colchester, Vermont (whose mother was the widow of Col. Hay’s old friend Ethan Allen), and (on other side) a distant cousin, Udney Hay Everest (1785-1845) of Shoreham, Vermont (and his son Udney Erastus Everest).

    Favorite authors. The DAR Patriot Index will tell you that the wife of Dr. James Potter (1736-1804) of New Fairfield and Sherman, Conn., was Abigail “Boerhave,” since the couple had a son Herman Boerhave Potter (1786-1804) who died within days of his father. No, this patient lady was Abigail Barn(e)s (1744-1817), whose husband was what I term a “wild namer” in that his children’s names reflect paternal reading matter. Had the DAR ladies seen a complete list of the Potters’ progeny they would have learned all about Dad’s tastes in literature – as well as daughters Armida (a seductress in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso) and Philomela Potter (a character in Greek mythology), and sons Milton and John Locke Potter. Other sons were James Addison Potter (apparently honoring the essayist Joseph Addison) and William Cicero Potter (named for the Roman orator, not a known relative), as well as poor Herman. His name memorializes Dr. Hermann Boerhaave (d. 1738) of Leyden, Holland, whose six volumes of doubtless sparkling medical prose formed part of Dr. Potter’s estate inventory.

    Literary characters. Several years ago a researcher came to me with a new breakthrough in her worst brick-wall family. After years of fruitless effort and dead ends she was thrilled to learn that the middle name of her ancestor Charles G. Somebody was “Grandison.” She was filled with new hope, but frustrated by the absence of this name from New England or New York records. I had to break the news that the elder Somebodys had named their son for the hero of Sir Charles Grandison (1753/4) by the great English novelist Samuel Richardson (1691-1761).

    Lastly, some years ago I found what must be the ugliest colonial name—my guess at its etymology reads simply “something in Greek????” The unfortunate bearer was Mnetriphantheaum (Allen) Church (Mansfield, Conn. 20 Nov. 1756-Burlington, Otsego Co., N.Y. 28 July 1840), daughter of Hezekiah and Sarah (Cushman) Allen of Mansfield. Despite her ungainly name, she managed to marry, at Mansfield, Revolutionary soldier Amasa Church (1754-1839), on 22 May 1777; both lie buried “in the old churchyard cemetery in the village of Burlington,” Otsego Co., N.Y. (NEHGR 98 [1944]: 357; see also John A. Church, Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass. [Rutland, Vt., 1913], pp. 125-26). Strangely, I know of no namesake daughters. My question of 1999 still stands: What were her parents thinking?

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2006, New England Historic Genealogical Society
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