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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 13
    Whole #264
    March 29, 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.

    * Enhancements to the Register Database
    * New on
    * Don't Forget to Update Your Address
    * NEHGS Member Discount at Family Genealogy Day in Newbury, MA
    * Professional Development Seminar Offered
    * Prepare for the FGS Conference in August
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * Spotlight: Alexandria (Virginia) Library - Genealogy & Local History
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations: The Value of Tax Lists, Part I
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Enhancements to the Register Database

    The Society is always looking for ways to improve, and our members often provide helpful feedback. In response to your input we have made some changes to the search functions in the Register database.

    You will now find “Next hit” and “Previous hit” buttons to the Register image display pages making it easier to progress through a series of search results. Please note that this feature is only available as a result of a Register search, not page browsing. (Until now it was necessary to return to the search results page to get to the next search result.)

    In addition, you can now use either the year or the volume number to display a Register page. Until now this feature would only work with a volume number.

    We hope that you find these new features useful. Please feel free to provide feedback at any time to

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    New on
    The Settlers of the Beekman Patent
    Just added: Carey, Case, Casey, Cash, and Castle families
    This installment continues the sketches featured in Volume 3 of The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Frank J. Doherty's multi-volume study of the settlers of the second largest patent in present-day Dutchess County, New York.

    The original text can be viewed at the NEHGS Library. The call number is F127/D8/D63.

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    Don't Forget to Update Your Address
    from Member Services

    Many members spend time in winter homes, and as we reach the time for the "Modern Great Migration," and people return to other residences, we would like to remind you to notify us of any change of address. Don't miss the April 2006 issue of the Register and the Spring issue of New England Ancestors magazine by forgetting to tell us that you have relocated. Forwarded mail will delay its way to you, and it costs us a great deal to resend out issues for returned mail.

    We need to know which address you'll be at in mid-to-late April and early May. Please email the changes to us at or call us at 1-888-296-3447 Mon-Fri from 9-5 Eastern Time. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

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    NEHGS Member Discount at Family Genealogy Day in Newbury, MA

    Family Genealogy Day at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, Newbury, Mass.
    Saturday, July 15, 2006, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Admission: $15 Historic New England members and NEHGS members, accompanying children free, $25 non-members, accompanying children $12.
    Advance registration is required.
    Visitors may register by phone (978-462-2634) or online at

    A few weeks ago we told you about the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Newbury's early settlers at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm and learn about the families that lived in Historic New England's Newbury and Amesbury properties. We are pleased to inform you that NEHGS members are now eligible for the discounted rate.

    Representatives from the NEHGS and other local and regional groups will be on hand to provide research tips. The event includes house tours, a bibliography of local history & genealogy resources, and information about Historic New England's Newbury/Amesbury properties. For more information, visit

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    HGTV Wants You

    NEHGS recently received the following request from If Walls Could Talk:

    If Walls Could Talk, a long running, hit series on Home and Garden Television, is looking for homeowners in the Massachusetts Area to be featured on the show! If you have renovated a historic home and made any amazing discoveries we want to talk to you. Or if you know of anyone who may fit the show¹s description please let us know. The series premiered in 1998 and has aired over 150 episodes and visited all 50 states since. So if you or anyone you know are an energetic historic homeowners who have found items with interesting stories behind them, please contact research coordinator, Keri Grogan, As Soon As Possible at 303-712-3110 or by email

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    Prepare for the FGS Conference in August

    Here are two helpful reminders for those coming to the 2006 FGS/NEHGS Conference in Boston this summer:

    With our new, improved NEHGS library catalog, you can search ahead of time for a list of items to examine when you visit our library (just blocks from the convention site), then save those searches to your computer or print them out to bring with you. NEHGS will be open to members and conference attendees from 9am to 5pm on Monday, August 28, for those who wish to visit while in town.

    The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has created a conference blog (web-log) where you can access the most up-to-date news and notes about the conference. You’ll find the blog at

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    Stories of Interest

    Scrabble to Save Sioux Language
    Sioux elders are trying to save the Sisseton-Wahpeton language, whose last speaker is projected to die in 2025. Native speakers have landed upon a unique approach to saving the language, using the popular game of Scrabble. Read more about it at

    Burlington, Vermont's Grand Dame of History
    94-year-old Lillian Baker recently gave her last lecture, after over half a century as a historian and author of more then 30 books and pamphlets. Reach more about it

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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: Alexandria (Virginia) Library - Genealogy & Local History
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The Local History/Special Collections Division of the Alexandria Library houses the library’s holdings related to Alexandria and Virginia history, genealogy, and the Civil War. Click on the Genealogy link to access online indexes, including these:

    African-American Voter Registration in Alexandria, 1902 – 1954
    According to the Library’s web site, “Once African-Americans in Alexandria gained the right to vote, they consistently participated in the electoral process.” This database was created from microfilm of the voter registration roll books found in the Local History/Special Collections Division of the library. The original roll books are in the City of Alexandria Archives and Record Center. The database contains approximately 2,100 names. The fields in the database include registration date, last name, first name, birth date, occupation and address. The birth date provided may be complete or may contain the year only. The voter registration rolls themselves contain information, which has not been included in the online database, such as the length of time that a person lived in the state, the county and the city.

    “News of Interest to Colored Readers,” 1927 – 1928
    This database is an index to a column about social events in the African-American community, which appeared in the Alexandria Gazette between August 30, 1927 and June 1, 1928. A young woman by the name of Estelle Lane wrote the column, which appeared in the newspaper for ten months and stopped abruptly for no known reason. Miss Lane reported on vital events, social activities, and cultural events, as well as news of community organizations. The database contains names, activities, newspaper date, page numbers, and, where available, additional information about the person, organization, or event.

    Obituary Index to the Alexandria Gazette, 1916 – 1946
    The obituary index covers the period from 1916 to 1946 and contains over 42,000 records. It begins where the published volume Obituary Notices from the Alexandria Gazette, 1754 – 1915 left off. It includes the obituaries of both local and non-local individuals that appeared in the newspaper. The data fields include last name, first name, death date, publication date, page number, and death year.

    1890 Veterans Census – Northern Virginia
    This database is an index to veterans and widows enumerated in the 1890 Veterans Census who lived in the cities of Alexandria, and Falls Church, Virginia, and in Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford Counties. The data fields in this alphabetical index include last name, first name, company, regiment or vessel served in/on, county and district. A number of Confederate veterans were enumerated and subsequently stricken from the list. Where legible, they have been included in the index. The index also includes a number of United States Colored Troops, primarily living in Alexandria.

    Index to Naturalization Petitions, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandra, 1909 – 1929
    The database includes information extracted from naturalization records for Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford Counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park, Virginia, for the period from 1909 to 1929. The data fields include the petitioner’s name, country of origin, date of naturalization, document number, microfilm reel number and miscellaneous notes.

    Volunteers for Freedom: Black Civil War Soldiers in Alexandra National Cemetery
    This alphabetical database indexes information about the over 250 African-Americans buried in the Alexandria National Cemetery, which was created “after careful review of Volunteers for Freedom: Black Civil War Soldiers in Alexandria National Cemetery by Edward A. Miller, Jr.”

    Also included on the site are databases of Civil War Era Burials in the Alexandria National Cemetery, an index to the 1850 census for Alexandria and Alexandria County, Virginia, World War I Draft Registrations for Northern Virginia, and “The Senior Class;” an index to Alexandria High School Yearbooks, 1919 – 1951.

    Online Exhibits
    The Alexandria Library’s collection of online exhibits includes the following, which may be of interest to individuals with ancestors who served in the Civil War or lived in Northern Virginia:

    Battlefields of Virginia: The May 1887 excursion of the Civil War veterans of the 57th and 58th Massachusetts to the Civil War Battlefields of Virginia as documented in photos taken by Fred H. Foss

    Generals of the Confederacy: Thirty cartes-de-visite of Confederate generals.

    "Give oceans of love to all . . ": Prisoner-of-war letters from Brigadier General Montgomery Dent Corse, CSA, 17th Virginia Infantry to his wife, Elizabeth Beverley. The exhibit also includes his commission as Colonel, Active Volunteer Forces of Virginia, May 17, 1861, and his Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, July 24, 1865.

    Visit the Alexandria Library’s Local History/Special Collections Division 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.

    April 5, Wednesday, 10:00 a.m., Marie Daly
    New Visitor Welcome and Library Tour
    New visitors will be welcomed, given a chance to introduce themselves, meet other new visitors, describe their research and have knowledgeable staff advise them on how to proceed. The thirty-minute welcome will be followed by a tour of the library.

    April 12, Wednesday, 10:00 a.m., David Lambert
    Getting the Most from NEHGS Databases
    With more than 110 million records in our databases, NEHGS is the place to search for your ancestors. Please join NEHGS Online Genealogist David Allen Lambert as he explores the tremendous breadth of the NEHGS databases that are available to members online at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    “According to the census my ancestor was a doctor in western Massachusetts in the 1860. What records can I check for him, and how can I find out where he went to school?"

    In the past I have found that a local town newspaper obituary offers the best biographies of former physicians. If you do not know when he died, you may wish to check the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 database on our website. The local historical society or public library may have a photo or other material on your ancestor. Published town histories may include background about your relative and the medical practice he conducted. In some cases doctors did not get formal training, and were apprenticed to a local doctor in the same town.

    I would also suggest searching The Massachusetts Medical Society, A Catalogue of its Officers Fellows and Licentiates 1781-1893, (Boston, Mass., Massachusetts Medical Society, 1894) [NEHGS: F63/M348/1894]. This book contains an alphabetical listing of doctors who belonged to the Massachusetts Medical Society since 1781.

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    Research Recommendations

    The Value of Tax Lists, Part I
    by David Curtis Dearborn, FASG

    With April 15 fast approaching and 1040 forms to be filled out and returned, we should be reminded that taxes, while certainly a burden to us all, can be a blessing when it comes to revealing information about our ancestors. Regardless of whether your ancestors lived in New England, where even in Colonial days record-keeping was relatively good, or elsewhere (where it may not have been so good) you can be certain that your ancestor was being taxed for something. Times may change, but governments, going back to the days of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, have generally relied on taxation to keep operational and provide essential services.

    Taxes can and are levied by any government entity – federal, state, county or town. When we think of federal taxes, most of us think of the annual federal income tax, but this has been a fact of life only since 1913. For most of its existence, the federal government supported itself through sale of the public lands or by taxation on goods such as distilled spirits, tobacco, corporate bonds, and certain imported goods. What is now the Internal Revenue Service wasn’t created until 1862, when the cost of the Civil War forced the Union government to institute the first, progressive income tax, although this affected only the wealthy.

    Of course, tax records are only of use if they have survived. From time to time the federal government instituted special, one-time taxes, such as the 1798 Direct Tax, which now only exists in fragmented form (for the names on the surviving portions of the schedules for Massachusetts and Maine, go to

    There are few surviving statewide tax lists for the nineteenth century or earlier. One that has survived and has been transcribed and published is Bettye Hobbs Pruitt, ed., The Massachusetts Tax Valuation List of 1771 (Camden, Me.: Picton Press, 1998) [NEHGS call number R.Rm. REF F63/P838/1998], which covers both Massachusetts and Maine but like the 1798 Direct Tax is incomplete, with schedules for many towns missing.

    In New England, the most common kind of tax roll encountered by the genealogist is the property tax roll. These were taken annually by the towns. By the 19th century larger cities and towns began keeping separate ledgers devoted exclusively to tax rolls, but for the most part you will find them mixed in with other types of town business, such as vital records, selectmens’ minutes and records of town meetings.

    Do not expect that you will find tax records everywhere going back to the establishment of records in that town. In many instances, the surviving tax records start many years after town records of other types begin. But where they do exist, they can be very useful.

    to be continued. . .

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2006, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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