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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 15
    Whole #266
    April 12, 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.

    * eNews Survey Update
    * New On
    * NEHGS Seeks Chief Operating Officer
    * NEHGS Offices Closed April 17
    * Massachusetts Historical Society Conference
    * Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Volume 8, Now Available
    * New Genealogies Available
    * Upcoming Education Program
    * Spotlight: Kansas Online Resources
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * Stories of Interest
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations: The Value of Tax Lists, Part III
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    eNews Survey Update

    Thank you to all of those who have responded to our survey on NEHGS eNews. For those of you who have not yet responded, we hope you will take a quick moment to fill out the survey.

    Initial responses included multiple comments about eNews, and we thought it appropriate to elucidate.

    Several readers commented that we have not been publishing lists of new books as we had often done in the past. Over the past few months the technical services staff has been diligently working to launch our new library catalog. During this time we were unable to add new books to the catalog. Among the many features of the new catalog, however, is a listing of new books. The bottom of the search page contains numerous links, including one called New Books, etc. Just visit that link at and get a list of recent library acquisitions.

    Another question was regarding cookies in eNews. We do not use cookies on eNews. We do, however, route our eNews links through the system that we use to mail the newsletter. This allows us to see which links are the most widely read, giving us feedback on what our readers find interesting. No personal information is recorded this way, only the aggregate number of times a link is visited.

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    New On

    Record of Deaths in Boston, Mass., 1799-1825

    This database contains over 8,000 records of death abstracted from three handwritten ledgers kept in a Boston tinsmith's shop that created coffin plates. William Howe (1781-1848) and his father Joseph Howe (1753-1818) operated the shop at 15 Marshall Lane in Boston. The three volumes span August, 1799 to April, 1815; August, 1809 to March 1817; and July, 1821 to July, 1825, respectively. The handwriting in each volume is identical, indicating that these may be a transcription copy of original ledgers. Since the last ledger commences the year after Joseph's death it was probably kept by his son William, or a clerk in their shop.

    The entries include the name and date of the deceased that were inscribed upon the coffin plate. Details on the cause of death appear on many of the later entries.

    These volumes are in the R. Stanton Avery manuscript collection at NEHGS. Call number: [MSS/A/5862].

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    NEHGS Seeks Chief Operating Officer

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society seeks an experienced non-profit manager to bring his or her strategic thinking, positive supervisory style and get-it-done attitude to a key leadership position in this venerable organization in a rapidly-changing field. Necessary traits of the successful candidate are a love of history, the ability to turn ideas into workable action plans and meaningful results, and a broad and deep understanding of the non-profit arena.

    This position is responsible for overseeing all day to day operations of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in support of policies, goals, and objectives established by the CEO and Board of Trustees. He/she will serve as senior administrator for all NEHGS operations, coordinate other senior staff on both planning and Society-wide management issues, and will attend and report at Board meetings. The COO will oversee all NEHGS operations, including libraries, archives, publications, periodicals, information technology, content development, research services, membership, marketing, building management, and sales.

    Fore more information visit

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    NEHGS Offices Closed April 17

    Patriots Day is a Massachusetts holiday commemorating the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first armed conflict of the American Revolution, which began with Paul Revere and Charles Dawes riding through the countryside alerting the colonists. The Boston Marathon is held every year in commemoration of Patriots Day.

    All NEHGS offices will be closed on Monday, April 17 in celebration of Patriots Day. Those of you visiting the research library this week should note that parking restrictions start several days earlier in the Copley Square/Newbury Street area. The library will be open on Saturday, April 15.

    The North of Boston Library Exchange provides information about Patriots Day on their website at

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    Massachusetts Historical Society Conference

    The Massachusetts Historical Society will hold a conference on the environmental history of Boston entitled Remaking Boston: The City and Environmental Change Over the Centuries, May 4-6, 2006 at the Historical Society's building at 1154 Boylston Street in Boston. The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Brian Donahue of Brandeis University. For more information about this program visit

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    Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Volume 8, Now Available

    The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York: An Historical and Genealogical Study of All the 18th Century Settlers in the Patent, by Frank J. Doherty, contains data on more than thirteen hundred families who settled in the Beekman Patent, an original land grant given to Col. Henry Beekman in 1697 by the English Crown and the second largest patent in present-day Dutchess County. Many emigrants from New England lived in and passed through the Beekman Patent on their way west. Volume 8 covers family surnames Lee to Millington.

    All eight volumes, as well as a CD containing volumes 1-8, are available through the NEHGS Sales Department. For more information or to place an order, click on the Beekman Patent link on the homepage at

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    New Genealogies Available

    New From Newbury Street Press
    Descendants of Richard Coman of Salem, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island
    By Shirley Louise Purtell Bickel
    Edited by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG. FASG
    (Newbury Street Press, 2006. Hardcover, 880 pp.; $60.)

    Richard Coman, a tailor, arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in the 1600s where he figures in the witchcraft debacle to a small extent. Although he has an abundant progeny, the family has heretofore occupied only an obscure niche in the genealogical literature. By 1700 he, his second wife Elizabeth (Dynn) Kallum, and his children had moved to North Providence where they intermarried with many well-known Rhode Island families, including the Angells, Tourtellottes, Browns, and Smiths, to name a few.

    This thoroughly documented book, compiled in Register style, follows many daughters' lines for two or three generations. By the mid-nineteenth century few Coman descendants were left in Rhode Island. Some moved to Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and then west. Others went directly to New York and the Midwest, particularly Ohio and Michigan, and on to the West Coast. A substantial subgroup has remained in the Thompson/Killingly area of Connecticut.

    Distributed by Newbury Street Press
    The Ancestry of Samuel Braley Gray and His Wife Bessie Pendleton Benson
    by Ruth Gray (Ashburton Press, 2006. Hardcover, 816 pp., $60)

    The Ancestry of Samuel Braley Gray and His Wife Bessie Pendleton Benson is a genealogical study covering the ancestry of Samuel Braley8 Gray (1881–1961) and Bessie Pendleton9 Benson (1882–1964) of Old Town and Bangor, ME, and their children Samuel Braley Gray, Jr.; George Alexander Gray, 2nd; Eleanor Deane Gray; Ruth Gray; and Deane Benson Gray. Information on earlier generations of two hundred and ten families, mostly of Essex or Plymouth Counties, Massachusetts, is included. Mayflower ancestors are Alden, Brewster, Chilton, Doty, Edward Fuller, Hopkins, Howland, Mullins, Priest, Standish, Tilley, and Warren. Other forebears of interest include Salem witchcraft victim Mary (Towne) E(a)sty (plus Sarah [Proctor] Dodge, sister of accused “wizard” John Proctor, and John Wilde, whose second wife was the executed Sarah [Averill] Wilde), Mrs. Elizabeth Statton Thorndike of royal descent, and presidential forebears or town or colony leaders Henry Adams, Rev. Stephen Bachiler, Philip Delano, Rev. John Lothrop, and Philip Sherman.

    This work is drawn in part from materials found in two steamer trunks belonging to Stephen Deane Benson (1844–1928), who fought in the Civil War from 1861 to 1864; from a small, leather-covered trunk containing the author’s great-great-grandfather’s letters from the 1830s; from a family sampler by Eleanor Deane in 1813; and from family Bibles. Eleven photographs accompany the text. This valuable work profiles an important Maine family, most of whose immigrant ancestors settled originally in Massachusetts.

    Ruth Gray is the editor of Maine Families in 1790, volumes 1 (1988), 2 (1990), and 3 (1992), and compiler of Abstracts of Penobscot County, Maine Probate Records 1816–1866 (1990); Marriage Returns of Penobscot County, Maine, Prior to 1892 (1994); and Vital Records of Old Town, Maine, Prior to 1892 (1996).

    Information about ordering this book can be found 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.

    Come Home to New England
    June 19-24, 2006
    NEHGS invites you to participate in our classic intensive weeklong program Come Home to New England. 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 genealogists and staff 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 of The Bostonian Society’s Old State House museum.

    Registration fee, $720; non-participating spouse, $100. Registration fees increase by $200 per category after May 20, 2006. Space is limited, so please register soon to reserve your place.

    Visit for more details.

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    Spotlight: Kansas Online Resources

    Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies - Kansas Alien Registration Index (
    This database is a county-by-county index to “Enemy Aliens” who registered with the U.S. Marshal in their county of residence from November, 1917, to April, 1918. These registrations were submitted to the Chief Registrar for the District of Kansas. The National Archives, Central Plains Region, provided the information for this index. Once you find a name click on the link to the National Archives Information Locater (NAIL) to search for more information.

    The data fields included in the index are county, city, last name, first name, male/female, date of birth, country of origin, city of origin, maiden name, and whether or not there is a photograph of the individual on file. The actual forms contain additional data on the registrant.

    Douglas County, Kansas, Genealogical Society – Marriage Records 1854-1863
    This database has been compiled from a number of sources, including newspapers and church records. Records of the Douglas County Court were destroyed during the Civil War on August 21, 1863 in Quantrill’s Raid. The data fields include the full names of the bride and groom, date of the marriage, the name of the individual who performed the ceremony, and the abbreviation for the record’s source. A key to the abbreviations is available on the website.

    Phillips County, Kansas, Marriages
    An index to the marriage record books of Phillips County, Kansas covering the period from 1872 through 1924 is available here. These records are indexed by both the groom and the bride. The data fields include the name of the groom, name of the bride, date of the marriage, page and certificate number. The actual records are located in the county courthouse in Phillipsburg, Kansas.

    Flint Hills Genealogical Society, Lyon County, Kansas
    Vital records in Kansas were kept on a county basis until July 1911. You will find indexes to births, marriages and deaths for Lyon County on this website.

    Early Birth Record of Lyon County, Kansas – Volume 1:1885-1982
    Volume 1 of Lyon County births covers the period from October 25, 1885, to January 10, 1892. The index is in alphabetical order by last name. The data includes father’s name, mother’s maiden name, child’s name, and the child’s date of birth.

    Early Death Records of Lyon County, Kansas – Volumes 1 and 2
    Volume 1 of Lyon County deaths covers the period from October 15, 1885, to November 16, 1891. Volume 2 covers the period from January 7, 1892 to December 9, 1899. These alphabetical indexes contain the full name of the deceased and the date of death.

    Early Marriage Records of Lyon County, Kansas, Volume 1: 1885-1887
    This index was compiled from the first volume of marriages recorded in Lyon County between October 25, 1885, and July 1, 1887. It is alphabetical by last name of the groom. The data fields in the index include the name of the bride, name of the groom, places of birth of bride and groom, fathers’ names, mothers’ maiden names, and the date of the marriage. The records contain additional information.

    A copy of the page for a specific record recorded in these volumes may be requested for a small donation from The Lyon County Historical Society or the Flint Hills Genealogical Society.

    Lyon County Marriage Records
    This website contains indexes to Lyon County, Kansas marriages from 1856 through 1919, April 24, 1952 through June 6, 1954, April 21, 1957 through June 2, 1957, and November 20, 1965 through June 22, 1967, as recorded at the Lyon County Courthouse. Copies of the original marriage records may be requested from the Flint Hills Genealogical Society.

    The 1856-1919 marriage records index is alphabetical by last name of the bride or groom and contains the full names of both and the date of the marriage. The original marriage records contain additional information, such as place of residence at the time of the marriage, place of marriage, and the name of the person performing the ceremony. The indexes for the later years are organized alphabetically by groom and by bride. The data fields include the groom’s name, his residence, ages, bride’s name, her residence, age, date of the marriage, minister’s name and affiliation, location of the wedding, who gave consent, and book volume and page number.

    A. N. Wise and Son Funeral Home Records, Americus, Lyon County, Kansas
    This database is an index extracted from the earliest volume of records kept by the above-named funeral home. It covers the period from March 10, 1899, through December 30, 1910. The data fields include name of the deceased, age, date of death, date of burial and record number. The actual records may contain the following information: remains of (name of deceased), ordered by (funeral ordered by), age, disease, death date, burial date, coffin or casket and size, and price of the coffin/casket. Information regarding the cost of “a robe, suit, wrapper, embalming, carriage, flowers, grave, vault, hearse, and chairs with a total cost of the funeral and date of payment” may be found in the record books.

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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 26, 10 a.m., Kenyatta Berry
    Getting Started in African American Research
    This program will focus on four key areas: (a) Slave Genealogy; (b) Finding your ancestors during Reconstruction (beyond census records); (c) General tips and tricks for African American researchers; and (d) Online and Offline resources for genealogical research. Researchers will learn ways to overcome the myth that African American genealogy is impossible prior to 1865.

    Kenyatta D. Berry has been involved in genealogical research for over ten years. She has worked with the African American Roots DNA Project at UMASS Lowell, the Cambridge African American Heritage Trail and the African American National Biography Project at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University.

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    Stories of Interest

    What do pansies, the sewing machine, the telephone, and pigs-in-a-blanket have in common? Find the answer now.

    Apple Macintosh computers will now be able to run any Windows program, making the choice of switching from a PC to a Mac easier for many. Find out more about this remarkable announcement at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    “Recently I have recently been reading Town of Palmer, MA Proprietors Records [FHL #0,947,159]. On page 73, at the top of the page, before talking about surveyed property, it says Kingston. Some other place clues are Swift River bridge, Swift River. My question: since Kingston is clearly on the east coast, and Palmer is in the south, west Central area of Massachusetts, where is this proprietor’s record referring to? The year was 1742.”

    Thank you for your note. On January 31, 1752 a district called "The Elbows" became the town of Palmer, Mass. [Mass. Provincial Laws, 3:599]. The area now known as Palmer was previously called New Marlborough, The Elbow, The Elbow Tract, Kings Field and (more importantly to your question) Kings Town. The reference to Kingston in Palmer is actually to “Kings Town,” an old name for the district. A good reference for these archaic place names is Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities, and Towns in Massachusetts (Boston, Mass., NEHGS, 1997).

    David Allen Lambert is the Society’s Online Genealogist. If you would like to ask him a question, contact him at or visit his blog at For more information about the Online Genealogist visit Please note that he will make every effort to reply to each message, but will respond on a first-come, first-served basis.

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    Research Recommendations

    The Value of Tax Lists, Part III
    by David Curtis Dearborn
    (concluded from eNews No. 265)

    For the genealogist, the poll tax allows us to know how many males of voting age lived in each household, along with the name of the household head. If the household was headed by a male, you can usually expect to find the number of polls to be at least 1. More than one might indicate that the household contained adult sons, an elderly father or father-in-law, or male boarders or hired hands. A household headed by a female may have had no polls, as in the case of the widow Jane Dearborn (who had only a daughter), or one or more polls if there were adult men in her household.

    Tax rolls vary widely in the amount of information they provide. Some list only the number of polls and the amount of tax due for that year. Others are much more detailed. For example, tax rolls for the town of New Durham, New Hampshire in the early 1800s contained the following breakdowns:

    4 years old ditto
    3 years old ditto
    2 years old ditto
    4 years old ditto
    Meat stock – 3 years old
    Ditto – 2 years old
    Stock in trade
    Number of lots in the 1st Division
    Number of acres wild land [in the 1st Division]
    Number of lots in the 2nd Division
    Number of acres wild land [in the 2nd Division]

    Instead of providing dollar amounts, the columns indicate the number of polls in each household, the number of farm animals owned, and the number of acres owned of various types of land. In the columns marked “Number of lots . . .” the number indicated the lot number in that division, not the number of acres owned. This makes it possible to consult a lot map of the town, such as the 1750 map of New Durham reproduced in vol. 28 (between pages 202-203) of the New Hampshire State Papers, to see the precise location of an ancestor’s land.

    In the case of New Durham, the surviving tax rolls are invaluable because the town clerk recorded few vital records in the early years. They may be the only way to show that your ancestor actually lived there, and during what time period. Henry Dearborn of Deerfield, N.H. and Polly Wiggin of Newmarket, N.H., were married at Lee, N.H. in 1801 and had twelve children, all of whose births are recorded in the town records of Corinna, Me., where the couple later lived. Henry and Polly lived in Deerfield until the fall of 1815, when they sold their property there and bought 85¾ acres of land in Lot 2 in the 1st Division in New Durham. Henry and Polly lived in New Durham for ten years and had several children born there, although none are recorded in the town records. However, Henry’s name appears regularly on the New Durham tax rolls for the years 1816 through 1825, with a careful accounting of his acreage and other holdings. In 1825 his property holdings go down to zero, and the only tax he paid was one poll (for himself). The following year he is gone, having moved with his family to Maine.

    The tax rolls help us to fill in an otherwise crucial gap in Henry’s life. His name does not appear in the 1820 Census because the schedules for Strafford County are missing, but we know from the tax rolls that he was in New Durham. There is no evidence in county deeds showing that Henry ever sold his land, but by comparing the 1824 tax roll (the last year in which Henry was taxed on his land) with those for subsequent years, it is clear that Henry divided his real estate into two portions and conveyed them to a Samuel Davis and Betsey Pearl.

    By now I hope you have seen that tax records, especially the property tax rolls kept by New England town clerks, are far from dull, and hold many exciting secrets. Don’t wait until April 15 to take a look for yourself.

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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

    NEHGS eNews, like all of our programs, is made possible through the generous contributions of our members. For more information about giving to NEHGS 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 2006, New England Historic Genealogical Society
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