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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 7
    Whole #258
    February 15, 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
    * One More Love Story
    * Part Three of “Getting Started In Genealogy” Now Online
    * Volunteer at the AAM Conference
    * A Unique look at Historic and Contemporary Rhode Island Ancestors
    * National Archives Presents Free Genealogy Lectures
    * NEHGS Celebrates Benjamin Franklin
    * Upcoming Education Program
    * Praise for eNews Spotlights
    * Spotlight: Waterford [Michigan] Township Public Library
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations:Tips for Transcribing and Abstracting Records
    * NEHGS Photodupe Overstock Sale
    *NEHGS Contact Information


    New on

    Marriage Records of Castine, Maine, 1804-1817
    Grace Limeburner of Brooksville, Maine, transcribed these 136 marriage records in 1947. A note in the beginning of the manuscript reads: "Persons reading these records should also read the records of Penobscot and of Brooksville. A portion of the town of Penobscot was incorporated as Castine in 1796. Brooksville was incorporated in 1817 - and included that part of Castine east of the Bagaduce River."

    The original volume is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections, call number ME CAS 11.

    Social Security Death Index - Free Access
    Updated through January, 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 January, 2006. Access to the SSDI is FREE to all who visit This database contains the names of 75.5 million individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

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    One More Love Story

    We thought the glow of the national holiday of love could spill over an extra day and bring you another love story from one of our members.

    After becoming interested in family history at the age of 11, my grandmother told me about my great-great-grandfather, Charles F. Staples, who met his second wife, a nurse, while he was ill and in the hospital. I always found this to be a very romantic story that may have been embellished over the years and I never figured that I would ever be able to prove that this was how they met. However, several years ago a cousin sent me a newspaper clipping that announced their marriage:

    Cards announcing the marriage of Hon. Charles F. Staples, Dakota county, and Miss Vera Emily Brown of the Marlborough, St. Paul, were received today in St. Paul.

    Mr. Staples' colleagues in the state warehouse and railroad commission offices were frankly astonished today when the square white envelopes were handed about to the office staff. Through all the capitol a ripple of pleasant excitement followed the trail of “ cupid messages” -those dull, white envelopes.

    Mr. Staples had taken no one into his confidence about his matrimonial plans. Miss Brown, or Mrs. Staples was equally reticent. Thursday Mr. Staples spent most of the day at his office in the capitol. The bride-to-be was at her apartments in the Marlborough, nobody even suspecting that she was preparing for the wedding which took place at 6 o¹clock that night in the study of Dr. Maurice D. Edwards, Dayton Ave, Presbyterian church.

    Although he devoted so much time to the service of the state in the matter of railroad rebates and warehouse commissions and though he was in the pre-convention days of last summer a gubernatorial possibility, Mr. Staples found time in his busy life to entertain the Dan Cupid and his courtship was distinctly romantic.

    Mr. Staples, rumor has it, met his bride several months ago when he was seriously ill at a local hospital.

    Mrs. Staples, a professional nurse, attended him. Their acquaintance "ripened into love," they became engaged and a few of their friends were told about it, but their plans were kept quiet, and Thursday there was a very small wedding at Dr. Edwards' study. Mr. and Mrs. Staples have gone to Washington and New York on a wedding trip.

    Mr. Staples is a native of Dakota county and has always lived on the Staples farm on the Dodd road about five miles from St. Paul. He has been a widower for the last four years. He has a son and a daughter. The latter, Miss Edith Staples, is a school teacher. [He actually had two daughters.] Mr. Staples has served several terms in the state legislature, and he has been a leader for several years in state politics.


    Charles and Vera Staples were married on 1 October 1908 in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. Charles served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives, was known as the person who "bested' James J. Hill of the Great Northern Railroad, and later was Director of Valuation of the ICC. Charles descends from Peter Staples of Kittery, Maine.

    - Julie Dresser

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    Part Three of “Getting Started In Genealogy” Now Online

    “More Steps,” the third installment of “Getting Started in Genealogy,” Marie Daly’s excellent three part tutorial for beginning family historians, debuts this week at We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on these online “Genealogy in a Nutshell” lectures from eNews readers and others who are finding the presentations to be well organized and informative.

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    Volunteer at the AAM Conference

    Join the celebration! The Annual Meeting of the American Association of Museums will take place in Boston, April 27 through May 1, 2006, at the Hynes Convention Center. This is the 100th anniversary of AAM, and organizers expect more than 10,000 museum professionals to come to Boston for this meeting.

    The conference is in need of volunteers, and invites your participation. Join colleagues from major Boston museums and other cultural organizations. For every four hours that you volunteer, you'll earn a one-day complimentary pass to the conference sessions and MuseumExpo.

    Learn more about this opportunity and register to volunteer online at This site contains information about volunteering and allows you to sign up for specific jobs at specific times. For further information about the conference, please visit

    If you have any questions, contact Cynthia Robinson, AAM Local Conference Volunteer Coordinator, at 617-589-4458. We hope to see you there.

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    A Unique look at Historic and Contemporary Rhode Island Ancestors

    The following website offers a look at a fascinating project, Descendants 350 by photographer/historian Tom Chambers. In his words:

    This photo album of descendants of many of the first settlers of Rhode Island pays tribute to the trials and tribulations that their ancestors were subjected to during the early to middle 1600s. It offers a unique look and study of the state's early history as it relates to images of descendants (contemporaries) as icons or symbols to pay tribute to and talk about their ancestors' (first settlers') contributions through text extracted from The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (and other sources). This contemporaneous approach resurrects the past through the present: discussion of ancestral contributions to the state's development via historical text and visualization of their descendants, today (1986), through documentary photography to bring forth those founding bloodlines, and to offer to the viewer a likeness or similarity of features between the Descendants and their Ancestors. This project was funded by Providence 350, Inc. as a part of Rhode Island's 350th Anniversary Celebration, 1986.

    View this fascinating documentary at When viewing this project, scroll horizontally to view the photographs and stories, and then vertically to read more about the project.

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    National Archives Presents Free Genealogy Lectures

    The National Archives-Northeast Region in Waltham is offering free genealogical lectures and behind the scenes tours. Participants will learn how to locate records and what types of information can be found in the records. Offered on Tuesdays from February through April, these lectures and tours are free and open to the public.

    February 28: Local History in Federal Records
    March 14: Revolutionary War Records
    March 28: "Dear Mr. Secretary": Letters to the War and State Departments
    April 11: Census, Naturalization & Passenger Lists
    April 25: Passenger Lists and Canadian Border Crossings

    Tours start at 1:30. Lectures start at 2:00. The National Archives is located at 380 Trapelo Road in Waltham, Massachusetts. For additional details, or to register, please call (866) 406-2379. Space is limited to 20 participants for each lecture and tour. Light refreshments and coffee will be served.

    The National Archives in Waltham has almost 30,000 cubic feet of archival material dating from 1789 to the 1970s, These records were created or received by the Federal courts and over 80 Federal agencies in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

    Its regular hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., and the first and third Saturday of each month 7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., excluding all Federal holidays.

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    NEHGS Celebrates Benjamin Franklin

    As part of this year’s tricentennial celebration of Benjamin Franklin’s birth in Boston, NEHGS Executive Director D. Brenton Simons will take part in a marathon reading of the honoree’s Autobiography and other writings. The event takes place on Thursday, March 2 from noon to 5 PM at The Old South Meeting House in Boston. Brenton is scheduled to read at 1 PM.

    Franklin’s connections to Boston’s Old South Meeting House are numerous: he was born on January 17, 1706 on Milk Street, and was baptized in the original 1669 cedar South Meeting House. His parents continued to worship there long after Franklin left Boston for Philadelphia at the age of seventeen. Among the works being read in addition to his autobiography will be his “Silence Dogwood” letters, written at the age of sixteen for The New England Courant, and his political essays.

    We hope local NEHGS members can join in the celebration of one of America’s most beloved and colorful figures. Details on the event can be found at

    Any participant who remains for the full five hours will receive a free bound copy of Franklin’s writings and membership to Old South Meeting House.

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    Upcoming Education Program

    Research Week in Washington, D.C.
    March 5 – 12, 2006
    The Library of Congress (LC) has been added to our upcoming tour to Washington, D.C. Combined with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Library of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Washington, D.C., we will visit three of the major genealogical repositories in the United States. NEHGS staff will be available at each site for a week of intensive genealogical research and consultation, and the staffs of the three libraries will review the rich resources available for program participants. There will undoubtedly be new and interesting accessions to consult at each repository. The LC, NARA, and DAR libraries hold much unique content not available in Boston or Salt Lake City, and the trip to Washington, D.C., will offer participants a rewarding research experience.

    Accomodations at the Hotel Washington are no longer available, but participants can still sign up for the commuter rate, which does not include lodging.

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

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    Praise for eNews Spotlights

    Thank you so much! I don't know why the NEHGS, based in New England as you are, chose to highlight the Alachua County, Florida Archives online, but I am thrilled, because my ancestors didn't all stay in New England. I hadn't known of the existence of this resource until last night, when the eNews came. Within minutes I discovered both a treasure and a mystery. There before my eyes was my black sheep great uncle's marriage certificate! Now I just have to figure out why it says he was 21 years old when all other evidence I have says he would have been 16 at the time....

    Linda Wightman

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    Spotlight: Waterford [Michigan] Township Public Library

    The Waterford Public Library is located in Waterford, Michigan, approximately 40 miles northwest of Detroit. The library’s website contains a number of online databases focused on Waterford and Oakland County in the Genealogy and Local History section. If your family lived in or passed through the Waterford area you should check out the library’s databases.

    Newspaper Indexes
    The databases include indexes to Marriage, Death and Probate Notices from nineteenth century Pontiac, Michigan, newspapers. The data fields for the Death and Probate Notices indexes include last name, first name, date, and newspaper. The data fields for the Marriage Notices index include surname, given name, spouse’s surname, spouse’s given name, date of the notice, and newspaper abbreviation.

    There are also two indexes containing Oakland County Obituary and Death Notices for 1999 and 2000, which have been compiled from the Oakland Press and its predecessor, the Pontiac Press.

    1850 and 1860 Censuses for Waterford Township
    You will find transcriptions of the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Population Censuses for Waterford Township, as well as a transcription of the 1850 Agricultural Census for the same locale. All data fields from the original censuses have been transcribed here, including page and line numbers. To find someone in these databases, you will have to browse through them, as they are page-by-page, not alphabetical databases.

    Other Indexes
    Waterford Township Cemetery Index, ca. 1820 – 1990
    The cemetery index includes the names of individuals buried in five Waterford Township cemeteries – Waterford Center Cemetery, Drayton Plains Cemetery, Crescent Hills Cemetery, Waterford Village Cemetery, and Four Towns Cemetery. The index covers the period from 1820 to 1990. The data fields include last name, first name and cemetery name.

    Oakland County Pioneer Death Index
    This database was compiled from annual reports of the deaths of residents of Oakland County who were members of the Michigan Pioneer Society. The data fields include last name, first name, age at death, date of death and Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections volume number.

    Waterford Biographies
    This database contains transcriptions of biographies of residents of Waterford (circa 1903), as well as those of former residents, found in the “Biographical record; this volume contains biographical sketches of leading citizens of Oakland County, Michigan . . .” (1903).

    In addition you will find an index to Waterford Township Landowners, 1857, which is a list of landowners in Waterford Township taken from an 1857 Oakland County Plat Map, indexes to Business Notices from Waterford Township and Waterford Township Villages, 1872, from the Oakland County Atlas, and more.

    The holdings also include digitized maps of Clintonville, Drayton Plains, Waterford Township, and Waterford Village from the Beers 1872 Atlas of Oakland County, Michigan.

    Visit the Waterford (Michigan) Township Public Library 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 4, 10 a.m., Marie E. 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.

    March 18, 10 a.m., Marie E. Daly
    Getting Ready for Your Research Trip to Ireland
    So you are planning a visit to the Old Country, and you want to look up your Irish roots while you are there. NEHGS Irish expert Marie Daly will outline what you need to know before you leave, what Irish resources are available in the U.S., and where you should focus your research efforts in Ireland.

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    From the Online Genealogist

    “I cannot locate the exact date of my great-grandmother's birth in Belmont, Maine. I need this document to join certain organizations. I have a copy of her marriage certificate and various censuses showing her living in Medford, Massachusetts with her family, but nothing for her birth. The Town Clerk wrote me and said that the clerk had the files at home and they were destroyed in a fire in the early days. I am looking at a time period of 1811-1858.”

    The town and vital records of Belmont were in fact burned in an 1855 fire. Surviving records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library and include: Minutes of town meetings; Bills of sale; Marriage records 1840-1848 and 1852-1877; intentions of marriage 1855-1876; land sales; boundaries; jurors; roads; schools; taxes. This can be found on FHL Microfilm #10,569.

    The Higginson Book Company published Belmont, Maine: The First 100 Years by Isabel Morse Marsh. A description of the book can be found at You can order a copy of the book, available for $69.50, directly from Higginson at This book is not yet available at the NEHGS research library.

    I would also advise checking the 1810, 1820, 1830 census records for the community your ancestress lived in. You may find clues to her parentage. Checking the Waldo County, Maine probate and deed records might verify her parents names. The NEHGS research library has a microfilm copy of Maine Old Cemetery Association records which may assist you on related Belmont families. Also, I would advise you to see what churches were active in the time you need. A local historian in Belmont may be able to assist you in this search. A baptismal record may serve as an answer to the birth record which was burned. I would also advise contacting the town clerk for a letter to submit with your application documenting the destruction of the records.

    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

    Tips for Transcribing and Abstracting Records
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Transcribing and abstracting records is one of the major parts of genealogical research. It is critical to be able to read and understand the language of many different types of documents. There are many different forms available for transcribing records, but I find that too often they try to come up with a single template for many different record types. I prefer to transcribe records directly into a word processor for ease of use. The data from your word processor can later be pasted into your genealogy database program in the appropriate section.

    While one can write word for word transcriptions straight out, it is often the case that it takes two or three (or more) readings of a document before all of the words are deciphered. Before starting the transcription, set your line spacing to double or triple. When keying the words into your word processor, try not to stop the momentum if you get stuck. When you have difficulty reading a word, simply type in an underscore and space for every letter you think you are missing, and continue on. These can appear in the middle of a word, such as mo_ _ y, or for an entire word if you cannot decipher any letters on your first pass, such as _ _ _ _ _. Once you have finished your first pass, you can now print out your transcription.

    Sometimes a simple read-through of what you were able to decipher on the first read-through makes it easier to find a word, as you can now put it in context. If you still cannot decipher the word after two readings, try another technique. Use a pencil and try to write out the word on a blank piece of paper, making it look the way you see it on the original. If this still doesn't work, make a copy of the original and trace right over the letters with your hand. Do this two or three times, then move your pencil to a blank sheet of paper and make the same motions. Often the movement of your hand over the letters will trigger your muscle memory and you will be able to determine what the letters are.

    Of course, if you are transcribing records from a much earlier time period, the muscle memory routine may not work. Letters were formed much differently in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries than they were in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are numerous books on deciphering handwriting in these earlier times, and a basic understaing of how letters were formed will keep you from many transcription errors.

    If you have to translate a document from a foreign language that you do not read or write well, try writing or typing out each line of the original document word for word. Try your best to maintain the line breaks of the original. Leave three blank lines between each original line. Use this blank space to type or write in the English translation of that word from a dictionary.

    Remember that languages rarely translate word for word. Use this technique to get a sense of what the document is saying, then translate it into the proper English. And remember that not all words are translatable. Many words, especially legal terms, may not have an English equivalent, but you can describe them in terms of a similar English word. For example, an arpent is a French unit of land measurement. In the United States we traditionally measure our land in acres. So one could translate a document describing an ancestor's land holdings as follows:

    Joseph Lavallée owned 563 arpents of land in St. Ours. French arpents are about .85 acres in size, making his land equal to about 479 acres.

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    NEHGS Photodupe Overstock Sale

    The NEHGS Sales department has an overstock of certain photoduplicated titles that have been priced to move! Prices have been cut by as much as 80% on over 150 separate titles, including both family genealogies and town histories. We have a very limited quantity of many of these titles and orders will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. The sale price is good only for the titles we already have in stock. For a full list of titles available during this Overstock Sale, along with information on how to order, please send an email with the words "OVERSTOCK SALE" in the subject line to

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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
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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