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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 9
    Whole #260
    March 1, 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 Online Research Article
    * Steve Morse Adds New Tools
    * D. Brenton Simons on WUMB's Commonwealth Journal
    * Call for Ancecdotes about your Irish Heritage
    * Editorial on Vital Records Access from In These Times
    * Favorite and Black Sheep Ancestors
    * Upcoming Education Program
    * Spotlight: Tacoma [Washington] Public Library
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * Stories of Interest
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations: Researching US Naval Vessels
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New on

    The Diaries of the Rev. Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1762-1806
    Just added: 1794
    The Rev. Thomas Cary (1745-1808) started his diary in Weston, Massachusetts, in 1762. He wrote his notes opposite the pages of An Astronomical diary: Or, Almanack for the Year of Our Lord CHRIST 1762 which he “bot at Mr. Philips.” His entries are sparse but invaluable. He continued his diaries until 1806, two years before his death.

    The original diaries are kept in the R. Stanton Avery Collections at NEHGS, call number MSS 640. The database contains transcriptions of Cary's notes, done by Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, CGL, FASG, as well as images of the diaries. Additional years are added regularly.

    The Settlers of the Beekman Patent
    Just added: Carman, Carpenter, Carr, Carscadan, and Carver 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 or borrowed by NEHGS members via the Circulating Library through April, 2006. The call number is F127/D8/D63.

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    New Online Research Article

    Ruby Coleman talks to us about Outsmarting the Census Enumerator, Transcriber, and Indexer in the latest research article on

    The United States census was not created with the genealogist in mind. The first census was taken in 1790, according to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. The purpose was for the reapportioning of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and direct taxes. However, it is can be used to provide clues and significant information pertaining to individuals and families.

    If researchers would keep track of positive finds on the United States census in conjunction with negative finds, they would soon realize that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Even so, we tend to get upset when an ancestor is not discovered on census records.

    Read the entire article at See other articles by this author at

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    Steve Morse Adds New Tools

    Steve Morse is at it again. He has added another batch of new tools to his website The federal lists of passengers arriving at the port of Boston are in two groups: 1820-1891 (NARA Microfilm Series M277) and 1891-1943 (NARA Microfilm Series T843). These two film series are now indexed and available on Morse's tool allows you to search both databases at the same, and to do so more efficiently.

    He has also created a once-step form for searching, a personal information database for locating individuals. Morse's work on better searching passenger list and census indexes has dramatically increased search results for those who use his tools. His tools are especially helpful for searching those with Eastern European and Jewish roots, whos family names are easily mistranslated in indexes, or contain so many legitimate spelling variations as to create an untenable search situation.

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    D. Brenton Simons on WUMB's Commonwealth Journal

    NEHGS Executive Director D. Brenton Simons was interviewed by Barbara Neely about his latest book Witches, Rakes and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775 on Commonwealth Journal, an award winning weekly, half-hour public affairs radio program that discusses topics of particular interest to Massachusetts listeners through an exploration of Massachusetts culture, history, politics, art and science.

    The program will air this Sunday, March 5, on WUMB (Boston), 91.9 FM at 7:30 AM and 7 PM, and will also be broadcast on several other Massachusetts stations throughout the week. The list of stations can be found at . For those interested in hearing the interview online, streaming instructions can be found on WUMB’s home page

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    Call for Anecdotes about your Irish Heritage

    While some believe the appropriate celebration of St. Patrick's Day - which fast approaches - is to quaff dubiously colored beer and wear verdant clothing, we believe it would be much more interesting to focus on our Irish roots. We invite you to send us brief anecdotes about your Irish ancestors, or interesting tales of what you've discovered about those ancestors through your NEHGS research. We'll share as many as we can in the St. Patrick's Day week issue of eNews. Submissions should be 200 words or less and can be sent to

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    Editorial on Vital Records Access from In These Times

    Much has been said recently about the fedreal government's attempts to close vital records access to the public for 70-100 years after vital events. In These Times contributor Terry J. Allen uses a story in Vermont to illustrate another reason why closing these records is bad for society. Read the article at

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    Favorite and Black Sheep Ancestors

    The Secrets of a Lifetime: 86-year-old shares tale of crime, shame, abandonment and silence
    By Hank Seaman

    Embezzlement, desertion, bigamy, rags to riches ... Leland W. Hall tells a story that reads like super-charged fiction. Then again, the great real-life tales always do. Now nearly 86 years old, Mr. Hall is anxious to have the facts known. Why does he want to tell this story now? "I'm on my last legs now and I want to get this huge weight off my shoulders. When I was growing up, you couldn't talk about this type of thing. I'm trying to relieve my mind of pent-up emotions."

    Third of six children, Leland Hall was a boy of nearly 8 in 1922 when his father, Clarence Stillman Hall, got himself embroiled in a $6,000 "discrepancy" at the Taunton automobile dealership where he was employed. To make matters worse for Leland's mother, Lucietta, "dad left before the last child was born. We had to sell our furniture. I remember mother saying she didn't know what we were ever going to do."

    "My older brothers took it hard. My [maternal] grandparents took it extremely hard. I only found out after Dad died (in 1966) that he wanted her to abandon us kids, leave us all at home and join him there in Dallas but she wouldn't do it." Divorce was out of the question. Consequently, when his father changed his name to Clarence S. Hamilton and married another woman in 1928, he was still legally married to Leland's mother.

    "He was very successful in Dallas, becoming the leading Chrysler distributor in the U.S. Later he became chairman of the board of the Empire State Bank. Not only did he make good for that missing $6,000 but he also started sending money to my mother for all the kids. My mother told us to never tell anybody, anything. Period," he says. Curiously, when it came time for him and his three brothers to attend college, their father helped each of them monetarily, but refused to help their sister. All told, Leland only saw him a handful of times after he left Raynham.

    When Clarence Stillman Hamilton died in 1966 it was a big deal in Texas, rating a huge news obituary in The Dallas-Times Herald, the state's largest newspaper. Indeed, the president of Southern Methodist University officiated at his funeral services. His father left over $3 million to various charities and civic organizations, but nothing to his children.

    "The only reason we didn't contest it was because we heard our mother would be getting a settlement and we didn't want to do anything that might jeopardize that." Mr. Hall shrugs his shoulders and pauses for a moment to assess the moral of his story. "I'm a very religious man and I think God has certain plans for us all," he says finally, intimating he's from the "What doesn't kill you, makes you a stronger person" school. This definitely made him a stronger person. "I want people to know you can overcome diversity and lead a long decent life." And if his story has one hero, he says, hands down it would be his mother, Lucietta Hall. "My mother was a strong woman ... she was completely dedicated to her children."

    Even knowing her husband had remarried and was doing well, he says, she never wanted to make any trouble for him. "A school teacher, she later moved to Brockton and lived to be 91 but she never remarried." A single tear rolls down Leland Hall's cheek and balances precariously on his upper lip before being brushed away. "She still loved him, you see."

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    Upcoming Education Program

    Spring Weekend Research Getaway
    March 23-25, 2006
    Join us for a fresh approach to the Research Weekend Research Getaway: a program devoted to old documents as well as guided research, one-on-one consultations, lectures, and special access to the collections. NEHGS staff Timothy G.X. Salls, archivist, and Deborah Rossi, collections maintenance assistant, will begin the program with a presentation about caring for old books and manuscripts. Guest lecturer Jerome E. Anderson will discuss handwriting analysis. Diane Rapaport will share her expertise on using court records and talk about her new book, New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians. Old unidentified family photographs often remain frustrating mysteries: NEHGS genealogist Julie Helen Otto will be available to analyze one such photo for each participant.

    Bring your charts and count on making major breakthroughs! All serious genealogists should treat themselves to this special program and the opportunity to share discoveries and swap stories with other avid researchers from all over the country. Whether you are a first-time participant or have enjoyed this program in the past, you are sure to further your research by visiting the library in Boston. For accommodations, we suggest the nearby Charlesmark Hotel.

    Registration Fees: $285 for the entire three days, $95 per day. Open to members only, $75 membership fee.

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

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    Spotlight: Tacoma [Washington] Public Library

    The Northwest Room and Special Collections of the Tacoma Public Library are “a veritable treasure trove of information about the exploration, growth and development of Tacoma and the Puget Sound Region.” A number of the resources have been made available to the public online.

    Northwest Photography Archives and South Sound Photo Album
    More than 40,000 images of the 1 million plus photographs in the Tacoma Public Library’s collection are available online. This collection documents the history and development of the Tacoma and South Sound region from 1888 through the present. The image database can be searched by keyword or by subject / topic term. There is also a Subject Term index to the digital collection. Photographs from the collection appear as a daily feature in The News Tribune under the title of South Sound Photo Album. The Photography Curator of the Northwest Room chooses photographs for inclusion in the newspaper.

    Tacoma/Pierce County Obituary Index
    This index to more than 367,000 obituaries that were published in the Tacoma News Tribune/Morning News Tribune covers the period from 1930 to the present. The index is complete from 1984 to the present. And, while nearly one-third of the records (110,000) are from the period between 1930 and 1983, the coverage is not complete. The database can be searched by last name, first or first and middle name/initial, date of death, soundex for last name, and notes keyword. Some of the obituary records contain notes which are usually follow-up information regarding the deceased. According to the web site, this is particularly true when the individual was well known or when the death is related to a criminal case.

    Tacoma/Pierce County Building Index
    This interesting index can help you to learn the history of your house or other buildings in Tacoma. It was created from home construction new found in Tacoma newspapers during the period from 1883 through 1941. There are several steps in the search process. Step 1 is to search for a building by address. Step 2 is a non-address search with city, style, year built and notes keyword as search options. Step 3 allows you to limit the search while Step 4 contains the perform search and clear changes buttons. The search results include the building’s address, its style, the year it was built and detailed notes on the history of the building. If there is a photograph of the building in the Library’s collection, you will find a thumbnail image in the record.

    Washington Place Names
    Click on this link to learn about the naming of various locales in Washington State. You can search the database by place name or you can search by a portion of the place name. Search results include name, description, soundex code and a link to Early Washington Maps in the digital collection of Washington State University (WSU Map Collection home:

    Ships and Shipping Index
    The Tacoma Public Library has an index file of more than 13,000 records on ships built in or with a connection to the Pacific Northwest. A database indexing these records appears on the Library’s web site. The data includes vessels’ names and former names, builders, careers and dispositions. This database can be searched by keyword, ship type, soundex, or notes keyword. As some of the records contain extensive notes, the notes keyword search can be very slow.

    Other resources found on this site include Murray’s People, essays about people, events and the history of the Pacific Northwest by noted Northwest author and historian, Murray Morgan; “true-life tales” of events such as earthquakes, riots, ghost stories, murders, and massacres taken from the Clippings File of the Library’s Northwest Room / Special Collections; and the Northwest History Resources page through which the library provides links to additional sites that explore the area’s history.

    Visit the Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room and Special Collections 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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    Stories of Interest

    The internet is a rich source of interesting stories about genealogy. This past week we found three we think may be of interest to eNews readers.

    Twin Sisters trace their 18th-century African-American roots in Connecticut

    Controversy involving the genealogy of the Narragansett Tribe in Rhode Island

    A Purple Heart comes home with a genealogist's help

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    From the Online Genealogist

    “I believe I may have determined who now operates a funeral home in New Hampshire that handled my great-grandfather’s funeral. Those of a couple of other relatives are listed with the previous owner back to the 1910’s. Can I request copies of the records for a funeral from their files?”

    My suggestion would be to write or call the new owners of the funeral home that you suspect purchased the business. The worst thing they can tell you is they do not have the records. One branch of my own family used R.E.F. Gleason funeral home in Dorchester from the 1910’s through the 1940’s. When the funeral home was bought out in the 1970’s, the records were stored in the basement by the new owner. Sadly the basement flooded and the records were destroyed. Even when a funeral home has been in business for many years, the saved records may not date that far back. For example J. S. Waterman & Sons is the oldest surviving funeral home in Boston, dating back to 1832. Unfortunately, their surviving records only date from the latter half of the 19th century.

    As a descendant of the deceased, once you have determined the records exist, you should not have any trouble requesting a copy. If the other relatives you mention are not your direct ancestors, there may be a privacy issue. Keep in mind, however, that these are not public records and that the funeral home is not legally required to provide you with information.

    Always send a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) with you request, and offer to pay in advance for copies 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

    Researching US Naval Vessels
    by David Allen Lambert

    Did your ancestor serve in the United States Navy? Have you ever wondered about the actual history of the vessel? Or what the vessel physically looked like? Obtaining an image and history of the vessel breathes new life into the story of your relative’s service. Naval vessels from the 18th to the 21st century are available on the internet from small crafts to aircraft carriers. After you determine what vessel(s) he or she served upon you could use a simple image search to locate a photo or print of the vessel. However, I would like to recommend two under-utilized websites to answer this question.

    Online version of the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships supplied by the U.S. Department of the Navy:

    The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships was published in nine volumes between 1959 and 1991. This database puts online for the first time over 10,000 individual histories, references, and links to images of U.S. Naval ships, and updates the earlier printed editions.

    To search specifically for the images from the Online Library of the Department of the Navy go to In addition to U.S. Naval Ships, there are images for other vessels, including Ships of the U.S. Army, Ships of the U.S. Coast Guard, Revenue Cutter Service and Lighthouse Service and Ships of the Confederate States.

    There are also selected images for foreign navies (though not as complete as those for the U.S. Navy), including those of Australia, Brazil, Britain, Cuba, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and Spain. There are many other images to explore on this website. You can easily download the image or order a print from

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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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