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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 15
    Whole #317
    April 11, 2007

    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
    * From the Volunteer Coordinator
    * Ellis Island Celebrates Special Centennial
    * Name Origins
    * Used CD Sale
    * Research Recommendations: The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
    * Spotlight: Online Resources for Ontario, Canada: Assessment Rolls
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Public Lecture Series
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Databases on New

    Abstracts of Wills, Administrations and Guardianships in NY State, 1787 - 1835

    This week, an additional 24,693 records have been added to this database from the following counties: Allegheny, Cattaraugus, Chenango, King’s, Otsego, and Steuben.

    This compilation of Abstracts of New York Wills, Administrations and Guardianships was created by William Applebie Daniel Eardeley. The original materials are part of the Brooklyn Historical Society's manuscript collection. Eardeley abstracted original estate proceedings in the counties of this state. In addition he indexed on 3 x 5 cards all the names in his abstracts, i.e. those of the decedents, executors, administrators, petitioners, guardians, witnesses, named beneficiaries and minor children. The original abstracts were written in pencil on yellow legal pad paper. Although the original title of the collection refers to the years 1691 to 1860, the bulk of the material concerns the period 1787 to 1835. Also, while the abstracts generally end at 1835, it appears that in a few cases the dates were extended to fill a county's file folder. For estate proceedings of counties formed after 1835, the researcher should look under the names of the parent county.

    Currently, this database contains abstracts for the following counties: Allegheny, Cattaraugus, Chenango, Clinton, Cortland, Delaware, Erie-Niagara, Essex, Franklin, Genesee, Green, Herkimer, King’s, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, New York , Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orleans, Otsego, Oswego, Putnam, Richmond, St. Lawrence, Seneca, Steuben, Sullivan, Tompkins, Warren, Wayne, and Yates.

    The remaining counties in the collection are in the process of being indexed by our volunteer team and will be released in the future as they become available.

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society wishes to thank both the Brooklyn Historical Society and Mr. Frank J. Doherty, whose support made this database available.

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    From the Volunteer Coordinator
    Susan Rosefsky

    The number of files of Massachusetts pre-1850 town records coming to my desk is increasing rapidly. Some of these files need to be enhanced and linked to images for the website. Some of these files are not yet on the website. With these, the data must be transcribed from the images.

    If you can commit about 20 hours a month and have a computer with Windows 2000 or XP and Microsoft Excel software, please consider helping out with the town records project. The towns of Andover, Beverly, Dartmouth and Westwood are ready now, and many more are on the way.

    Please contact me at

    With my thanks,
    Susan Rosefsky
    NEHGS Volunteer Coordinator

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    Ellis Island Celebrates Special Centennial

    Ellis Island will be celebrating a special event this week: the centennial of the single busiest day in the history of the immigration center. A typical day saw about 5,000 immigrants processed, but April 17, 1907, was special. On that day, immigration officials welcomed 11,747 arrivals into the United States. The Ellis Island Foundation will be celebrating the anniversary with the sixth annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, which honors outstanding Americans with ties to Ellis Island.

    You can read more about Ellis Island immigration, the feat of April 17, 1907, and the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards at

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    HETTY (f) – Nickname for MEHITABEL or (less frequently) HEPSIBAH.

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    Used CD Sale

    The NEHGS Sales department has an overstock of certain used CD titles that have been priced to move. Many have been donated by local libraries and NEHGS patrons, while others are new CDs that have small cracks in their jewel cases and therefore cannot be sold in the Family Treasures book store at our Boston facility. Most of these CDs will work only on Windows-based systems and not on Macintosh systems.

    Prices have been cut by as much as 80% on over 75 separate titles, many of which have a limited quantity available. Orders will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. The sale price is good only for the titles we have in stock.

    For a full list of titles available during this sale, along with complete ordering information, please send an email with the words "NEHGS CD SALE" in the subject line to

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    Research Recommendations

    The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    In July 2004 I attended a gala opening reception for The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (NBLMC) at the Boston Public Library (BPL). In the intervening time the center has done a great deal to promote the study and use of maps among diverse audiences. As part of their outreach effort, they recently launched a new website as an adjunct to the main BPL website:

    The site provides general information about NBLMC, its activities, a calendar of events, and information about visiting the center in person. Each month the center highlights a special piece from the collection. This month it is Orbis typus universalis iuxta by mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller, published by Johannes Schott in 1513. A brief history of the map accompanies the image. The map of the month, like all maps on the site, can be opened in a special viewer, allowing the user to zoom in to great detail.

    Another section is Maps in the News, focusing on images of areas of the world currently in the news. This month’s maps include ones for Iraq and Darfur. In the Virtual Tours section, you will find online exhibits. The first, Places and Faces, was the opening exhibition for the center. The second, Journeys of the Imagination, focuses the ways mapmakers have created their maps over the past six centuries. Teachers will appreciate the special section on Educational Resources that will help them to incorporate maps into their curriculum.

    For genealogists, however, one of the best sections is that entitled The Collection. The NBLMC has more than 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases illustrating the development of mapmaking. While there is a particular interest in Boston and New England, there are vast number of maps for other areas of the country and the world also in the collection. In this section you will find copies of a number of maps from the collection viewable online, with more being added. You can search the site for a particular topic, or browse through maps by subject matter. A search for Boston brought up 37 maps of the city, the earliest from 1688 and the most current from 1994.

    The Osgood Carleton map of Boston published by John West in 1796 shows the streets of the town as they appeared at the turn of the nineteenth century. Opening the map in the viewer allows you to see great detail. A zoom tool appears on the upper-left side of the pane. Just above that is a navigation system that allows you to see different areas of the map. You can also navigate by clicking and dragging directly on the image. In the upper-right corner of the pane is a thumbnail of the entire map, with a red box outlining the zoomed in area currently being displayed. A third navigation option is to grab the red box and drag it to a certain part of the map.

    The collections of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center can be critically helpful to you in your research, locating places and putting them in context. With future additions to their website of materials from their collections, they will quickly become indispensable, whether you live in the Boston area or not.

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    Spotlight: Online Resources for Ontario, Canada: Assessment Rolls
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    1842 Huron District Assessment Rolls, Huron County Library, Ontario (
    The 1842 Huron District Assessment Rolls are the earliest official population and land assessment records for the area. The Huron District was formed in 1841. Twenty-two townships were assessed in the 1842 Huron District Assessment.

    Assessment rolls are made up of two parts: an assessment list containing information about an individual’s or family’s assets, which was used for tax purposes, and a population schedule showing the name of the head of household, number of people in the family by age and sex, and religious affiliation, which served as a census. Click on the Historical Preamble and Researcher’s Notes links to access background information on the project and the Huron District, including a map of the area at the time and a History of Township Names and List of Assessors.

    The database is a transcription of the original assessment rolls. It has been organized alphabetically for ease of use. The Assessment database is arranged by township, as were the original assessment rolls. In addition, a “Master List” of households found in the assessment rolls has been compiled to assist database users who do not know which township was home to the person for whom they are searching. Each entry in the Master List contains the person’s name and the township where that individual lived. The Master List can be accessed via the Index of Townships page. Click on the individual township link to view the transcription.

    The data fields in this database include name as found in the assessment list, name as found in the population schedule, total acreage, lot number, concession, males and females in the household over age 16 and under age 16, and total number of family members. It should be noted that this is only a partial list of the fields found in the original assessment lists and population returns. See Column Headings and Transcription Notes in the Preamble section of the web site for more detailed information on the original rolls and the transcription as it appears here. There is also a gallery of images of the original assessment roll books.

    The Huron County Library owns a complete microfilm copy of the original assessment rolls, which are, as we are reminded, organized “in the order that people were located along the road, as visited by the assessor.”

    Toronto Tax Assessment Rolls for 1853, Ontario Genealogical Society Toronto Branch (
    The Toronto Tax Assessment Rolls for 1853 database is a project of the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. The searchable online index accessed via the Society’s web site is the first component of a two-part project. The online index contains the names of more than 9,000 owners and occupiers of land in Toronto in 1853. The original assessment rolls for this year and many others are in the holdings of the City of Toronto Archives.

    Click on the database link to access the search page. Searches can be performed by ward and street or by surname. Use of “Forename” or given name is optional. There is also a Soundex search option. The data fields in the search results include the View Page link; cite (information on how to cite each entry); assessment year; page and sequence number reference; occupant name, age, occupation, Freeholder/Householder status; owner name and occupation; location (ward, street, side, liberties), and notes. If there is a note for a particular record, you can click on the symbol in the Notes field to view the note. You will need LizardTech’s DejaVu free viewer software to view the original assessment roll images. There is a link to LizardTech’s website from the search page.

    In the second part of the project, a book and CD, Toronto in the 1850s: A transcription of the 1853 assessment rolls and guide to family history research, containing the index with supplemental maps and other background and historical materials, were produced. The book and CD can be purchased from the Ontario Genealogical Society Toronto Branch.

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    Stories of Interest

    Many individuals are interested in Native American genealogy. A new website for Maine genealogists is Ne-Do-Ba, The Abenaki of Western Maine. You can read more about the site in the Bangor Daily News at or visit it directly at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    I am currently researching my ancestor who served with the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. I have found a reference to the fact that my ancestor was admitted to the Company in 1638 [HAHAC 1:75]. Can you help me determine what this reference is?

    The reference is The History of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, from its formation in 1637 and charter in 1638, to the present time; comprising the biographies of the distinguished civil, literary, religious and military men of the colony, province and commonwealth (Boston, J.H. Eastburn, Printer, 1842) by Zachariah G. Whitman [NEHGS Call No. Rare Book UA258.A5/W6/1842]. This is a valuable source for research into the members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company which I have consulted in the past. This item can also be viewed on Google Books.

    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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    Upcoming Public Lecture Series

    Our 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 at 10:00 A.M. unless otherwise stated. Advance registration is not necessary.

    Bringing Your Ancestors to Life: Using Diaries & Letters for Genealogical Research
    Judy Lucey, Saturday, April 14
    “August 26 1838. Yesterday my dear husband arrived in Fairhaven, today has again, met with his family and friends.” So writes Deidawia (Bowen) Swift on the return of her husband, Hallet Swift, master of a whaling ship, from a recent voyage. Diaries such as these not only offer a glimpse of the past but can bring life to our family histories. Please join NEHGS Assistant Archivist, Judy Lucey, as she presents some of the diaries, letters and journals found in our manuscript collection that can assist you in your genealogical research. The care and preservation of these treasures will also be discussed.

    For more information about lectures offered by New England Historic Genealogical Society, please go to the Education homepage at or call 1-888-286-3447.

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Each year the Society presents a large number of lectures, seminars, and tours for genealogists.

    The following major programs will be held April-November 2007:

    Genetics and Genealogy Saturday, April 21, 2007
    Seminar in Boston
    Join us for this day-long seminar with noted genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who will give four lectures. Her topics will include tracing your roots with DNA, exploring genetic genealogy options, challenging cases, and the struggle to find the real Annie Moore (the first immigrant to the United States via Ellis Island).

    For more information, or to register, please visit


    Research Day at NARA Northeast Region Wednesday, May 16, 2007
    Location: Waltham, MA

    Come Home to New England #1 Monday, June 18–Saturday, June 23, 2007
    Tutorial program with consultations in Boston

    Come Home to New England #2 Monday, August 6–Saturday, August 11, 2007
    Tutorial program with consultations in Boston

    English Family History Research Tour to London Sunday, September 9–Sunday, September 16, 2007
    Lodging: Holiday Inn Bloomsbury

    Research Tour to Salt Lake City Sunday, October 28–Sunday, November 4, 2007
    Lodging: Salt Lake Plaza Hotel

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

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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 2007, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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