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Choosing a gift for a genealogist can be puzzling.  Loved ones and, especially, relatives want to be supportive but don’t know how.  To those who search for that perfect idea, maybe one below will be right for your favorite genealogist.  Also, see if there are additional ideas in the comments.

Computers and electronics

  • 1. The newest thing I’ve seen this year looks intriguing, but I’ve never tried it and I’m having trouble even finding a vendor (this one is from Canada).  ZCAN+  looks like a mouse, but it’s a scanner!  Thanks to Thomas McEntee of Hack Genealogy for that tip.  He knows about all the cool stuff.
Nope, it's not a mouse.  It's a scanner.

Nope, it’s not a mouse. It’s a scanner.

  • 2. For the experienced genealogist, I like the Evidentia 2 software for analyzing sources and evidence along the lines of the genealogical proof standard.  As a gift, you would want to buy it on CD.
  • 3. WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External Hard Drive  is recommended by Thomas McEntee of Geneabloggers as the one he uses – to quote him “It is light, runs on USB and has auto-backup.”  Personally, I like the red one.
  • 4. For beginners looking for the first genealogy software, try RootsMagic 6.  I also like Family Tree Maker.
  • 5. I still like EyeFi Mobi for auto-download of pictures from your camera onto your computer.
  • 6. Wacom Sketchpad helps you write, draw and edit photos on your computer.  Ever try to edit photos or mark up screenshots for a presentation with a mouse?  Then you know why this is great.  Thanks to Jenny Lanctot of Are My Roots Showing? for the suggestion.

On the road

The GRIT-IT tablet case

The GRIP-IT tablet case

  • 8. Magazines are great when travelling.   Prologue Magazine is published quarterly by the U.S. National Archives and helps the genealogist explore federal records. For those just learning genealogy, Family Tree Magazine is a good choice. For more experienced folks, a membership in the National Genealogical Society will include a subscription to the Quarterly.
  • 9. Here’s an idea I’ve never seen before - AA batteries that re-charge in any USB port.  These would be great in a computer mouse, for travelers, in case the mouse batteries died.
  • 10. Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood suggests:  “Give the gift of power! Buy a small easily packed lipstick” style charger” for your cell phone  (another sample here).  On the higher end (more for the serious traveler) I love my Mophie.  Midge also suggests that a tiny portable stand (cute colors!) for a phone or tablet might make a good stocking stuffer.
  • 11. Amazon gift cards are useful for letting the genealogist pick out their own book or tech gadget.  This suggestion came from blogger Barbara Poole of Life from the Roots.
  • 12. If your genealogist will be meeting others at conferences, libraries and town halls, making business cards is a fun idea.  My new favorite is Moo cards.
  • 13. A good, simple camera is getting cheaper and cheaper – this Canon looks like a good buy.  Don’t forget to get a memory card to go with it.  Cheaper than photocopies!

Office items

  • 14.  97.8% of genealogists love office supplies.  OK I made that up.  But this little book of sticky Redi-Tag Divider notes was love at first sight.
Redi-Tag Divider Notes would be handy when working in books or notebooks.

Redi-Tag Divider Notes would be handy when working in books or notebooks.

  • 15. These Post-It tabs are great in binders.
  • 16. Barbara Poole of Life from the Roots sent along an idea about custom notepads made with your genealogist’s name and a cute quip (“On the trail of the ancestors of …” or something).  I’m sure many vendors offer custom pads online, or try a local store.
  • 17. If your genealogist is surrounded by books, there are some bookends with index tabs that won’t get lost when the shelves fill up.  Actually, the Container Store has three styles I love:  Index bookends, Tower bookends with a little storage cubby, and Mod bookends.

    Bookends from the Container Store

    Bookends from the Container Store

  • 18. I like magazine files, also from the Container Store.  But I’m still convinced some charming ones could be handmade – some people cut and cover cereal boxes.
Some cute magazine files

Some cute magazine files

Books

  • 19. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  The bible.
  • 20. Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson.  This is new.
  • 21. Guide to Genealogical Writing, 3rd Edition by Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff.
  • 22. Guide to Published Genealogies in the Library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, published 2012.  This book is a little expensive, but it’s so nice to have a guide at home to the full range of compiled genealogies.  Then the genealogist can figure out where to find the books needed.
  • 23. If you have deep pockets, and you want to give your favorite genealogist the absolute perfect out of print book about the exact family or location (“for the entire United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, and more”) they’re researching, there’s actually a way to do that!  Buy the NEHGS Classic Reprints Catalog for $12.95. It comes with a credit for $12.95 towards the purchase of a custom reprinted book from the 12,000 mentioned in the catalog.  You could consider a gift certificate to go with it (it would probably be another $30 – $50 or more to get the book) and your genealogist would be all set to choose and order the perfect reprint.  But even a thrifty genealogist could use this book to locate pre-1923 volumes that are available online.
This is typical of the books ordered through the NEHGS reprint program.

This is typical of the books ordered through the NEHGS reprint program.

Genealogical Proof Standard, 4th Edition

Genealogical Proof Standard, 4th Edition

If the genes fit …

  • 32. For those new to DNA testing, and looking for an easy way to try it out, I could recommend an Ancestry DNA test kit.  Your genealogist will use the kit to submit a sample (in fact, it will be important to the genealogist to choose WHO will be sampled) which will be analyzed, and the results, available online, will show links to other individuals, and with any luck, those individuals will be showing an accurate tree online.
  • 33. A better choice for the same money, for a genealogist who is more experienced, is the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test kit.  Family Tree DNA has a more robust promise to maintain your access to your information, and it gives enough information to more accurately allow you to estimate, if the right people are tested, the common source of your matches.

DIY

  • 34. This year, hubs made me a cork bulletin board for the genealogy room.
Bulletin board made for me.

Bulletin board made for me.  I’m thinking about putting a family tree printout on here.

  • 35. Old photos on tile coasters – any genealogist would love these – also same idea and same idea.  I was thinking of doing them with old photos of family houses.
  • 36. A family calendar is popular with Heather Wilkinson Rojo’s family.  She says: “A gift my husband does every year is a family calendar using Power Point.  We give it out at our family Christmas party, and everyone looks forward to it every year. Around Thanksgiving I solicit photos from my family along themes (vacations, or school photos, or sports images) and I also steal photos from everyone’s Facebook accounts.  We arrange the photos for the large calendar pages (above the chart of the months and days) and we also put tiny photos in for everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries.  You can find an old blog post for this here on Heather’s blog Nutfield Genealogy.   Thanks, Heather!  I would never have considered PowerPoint for easily formatting the pictures.  Great idea!
  • 37. Another idea Heather sent along:  “For a few years I made charm bracelets and necklaces with vintage family photos, until everyone I knew had one and I had to think of a new idea.  I got the idea from my daughter.  Everyone loved them, but you can only give it once.”

Shopping local and small business

  • 38. Heritage jewelry from this Etsy shop by Danette Taylor.  I am fascinated by these custom pieces – not sure if I’m more intrigued by the decoupage bangles, the collage brooches, the decorative recipe plates, or the portrait pendants.
An old fashioned pin made with your old photo by Danette Taylor.

An old fashioned pin made with your old photo by Danette Taylor. Picture used with permission.

  • 39. i (chart) you makes beautiful custom ancestor charts; you send the data and they send you the file electronically, ready for you to have printed in the size you prefer.  This would have to be ordered by the genealogist, but a gift certificate (see the last few boxes on the main page) might be nice.  Thanks to Wendy Grant Walter for this idea.
  • 40. Barb’s Branches has some attractive tree jewelry in an Etsy shop.  Among her interesting handmade “tree” pieces, she has the inspired idea of making jewelry from old silver spoons.  Amazing!  Barb is offering my readers a break – for 15% off, use coupon code: RIFAMILY2014 at checkout. The coupon/discount will be good through Dec 31, 2014.
A pendant made from an antique silver spoon, by Barb's Branches.

A pendant made from an antique silver spoon, by Barb’s Branches.  Picture used with permission.

For those with Rhode Island ancestors

Just for Fun

This one still makes my adult kids roll their eyes ... worth it ...

This one still makes my adult kids roll their eyes … worth it …

 

If you’re not finding what will make your genealogist happy here, try last year’s post.  Hope the links still work!

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/11/09/50-gifts-for-genealogists-2014/

christmas tree

 

 

 

 

A simple request

A kind reader of this website commented recently that she’d like to see some examples of my Family Group Sheets since she is looking for ways to improve her source citations and examine her evidence.  Well, the thing is, I’m really not a Family Group Sheet kind of person.  Early on in genealogy, I made my own Family Group Sheets (I’d never heard of them, but when I finally did I realized they were almost exactly the same as what I’d drawn up for myself).  I filled some binders but quickly moved on to family tree software and digital storage of documents.

I’m a software person.  In fact, no joking, if I had the time I would actually like to create my own database solution for family trees and sources using FileMaker Pro.  But for now (and probably always) I settle for software made by others.  I use Family Tree Maker, as well as online services like Dropbox and Evernote.  I like Roots Magic but don’t use it much.

This is how I use them.

Dropbox

All of my documents, photos and pdf’s are stored on Dropbox which I can access from any computer, smartphone, or tablet.  The main folders hold genealogy books and documents in two categories:  PLACES and FAMILY NAMES.  Beneath these two main folders is a detailed file structure.  I also have about 20 other main folders.  Most of what I have is photos of records, documents, and manuscripts from many sources, plus pdf’s of old books.

Evernote

I decided a while ago to keep actual BOOKS, RECORDS and PHOTOS in Dropbox, but to use Evernote for all notes, analysis, to-do’s, how-to’s, guidance, expenses, materials from conferences, etc.  I keep notes for all libraries, repositories and town halls with a running list of all my to-dos specifically for each of those places.  I also have RESEARCH NOTES on many families where I paste notes, ideas, transcriptions, screen shots, and data.

Files in Evernote

Files in Evernote – TOWNS and TOWN HALLS – Providence City Hall

Family Tree Maker

I like that Family Tree Maker will synch directly with my tree on Ancestry.com.  I am not a big fan of some of the index-like “records” one finds on Ancestry.com (I use those as clues to how I can find a real record), but when Ancestry comes up with a scanned actual document, like a census record, I have saved a ton of those to my tree.  Since I find sources in many other places both online and in libraries and repositories, I also add other sources directly to my Ancestry.com tree.  With Family Tree Maker, all of that is synched to my tree on my own computer.  It also downloads every image for me, still linked to the proper person.  If I quit Ancestry tomorrow, I would have every image and fact from my tree stored permanently on my own computer.  I can access Ancestry.com from any computer, smart phone, or tablet, and I use that all the time.

These two products do a good job of keeping track of my facts and sources, particularly the sources where I entered the data from scratch myself.  For sources linked to Ancestry-held records, the details are not usually recorded properly and one would have to re-examine each one to format a proper footnote or even a proper bibliography.

Evidentia to the rescue
When I think about improving my documentation, I know I want to do so in a way that is efficient.  The sources in Family Tree Maker could be tweaked to improve the footnotes and source lists created, but I’m not sure that would help me analyze each source.
In the last couple of years a new piece of software, Evidentia, has caught my attention, thanks to a review of the Beta version on Are My Roots Showing? by Jenny Lanctot.
Evidentia does not hold your family tree (although it can).  It does not store images of your documents (although it can).  It allows you to enter just the names from your tree that you are planning to research, and document the sources you have for each person, the claims you are making based on those sources, and to analyze the evidence you’ve entered and reach conclusions about what can and cannot be proven concerning the life of the individual.  Along the way, you can evaluate each claim carefully and record your reasoning.
This sounds like the kind of tool that would really help me.  I purchased a copy of Evidentia for $24.99 (but I started with the trial offer).  It is software, so it runs on my home computer. I have spent about two weeks with Evidentia, working hard on the problem of my gg-grandmother Catherine Young who apparently arrived in the U.S. as a child from Surrey, England and first made herself known in records in 1860, married to her second husband.  My attempts to reconstruct an original family for Catherine, or any details of her early life, are failing, and I would like to make sure I am using the sources I have to the fullest.
An Evidentia screen showing evidence from the 1870 census record for Catherine Young.

An Evidentia screen – Catalog Claims -  showing each piece of evidence from the 1870 census record for Catherine Young.

My experience with Evidentia
I had to review each of the available instructional videos on the Evidentia website because there is a learning curve when you first get started.  The three main steps you must learn are:
  • Document a Source
  • Catalog Claims
  • Analyze Evidence

As I started to complete these steps for the evidence I had gathered over the years for Catherine Young, I have to admit, right here and now, it was an eye-opening experience. And not in a good way.  My digital files for Catherine were not organized nearly as well as they should have been.  Not everything from those files had been sourced properly in the tree.  I had missed some facts contained in those sources (Catherine’s house in Sterling, Massachusetts was “on Long Hill”, “near the cemetery” – I’m still not sure where that is, but I never noticed the clue before).  Because I worked on her rather early in my genealogy career, I still had important documents sitting in paper binders – I have now moved those to the digital files.  And lastly, there were sources I had noted online but had not recorded in my own files for my own use – things can disappear online, so that was not wise.

Although Evidentia contains many templates for source entries using Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained (1) format (see the used book here, and the electronic version of the book here), I found that I needed to review the formats and add a few of my own directly from the book.  Sometimes, the citation asked for a detail which was not available to me anywhere, and I still need to figure out how to handle those, or how to locate other versions of my sources that have better detail.  It is possible to take the templates for each type of entry and annotate it with extra instructions – which I could get from the book – something I will do in the future.

Using Evidence Explained along with Evidentia to understand the details of some of the citation formats.

Using Evidence Explained(1) along with Evidentia to understand the details of some of the citation formats.

I do not want to be updating several versions of my tree, so I won’t be copying it into Evidentia.  And I don’t want duplicate files of my source documents and pictures, so I was glad that Evidentia lets me just link to the location of each digital document.

As I move on to research other people, I will add more evidence to Evidentia that may pertain to Catherine.  At that time, it is very simple in Evidentia to just keep linking evidence to her, to add to the total documentation for her.

Evidentia produces many reports, in html or as pdf’s.  Reports can be generated for almost any view of the data – by person, by source, by claims, etc.

THE RESEARCH SUMMARY REPORT FOR CATHERINE YOUNG

Use THIS LINK to see, in pdf, my Evidentia Research Summary Report for Catherine Young.   Here is a list of what the report contains.  My Evidentia database includes 8 events and/or facts for Catherine Young. These include:

  • Residence     10 assertions, 10 reviewed.
  • Birth     8 assertions, 8 reviewed.
  • Child(ren)     6 assertions, 6 reviewed.
  • Immigration     2 assertions, 2 reviewed.
  • Parent(s)     4 assertions, 4 reviewed.
  • Religion     1 assertions, 1 reviewed.
  • Death     2 assertions, 2 reviewed.
  •  Marriage     3 assertions, 3 reviewed.

I suspect Evidentia would let me control the ORDER of these elements, but I haven’t figured that out yet.  I like version 2 of Evidentia and I expect to keep using it and learning more about it.

2014-10-17 18.56.54

Next Steps

  • Finish recording clues on Catherine by conducting this review on each of her four children, which will turn up some additional sources on Catherine.
  • Start keeping these printed reports in a binder that will go with me to libraries, etc, so I can easily see the state of my research, and recall each idea and source for the person.  Also, the pdf reports will sit in Evernote for ready access anytime.
  • Look more thoroughly into English sources.  Document every POSSIBLE Catherine Young and begin to eliminate some.
  • I would like to visit Catherine’s grave in Sterling and figure out where the farm was that burned down in 1894.
  • Use every means possible to pin down Catherine’s first husband, William Bennett.
  • Hiram Ross may appear in Worcester County court records concerning the liability of the railroad for the sparks that burned his property in 1894.  His son in law was on the Rhode Island Supreme Court, so definitely, someone would have thought of a lawsuit.  I need to pursue that.
  • Move on to person-by-person enter new research problems into Evidentia.

(1) Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Revised edition.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009.

2014-10-17 19.34.17

Illustrations in the post from The Art of Homemaking by Margaret E. Sangster, 1898.  Photos and screenshots by Diane Boumenot.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/11/03/software-solutions/

Registration opened this week for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference which will take place in Providence, Rhode Island, April 15-18, 2015.  The conference is held in New England every two years and this time, the location will be at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.  I am really looking forward to it.

Enjoy the conference

The conference program is now available to download as a pdf.  I am looking forward to keynote speakers Judy G. Russell and Lisa Louisa Cook, and I won’t miss an opportunity to hear Cherry Bamburg Fletcher speak about Rhode Island research.  Personally, I am planning to add Barbara MathewsDocument Analysis special workshop to my registration.  There are over a hundred other sessions to choose from, with excellent and knowledgeable presenters on a wide variety of topics.  Choosing will probably be the hard part.  There are also an Exhibit Hall, the popular 20-minute personal consultations at the Ancestors Road Show, Special Interest Group gatherings, Librarian and Teachers’ Day, and Tech Day.  Even those not attending can submit a “Genealogical Query” for $5.00 which will be visible to conference attendees; the deadline for that is January 15 (see page 3 in the downloadable brochure).

South Main Street historic area, Providence

South Main Street historic area, Providence. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Volunteer

This impressive conference is run by volunteers representing many local genealogical organizations.  The conference only exists because people step forward to volunteer.  If you attend, plan to spend a couple hours in a volunteer job.  This will NOT lower your cost of registration (as I said, it’s ALL volunteer efforts) but will make you feel like a good citizen, and you’ll meet more people doing that.  Last time, I helped out in the registration booth for a few hours, but there will be a wide variety of jobs to choose from, closer to the event.  And if you are a local genealogist who doesn’t plan to register and attend, but you can still give a little volunteer time, they would also welcome your help.

Be a tourist

NERGC has some good tips for seeing the sites during your stay. I like their suggestion of the self-guided “telephone tour” of downtown which allows you to follow the “Independence Trail” and phone in when you reach each designated stopping point, to hear recorded guidance about each historical spot.  It’s 2-1/2 miles of walking, but it’s free, and you could go at your own pace and stop along the way.  There is also a guided local Explore Providence Tour that includes transportation and sounds wonderful (see page 3 of the program for cost and reservations).  The Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau also has a thorough list of historical sites in the area.

East Greenwich Town Hall, one of my absolute favorite town halls.  The materials are well organized and available.  They even have a neat map of the original farms that they will sell you.

East Greenwich Town Hall, one of my absolute favorite town halls. The materials are well organized and available. They even have a neat map of the original farms that they will sell you.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Do some local genealogical research

Now we’re getting to the point of this post.  If you have Rhode Island roots, you may want to try to fit in some research, and it would be best to start thinking about that early, and prepare for a few local visits at repositories.  A great place to start would be the excellent guidance in Cherry Bamburg Fletcher’s newly revised Frequently Asked Questions About Rhode Island Genealogy on the Rhode Island Genealogical Society website.

While this list is by no means complete, these are some local repositories I’m familiar with:

WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

  • The Rhode Island State Archives.  About a six block walk from the Convention Center.  This is a government department which primarily records state government activity.  It has a reading room with a wonderful index of R.I. vital records from about 1853 up to the legally allowed cutoffs – about 1915 or so (after using the index volumes, you can look at the state-compiled entries on microfilm), a fair collection of books and guides, a Revolutionary War index card file and other military resources, an index to Rhode Island General Assembly actions (most frequent appearance for my ancestors? “An Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors … “ ), the 1865 and 1875 Rhode Island state census records, and MANY special little index guides to state government activities.  See my posts here and here.
  • Providence City Archives.  About three blocks from the Convention Center, and next to the Biltmore Hotel.  If your ancestors lived in Providence at any time since 1636, you may want to do some research at the Providence City Archives up top of the picturesque 1878 Providence City Hall. On the fifth floor, the space is cramped and tiny, and the collection is not browsable, so it’s not a great place to just stroll around, but it is a valuable resource if you have real requests to make.  I mostly go to request Providence vital records and to view probate records (remember “probate” sometimes includes guardianships or adoptions).  See my post here.
  • The Providence Public Library.  About a five block walk from the door of the Convention Center, the library has some useful features.  I have never been in the special collections, and I’m not very familiar with them.  I mostly appreciate the extensive collection of Providence newspapers that they carry on microfilm, particularly since most of these are not online anywhere.  You can view microfilm and print, for a price per page.  They also have a large card index of Rhode Island events, well-known citizens, and news.  See my blog post here.
The State Archives reading room.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

The State Archives reading room. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

NEARBY BUT NOT WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

  • The Library of the Rhode Island Historical Society.  Perhaps some may argue this is walkable from the Convention Center.  If you have good health, good shoes, good weather, an intrepid companion, and a little time, you might look into it.  On the map, it won’t appear THAT far away – maybe about a mile.  What the coy map won’t reveal to you is that it’s UP HILL. And I mean UP.  HILL.  You would be going through some lovely and historic parts of Providence, so you would, for sure, enjoy the scenery if, well, you could breathe and everything.  No matter how you get there, this is probably Rhode Island’s premier research destination.  Non-members pay a small fee and fill out paperwork for a day pass, and will not be allowed to photograph anything at all.  There are some local records from various towns available on microfilm as well as the state’s most thorough collection of old newspapers on microfilm – very few are online anywhere (however, there is very little in the way of indexing available).  There is a large collection of genealogy books and journals as well as local books.  There are manuscripts which may be requested.  They have valuable collections and the structure, rules and process of visiting there is fairly severe. Bring a smile and some well thought out questions.  Explore their holdings thoroughly beforehand here.
  • The Rhode Island Judicial Archives is in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, maybe 5 miles away.  I would encourage anyone interested in the archival record of any particular case to contact the archives in advance to see if the case is on file there.  Nothing is browsable or searchable in person, indeed, you will be lining up with the criminals and lawyers to request your case records.  Ask for the historical records, and that clerk will be summoned. Older divorce cases from Rhode Island will be on file here, as well as many other types of court cases. You would need to know some details of the case (a name and rough date, to start with) in order for the clerk to try to find it. Documents can be read and photographed there.  See my post here.
The Rhode Island Historic Cemetery marker.  This one is from Peck Cemetery, Cumberland.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

A Rhode Island Historic Cemetery marker. This one is from Peck Cemetery, Cumberland (“Cumberland 19″). Photo by Diane Boumenot.

FARTHER AWAY

Cemeteries.  The tradition in Rhode Island was to bury family right on the family farm, because early Rhode Islanders were very firmly against any centralized powers belonging to the churches.  In a growing city like Providence, many of these early plots were eventually relocated to the North Burial Ground, or they just disappeared.  In most other areas, tiny historical cemeteries remain in place.  You can research recorded graves at the Rhode Island Historic Cemetery Commission website.

The city and town halls of Rhode Island are the place for vital records, deeds, probate, town council, and a random variety of other early records.  In Rhode Island, you won’t find materials at the county level except for some court records.

Keep in mind that town boundaries shifted over the years, meaning the records you seek may be in a different town than the one you associate your ancestors with (see this summary from the R.I. Genealogical Society to see if you need to explore this question).  Some of the local town libraries have local history rooms or special collections which can he useful.  My recommendation would be that if you are going to the town your ancestors lived in, go to the (correct) town hall but make sure you at least check out, from home, what the local library is offering as well. Less often, there is also a local historical society or historic building – those can have extremely limited hours.

Rhode Island has 39 cities and towns and each town hall has a completely different arrangement for access to records, seating areas, photocopying, picture-taking (usually allowed), access to books, ability to answer questions, and record sets available.  Going to each one is like arriving in a brand new country.

Town Hall, Westerly, Rhode Island.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Town Hall, Westerly, Rhode Island. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

My suggestions for town/city halls would be:

  • Never go into your genealogy story. Dress neatly, be polite, ask about the materials you need and possibly give the impression you are a historical researcher or lawyer.
  • If there is any archival staff, yay, but if you are dealing with the normal town clerk staff, they really have other jobs to do and can’t spend much time on non-town business; they don’t always know much about the “old stuff.”  At best, they expect to lead you to an area of old volumes and leave you there, at worst, they expect you to request one item at a time which they will reluctantly attempt to find for you.
  • There are usually (but NOT ALWAYS) tables and chairs, but if there are other researchers, don’t count on a lot of room.  A laptop may be too complicated for these settings. I would suggest a camera and a paper notebook.  I sometimes bring a tablet or just rely on my cell phone if I need to look something up.  I suspect there would be a LOT of problems using photocopiers in town halls; a camera is better.
  • Sometimes there is an official room where researchers go (particularly people doing title searches) but there may ALSO be an old archives collection hidden away in a basement or something.  Try to be sure you are seeing all that’s available.
  • If staff say you should have called, reserved, warned them, written them a letter, etc, agree with that, keep smiling, keep them talking, and usually when they see you haven’t left yet, they tend to help you anyway.
  • Genealogists are nice people. But town staff have to deal with some real, real cranks and crazy people (as I have witnessed in sitting around those offices over the years), so give them a few minutes to realize you’re not one of those.
  • Follow ALL usual archival rules, whether stated or not – no pens, no food or drink, no talking on the phone, be extremely careful of the books, try to remove and use only one at a time, always replace them in the exact spot, lay them flat on the table.
  • The index volumes may be in a completely different area of the room from the record volumes.  Give a good look around.
  • The only true problem you are likely to encounter is a flat denial of access to vital records because “it’s the law”, “because of privacy” or “the record is not about you” (like I’d be asking for my own death record).  If you need post-1914 records you may not be able to solve this one.  If you are asking for pre-1914 records, stand your ground and politely say that under Rhode Island law those records are public records and you have a right to see them, if they exist.  Keep smiling, and say that you’re probably going to need to talk to the Town Clerk. The Rhode Island law changed recently to include some new restrictions but none of that applies to pre-1914 records.
Early Smithfield records are stored at the Central Falls City Hall records room.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Early Smithfield records are stored at the Central Falls City Hall records room. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

My suggestions for local libraries or historical societies:

  • Definitely mention genealogy, this sometimes gets you ushered right away into the special “Genealogy Room”.
  • If possible, write a week or two in advance.  Sometimes the best person to help you is only available at certain times.
  • Make sure you are seeing an index or catalog to the special collections or manuscripts.  Sometimes old materials are cataloged separately.
  • Look for unique manuscript items like indices to local newspapers, obituary collections, index lists to local town records, inventories of historic houses, local newspapers, genealogy card files, local pictures, and manuscript genealogies.  These may not be available anywhere else.
  • If you gain admittance into any local historical society or small museum, either pay admission or buy something.  They need the money, and it will help them to see that you appreciate their work.

In closing

For a more detailed review of repositories, check out Michael Leclerc’s Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, 5th edition, (Boston, NEHGS, 2012) and Diane Rapaport’s New England Court Records (Burlington, Mass., Quill Pen Press, 2006), as well as the previously mentioned Cherry Bamburg Fletcher’s Frequently Asked Questions About Rhode Island Genealogy on the Rhode Island Genealogical Society website.

Sign up for the conference e-zine today!

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/10/26/providence-for-nergc/

About two years ago I posted my top 10 problems and that post actually led to the solution of one of those problems.  So I am trying here, again, and my list today is somewhat different, due to progress made in several areas.

1. Catherine Young (Bennett) (Baldwin) Ross (1832? – 1907).  The first “gap” in my mother’s family tree is for the parents of my gg-grandmother, Catherine Young (Bennett) (Baldwin) Ross, known as “Grandma Ross” to my grandfather.  Grandma Ross took my grandfather in for a while after his mother died and his father was busy with other things.  He knew about her three marriages because he scrawled all the names on the back of this picture – he was descended from her second husband, Edward Baldwin.

Catherine was born in Surrey, England, possibly 04 Jun 1832.  The borders of Surrey were altered around that time, making this extra-difficult.  Her father’s name may be William B and her mother, Catherine (from her death record).  In the 1900 census she gave her immigration year as 1843; the 1905 census says 1840.  Searching English census records, ship passenger lists and American records has turned up a few speculative possibilities but nothing that seems to fit together.  My earliest record for her is an 1860 census record with her second husband at Belmont in western New York; eventually she had four children, William Blackstone Bennett, Anna Jean Bennett, Harriet Elizabeth Baldwin and Miles Edward Baldwin.  I have found no trace of any member of her original family.

My latest research track:

  • try and pin down her elusive first husband, William Bennett, who was born in Massachusetts.  I suspect she was divorced rather than widowed.
  • Keep investigating the idea that her first marriage might have taken place in Massachusetts, and even the divorce could have happened there.  It did not happen in Allegany County, New York.
  • Keep pursuing possible clues from DNA.
Catherine Baldwin, circa 1900 in Providence, RI, in her 60's.

Catherine Baldwin, circa 1900 on Marshall Street, Providence, R.I. around 1900.

2. Sarah Arnold (1776? – 1861?).  Having confirmed my relationship to Sarah’s husband, Jesse Andrews, I now need to move on to determine which part of the large Arnold family in Warwick Sarah’s father, Joseph Arnold, is from.  That name is pulled from Sarah’s 1795 marriage record in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Sarah is, as far as I can tell, not mentioned in The Arnold Memorial or other books published about the Pawtuxet/Warwick Arnolds, which probably means that she was not mentioned in any local birth or probate records (although I continue to check).  A Joseph Arnold is sometimes noted nearby Jesse and Sarah in census records. 

This would be an ideal common-name problem for me to tackle because I have good access to many records. No excuses!

My latest research track:

  • make my own documentation of all possible Joseph Arnolds, using vital, probate and land records in Warwick and East Greenwich.
  • try to pin down any further details of the neighbor Joseph Arnold, including nearby possible grown children.
  • Explore Joseph Arnold more widely in court, military and cemetery records.
  • I do not know the names of most of Sarah’s children, but continue to try and find those names, possibly in Norwich, Connecticut, as hints to her family.
One of several pages of Joseph Arnold deeds indexed at Warwick City Hall.  Note the "S.D." and "S.W." indicating "Son of D" and "Son of W".  Not every deed has that, of course.

One of several pages of Joseph Arnold deeds indexed at Warwick City Hall. Note the “S.D.” and “S.W.” indicating “Son of D” and “Son of W”. Not every deed has that, of course. That would be too easy.

3. James Lawrence (1807-1882).  My 4x-great grandfather James Lawrence was born in England in 1807, and his father’s name may have been James.  In 1835, he married Ann Shortridge (Shortriggs) in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  The next twenty years found them in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Connecticut before ending up in Providence by 1860 with several of their almost-grown children.  According to the 1865 census, he was a machinist.  If I could learn more about James’ origins, it might help me to verify my complicated relationship to the Lawrences through DNA testing.

My latest research track:

  • Keep looking for ship passenger records and court naturalization records for James.
  • Other than birthplaces listed by his children years later, I am having trouble pursuing him across the eastern U.S. through the 1830′s – 1850′s, although I do have an 1850 census record for them in Virginia.  Try finding clues from that for further research.
  • Learn more about Dorchester resources such as directories, businesses, and immigrant populations there.
Places fo birth:  England, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island.  My father was right.  My mother DOES descend from a long line of gypsies.

Places of birth for James’ children, from the 1865 census: England, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island.

4. Jessie Ruth MacLeod Murdock (1861-1936).  Thanks to a helpful cousin who saw my blog post, I learned about a 1954 local genealogy book written by the nephew of my brick-wall gg-grandmother back in Pictou, Nova Scotia. That was a great moment, but imagine my surprise as I obtained the book and saw her listed as “adopted” – a sentiment I do not believe she shared.  Although I now know more about my gg-grandmother Jessie’s early life in Pictou, Nova Scotia, I continue to know nothing about her mother, Rachel, and her relationship to the people who may have adopted her, William and Mary MacLeod.  Jessie came to the U.S. around 1881, according to the 1900 and 1905 census.  I can find no evidence of her journey or any relatives coming with her.  She married Louis Murdock in 1883, making me wonder if she was related to Louis’ adopted father, William Murdock, also from Pictou.  There are some Rachel’s in the Murdock family.

My latest research track:

  • investigate land and probate records of the Murdocks in Pictou through microfilm at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society library in Boston.
  • see if the name of her third daughter – Jessie Ellen – can be matched with any people from Pictou.
  • naturalization records
The MacLean farm which became the home of William and Mary (MacLean) Murdock, from page 192

The farm in Lorne, Pictou, where Jessie MacLeod spent her teen years, from page 192, The Pioneers and Churches.

5. Lydia Minor (1787-1849). Now that I have solved the Andrews problem, I plan to move one generation back to the Lydia Minor problem.  She married Russell Lamphere in Norwich, Connecticut in May, 1807 “At Preston”, as reported by the announcement in the Norwich Courier. Lydia and Russell had seven boys and seven girls in Norwich Falls, Connecticut.  No vital records for the marriage, the children, or Lydia’s death has been found.  A Norwich Courier notice indicates she died 18 January 1849.

Russell was from Westerly, Rhode Island, and at age 32 in 1808 his father’s probate papers said he was “late of Westerly now residing in Norwich”, however census and town records show him moving between Westerly and Norwich several times.  So the marriage at Preston could be because she was from Preston, or perhaps they were both originally Westerly residents.

Lydia’s 1849 death notice gives her age as 62, making her birth (if true) around 1787.  There was a Lydia Minor born to Jerusha Peabody and Ludowick Minor in nearby Stonington, Connecticut in 1787, however, I am pursuing another person that may be THAT Lydia.

My latest research track:

  • Examine deeds and probate for a potential “Minor” family in Westerly and Preston
  • Look for probate for Lodowick Minor at Stonington.
  • Keep pursuing the possible sister for Lydia, Eliza.
A quote from Lydia's 80 year old son, William, from the Norwich Bulletin, 12 Sep 1898, reminiscing with a friend about his mother.  Sent to me by a kind researcher in Norwich.

A quote from Lydia’s 80 year old son, William, from the Norwich Bulletin, 12 Sep 1898, reminiscing with a friend about his mother. The article later makes it clear both families had 14 children each, in Lydia’s case, 7 boys and 7 girls.  Sent to me by a kind researcher in Norwich.

 6. Maria Shipley Martin (1848? – ?).  Maria or Mariah Shipley Martin, my gg-grandmother, has a fascinating family tree that includes immigrants from Scotland and England who came to Nova Scotia in the 1700′s.  So she is one of those mystery ancestors whose origins are well known, but she disappears from records after 1892, when her daughter got married at her home in Milton, Massachusetts.  I suspect, by that time, she was separated from her husband, but I have never found any further record of her.  Massachusetts was pretty strict about death records so perhaps she had gone with a relative to another state before her death, or perhaps she did, indeed, divorce and remarry.  My family had no knowledge of this branch, so I have found the stories of her children Bessie (my great grandmother), Clara, Hazel and Daisy, but I have found very little about Minnie, May, and John Anderson Martin.

My latest research track:

  • keep looking for a divorce record in several counties.  Look further for a second marriage in Massachusetts.
  • Look for her death record at the NEHGS library in Boston.
  • Try Milton, Mass. city directories.
  • Try naturalization records.
A book of her grandson's sayings and some fabric scraps, put together by Maria's daughters in 1898 after the death of daughter Bessie.

A book of her grandson’s Teddy’s sayings and some fabric scraps, put together by Maria’s daughters in 1898 after the death of daughter Bessie.

7.  Nancy (——-) Lamphere (1752?-1833). Nancy may be a Tefft, but I have no confidence in that so I am open to all names.  She married Daniel Lamphere around 1774 and had six children.  The only records I have for her are her husband’s probate in 1808 (and later), a number of Westerly deeds that she is mentioned in, and the birth records of her children in Westerly. She may have died around 1833.  If she was living next to her son Russell Lamphere in 1810 (perhaps in her third of the house), then apparently she was sometimes called Anne, an obvious variant that I haven’t been using very much.  

My latest research track:

  • Explore middle names that were used by Nancy’s children for their own offspring.
  • Do a thorough review of all the neighbors from early census records, and also those mentioned in the deeds.
  • Look at the spouses of her children for possible connections.
Transcription of Nancy's mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon.  So, Nancy was not able to write her name.

Transcription of Nancy’s mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon. So, Nancy was not able to write her name.

8. Rachel Smith (1734? – ?).   I estimate that my 7th great grandmother Rachel was born around 1735 (based on first child born mid-1750’s), and signed a deed in 1768.  She may have been a Smith.  She married Thomas Arnold around 1754 and they had 5 children that I know of: Lucy, Asa, Catherine, Aaron, and Philadelphia. My most recent clue is that Thomas Arnold purchased some property from John and Mary Smith very early on in Smithfield.  The children ended up in Cumberland, but the story of Thomas and Rachel seems to end around 1775 and although the children stayed in Cumberland, I can find no further trace of Thomas and Rachel – perhaps they died young.  Truly, this one may never be solved which, of course, just seems like a fun challenge.

My latest research track:

  • Pursue the early, local Smiths
  • Keep looking for the exact John and Mary Smith that sold land to Thomas Arnold, following clues in the deed, which I now have.
  • Try looking at town council records for Smithfield.

 

Smithfield records, held in Central Falls, will probably be the best source of Rachel's family.

Smithfield records, held in Central Falls, will probably be the best source of Rachel’s family.

9. James Anderson (1748?-1796).  With the help of some fellow researchers I know so much about my 5x-great grandfather James Anderson of Fells Point, Baltimore, later Chester, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.  Usually, knowing this much should have led, long ago, to knowing about his origins, but not so in this case.  His original family and place of birth remain a mystery.

My latest research track:

  • My cousins and I are focusing on DNA at this point.
  • Of the latest clues uncovered here and there, the ones that seem the most realistic are for other, earlier Anderson privateers off the coast of Maryland.  I may be able to explore those clues further in Maryland court records online, or at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
  • Think about how to acquire further records which may be held in England.

New York No 759. These are to Certify that Capt James Anderson was by a Majority of Votes regualrly admitted a Member of the New York Marine Society at a Meeting held the 11th day of June A.D. 1781 Given under my hand and the Seal of the Society this 11th day of June - Annoque Domini 1781.  Geo. Fowler Sec. [illegible] President.

New York No 759. These are to Certify that Capt James Anderson was by a Majority of Votes regualrly admitted a Member of the New York Marine Society at a Meeting held the 11th day of June A.D. 1781 Given under my hand and the Seal of the Society this 11th day of June – Annoque Domini 1781. Geo. Fowler Sec. [illegible] President.

10. Nathaniel Brown (1741? – 1798).  The last one is from my neglected line of Haydens/Parmenters, a closely intermarried family in Sudbury, Massachusetts that has not been that difficult to trace.  Nathaniel Brown married Elinor Hayden in 1761 in Sudbury and was “of Framingham” but I know the neighborhood where my ancestors lived was right on the border between Sudbury and Framingham, so he may have been very close by.  Nathaniel and Elinor had 11 children, and he died rather young in 1798.  There is a strong theory that he is the son of Thomas Brown and Abigail Cheney, originally of Cambridge, but no real proof.  And Brown was a common name in early Sudbury so anything is possible.  Deeds and probate have not solved this yet.

My latest research track:

  • Keep looking through probate records for local possible fathers of Nathaniel, to see if they mention him
  • Go through Nathaniel’s earliest land transactions more carefully.  He took over the farm of Elinor’s father, so the transactions are not that revealing.  Could he have been a cousin?  How did he have money for a purchase?
  • Learn more about the early history of Sudbury and the place of the Browns in it.
An early Sudbury house built by the Parmenters, in a line more closely related to Midge's husband than to mine.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

An early Sudbury house built by the Parmenters.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

In closing

It’s possible I wrote this so I could choose my next project.  Still not sure which it will be.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/10/17/my-top-ten-genea-mysteries/

I recently pinned down the family of Hannah Andrews, my ggg-grandmother.  I thought I would give an account here of how that happened.

My relationship to Hannah Andrews (counting up from my grandmother):

  • Hannah Andrews (1819 – 1878), my 3rd great grandmother
  • Emma Luella Lamphere (1857 – 1927), daughter of Hannah Andrews
  • Russell Earl Darling (1883 – 1959), son of Emma Luella Lamphere
  • Edna May Darling (1905 – 1999), my grandmother, daughter of Russell Earl Darling

I have documented Hannah previously in On Poverty, Records, and Chicken ThievesThe Brick Wall Stories: A Theory on Hannah Andrews and The Brick Wall Stories: Hannah Andrews.  I have listed a lot of sources there, so I won’t do that today – just my thought process as I went through this for the last 4 years.  Future work on these lines will bring up more documentation.

The story of Hannah Andrews

Hannah’s youngest child was my gg-grandmother Emma Luella Lamphere.  I had to trace Emma’s scattered history back a ways to even find Hannah.  Emma had been born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (and that was as far back as our vague family recollections went), but thanks to census records I began to realize her parents were from southern New England, and I found them and their Connecticut-born older children in some basic Connecticut sources.  I knew Hannah’s name from her marriage to Russell Lamphere recorded at Norwich, Connecticut in 1838.  Hannah Andrews, of Ashford, Connecticut.

Norwich Town 11 June 1838 Russell Lamphere of Norwich and Hannah Andrews of Ashford entered in the marriage relation before me .  Joel R. Arnold, Pastor of the Congl Church Colchester.  Received July 5, 1878.  Simeon [?] Town Clerk

Norwich Town 11 June 1838 Russell Lamphere of Norwich and Hannah Andrews of Ashford entered in the marriage relation before me . Joel R. Arnold, Pastor of the Congl Church Colchester. Received July 5, 1838. Simeon [Thomas?] Town Clerk

Hannah married Russell Lamphere and had four children in the industrial areas of Norwich Falls and Greenville, Connecticut: William H. (b. 1840), Sarah E. (b. 1843), Charles C. (b. 1844), and Caroline M (b. 1847).  In the 1850 census Russell is listed as a “Machinist” with property worth $700; really not a bad level of prosperity considering he was one of 14 children and would likely have received nothing from his father at that point.

During the early years of her marriage, Hannah often lived near or with an “Alden Andrews“, a farmer a year or two older than her, who married twice and became the father of a number of children.  Later in the 1880′s (after Hannah’s death), one of Alden’s sons lived in Russell’s household and was working in the mill with Russell.  This, as well as the fact that Alden named his first son Russell, is how I knew early on that Alden and Hannah were siblings.

Russell Lamphere was an ambitious man who took his family from the booming mill town of Norwich, Connecticut and headed south to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to start a business around 1852.  The south was anxious to process more of their own cotton and not depend on northern industries so much; I can only assume that this may have been part of his motivation. I wonder how they made the trip?   The Lampheres were not used to traveling – Russell’s brother William reported in his 80′s that he had never left their county in Connecticut – I wonder if the trip was by water, with an inland journey by carriage?  A younger sister or cousin of Russell, and her new husband, also found their way to Tuscaloosa, but otherwise, they went alone.

Hannah and Russell’s last child, Emma was born in 1854 in Alabama, and, lacking birth records, there could have been other children who did not survive.  I learned from Tuscaloosa newspapers (In Which I Stoop to Buying Microfilm) that Russell’s business partner died around 1860, and Russell opened a metalworking shop in downtown Tuscaloosa.  I am still uncertain what the original business was.

The business Russell advertised after the death of his partner.

The business Russell advertised in 1861 after the death of his partner.

Other than a family memory that things didn’t go well with the business because of the Civil War, and that it was unsafe after the war, no one really knows how it all went for them.  Hannah raised her young children and, presumably, watched them become quite southern, during divisive times.  The Tuscaloosa newspapers of the 1860′s were full of bitter, hateful reporting leading up to the Civil War.  How was that atmosphere for Russell and Hannah?  Were they conflicted?  The sons were grown by the time the war broke out. Charles definitely served in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier and stayed in the South for the rest of his life, and I believe William died in 1912 in Tuscaloosa.  In both cases I am basing this on how they named their children and some claims about being born in Connecticut.  There had been some letters from a civil war soldier among my family’s possessions, now lost – I suspect these were from Charles or William to their parents.  I’m sure the well being of her family and the safety of her sons placed Hannah squarely on the southern side of this conflict.

Towards the end of her life Hannah suffered from a “long and painful illness.”  She may have been ill when the 1870 census taker came around to a room in a boarding house shared by Emma and her father in Meridian, Mississippi (A Story Just Like Russell Lamphere’s). I have not found any other family member in the 1870 census. Where were Hannah and her daughters Sarah and Caroline? Could their absence have something to do with Hannah’s illness?

Hannah's daughter Emma Lamphere Darling , 1857-1927.  Emma, her daughter and granddaughter were tall and thin, with long, narrow faces and a sort of stateliness. My guess would be, Hannah looked something like that.

Hannah’s daughter Emma Lamphere Darling , 1857-1927. Emma, her daughter and granddaughter were tall and thin, with long, narrow faces and a sort of stateliness. My guess would be, Hannah looked something like that.

Between 1870 and 1875, Russell and Hannah moved the family up to Johnston, Rhode Island, just outside of Providence, where Russell was a “Manufacturer of Cotton Goods” according the the Rhode Island state census.  The west side of Providence, and Johnston, were filled with many textile manufacturing operations, large and small, at that time.  Daughters Sarah and Emma were living with them.  I have never determined what happened to Caroline, but she may have come north with the family since Russell’s obituary, much later, mentions a daughter in Eden Park, Cranston, who could not possibly be the other two daughters.  After leaving the south, it’s likely Hannah never saw her two sons again, although I can’t be sure of that.

Hannah died in 1878 in Providence, of gall stones.  She is buried in an unmarked grave at Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, likely a plot purchased by her husband in happier times.

from The Providence Daily Journal, June 25, 1878.

from The Providence Daily Journal, June 25, 1878.

Within the next year or two, her daughters Emma and Sarah married, and her husband remarried.  Was her illness another long, sad note in the difficult times this family faced?  Or was it actually relatively brief?  Did it impact how the business venture in Johnston went?  The family had moved on to Providence by the time of her death, where by 1880 Russell was an overseer in a large mill, obviously not his own.  It’s sad to think of them burying her far away (and Russell followed her, a couple of decades later), and probably thinking, for years, that they would put up a headstone, a plan that never came to fruition.

Section 6, Plot 9, "R & W Lamphere" at Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, Connecticut

Section 6, Plot 9, “R & W Lamphere” at Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, Connecticut

Who were the Andrews? 

At first, I thought it would be easy to discover the Andrews of Ashford, Connecticut, and learn about Hannah’s origins.  Ashford is a little town in rural northeastern Connecticut, well north of Norwich. I knew Hannah’s story was a little bit complicated, because sometimes she and Alden, or their children, reported them being born in Massachusetts, sometimes Connecticut.  Her Providence death records reported her parents as Jesse and Sarah Andrews (Alden’s 1873 death record lists a father, Jesse, only), and her birth place as Coventry, Connecticut. Nothing much came of the Coventry clue, so I moved back to a more contemporary record.  Knowing she was “of Ashford” in 1838, I checked the 1840 census records.

No Jesse Andrews in the 1840 census.  In 1830, Jesse Andrews was living in Ashford. His household showed only a man, 60-70, and a woman, 50-60.  Next to him was a “Benjamin Andrews”, also in a household of 2, a younger man and woman.  The 1820 census for Ashford showed Jesse Andrews in a bustling household of 11; a male over 45, a female 26 – 44, and 8 of the occupants were 16 or under.  One person was engaged in Agriculture and 5 in Manufactures.  The 1810 and prior census records showed no Jesse Andrews anywhere in Windham County.  I readily admit, I was confused.  How could that lonely household of 2 in 1830 have been the family of Hannah and her brother Alden, who would have been around 11 and 13 that year?

Ashford, from Connecticut Historical Collections by J.W. Barber, New Haven, 1836, p. 417.

Ashford, from Connecticut Historical Collections by J.W. Barber, New Haven, 1836, p. 417.

I set about hunting every Jesse Andrews I could, in New England.  One was married to “Sarah” and they lived their lives in Montague, Massachusetts.  The trouble was, in the years when Hannah and Alden could have been born, they were busy having several other children, and they raised a large family and never left Montague.  They were never in Ashford.

The only other Jesse Andrews that married a “Sarah” was a 1795 marriage record in Warwick, Rhode Island, for Jesse Andrews and “Sally Arnold.” Surely, that was too early for children born in 1817 and 1819.  And, of all the Connecticut and Massachusetts references I had seen, no mention was ever made of Rhode Island.

A visit to Ashford showed no vital or probate records for any of the people I knew, or any likely Andrews.  On another trip I went to Eastford, an offshoot of Ashford, again, nothing.

Key Fact #1

The one thing my Ashford visit turned up was a deed from Jesse Andrews to Alden Andrews in January, 1838 for the purchase of a 50 acre tract of land in southeastern Ashford.

It was good and bad news.  The names were unusual enough, and the year was the exact year that tied her family to Ashford, 1838, so I had to accept that this was Hannah’s family.  That was great, I had found them.  What was bad was the poor documentation and subsequent disappearance of Andrews from Ashford.  In the only other deed for Jesse, he (“of Ashford”) purchased the same property, with a mortgage, in 1832.  Alden lost the property by 1840, and was in Springfield, Massachusetts when he married for the first time.  I suspect Jesse was dead by 1840.

And here things sat for quite a while.  I pursued a line of Andrews that came from Ipswich, Massachusetts to Preston, Connecticut for quite a long time, and some Andrews from the Hartford area.  Alden’s name is unusual enough that I felt, for sure, I would find it.  I didn’t.

About a year and a half ago I began again my hunt for Jesse and Sarah, and this Benjamin Andrews who was a neighbor.

Key Fact #2

It’s almost hard to say why this clue was so big, but as I searched census records I finally noticed that there was an 1850 census record in Eastford for Benjamin Andrews, who was a 41 year old recent widower with two children, and a woman named Sarah Andrews, 74 and both Benjamin and Sarah reported being born in Rhode Island. 

Suddenly, it all made sense.  Benjamin was another son of Jesse Andrews, and Sarah was his mother, who was by then a widow.  If they came from Rhode Island, she could be the “Sally Arnold” who married Jesse Andrews in 1795.  Benjamin could have been born in Rhode Island around 1809.  Jesse and Sarah could have been the older couple in Ashford in 1830.  Sarah’s age when Hannah was born in 1819 could have been, say, 44.  Not completely crazy.

I visited the Connecticut State Library around this time, and learned that Sarah continued to live with Benjamin, during his second marriage, until she disappeared from the Norwich city directories about 1862.  No death or probate records, and that was too bad because I was hoping to find a death record that gave Sarah’s maiden name.  None turned up.  Benjamin himself developed quite a criminal record towards the end of his life and spent time in prison.

I began studying the Warwick Jesse and Sarah Andrews in earnest.  I learned several things:

  • Jesse was the son of Phillip Andrews, according to his marriage record and a manuscript I found at the Rhode Island Historical Society.  This rather obscure Andrews family descended from a North Kingstown, Rhode Island founder – one of the Fones purchasers – John Andrews (sometimes McAndrews).  Jesse had a grandmother named Hannah.
  • Jesse’s part of this family was not well documented, but he and one brother, Christopher, had detailed marriage records that have survived.
  • Phillip, the father, had an active military career in the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution.  He was sometimes in the company of a Benjamin Andrews. The name of his wife is unknown. He died before 1795 when he was “dec’d” on Jesse’s marriage record. No probate.
East Greenwich Town Hall, formerly the Kent County Courthouse.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

East Greenwich Town Hall, formerly the Kent County Courthouse. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

  • Since I knew from the marriage record that Sally’s father was Joseph Arnold (an extremely common name in that place and time) I noted that Jesse often lived next to a Joseph Arnold, and also another neighbor named Freelove Andrews, possibly Jesse’s widowed mother, whose name is unknown.
  • Jesse’s brother Christopher left Rhode Island in the late 1700′s for Pittstown, Rensselaer, New York.  He became the father of numerous children and he and his children are quite well documented.
  • Jesse had a Seaman’s Protection Certificate issued in 1798 and served on the Brig Fanny out of Providence in 1799.
  • Jesse purchased a small house and lot at the corner of Main and Montrose Streets in East Greenwich in 1797.  He sold it by 1800 and was at that time listed as “Yeoman alias Mariner.”  His wife “Sarah” signed one of the deeds, showing that “Sally” was indeed a “Sarah.”

Jesse appeared with a growing family in the 1800 and 1810 census in Warwick, then disappeared.  Not really knowing Sarah’s exact Arnold family and possible connections, I did an extensive census match-up between Warwick in 1810 and Ashford in 1820 to see if anyone might have accompanied them (A Census of the Census and 9 Other Things I Tried).  Nothing came of that.

Key Fact #3

All of this was helpful, but didn’t prove that the family in Warwick was the same as the family in Ashford.  Then I decided to get some DNA testing done on both my parents. 

Mom’s test came up with dozens of close matches to either Christopher Andrews (Jesse’s brother) or other Andrews of Warwick and East Greenwich, as well as the local families they tended to intermarry with – Sweets, Mattisons, Arnolds, Greenes.  Mom has no other connections in this part of Rhode Island.  It can really only come from Hannah Andrews.  I’m going to continue testing with other companies, but I’m accepting this evidence at this point.

The Old Randall Holden House, from History of Warwick by Fuller.  Randall Holden is a possible ancestor, depending on the exact Arnold line I may discover for Sarah.

The Old Randall Holden House, from History of Warwick by Fuller. Randall Holden is a possible ancestor, depending on the exact Arnold line I may discover for Sarah.

Things I still don’t know

  • Hannah and Russell were married by a Rev. Joel R. Arnold of the Colchester Conn. church, a popular preacher who didn’t stay long.  Now I am wondering if he is related to Sarah.  Duh.  Arnold.  That’s just occurring to me.
  • What happened between 1810 and 1820?  If they were in Massachusetts, where?  I find no evidence in deeds, many of which are actually online.  I see other relatives heading to Vermont or New York, but I never see anyone else going to Massachusetts.  Nearby Massachusetts should be a possibility (just north of Ashford, maybe) but I can’t find any record.  Perhaps Jesse’s mother died, and he had a small inheritance, and went elsewhere to buy land.  But I can’t find it.  I read Warwick town records for this decade, thinking they may have thrown him out, or paid him for something, but no luck.
  • The name Alden - where did that come from?  None of these Arnolds or Andrews had Mayflower roots.
  • Sarah Arnold’s parents will have to be discovered among the early Warwick Arnolds.  Her birth was not recorded, so she may have been in a family that migrated from one town to another, perhaps recording only part of their family.  My biggest clue is the proximity of Joseph Arnold to Jesse Andrews in the census records.
  • While I don’t think there are marked graves for Jesse and Sarah, I at least would like to find some notice of their deaths.
  • I have a theory that the missing children for Jesse and Sarah Andrews in the 1830 Ashford census may have headed south to Norwich, with their older siblings, to work in mills or do piecework at home.  Hannah could really only have met Russell in Norwich.
  • There were many other children in the Warwick 1810 census whose names are not known to me – what became of them?  I see little clear evidence in Warwick, Ashford, or Norwich.
  • It is embarrassing that I only have first name/middle initials for 4 of Hannah’s 5 children.  I normally do much better than that. In Sarah’s case, I sought out her grave and cemetery records, and I certainly sought and sometimes found marriage and death records for all.  If any of their descendants read this, please, let me know if you know one.
  • Now that I have the DNA bug, I’m a little curious about what the DNA of Alden’s descendants might tell us.  I don’t know any of them, but for his oldest son Russell, in particular, I have a lot of leads.

In the meantime, yay.  I found my ancestors right in my own backyard. Much more research will follow.

In summary

Hannah saw a lot in her 59 years.  She was born in a town that was new to her family, moved at least once or twice, and may have been part of the workforce at an early age.  I suspect when she met her husband he seemed far above her in station, and I am quite sure he was a very smart man, a sort of self-educated engineer.  Not much transpired after marriage that was easy or particularly successful, but I have in mind a version of her life where she admires her smart and ambitious husband, is appreciated for her willingness to follow him south, weathers very difficult times during the war, tends her children until, at the end, they must tend her, and is sincerely mourned. Rest in peace.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/09/30/hannah-andrews-brick-wall/

East Greenwich, from Picturesque Rhode Island. P245

East Greenwich, from Picturesque Rhode Island. P245

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.  The massive library consists of three buildings: the Jefferson Building, the Adams Building, and the Madison Building.  I took the Metro to the Capital South stop on the Blue Line.   It was only about 2 blocks up from there.  Parking, and even driving, looked completely impossible – the local streets seemed closed off, with police at every intersection.  That looked like a permanent state of affairs to me, but I could be wrong.

The Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, across from the Capital building.

The Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, across from the Capital building.

I wanted to visit the stunning Jefferson Building, and then get a research card and look at a manuscript in the Madison Building.  I had a backup plan if there was more time – a list of books I had found in the online card catalog, saved, emailed to myself, and printed.  Books from the stacks at the Library of Congress must be requested; one cannot roam the stacks. The old Genealogy Room is now gone; users should request the materials from the Main Reading Room.  This isn’t my favorite way of doing things, so I thought I would prefer to go for a manuscript.

Main entrance of the Jefferson Building.  The exit is in the back.

Main entrance of the Jefferson Building. The exit is in the back.

The Jefferson Building

The Jefferson Building with its famous Main Reading Room is incredibly beautiful.  I don’t know when I’ve been so overwhelmed by a building.  It was inspiring, and deserved a longer visit.  I hung by some of the tours, listening in.  I’ll have to take one of those someday.

The main entryway is several stories tall with marble staircases.

The Jefferson Building. The main entryway is several stories tall with marble staircases.

I walked through the Jefferson Building, visited the gift shop on my way out and purchased a sale book of old Massachusetts maps for $12, and then walked across the street to the more modern Madison Building.

A closer view of one of the marble staircases.

A closer view of one of the marble staircases in the Jefferson Building.

The Reader’s Registration

I visited the Reader’s Registration office in the Madison Building (LM-140) to request my registration card.  I had previously registered online for the card through the link on this page which was not really necessary but I hoped it would speed things up on site.  The card was cute. It will be good for two years.  Then, I went up to the sixth floor (yellow/red sections of the huge building) and found, with some difficulty, the cafeteria.  I had lunch, and it was quite peaceful in there until right about 12, when it got very busy.

Some details of the Main Reading Room.  I could have gained access once I had my research card, but didn't have enough time.

Some details of the Main Reading Room. I could have gained access once I had my research card, but didn’t have enough time.

The manuscript

I went to the Manuscripts Room on the first floor of the Madison Building. There were lockers, and very little could be brought in, but my tablet was ok, and they had wifi, which was helpful. I also brought my camera in to take pictures of the documents. I stored my other gear in the locker they gave me.

I had previously dropped them an email to inquire if the manuscript set I wanted had to be pre-ordered for remote retrieval.  They said that it should be available without advance planning.

The manuscript I had selected from the online catalog was:

Rhode Island General Assembly records, 1653-1747
Creator Rhode Island. General Assembly.
Extent 24 items ; 6 containers ; 2 linear feet
Summary Minutes, acts, and proceedings of Rhode Island’s colonial legislature sitting in various towns.
Finding Aid: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/eadmss.ms009023
LC Online Catalog record: http://lccn.loc.gov/mm83085753

The Madison Building

The Madison Building, Library of Congress.

Since the files had not been microfilmed, they let me use the originals.  I was mystified about the origins and provenance of the old, handwritten sets of Rhode Island General Assembly records.  The earliest records were in three bound and restored volumes; the later three were archival folders with loose papers or loosely sewn booklets.  As I read through them I realized where they came from.  Early in Rhode Island history, there was no state capital exactly; the state government often met at Newport but also floated from place to place regularly.  As the minutes of government business were written, it would be ordered that extra copies be made and filed with the main towns – usually at least Providence, Portsmouth, Newport and Warwick.  Many of the pages I saw in this archive were marked “Portsmouth.”

A sample page of the manuscript of Rhode Island General Assembly records, hhh

A sample page of the manuscript of Rhode Island General Assembly records.  The writing is fairly uniform within each section, and VERY small, to save paper, I presume.

I focused on finding three items relating to my 8x-great grandfather John McAndrews / Andrews:

  1. His freeman status, 1671
  2. His part in the Pettaquamscutt Purchase, mentioned in the General Assembly 1671
  3. A General Assembly act to lessen a criminal sentence he received, in 1679.
At the manuscript reading area in the Madison Building.

At the manuscript reading area in the Madison Building.

Sadly, I tried hard but didn’t find the 1671 records, and I think this is because the version I was reading was incomplete.  I did find the 1679 record.  What astonished me was that I have seen mentions of this item several times, and seen it in a compiled genealogy at the Rhode Island Historical Society.  I NEVER knew what the crime was, but I do now:

[Volume 2, unpaginated:  At a Genl Assembly held for the Collony at Newport the 29th of October 1679]  Voted Upon the petition of John Mackandrews, alias Andrews to this Genl Assembly that they would be pleased to remit the sentence of the Genl Court of Tryalls against him, the Reasons contained in the said petition, Being the Great infirmity of his Body the Great infirmity of his Body [<--good sign that this was a copy] and the smallness of his Estate which said Reasons being to us made apparent, and alsoe there being no Evidence against him but the womans accusation and his incapassety to maintain his family, Upon the consideration thereof this Assembly doe remitt, and take off the Corporal punishment due to him the said John Mackandrew by the law of this Collony, and alsoe five pounds of the pecunery [muled?] or fine due by the law aforesaid: And alsoe this Assembly doe hereby further order that the Recorder shall grant forth Execution for the Remainder of the fine due by the law, until the Genl Assembly give order for it : Hoping that this our Clemency and good will, will not in any Wise encourage him nor any others to offend against law in the like manner.

No complete or well researched work has been done on John Andrews and I would like to solve the mystery of his arrival in Rhode Island, possibly from Scotland, his whereabouts before his arrival in North Kingstown, and of his marriage(s) and children.

My purchase at the gift shop.   Massachusetts: Mapping the Bay State Through History

My purchase at the gift shop. Massachusetts: Mapping the Bay State Through History

Records of the Colony of Rhode Island

Most of what I looked at should be contained in the printed books “The Records of the Colony of Rhode Island” but apparently I had missed some of the John Andrews items previously.  I enjoyed perusing the 6 volumes/boxes, I was excited to find my item as it was originally written (or at least copied), and I am newly dedicated to using the Records of the Colony of Rhode Island. Any time I see a reference to an act by the government, I am going to check out the record myself and not rely on someone else’s summary.

I will have to save the list of books to be pulled from the stacks for another trip.  But I enjoyed my visit to the library and I would love to go back.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/09/25/library-of-congress/

This early seal with an anchor was evidently meant to mark this as an official copy.  It appears many times in the volumes.

This early seal with an anchor (from a restored, bound page) was evidently meant to mark this as an official copy. It appears many times in the volumes.

This is my first post on a few DNA-related things I’ve been doing.  I began a little DNA testing about 6 months ago, and I’ve found it confusing, bewildering, and totally awesome.  I’ll report my adventures here from time to time, but for advice on DNA, better look elsewhere.  Here are some helpful sources from people who are knowledgeable:

I have been involved in four tests.

Y-DNA – Family Tree DNA – a cousin

This 37-marker test of the Y or male chromosome was taken by a cousin named Anderson who is directly descended from my ggggg-grandfather James Anderson of Baltimore, and later of Chester, Nova Scotia.  Two things are holding us back from benefiting from this test:

  1. many of our fellow test-takers seem to have some mystery in their direct male line, and their known first ancestor is more recent in time than James Anderson.
  2. Anderson is a common, and I mean common, name.  There is an Anderson project, so that’s good, but we can’t make much out of our matches there.  We do not have a lot of close matches, only one Anderson and a few Dagliesh/Douglas families.

I am glad we have this test recorded, but I think we need to try some other strategies.

MtDNA – Family Tree DNA – me

This is a test of the kind of DNA that goes from a woman to her children, but only can be passed on again by her daughters, not her sons, so over a long period of time is transmitted through a direct female line.  I took this test because my direct maternal line does present a problem.  My grandmother’s grandmother Jessie MacLeod Murdock came to Rhode Island from Pictou, Nova Scotia, but her background before that is murky, particularly regarding her mother, Rachel (last name unknown).  I thought if I could at least find out about Rachel’s origins that might help me.

Louis and Jessie Murdock in 1933 on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, with their three daughters, the husbands, three grandchildren and twin great-grand-daughters, my mom and her sister.

Louis and Jessie Murdock in 1933 on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, (Jessie short, in the center) with their three daughters, the husbands, three grandchildren and twin great-grand-daughters, my mom and her sister.

When the results came back, they looked good, since I had several “0″ matches (meaning no mutations different than mine) and many “1′s”.  However, there were two serious problems:

  1. many of the testers who showed up in the list knew very little about their maternal family tree or submitted no tree at all or seemed not to understand that for this test, most distant direct maternal ancestor should be listed, not the overall most distant ancestor.
  2. Of the matches where I COULD see direct maternal info, I was surprised at the wide range of origins.  Germany, England, Russia, Ireland, Holland, and early U.S. settlers were represented.  Doesn’t clarify things much.  Clearly, we have some kind of strong MtDNA which has not changed in hundreds or should I say thousands of years.

So all in all, no help for me here although I suppose I have ruled out Native American origins, which were a possibility.

Autosomal DNA – Ancestry DNA – my father

Autosomal DNA is the bulk of one’s DNA, some of it being acquired from the mother, and some from the father.  This test was of my father’s autosomal DNA.

Of all the tests, this one definitely led to the closest cousins.  My father’s grandparents, Torquil and Sarah MacLean, had 11 children and dozens of grandchildren.  So of course I have many second cousins in this line, and my father’s test matched with one of them, a woman about my age in Utah.  I hope to get to meet her someday.  There were many other third and fourth cousins, with names and locations familiar to me from my father’s Cape Breton family tree, although currently most of the descendants are living all over Canada and the U.S.

My father’s four grandparents were from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with Scottish origins in the Lewis and Harris regions on the western islands.  So I was a little taken aback, at first, to see Dad’s ancestry come up as 54% Ireland and 41% Great Britain.  But on closer inspection, I could see Scotland is included in those two designations.  Looking at the shapes on the map, BOTH locations covered portions of Scotland, with the north western islands of Scotland representing the most remote coverage of each area.  So it made sense; it easily could represent his Scottish roots.

Dad's ethnicity report from Ancestry DNA show that his two main areas both include Scotland.  No big surprise there.

Dad’s ethnicity report from Ancestry DNA show that his two main areas – Ireland and Great Britain -  both include Scotland. No big surprise there. Graphic from Ancestry DNA.

Autosomal DNA – Ancestry DNA – my mother

My first surprise with Ancestry DNA is that when they alerted me that results were in, and I looked, there was almost nothing there.  Oh well, I thought, that’s not so good.  But surprisingly, a few days later I looked again and there was far more to see.  And then I looked again two days after that, and there was even more.  Apparently, the data must be present for a while before the matching starts to show.

Mom was 99% European, mostly British with some Irish, but I suppose some of the British/Irish originates in Scotland.

This is where we shout from the rooftops that DNA testing is better than dusty old archives any day (with apologies to dusty old archives, who were my first love).  Once mom’s results really started rolling in, I saw close matches with ties to the Andrews, Sweet, and Matteson families of North Kingstown/East Greenwich/Warwick, Rhode Island.  Two of the matches actually showed up as third cousins, I am guessing because they, and my mom, had multiple ties to those families (I have heard that multiple lines of descent can exaggerate the closeness of the genetic link between two people).  Genealogy happy dance.  Evidence (but not proof, at this point) that my Andrews family IS the same as the Jesse Andrews and Sally Arnold who married in Warwick in 1795.  More on this to come.

[Andrews], Jess, of Phillip, and Sally Arnold, of Joseph; m. by James Jerrauld, Justice, Feb 22, 1795.

[Andrews], Jesse, of Phillip, and Sally Arnold, of Joseph; m. by James Jerrauld, Justice, Feb 22, 1795.

Other “matched” people at the fourth cousin level showed up pretty clearly in other spots on my tree, and it felt GREAT to see some scientific evidence backing up my carefully-grown family trees.  And as I keep thinking about it, clearly I can keep scouring the many matches that turned up for links to other problem areas.

This will take a lot more work to really figure out, and as I start to think this through I realize it will take a new way of researching.  Usually, ANY connection is a clue to be followed up on, but with DNA, only a direct link between generations will produce the matches I am seeing.  It’s a new way to approach research, and everything that comes next is really a new road for me.  A lot to learn. My goal is to prove that those matches did not come from some other connection.

Meanwhile, I talked two very nice fifth cousins descended from mom’s Nova Scotia ancestors into taking some extra tests I had.  If they are related to my mom, both would be rather significant for me since they come from branches where I’m not sure if there was an adoption, or not.  A bit of matching wouldn’t tell me exactly what I need to know, but could encourage me to keep looking.

I uploaded results to the free site GEDMatch.com, to see what additional matches I might find, and to try some of their other utilities, to get more from my results.  More to come on that.

In other news

Mom and Dad do not appear to be related to each other.  There was a possibility, since they both descend from MacLeods of Nova Scotia/Scotland, but GEDMatch did not find genetic ties.

Next Steps

I would like to begin a systematic testing of my parents and other relatives on the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test. That test allows you to pinpoint the specific DNA sections that match other people.  I am hoping a sale comes up soon.  This may end up including my Y-DNA testing cousins.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/09/16/dna-and-me/

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