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There is a new web site devoted to Rhode Island’s historical societies, collections, and sites.

Explore RHODI

RHODI, the Rhode Island History Online Directory Initiative is a new website from the Rhode Island Historical Society.  Explore it today to learn more about the organizations, museums, libraries and preservation sites that are dedicated to Rhode Island’s history.

If you are visiting Rhode Island, or looking for information from a distance, you can learn more about available resources by following the many links at the RHODI website.

Visiting the Roger Williams National Memorial

Speaking of historical sites, I recently visited Rhode Island’s only National Memorial (there are no National Parks in Rhode Island).

The sign at the south end of the tiny park.

The sign at the south end of the tiny park.  You can see some colorful flags in the background along Canal Street.

The Roger William National Memorial is located in Providence, to the north side of downtown, around the spot where Roger Williams first settled in Providence.  It consists of a tiny park and a welcome center, with a little parking along one side.  This picture, below, was in early morning, but by mid-day, in warm weather, there are usually people playing catch, parking their bikes, having a picnic, or exploring the memorial.

Some daffodils were blooming this week.

Some daffodils were blooming this week.  You can see some colorful flags in the background along Canal Street.

The rest of the pictures were taken last winter, obviously a quiet time at the park. The picture below shows the Hahn Memorial, built in the 1930′s to honor Isaac Hahn, “the first person of Jewish faith to be elected to public office from Providence”, according to the Roger Williams National Memorial website.

This picture, taken last winter, shows the picturesque entrance along North Main Street.

This photo, taken last winter, shows the picturesque entrance along North Main Street.

There is a welcome center at the north end of the memorial, in the Antram-Gray House.  Part of this building has survived since 1730, and has served many purposes over the years before it became the welcome center.  A spot next to it called “Bernon Grove” commemorates the founder of King’s Chapel (now St. John’s Episcopal Church, across the street).  As Roger Williams planned, those of many faiths found refuge in the colony of Rhode Island.

The Antram-Gray House welcomes visitors and provides park offices.

The Antram-Gray House welcomes visitors and provides park offices.

Inside the visitors center I was greeted by a very nice park ranger and we had a great chat about Roger Williams and Providence history.

Books are for sale in the welcome center.

Books are for sale in the welcome center.

I looked around at the exhibit inside.

Roger Williams is there to greet you at the Vistitors Center exhibit.  Occasionally when I drive by in the summer, he is on the sidewalk welcoming visitors.

Roger Williams is there to greet you at the Visitors Center exhibit. Occasionally when I drive by in the summer, he is on the sidewalk welcoming visitors.

One last thought

On North Main Street, just up the street from this memorial, is the First Baptist Church in America.  I took this picture, below, of the church and the sign out front during the celebration of the 350th Anniversary of Rhode Island’s 1663 Charter, last year.

The First Baptist Church in America, nearby.

The First Baptist Church in America, nearby.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/04/19/rhode-islands-historical-sites/

I visited the North Burial Ground in Providence this week for the first time.  This large municipal cemetery holds over 35,000 markers (1) and over 100,000 interments (4).  It was begun by the city in 1700 and remains active today, with new burials occurring regularly.  It was originally positioned north of the Providence settlement, but over the centuries Providence and Pawtucket grew around it and it is now located at the intersections of North Main Street and Branch Avenue, with I-95 running along one side.

The southern entrance shows the cemetery office just inside the gates.

The southern entrance with the cemetery office just inside the gates.

Prior to the creation of the cemetery, and during its early years, residents of Providence buried their loved ones in family plots on their own property, since there was no central church and accompanying graveyard.  Gradually, many of those small cemeteries were relocated to the North Burial Ground (4).  By the mid-1800′s there was a desire to make the appearance more rustic and scenic, and extensive landscaping and improvements were undertaken (4).  In the 20th century the cemetery continued to grow but struggled with some deterioration and vandalism.  Today, the cemetery remains a unique and authentic memorial to Providence, past and present.

The downtown Providence skyline, barely visible on the horizon from the center of the cemetery, gives an almost exaggerated idea of the distance.

The downtown Providence skyline, barely visible on the horizon from the center of the cemetery, gives an exaggerated idea of the distance.

Visiting

Those who frequent Rhode Island’s many historic cemeteries will appreciate being able to walk into a cemetery office and get some help finding a grave – a rare opportunity in Rhode Island.

Entrance to the office

Entrance to the office

While it is likely that I have some early ancestors there, I only knew about one grave for sure that I was seeking.  It was the grave of my great-great aunt, Sarah E. Lamphere Capwell (1843-1905).  She was the sister of my gg-grandmother, Emma Lamphere Darling.

I walked into the office (open hours are listed here) with some information in hand that I had found on The Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project website (7) about Sarah’s burial.  The staff in the office were patient and cheerful as I stumbled around a little checking the year of burial; it turns out that date is the crucial starting point.  I did know the section (section BE), but they wanted to find the plot record and let me see that.

The book containing the ownership and record of burials for the plot.

The book containing the ownership and burials for the plot I was seeking.

The cemetery records

The record book was extremely helpful.  It showed the layout for the 10 graves in the plot, and gave some information for each one.

The Capwell plot in Section 17, Lot no. 2563.  On the map, the section is called BE.

The Capwell plot in Section 17, Lot no. 2563. On the map, the section is called BE.

The “Proprietor” was Nancy M. Capwell.  Sarah appears to be the first buried, in grave #1. Sarah was married to Burrington Anthony Capwell, who was the son of Nancy Maria (Wesson) Capwell and Joseph Alexander Capwell (a butcher), who were buried next in #2 and #3.  In the 1900 census Nancy Maria reported that she was the mother of 10 children, 4 living, so possibly the five names recorded in the plot record could have been for their children.  The staff explained to me that the scanty records of those names – Sarah, Maria, Caroline, Clark and Lillian – could indicate that they were re-interred from another location.  The last three names – Burrington himself, Sarah’s son Charles, and Charles’ wife, Margaret, complete the plot record.  Since Margaret was actually #11, she apparently shares a grave with her husband.

All interments for the Capwell plot

All interments for the Capwell plot.  The list of names included ages and dates of burial for some of the interred.

The staff pointed out several helpful pieces of information on the sheet.  Names are listed and numbered, and the diagram of the plot shows the appropriate number in each spot.  So you know where each person was buried. The rectangles and lines drawn at the foot of some graves usually represent markers.

The diagram of graves also shows some information about the location

The diagram of graves also shows some information about the location

Underneath the chart is an indication of the location of the plot within the section, indicated by feet from from the nearest roads – “61 ft E of Central –  79 ft S of Prospect area”.

Finding the grave

Staff were ready to accompany me but I was willing to drive over and try to find the grave myself. They gave me a map, and highlighted it with my route.   Section BE was large.  If it weren’t for the specific notations on the page I think I would have had a big problem finding it.  But I counted out the feet and found the spot.

A tiny portion of my map.  You can see where staff pointed out the number of feet from each street.

A tiny portion of my map. You can see where staff pointed out the number of feet from each street.

The map is not online, it is pretty much expected that you will go to the cemetery during open hours Monday through Friday and get specific directions, or be escorted, to the plot you are looking for in the huge cemetery.  Staff are busy, of course, but good at getting visitors the information they need.

Sarah E. Lampher Wife of B. A. Capwell Died Mar 14, 1905 Aged 59 Years

Sarah E. Lampher Wife of B. A. Capwell Died Mar 14, 1905 Aged 59 Years

I found Sarah’s grave among the Capwells.  The plot map and seeing these graves “put to rest” any idea I might have had of finding connections to Sarah’s Lamphere family, for instance, a sibling buried near her.

Sarah is in the second row, at the end.  Her husband Burrington should be immediately in front of her, but he has no marker.  Oddly, his parents have a double marker which says "Mother" and "Father" with dates, but no names at all.  Perhaps there had been plans for one more, grander monument.

The ten graves. Sarah is in the second row, at the end. Her husband Burrington should be immediately in front of her, but he has no marker. His parents have a double marker which says “Mother” and “Father” with dates, but no names at all. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the short railing (in front) said “Capwell” at ground level. 

Research

The record books in the cemetery office apparently go back to about 1848 (3).  To find earlier information, most people consult John E. Sterling’s North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island : Old Section, 1700-1848 (9).  That book is out of print, so the people at Gaspee Virtual Archives (3) have provided some information about where to find a copy.  There is, of course, a copy available in the cemetery office.

A Firefighters memorial to "Men Killed in the Line of Duty", beginning in 1828.

A Firefighters memorial to “Men Killed in the Line of Duty”, beginning in 1828.

The cemetery is filled with interesting memorials added over the years – a Firefighters memorial, an Elks section, various veterans memorials, to name just a few.

The Elks memorial

The Elks memorial

I’m sure I will be revisiting this huge cemetery in the future, since I suspect I have ancestors among the oldest burials.

Sources for further information

  1. The city of Providence webpage for the Old North Burial Ground
  2. List of names frequently found in the cemetery from The Bucklin Society website
  3. Instructions for finding graves at the cemetery, from the Gaspee Virtual Archives website
  4. National Register of Historic Places nomination form (1977; Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission)
  5. Two volumes of North Burial Ground notes (mostly legacies), from the Early Records of the Town of Providence:  volume 18 and volume 19.
  6. Some old inscriptions are recorded in The Narragansett Historical Register with the title ” The Story of the Tablets” by James L. Sherman  See volume 4 (p. 70, 116, 178, 283) and  volume 5 p. (67, 166, 268).  Find links to all volumes here.
  7. The Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project.  This large index can be downloaded in small pdf sections.  It includes entries statewide.
  8. FindAGrave section for the North Burial Ground.
  9. North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island : Old Section, 1700-1848 by John E Sterling.  Greenville, RI : Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2000. This book is out of print.  See the WorldCat record here, and another list of repositories that hold the book here.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/04/14/north-burial-ground-providence

2014-04-11 12.36.05

 

I am researching the family of my 6th great-grandfather Nathaniel Brown, who was in Framingham in 1761, and spent the remainder of his life in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  This is the first half of the search.  The next time I post about this, I expect to have formed an answer.  What follows is how the search has gone so far.

First, go see Midge

The first thing that I did was to visit the Goodenow Library special collections room in Sudbury, Massachusetts with genea-blogger Midge Frazel of “Granite in My Blood.”  Midge’s husband and I are 5th (?) cousins in the Parmenter line; by coincidence, the Parmenter brothers we are descended from, Elias and Ezra, married girls with the same last name, Eunice and Susannah Brown.  So we share this search.  Midge had located the correct names for Susannah’s parents: Nathaniel Brown and Elinor Hayden.  There was pretty good evidence for the marriage and Elinor’s family tree.  We consulted some books while we were there, including Descendants of Deacon John Parmenter, Proprietor of Sudbury, Massachusetts 1639, published by Pioneering Parmenters of America, 2009.   The question was, who exactly was Nathaniel Brown.

Goodenow Library, Sudbury

Goodenow Library, Sudbury, Fall, 2013

 The Browns

Of course we wondered, could Susannah and Eunice be sisters.  Both are listed as children of Nathaniel and Eunice Brown in the Sudbury “tan book” (Vital Records of Sudbury, Massachusetts to the Year 1850, published by the NEHGS, 1903) in the birth records section, on pages 25 and 27.  In the 1850 federal census, they were apparently living next door to each other in Sudbury (page 82 of 105), both widows, aged 70 and 79. The parents are mentioned in the marriage records for each.  So they certainly seem to be sisters. Coincidentally, I am also descended from a third sister, Abigail,

Brown was a common name in southern New England, so pinning down this Nathaniel Brown was not going to be easy.  Midge found a candidate in Nathaniel Brown of Newton, Massachusetts, son of Thomas Brown and Abigail Cheney.  The obvious things one would try first in the search for evidence – census records, vital records, town histories, cemetery records, newspapers and deeds – were raising more questions than answers.

As I waited around for the time to explore some probate and court records, I took stock of the situation.  I also have some probate microfilm on order.

The things we knew

Nathaniel and Brown and Elinor Hayden were married 29 Dec 1761.

Nathaniel Brown of Framingham and Elanor Hayden of Sudbury were married December 29th ... 1761.-  pr Israel Loring.  From Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620, Wayland marriages p105, on Ancestry.com

Nathaniel Brown of Framingham and Elanor Hayden of Sudbury were married December 29th … 1761.- pr Israel Loring. From Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Wayland births, marriages and deaths, p204, on Ancestry.com.  Snip by Midge Frazel.

As best I have determined from the Sudbury town records, Nathaniel and Elinor (Hayden) Brown had the following children:

  • Elinor
  • Jonas
  • Hannah
  • Abigail
  • Susanna
  • Uriah
  • Thadde (us?), no death record found
  • Eunice
  • Thaddeus
  • Joel
  • Nancy

Looking at Elinor‘s family (names matching Elinor and Nathaniel’s children highlighted in green):

  • parents:  Uriah Hayden, Hannah (Jennings) Hayden.   Siblings:  Eunice, Moses, Abigail (2), Hepseba, Ephraim, Susannah, Jonas, Lydia, Uriah

This is a striking case of a mother naming the children after her parents and siblings.

Another solid piece of evidence is the sale of property in Sudbury from the estate of Elinor’s father, Uriah Hayden, to Nathaniel Brown in 1770.  This included 60 acres, a house and barn and seemed to be the farm of Uriah Hayden prior to his death.  The deed was recorded in 1784 in Sudbury, volume 88, pages 141 and 142.  I was startled to see the name “Jonas Brown” in the deed but then recalled it was not recorded until 1784, when Nathaniel’s son was 19. Nathaniel paid Uriah’s sons Ephraim and Uriah, and the widow Hannah a price of 100 pounds.  All the men are recorded as husbandmen (farmers).

This makes it appear that Nathaniel took over the Hayden farm fairly early in his marriage to Elinor.  That sounds like something a person would do if they were a younger son, or didn’t have a father as they reached adulthood.

The questions we ask

Based on what’s here so far, a few possibilities for solving this appear:

  • Who was Thaddeus named for?  and how about Joel and Nancy?
  • Could there be deeds telling more about Nathaniel’s activities in Framingham and Sudbury?
  • Based on a marriage date of 1761, could Nathaniel possibly have participated as a soldier in the Revolutionary War?
  • Could there be a guardianship record for Nathaniel as a child?
  • Death record or probate for Nathaniel?

I wondered if the Newton, Massachusetts family would include a Thaddeus.

  • These are the possible parents of Nathaniel Brown:  Thomas and Abigail (Cheney) Brown. They were both born and married in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in 1737 Thomas purchased property in Newton from his father, Ebenezer, and the family relocated there.
  • The children of Thomas and Abigail were:  Aaron, Joseph, Thomas, Ebenezer, Abigail, Mary, Susannah, and Nathaniel (youngest).

While a few of the names overlap with Nathaniel and Elinor’s children, there is not a Thaddeus, Joel or Nancy to be found.  So far, I am not coming up with enough evidence that the Nathaniel born to Thomas and Abigail in 1761 was indeed the Nathaniel who married Elinor Hayden.  But the family includes enough matching names, and shows Nathaniel as a youngest son who might not have inherited from his father.  So they are still in the running.

The Brown Garrison House, pictured in Hudson's History of Sudbury Massachusetts, 1889, p. 199.  So far, I have found no link from the early Sudbury Brownes to Nathaniel Brown.

The Brown Garrison House, pictured in Hudson’s History of Sudbury Massachusetts, 1889, p. 199. So far, I have found no link from the early Sudbury Brownes to Nathaniel Brown.

I tried searching for Revolutionary War records, first for Nathaniel Brown and then for a (hypothetical) Thaddeus Brown.  “Nathaniel Brown” appears numerous times in the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors books (vol. 2, p. 668) and the entry dated in Sudbury is likely to be him, at least.  But Fold3.com does not show any records that seem likely to be Nathaniel.  Similar searches for Thaddeus Brown show a resident of the town of Harvard in Worcester County, Massachusetts who served in the Revolutionary War and later obtained a pension.  A Thaddeus Brown was born in Cambridge in 1746, son of William, and there were other Thaddeus Browns in eastern Massachusetts as well.  Nothing seems to link to a brother Nathaniel, or a Thaddeus Brown old enough to be Nathaniel’s father.

There is a Middlesex County probate record for Nathaniel Brown of Sudbury in 1798, Case Number 3151.  I have not seen this yet (I have ordered the microfilm from the FamilySearch Center), and for some reason I have not found his death in the Sudbury records.  I cannot find a death record or date for Elinor, either.  Her last child was born in 1786.

Early Massachusetts land records are available (although lacking an electronic index) at FamilySearch.org.  Framingham, Sudbury and Newton are all in Middlesex County so I focused my research there.  Other than the purchase of the Hayden property in 1770, the records I am finding do not seem certainly linked to this Nathaniel Brown.  Surely, there must be one for the sale after his death in 1798.

Next Steps

  • Look for land records from anywhere in Massachusetts that mention Nathaniel Brown among the heirs, selling a father’s property.  That will take a while.  Keep pursing the land records made on his property after his death.
  • Examine the probate records for Nathaniel Brown when the microfilm arrives.
  • Review the microfilm for a 1752 probate record naming a Nathaniel Brown in Cambridge which involves guardianship (when it arrives).  Perhaps Nathaniel lost his family early, and so didn’t think of naming his children for those relatives. The early Middlesex probate index is here on Ancestry.com, or try this download here on FamilySearch.org.
  • Look over the 1790 federal census for Sudbury and nearby towns, looking at the other Browns.
  • Also seek any Thaddeus in Sudbury in the 1790 census.
  • Keep trying to find any property Nathaniel might have owned in Framingham before his marriage (so far not finding any).
  • Learn more about the Newton couple, Thomas and Abigail Brown.  Look for a probate record for Thomas Brown of Newton; it may mention a location for son Nathaniel. If that fails, try to pursue the life of the Nathaniel Brown born to Thomas and Abigail of Newton – see if he can be eliminated.
  • Talk to Midge again.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/04/06/the-things-we-know/

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, in a line more closely related to Midge’s husband than to mine. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

The Early Records of the Town of Providence is a set of 21 volumes that provides a transcription of many of the earliest record books of Providence, Rhode Island, over the period of 1636 to 1750.  The books were compiled in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.  They are short books, and fairly readable (although original spelling is maintained). They represent a unique and powerful glimpse into the lives of the early Providence settlers – their life events, businesses, laws, misdeeds, families, property, sense of community and ambitions.  The books are well worth perusing for more than just an index to our individual ancestors.

Volume 8

Volume 8

What can be found

Because of the separation of church and state when Providence was founded by Roger Williams and others, the early town records encompassed not only laws, taxation,  court cases, probate and deeds but also vital records, including marriage banns, and some cemetery records.  The uncertain early relationships between Providence, Newport, Portsmouth and Warwick are apparent in the pages, as well as the growth of the settlement in Providence and the tensions that arose in the distribution of land and resources.  In the earliest years, Providence encompassed what are now other towns in Providence County, so records could be in the books for those areas, such as Cranston and Smithfield.

The settlement at Providence was damaged during King Phillips War (1675-1676) and for this and many other reasons town records are incomplete and somewhat scattered. There is no clear progression of topics and dates from volume to volume.  Each book contains a thoughtful introduction to the status of the particular records found there and I would encourage people to examine those pages.  The latest record I saw was about 1750.

What follows is a brief overview of the contents of each volume, plus a link to where each one can be found and downloaded (in most cases, from Archive.org).  The links were provided to me by a blog reader in England, who knew that others would like to have easy access to them.  Thanks!

The entry, possibly for my 9th great grandfather Michael Phillips, from volume 5, page 151, indicates that he may have died before 1676.

This entry for my 9th great grandfather Michael Phillips, from volume 5, page 151, indicates that he may have died before 1676.  I did not know that.

The index

Each book is well indexed, but a compiled index of all 21 volumes was produced by Richard LeBaron Bowen and published in 1949 by the Rhode Island Historical Society.  The index book begins with a synopsis of the contents of each book (far more comprehensive than what you see below), followed by the index (with corrections from the original indexing) and an interesting analysis of how the indexed names compare to other compiled lists of early Rhode Island families, for instance, Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island.

The index book is available online here, and can be downloaded from Archive.org directly through this link.

The volumes

Below are each of the 21 volumes and an indication of what is in them.

Volume 1 “Being the First Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the Long Old Book with Parchment Cover.”  From the introduction:

The first volume of records selected for perpetuation in print is the earliest in date of the existing public records of the city, and has at different times been referred to in town documents as the ” First Book of the Town of Providence,” and “The Long old Book with Parchment Cover.” The original leaves of this book are now separately fastened to or inlaid in sheets of strong paper 11-3/4 by 19-1/2 inches in size, and the whole is substantially bound in green leather inscribed on the side with the words, ” First Book Town of Providence.”

Vol. 1 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 2 “Being the Second Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the Town Old Book The Short Old Book The Old Burnt Book and sometimes called The Book with Brass Clasps.”  From the introduction:

It will be observed that the book, analytically, is divided into two parts ; that is, that it has been used for two different and distinct purposes ; first, for recording evidences of land titles and other instruments ; and, secondly, for the minutes of meetings for town purposes. One end of the book was probably used for one of these purposes and the other end for the other.

Vol. 2 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Richard Pray, my 11th great grandfather "hath taken vp the Sahrpe peece of land lying neere the place where Rich watermans Great Cannoo was made."  From volume 2, page 17.

Richard Pray, my 11th great grandfather “hath taken vp the Sharpe peece of land lying neere the place where Rich watermans Great Cannoo was made.” From volume 2, page 17.

Volume 3 “Being part of the Third Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the book with brass clasps.”

Vol. 3 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 4 “Being part of the Third Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the book with brass clasps.”    (a continuation of the previous volume)  From the introduction:

The records of the Town Meeting terminate at page 157 in the original, and at page 53 in this book; the remainder of the original containing enrollments of deeds, births, marriages and deaths, together with other miscellaneous records. … As will be noticed, the last date of a Town Meeting is on the 16th of February, 1675…

Vol. 4 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 5 “Being part of the Third Book of the Town of Providence otherwise called the book with brass clasps.”    (the final installment of this set)

This printed volume completes the records contained in the third manuscript book, entitled “Third Book Town of Providence A and B,” otherwise called “The Book with Brass Clasps.” It also completes the series of books that were in use for the earliest records of the town.

Vol. 5 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 6 “Being part of Will Book No. 1 otherwise called the first booke for Prouidence Towne Councill Perticulior Vse.”

This volume reproduces in type a portion of the records contained in the earliest book now in the possession of the city, mainly used for probate proceedings of the town. It is not, however, the first book so used, for in the schedule of the books and papers belonging to the town, which survived the effects of King Philip’s War, so called, and which schedule bears date June 4, 1677, there is inventoried among other records “A Small papor Book Containing the Enrolements of wills:”

Vol. 6 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Google.com by clicking here.

A 1691 warning that he will not pay the debts of his wife, from Ephraim Pierce.  The papers sometimes served purposes later served by newspapers.

A 1691 warning that he will not pay the debts of his wife, from Ephraim Pierce. The books sometimes served purposes later served by newspapers.  from volume 4, page 80.

Volume 7 “Being part of Will Book No. 1 otherwise called the first booke for Prouidence Towne Councill Perticulior Vse.” (The second and final section, including the probate record for my 9th great grandfather John Malavery, which begins on page 145.  There are a lot of inventory lists in this book – a fascinating glimpse into Providence life circa 1700.)

Vol. 7 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 8 “Being part of the Book of Records of Town Meetings No. 3 1677 to 1750 and other papers.”

The period succeeding the time embraced in the last named volume was one of disaster to the town, for the Indian War which had raged with varying success throughout the New England Colonies was then brought within the confines of Rhode Island. During a part of this period, previous to March 28, 1676, and for some time thereafter the town was practically deserted, its business well nigh suspended and a portion of it destroyed by the ravages of the Indians. The townsmen however carried on such governmental affairs as were actually necessary, and during this time Roger Williams held the office of Town Clerk. Some of the records during his incumbency are now extant, but it is not thought that all have been preserved.

Vol. 8 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 9 “Being part of the Book of Records of Town Meetings No. 3 1677 to 1750 and other papers.”  From the introduction:

The material contained in this volume consists largely of layouts of various highways in and around Providence. Through the courtesy of J. Herbert Shedd, City Engineer, the commissioners have been able to identify nearly every one of these highways, and foot notes are added to show the present street or highway intended by the crude and indefinite courses and boundaries given in the originals. The remaining entries consist of a few town meeting records, records of coroners’ inquests, indentures of apprenticeship and records of marriages, while a part of the book is taken up with entries relative to stray cattle, reports of wolf killers and other miscellaneous records.

Vol. 9 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 10 “Being the book called Town Council No. 1 1692-1714 and containing the records of the Providence Town Council.”  From the introduction:

The proceedings recorded in this volume refer almost entirely to the administration of probate affairs, for little else was brought to the Town Council for consideration except occasional requests or liquor licenses and for permission to keep public houses of entertainment.

Vol. 10 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 11 “Being the book of records designated as Town Meeting No. 1 1692-1715.”

Vol. 11 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

 

My 10th great grandmother Mary (----) Pray was, with her husband Richard, was granted a public house license in Providence as early as 1655.  This license, in 1681, may  refer to Mary, who had separated from Richard in 1667.   It is from volume 6 page 29.

My 10th great grandmother Mary (—-) Pray was, with her husband Richard, granted a public house license in Providence as early as 1655. This license, in 1681, may refer to Mary, who had separated from Richard in 1667. It is from volume 6 page 29.

Volume 12 “Being the book called Town Council No. 2 1715 to 1752 and containing the records of the Providence Town Council.”    From the introduction:

This book contains the proceedings of the Town Council, sitting as a court of probate, and is devoted almost entirely to this class of records, although the granting of tavern licenses, with the attendant privilege of selling liquors, occupied some space.

Vol. 12 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 13 “Being the book called Town Meeting No. 2 1716 to 1721 and containing the records of the Providence Town Meeting.”  From the introduction:

The record book known as “Town Meeting No 2 1716 1721″ which is here produced in type purports to contain the proceedings of the town meetings between those dates but in fact it also contains records for the years 1722, 1723, 1724 and 1725. A careful examination of it, leaves one somewhat in doubt as to just what this book was intended to be, for though it has many features about it to convey the impression that it is the original book of record there are likewise certain indications that it was used by the town clerk as a “Blotter” in which to make memoranda of the town proceedings previous to the more extended record. The perplexing irregularity of dates as shown in its present condition probably resulted from a lack of care in placing the sheets in proper order when the volume was bound up many years ago, and the incongruity of the title doubtless arose from the fact that, as bound, proceedings for the year 1721 come upon the last page of the manuscript book, thus misleading the person in charge of the binding into the belief that 1721 was the latest date referred to in the volume.

Vol. 13 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 14 “Being the first book for the recording of deeds and called Deed Book No. 1.”  From the introduction:

It Is the first volume which was particularly used for the entry of land evidences and similar documents, and marks a period when the growth of the town demanded a more systematic method of keeping its records.

Vol. 14 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Google.com by clicking here.

Volume 15 “Being the Providence Town papers Vol. 1 1639-April 1682 Nos. 01-0367.”  From the introduction:

These papers are decidedly miscellaneous in character and include petitions, letters, reports, depositions, tax lists, and nearly every other kind of public document in use in the early days of the Providence settlement during the time they cover, which extends from 1639 to 1682. The Commissioners have reproduced these papers in type with all the imperfections of spelling and arrangement, believing that any editing or revising would detract from their value.

Vol. 15 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 16 “Being the records contained in Will Book No. 2 from Sept. 12, 1716 to Jan 7, 1728-9.”

Vol. 16 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 17 “Being the Providence Town Papers Vol. 2 April 1682 – March 1722, Nos. 0358-0717.”   From the introduction:

… these papers are of a miscellaneous character and include nearly every variety of documents of a public nature.

Vol. 17 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

An example of a 1688 tax list that would show you that Mary Harris was a widow, and some indication of the death of Joseph Wise.  From volume 17, page 122.

An example of a 1688 tax list that would show you, for instance, that Mary Harris was a widow, that there were at least two adult John Thorntons, and some indication of the death of Joseph Wise. From volume 17, page 122.

Volume 18 “Being official records and documents of title and proceedings relative to the North Burial Ground.” Much of volumes 18 and 19 are simple payments for perpetual care of a certain plot, by the families.   From the introduction:

On January 25, 1894, the Joint Standing Committee of the City Council on the North Burial Ground requested the City Engineer to compile and prepare for the use of said committee all the material on record from the earliest period in the history of the town of Providence up to that date, relating to the North Burial Ground. The growth of that institution with its changes of boundaries and the acquisition of territory made it absolutely necessary that there should be readily at hand the various records and data relating to this burying ground under the management and control of the municipality.

Vol. 18 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 19 “Being official records and documents of title and proceedings relative to the North Burial Ground.”   (continued from previous volume).

Vol. 19 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Volume 20 “Being  the first part of the Second Book for the Recording of Deeds and Called Deed Book No. 2.”  From the introduction:

The book, which is herewith presented in type, comprises the first two hundred and five pages, being nearly one-half, of what is designated as Deed Book No. 2.  It purports to be “Begun on June the Twentieth Anno: 1705″ and the date of the last record of this portion is “November ye 6th 1711.”

Vol. 20 is available for browsing only at this link on HathiTrust, and cannot be downloaded as a whole book.

Volume 21 “Being the beginning of the second part of the second book for the recording of deeds and called Deed Book 2.”      From the introduction:

“Second Part of the Second Book for the Recording of Deeds and called Deed Book No. 2″. The earliest date is 3 Feb. 1661 and the latest date is 12 Mar. 1712/13.

Vol. 21 is available for browsing at this page, or download directly from Archive.org by clicking here.

Also see

Tax Lists of the Town of Providence during the Administration of Sir Edmund Andros and his Council 1686-1689 on Archive.org:   http://archive.org/details/taxlistsoftownof00field

The Early Records of the Town of Portsmouth (1901) on Archive.org:    http://www.archive.org/details/earlyrecordsofto02port
The Early Records of the Town of Warwick (1926) on Archive.org:     http://archive.org/details/earlyrecordsofto00rhod

The Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.

Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island.

In closing

For those with Ancestry.com subscriptions, an online index can also be found here.

The first 18 volumes were produced by record commissioners Horatio Rogers, George Moulton Carpenter, Edward Field, with volumes 19 and 20 being compiled by William E Clarke, Daniel F. Hayden, and William G. Brennen, and volume 21 by William C. Pelkey.

I enjoyed perusing these volumes, and I know I will continue to do so.

The post you are reading is located at:    http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/03/28/early-records-providence

 

Judge Horatio Rogers, 1836 - 1904, one of the record commissioners who compiled the books.

Judge Horatio Rogers, 1836 – 1904, one of the record commissioners who compiled the books.  From frontispiece, volume 18.

 

I sometimes like to scan old photos, scrapbooks and out-of-copyright books at home.  My husband, a woodworker, recently made me a photography stand to help me take the pictures.  This is for when a flatbed scanner would be too slow.

We researched the photography stands available (mostly made of metal), and I showed him photographs of a few I’ve seen here and there at libraries.  None of that helped much, and a lot of the advice was conflicting, so we pretty much made up our own design.

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note II.  Its freakishly big screen comes in handy in many ways.

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note II. Its freakishly big screen comes in handy in many ways.

I knew I wanted to use my smart phone, rather than my camera, mostly because I can command the smart phone by voice to take the picture, and don’t have to touch or move it.  I give 100% credit for this idea to Jenny Lanctot, whose post on Are My Roots Showing? about using a locker shelf to make a photography stand clued me in to the fact that saying “shoot” would snap the picture on my Android smart phone.  Yes, I needed that help despite the fact that my phone camera, when in operation, has the words “You can take pictures with voice commands like Smile, Cheese, Capture, and Shoot” displayed across the bottom at all times.  I tried Jenny’s system, and realized the power of that simple voice command to speed up photographing a large number pages – you can go as fast as you can turn the pages.

The camera screen on my phone

The camera screen on my Android phone

However, I wanted a system that would accommodate wider books, and take two pages at a time, if desired.  There were several problems my husband and I puzzled over along the way.  This is how we resolved them.

The photography stand

The photography stand

Portability

Although I don’t plan to take this anywhere, I do plan to move it from room to room, and there will be long periods where I don’t use it at all, so I want to store it compactly.  For that reason, he made it in pieces that simply fit together when assembled.

One or two pages at a time?

Most professional set-ups for book scanning (for instance, this example) put the book in a cradle with about a 90 degree angle that the book rests in.  Cameras are above on each side, shooting one page, then the other, then the page is turned. The pictures are integrated into one pdf.  Since I wasn’t very interested in setting up two cameras, that wouldn’t work for me.  I thought, in general, I would be happy shooting two pages at once.

Size of the book

Of course, shooting two pages at once could require a fairly big surface, so hubby worked with the measurements of the biggest book I might want, say, a page measurement of 9″ by 12″.  This required significant flexibility for the height of the camera, since I might want it farther up for a large book, but be able to lower it to get close to a smaller book.  He put the camera holder on a slider with a knob closure.

A better view of the knob to raise and lower the camera

A better view of the knob to raise and lower the camera

Taking the pictures

If you scan a book lying open on a flat surface you get this:

A book photographed lying flat

A book photographed lying flat; it curves

The curve in the page would get annoying.  To flatten it, glass is a good choice.  I purchased a large piece of quarter inch glass, with a finished edge for safety.  Hubby framed it and added sturdy handles for lifting.  If I had it to do over, I would have put one of the handles on the long edge, to give another option for lifting it.  With the glass, pages look like this:

The pages flattened by glass

The pages flattened by glass

If I use the glass, I am lifting it each time to turn the page.  It’s not that bad, but not ideal.  With the camera relatively close, we didn’t think there was enough room to hinge it, and, that would have made the glass a permanent fixture in this process.

I was concerned about the tone of the pages – old books can easily appear yellowed and even sepia.  I examined the options on the phone’s camera, especially the AWB – adjust white balance – settings.  In the end “auto” AWB worked best.

The only option I saw for the pictures in my camera was jpeg, although perhaps there are others.  I used a fairly large size (2048 x 1536), which seemed to work well.

Lighting.  Ah, lighting

When I first started trying this out I quickly realized that lighting would be the big problem.  There were shadows everywhere, and I had two clip-on lamps that I thought I would use, but they could not get high enough above the surface to stay out of the reflecting glass.  I read up on lighting and there is a reason photographers use those giant white umbrellas and enclosed boxes – they want to diffuse the light source.  Light, apparently, should come from a wide source, not a narrow opening.  I chose to deal with this by buying two flexible table lamps that had wide light openings – “Sunlight Desk Lamps.”  They work quite well, but on the other hand, if you look around on the web there are many homemade ways of widening a light source.  I think these lamps will stay on my desk when not in use.

Turning the page under the glass

Turning the page under the glass

Uploading automatically

One of the things I required in this system is an auto-upload of each picture so I don’t have to bother with that.  My phone’s camera was already set to upload to my DropBox account.  So after taking the pictures I could see them right away on my computer.  I noticed the camera stopped uploading when power got to only 25% in the phone, but as soon as it was plugged in, the rest of the pictures appeared in Dropbox.

Bulk editing

At this point, some edits were in order, and unless they could be done in bulk, that could be difficult.  The first thing I did with sets of page pictures was to rename them in bulk.

The Rename function under File in a Windows document folder will rename all selected documents

The Rename function under File in a Windows document folder will rename all selected documents

Using “Rename” under “File” will allow you to give a name (such as a shortened title of the book), which is then assigned to each document you have selected in the folder, with (2), (3), (4) after each one, in order. That would help for keeping them in order.   To batch crop the pictures and eliminate the unneeded edges, I think you would need to download some software.

Recompiling

At this point, there is a folder full of jpeg images, in order.  I have Adobe Acrobat and that would make compiling the pdf book from the jpegs fairly simple.  I think it would be good to photograph the covers and add those.  To assemble the book I could either select ALL my pages and right-click to “Combine supported files in Acrobat” or open Acrobat and under “File” – “Combine” – “Merge files into a single pdf” open a box where I could drag all the pages in.

A picture of my Aunt Ann and a friend from 1945, pasted into my great grandmother's scrapbook, soon to be digitized.

A picture of my Aunt Ann and a friend from 1945, pasted into my great grandmother’s scrapbook, soon to be digitized.

I like the stand, lighting, and optional glass plate.  For other glimpses at hubby’s woodworking, see the bookcase he made me last year.

cat-books

For woodworkers only

What follows are some details my husband provided me about the construction of the stand, and a few more pictures.  There are no detailed plans; I’m afraid this is all we have.  The stand was made from scrap wood, but my husband says strong wood like oak is important for something like this.

All the pieces at parade rest (as my husband would say).

All the pieces at parade rest (as my husband would say).

The platform is white oak plywood trimmed with (I think) poplar.  Its outer dimensions are 13 x 21.  When assembled the surface of the platform is 2-1/2 inches off the table.

The underside of the platform.

The underside of the platform.

The stand is made out of cherry on the bottom and the rising part is red oak; the top of the riser is 18 inches off the table.

The arm of the stand shown from the back

The arm of the stand shown from the back

There is a slit in the riser, it measures 12-1/4 inches.

To attach the box to the riser, he used a fender washer, and there is a T-bolt assembled into the box.  When assembled, the knob (purchased at Lowes) will allow me to adjust the height of the box, and therefore the height of the camera.

back of the sliding box

back of the sliding box

He carefully fit my phone to the inner edges of the box – he tested this several times. I believe it is red oak with poplar edges. I like the fact that there’s only about an extra half inch in there – I can line the phone up against the edge and be sure it is straight.  The box arms extend out about 12 inches over the platform.

The stand is not actually attached to the platform.  They just slide together.

The stand is not actually attached to the platform. They just slide together.

The base of the stand extends from back to front about 13-1/2 inches.  The platform fits over it.

The glass tray cover has handles purchased at Lowes

The glass tray cover has handles purchased at Lowes

The glass in the tray is 1/4 inch think, with finished edges for safety.  The outside measurements of the tray are 14 x 20.

The RJB insignia and date

The RJB insignia and date

For further information, consult my husband’s blog at AccidentalWoodworker.blogspot.com and search for “camera stand”.  It’s best to leave questions about the construction there.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/03/16/a-book-photography-stand/

I have been to the Rhode Island State Archives at 337 Westminster Street, Providence, several times, and I’ve only begun to explore its holdings.  These are some things I have found there.

There are some materials presented on the web page (linked above), but they are mostly items of general or historical interest.  For genealogists seeking to find a name in an obscure, everyday record, the online search is unlikely to help.  If you need to look for something at the archives, note that in the “Reference” section of the Archives web page there are instructions for “Planning a Visit” and “Unable to Visit“.

The archives are located at 337 Westminster Street, Providence.

The archives are located at 337 Westminster Street, Providence.

I have parked several times at the lot next door on Westminster Street; if you have your ticket stamped at the archives, you can get up to two hours free.  I think the prices after that are quite high, so beware.  It is sometimes possible to park on the street, and use the meters.   Currently 8 quarters get you two hours.  The meters will only hold up to two hours of time.

Basically, the archives hold state government information.  So you would have to determine if what you are looking for had anything to do with the state government.  If you can’t visit, procedures for submitting written requests are available on the web page I linked to, above.  But a quick phone call or email might help you determine, with the archivists, what record types they have in the archives, and whether your request will be appropriate.

The black binders contain the index to the vital records

The black binders contain the index to the vital records

Vital records

The state of Rhode Island began to collect birth, marriage and death records from Rhode Island’s cities and towns around 1851.  At the archives, you can access these records, which are often filled with details.  There are index volumes to consult, and they point you to the record pages, which are on microfilm.  Ancestry.com is starting to display abstracts of these records, but I would encourage anyone to obtain the full record if possible.  There are laws covering the privacy of the more recent records, so of course some of those will not be available.

RI State Censuses, 1865 p1072 snip

The 1865 Rhode Island State Census shows the town of residence and street (circled; in this case, Hospital Street), plus (in order of arrows) street number, country/state, or (if R.I.) town of birth, occupation, school attended, disabilities, and military status, among other things. This image can be clicked to enlarge.

1865 & 1875 state census records

Before Ancestry.com began to carry the R.I. 1865 and 1875 state census records, the Rhode Island state archives would have been one of the few places to find them.  The 1875 census is indexed in a card file, and the 1865 census is indexed in a file which is on microfilm.  Full records for each are on microfilm.  These records have been very helpful for me.  The 1865 record pages contain a lot of details such as street of residence and birth place.  These census records have also been microfilmed by FamilySearch, I believe.

A bill before the General Assembly of R.I. October, 1823, a petition to benefit from "An Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors"

A bill before the General Assembly of R.I. October, 1823, a petition by Joseph Arnold of Warwick to benefit from “An Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors”

State government

Even if your ancestor didn’t serve in state government, or work for the state government, there still may be state government documents related to them.  I had found a newspaper reference to this bill (above) before the General Assembly in October, 1823, and wondered if it could refer to the Joseph Arnold of Warwick that I am researching.  Ken Carlson of the Archives staff was able to locate the record, and I viewed it on microfilm.  If you are curious about possible assembly bills about your ancestor, you could ask the staff there how to search for them.

There are quite a few local directories available

There are quite a few local directories available

Index and directory volumes

There are a variety of city directories and standard genealogy guides at the archives, and I have barely begun to explore them. Each time I go I also notice interesting books such as military lists, compiled sources, and histories.

The Revolutionary War Index.

The Revolutionary War Index.

Each drawer is filled with alphabetized slips of references to R.I. Rev. War military personnel

Each drawer is filled with alphabetized slips of references to R.I. Rev. War military personnel

Revolutionary War index

Towards the back of the main room there is an old file, created many decades ago, by a volunteer group (the local DAR, maybe?) which contains references from numerous repositories around the state about Revolutionary War military personnel in Rhode Island.  Each slip tells the source of the note at the bottom, and often those sources are NOT from the state archives.  The one shown here (below) refers to a manuscript at the Rhode Island Historical Society.  Note that one of the slips in this picture offers an alternate spelling of Richard Ballou’s name – something I’ve never searched for or seen before.  I photographed the slips for Ballou, and for Phillip Andrews of Warwick.

Entries for my ancestor Richard Ballou.  Reference to the source is at the bottom of the card.

Entries for my ancestor Richard Ballou. Reference to the source is at the bottom of the card.  I was already aware of this undated list, a manuscript at the Rhode Island Historical Society.

I enjoy my visits to the archives and the archivists have been helpful.  I have barely begun to explore the resources there, so if you’re curious, visit or contact them to learn more.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/03/05/rhode-island-state-archives/

RI St Archives Feb14 (8)– Photos by Diane Boumenot.

Before I started genealogy, if I had had to take a guess about the origins of my mother’s family, I would have said maybe they arrived in Rhode Island in the mid 1800′s, from England.   Research quickly showed me that was not true; many had been in Rhode Island and Massachusetts since the earliest settlements in the 1600′s.  But for mom’s great grandparents Louis and Jessie (MacLeod) Murdock (the parents of my great-grandmother, Eva Louise Murdock Darling), their story actually does come close to the guess I had in mind.

Both Louis and Jessie experienced some form of adoption when they were young – in both cases, I suspect one parent was an actual parent, or closely related to an actual parent.  I also suspect that Jessie left her Pictou, Nova Scotia family (my post about that HERE) and came to Rhode Island to be with relatives — Louis’ family.  So I am researching Louis’ family BOTH for evidence of his origins, and for evidence of Jessie’s.  Before I can tackle the Pictou questions, I am compiling all the details I can about their early years in Rhode Island.

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 (center) in 1933 on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, with their three daughters, two grandchildren and three great-grand-daughters, and various spouses.

The Murdocks

I explored the family that adopted Louis Rufus Murdock in an earlier post.  William and Eliza (Coghill) Murdock came to Rhode Island from New Glasgow, Pictou, Nova Scotia in the 1860′s.  They had five daughters.  After wife Eliza died, William married in 1865 Margaret “Maggie” Lawrence in Providence.  The couple had one additional child in 1867, William Clark Murdock.  Louis was in the household from the beginning.

The Lawrences

I had glossed over Maggie’s family, the Lawrences, for several years because of the well-known “adoption” of Louis, known as a family story and also from his marriage license.  I didn’t understand what my relationship to them should be, other than gratitude.  But that all changed recently when I found Louis living in the Lawrence household in 1865, age 1, with Maggie, some siblings of hers, and her parents.  The parents were clearly beyond the child producing years.  Maggie didn’t marry William Murdock until the following October, obviously bringing the toddler with her.

Louis Rufus Murdock, 1863-1949, as a young man

Louis Rufus Murdock, 1863-1949, as a young man

I think Louis is either Maggie’s son by a mysterious first marriage, for which I have not yet found a marriage or divorce record (but it was mentioned on her marriage license when marrying William), or is the son of one of Maggie’s siblings. Being war time, if Maggie’s husband died, I don’t see why that would forever be referred to as “adoption”.  It’s hard to picture Maggie voluntarily adopting a child when she was single. In fact I’m not sure if she would have had a legal right to do that.  And I just don’t see the Lawrences taking in the neighborhood foundling — for one thing, the net worth of the Lawrences in the 1870 census was below that of the neighbors. Also, Louis became a machinist like his grandfather James Laurence … could that be nature, or nurture?

Here is the closest thing I have to proof: in the 1900 federal census, Maggie’s entry reports 2 children born, and two living.  Her 1910 entry says one child born, and one living, however, I think son William Clark Murdock completed her 1910 entry, because the responder didn’t seem to know where Maggie’s parents had been born (something she would clearly have known). This seems like the only real evidence I have so far that Maggie considered herself to be Louis’ mother, but others didn’t. I actually feel that I might someday determine what the story was.   For now, I am realizing that I am likely to be descended from the Lawrences.

So, I am only now researching my ggg-grandparents.

On America Street

Maggie’s parents were James Lawrence (1807-1882) and Ann Shortridge (1810-1897), both born in England.  The first evidence I found for them was a R.I. state census record from their Providence home, taken in 1865:

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 the Lawrences: England, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island. My father was right. My mother DOES descend from a long line of gypsies.

I was surprised to see that the parents were born in England.  I was even more surprised to see that the children were born in South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, and Providence.  What a road map to a family’s journey!  At other times I have also seen Georgia, Maine and Virginia given as birth places for the children.

When I realized that parents James and Anna were born in England, I found it especially touching that my immigrant ancestors lived at 28 America Street, in Providence.  Did it ever strike them as a symbol of the life they had made? This neighborhood is to the immediate west of downtown, between Atwells and Broadway.  Over the years the Lawrences stayed in that neighborhood; and at the time of James’ death in 1882 their address was 38 America Street.

28 & 38 America Street are a parking lot today.  These houses are across the street.  I'm not sure if these houses are reminiscent of the street back then, or more recent.

28 & 38 America Street are a parking lot today. These houses are across the street. I’m not sure if these houses are indicative of the street back then, or more recent.

I visited the neighborhood.  The area of 28 – 38 America Street was now a vacant lot.  I believe the America Street School, built in 1905, was once in the spot, but apparently burned in the last decade or so, and the land has been leveled.  Back in 1865, there would have been large factories in Providence, and no doubt James, a machinist, was employed nearby.

James Lawrence and Ann Shortridge had five children that I know about:

  • Margaret A. “Maggie” Lawrence (1838-1921), married William Murdock in 1865 and then Jeremiah Johnson Knight in 1896.  Clearly she was born in the south, although I’m not sure in which state.  She may have had a first husband prior to these two.
  • John Lawrence (1840 – ).  I can’t seem to trace him after the 1860 census.
  • William J Lawrence (1845-1865).  Sadly, young William died of Typhoid fever in Providence at age 20.
  • Elizabeth Jane Lawrence (1849-1937), married John Thayer Scott, a house painter, in 1867. “Lizzie” and John Scott were living with her parents in 1870. They had several children in Providence.
  • Ella J. Lawrence (1852-1923) married machinist Sidney Goldsworthy Stamp in 1870, after he had been a boarder in her parents’ home.  They had at least two children, Sidney and Ella (who died at age 7).  There is evidence that Ella ended up at the Rhode Island State Hospital for the Insane for many years.

I have found nothing yet about James Lawrence’s origins in England.

At the NEHGS Library

In the midst of this, I traveled to Boston on a bus trip with some Rhode Island Genealogical Society members.  I spent the day at the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library on Newbury Street.

After getting through some other research I turned my attention to the Lawrences. I knew from various death records I had for the children that Ann Lawrence’s maiden name was Shortridge.   I had seen on Ancestry.com in a transcription of some marriage records from Dorchester, Massachusetts (today a section of Boston) that James Lawrence married Ann Shortriggs on May 16, 1835.  That date would correspond reasonably with the birth of Maggie in 1838.  But Shortriggs seemed like a bit more than a normal spelling variation of Shortridge, and finding them in Boston would add yet one more stop to their dizzying criss-cross years on the east coast.  I thought I would like to see the original records from Dorchester, in case there was more information.

A possible marriage record for James and Ann Lawrence, in Dorchester, Mass.

A possible marriage record for James and Ann Lawrence, in Dorchester, Mass.

I approached librarian and genealogist Marie Daly with my question about Dorchester records, possibly on microfilm.  There were no other versions available, but as Marie asked questions about the marriage she became curious about the immigration of the couple, and in particular, of Ann Shortriggs and her family.  Let me point out several smart strategies that she used:

  • she took the spelling “Shortriggs” seriously.  I had sort of dismissed it because I had seen “Shortridge” so many more times.  But thinking about it, Shortridge was used by the children later, when recording their own life events.  The Dorchester marriage record was more contemporary to the arrival from England.
  • She knew offhand that Shortridge and Shortriggs do not index the same in a Soundex indexing system, so we should avoid Soundex in any search we were using (she opted for phonetic matches).  That’s not something I think about enough.
  • When searching in Ancestry, she used the “Match all terms exactly” box and then entered very limited search criteria.  When you are searching in your own tree the search screen doesn’t normally come up that way, so I don’t try that nearly enough.
  • She used “Shortr*” to search for the last name, but when that failed us (Ancestry indexing can be unpredictable) she went to a first name + ship name search (since by that time we knew the name of the ship), using the Immigration & Travel / Passenger Lists category.  She may have added the year to that search.  It worked.  Ancestry.com had it indexed as “John Shorterrgs”.
  • She paid attention to the name of the minister, hoping it could lead to further church records.  I am still researching that.

She managed to find the original passenger list on the “Hibernia” which sailed from Liverpool (according to the abstract on the prior page), arriving in New York January 3, 1832, in the New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 collection on Ancestry.com (Roll M237, 1820-1897, Roll 015, sheet 768 of 897).

New York Passenger Lists document for the Shortriggs family on Ancestry.com

New York Passenger Lists document for the Shortriggs family on Ancestry.com

John Shortriggs was listed as a Labourer, belonging to Great Britain, intending to inhabit the United States.  Since I had seen on her death record that Ann’s parents were John and Margaret, this seemed likely to be her family.

The Shortridges

Marie Daly got curious about their origins in England and managed to find the marriage license as well as the birth records for the Shortriggs children in Irthington, Rockcliffe and Stanwix, near Carlisle, Cumberland, England.  It’s in the north, not that far from Gretna Green, Scotland.

A 1745 view of Carlisle, showing its history as a fortified city near the Scottish border.  By the early 1800's it was more industrial. From Carlisle in 1745 by George Gill Mounsy, 1846, p. 40.

A 1745 view of Carlisle, showing its history as a fortified city near the Scottish border.  From Carlisle in 1745 by George Gill Mounsy, 1846, p. 40.

Here is what I know about the Shortridges (Shortriggs) so far.  John Shortriggs married Margaret Balmour on May 16, 1807 in Saint Mary, Carlisle, Cumberland, England.  In 1832 they came to New York on the Hibernia, from Liverpool, with their six children.  Daughter Ann married in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1835 so perhaps they were living there, perhaps not.  In 1841 Margaret was a widow, living on Field Street (?) in Providence.  In 1865, widow Margaret was living with daughter Mary.

  • Mary, birth details unknown, married William Bamford.  According to the 1850 federal census record, their children were born in England, South Carolina, and Maine.  William was working as a mule spinner at that time.  By 1865, he and Mary were running a saloon at 92 Point Street in Providence.  Mary died in 1883.
  • William, born 1808 in Rockcliffe, Cumberland, England, was not on the list (above) on the journey to New York in 1832.  I know nothing further.
  • Ann (1810 – 1897), born 1810 in Irthington, Cumberland, England, married James Lawrence in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1835.   Their children were born in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Connecticut, and they lived in Providence by 1860.  James was a machinist.
  • Jane, born 1813 in Irthington, Cumberland, England, was on the list for the 1832 trip to New York.  I have nothing further.
  • Margaret, born 1815 in Irthington, married William Hardman, machinist, in 1845, in Providence.  There is a 14 year old Hardman child in the household, as well as 3 small children, in 1850 so possibly William had been married previously.  She died in 1892 in Rhode Island.
  • John, born 1817 in Stanwix, Cumberland, England, came on the ship with the others to New York.  I have not been able to distinguish the various John Shortriggs records yet to know what happened to John, but I do not believe he settled in Rhode Island.
  • Elizabeth, born 1822 in Irthington, married Archibald McMillan, a Scottish cotton mill worker, in 1844 in Providence.  He later became a painter. They had daughters who in turn worked in the cotton mills.  Elizabeth died in 1882.

I am hoping, eventually, to find that siblings Mary and Ann were near each other in the various states where their children were born in the 1840′s-50′s.  So far, I am having trouble retracing those moves.

In conclusion

Previously, my only immigrant ancestors were those trekking back and forth between Nova Scotia and New England, an activity that, in terms of records, brought a big yawn from the immigration authorities and a “yea, it’s time for my lunch anyway.”  So prior to my day at the NEHGS, I don’t think I really saw anything like that passenger list and the careful birth records to match.  A quick search has not turned up naturalization records yet, but they may exist and I will keep trying.  At last, I could walk into the National Archives with a real mission.  Maybe someday.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2015/02/24/america-street/

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