I recently read a book about genealogical research that I highly recommend:  Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques by George C. Morgan and Drew Smith (New York: McGraw Hill Education, 2014).

I guess it’s no secret that I am fascinated by the process of things – HOW they are done.  Many genealogy books focus on why, or where, and I get that, but how-to is what really resonates with me.  In addition to plenty of practical suggestions, the book is also sprinkled with interesting examples to illustrate their strategies.

Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques

Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques

Everything about this book seemed to speak directly to me.  It is not a beginner’s book, and yet, could profitably be read by anyone wanting to advance from the level of beginner.  If you are doing some things in a more sophisticated way than you used to, and are wondering what other methods you might profitably employ, I think you will find this book helpful.

Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques follows an easy to understand theme of breaking down brick walls by many methods – dismantling them, going around them, etc. As they emphasize in the last chapter, it’s not about tricks to help you hurdle over the hard work of research, it’s about how to approach your problems sensibly with the best possibility of ending up with a proven and correct result.

I think I can best create an impression of the book by giving several examples of how it will influence my research:

  • Have I really, really started over from the beginning of the Andrews research, to see if I come to the same result?  As I began again, I realized I had never re-started from the beginning (the most recent and well-documented things) but rather, I had been reviewing small sections of my work.
  • Am I searching creatively enough, and reading the specifics of each record set before utilizing it?
  • Am I sharing problems effectively with others?  The blog is only one method for that. I’m not discussing problems with my fellow researchers very much, and I’ve never pursued the idea of explaining a research problem to a non-genealogist, just to get their impressions and thoughts (well let’s be honest here, I’m not sure friends and family would be up for that, but one could try).
  • Their explanation of the mtDNA test (which I recently became involved with) is the clearest I’ve read, and I will refer back to it when I get my results.
  • I’m pretty good about research to-do lists, but not so good about turning those to-do’s into research logs, so I know the details of what I tried and when.  The book has some encouraging tips for that.
  • I’m going to review their tools section for any software I might want to add.  While I read about new products from time to time, it’s nice to have reviews in one place where I can find them.
  • For people new to online crowdsourcing (that is, connecting with strangers who have, or can easily get, information you need), the tips are very clear and helpful.  I especially like “The Etiquette of Online Forums” about how to post a question online.
  • Because they mention so many types of records, I often found myself racing to, say, the FamilySearch microfilm collection to see if certain kinds of records were captured from certain locations.

I definitely recommend this book for those who are aspiring to approach their problems in a more comprehensive (and successful!) way.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/05/19/advanced-genealogy-a-book-review

Dover 257

Learning more about the Aldriches

Recently, I have been learning more about Asa Aldrich of Cumberland, Rhode Island and nearby Sheldonville (West Wrentham), Massachusetts.

This recent curiosity began over the past year as I have corresponded a bit with a small group of volunteers who are documenting some cemeteries that my Aldrich and Darling ancestors are buried in, particularly the Sheldonville Cemetery.  The cemetery is in back of a house that has a historic marker for my 5x great grandfather, Nathan Aldrich, in the Sheldonville village in Wrentham.

When I mentioned Nathan Aldrich’s house in an email, one of the volunteers told me something very interesting.  She gave me the address of another house very near to Nathan’s on West Street that had belonged to Asa Aldrich, Nathan’s father.  He is my 6x great grandfather.  She kindly copied the entries for both houses that she found in a booklet by the Wrentham Historical Commission, A Guide to Historic Wrentham, Massachusetts, 1993.  She was sure that the public library had a copy.

This is the story of how that small collaboration led to a lot of new information for me.

A Guide to Historic Wrentham, Massachusetts

A Guide to Historic Wrentham, Massachusetts

Reviewing what I know about Asa Aldrich

I am descended from Asa Aldrich in the following way:

My grandmother Edna Darling is a descendant of Asa Aldrich.

My grandmother Edna Darling is a descendant of Asa Aldrich.

Here is what I knew about Asa Aldrich:

  • Asa Aldrich was born 10 May 1744 in Mendon, Massachusetts (1).   He was the first child born to Jonathan Aldrich and Patience (Gaskill) Aldrich (2).  On his father’s side, he descended from George Aldrich and Fernando Thayer (among the original settlers of Mendon, Massachusetts), and on his mother’s, from early Salem and Ipswich families.  Provided Southwick, Salem’s Quaker daughter who was immortalized in the Whittier poem “Cassandra Southwick” was Asa’s great-great grandmother.
  • He married Lucy Haskell in 1770, daughter of Abner Haskell and Grace (Slack) Haskell.  (Lucy had a twin brother, Comfort Haskell, who served in the Revolutionary War in some Rhode Island militias, and his widow was granted a pension in 1849.  I had not seen many such pensions originating in Rhode Island, and I realized as I read the 57 pages on Fold3.com that many officers and friends were mentioned there. Note to self – any pension record from the town of an ancestor is worth reading, particularly if the ancestor served but left few records. In this case, there is no evidence that Asa served in the war.)
  • Asa and Lucy had two sons recorded in Wrentham, Nathaniel in 1771 and Nathan in 1773 (3).  The other children were recorded in Asa’a probate record, 1826, and in various deeds:  Abigail (Aldrich) Barnes, David Aldrich, Amey (Aldrich) Hancock, Amos Aldrich, and Samuel Aldrich.

And here is what I am learning by consulting new sources:

  • A Suffolk County deed from 1772.  It occurred to me that since Norfolk County deeds, online at FamilySearch, begin in 1793, there must be earlier deeds in a parent county.  That would be Suffolk.  There were some deeds from prior generations there, and a 1772 deed for Asa, who purchased 74 acres from Thomas Jenks of Cumberland, R.I.  The southern bound of the land “borders Hathaway’s” which, based on my previous mappings for Richard Ballou’s property, puts the southern end in Cumberland, R.I.  It’s bound to the West by “Indian Meadow Road” which I believe may be today’s Burnt Swamp Road.  I believe this property was the basis for various gifts of land Asa later gave most of his sons.
The intersection of Burnt Swamp Road (which begins in Cumberland, R.I.) and West Street in Sheldonville.

The intersection of Burnt Swamp Road (which begins in Cumberland, R.I.) and West Street in Sheldonville. This picture was taken in front of the house with the Nathan Aldrich, 1841 plaque.

  • 1782 Rhode Island census lists Asa in Cumberland with a household of six, apparently in neighborhood order, amidst relatives that I am familiar with.
  • 1788, Asa was serving as an overseer of the poor in Cumberland, Rhode Island.  I first learned about this in Unwelcome Americans: Living on the Margin in Early New England by Ruth Wallis Herndon (5).  On the library trip, described below, I found several notes from the town records about Asa’s activities looking after the poor.
  • This one made me laugh.  Asa only appears once in the Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.

[October, 1790].  Whereas, it appears to this Assembly, that Asa Aldrich, an inhabitant of the town of Cumberland, in this state, hath been deemed by the select men of Wrentham, in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, an inhabitant of that town, and in consequence thereof hath been greatly vexed and oppressed.

It is therefore voted and resolved, that His Excellency the Governor, be requested to write to his Excellency the Governor of Massachusetts, representing the state of this matter, and desiring that the select men and inhabitants of the said town of Wrentham, may be directed to surcease all proceedings against the said Asa Aldrich, until the line between said commonwealth and this state, in that part, be settled.  (Volume 10, page 397).

I got a chuckle after years of confusion about whether Asa and his sons really lived in Cumberland or Wrentham, to find that the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts were likewise befuddled over 230 years ago.  I’m not feeling so stupid now.

In a situation like this, you always ask yourself whether the person stayed in one spot, but the county/state lines changed.  I now think Asa may have moved, living first on the Rhode Island end of his property, but later in life, on the Massachusetts side.

  • Sheldonville Baptist Church:  I had seen in Mrs. Sprague’s manuscript about Cumberland (4) in the Rhode Island Historical Society Library that the Aldriches were Baptists.  Several of my direct line were married by Justices of the Peace, but I know that in 1873 Asa’a great granddaughter Abby Darling married Julius Mead at the Sheldonville Baptist Church.  When I visited Sheldonville, there was the church itself, within view of the houses my ancestors lived in.  How involved were they?  I need to explore this further.
  • 1790 census.  After the additional research I’ve done in maps, graves, and other records, when I look at the 1790 census it immediately jumps out at me that Asa is next to his father in law, Abner Haskell, and his wife’s twin brother, Comfort Haskell.  Since there are still some Haskells located on the 1838 Cumberland map given to me by John Tew (see his blog post here for how to get the map), that further clarifies the location of Asa’s house as being on the western edge of Sumner Brown Road.

    Sheldonville, 1888 map showing the location of the cemetery, Nathan's former house, and Asa'a former house.

    Sheldonville, 1888 map showing the location of the cemetery on Burnt Swamp Road, Nathan’s former house, and Asa’a former house.

  • Asa’s house in Sheldonville.  Thanks to my contacts at Find A Grave, I was alerted to Asa’s house in Sheldonville, and drove up to see it, see below.
  • Asa and Lucy’s graves.  I also found, thanks to the entries of those same volunteers of the West Wrentham Cemetery, Asa and Lucy’s graves, see below.
  • Asa’s 1826 probate situation is complicated since it seems to have been processed both in Wrentham, Mass and Cumberland, R.I. , and involved a dispute that I cannot really understand.  I am still gathering the complete documents.

A trip to Sheldonville

I visited the West Wrentham Cemetery recently to look for the graves of Asa and Lucy (Haskell) Aldrich.  There were pictures on Find A Grave, of rounded gray markers with the small shoulders rather common for the early 1800′s.  I thought I could find them easily, but as I looked around I realized most of the graves looked exactly like that.

West Wrentham Cemetery

West Wrentham Cemetery.

I finally found them, over to one side.  Asa and Lucy have matching stones, surrounded by names I’m not familiar with.  But in other parts of the cemetery, I spotted many members of Lucy’s family.  Over the course of this particular search I grew much more familiar with all the siblings and spouses.  Looking at early maps, cemeteries, and town notes now, I am starting to recognize most of Sheldonville’s early population.

Graves of Asa and Lucy (Haskell) Aldrich

Graves of Asa and Lucy (Haskell) Aldrich.

The Fiske Public Library, Wrentham

As I prepared from home to visit the Fiske Public Library to see the Guide to Historic Wrentham I didn’t note anything special on the website.  The day of my visit, I found the library down a side street, parked and entered, and inquired about the booklet.  I was quite surprised when the librarian asked if I was looking for the Genealogy Room.  Well, sure I was.  That sounded good.

Fiske Public  Library, Wrentham

Fiske Public Library, Wrentham

The Genealogy Room was an attractive, quiet space lined with books.  There was a microfilm reader and a small collection of useful microfilm.  I photographed the boxes of microfilm so I would have the titles.

The Genealogy Room at the library, donated by the Ross Family.

The Genealogy Room at the library, donated by the Ross Family.

One very notable feature of the collection was the Wrentham Historical Society MacDougald Collection, a large set of binders covering one wall, containing a huge variety of information about historic Wrentham.  I looked through 10 or 20 of the binders; they are well indexed and hold notes, lists, clippings, abstracts, letters, and copies of all sorts of documentation such as cemetery records, maps, family history, and town business.

A few of the many binders of the MacDougald Collection

A few of the many binders of the MacDougald Collection

I photographed so many pages, particularly of the cemetery plot information and the abstracts of town business (sorted by name), that I went through the two camera batteries I had and started on my phone camera.

One interesting item that I found in the “Aldrich” pages was a study of Asa and Lucy’s son Amos Aldrich, one of the first boat builders in Sheldonville, an area known for boat building.

Another thing I learned, in my reading of the Guide to Historic Wrentham, was that Asa’s son Nathan Aldrich, my 5x-great grandfather, was “a local farmer and builder, who built many houses in Sheldonville”.  Two that still exist today are 57 Hancock Street, c1840, and 63 Burnt Swamp Road.  I had usually seen him described as a farmer, but like many New England farmers he clearly pursued other work as well.  At last, a detail about my ancestors that my husband, the woodworker, might appreciate.

Asa’s house

The volunteers told me about the book A Guide to Historic Wrentham, Massachusetts.  Perusing the book at the library gave me the following information about 995 West Street:

[Simple Georgian - 1816]: This house with gable end to the street and entrance on the side has retained its old corner trim, cornice, cornice returns, doorframe and fine proportions.  There is a shed dormer on the rear and the usual center chimney.

The first owner was Asa Aldrich; the second was his son, Nathan.  Subsequent owners were boat builders, Charles Follett in 1859 and Charles J. Farmer by the turn of the century.

Asa Aldrich's house in Sheldonville, from rather late in life, 1814.

Asa Aldrich’s house in Sheldonville, from rather late in his life, 1816.

If Asa was the original owner, I have to wonder if Nathan built this house, in fact it resembles other houses pictured in the Historic Wrentham booklet.

In conclusion

It meant a lot to me to find another house of my ancestors, particularly one almost 200 years old.  If, according to the booklet, Nathan Aldrich lived in this house later in life (from the deeds I can see that he sold the house with the plaque to his son William in the 1840′s, and William ultimately sold it and moved away) then this one could be the house where Nathan was enumerated in 1850 and 1860, with his grandson Ellis Aldrich Darling, my 3x-great grandfather, and his family, and where my great-great grandfather Addison Parmenter Darling was born in 1856.  Addison left Sheldonville in 1872, as a teenager, to learn silver engraving with his new brother-in-law in the city of Providence.  Many years later, my great grandmother asked my folks to take a drive with her up to Sheldonville, to see if she could spot the house where her father-in-law had been born, but she couldn’t pick it out.

Now, perhaps we’ve found it.


(1)  Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Vital and Town Records, 1620-1988 , database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com, accessed 19 May 2014), entry for Asa Aldrich (Mendon, Births, p. 80).

(2)  Aldrich, Ralph Ernest.  The Aldrich Family Genealogy : Descendants of George Aldrich of Mendon, Mass. Part E: Jacob. National Aldrich Association, 1998.  

(3)  Vital Records of Wrentham, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850. Boston:  1910. Volume 1, Births.  Entry for Nathan and Nathaniel Aldrich, page 11.

(4)  Sprague, Mrs. Abigail.  Unpublished notes, History of Cumberland.  c 1890-1906.  Rhode Island Historical Society MSS 1023.    Box 1, folder 43: Hathaway Mills neighborhood.   Box 2, folder 32: Aldrich family.   Box 2, folder 40:  Ballou.

(5) Herndon, Ruth Wallis. Unwelcome Americans (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001).

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/05/14/sources-for-asa-aldrich/

sheldonville post cardColor photos by Diane Boumenot, 2014.

Recently, I realized that I have not been using the census taken in Rhode Island in 1782 very much.  While records from a few towns did not survive, lists for most towns survive as a manuscript in the Rhode Island Historical Society Library and, I believe, on microfilm there.  General categories for age, gender and race were included in the original records, and names for heads of households (only) were collected.

A transcription of the entries by Katharine U. Waterman appears in several volumes of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register from the 1970′s.  Mrs. Waterman’s work, published after her death, appears in eleven issues between 1973 and 1975.  The order of entries in each town follows the order of the original manuscripts – in some cases, alphabetical, in some cases, not alphabetical. Often, non-alphabetical census lists reflect neighborhoods and proximity in some way, but I have to admit these particular sets appear to be oddly jumbled, sometimes partly alphabetized, so you may see the people you are looking for in relation to their neighbors, but don’t count on that.

1753 map from Plan for the British Dominions of New England and North America by William Douglas MD.

1753 map of Rhode Island from a larger map, Plan for the British Dominions of New England and North America by William Douglas MD.

New England Historical and Genealogical Register

“The Rhode Island Census of 1782 transcribed by the late Katharine U. Waterman of North Scituate, Rhode Island”

- vol. 127, no. 1, January 1973:

  • Introduction explaining the call by the Continental Congress for the information to be collected by the states, the resolution passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly, and Mrs. Waterman’s arrangements and symbols – page 3 – 5.  The introduction explains that five of the lists are missing:  Barrington, Johnston, North Providence, Richmond and Smithfield.
  • Note especially the explanation of symbols on pages 4 – 5.  The members of each household are broken down in categories by gender, age and race.
  • Newport, page 5 – 17

- vol. 127, no. 2, April 1973:

  • Newport cont., page 138 – 142
  • Middletown, page 142 – 147
  • Tiverton, page 142 – 150

- vol. 127, no. 3, July 1973:

  • Tiverton cont., page 216 – 218
  • Little Compton, page 218 – 222
  • Providence, page 222 – 229

- vol. 127, no. 4, October 1973:

  • Providence cont., page 302 – 312

- vol. 128, no. 1, January 1974:

  • Providence cont., page 49 – 50
  • Cranston, page 50 – 55
  • Gloucester, page 55 – 63

- vol. 128, no. 2, April 1974:

  • South Kingston, page 124 – 130
  • North Kingstown, page 130 – 135

- vol. 128, no. 3, July 1974:

  • North Kingston cont., page 215
  • Charlestown, page 215 – 219
  • Westerly, page 219 – 224
  • Exeter, page 224

- vol. 128, no. 4, October 1974:

  • Exeter cont., page 293 – 303
  • East Greenwich, page 303 – 304

- vol. 129, no. 1, January 1975:

  • East Greenwich cont., page 53 – 57
  • West Greenwich, page 57 – 62
  • Coventry, page 62  – 67

- vol. 129, no. 3, July 1975:

  • Coventry cont., page 270
  • Warwick, page 270 – 277

- vol. 129, no. 4, October 1975:

  • Warwick cont., page 379 – 380
  • Bristol, page 380 – 383
  • Cumberland, page 383 – 387

How to see these articles

For New England Historic Genealogical Society members, each article can be viewed online at American Ancestors.org using the “Search” screen (selecting New England Historic and Genealogical Register from the “Database” field, and the Volume and Page).  This will lead you to search results that can be clicked through to browse the articles.  Of course, one could actually search for a name on that page, but beware not all names were recorded with the spelling we would expect today.

For others, the volumes should be found in genealogical libraries, or possibly through special arrangement with your local library.

The 1790 and 1800 census books, as well as the 1747 booklet and Bartlett's 1774 version of the census returns were purchased used.  The "Military Census of 1777" was a recent purchase from Genealogical.com.

Some compiled census books.  The 1790 and 1800 federal census books, as well as the 1747 booklet and Bartlett’s version of the 1774 census were purchased used. The “Military Census of 1777″ was a recent purchase from Genealogical.com.

More about Rhode Island census records

To learn more about early census records, a knowledgeable discussion of Rhode Island census records can be found in the article Early Rhode Island Censuses by Cherry Fletcher Bamburg, FASG, which is located on the Rhode Island Genealogical Society website.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/05/18/rhode-island-census-of-1782


My search for the origins of my Loyalist ancestor, James Anderson, originally of Baltimore, has brought me some new information, mostly in the form of pictures.  My previous posts on James Anderson cover his timeline and Loyalist claim, including sources, and his privateer activities.

My grandfather Miles Baldwin is a descendant of James Anderson

My grandfather Miles Baldwin is a descendant of James Anderson

Fells Point

Recently, I was able to visit Baltimore and see the spot where, we believe, James Anderson built a brick house, on Thames Street by the water in Fells Point.  I was surprised to learn that Fells Point has a long history of privateers, and privateers of the War of 1812 era are celebrated in an annual Privateer Festival.  So whatever attracted James to Baltimore (I don’t believe he was born there, but we don’t know where he was born) may have included the kind of marine activities he was interested in.  I believe the 1770′s were early days for Fells Point privateers, so he was part of that.

James Anderson purchased the property from John Bond in 1772 as Lot #22 on Thames Street, Fell’s Point.  My cousin who has been searching for James Anderson’s roots much longer than me, Pat Hagan, had advised me that the spot was roughly at the intersection of Bond and Thames.  We knew it was on the water side because of a 1777 ad in the Maryland Journal describing the auction of the Brigantine Mary-Ann and contents in James’ backyard.  While we are still trying to locate a copy of the map of those original Fells Point lots, he had been told on his own visit to Baltimore that this was the spot, and so that is where I visited.

Corner of Thames and Bond Streets, Fell's Point.  This 1792 map by A.P. Folie is a from the Library of Congress, g3844b ct000792 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3844b.ct000792

Corner of Thames and Bond Streets, Fell’s Point. This 1792 map by A.P. Folie is from the Library of Congress, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3844b.ct000792

From home, I prepared many maps and visited all the streets in advance on Google maps.

The intersection of Thames and Bond Street, Fells Point, looking out on the water.

The intersection of Thames and Bond Street, Fells Point, looking out on the water.

A visit to Baltimore

During a recent visit to Baltimore I took a cab over to Bond and Thames and the cab driver obligingly waited while I wandered around snapping photos.  The spot I was there to visit actually consisted of a long, wide dock, with a very old brick warehouse running along one side, now in use as shops and restaurants.

Looking towards downtown from Fells Point.

Looking towards downtown from Fells Point.

My first impression was that 235 years had not completely changed the setting.  There were wharves and ships, brick buildings, shops and restaurants and, just inland, old two- and three-story buildings obviously still used as homes.  The water itself was timeless and beautiful.  Baltimore, then and now, could be seen across the way.

A house across Thames Street, also serving as a shop.

A house across Thames Street, also serving as a shop.

I noticed the cobblestone streets and charming brick buildings.  One across the way was serving as a shop.

The cobblestone streets and old houses and shops lined Bond Street.

The cobblestone streets … old houses and shops lined Bond Street on a cold January day.

I was charmed by the setting and found myself picturing sloops anchored offshore and the busy streets filled with sailors, ship owners, and their families.

Bond Street Wharf Building at the corner of Bond and Thames.

Bond Street Wharf Building at the corner of Bond and Thames.

I’m always afraid, when I visit somewhere, that my ancestor’s stomping ground will now be a convenience store.  But in this case, I did get a sense of the sailors and captains walking through cobbled streets (legend has it the streets are made from ship’s ballast) amidst homes, gardens, taverns, children, women running shops, and every kind of sea-craft along shore.

A picture of James Anderson’s son

Prior to my visit to Baltimore this winter, my wonderful cousin Pat Hagan also managed to send me something I have long heard about, and never seen, the photographs of James’ Anderson’s son (my 4th great grandfather) John Secomb Anderson and his wife (my fourth great grandmother) Elizabeth Hardacker Anderson.  They are property of the Nova Scotia descendants, and those kind folks have given permission for these copies to be placed here.

John Secomb Anderson, 1790-1869

John Secomb Anderson, 1790-1869

These are the first pictures I have seen of direct ancestors born in the 1700′s.  Exciting!  The picture of John Secomb Anderson (named, I believe, for a popular local minister in Nova Scotia) is the only idea we have of James’ appearance.  I can’t help but imagine that  the adventurous James Anderson’s expression was never so severe. But John lost his father early in life, and perhaps was not greatly influenced by him.

Elizabeth Hardacker Anderson, 1789-1871

Elizabeth Hardacker Anderson, 1789-1871

Naval history

In addition to sources I’ve mentioned in my first and second posts on James Anderson, I am trying to learn more about his dealings with the American and British navies.  The series “Naval Documents of the American Revolution” is what I am exploring right now.  Each of the 11 volumes can be downloaded from the website of the American Naval Records Society and contains an index.  The stories in the books are descriptive and fascinating, although it is challenging to know which refer to this James Anderson.

In closing

Did seeing Thames Street help my research?  I actually think it did.  Being in Fells Point alerted me to the early days of Fells Point privateers.  Since there is no evidence yet that James came from an early Baltimore family, the privateering gives me an idea of what might have drawn him to Fells Point from somewhere else.  All in all, it helps to picture what I’m researching.

Lately, my cousins and I have been learning more about other Andersons in the counties surrounding Baltimore. There is another cousin, Bonnie, also working on this, and other relatives cheering us on.  A 1729 deed was sent to me by Pat Hagan for 100 acres of  “Sunken Islands” property sold to a James Anderson of Anne Arundell County, Maryland by Philip Jones, Junr.  Could that James be a father or grandfather? A historian that I mentioned in my second post, Richard D. Pougher, sent us a story from the 1750′s about Captain John Anderson and the Brigantine Betsey.  Other sources also refer to various early seafaring Andersons.  Somehow, I feel like we are compiling so many clues, that we will manage someday to put them together to tell the story of where James Anderson came from.

Last but not least, a direct male descendant of James Anderson in Canada has agreed to supply DNA for a Y-DNA test.  This is our first foray into DNA testing, and we will see if it helps at all.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/05/08/picturing-james-anderson



My Samsung Galaxy Note II is very useful to me in a lot of ways. It’s an Android phone with a large screen.  These are some of the ways I use it for genealogy, and perhaps others have useful tips to leave here also.

Midge Frazel dubbed this the "genea-phone".  I like that.

Midge Frazel dubbed this the “genea-phone.”  I like that.

  • Access my Ancestry.com trees.  Anywhere I am – on a cemetery trip, in a library, meeting another genealogist, or just sitting around reading, I can access my Ancestry.com tree using the app on my phone.  It’s actually quite full-featured and useful and contains all the documents you’ve attached to a person.  I’ve been known to pull the car over in a neighborhood and click through all the way to an old census page, looking for an address. 
  • Use the directions feature on Google maps to navigate.  If I’m going somewhere for the first time, like a cemetery or town hall, I set up the Google maps app to speak the instructions to me while I’m driving.  This works pretty well for me.  I hate to count on it though, because even with a reliable carrier, the signal can get out of range in a remote location, so I try to have some type of paper map, usually printed the night before OR a saved snapshot from the map site.
  • Scan books.  I had a post a while back about turning my cell phone into a book scanner.  I find that the scanning goes amazingly fast, however, processing those pages into a set, checking for errors and regulating the size of the final document took some getting used to.  With practice I should get pretty fast at that. 
Many applications will pull up a "Add to home screen" choice for the particular picture or document you are on.

Many applications will pull up a “Add to home screen” choice for the particular picture or document you are on.

  • Place directions or notes on the home screen when going to a repository. I use Evernote for all notes about repositories including directions, open hours, and my to-do list in each location.  I find it helpful, in advance of a trip, to add the specific Evernote page I need to my home screen.  Then there’s less fumbling around. 
  • Use as a camera.  Of course I usually bring my camera for a planned trip, but it’s nice to have a backup and emergency camera for times when I forget the camera or didn’t know I would need it. This is especially important because I never photocopy, I always take pictures.  Cell phone cameras are getting better and better. When I get back to my computer, the pictures have automatically uploaded to DropBox already.  
  • Read books on the Kindle app.  My phone is also a source of genealogy books in a pinch since the Kindle app works really well.  Waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting to pick someone up, it’s great to spend 15 minutes reading. 
My Dropbox account is very simple.

My Dropbox account is very simple.

  • Access documents anywhere.  Like all genealogists I have a large collection of pdf books and all types of documents on my computer at home.  Through Dropbox, I can access them at any time through my cell phone, tablet, or another computer. I had a bad experience early on with Dropbox, but Dropbox and I started getting along a lot better when I limited my Dropbox account to just three folders – my book folder, my document folder, and my cell phone picture folder.  It’s not unusual for me to be out at a library, say, and want to see a deed I had photographed a year before.  I do pay for a large-size Dropbox account.  Knowing that my work is safe is very important to me. 
  • Use the Amazon app.  I tend to use libraries as a way to preview older books I might like to own.  This is especially true since most reference books do not circulate, or I may be visiting a library far from home. Using the Amazon app, I quickly track down the exact book and see what used copies are available, and often buy them right there.
There are numerous pictures of my book shelves in my phone, for checking whether I already own something.

There are numerous pictures of my book shelves in my phone, for checking whether I already own something.

I keep track of the books I already have at home by photographing each shelf regularly, so when away from home I can quickly find the shelf picture, zoom in and make sure I don’t have it.

  • Keep up with podcasts.  I use long drives as a way to catch up on all my favorite genealogy podcasts like Marian Pierre-Louis’ Fieldstone Common, or The Genealogy Guys.  I have a simple little cord that plugs my phone into the “AUX” plug in my car, allowing me to hear the show on the car radio.  I also try to plug the car charger in so I don’t wear down the battery.  
When the keyboard is displaying, you can change it to a microphone instead.

When the keyboard is displaying, you can change it to a microphone instead.

  • This is the one you won’t really believe.  I actually transcribe long documents using my cell phone.  I discovered this by accident, really, noticing the little microphone every time I typed an email on my phone.  I tried dictating the email message instead, and it worked beautifully.  It is not quite so perfect transcribing old documents, but useful enough that I prefer it to typing.  I dictate slowly and clearly into a gmail message (you need to speak the punctuation, like “comma”), then email it to myself and pull it up on my computer. When working on a court case from Vermont, 1816, I read the entire record aloud  in about a half hour, then corrected it.    I’m sure others have far more sophisticated set ups for this, but it works for me, and it’s free. 

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2015/02/27/my-smart-phone/


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 welcome you at the Visitors Center exhibit. Occasionally when I drive by in the summer, he is on the sidewalk greeting passersby with a silent “what cheer?”

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/

Photos by Diane Boumenot

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.


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. 


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



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 832 other followers

%d bloggers like this: