See the 2018 list at:


An exhibit opened a few weeks ago at the Blackstone Valley Historical Society in Lincoln, Rhode Island, “An Elaborate History: The Cumberland Ballous.” Fortunately for those of us who may not make it to the exhibit, much of the content is now online at that link – just keep clicking “Begin” and “Next.”  The exhibit itself was really lovely and nicely displayed; I enjoyed my visit. The web version is well written and contains the story of the pictures and some fascinating details of the Ballous who lived in those houses.

The entrance to the North Gate Toll House, home of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society. The other side of the building is viewable from route 146. Photo by Diane Boumenot

The exhibit links some pictures taken around 1900 with map sites for those properties taken from mid-1800’s maps, mostly in Cumberland.  ALL the houses pictured and mapped were Ballou households, and the original pictures may have been created for a Ballou reunion or some other purpose; at any rate, the pictures, enhanced now with the map locations and some biographical details, present a detailed glimpse into the early Ballou neighborhoods and families.

One side of the exhibit room.

While originally investigating the pictures, which had been donated to the Blackstone Valley Historical Society, researcher Lori Melucci (Vice President of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society) came across a blog post of mine from a few years ago which contained a transcription of an early article from the Narragansett Historical Register, The Ballou Pioneer Settlers.” As she started recognizing a few buildings (house images in that post, that I had copied sort of randomly from Adin Ballou’s An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America (1888)), Lori began to realize that the collection of pictures were meant to document the remains of early Ballou households, in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

The exhibit extending around the room.

From there, Lori was on a mission to locate each and every home site.  She gathered the pictures, early and recent maps, local contacts, and a pristine 1888 copy of An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America that the historical society had acquired during a museum closing.  She spent many months pinpointing the location of each house and marking them on the old maps, working sometimes alone and sometimes with fellow BVHS members.  To do this she had to learn about rearranged roadways, former swamps, new developments and, of course, some burials here and there.  In the end, Lori is doubtful that any of the near-ruins from 1900 are standing today.

Lori Melucci, pictured on the grounds of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society

Visit the BVHS exhibit online and let her tell the story of these pictures and what she learned about the occupants.  I’m really hoping some direct descendants of these folks will find this.  MY Ballous were nearby but not really a part of this group, which are mostly descendants of James Ballou.

The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/10/18/early-homes-of-the-ballous/

I own three scanners, and use my camera extensively to save documents. But it wasn’t until I acquired a Scansnap scanner that I truly “went digital.”

Binders by family name

I actually might have said, earlier, that I didn’t have that many paper files.  I had a bin of 8 hanging binders that I have not added to in 6 or 7 years.  I had a file drawer of files.  And I had a growing pile about 8 inches high of paper that had been waiting for the Scansnap purchase for the last couple years.  The problem is that I had some valuable materials amidst those files but wasn’t using them, and didn’t know where they were.

For the last 5-6 years I have exclusively used digital files, and I store new documents in the file structure promptly when I return from a repository visit with photos, or access something I need online. I have these files backed up in a couple of ways.

File cabinet my husband made. The lower is for files, the top is a desk drawer/pencil drawer. The big scanner is on top of it.

Thinking about fires/floods/damage recently, and about the need to lessen the clutter, I decided to make the Scansnap purchase.  It wasn’t cheap, which is why I had debated a long time.

But the Fujitsu Scansnap ix500  has changed everything.  Imagine going anywhere, on every computer, and still having ready access to ALL your documents, pictures, books and notes.  Even on my cell phone!

The ScanSnap doesn’t take up much room when its not in use. It fits nicely on my old portable microfilm side table. View the video below to see it opened up and running.

I started digitizing everything I could find, including household papers. After I went through every notebook and piece of paper in my study, I started eying some bound materials and realized they would be more useful to me if they were searchable pdfs. Plus, I could free up some shelves. I took a box of journals to a copy shop and had the bindings chopped off.

This is a video as one volume is scanned:

Click here for video:  vimeo.com/236313111     When the video comes up, click the triangle in the lower corner to play.

I digitized the journal, and tried searching it.  It worked beautifully!  I can’t wait to digitize more.  And when I do, opening Acrobat Reader and using “Advanced Search” under the edit menu will let me search a whole folder of pdf’s at once.

Of course I still love my book scanning stand (custom made by my husband) for delicate materials – I usually use my cell phone camera for this.

The book scanning stand, made by hubs.

I’ve found Scansnap very easy to use. You open the cover, place the papers and press the button.  The software opens up automatically and the scanning starts, scanning both sides (duplexing) at once (and it immediately deletes images that it decides are blank, meaning you only get images of the BACKS of your sheets if you have content on them).  Then you save the pdf.  If you’ve set the scanner to scan to jpg, then each document shows separately in the SnapScan organizer, and you file it.  Even that is made easier with group naming.  If the papers are different sizes, as long as the tops are aligned, Scansnap seems to have no problem with that.

One feature I love is that each page is scanned to its actual size. So there would never be a need to crop or trim.  And the pages seem to scan much more straight (not skewed) than I’ve seen with any other method.  And fast?  It’s about 25 pages (back and front at once) per minute.

I’m looking forward to using the newly digitized materials more fully, now that they are with my other files.  I was actually surprised at the useful things I had buried in those paper files.

The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/10/01/scansnap-for-genealogy/

Hubs’ newest bookcase, on the porch, in “Tsumani” gray. This may be the last one he ever has to make.

A while back, I visited the Linn Henley Research Library (of the Birmingham, Alabama Public Library) for the second time.   My first visit was several years previous, and I found some things I didn’t notice the first time.  Readers may know my great-great grandmother Emma Luella Lamphere was born in Tuscaloosa around 1854, making me anxious to make use of a stay in Birmingham to learn more.

The main reference room at the Linn Henley Research Library.

The main reference room at the Linn Henley Research Library, Birmingham, Alabama.

I think the experience of visiting a repository more than once is an important one.  In this case, it had been three years between visits.  In those years I have learned more about Russell and Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere including the location of their graves, further information about some of their children, Russell’s future business activities after he left Alabama, and my hard-won determination of Hannah’s Andrews Rhode Island-based family.

What I really want to know

It’s Russell’s business dealings in Tuscaloosa that interest me most.  It’s the earliest family story that exists in my mother’s family – that he went down south, started a business, and lost it in the Civil War.

Here is the evidence I have for Russell’s career:

Early years in Norwich, Conn., as a machinist/cotton mill overseer:

  • Russell’s father left Westerly, Rhode Island by 1805 and worked in some of the early textile mills of Plainfield and Norwich, Connecticut, so Russell, born in 1817, grew up in the mill neighborhoods of Yantic Falls, Norwich.  Russell married in 1838 and appeared in the 1840 census with his wife, new son, and 3 extra adults around their age.  Clearly, he was earning a living.
  • 13 Aug 1845 – Russell and his father together gave a mortgage of $200 for property and half a house to (Russell’s brother in law) Henry Palmer in Greeneville, Conn.
  • 9 June 1847 – Russell Lamphere 2nd purchased for $545 part of the homestead of John J. Denison “a lunatic,” “on the north side of the highway leading from the Methodist Chapel to the Paper Mill Bridge” as the highest bidder at a public auction. Also on this date contracted a mortgage on the property for $400.
  • 16 Sep 1847 – the birth record in Greeneville for Russell’s daughter Caroline M. states that Russell was “overseer in cotton mill.”
  • 1850 census (Norwich, Conn.) – Russell is listed as a “Machinist” with property worth $700.  John Denison’s household is just prior to his on the list.
  • 15 May 1851  – Russell Jr “of Montville” quitclaims for $100 his rights to the property  “at the North side of the highway leading from the Methodist Chapel to the Paper Mill Bridge, at Norwich Falls” to John Eggleston.  Quitclaim means he gives up all rights to the land, whatever those rights or the value of those rights may have been.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama years of building and losing a business, and the Civil War

  • 1855 – Russell appears in the Alabama State Census in Tuscaloosa index (FamilySearch.org) as “Russell Lampkin.”
  • 6 Aug 1859 – An ad appeared for a new business (The Independent Monitor, Tuskaloosa, Ala., August 6, 1859.  Vol XXIII, No. 17, p.2):
New Firm - Murrell & Lamphere, The Independent Monitor, August 6, 1859

New Firm – Murrell & Lamphere, The Independent Monitor, August 6, 1859

  • 1860 – Russell was in the federal census in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with his family.  His unreadable occupation appears as this:
The indecipherable occupation of Russell Lamphere in the 1860 census.

The indecipherable occupation of Russell Lamphere in the 1860 census.

  • 1 Feb 1861 – An ad appeared announcing the dissolution of the business due to the death of partner Wm B Murrell (Independent Monitor, The City of Tuscaloosa, Ala. February 1, 1861, Vol XXIV, No. 42, p. 2):
The Dissolution of the Lamphere and Murrell partnership, caused by the death of Wm. B Murrell. Independent Monitor, Feb 1, 1861, p. 2

The Dissolution of the Lamphere and Murrell partnership. Independent Monitor, Feb 1, 1861, p. 2

  • 28 Aug 1861 – An ad appeared for a tin shop (The Observer and Flag of Alabama, The City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Volume 15, No. 35, p1):
Tin Shop ad, The Observer, Aug 28, 1861

Tin Shop ad, The Observer, Aug 28, 1861

  • 1866 – Alabama state census White Population – Russell is head of a household of 9 in Tuscaloosa.
  • 1870 – Russell and daughter Emma (my gg-grandmother) were enumerated in Meridian, Mississippi, and he was a “machinist.”

Later career in Rhode Island as a mill overseer

  • 1875 – Rhode Island state census, in Johnston, lists Russell and family. His occupation was “Manufr. of Cotton Goods.”
  • 1878 – Providence city directory: “Lanphere, Russell, overseer, Oriental Mills”
  • Mar 17, 1879 – married Sarah Rawson, his occupation listed as “Overseer in Cotton Mill”
  • 1879 – 1885 – Connecticut Congressman John Turner Wait submits, three times, a bill for the relief of Russell Lamphere (Session 46-2 – H.R. 5889; Session 47-1 – H.R. 3223; Session 49-1 – H.R. 3182).  Any backup papers have not yet been found.
A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere, filed in 1879.

A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere, filed in 1879.  $50,000.  I almost fell off my chair at the Boston Public Library when I saw that.

  • 1880 – federal census in Providence, R.I., “Works in Cotton Mill.”
  • 1883 – overseer, Oriental Mills
  • 1890s through death in 1898 – mostly boarding with his children

A summary of his career

  1. Skilled with metalworking and machinery, Russell took responsible work in cotton mills when he needed a job.  My guess is that the title “overseer” was more about overseeing the machines, rather than the people, although it could have included both.
  2. Reading between the lines, and hinted by the Relief bills, I believe Russell tried to open his own cotton mill three times:
    1. 1847, at Norwich Falls, on property near the other mills that he purchased from John J Denison, which was very close to other mills. If not, he certainly was making his plans for the Tuscaloosa move, and, possibly, working with a partner to plan the move south.
    2. 1855 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I suspect the south’s growing desire by 1850 to begin processing its own cotton, and not relying on northern mills, drew Russell to Alabama some way, somehow.  I suspect this business, whatever it was, was already dissolved by 1859 when the “new firm” of metalworkers Murrell & Lamphere opened.
    3. 1875 in Johnston, Rhode Island.  This is reasonably certain because it is listed in the R.I. 1875 census.
  3. The family legend, and the size of the H.R. Relief bills, suggest that his business interests were larger than the tin shop business described in the surviving ads.

And this is where things stood as I approached the Birmingham library for the second time.

The records in Birmingham

On my first visit, I stuck with the many volumes of vital and military records that I would never have access to in New England.  Nothing much turned up back then except some compiled military listings that seemed to show that my gg-grandmother Emma Lamphere’s two brothers, Charles C. and William, served in the confederate army. A quick review turned up nothing new.

Being more experienced now, I had several ideas about how to get smaller details that might help me.


I explored the map case.  The first discovery was a map of early roads and waterways in Alabama.  Back in the book section, I also found a map of an inland journey down the Ohio River to northern Alabama taken by Juliet Bestor Coleman, a “Connecticut Yankee in Early Alabama” (Mary Morgan Ward Glass, ed., National Society for Colonial Dames in America in the State of Alabama, p. 17).  These may help me determine, someday, how my ancestors may have traveled to Tuscaloosa.

I managed to find a Sanborn map of Tuscaloosa from 1884 using web access at the library.  Before this trip, I had reviewed the historical materials I had on Tuscaloosa, in particular, The Federal Invasion of Tuscaloosa, 1865 by Thomas P. Clinton and others (Northport, Ala: American Southern, 1965).  I knew that important buildings in Tuscaloosa were burned by federal soldiers in April, 1865 in the waning days of the Civil War, including the University of Alabama and its library, also local factories, warehouses, and munitions.  So a map from 1884 may or may not reflect the Tuscaloosa of the 1850s-60s.  But I examined it closely.

Sanford map of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1884, showing one cotton mill.

Sanborn map of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1884, showing one cotton mill.

Nothing like a visual image to bring a story into focus.  There was one cotton factory in the town of Tuscaloosa in 1884.  One.  Boy, does that clarify the search a bit.  Even if, prior to the war, there were several, what I realized was that this was not a booming metropolis with dozens of cottons mills.  I learned from the Clinton essay that the cotton mill in 1865 was called “Black Warrior” (you can see on the map it borders the Black Warrior River).  I learned on this web page, Tuscaloosa Area Visual Museum, that Black Warrior was founded in 1846.  I checked several resources at the library but could not learn very much about the Black Warrior factory; I learned the names of the series of owners, and traced some biographical info on those folks, with no obvious connections to my Connecticut family.


To prepare for my trip I re-read the various sources of Tuscaloosa history I had found during my last trip, and a couple of books I bought since.  At the library, I examined each history book, probably much more closely than I did on my previous trip when I was still mostly interested in finding my family’s name – a practice that I have come to realize causes you to not think and reason enough, although of course it would always be lovely to find our ancestors in those index pages.

“Hard time of the severest nature prevailed in Tuscaloosa in the last days and directly after the war. Any money available was worthless Confederate currency or city change bills, equally worthless. Acorns were frequently eaten for food. … Population fell to a new low ebb in 1870 with only 1,650 residents.”  (– A History of Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1816-1949 by Ben A. Green, ed. W. Stanley Hoole and Addie S. Hoole, University, Alabama: Confederate Publishing Co, 1980).

I’ve been curious about why my family left Tuscaloosa by 1870 and briefly stayed in Meridian, Mississippi, but I think that snippet is giving me a pretty good idea of why.  If the 1870 census is right, the wife and older children were not with Russell … perhaps now I can understand why they may have been forced to live separately, perhaps just to survive.


I also learned, from a microfilm copy of the 1855 state census, that Russell Lamphere headed the following household in 1855 (Department of Archives and History, Montgomery. Alabama State Census, 1855: Tuscaloosa County, p. 75, entry for Russell Lamphere):

  • White males under 21:       2
  • White males over 21:          2
  • White females under 21:    2
  • White females over 21:       2
  • Slaves:                                    1
  • Total inhabitants:                 9

Previously, I had only seen a brief listing of his name from this census. For a family that had just arrived from Connecticut a couple of years prior, it seemed astonishing to me that a slave was counted in the household. There is no way to know if the enslaved person was male or female. A perusal of the census shows a very large enslaved population in Tuscaloosa, and the next household on the page was occupied by Robert Jemison Jr. with 162 slaves.  Were the Lampheres renting on his property?  A check of Tuscaloosa deeds that I did at the Family History Library in 2015 shows no property owned by Russell.  I’m troubled that Russell and Hannah owned another human being, although possibly, they were paying for the service of a slave owned by others.  I’ve always thought of Russell as not so much a dreamer, although he had big dreams, but an ambitious schemer. One assumes he acclimated himself quickly to southern life.

Checking the “7th Floor Records Project” of the Tuscaloosa Genealogy Society for local records which are gradually being digitized (yay for those folks, what an outstanding job) and its compiled index, I found two entries for “Russell Landfier” in the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Subpoena Docket Book 10, 1854-1859, dated 19 Sep 1856 and 19 Dec 1856; both were subpoenas issued for cases involving Robert Jemison Jr.  I wonder what else I could ever learn about the case involved and Russell’s testimony, if any.

“James Goodrum vs Robert Jemison Jr.”  “139”  “4th” – not sure what those indicate.  Looks like witnesses for the defendant are James Little, Reuben Searcy, and Russell Landfier.  With thanks to the 7th Floor Records Project.

Robert Jemison Jr.

I got curious about Robert Jemison Jr (see a photo and flattering biography here) and learned that he was a local politician and business leader.  He was involved in many business ventures and, among other things, owned plantations that produced a great deal of cotton.  Could he be the person that enticed Russell Lamphere to move south and help start a cotton mill?

Mr. Jemison’s papers are housed at the University of Alabama.  I was curious if he had any correspondence with Russell and did a search.

3 letters

I found, in the University of Alabama digital archives, three items that relate to Russell Lamphere.  One was, amazingly, an 1867 letter written by Russell Lamphere.  I’m not sure of my rights to reproduce that here, so I leave the link.  Here is a transcription:

DeSoto Miss July 12/67

Hargrove & Fitts


your letter of the 2d is at hand and its contents noticed in relation to that business I left with you.  I will be perfectly satisfied with anything you think best about the Accounts.  I think they are all togeather however I will write to my wife to send the Book to you just put the thing through and I will and I will pay the bill. I do not know when I can come but if it is nessary you can drop me a line.

Yours Very Respectfully

R Lanphere

(on reverse) R. Lamphere

July 12th 1867

I also found a letter written by Mr. Jemison to Russell Lamphere.  It contained intriguing suggestions of business activities.  Surprisingly, this was from 1860 when Russell was in his Murrell & Lanphere “guttering/piping/repairing” years (see above) … any cotton mill seemed to have been left behind.  I’m confused by this; Russell didn’t have a son named Russell, and indeed the very name Lamphere seems virtually unique in Alabama in this period – there was, presumably, only one Russell Lamphere. Would he be running the cotton mill and the tin shop at the same time? Here is a transcription:

Tuskaloosa 7 January 1860

Mr. R. Landphere

D Sir

Messrs Hines and [blot] applies to me for the use of the two small lathes belonging to the Cotton Mill.  If yourself & Mr. McLester shall think you can accommodate them without prejudice to the Company’s interest I have no objection to its being done.

Very Respectfully

R. Jemison Jun

[illegible] M. Co.

Robert Jemison Jr and “Mr. McLester” ( Robert McLester?) do not immediately bring up many ties to cotton mills, but they were wealthy Tuscaloosa businessmen who could possibly have partnered with Russell Lamphere if they aspired to start a cotton mill.  I now have wonderful new clues (albeit confusing and conflicting ones) about Russell’s ties in Tuscaloosa and Mississippi.

And lastly, I found a 1980 inquiry from a descendant of Russell Lamphere’s son, Charles, that gave me some additional evidence that Charles stayed behind in Tuscaloosa and joined the Confederate Army.  More on that another time.

Lessons learned

  • Looking at the 1855 NEIGHBOR of Russell Lamphere is what led me to the University of Alabama Archives and ultimately to these letters.
  • I should have checked the University of Alabama archives website many times, not just once, years ago.  Records are being digitized all the time, and local universities have MANY archival materials relating to local residents.
  • I had used, over the years, a briefer index of the 1855 census that did not help me realize who Russell Lamphere’s neighbors and household were.
  • I have not searched hard enough for war materials relating to Charles C. Lamphere.

This feels like a huge breakthrough, to have the name of a possible business partner or colleague.  Next stop:  Learning everything possible about Robert Jemison, Jr.

The post you are reading is located at:





In part one I reviewed the few records I had of Lydia Minor’s life.  But there is so much more to know.  My research question is:

Who were the parents of Lydia Miner, who married Russell Lamphear in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut?

Last time, several people mentioned to me that surely deeds and probate would solve this.  Trust me, if deeds and probate of any person connected to this, whatsoever, would have solved this, I would have found it long ago.  I have even gone through decades of Minor/Miner probates in the surrounding counties, looking for candidates to be Lydia’s father.

Sadly, this is where southern New England’s 19th century history begins to interfere with our genealogy research.  Lydia’s husband had very few deeds because he moved to the early factories and worked all his life for others, usually renting, and only occasionally owning a piece of a property; certainly he had no early deeds related to Lydia’s connections.  And I suspect Lydia’s father did not leave a farm to pass down, thereby limiting the need for probate for him, whoever he was.  Sometimes, problems around 1725-1750 can actually be easier.

Lydia’s birth

To begin at the beginning, Lydia was born.  This occurred in approximately 1786, based on her death record.  Since Lydia married, in 1807, Russell Lamphere, originally of Westerly, R.I. (and at the time of the marriage, reportedly a resident of Norwich, Conn.)[4], Lydia may reasonably have been born in either Rhode Island or Connecticut, since I have no idea at what point she met him. Since much more is known of Russell’s life, we’ll review that next time in an effort to determine the possible meeting place of the couple.

There are several possible sources of information on Lydia’s birthplace:

  1. The newspaper listing for the marriage (see part one) mentioned that it took place in Preston, Connecticut.  To pursue this clue, deed, probate, census and vital records from Preston must be examined.
  2. Although she was never in an 1850 or later census, Lydia’s known children were enumerated many times in the federal census and gave a birthplace for her.
  3. Death records for any of Lydia’s known children might give a birthplace for her.
  4. Combining the clue (from part one) that Lydia and her husband were Methodists, explore any Methodist churches in Preston (although clearly she did not necessarily grow up Methodist).
  5. Look for surviving Methodist church records from Norwich Falls to see if Lydia transferred from another location.
  6. Look for Minors in Westerly where Lydia’s husband grew up
  7. Look for leads in the book Thomas Minor Descendants, 1608-1981 by John A Miner (Trevett, Maine, 1981)

(1) Preston, Connecticut records

Maps – To review the state of records for Preston, Connecticut, I first examined the map.  I also pulled out some New London County history books.

map New London County

Part of New London County, Connecticut, bordering Rhode Island, showing Norwich and nearby Preston/Griswold; also Westerly, R.I. and Stonington, Conn.

And right away, as I reviewed the history of New London county towns, I realized something.  Griswold, Connecticut was not set off from the town of Preston until 1815.  Therefore in 1807, when Lydia married, the area of both Griswold and Preston would have been referred to as Preston. This is especially interesting because Griswold borders the Windham County town of Plainfield, something that will figure in this story when I talk about Lydia’s husband.

Southwestern Preston also extended slightly further west in 1807 with a strip a land that was re-incorporated back into Norwich in 1901.[5]  In a way, that makes Preston barely distinguished from Norwich, and makes me think Russell and Lydia could have been close neighbors, perhaps working in the same Norwich cotton mill.

Census – The 1790 census does not distinguish between the various towns of New London County.  Looking at the 1800 census for Preston, only one Minor:

  • 1800 – Elisha Miner, Preston, New London, Connecticut
    • males under 10    2
    • males 26-45   1
    • females under 10    2
    • females 26-45    1

No Minors appear in the 1810 Preston census.

Probate from New London County records on Familysearch.org.  These are from various New London County towns; none appear to be from Preston residents.

  • Thomas Miner, late of New London. Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book N (16 Sep 1786 – 11 Aug 1794), p. 178, 190, 191. Inventory filed 13 December 1790 mentions 3 tracts of real estate only. (Not traceable in the Thomas Minor book.[6])
  • Elisha Miner, (presumably of East Lyme where he and his wife Ruth Robbins are buried – Thomas Miner book p.69), Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book N (16 Sep 1786 – 11 Aug 1794): 32, 233, 239. Page 232 with most of the will is missing; will mentions sons Elisha & William.  Inventory, undated, approx. June 1792.
  • Daniel Miner, late of Lyme.  (Rev., born Norwich, of “Separates” church. Son of Abigail Turner, m. Amy Smith – Thomas Miner book p. 65).  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 201, 207.  Will presented Oct 1799. Mentions numerous adult children. No Lydia.
  • Elias Miner, late of Lyme.  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 321-323, 407, 417, 441-444.   Inventory dated Jun 24 1800.  Quite substantial. Heirs: Widow Sarah, sons Benjamin, Selden, daughters Esther, Sara, Lydia, son Isaac.  Parcels of land assigned to heirs 10 Apr 1801 (married second wife Sarah Ely in August, 1786. Lydia b 1791 married Eliphalet Gillette, she died 1880 — Thomas Miner book, p. 118-9. Note – checking deeds would clarify what name Lydia used when she disposed of her plot of land.) 
  • Joseph Miner, late of Lyme.  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 440.  Inventory filed 25 Apr 1801.  No heirs mentioned.  (Hard to pin down in the Thomas Miner book.) 
  • Don Carlos Miner, late of Lyme, 9 January 1802. Extensive inventory totaling $1258.22.  5:1. (Not in the Thomas Minor book.)
  • Ephraim Miner of New London (wife: Desire Miner).  Will dated 22 Jun 1799 mentions: my granddaughter Abigail Frink, daughter Desi[re?] Frink, son-in-law David Frink. Inventory valued $4630.05. 5:157, 208. (Thomas Minor book p.77 Ephraim was the son of Rufus; m. 21 December 1751 Desire Cheeseborough. Ephraim d. 12 November 1802. Only surviving child Desire who m. David Frink. p. 77.)
  • Sarah Miner of New London, wife of Nathan Miner. Will: estate to be divided equally among her children Martha Coit Gove, Jesse Gove Miner, Mary Miner, Lucretia Miner, Rebecca Miner, and nothing to daughters Elizabeth and Sarah (already given their portions). Inventory dates 3 September 1804. 5:277-278. (Thomas Minor book p. 128, Nathan married Sarah Gove 22 May 1786; children are detailed.)
  • Phebe Miner of Lyme. Will mentions: my husband Thomas Miner, my brother Thomas Mather, nephew John Gill son of Thomas Gill and my sister Mehitable Gill, brother Samuel Mather. Will not complete; ending and date omitted from record. Exhibited in probate court 17 June 1811.   6:507.  (Thomas Minor book, p. 54, mentions that Phebe Mather and Thomas married in 1810 rather late in life, she died within a year after a stillbirth.)  
  • Lydia Miner (sometimes Minard) of Montville.  7:350 will dated 11 January 1815 mentions Lydia Miner daughter of Abiather Miner, widow Mary Bishop, Mrs. Howard wife of Mr Nathan Howard, Mrs. Weeks wife of John Weeks, Betsey Waterhouse; Nathan Steward to be executor.  7:427 receipt signed by Abiathar Minnard, father and guardian of Lydia Minard. (Not found in Thomas Minor book.)
  •  Elisha Miner of Lyme, will dated 24 October 1816 (7:526) mentions daughter Ruth (wife of Ezekiel Huntley of Bozrah), daughter Amy wife of Roderick Gardner of Bozrah, daughter Betsey Miner, daughter Nancy Miner, daughter Eunice Miner, son Alvin Miner, son Elisha Miner.  Inventory $3839 (7:535-537).  (According to Thomas Minor book, p. 139, Elisha was predeceased by his wife, Amy Way Miner, and died 25 December 1816.  List of children with no birth dates.)
  • Daniel Miner of 2nd Society, Lyme, widow Esther Miner, dec’d mentioned. Real estate distribution: Esther Lee wife of Levi Lee mentioned, Allan Miner mentioned, 6 Oct 1817. (7: 590). (Thomas Minor book p. 69 details wife Esther Prentis and children born in the 1750’s.)
  • Elizabeth Miner of New London, inventory taken 12 December 1825; total not visible due to flaws in microfilm copy (9:71), estate insolvent 9 October 1826, list of debts totaling $50.36 (9:143), sale of personal estate advertised in the Republican Advocate, reported October 1826 (9:171). (Not traced in Thomas Minor book.)             

Deeds (from Preston only).

I looked carefully though the deed index volumes 1765-1829.  I compiled a slip of requests and the clerk photocopied them for me, for a fee.  I prefer to photograph but that’s the way it is in Connecticut.  Here is what I found:

  • 9 (1770-1779): 201.  9 May 1775, Simeon Miner and Samuel Miner both of Stonington requested review of a boundary between land laid out to William Billings and an adjoining tract laid out to Roger Billings in 1680/81; James Rice, Thomas Rice, Theophilus Rice and Daniel Rice (Rix?) all of Preston were the adjoining owners in contention. Boundary was laid out satisfactorily along the west side of Billings Brook.  (No Simeon/Samuel pair (of brothers?) identified in Thomas Minor book.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 507.  23 May 1796, at the request of Thomas Rix, a true copy of an 1680/81 deed by Thomas Miner gives “to my two sons Ephraim and Joseph Minor” one hundred acres of land “laid out to Mr Ephraim and Mr Joseph Minor” and granted to Thomas Minor. (Ephraim and Joseph not identified in Thomas Minor book.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 521.  9 April 1792, Luther Thurber of Preston for 135 pounds [?] sells to Elisha Miner of New London a lot of land [detailed in another 1792 deed] with the buildings thereon. Elisha Miner agrees to maintain the north fence. Recorded 11 February 1796. Witn: Elias Brown, Samuel Capron. (May be the Elisha Minor, son of Simeon and Mary Owen Minor, and brother of John O., who married Eunice Capron 2 February 1792; p. 155-156 in Thomas Minor book. This possibility also applies to all subsequent deeds below.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 554.  9 January 1797, Elisha Miner of Preston for 170 pounds a lot (same as purchased from Luther Thurber) to William Pollard. William Pollard to support the north fence.  Witn: Elias Brown and Obadiah Chapman.
  • 13 (1794-1803): 9. 28 June 1790 (recorded 8 May 1797), Benjamin Green of Boston for 100 pounds quitclaims unto Elisha Miner of Preston land and buildings at Pauquatonnock on which an execution against Samuel Capron was levied on 15 September 1788.
  • 13 (1794-1803): 287. 13 October 1800, Elisha Miner of Preston for 300 dollars sell to John O. Miner of Groton half of a dwelling house in Pauquatonnock village with land as described.  Neighbor: Ebenezer Penderson [?] (house and lot formerly owned by Samuel Capron). John O. Minor signed a note for 280 dollars to Simeon Minor naming Elisha Minor as surety.  Witn: Simeon Miner, John Elderkin.
  • 15 (1807-1811): 210. 1 April 1809, John O. Minor of Groton for $279.75 sells to William P. Capron of Preston two tracts mortgaged to me by Elisha Minor formerly of Preston but now deceased (1) half a house in Pauquatonnock formerly belonging to Samuel Capron and (2) half a lot in Groton (recorded there October 1800); the 279.75 is the amount needed to settle the mortgages.  Witn: Samuel Capron, Alice Capron. (for more on Dr. John O. Minor, see also D. Hamilton Hurd, A History of New London County, 1882, p. 450.)
  • 18 (1822-1829): 17. 7 January 1822, Elijah Brewster of Preston for $120.65 sells to John O. Minor Jr. of Groton 60 acres. Neighbors: Shipley Halsey, Elisha Brewster, Absolom Pride, [?] Smith. Failure to pay note of $120.65 will void this deed. Witn: Ralph Hurlbut, Gilbert A. Smith.
  • 18 (1822-1829): 58. 13 June 1822, John O. Miner Jr of Groton for $170 quit claim to Elijah Brewster of Preston 60 acres in Preston. Neighbors: Jeremiah S. Halsey, Elijah Brewster, Absolom Pride, Thomas Smith. Witn: John O. Minor, Benjamin Stoddard.

Preston Town Hall


There were several books containing vital records at the town hall, including church records and one about support of soldiers’ families after the Revolutionary War.  A couple of Minor women married around 1700.  Nothing since then.

Summary of results from Preston records

The New London County probate records mostly eliminate the possibility of Lydia’s being a daughter in that family, and no probate records are from Preston. The rest are inconclusive.

Probably the most interesting result is that only one family, a set of two brothers, shows up in Preston deeds.  John O Miner was a doctor in Groton, Connecticut with a large family.  It seems almost incomprehensible that a daughter would marry in Preston, away from his family.  Elisha Miner, his brother, did not marry until 1792, too late to be Lydia’s father.  The thought that Lydia could be an orphaned niece, say, in this family is not backed up by any connections found in the book, but it’s interesting to keep track of this family for future reference, as other evidence is found.

The Minors mentioned in the earlier deeds, asking for re-analysis of old land boundaries from long-ago grants of land, are not findable in the book without further evidence.

I should add that I would never rely on the Thomas Minor Descendants book for anything other than clues.  The book is extensive but essentially unsourced.

Conclusion:  we will refer back to these records as new clues arise from other sources.

My copy of Thomas Minor Descendants. The colorful tabbed notes refer to DNA connections I’ve found. At this distance in time, in New England, it’s almost impossible to know why I am connected to someone through a small matching DNA segment. But it’s kind of fun to look around.

(2) Reports by Lydia’s children

Of Lydia’s 14 children (more another time on them), the known children who lived until 1880 reported the birthplaces of their parents to the census enumerator as follows.

  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Connecticut. 
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Rhode Island.
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Rhode Island ( and 1900 census, same).
  • 1880 census: father was born in Rhode Island, mother was born in Connecticut.
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Connecticut.

It’s split right down the middle between Connecticut and Rhode Island.  However, the birthplace of the father is definitely known (Rhode Island) and in fact Russell Lamphere lived in Westerly, Rhode Island until adulthood. The children themselves were born in Connecticut, so might be inclined to favor Connecticut as the answer.  I have two (contradictory) observations:

  1. Only the children who mis-identified their father’s birthplace (by assigning him to Connecticut) said that Lydia was born in Connecticut.  But if Lydia WAS born in Connecticut, that fact may have tipped the balance of their thinking.
  2. When the answer was split, Lydia was placed in Connecticut.

(3) Death records for Lydia’s children, mentioning her

Although two independent sources confirm that Lydia and Russell had 14 children (footnote 2 of part 1 and another source to be detailed along with her children, later), I have tentatively identified only 10 of them, because the births were not recorded.

My hope, here, is to see a death record that names a place of birth for the MOTHER of the deceased person. That fact is sometimes included in formal state death records by the late 1800’s.

I have seen enough of Connecticut death record books in person to know that no place of birth for the parents will be included, but perhaps a son or daughter died in a location where there would be such a record (like Massachusetts).  Tracing each of Lydia’s children has been challenging and I have a known place of death for only seven, of which four died in Connecticut.  Lucy Ann Lamphere Cook died in Burlington, Kane County, Illinois in 1865 – I have not found a death record for her yet.  Williard/Willard Lamphere, who lived for a long time in Iowa, died in Wyoming in 1902, I am seeing only a grave, not a death record. My ancestor Russell Lamphere died in Cranston, Rhode Island; no birthplaces of parents given.

So, struck out on this one.

(4) Methodist church in Preston?

I’m not finding a lot of information about early non-Congregational churches in Preston.  Consulted D. Hamilton Hurd, A History of New London County, 1882, chapter LXXII, “Preston”, page 595-604.

(5) Methodist church in Norwich Falls?

An 1833 map of Norwich shows a Methodist Church in the Falls area where Russell and Lydia lived (evidence for their life in The Falls will be covered next time in Russell’s life story).

A Map of Norwich from Actual Survey by William Lester Jr, 1833; close up of The Falls area. The “M” and the orange box indicates a Methodist Church.

Frances M. Caulkins, in her 1866 History of Norwich, Connecticut devotes two pages to the Methodist churches (p. 605-603), and mentions the Falls chapel:

In May, 1825, a small church was dedicated at the Falls village, and for several years the members from the Landing resorted thither for public worship, forming but one church and society.

This gives the impression that the small church was not viable for long.  Nothing I’ve tried has brought up a manuscript record set for that church; maybe someday, though. If I ever get to the New London County Historical Society I will check out anything related to Methodist churches, or to The Falls area of Norwich. While it would be nice to find records, they probably wouldn’t reveal much because Lydia only lived there as a married adult, not as a child.

(6) Minors in Westerly

Since Russell and Lydia married at typical southern New England marriage ages – he, about 30, she, about 20 – it’s possible they met as young people.  So I must consider the town where Russell grew up: Westerly, Rhode Island. Lydia was likely born in 1786.

I reviewed the early census records for Westerly and surrounding towns, the searchable issues of Rhode Island Roots, and Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.

According to the Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, Asa Minor served as an Ensign in Colonel Greene’s battalion during the Revolutionary War (8:230) and Phinehas Miner sold to John York, in September 1778, a ton of pig iron.

In 1777, there were two Minors in Westerly noted in the 1777 Military census, listed one after the other [7]

  • Asa Miner, listed as a legal resident of Stonington [Conn.]
  • Phinehas Miner, 16-50, able to bear arms

By 1790, Phineas was still in the Westerly federal census pages:

Phineas Miner in the 1790 Federal Census, Westerly, R.I.

Notable, for a year when Lydia should have been a toddler, Phineas shows no wife or children.  He is living alone.  But what I realized about this record, after many years of investigating this extended family, is that “Joshua Vose” and “John Tift” are significant to the Lampheres.  Russell’s youngest brother, Daniel Lamphere, married a daughter of John Tefft and Daniel was also connected to the Vose family in a way that I believe is connected to another wife.  This makes Phineas more significant, but even The Thomas Minor Descendants asserts that Phineas was single all his life.  He had a brother Asa who married Jane Lewis but, reportedly, also died childless.  Their extended family were residents of Stonington.

On Fold3.com, Simeon Miner is included in [Col. John] Topham’s Regiment and Battalion (folder 53, page 164, person 11) on 17 January 1779.

(7) Revisit Thomas Minor Descendants

The Lydia Minor mentioned in the book that is closest in age to this Lydia is Lydia, the daughter of Lodovick and Jerusha (Peabody) Minor of Stonington, Conn. The book includes her but gives only her birth, no further details of her life.  Other trees online claim that she married Paul Maine in 1811 and died in Pharsalia, Chenango County, New York in 1874. There was no death record. The daughter of Lodovick and Jerusha COULD be my Lydia Miner, but there’s direct evidence that the entire family ended up in central New York, so I’m not going to re-investigate at this point. 

Results so far

So far, I have collected some puzzle pieces that are not fitting together.  In the next post, I will keep going with some evidence I have about Lydia’s husband Russell Lamphere, and see if any pieces start fitting together at all.  Russell had a number of associates that might, somehow, be related to Lydia.  We’ll look at them.  


[4] Westerly, R.I., Council and Probate, 8 (1798-1818): 350-352.

[5] Benjamin Tinkham Marshall, editor, A Modern History of New London County Connecticut, 3 vols. (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1922), 1: 2 and 1: 216.

[6] John Augustus Miner, Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981. (Trevett, Maine: 1981). See particular notes in green for page numbers.

[7] Mildred M. Chamberlain, The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census. Baltimore: Clearfield, published under the direction of the R.I. Genealogical Society, 1985, p. 50. [Access on Ancestry.com at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=49316 ])


The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/08/29/a-brick-wall-journey-part-2/

Here is my story, in pictures, of my visit to the American French Genealogical Society in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  I was truly impressed with the setting, the resources, the volunteers, and the extensive collection.  This organization of hard working volunteers (and no doubt donors) deserves enormous credit for housing and staffing a library for genealogy research.  It’s a great place to bring your genealogy questions about your French Canadian ancestors.  If you can’t get there, requests can be made through the library website; fees are charged for most requests, to keep the library going.  It’s a great organization to support.

See more on the AFGS website:


Rob Gumlaw gave me a complete tour of the library, and shared a lot of insight about the resources.


Some compiled books and disks are for sale, as well as the used books back in the book sale.


The main entrance. I paid an admission fee since I’m not a member. The white books in the background are an extensive set of clipped obituaries.  The decades-long products of the hard working volunteers are impressive.


The side room contained old Woonsocket newspapers, a book sale area, and many more books. The library tries to acquire the published works of similar societies, so their collection is not just strictly local.


There was a collection of statewide Rhode Island genealogy works (the Auclair Collection), including some standard local history books as well as more obscure local publications from the last 50 years that I was not familiar with.


An extensive selection of pamphlets was also held in the Auclair Collection. Something to peruse another day.


One very valuable holding at the library is a large microfilm collection of post-1853 state vital records.


Probably the best known feature of this library is the very extensive collection of French Catholic records both in compiled books and on microfilm. This would be a good place to inquire about any Catholic records, as well as other French Canadian record sets, like the Drouin records. They know a lot!


There are too many special collections for me to list here, but one of them was a set of grave photographs, accessible only at the library.


I swear, I only bought one book from the used book sale, listing the various early Catholic churches around New England.


The library, which also contains meeting space. Note there is free parking in the back.  Another useful feature was the lunchroom, allowing you to bring a lunch and have a place to eat it, a very rare opportunity in Rhode Island libraries.

Many thanks to the folks at the library for all their efforts and for the kind welcome.

The post you are reading is located at:


Recently I had the opportunity to visit Sheldonville, a village in Wrentham, Massachusetts where my 5x-great grandfather Nathan Aldrich built several houses, including the one where mom’s great grandfather, Addison Darling, was born.  Sheldonville is just up the road from northern Cumberland, Rhode Island.

I had met genealogist Pat Hubbell at a talk I gave at the Portsmouth Free Library and as we chatted afterwards about a brick wall problem she was having, somehow the conversation veered off to Wrentham.  I told her about how my 5x great grandfather Nathan Aldrich had built some houses there, and that I once found a small book in a library detailing the houses, but I couldn’t seem to get a copy.  Oh, she said, that’s my brother’s book.  I’ll send you one.  This is why it’s so great to get out and meet the other genealogists.  They always know stuff!

One of the houses on West Street built by Nathan and his father, Asa Aldrich.

And so she did send me the booklet, and over the coming months planned a Sheldonville day for me and another genealogist friend, Rachel Peirce, who also has a connection to Sheldonville.  Pat’s friend Rachel Garcia lives in the heart of Sheldonville and welcomed us to her home, treating us to a lovely lunch at her fascinating and relatively untouched historic house.  Pat somehow got us invited to tour the Sheldonville Baptist Church, which I knew my ancestors belonged to in the nineteenth century.  The minister and his wife could not have been nicer and we had a terrific chat with them.  And one or two local friends also joined us along the way.

The house with the Nathan Aldrich plaque at the corner of West and Burnt Swamp.

It’s surprising how much my impressions of Sheldonville changed over the course of the visit.  What was once a rural farming village, gradually dotted in the 19th century with a few straw hat factories and boat shops, is now in the direct path of significant commuter and shopping traffic.  To travel the main street of Sheldonville, West Street, is to zip quickly down a road with little opportunity to pull over or stop.  When you walk the neighborhood, you realize that there really is a neighborhood and village there, winding around a couple of surrounding streets.  You begin to get a sense of how the landscape must have felt many years ago. Even the little cemetery behind Nathan Aldrich’s house, filled with names I recognize, is much the same as it ever was.  The houses are old, and the businesses are gone, but you can imagine the farm fields, dirt roads, horses and carts, shops, and a sort of social hierarchy ranging from the inhabitants of the former mill rooming house all the way to the families in the grand and stately old homes. My family falls in the middle of that; struggling farmers in the neighborhood as the nineteenth century moved along, gradually transitioning into working folks.

Some shorn sheep seen along our walk, reminding us of Sheldonville’s rural past.  There’s a slight possibility these are not sheep.  I’m not really a farm animal expert.

I got a better look at the various plaques on the houses, and with help from Pat and Rachel and A Guide to Historic Wrentham, Massachusetts, pinned down the houses built by my 5x great grandfather, Nathan Aldrich.  I realize, now, that these were all family houses, so perhaps he really was not a house builder so much as a person that was motivated to improve his property and make a better life for his family.  His known houses are:

  • 965 West Street
  • 995 West Street
  • 63 Burnt Swamp Road
  • 93 Burnt Swamp Road

One of the houses built by Nathan Aldrich, for his son in law Luman Follett, who also developed a soap factory on the property. Nathan had a simple but effective style; a slightly boxy “Cape Cod” house.

Church records

There was a rare opportunity to see some Baptist church records that day.

Sheldonville Baptist Church Pastor Doug Pettit with his wife, Kate, and one of their sons

Some older church materials had been transferred to index cards at some point.  To save time, I photographed a number of cards for reference later. When I read through the cards, I was surprised to discover that another ancestor, my 7x-great grandfather Abner Haskell (1721-1779), was a founder of the church in 1769.  Abner was Nathan Aldrich’s grandfather.

Older transcribed church records from Sheldonville Baptist Church

[From one card:] Baptist Church of Cumberland and Wrentham

Before 1769: Some people of Baptist persuasion departed from the Congregational Church long before any Baptist Church was founded.  Many attempts were made to start such a work in West Wrentham but to no avail. Since only some were immersed, the group became deadlocked over the issue of open communion.  However, on Sept. 29, 1769 in the home of Nathaniel Robinson, 5 Baptist gentlemen signed a covenant which was the “Baptist Church of Cumberland and Wrentham.[“] Those signing the covenant were Ibrook [surely a mis-transcription of Israel?] Whipple, Nathaniel Robinson, Stephen Ballow, Abner Haskel (all of Cumberland) and Ebenezer Guild of Wrentham.   — (Rec. of Baptist Ch. and Soc. of Wrentham)

This card shows an early meeting of the founders in Abner Haskell’s home.

In 1811, Nathan Aldrich purchased pew #25 for $45.  He was divorced by that time from my 5-great grandmother Marcy Ballou, and newly married to Chloe Crowninshield.  I imagine he and Chloe enjoyed sitting in their pew each Sunday. Nathan sometimes served as the treasurer of the Society. By 1838, the church split into two due to doctrinal differences and a new church was built; Nathan subscribed $100.  Occasionally, a William Aldrich served as Sexton in the 1840’s; I believe he could be Nathan’s son (that I have never really traced) because I have seen some deeds between him and Nathan around this era.

Our little group at the church, complete with small dog (Allie). Rachel Peirce, our hostess Rachel Garcia and her friend Kathy Kelety, me in back, Pat Hubbell.

I enjoyed my day in Sheldonville immensely, and my chance to explore local history with local people.

The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/08/4/visiting-sheldonville/


Welcome to Eight Weeks to Better Rhode Island Genealogy Research.

Good luck with your Rhode Island research!

  1. Week 1 – Vital Records
  2. Week 2 – Census Records
  3. Week 3 – Probate & Cemeteries
  4. Week 4 – Maps & Deeds
  5. Week 5 – Town Records, Histories, and Newspapers
  6. Week 6Published Family Genealogies
  7. Week 7Military and Pensions
  8. Week 8 – Everything Else

Posts are the property of One Rhode Island Family.

%d bloggers like this: