You know you are a genealogist when the highlight of your week is the delivery of two newly published volumes of town records! These are The Town Records of Eastham during the Time of Plymouth Colony, 1620-1692, and The Town Records of Sandwich during the Time of Plymouth Colony, 1620-1692, transcribed by Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs. Jeremy has been transcribing Plymouth Colony town records for decades, including the Scituate records published by NEHGS and the Marshfield records currently being serialized in The Mayflower Descendant by the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants. The Mayflower Descendant will also be publishing Bangs’ transcriptions of the Dartmouth and Bridgewater town records.
Because Jeremy lives in Leiden, Holland, the logistics of publishing books there and shipping them to the United States was financially impractical. Using the online service www.lulu.com, he has now self-published these volumes “on demand” in the States.
I had some trepidations about what these “on demand” books would look like, but I was pleased to see they are printed on good quality paper with clear print. The hard covers are glossy, which makes them resemble school text books, but they are solid and should stand up to wear.
Once I had inspected their physical attributes, I dove into their contents, which have some twists that the reader will need to understand. They are split into two sections. First, a “Calendar of records from or about [Eastham or Sandwich],” in which town and colony records have been mixed together and arranged chronologically. This is preceded by the “Calendar Index,” with names of individuals keyed to the date of the entry in which they appear, rather than to a page number. The second section contains the actual transcriptions of the records from the town books in their original order. There is no separate index to this section.
While vital records are included and are especially useful for Eastham, for which a published volume of vital records does not exist (much of that town’s vital records have been serialized over many years in The Mayflower Descendant), the town records also include meeting minutes, divisions of land, town tax assessments, cattle “ear mark” registrations, town regulations, and much more. These might not sound very sexy, but they can contain some fascinating information to flesh out the lives of our ancestors.
My favorites are the ear marks, which we’ll talk about next time.