Heading north

pioneers me and nh-29386In my previous post, we took a look at some of the resources available for researching ancestors who moved beyond Massachusetts, with a focus on westward movement. Many also headed northward to current-day New Hampshire and Maine, although the area – as the frontier of English colonization and under threat of attack from the French and Indians – was not settled as quickly or densely as Massachusetts during the seventeenth century. According to NEHGS Trustee David Watson Kruger, Pioneers of Maine and New Hampshire, 1623–1660 by Charles Henry Pope is an “important primer on early Maine and New Hampshire families.” Using colonial, town, church, court, and other contemporary records, Pope compiled a list of original immigrants to the area that includes biographical information. Pope notes in his introduction to the book that he treated the two states in one source because “in the origin of their settlements and their political history during the period covered they were so nearly one people.”

Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New HampshireA later compilation covering families who settled in the same area prior to 1699 is the Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire  by Charles Thornton Libby, Walter Goodwin Davis, and Sybil Noyes. According to David Curtis Dearborn, NEHGS Genealogist Emeritus, the Dictionary “represents one of the most thorough and exhaustive studies of an entire population ever undertaken. Rather than rely on earlier, uncritical secondary sources, the compilers dispassionately sifted and collated a wealth of primary sources . . . to see patterns, make connections, and reach conclusions that had eluded their predecessors.” In addition to listing births, marriages, and deaths, the sketches provide information on places of origin, residences, wills and deeds, court cases, and careers. Not only is the book thorough, but for many of its subjects, according to Dearborn, “it remains today the only source in which their names appear in print.”

NE Captives-27962And for a closer look at life in these outlying areas, researchers can turn to New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760 During the French and Indian Wars by Emma Lewis Coleman. Building on the foundation of a book written by C. Alice Baker, Coleman’s work lists all the captives that the two women discovered in their research, providing biographical information for each. In addition, Coleman recounts the French and Indian raids on frontier areas of Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire, giving historical context. I quickly forget the reason for consulting this book once I start reading snippets of the stories told here and have to remind myself to get back to work. As described by NEHGS Trustee Donald Friary, this book is “a mine for the historian, for the genealogist, and for the general reader capturing the excitement of the English-French-Native borderlands.”

Leslie Ann Weston

About Leslie Ann Weston

Leslie came to NEHGS with more than 25 years experience in book publishing. Skilled in both editing and book production, she has coordinated the publication of, among other titles, The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts, and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus Brown and Alice Nelson Pratt.View all posts by Leslie Ann Weston