The next Early New England Families sketch to be uploaded, as soon as it clears review, will be for John Fuller of Cambridge. I am still nit-picking at it before sending it out to one of my volunteer readers. Mr. Fuller kept dropping complications – beginning with the date of his family’s arrival in New England and moving on to his age, birth places of children, identification of their (in several cases three) spouses, and other annoying details. Continue reading Problems of age
Late in the day on Wednesday, Vita Brevis marked an important milestone: 3,000,000 page views since it launched in January 2014. In that period, 151 bloggers have published 1,774 posts on a wide range of subjects of interest to genealogists.
Looking back at the top ten most popular posts for the period 2014-2022, I am struck by the top three: Jean Maguire’s announcement that the legendary Boston Transcript genealogical column (1911-41) was now available online, and Penny Stratton’s twin posts on elements of style: how not to make words plural, and how to feature dates in genealogical works. These three posts, from 2015 and 2016, account for about 77,000 page views, and no doubt they have driven traffic to other posts over the years. Continue reading A milestone
Rhetorical question for persistent (obsessive!) genealogists: how long do we persevere in attempting to solve a mystery? This case study illustrates the complexity of French-Canadian surname variants, the imprecision with which people reported their ages and birthplaces, as well the difficulty in tracking migrant farm families who moved frequently.
“Mercy Mercury” smoldered in my unfinished file for almost 20 years. Finding her parents did not seem imperative because she was the wife of my nephew-by-marriage’s great-great-uncle Alexander Mercure (1855–1936) — yet my inability to solve the puzzle nagged at me. Continue reading The search for Mercy
We recently added a new database to AmericanAncestors.org, Dartmouth, MA: Quaker Records, 1699-1920. This database is a collaboration between the New England Historic Genealogical Society | American Ancestors and the Dartmouth Historical and Arts Society (DHAS).
DHAS has digitized and is transcribing the original record books for the Dartmouth monthly meeting of Friends (Quakers). These transcriptions and the images of the manuscripts will be available on the DHAS website. Continue reading Dartmouth Quaker records
“In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause.” ~ George Eliot
From the days of hungry lions in the Colosseum to Keeping up with the Kardashians, the world of entertainment has always been a curious mix. In historical terms, and carrying over into genealogical ones, what constitutes “entertainment” isn’t always an easy place to re-visit or understand. It can be difficult to research persons, places, or anything of a ‘Thespian nature’ (sans those lions) without using modern-day judgments or, at the very least, a ‘present tense lens.’ One could say that the evolution of civilization demands this, that the value in what’s found to be ‘entertaining’ must also evolve. It could also be said that it’s much easier to stand on a moral high ground when looking backward. The implication here is that what’s moral in entertainment isn’t always static, but something that must necessarily change and improve. While I guess there isn’t any way that this can’t be true, at this juncture, the outcomes of such future changes and/or musings must be left to persons far better and wiser than I. Continue reading Outside the lines
After reading a recent news story regarding Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, his name immediately caught my attention. I know two other men named Mike Rounds, and we are all distant cousins through our descent from John Round (ca. 1645-1716) of Swansea and Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
Descendants of John Round are treated in the 1983 work by H. L. Peter Rounds, The John Round Family of Swansea and Rehoboth, Massachusetts, which won the Donald Lines Jacobus award the following year. The South Dakota State Historical Society had published a partial ancestor table of the Senator several years ago, identifying him as an eleventh-generation descendant of the first John Round. There are some errors on the ancestor table, so refer to the chart and sources below, but the table serves as a good start. Continue reading Round and round
[Author’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 20 January 2021.]
A new year offers a new chance to look at old problems with a fresh eye – and to consider fresh methods for breaking through well-established brick walls. Here is a chance to put the word out: What are your favorite approaches to beginning new research or to resolving long-standing problems?
As the editor at Vita Brevis, it is my job to write up my own research successes (and failures), and to edit the similar – but invariably different – accounts of travails and victories from the blog’s 100+ contributors. Over the years I have recommended a variety of hints and how-tos, starting with pointers on how best to utilize Google searches. Continue reading ICYMI: Research strategies for 2021
As a custodian of Our Old House, I’m always conscious of how to maintain it and still make twenty-first-century changes without drastically altering or (gasp) destroying the historic integrity of the property. Making those decisions is not always easy, especially when there is clearly no choice in the matter. Cue the drafty ancient windows, the continually-aging floorboards, the old garage with the “waving roof,” and the 90-foot rotting maple trees.
We still deal with the windows and the floors (not a level inch anywhere in this house!), but the garage is gone, and so are the trees, those huge maple trees that graced the front of the property, blocking dust, noise, snow, wind, and the hot summer sun while shading the front rooms. They provided sap for maple syrup and sugar for even the earliest generations of my family, bushels of leaves for mulch, and perches for multiple varieties of birds. Continue reading Tree begone
My grandmother, Emma Mueller, never really knew her father. Her mother, Marica Michelic Muhvic, a widow – born in Stari-Tsg, Slovenia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1873 – had emigrated alone to New York in 1903 to seek a better life. Marica changed her name to Mary and found a job working as a housekeeper in the German Evangelical Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, New York, where she was living in 1905. Here she could interact with people that made her feel like she was in her home country, since they shared a common language and culture. Continue reading A case of mistaken identity
[Author’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 26 March 2021.]
Sometimes one loses perspective on one’s researches, so when I say that the identity of Master James Livingston, a younger son of the 4th Lord Livingston, is a problem for the ages – a quandary for which many await resolution – I may be overstating things a little. Still, he is one of several men in the ancestry of the American Livingston family whose life, and whose marriage(s) and child(ren), has long been a puzzle. Continue reading ICYMI: A problem in perspective