When Scott Steward told me about his forthcoming departure from NEHGS, he asked if I could send him one more Vita Brevis post “for the road.” The posts I have written have largely been when I need a mental break from whatever genealogy I am working on or go down a rabbit hole on a minor problem within a project; they are sometimes inspired when I am engaged in other forms of entertainment outside of work. While I had one such post “in the cupboard” for Scott to publish, I thought a more appropriate final post under Scott’s editorship would be reminiscing about the many projects we have worked on together for more than fifteen years!
Like Scott, I began working at NEHGS while in high school. I first met Scott in the summer of 1997 while working for the NEHGS Enquiries Service (now known as the Research Service), involving some case about the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of Kings of Britain (the Royal Bastards). I cannot remember the details of the conversation, but needless to say Scott and I have had discussions about royal genealogy for a long time!
After leaving in 1999, Scott returned to NEHGS in 2005 as Director of Publications, and I joined the Publications department the following year with Scott as my supervisor for several years. A project we worked on together in 2011 was The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton, Who Will Marry Prince William of Wales 29 April 2011, based on the research of William Addams Reitwiesner, who had passed away the previous year. As their later titles would be announced by the Queen after their wedding, we of course had to use their current names. I remember learning of various online betting parlors where you could make a wager on that title – Duke of Monmouth was paying out at incredible odds. As Scott recently talked about the Next generation royal family, including whether Prince Charles [Philip Arthur George] may choose the regnal name King Charles III or George VII, I told Scott a bet that would probably pay out at high odds would be if Charles surprised everyone and became King Arthur!
The Lowell genealogy was a great team effort of tracking down descendants through both traditional methods (college and vital records, letter writing, etc.), as well as modern ones (contacting descendants through Facebook and other online tools).
Scott has written several genealogies himself using questionnaires (Le Roy, Saltonstall, and Winthrop), and the two of us have worked together on the 2011 Lowell genealogy, as well as on the forthcoming Lawrence genealogy. The Lowell genealogy was a great team effort of tracking down descendants through both traditional methods (college and vital records, letter writing, etc.), as well as modern ones (contacting descendants through Facebook and other online tools). In one instance each of us got different sides of a story regarding a family drama!
There were descendants (or spouses) with vital events in nearly every U.S. state and in 20% of the countries of the world on six continents, and who knew in 2011 that we’d be including the family of future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson?! Our Publications department at that time was four of us (Penny Stratton and Ginevra Morse being the other two), and around the time Scott and I received our first two awards for the Lowell genealogy pictured above, Penny and Ginevra came in first and second place for the NEHGS Peeps Shows Diorama contest. Then vice president Tom Wilcox walked by our office and remarked “This is a department with a bunch of winners! Book awards, Peeps Shows!”
As a final sendoff to Scott, I’ve designed the below chart showing our own kinship through the Sherman family, making us eleventh cousins in two ways, as well as eleventh cousins once removed. Our common ancestors are Edmund and Grace (Makin) Sherman of New Haven, Connecticut. Edmund’s grandfather Henry Sherman of Dedham, Essex, had two sons, Henry and Edmund, who between them had fifteen grandchildren who settled in New England, either as young adults or with their parents. A terrific multi-article series on the Sherman family was published in the Register, by Michael Johnson Wood of London, beginning in 2013. Michael has kept track of the Sherman descents of many genealogical colleagues and notes in his first footnote: “Among [Henry Sherman’s] many descendants, living and deceased, are several first-rate genealogists and editors of genealogical publications.” That is certainly true for Scott!