Generations of Johns

The name of “John” Alden was passed down for five consecutive generations.

John1 Alden, of course, was the passenger on Mayflower with his soon-to-be bride, Priscilla Mullins.

John2 Alden, their first son and second child, was born about 1626. He went to the big city,..

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Take a guess

In gathering records on people – especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – I often find people listed with middle initials. Sometimes finding the full middle names can be challenging; sometimes it’s impossible! (In some cases, such as Harry S. Truman..

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A lesson in history

American historian, librarian, and former AHA president Justin Winsor (1831-1897). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

One might be surprised to learn that the profession of “historian” in America is a fairly recent creation. The American Historical Association..

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'More than books can give'

[Author's note: This series, on Mrs. Gray's reading habits, began here.]

Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
In this installment from the Gray diary, it is interesting to read Regina Shober Gray’s [1] description of a grand..Continue reading

Thankful for our volunteers

This past week we held our annual Volunteer Luncheon, thanking all the volunteers at NEHGS for the prodigious amount of work they do to help our Society. Here on the database team, we have many volunteers who help scan and index the original material from which we..

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Surrounded by family

Anne Beekman Ayer

I trace my interest in genealogy to my early childhood. We lived surrounded by family – my paternal grandparents and uncle and aunt lived across the Ipswich River from us, and more distant cousins lived in nearby towns in Essex County,..

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'Day from night'

Freddy and Thelma McLean in Boston

Concluding the story of my great-grandparents’ years in Telluride, Colorado:

During her second pregnancy, my great-grandmother Alice (Pheasey) McLean suffered from a kidney ailment then known as Bright’s disease. Alice’s eyesight..

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Harvard graduates

One of the best sources I use is Biographical sketches of graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. John Langdon Sibley compiled the first three volumes, covering the classes of 1642 through 1689 (published between 1873 and 1885). The collection is..

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The trouble-maker

Courtesy of

By several accounts, John Oldham was a trouble-maker. He was argumentative, hot-tempered, and known to quickly fly into rages. However, his adventurous spirit led him to be take risks, including becoming the first European to travel what..

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A growing sense of community

The Stamp Act, passed in 1765 by the British Parliament, was a levied tax on legal documents, almanacs, and newspapers – basically, any form of paper used in the American colonies. The reason Britain passed the Stamp Act was to pay for the British troops stationed in..

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Former ancestors

Click on images to enlarge them.

My recent post about twins in the family – correcting my ancestor Sarah (Johnson) Eaton’s ancestry – reminded me of various corrections to my family papers over the years. As I had indicated there, when I started my genealogical..

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Portrait from life

My great-grandparents, John and Catherine (Cassidy) Hampe.

In a previous post – To catch a thief – I discussed the use of local clubs and societies in discovering information about ancestors. However, a recent acquisition led me to expand my search into religious..

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'Hard to go'

Life marched on for lawman Kenny McLean and his wife Alice as their daughter Thelma was growing up.

Thelma McLean, ca. 1905

The heat of summer was making for a lot of shady dealings in Telluride, Colorado. In June 1905, Kenny went to a nearby town to collect a miner..

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Ancient burying grounds

Find a Grave image for Ebenezer Paddock (see Note 5 below).

Because of the dedication of our many volunteers, we at the New England Historic Genealogy Society have the opportunity to continually expand the range of databases we provide to family researchers...

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More twins in the family

Earlier this year I wrote about my ancestor Tryphena Kendall and her twin sister Tryphosa. Tryphena and Tryphosa Kendall were the granddaughters of Sarah Johnson, who married Nathaniel Eaton at Ashford, Connecticut, on 13 November 1755. As I looked at the documentation..

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The Depression of 1641

Sixteen forty-one was the first year after the end of the Great Migration. Between 1620 and 1640, an estimated 80,000 people left England because of the religious and political chaos there. About 20,000 each went to one of four places: New England, Ireland, the West..

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'The crooked paths straight'

Courtesy of

It might seem odd, but the 1860 election – pitting Congressman Abraham Lincoln and Senator Hannibal Hamlin against Senator John Cabell Breckenridge and Senator Joseph Lane – did not particularly transfix the nation – at least if one goes by..

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Boston Transcript column now online

The genealogy column in the Boston Evening Transcript newspaper has been one of the more heavily used resources at the NEHGS Library for the past century or more. The paper was published, under a few different titles, from 1830 to 1941. From 1906 through 1941, it..

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'A good work for the society'

[Author’s note: This series, on Mrs. Gray’s reading habits, began here.]

Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
Late in January 1863, Major General George B. McClellan made a visit to Boston following an invitation from a group..Continue reading

A New Hampshire ghost town

Old Hill Village Meeting House, courtesy

Recently, while researching a case, I stumbled across Hill, a small town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire. Hill was originally formed as New Chester in 1754, and was incorporated in 1778. The town was renamed..

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Option D

In reviewing past literature on a family in England, I was reminded of the many potential scenarios afforded by kinship assignments in documents. In this case, these documents concern the ancestry of Henry Bright (1602–1686) of Watertown, Massachusetts, a native of..

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Forbidden trails

At the New York State Family History Conference held in September in Syracuse, I attended two excellent lectures about the Erie Canal: “Canal Fever: Life, Work, and Travel on the New York State Canals, 1818–1918” and “Gateway to the West: Interstate Migration on..

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