Category Archives: Genealogical Writing

The 29th Connecticut

Last Memorial Day, after writing a post on my great-great-great-uncle John Merrick Paine of Woodstock, Connecticut, a lieutenant in the 29th Connecticut Colored Infantry Regiment, I became interested in researching other soldiers in this regiment also from northeastern Connecticut. Several of them were from families I had researched previously, with one surprising connection to a colleague here at NEHGS. Continue reading The 29th Connecticut

What’s in a name?

Although these three girls’ names – Mary, Marcy, and Mercy – are similar, they are distinct names, often (and mistakenly) intermingled. Mingling similarly spelled names is usually a result of misinterpreting seventeenth-century handwriting, which is exacerbated for us today when we do not have access to original records. You ask “What’s the harm?” The following case story shows how old genealogists get older because of indiscreet mingling.

A Mayflower line has long been accepted by the Society that claims descent through Mary Medbury/Medbery, daughter of John Howland descendant Benjamin Medbury and his wife Martha Harris. Continue reading What’s in a name?

The wrong Blood!

My recent post on “Philoprogenitive ancestors” resulted in several comments from readers about their own ancestors with many children. I mentioned my ancestor Simon Willard, and one reader also noted him as her own ancestor through his daughter Elizabeth. I was planning to comment back to the reader with my full line of descent (also going through Elizabeth, wife of Robert Blood), but before doing so I did a quick verification of the lineage as I had it. Long story short, Simon Willard can now be classified as one of my Former Ancestors. Continue reading The wrong Blood!

Sic transit

“Rochester in 1812,” from Ulysses Prentiss Hedrick, A History of Agriculture in the State of New York (1933). Courtesy of the New York State Agricultural Society

I have been struggling with a dilemma for months – how (and if) to tell the story of a loving father whose actions would lead to unintended and tragic outcomes for his family. When encountering very unusual and difficult family information in your research, what do you choose to publish? In seeking community comment and guidance, I will outline the core issues, but use pseudonyms and avoid other identifying information. I am aware of no genealogy on-line or in print that encompasses this family; it is not in my direct line, but related. Continue reading Sic transit

Landlines

The landline rang unexpectedly last Friday. Its sudden clamor gave us all a bit of a jolt. A day or so before, I’d made the journey north to Oregon for a visit with my father and my once-upon-a-time “force to be reckoned with” step-mother. As the phone rang that day I remember thinking, Darn that noisy dialer, why are you disturbing us? I’d been just about ready to settle into the hush of yet another (the umpteenth) episode of Laramie on the TV.[1] Continue reading Landlines

Good deeds

360 Prospect Street, Fall River, Massachusetts, 1962. The houses to the right have been torn down or moved. The cupola of Sacred Heart Academy, far right, is another demolished building.

In the summer of 1962, when I was three, my parents bought their first home on the corner of Prospect Street and Highland Avenue in Fall River, Massachusetts. They paid $9,500! The house had 13 rooms, four fireplaces, two heating systems, servant call buttons – and my favorite device for childhood eavesdropping, speaking tubes (literally pipes through the walls). All light fixtures had combination gas jets and light bulbs. Like many substantial homes of the late Victorian era, a separate enclosed servants’ staircase went from the cellar to the third floor. That portion of the house had never been renovated, the carpeting on the stairs worn thin. Continue reading Good deeds

“Love and affection”

Sara Theodora Ilsley, July 1896

One does not turn readily to probate matters for cozy human interest stories, so I was surprised (and delighted) to find a momentary bright spot in the will of my great-great-grandmother Emily Anne Finlay, the “relict of Francis G. Ilsley, deceased.”[1] Emily’s family background is suggested in bequests to her children Beekman (“the family Bible of the Beekman family”),[2] Francis (“two oil portraits of Dirck Lefferts and his wife”),[3] and Sara (“my tea set of silver service”), but in fact the estate was a small one, with two house lots in Newark, New Jersey as the major asset.[4] Continue reading “Love and affection”

Full circle

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

As a Scottish woman feeling the impact of Brexit, I, like many others in the United Kingdom, have started the process of claiming Irish citizenship. I am a summer intern with the development team at NEHGS, where I have gained some insights about how the institution works, but until recently I hadn’t learnt anything about my own ancestry. With my internship drawing to a close, I arranged a meeting with Sheilagh Doerfler in Research Services to discuss my paternal ancestry.   Continue reading Full circle

Who’s buried where?

Phinehas Child stone. Images courtesy of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society

A recent news article discussed the current use of an old Boston cemetery, with the permission of the church, as a dog park, prompting a neighborhood discussion. (This reminded me of David Lambert’s post on finding a gravestone on the wall of a church bathroom.) The church, First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, is located about a mile from my home. Founded in 1769 as the Third Parish of Roxbury, I had mentioned the church in a post I wrote last year about the “Genealogy of Churches” in Roxbury (now Boston). This cemetery has also been called the Jamaica Plain Burial Ground and Jamaica Plain Cemetery. Continue reading Who’s buried where?

Seth Harding, Mariner

From the History of Maritime Connecticut

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Navy played an integral role in the colonists’ quest for freedom. The Navy also launched numerous careers, including those of Captains John Paul Jones and John Barry. During the Revolution, many men fought bravely defending the shores of the Colonies and capturing enemy vessels. After the war, the troops and sailors were discharged and the Continental Navy itself was dissolved for lack of financing. After a total of ten years without a navy, in March 1794 Congress passed the Naval Act, which launched the first United States Navy.[1] Over the next two centuries the Navy continued to grow to become the extensive branch of the military we currently know. In the words of John Adams, the ‘Father of the American Navy,’ “A Naval power … is the natural defense of the United States.”[2] Continue reading Seth Harding, Mariner