On November 2, 2022, my husband and I welcomed our first child: a son, named Jack William for his great-grandfathers. Several weeks after Jack’s birth, I requested a copy of his birth certificate from the town offices, an errand which immediately reminded me of submitting vital records requests for genealogical research. Obtaining my son’s birth record was far simpler—I only had to wait a few minutes—and I left the town offices that same day with the record in hand. I looked down at the certificate, with all the fields neatly filled out, and realized genealogical researchers are perhaps the only people who wouldn’t take this record for granted.
Vital records are often the first and best places to check when seeking information about our ancestors. But what is a researcher to do when a vital record simply doesn’t exist, or provides minimal information? In a previous blog post, I discussed the usefulness of family Bibles as vital records substitutes. There are numerous other record types that link parents and their children, with baptismal records and wills being the next best options. Other records that can identify the names of an ancestor’s children include the following types: Continue reading Linking Parents and Children—Without the Help of Vital Records→
The other day, I was confronted by an unexpected “hint” in my online family tree based on a DNA match. It outlined genetic ties between myself, an individual I had never heard of before named Samuel Morey, and the descendants of two of his children, Joseph Morey and Lucinda (Morey) Waterbury.1 It also alleged a possible additional Morey daughter, who was possibly the mother of my great-great-great grandmother Melinda (Adams) (Nestle) Dewey.2 I was immediately intrigued—I’ve been researching “Grandma Melinda” for years, but chasing her ancestry had always led me to a brick wall.
I must have stared at this hint for hours. Did I really want to go down that rabbit hole again? But looking more closely at Samuel Morey, I realized that he might just be the guy who could provide me with a Mayflower line for my mother.(Okay, I know that might make me seem like a snob, but I’ve been looking for one for years.) It appears thatSamuel Morey has a well-documented ancestry to Mayflower passenger Richard Warren. 3 I decided that the best thing I could do was to mull through the facts, and come up with some genealogical arguments both for and against my relationship with Samuel Morey and his ties to the Mayflower.Continue reading Chasing Grandma→
A few months ago, I chaperoned my daughter’s school field trip to the Paul Revere House in Boston’s North End. I had previously visited this house several times over the course of five childhood summers, when our grandmother would visit New England and bring one of our cousins with her, each of whom would be shown the sights in turn. When Alice mentioned the field trip, I was eager to volunteer, as it had now been thirty years since I was last inside this historic home.
Since I was last there, the Paul Revere Memorial Association has turned a neighboring building into an education and visitor center. Our tour was interactive: the guides assigned each student a different historic role as the tour progressed. Several played members of the Revere family, and Alice was given the part of Paul Revere’s second wife, Rachel. Between his two marriages, Paul Revere had sixteen children, eleven of whom survived childhood.1
After touring the house, we walked over to the famed Old North Church, where we were told Revere had instructed the church’s sexton Robert Newman to light two lanterns to signal that the British troops (or “regulars” as they were called then) were traveling by water. The tour was finished at the nearby Paul Revere Mall, with Alice’s teacher and I being given the final roles of Samuel Adams and John Hancock, as the guide told how Paul Revere arrived in Lexington as the battle on the green unfolded on 19 April 1775, starting the American Revolution.
Needless to say, whenever I think of the Old North Church of Boston, I think of the church from Paul Revere’s midnight ride, and the building that still stands. However, while working on a Newbury Street Press project, I uncovered documentation which has brought that mental image into question. Continue reading Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride—Which Old North Church?→
For many years, I have advocated backing up one’s work using an external hard drive. In fact, I have been using a portable external hard drive for years, purchasing a new one only when I needed more space—I have many of images of documents stored, relating both to my own genealogy and to other historical subjects in which I am interested. For instance, my records on immigration and naturalization alone consist of 13,728 items (images, PDFs, Word and Excel files) that total 36.5 GB (gigabytes).
With so many resources available in a digital format, I no longer print out documents when I find them on my own family, saving them instead to an external drive containing 232 folders (one for each couple on my multi-generational chart, named for the husband). I have also been taking my hard copies from 30 years of research and digitizing them with my digital camera. Of course, I still save original items in paper form as well, such as wedding announcements, diaries, and personal letters.
Before recently, I believed that using an external hard drive was all I needed to protect me from data loss. I have always maintained that it is not a question of IF your computer will eat your data, but WHEN. But recently, I had the nightmare of all nightmares when I experienced an unexpected issue—something that had never happened to me before with an external hard drive. Continue reading My Technological Nightmare→
Did you know that, at least as of 2021, there were more than 16,000 genealogy-based groups on Facebook?1 Say what you will about the platform in general, using targeted genealogy groups can be a boon to research. I have been taking advantage of them—specifically, groups based on geographic locations—for more than ten years, beginning when I discovered a Finnish Genealogy group when I was planning an ancestral trip to Finland. In fact, I would say that if you don’t have a Facebook account already, it’s worth joining simply to take advantage of this resource in your research. A recent experience has taught me this lesson once again.
Locational genealogy groups are populated with family historians, the kind we rub shoulders with at genealogy events and at NEHGS and other repositories, the kind we correspond with via Ancestry and other genealogy websites. In other words, they’re populated with people who are eager to help and love to search. In the Finnish group, I connected with people who had visited my ancestral town already, and could offer hints on what to do when there. I was also able to connect with a genealogist in the town, who offered to serve as guide and translator, and with cousins I’d never met, both American and Finnish. Making those connections made my two tripsto Finland extremely memorable. I met several of the cousins there and in Stockholm, and one has since visited me in Massachusetts.
Take for example the family of EDWARD JACKSON (EF),1 on whose ENEF sketch I am currently working. Edward was a post- Great Migration Begins immigrant, arriving in New England in 1642 or 1643 with his first wife, Frances (married in England in 1631) and their four surviving children. Then in 1649, Edward married Elizabeth (Newgate) Oliver, widow of JOHN OLIVER (EF), whom she had married about 1637, and daughter of Great Migration immigrant JOHN NEWGATE (GM 1633). Elizabeth’s sister, Sarah Newgate, married John Oliver’s brother, PETER OLIVER (EF). Edward Jackson had children by both of his wives, and Elizabeth had children by both of her husbands. Continue reading Genealogical Clusters→
I was on the phone with my father, talking about connections to relatives we had discovered through our Ancestry DNA testing. My father is from Yauco, Puerto Rico. He came to live in New York during his early teen years, but he always talks about his relatives and his memories of Puerto Rico.
I grew up knowing about Cayetano Canchani, my father’s maternal great-grandfather, a jeweler who came from Naples, Italy, and settled in Puerto Rico. I also knew about my father’s maternal grandmother, Maria Canchani y Ramirez, Cayetano’s daughter. Maria “cooked for rich people” in Yauco and every day would bring her family leftover food to eat.
A recent series of posts on lodgers who are possibly relatives hit close to home in my search for information about my wife’s great-grandfather. In three consecutive Scotland census reports he is listed first as boarder, then as son, and finally lodger. It took some digging to sort this out.
John Faulds (1870-1951) emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1893. The passenger list for his arrival in New York from Glasgow shows that he was a baker. No doubt he entered that profession when he settled in the Chicago area. However, his interests soon turned to the equipment side of the baking industry, and he went to work for the Middleby Marshall company, which was founded in 1888 in Chicago to make commercial bake ovens and equipment.1 Credited along with John Marshall, a licensed engineer, John Faulds received U.S. patents for improvement in bake oven designs in 1900 and 1909. The first patent was filed in 1899, only six years after John arrived in the United States. In 1932, he used his expertise in equipment and mechanical design to launch his own company, the Faulds Oven and Equipment Co. His continued oven improvements resulted in five more patents, in his name only, for bake oven designs. The company stopped making ovens in the 1970s, but as of 2016, there were at least eleven Faulds ovens still in use in Chicago, and several in Washington State.2 Many of these in are in pizzerias due to the fact that they can hold thirty pizzas at a time, using a stack of revolving oven trays similar to a Lazy Susan. Continue reading Identifying Another “Boarder”→
Last year, the Boston Globe interviewed my colleague Sarah Dery on the ancestry of recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and myself on the “Boston Brahmin” ancestry of her husband, Dr. Patrick Graves Jackson. While I’ve also discussed here the numerous Harvard graduates in the Jackson family, one other interesting item is the origin of his name Patrick, which was a rather uncommon name for Yankee families in Massachusetts before the American Revolution.
Similar to my own name of Christopher, Patrick tended to be a name amongst Catholics, with Pilgrims and Puritans rarely using the name in the 17th and 18th centuries. Within our database of New England Marriages to 1700, there are only thirteen married men named Patrick in all of New England in the seventeenth century.