I have most recently been concentrating on “clustering” research for the Early New England Families Study Project around Watertown, Massachusetts. Six new sketches – John Bigelow, Richard Norcross, William Parry, John Sawin, William Shattuck, and Daniel Smith – have been added to thirteen previously posted sketches of immigrant families in Watertown – NEHGS members can find links to all families in the database here.
While I still have some Watertown families in the pipeline, and there will be plenty more in the future, it is time for a change of scenery, so I am moving north to concentrate on Salem families for the next phase of the project. Continue reading “Clustering” Salem
In January 2019, Vita Brevis marked its fifth anniversary with a series of posts, among them one on the blog “By the numbers.” After listing a number of statistics about the blog to that point, I made the following comments:
[But] Vita Brevis is more than the numbers, the percentages, the ongoing series. It is meant to educate; it is meant to entertain. Like P. L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, it aims to guide its readership – gently, with carrots, not sticks – to the right path, toward genealogical breakthroughs. How? By breaking down the thought processes that successful genealogists use to undertake fresh research, building upon previous work when assessing a new genealogical problem. Continue reading 2019: the year in review
Three new sketches have been uploaded to the Early New England Families database for Tristram Coffin, his mother, and one of his sisters.
Tristram Coffin, age 32, and his wife Dionis (Stevens) Coffin, about the same age, brought their five children – ranging in age from 12 to 1 – from Brixton in Devon to New England by October 1642, when the death of the youngest child was recorded in Haverhill. They had four more children born in New England. Continue reading The Coffin cluster
Families of the seventeenth century expected that their scandals would die out pretty much when the last neighbor who knew about them died. It is fortunate, therefore, that they cannot know how easy it is for us to dig up long-buried skeletons today. An example of this came to light while I was working on two Watertown families.
William Parry [sic] settled in Watertown by 1641, and he and his wife Anna [maiden name unknown] had six children. Richard Hassell arrived in Cambridge about 1643 and he and wife Joan [maiden name unknown] had three children born there. Continue reading Family drama
In my work on the current “Watertown Cluster” for the Early New England Families Study Project, I am getting a heavy refresher course in the records of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. In the olden days, I would get on the Green Line and go to the Middlesex County Court House in Cambridge to access probate records. Today, I find online access is both a blessing and a curse.
AmericanAncestors.org has images of Middlesex County probate files, but in my search on William Parry/Perry of Watertown, I found that the image of his original will from these files is indecipherable (to me, at least). In such cases, the next step is to access the copy book versions of the records, images of which are accessible on FamilySearch.org. Continue reading Ease of use
Time to break out the ginger ale. Four new Early New England Families Study Project sketches are ready to be posted. This is the “Lord Cluster” that I have talked about before. They are the first sketches in my “new” system of working on more than one family at a time, and I promised to report back about how this clustering thing is working out.
The Lord Cluster proved to be exceptionally challenging considering that it involved one woman, three of her four husbands, their other four wives and a combined total of 25 children. The advantage of working on extended families, as expected, is being able to use common sources. Continue reading The Lord Cluster
Another anniversary is approaching. In April it will be six years since the first Early New England Families Study Project sketches were published on AmericanAncestors. While many of you have been following the project all these years, it is probably a good time to do a little recapping for newer readers.
The Early New England Family Study Project was conceived as a companion to the Great Migration Study Project and a fitting use for the massive compilation done by Clarence Almon Torrey, published by NEHGS in the four-volume New England Marriages Prior to 1700, which is also available as an AmericanAncestors database. Torrey’s work covers information gleaned from thousands of books, periodicals, and manuscripts in the NEHGS library about couples who lived in New England from 1620 through 1700. The total number of marriages treated by Torrey is estimated to be 37,000! Continue reading An approaching anniversary
At last, the cast of Volume 2 of Early Families of New England 1641-1700 is set. See below for a list of all fifty sketches.
The inventory includes five sets of siblings: John and Samuel Carter; Andrew and George Lane; Daniel, John, and Joseph Morse; Joshua and Thomas Scottow (and brother-in-law Robert Winsor); and John and Samuel Sherman.
Three women have sketches in this volume: Mary (Smith) (Glover) Hinckley, Jane (Conant) (Holgrave) Mason, and Amyas (Cole) (Thompson) Maverick, in addition to their husbands: Thomas Hinckley, Nathaniel Glover, Joshua Holgrave, and Samuel Maverick. Continue reading Essayons
Santa Claus arrived in July with a portable hard drive full of the newly-digitized images from the microfilm of Clarence Almon Torrey’s twelve-volume manuscript, New England Marriages Prior to 1700. It has been forty years since I last had quality time with Clarence. Hard to remember the months and months spent in the stacks going through every book in the library to match his “short” citations and create a bibliography.
For readers who haven’t been introduced, Clarence Almon Torrey spent decades in the library at NEHGS extracting every mention of a seventeenth-century New England marriage from nearly every book, pamphlet, and manuscript in the collection up until about 1960. Continue reading Using “squnch” in a sentence
Sometimes it is best not to count things. I have just finished my spreadsheet listing all marriages in Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700 that took place in or prior to 1643 for individuals who arrived in New England after 1640 (with a whole bunch whose date of arrival is not known). Guess how many make the list?
As I start writing, the total is 1,182, although I am still culling out some duplicates, and there will be others who get eliminated for one thing or another, as we’ll see below. If I can figure out how to complete 100 sketches per year (instead of in 5 years), I will have this batch done by the time I am 82. Continue reading Counting up