Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: His Roots

1903 (possibly) McClellan Genealogy by Imogene McClellan-002.jpg

Imogene (Everson) McClellan was an avid genealogist. About 1903, several years after her husband George Roderic McClellan disappeared, Imogene began compiling her own genealogy. While doing so, she wrote on a small slip of paper all that she could remember about George McClellan’s immediate family, and gave it to her daughter Lillian McClellan. Lillian’s grandniece Maria McClellan discovered it years later, when she inherited Lillian’s papers. It was the first clue to discovering the origins of George Roderic McClellan.

It reads: McClellan Family

Dougal McClellan, son of Dougal McClellan and Mary Scott, born in Edinburg, Scotland married Christina Cameron, b. I[n]verness, Scotland Oct. 12 1817.Married 1834. Came to Nova Scotia soon after their marriage. Their children: Ellen Cameron McClellan, Mary Catherine McClellan, Annie McClellan (Sherman) born March 23 1840, John Duncan McClellan, William Murdock McClellan, George Roderic McClellan, James McClellan, Alexander Cameron McClellan.

 

1903 (possibly) McClellan Genealogy by Imogene McClellan-001.jpg

McClellan Family Genealogy, written by Imogene (Everson) McClellan for her daughter Lillian McClellan, circa 1903. Image courtesy of the author.

 

George Roderic McClellan was born 8 May 1848 in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, the youngest of eight children born to Dougal McClellan and his wife Christina Anne Cameron, who was also called Christiana Cameron. Dougal died when George was young and the widowed Christina, unable to support all of her children, had to place them in local homes, working as domestic servants or learning trades. While the specifics of George’s childhood are still elusive, he was likely placed in a home where he apprenticed as a mason. By the age of 12 his mother had left Nova Scotia entirely and was working as a domestic servant in the household of Dr. Charles W. Fabyan of Providence, Rhode Island, a wealthy Methodist physician originally from Maine. George’s eldest sister Mary Catherine followed their mother, where she soon found work as a governess in Providence. George’s second eldest sister, Christina Anne “Annie” McClellan, found work in Portland, Maine, where she met merchant John Doane Wells Sherman. They identified themselves as husband and wife in the 1860 Census in Portland, but their wedding was performed 14 January 1863 in Providence, Rhode Island. When George turned 21 he decided to move from Nova Scotia to seek work in New England, arriving in Portland, Maine in September 1869 and then making his way to Boston, Massachusetts. He may have gone to meet up with his sister Annie (McClellan) Sherman, whose husband John worked in Boston. John D. W. and Annie Sherman boarded at Adams House when they stayed in Boston. Together John and brother Thomas B. Sherman operated the trading company Sherman Bros. & Co. at 234 State Street from at least 1867-1870. As of the 1870 census, ‘Geo R. McClellan’ was working as a mason and boarding in Boston, Massachusetts with grocer Martin Godrin (29, b. Ireland).

1870McClellanGeorgeCensus - Copy.jpg

George Roderic McClellan in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census,  a 25 [sic, 22] year old bricklayer residing as a boarder in Boston, Massachusetts on 14 July 1870

In the spring of 1872 Barnabas Everson hired George McClellan to help with construction at his South Hanson saw-mill, including a tall brick chimney stack to help reduce the threat of fire from the wood-scrap-drive fires which help fueled the saws. George likely took the Old Colony train from South Station in Boston to the South Hanson train station, located right next to Everson’s mill on Main Street. The train station is still in use today. By 1888 Barnabas Everson had become the fifth-richest man in Hanson, MA, through income derived from his sawmill and from his agricultural produce on his 300+ acres of farmland.  [See my article about Barnabas Everson’s safe, which is held by the Hanson Historical Society]. Everson invited the 24 year old George McClellan home for dinner, where he met Barnabas’s 20 year old daughter Imogene.

 

 

 

Possibly tintype of George R. McClellan? Tintypes common ca 1860s-70s.

Undated tintype of George Roderic McClellan. Probably late 1860s or early 1870s. Courtesy of the author.

Imogene Everson say 1870s?

Undated image of Imogene Lillian Everson.  Photographer A[mos] H. Locke, 16 Main St., Plymouth, Mass. Possibly near the time of her marriage, Locke was a photographer in Plymouth in 1872. Courtesy of the author.

They courted and were quickly married in Barnabas Everson’s home on Indian Head Street in Hanson, 3 June 1872, by East Bridgewater Methodist minister Rev. William Freeman Farrington. The choice of a Methodist minister probably reflected George McClellan’s faith with his Scottish-Canadian roots rather than the Everson family’s religion. Barnabas Everson joined several faith groups throughout his life, as did his children Richard and Imogene Everson. As a child, Imogene was briefly raised in the South Hanson Baptist Church. By the mid-1850s, however, the Eversons became captivated by the Spiritualist movement and remained Spiritualists until the 1890s. In the 1890s Imogene began taking Christian Science courses from Mary Baker Eddy. She remained a member of Church of Christ Scientist until her death.

 

1872 McClellanGeorgeEversonImogeneMarriage-MAVRs - Copy.jpg

Marriage record of George R. McClellan and Imogene L. Everson in Hanson, Mass. on 3 June 1872

Imogene became pregnant immediately following her marriage. Their first child, George Cameron McClellan, was born 5 March 1873 – 9 months and 2 days following their wedding day. His first name honored his father and his middle name was in honor of George’s mother’s surname Cameron.

1873 McClellanGeorgeCameron Birth-MAVRs - Copy.jpg

Birth record of George Cameron McClellan, the first child of George Roderic McClellan and Imogene Lillian Everson, born in Hanson, Mass. 5 March 1873

Having no property and little cash to his name, George and his new wife Imogene McClellan moved into a rent-free house on the east side of Indian Head Street near Maquan Pond in South Hanson owned by Imogene’s mother, Deborah (Bates) Howland Everson. Deborah had lived there with her first husband, Warren Howland, until he died of consumption in 1846, followed shortly thereafter by the death of their infant son and only child Warren Howland Jr. After the 1848 marriage of the widowed Deborah (Bates) Howland to Barnabas Everson they rented out the Howland house for extra income, and Barnabas and Deborah  Everson moved into a newly built house across the road on the west side of Indian Head Street, where they raised their family, including daughter Imogene. In 1873 new father George McClellan was seemingly well situated to step into the family businesses which his father-in-law Barnabas had founded.

Barnabas Everson, like George McClellan, had trained as a mason and trained as a shoemaker, which he worked at when construction opportunities were unavailable or off-season. Barnabas was a talented businessman and soon began acquiring tracts of farmland, woodlots, and cedar swampland in South Hanson, turning his talents to market gardening and selling his agricultural products to larger towns on the South Shore and Boston. He built a sawmill by the South Hanson train station, using lumber from his woodlots and swampland in the cedar swamp in South Hanson, which manufactured box boards and shingles. Everson later sold the sawmill to John Foster and continued to farm until his death.

Everson’s eldest son, Richard A. Everson, two years older than his sister Imogene, followed in his father’s footsteps but also went his own way in business. In his teens, Richard apprenticed and worked as a shoemaker for several years before going to work in Barnabas’s sawmill. Richard then took an interest in cranberry farming and began acquiring a large number of cranberry bogs in Hanson. He invented the “Cape Cod Champion Cranberry Picker” and eventually became the director of the New England Cranberry Sales Company. Richard’s “varied interests are indicative of his enterprise and versatile mind, and the success he has made in his different undertakings shows his executive force,” according to a biography.

Perhaps the career of Richard A. Everson can provide some insight into his brother-in-law George R. McClellan’s next steps. Family stories, you may recall, suggested that George McClellan may have moved to Denver after leaving his family in Hanson, Mass. behind in the 1890s. But it turns out that George went to Denver much earlier than that, and not only once, but two times during his marriage to Imogene.

Hoping to strike it rich in the pioneer town, George McClellan first left for Denver in late 1873, leaving behind his wife Imogene and their infant son George. Gold and silver were mined in Colorado and then filtered through the city of Denver, where business and real estate opportunities abounded in the rough-and-tumble city. After a childhood spent apart from his family, and his adolescence and young adulthood spent moving from place to place in search of employment, he had finally formed roots in Hanson, Massachusetts with his new family. But after one year he was itching to move again, and this time -West.

But what led to such a huge move? A handsome and cocky young man, George likely bumped heads with his father-in-law Barnabas Everson. Although the two men seemingly had much in common, it appears that George McClellan was unwilling to step into his father-in-law’s business and wanted to come into wealth on his own. Barnabas Everson may have been a hard man to work under, since even his own son Richard A. Everson only spent a few years working in Barnabas’ saw mill before starting his own cranberry company in Hanson and building his own success in tandem with his father. However, if Barnabas and his son Richard had disagreements, they nevertheless worked closely together, both on a personal level and physically within the same town. For some reason, however, George McClellan wanted to put 2,000 miles between them. Barnabas himself had an appreciation for risk-taking, having successfully grown his own businesses from small start-ups into large, successful operations. Perhaps George heard about business opportunities from his brother-in-law John D. W. Sherman, whose trading company was also booming in the 1870s. And perhaps at first George even received seed money from Barnabas Everson to support his endeavors in Denver.

But would George McClellan strike it rich in Denver?

 

Up Next: Part Three: George McClellan’s First Adventures in Denver, Colorado

Previously: Part One: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

McClellanDisappearance

Part One: Family Traditions: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

My grandmother’s house, the childhood home of my father, has been in the family for several generations. It holds countless memories and stories, and the story of its origin looms large in family lore. My grandmother is a McClellan from Hanson, Mass., but the introduction of the family surname to Hanson was surrounded in a century-old scandal. Built in 1903 for my great-grandmother Imogene Lillian (Everson) McClellan, the house was intended to be a fresh start for Imogene and her three children. Her husband, Nova Scotian-born (with Scottish roots) George Roderic McClellan, had abandoned the family several years previously, and by 1903 Imogene determined to file for divorce in absentia. She sold their house on Main Street in Hanson and built a new one on Phillips Street.

 

The story goes that one day during the 1890s, George said he was taking the train to Boston to purchase a rug for their house, and he never returned. Imogene hired a private investigator who reported a lead that George may have gone to Denver, but the trail ran cold and no further details could be determined. George was an itinerant bricklayer who had been hired by Imogene’s father, Barnabas Everson, one of the wealthiest men in Hanson, to help build a tall brick chimney for Everson’s sawmill. There he met Barnabas’ daughter Imogene, and they married in 1872. They had four children: George Cameron, born the following year who died young, Lillian, born 1876 who never married, Roderic Cameron b. 1882 and Sherman Barnabas b. 1886 who married the Ramsdell sisters Edith and Bessie, respectively. But sometime after Sherman’s birth, the McClellan marriage crumbled, and when Imogene built her new house in 1903, it was on land inherited from her recently deceased father Barnabas Everson, and thus stood in the shadow of the brick chimney that George McClellan had built years ago.

MainStChimney

The Barnabas Everson sawmill chimney stack, built by Barnabas Everson and George R. McClellan ca. 1871-1872, Main Street, South Hanson. Photograph courtesy Mary Blauss Edwards, taken 2010.

 

DononRoof

My grandfather sitting on the roof of the family house, with the Everson chimney in the background. Photograph courtesy Don Blauss.

And that was that, so far as the memories of George McClellan lingered in family stories.  A bit of Scottish pride from the surname itself, but mysteries surrounding the man who introduced it to the family. Many stories are preserved about Imogene, a tiny woman with a big legacy, but George always remained a question mark in the eyes of her grandchildren.

 

Over the past decade I have been trying to unravel the story of George McClellan, his origins, his time in Hanson, and his disappearance. The digitization of records from Canada to New England to Denver have been vital in this research process, and over the years I have pieced together incredible details about his life. It’s a tale filled with broken dreams of striking-it-rich turned to literal smoke, small and large family drama, and public scandals of political corruption involving bribery, gambling and prostitution leading to a tragic and deadly race riot. There were many twists in the process of uncovering the complicated life of George Roderic McClellan and his family left behind in Hanson – as well as discovering that following his disappearance, he went on to have a second family, entirely unknown to his first.

 

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

 

Up Next: Before arriving in Hanson, Mass. in 1872, where did George McClellan come from? Part Two: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: His Roots

Part Three: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: Success In Denver Turns To Smoke

Part Four: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan:Becoming Officer McClellan, the Farcical Moon Affair, and a Bribery Scandal in Denver

Part Five: The Disappearance of George McClellan: Anti-Chinese Riot and Officer McClellan’s Prostitution Scandal and Resignation from the Denver Police

Part Six: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: George and Imogene’s Life in Hanson

Part Seven: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: Life and Death in Boston

Wishful Wednesday: Seeking the Bible of Rev. Thomas Smith of Pembroke MA

Putting this request out:

I am hoping to locate the Rev. Thomas Smith Bible. The bible of Rev. Thomas Smith (1706-1788) of Pembroke, Massachusetts was mentioned in A Memorial of Rev. Thomas Smith (Second Minister of Pembroke, Mass.) And His Descendants , Compiled by Susan Augusta Smith (Plymouth, MA: Avery & Doten, 1895).

There are many references in the Smith Memorial to this bible, such as:

In the bible of his son, Rev. Thomas Smith, occurs this quaint record, in his own handwriting, now dim with age and almost illegible: “My father died March 4th, 1746, it being on Saturday about Sun Setting in the 80th year of his age, and was buried on Monday – Our Fathers, where are they?”

The bible also records the birth dates and times of his children, which are all included in the book.

However, I am interested in the reference to the two slaves of Rev. Thomas Smith: Joan and her daughter Margaret alias “Peg”. Susan Augusta Smith notes that the deaths of Peg and Joan “are recorded in the family Bible”, however she does not include a transcription of these records.

It seems that as of 1895, the bible was in the possession of Susan Augusta Smith (daughter of Nathaniel Smith, granddaughter of Nathaniel Smith, great-great granddaughter of Rev. Thomas Smith). Susan was born 19 Oct 1843 and had only one brother, Moses Bass Smith, who had died in 1861. In the 1900 Census, Susan Smith’s occupation is listed as “genealogist”. But since she never married nor had children, it is unclear to whom the bible passed down to, or where it is located today.

NEHGS has a bible titled “Bible record for the Rev. Thomas Smith family, 1706-1855. [manuscript]”  however, this is not the same bible referred to in the Smith Memorial. The family records in this bible are all in one hand and detail Rev. Smith’s family with a focus on the families of his son Joseph Smith,  grandson Joshua Smith and wife Saba Drew and great grandson Joseph Smith and wife Helen Estes. The bible therefore may have been written by Joseph Smith or Helen Estes Smith in the 1850s or later (NEHGS’s copy is missing the title page of the bible and therefore does not include a publication date). According to NEHGS’s notes, this bible was found at Clay Eldridge’s Antique shop on Plympton Green, Mass. and was donated by NEHGS member Mrs. Don. Whiston of Upland Meadows, Kingston, Mass on 12 May 1958.

If anyone has details about the whereabouts of Rev. Thomas Smith’s bible today, please let me know!

Surname Saturday: John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts

Everson Title Image

As NEHGS celebrates its 170th anniversary, this week the New England Historical and Genealogical Register launched a beautiful new format and style. This Register features my article “Descendants of John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts” which identifies and untangles the early Everson family of Plymouth Colony. In the 17th century, John Everson was an unwelcome transient in both Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony, and he ultimately gave up custody of his three young children, who were each taken in and raised by separate Plymouth families. Very little has been published on the family up until now, and the few publications that have included references to them have often confused the early generations – a significantly repeated error being the division of Richard2 Everson into two men, one who married Elizabeth (_) and another who married Penelope Bumpas. However, my research shows that they were in fact the same man.

The article is part of my larger Everson project, a book which documents John Everson’s descendants through to the sixth generation (as yet unpublished). While many Eversons remained in Plymouth County, some lines were a part of the westward migration through New York and beyond, and others to Northern New England and into Canada.

Below is a copy of the article, which can be cited as: Mary Blauss Edwards, “Descendants of John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 169 [2015]:35-50.

EversonArticlePDFTitleImage

Treasure Chest Thursday: The wedding dresses of Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards, 1949-1958

My husband’s grandmother Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards was a talented dressmaker.  From the ages of 14 to 16, she served a two year apprenticeship with a dressmaker in the west end of London.  She spent the majority of her working career as a ladies tailor or dressmaker throughout London. While working as a tailoress, she met her husband William James Stephen Edwards, a fellow tailor, and they married in 1913. In the 1930s she worked for a small couture dressmaker. During World War II, she worked as dressmaker for Debenham’s department store, remaining in London during the Blitz. She was very skilled, and would often make dresses for dowagers which cost thousands of pounds. Years later she shared that Queen Alexandra and later Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon preferred to have “Mrs. Edwards” as their fitter. At Debenhem’s, she quickly learned to write down the women’s statements and measurements exactly, especially if they quarreled over the measurements which Ida had taken (the women claiming they were smaller than their physical measurements had indicated!), so that later Ida could not be in trouble if the women later complained that the dress was too small, since she prided herself on her accuracy. Ida left Debenham’s after World War II and joined St. Francis Hospital in their linen room as a needlewoman where she worked until her retirement in the 1960s. During her time at the hospital, however, she missed dressmaking and therefore after hours would often work for commission or for free to create wedding dresses or other dresses for friends, neighbors, and others. Appreciative brides often sent Mrs. Edwards’ photographs from their wedding of “the dress”, which I have included below:

The dress she made for her niece Doris Fielder’s 1949 wedding:

1949SaundersFredFielderDorisWeddingPhoto-FrontClose

The dress she made for her daughter-in-law Rene Royce’s 1955 wedding:

Chris and Rene Wedding

The dress she made for her neighbor Rosina Newton’s 1956 wedding:

1956McCarthyJohnNewtonRosinaWedding-Front

The dress she made for Edna Dines’ 1957 wedding:

1957DinesEdnaWeddingDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:

1953-UnknownBridesDressPhotographerWadex-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:

1953DevilleBrideDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s 1958 wedding:

1958July-BridesDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:

1950s-UnknownBridesDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:

1950sBrideDressPhotographerDaborn-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:

1950sUnknownBridesDressPhotographerCountyStudios-Front

Amanuensis Monday: The Broken Indenture of Ezekiel Sprague Jr. of Scituate, Mass.

While performing research in Scituate, Massachusetts town records, I came across an unusual record from a town meeting (edited slightly for spelling):

 25 May 1767

Upon the Petition & Request of Ebenezer Mott setting forth that he about four years ago took by indenture an apprentice named Ezekel Sprague to learn the trade of a cordwainer & to provide for him til he should arrive to the age of twenty one years he being now about 13 years old but so it is that yt Ezekel has been for some time troubled with uncommon fits and it is doubtful whether he will ever be cured & as said Ebenezer has been at great charge, he earnestly requests that said town upon the said indenture being vacated that said town would take said boy into their charge & care. Wherefore said town voted that upon the said indentures being exchanged & vacated that ye selectmen of said town should take said boy into their care as one of said town’s poor & do what may be needful for him.

 

This was Ezekiel Sprague Jr., born in Scituate 16 May 1755 [sic, 1754] and baptized at the Scituate Second Church (now Norwell) on 29 September 1754 to Ezekiel and Priscilla Sprague. Ezekiel Sprague Sr. married Priscilla Totman in Scituate in 1753. They later had children Abigail, Rebecca Prouty, and Samuel Sprague, all born and baptized in Scituate. Ezekiel Sr. had also been raised as an apprentice or indentured servant, and on 8 March 1729/30, he was baptized at the Hanover Congregational Church, “his master, James Tory, publickly promising to take care he should have a religious education”. There are no Scituate death or probate records for Ezekiel Sr. and Priscilla, so it is uncertain if they were dead by the time that Ezekiel Jr. was taken on by the Scituate selectmen as one of the town’s poor. Does anyone know what happened to Ezekiel Sprague Jr.’s parents?

Thankful Thursday: Boston Firefighter James M. Gibbons (1949-1981)

James M. Gibbons Medal of Valor. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/citation1981gibbons.jpg

James M. Gibbons Medal of Valor. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/citation1981gibbons.jpg

 

This week the city of Boston mourns and honors Boston firefighters Lt. Edward J. Walsh Jr., 43, and Michael R. Kennedy, 33, who were trapped in a fire in a brownstone at 298 Beacon Street in the Back Bay. The era of the internet has been a remarkable force, garnering community support, thoughts and prayers, as well as encouraging donations to help the firefighters’ families.

Three decades ago a similar fire took the lives of my mother’s cousin Jimmy Gibbons, 31, and his friend Lt. Paul M. Lentini of Engine Company 37, in a brownstone at 0 Newbury St. in the Back Bay. The Boston Fire Historical Society reports that just after 3 p.m. on 6 January 1981, a fire was discovered in a historic retail brownstone building by the entrance to the Boston Public Gardens, and fire “spread through an open-cage elevator shaft to the upper floors, which housed several offices, including that of the Boston School Volunteers and former Governor Francis Sargent [who] was able to escape the building unharmed… after the fire had been knocked down and overhauling operations had begun, a partial collapse of the upper floors occurred (an event similar to the tragic Vendome Fire of 1972). The third floor gave way, with the fourth floor crashing down on top of the firefighters… Twelve firefighters were trapped in the rubble. The body of Fire Lieutenant Paul M. Lentini of Engine Company 37 was located, trapped by a fallen beam. Beneath Lentini were several firefighters, who were trapped but alive. Searches continued for other missing firefighters, until all were accounted for except for Firefighter James M. Gibbons of Engine 37. After many hours of searching, his body was recovered at 10:30 p.m at the bottom of the collapse area”.

 

Firefighter James Michael Gibbons was born in Boston in 1949, the son of James J. Gibbons, a newspaperman for the Boston Herald, and Mary Joan Granville. He was married with two young sons at the time of his death. The Gibbons were a large Boston Irish family. His great-grandparents, James and Celia (Doherty) Gibbons had emigrated from County Donegal, Ireland, then married and started a large family in Boston. Their eldest son, Charles James Joseph Gibbons (1884-1945) married Margaret E. Duff(e)y and had four children, including my Nana, Marie Gibbons, and her younger brother James J. Gibbons – the father of Firefighter James “Jimmy” M. Gibbons. Jimmy Gibbons became a Boston firefighter in July 1974 at the age of 25 and had served with Brighton Ladder 22 and Dorchester Ladder 6 before his assignment in December 1976 to Engine Company 37 on Huntington Ave.

 

I inherited a small collection of family papers from Marie (Gibbons) Buckley Marotta, including the following newspaper clippings she held onto. She would sometimes reflect upon her nephew’s tragic death and describe his bravery and sense of humor, and how awestruck the family was when thousands of firefighters came to pay their respects.

 

GIBBONS-In Quincy, January 6, in the line of duty, Boston Firefighter James M., Engine Company 37; beloved husband of Marie E. (Foley); devoted father of Sean and Dennis; beloved son of James J. and Mary (Granville) Gibbons of Hyde Park; brother of Joan Gibbons of Quincy, Mrs. Barbara Crawford of East Bridgewater, and Mrs. Maureen Devin of Somerville. Funeral from the John J. O’Connor Funeral Home, 740 Adams St. (near Gallivan Boulevard), DORCHESTER, Saturday morning at 11:15. Funeral Mass in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church at 12:30. Relatives and friends respectfully invited. Visiting hours Thursday evening 7-9, Friday 2-4 and 7-9. Member Local 718, Society of St. Florian, B.F.D. Drill Team. Interment St. Joseph’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to the Jimmy Fund.

Mass in Quincy on Saturday

A Mass for Pvt. James Gibbons, 31, of Quincy, a member of Engine Co. 37 of the Boston Fire Department, will be celebrated at 12:30 Saturday in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Quincy. Gibbons was killed Tuesday while fighting an eight-alarm fire at Arlington and Newbury Streets, Back Bay. He was appointed to Boston Fire Department in July, 1974, and was assigned to Ladder 22 in Brighton. In September, 1975, he was transferred to Ladder 6, Morton Street, Dorchester, and on December 1, 1976, he was assigned to Engine Co. 37, Huntington Avenue and Ruggles Street, Roxbury, from where he responded to the fire. He was a member of Local 718 of the International Association of Firefighters, Society of St. Florian and the Fire Department’s Drill Team. He leaves his wife, Marie E. (Foley); two sons, Sean and Dennis, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James J. Gibbons of Hyde Park. His father is a printer in the composing room of the Herald American. He also leaves three sisters, Joan Gibbons of Quincy, Mrs. Barbara Crawford of East Bridgewater and Mrs. Maureen Devin of Somerville. Interment will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, West Roxbury. Arrangements are by the John J. O’Connor and Son Funeral Home, Dorchester.

 

Years later I attended grad school on Huntington Avenue and often walked by Engine No. 37, where a memorial plaque is placed in honor of their fallen firefighters. My mother, brother and I later visited the firehouse specifically to read the plaque and chat with some of the firefighters to thank them and remember. At the time I was working on Newbury Street just a block away from 0 Newbury St., which has since been completely rebuilt and today houses a Burberry retail shop. A quieter place for reflection is at the beautiful Vendome Fire Memorial on Commonwealth Ave. and Dartmouth St.

Memorials at the Engine 37 Firehouse at 560 Huntington Ave., including a Lentini-Gibbons plaque. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/activefirehouseengine37.html

Memorials at the Engine 37 Firehouse at 560 Huntington Ave., including a Lentini-Gibbons plaque. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/activefirehouseengine37.html

In addition to the memorial plaques at Engine 37, they also had Boston University students paint a mural on the station wall memorializing their fallen firefighters as well as celebrating their unit. There is also a Lentini-Gibbons Memorial Baseball Diamond at East Second & N Streets in South Boston and a Fire Fighter Memorial at Florian Hall which commemorates all Boston Local 718 members who died in the line of duty, including James M. Gibbons. All these years later, we still remember, celebrate, and are so very thankful the bravery of all our firefighters.

The Fire Lt. Paul M. Lentini & Fire Fighter James M. Gibbons Memorial Baseball Diamond at East Second & N Streets, South Boston. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

The Fire Lt. Paul M. Lentini & Fire Fighter James M. Gibbons
Memorial Baseball Diamond at East Second & N Streets, South Boston. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Fire Fighter Memorial at Florian Hall, IAFF Local 718 Headquarters, Hallet St., Dorchester, Mass. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Fire Fighter Memorial at Florian Hall, IAFF Local 718 Headquarters, Hallet St., Dorchester, Mass. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Right Tablet at the Florian Hall Firefighters Memorial, including James M. Gibbons. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Right Tablet at the Florian Hall Firefighters Memorial, including James M. Gibbons. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Amanuensis Monday: 1848 San Donato Val di Comino, Italy Marriages

While searching for family names in the San Donato Val di Comino records, I thought the San Donatese diaspora might appreciate having an accessible transcription of some of the historic civil registration indexes for the town. Awhile ago I transcribed the 1849 Births. Today I have transcribed the 49 marriages recorded during the year 1848.

1848 Marriages

Tavola alfabetica annual de matrimonj per l’anno mille ottocento quarantotto

Alphabetical table of annual marriages in the year one thousand eight hundred forty-eight

No. d’ord.

Page #

Cognomi e Nomi de sposi

Names and Surnames of Spouses

Patria

Home

Cognomi e nomi de genitori

Name and surname of parents

Giorno della celebrazione del matrimonio innanzi alla chiesa

Day of the marriage celebration in the church

Osservaz.

Observations

5

Antonellis, Antonio

San donato

Domenico Antonellis and Pasqua Gallo

28 February

 

Salvucci, Carmina

Idem

Luigi Salvucci and Caterina Salvucci

 

7

Antonellis, Giuseppe

Idem

Angelo Antonellis and Francesca Cantilli

3 March

 

Mazilli, Maria

Idem

Antonio Mazilli and Orazia Decitto

 

4

Bona, Donato

Idem

Loreto Bona and Tomasa Valentini

10 February

 

Cucuzzo, Angelica

Idem

Antonio Cucuzzo and Lucia Mulilli

 

14

Bona, Donato

Idem

Vincenzo Bona and Angela Ceccone

20 May

 

Marini, Marta

Idem

Luigi Marini and Loreta Rufo

 

8

Celluci, Carmine

Idem

Michele Celluci and Giovanna Cugini

8 March

 

Piscelli, Maria Annalia

Idem

 Pasquale Piscelli and Carolina Pesce

 

11

Casilli, Pietro

Idem

Vincenzo Casilli and Teresa Ceccone

31 March

 

Fabrizio, Sommata

Idem

Nicola Fabrizio and Maria Giuseppa Quintilini

 

11

Cugini, Gerardo

Idem

Pietro Cugini and Loreta Valentini

16 April

 

Baccaro, Costanza

Idem

Valerio Baccaro and Lucia Trojani

 

15

Casseti?, D Girolamo

Arce

Niccola Casseti? and Anna Franconi?

23 May

 

Salvucci, D Luigia

San donato

Emilio Salvucci and Clementina Antonangelo

 

20

Cardarelli, Gaetano

Idem

Giovanni Cardarelli and Lucreza Cedrone

15 August

 

Di Bona, Clementina

Idem

Gaetano Di Bona and Teresa Mazilli

 

15

Coletti, Paolo

Idem

Antonio Coletti and Nora Coletti

20 October

 

Quintiliani, Marianna

Idem

Luigi Quintiliani and Teresa Caruzzo

 

26

Ceccone, Gerardo

Idem

Gaetano Ceccone and Frigsda? Venture

23 October

 

Cardarelli, Antonia

Idem

Giuseppe Cardarelli and Felicia Saulutti?

 

28

Cellucci, Antonio

Idem

Donato Cellucci and Maria Tramontozzi

6 December

 

Visco?, Cesidia

Idem

Domenico Visco? and Anna Leone?

 

29

Cucchi, Sigr: Loreto

Idem

Francesco Cucchi and Susanna Vitti?

24 December

 

Cedrone, Giuseppa

Idem

Alessio? Cedrone and Costanza Cardarelli

 

2

Gentile, Cesidio

Idem

Mario? Gentile and Loreta Ventura

23 January

 

Cucchi, Maria

Idem

Felix Cucchi and Loreta Cedrone

 

12

Gentilucci, Giovanni

Idem

Francesco Gentilucci and Lucia Celluci

15 April

 

Leone, Vittoria

Idem

Francesco Leone and Clemenza Cucuzzo

 

5

Leone, Carmine

Idem

Michele Leone and Marianna Ventre

22 February

 

Ventre, Giuseppa

Idem

Vincenzo Ventre and Clementina Trojani

 

15

Bona, Pietro

San Donato

Vincenzo Bona and Angela Ceccone

20 February 1848

 

Coletta, Maria Elisabetta

Idem

Agostino Coletta and Blandina Cardarelli

 

16

Bona, Vincenzo

Idem

Domenico Bona and Marianna Salvucci

22 March

 

Roffo, Teresa Nunziata

Idem

Gaetano Roffo and Maria Angela Gallo

 

4

Cellucci, Loreto

Idem

Giovanni Cellucci and Lucrezia Cucuzzo

22 January

 

Cellucci, Anna Maria

Idem

Gaetano Cellucci and Lucia Quintiliano

 

6

Cugini, Domeniantonio

Idem

Carmine Cugini and Domenica Salvucci

29 January

 

Rufo, Caterina

Idem

Francesco Rufo and Maria Cedrone

 

7

Cellucci, Niccola

Idem

Giuseppe Cellucci and Antonia Cucchi

5 February

 

Tramontozzi, Maria Luisa

Idem

Angelo Tramontozzi and Maria Leone

 

11

Cardarelli, Donato

Idem

Giuseppe Cardarelli and Marianna Quintiliano

12 February

 

Quintiliano, Carmina Pasqua

Idem

Giuseppe Quintiliano and Loreta Masilli

 

12

Cardarelli, Luigi

Idem

Domenico Cardarelli and Maria Sacchetti

12 February

 

Tempesta, Domenica

Idem

Loreto Tempesta and Beladina Cellucci

 

17

Cellucci, Niccola

Idem

Gaetano Cellucci and Carmina Cucuzzo

3 April

 

Vergati, Antonia

Idem

Gaetano Vergati and Santa di Bona

 

18

Cecchi, Cesidio

Idem

Angelantonio Cecchi and Areangela Ventura

9 April

 

Salvucci, Nachele

Idem

Matteo Salvucci and Giacinta Gentile

 

19

Cugini, Luigi

Idem

Agostino Cugini and Antonia Coletta

6 May

 

Fabrizio, Loreta

Idem

Angelo Fabrizio and Giuseppina Valentino

 

20

Coletta, Benedetto

Idem

Niccola Coletta and Carolina Quintiliano

7 May

 

Paglia, Lucia

Idem

Loreto Paglia and Maria Luigia Ventura

 

21

Coletta, Carlo

Idem

Luigi Coletta and Diomira Cedrone

10 June

 

Ceccone, Maddalena

Idem

Gaetano Ceccone and Brigida Ventura

 

26

Cucuzzo, Carlo Donato

Idem

Giuseppe Cucuzzo and Venanzia Tempesta

5 August

 

Cardarelli, Blandina

Idem

Luigi Cardarelli and Giovanna Fabrizio

 

?

Camillo, Nunziato Agostino

San Donato

Francesco Camillo and Giuseppa Sambucci

14 October 1848

 

Rufo, Donata

Idem

Luigi Rufo and Luigia Salvucci

 

?

Coletta, Niccola Carmine

Idem

Liborio Coletta and Santa Tempesta

23 December

 

Rufo, Clementina

Idem

Antonio Rufo and Maria Ventre

 

?

Gatti, Raffaele Carmine

Idem

Fabiano Gatti and Maria Delicata

13 January 1849

 

Evangelista, Carmina Evagelista

Idem

Davide Evangelista and Loreta Cugini

 

?

Leone, Giuseppe Cedrone Domenico Francesco

Idem

Francesco Leone and Clemenza Cucuzzo

22 January 1848

 

Cucuzzo, Clemenza

Idem

Rocco Cucuzzo and Angela Celluci

 

?

Leone, Flamminio

Idem

Domenico Leone and Loreta Tocci

22 January “

 

Antonellis, Chiara

Idem

Luigi Antonellis and Nunziata Magnarelli

 

?

Leone, Cesidio Domenicantonio

Idem

Giovanni Leone and Antonia Rufo

5 February

 

Vergati, Domenica Natalizia

Idem

Pietro Vergati and Lucia Gatti

 

?

Leone, Pasquale

Idem

Giovanni Leone and Teresa Decina

12 February

 

Cucuzzo, Pasquala

Idem

Loreto Cucuzzo and Rosaria Antonellis

 

?

Leone, Domenico

Idem

Gaetano Leone and Livia Baccaro

16 February

 

Coletta, Teresa

Idem

Vincenzo Coletta and Giuseppina Pesce

 

?

Marini, Antonio Fortunato

Idem

Loreto Marini and Carmina Antonellis

5 February

 

Salvucci, Lucia

Idem

Pietro Salvucci and Giovanna Antonellis

 

?

Mazzala, Carlo

Idem

Donato Mazzala and Gaetana Gentilucci

25 November

 

Cedrone, Costanza

Idem

Teodoro Cedrone and Domenica Cedrone

 

?

Paglia, Giovanni

Idem

Pietro Paglia and Carmela Antonellis

17 June

 

Cardarelli, Marta

Idem

Saverio Cardarelli and Serafina Cotello

 

?

Piselli, Raffaele

Idem

Francesco Piselli and Teresa Cedrone

23 July

 

Coletta, Teodora

Idem

Francesco Coletta and Annamaria di Bona

 

26

Paglia, Cristino

San Donato

Pietro Paglia and Carmela Antonellis

7 October 1848

 

Cardarelli, Eleonora

Idem

Niccola Cardarelli and Serafina Gatti

 

28

Pellegrini, Carmine

Idem

Benedetto Pellegrini and Cardina Delina? Gatti

28 October

 

Tocci, Angiola

Idem

Francesco Tocci and Carmina Lombardi

 

30

Quintiliano, Loreto

Idem

Donato Quintiliano and Maria Cedrone

14 December

 

Marini, Cesidia Maria

Idem

Vincenzo Marini and Mazia Lanno

 

13

Rufo, Giuseppe

Idem

Filippo Rufo and Caterina Ruffo

12 February

 

Salvucci, Paolina

Idem

Luigi Salvucci and Caterina Salvucci

 

2

Salvucci, Luigi

Idem

Niccola Salvucci and Maddalena de Angelis

2 January

 

Rufo, Carmina Maria Lucia

Idem

Domenico Rufo and Teresa Cugini

 

1

Tocci, Domenico

Idem

Giovanni Tocci and Giusta Salvucci

2 January

 

Celluci, Maria Loreta

Idem

Giovanni Celluci and Lucrezia Cucuzzo

 

25

Tocci, Donato

Idem

Francesco Tocci and Carmina Lombardi

7 October

 

Mazzola, Maria

Idem

Luigi Mazzola and Lucia diStazio

 

32

Tocci, Angelantonio

Idem

Antonio Tocci and Anna Tramontozzi

7 January 1849

 

Rufo, Lucia

Idem

Pasquale Rufo and Maria Mazzola

 

Index1848

1848 San Donato Val di Comino Index of Marriages, Courtesy of Family History Library [FHL 1173844]

Index1848p2

1848 San Donato Val di Comino Index of Marriages, Courtesy of Family History Library [FHL 1173844]

Index1848p3

1848 San Donato Val di Comino Index of Marriages, Courtesy of Family History Library [FHL 1173844]

 

1848 San Donato Val di Comino Index of Marriages, Courtesy of Family History Library [FHL 1173844]

1848 San Donato Val di Comino Index of Marriages, Courtesy of Family History Library [FHL 1173844]

 

Did you locate an ancestor in this transcription – or have a correction to suggest? Leave a comment below to let me know! Then order the microfilm San Donato Val di Comino Matrimoni [Marriages] giugno 1827-1861, FHL 1173844 Items 1-15 to view the full marriage record using the page number provided by the index (or scan through the year if the indexed page number was obscured by the binding – the marriage records are arranged chronologically and therefore easy to find).

Matrilineal Monday: My Father’s Matrilineal Line Featured On Who Do You Think You Are?

MatrilinealMondayWDYTYA

I was a researcher for several seasons of the American version of Who Do You Think You Are? It was an absolute blast performing the research, and then very interesting to see how the findings were later used for the filming itself.

The focus of WDYTYA? and other genealogy programs tends to focus on celebrities discovering their past (although some shows now have started to feature segments on “everyday” folks who have interesting ancestors too), although I always thought it would be fun to see some of my ancestors featured in a similar way. So imagine my surprise when I recently was watching through a backlog of British WDYTYA? seasons and saw that my father’s matrilineal ancestors were featured in a 2008 episode with British model Jodie Kidd. She was surprised to discover that she had early New England ancestors, whose descendants eventually returned back to England in her direct line.

At the Rowley, Massachusetts Town Clerk’s office, she discovered that her seventh-great-grandfather Richard Hazen (brother to my ancestor Elizabeth Hazen – my father’s ninth-great-grandmother directly on his matrilineal line, and my tenth-great-grandmother) was the son of Edward Hazen and Hannah Grant in the book Early Settlers of Rowley, Massachusetts. Jodie was told that Edward Hazen’s wife Hannah Grant was an original settler of the town of Rowley with her parents Thomas and Jane (Haburne) Grant, who came to America in 1638 aboard the ship John of London with Rev. Ezekiel Rogers as part of the Great Migration.

Jodie then traveled to St. Peter’s Church in Rowley, East Riding, Yorkshire where Rev. Ezekiel Rogers was rector before he was suspended for his Puritan practices. In response, Rev. Rogers gathered almost thirty Puritan families from the area, including the Grant family, and migrated to New England.

St. Peter’s Church, Rowley, East Riding, Yorkshire, England. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Archivist Lizzy Baker from East Riding Archives then pulled out several original parish record books from the nearby town of Cottingham where the Grant family lived, and revealed the baptism record of Hannah Grant, daughter of Thomas Grant, on 16 October 1631, and the marriage of Hannah’s parents Thomas Grant and Jane Haburne at Cottingham on 21 September 1624.

Jodie was then shown a stained glass window which commemorated the migration of Rev. Roger’s families to Rowley, Massachusetts. She was then shown a silver chalice inscribed “1634”, which Rev. Rogers would have used during services, and Kidd speculated “maybe my ancestors could have drunk from it”, although it is not clear to me that the Grant family would actually have worshiped at Roger’s church in Rowley, since Thomas and Jane Grant had children baptized at Cottingham from 1625/6-1637, then left for America in 1638. More likely, as Puritans they have occasionally heard the controversial Rev. Rogers preach, then answered his call to nearby parishes to migrate to New England. However, they worshipped at St. Mary the Virgin Church in Cottingham, East Riding, Yorkshire.

St. Mary the Virgin Church, Cottingham, East Riding, Yorkshire. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

And while not discussed in the show, Jane Haburne was the daughter of Ralph Haburne and Maud Jecles, who married at Cottingham on 2 December 1593. Therefore, Maud (Jecles/Jeckles/Jekyll) Haburne is my father’s earliest identified matrilineal ancestor. And after taking DNA tests at FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe, my father discovered that Maud passed her mitochondrial DNA from haplogroup H (called Helena in Bryan Sykes’ Seven Daughters of Eve) on to all of her children, and her daughters and their daughters continued to pass down the same mtDNA throughout the generations.

My father directly inherited his mtDNA haplogroup H from his mother, who inherited it from her mother Sarah Anne “Sally” ANNIS (1908-1980) who m. Edgar Cameron McCLELLAN. She inherited it from her mother (my father’s great-grandmother) Edna Hamson STILES (1877-1957) who m. William Freeland ANNIS.

  • And so on down the line, through my father’s Great-Great-Grandmother: Sarah Ann SIBLEY (1840-1900) m. Charles Dean STILES
  • Third Great-Grandmother: Tamison HAMSON (1810-1873) m. John Shaw SIBLEY
  • Fourth Great-Grandmother: Tamison WAITE (1788-1856) m. William HAMSON
  • Fifth Great-Grandmother: Abigail TREFRY (1757-1831) m. Jacob WAITE
  • Sixth Great-Grandmother: Elizabeth HALES (1724 – aft. 1760) m. James TREFRY
  • Seventh Great-Grandmother: Elizabeth PRITCHETT (1702 – aft. 1746) m. Edward Hales
  • Eighth Great-Grandmother: Sarah HARRIS (1681-1729) m. Lt. John Pritchett
  • Ninth Great-Grandmother: Elizabeth HAZEN (1651-) m. Nathaniel Harris
  • Tenth Great-Grandmother: Hannah GRANT (1631-1716) m. Edward Hazen
  • Eleventh Great-Grandmother: Jane HABURNE (1602-1697/8) m. Thomas Grant
  • Twelfth Great-Grandmother: Maud JECLES (-1623) m. Ralph Haburne

Perhaps next time we visit my brother-in-law in Yorkshire I will visit the Cottingham church and the East Riding Archives to see if I can identify any additional generations back beyond Maud Jecles to extend the matrilineal line even further. But for now it’s pretty amazing to know that my dad’s mitochondrial DNA was directly inherited from remarkable women Elizabeth (Hazen) Harris, Hannah (Grant) Hazen, Jane (Haburne) Grant and Maud (Jecles) Haburne, all featured directly or indirectly on Who Do You Think You Are?

Watch Jodie Kidd learn about Edward Hazen and Hannah Grant beginning at minute 3:00, learn about Thomas & Jane Grant in New England at minute 6:55 and learn about Thomas & Jane Grant in England at 10:35:

Tuesday’s Tip: Top Ten Tips for Visiting the Family History Library

TopTenTipsFHL

Last year I took a brief weekend trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and copied a wonderful selection of records – then couldn’t believe how quickly the time passed, and how many more records I still wanted to copy or locate! So this year I planned a week-long visit. After having a very successful trip, I thought I would share my top ten tips for making the most out of your research trip to the Family History Library!

1. Research, research, research. Research in order to research? YES! Novice, intermediate and advanced genealogists can greatly benefit from a visit to the FHL, but unless you are local to the area, I would recommend visiting FHL only after you have your family tree pretty well sketched out, and are looking to fill in gaps, try to solve brick walls, or get copies of things you just can’t easily obtain from other repositories. With that in mind, you probably already have a mental list of the families and/or individuals you want to find additional records for. I keep a running list of any basic vital records I am missing for my ancestors, which can easily be converted into a wish list of records to search for at the FHL. Then I looked over my family tree software to see if there were certain families I wanted additional non-vital records for, or if there were problem solving techniques I could apply to attempt to solve outstanding questions.

Then: become good friends with the FamilySearch.org website, in order to achieve tip number 2:

2. Compile a detailed list of the records and microfilms you want to scan or copy. Use the FamilySearch website for two important components: identifying specific individuals records on FamilySearch’s Search feature, and identifying specific microfilms from FamilySearch’s Catalog. Both steps are important. For example, using the search feature, I located an indexed baptism record for my great grandfather in the collection Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 which provided the microfilm number, page number, and line number for his specific record that I wanted to copy. But then, using the catalog search, I learned that there were numerous microfilms for the church that he was baptized in which were not transcribed online and I knew I wanted to search for additional records – confirmation records, marriage records, and death records. So that provided me with two types of records to search for: in the first instance, I had a specific record with a specific page reference on a specific microfilm to search for. In the second instance, I had a specific microfilm to search in general for names I believed would be on the film, but with no guarantee that they would definitely be there, or knowledge of where in the film they would be located. Make a detailed list of the microfilms you want to search [see bonus tip #11 for organizational tips for this list!] and include any relevant notes that might be useful in finding the record – ie parents names, date of the event, etc.  And be sure to bring along a decent-sized USB memory stick (or a few!) in order to digitally scan then save a copy of the record you find (using the microfilm readers first!) using the excellent ScanPro microfilm scanners on every floor’s scan/print/copy stations.

3. Make good use of cloud and mobile technology before your visit. The first time I visited, I brought an old laptop that had a very outdated copy of my family tree software file which turned out to be missing some of the people I wanted to research, and placed a few articles on my Dropbox account for reference, only to remember upon arrival that the laptop had an older version of Word and couldn’t open the articles. Unhelpful on both accounts! Additionally, I forgot several genealogical website passwords. So this time around, I downloaded the Rootsmagic mobile app for my phone and made sure a current copy of my family tree was placed in the cloud for the app to access (Rootsmagic uses Dropbox for this step). Then I made good use of the password storage and encryption program http://keepass.info/. While at the library, my husband found that using heavy reference international dictionaries was cumbersome while looking at Italian, Hungarian, and German records, so he downloaded the Google Translate app on the spot and happily translated away on his phone while reading records in foreign languages. Take a moment to consider if you have any other cloud or mobile apps that should be up-to-date before you make the trip.

4. Make use of digital collections only available onsite at FHL. Ahead of time, check FamilySearch.org for any digital databases relevant to your ancestors that are noted as only available to view onsite at the Family History Library. I even discovered some collections that were collaborations between FHL and other repositories were available to view, despite not being explicitly noted as available on the website. For instance,  Wales, Monmouthshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1912 and several other Welsh databases are collaborations between FHL and FindMyPast. On my home computer, I could view a basic transcribed record on Family Search from this collection, but in order to see the primary document it said “The image is viewable at findmypast.co.uk. By clicking here you will be leaving FamilySearch.org” and required a FindMyPast subscription. But onsite at FHL, the record was available to view for free (through either FHL’s partnership or their institutional collaboration).

5. Pace yourself. Make sure to take breaks! There is a snack room on the main floor with vending machines, the only place in the library where food and drink are allowed. Make sure to hydrate! We found it easy to have a morning research session, then take a lunch break, followed by an afternoon research session. And since the library is open on most days until 9 PM occasionally we were ambitious enough to then have an evening research session following dinner. (But see Tip Number 9, too!) I also found it useful to occasionally switch between searching for “easy” records (such as already identified-with-certificate-numbered NY vital records or Irish civil registration records) versus more time-consuming unindexed or complicated records. Although plowing through a series of “easy” records felt very satisfying, it involved lots of jumping up and down to pull the microfilm, find its location on the reader, then run to the ScanPro to make a digital copy, then start over again. Sometimes it was nice to mix it up and sit for a solid chunk of time scrolling for relevant surnames in hard-to-read films, or slowly translating and closely investigating foreign language films (and save yourself some translating time and see if the FamilySearch wiki has already translated header columns of common international records such as Hungarian Catholic Church records, German Familienbücher, Italian civil registrations, etc.).

6. Make sure there is time to order Vault Records or missing films. If you have any films that are stored offsite at the Granite Mountain Vault, be sure to order them right away because they take at least a day to arrive (and when we were there, a mountain slide near the vault caused delays!). Or even better, order them in advance (which I didn’t realize I could do beforehand). Additionally, both times I visited, there was at least one film that was just “missing” – probably misfiled (patrons are responsible for re-filing their films and sometimes mistakes are made – but it’s hard to find a film if it has been misfiled!). First wait a few hours to see if a patron is simply using the film you want. But if some time goes by and it doesn’t return to its shelf, speak to the Access Services desk on the floor where your film is missing and they will verify that its missing, then order a copy to be printed from the Vault, which usually takes a day or two to be sent to the Family History Library. On my first trip, that was too long, so I didn’t get to view the film, but this most recent trip I discovered the missing film early enough for it to be ordered and shipped in time. If there’s not enough time, you can also request a free photocopy of the record you need from the FamilySearch Photoduplication Service (which has a several-month turnaround time).

7. Prepare for the unexpected and occasional need for “record triage”. Some discoveries will lead to new findings that you may wish to take advantage of while you are still visiting FHL. Did a deed index provide you with references to land records of your ancestors that you now need to look up the microfilms numbers for? Did a vital record provide you with unknown parents who you can now try to find additional documentation for? Plan on sparing a bit of time to deal with these new discoveries. But also be prepared to perform “record triage” if necessary – after all there are so many records, but so little time! One of the more frustrating situations we came across was when a record had been listed in a FamilySearch database with the microfilm number, but no volume/page/certificate number. Sometimes the record’s location on the microfilm was obvious if it was arranged chronologically, but in some cases there was little in the way of an organization scheme on the film and it could be frustrating to know the record existed SOMEWHERE on the film yet not be able to find it. If this happens to you and the record is very crucial to your research, by all means spend as much time as you need to find it. But if time is slipping away, know when to put on the brakes, move onto finding the next record on your list, and hope that FamilySearch digitizes that undiscovered record soon, since they have ambitious plans to digitize ALL of their microfilms within the next decade (which might just make these tips obsolete by then!).

8. Keep an eye out for the electric microfilm readers amidst a sea of hand-crank microfilm readers. This is a personal preference of mine, but I love the speed and efficiency of the electric microfilm readers. The majority of FHL readers are Northwest Microfilm Inc. 2020 model mechanical hand-crank readers which are lovely, but can make you feel like Popeye with one large arm muscle by the end of the week. So keep an eye out for the electric Gideon model readers, which sometimes are right on the main reader aisles (and usually very popular), but on some floors are tucked away at the back for the savvy researcher to find. On our first trip, we used handcrank readers the first day, then  found and switched to electric readers on the second day. My husband, who had never used microfilms before, said of the smoother electric readers: Where have these been all my life!?

9. Whether visiting for a weekend or a week, make time to play! Before too many visions of microfilmed images or book papercuts start whizzing by in your dreams, make sure to have some fun outside of the library, too! FHL is located right next to the beautiful Temple Square which has outstanding architecture, a reflecting pool, and year-round gardens – and it the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. FHL is in walking distance of the City Creek Center and Gateway Mall for shopping and lots of restaurant options. With a cab or rented car (or long hike), go see nearby Ensign Peak for stunning views of the city or some of the city’s excellent museums or civic centers with live performances. For our first visit we flew, but the second time around we drove a VERY long day, following the Oregon Trail from Washington to Utah (which was fantastically historic!), so we took a day trip out to the beautiful Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake and saw the wild buffalo and antelope herds there.

IMG_1063IMG_1111

 

 

 

 

 

10. Optional: Bring a research buddy! Having an extra set of hands can be a BIG help, genealogy enthusiast or no! My techie husband who had never researched before claimed by the end of the first trip that he found slowly searching for names in old handwriting on microfilms to be meditative – and I appreciated every second of his zen-like assistance. Or if your research buddy comes along to do THEIR research, it is still nice to have a person to sit next to at a film reader, table, or computer to compare the occasional notes, have a second set of eyes look at a questionable record or handwriting, and share in the fun of the experience.

BONUS OCD TIP

11. Organize your microfilm list for maximum efficiency. Once you have come up with your complete microfilm list, I used this system to divide them up: First, in a Word file, itemize and divide the films by floor location (Main Floor = Canada Books, 2nd Floor = US/Canada films, 3rd floor = US Books, Basement 1= International, Basement 2 = British Isles). Then, organize your list in numerical order, since the films are physically ordered numerically. The microfilm shelves are arranged and numbered with seven digits, such as: 0,000,000. So a reference to film 101101 in the catalog will be labeled as 0,101,101 on the shelf. Make sure to note in your list if a film has numerous item numbers – a few times we were baffled when a record was not where it was supposed to be, only to realize it was several item numbers down in the film. You can further subdivide this list into groupings of five, since you are allowed to grab five films at a time and bring them to your microfilm reader. And I made sure to flag the “must-copies” versus the “if there’s time” records or films to help prioritize records if time ran short. And if you do bring a research buddy, make sure to print out two copies of the list and from time to time compare notes on your progress.

 

Most of all: HAVE FUN AND HAPPY RESEARCHING!

 

Did you find this advice helpful? What are your favorite tips for a FHL visit?