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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sanford Maine 1890

Boothby,  Ridley, Goodwin, Coooper, Traves, Frost, Littlefield, Lew, Hamilton, Hutchins, Clark, Davis, Nutter, Hanson, Dennett, Harmon, Stiles, Bartlett, Bedwell, Johnson, Pray.....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Luminous Churches

Takes your breath away....

Protestant churches photographed in luminous beauty by architectural photographer, Steve Rosenthal.

The Winter/Spring issue of "Historic New England" features Rosenthal's work.  You will receive a copy if you're a member, or visit their website for more images. 

Mr. Rosenthal uses BW film and shoots with medium and large format cameras. His book of old New England churches is called: 
"White on White: Churches of Rural New England."

For more of his stunning photography, visit his website:

Friday, March 25, 2011

York County Courthouse, Alfred Maine

Yesterday I spent an absorbing three hours exploring the ledger books of the York County Courthouse. Totally cool!   I was researching a specific house, and whatever documents I could accrue about the owner/family I am investigating.

Each document I found:  Will, deeds, record of property transference, etc. held new names for me to research.  The names intertwine.  Towns were small in the 1800's, and the names reoccur throughout local documents, either as Notary Public, Witness, Signee...townspeople with positions of importance.

I even found a record of a lawsuit of a wife against her husband, within my family.  She the Libelant, and he the Libelor - in 1888.  She had attached his real estate and it was a discharge of same.  This may have been a divorce.

Before you go to Alfred, do some preliminary scouting at the Maine courts website to narrow down your department of research.  Also, many files are online, dating from 1966 forward.    Click here: York County Courthouse 

I was also researching a crime in 1890 which happened in Sanford ME and went to the Grand Jury.  They have NO record of it, and told me it is possible it was lost in a fire they had around 1933.

"Here are oldest continuous court records in United States. Going back to 1636 they include patent conveying the land between Piscataqua and Kennebec Rivers from Charles I to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Facade is copy of that of original courthouse built on this site 1807 and burned 1933. Town of Alfred."           Erected by York County Tercentenary Commission.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It Takes a Village

I had an interesting experience during my research of a Sanford/South Berwick family yesterday. 

I emailed the contact for the local historical society ( to ask her a question about cemetery plot receipts in the late 1800's.  While waiting for her response, I called the Town Hall.  They directed me to the Cemetery Committee.  By the end of the day, I was receiving emails from at least three other people in town who were independently trying to locate my information.  I had to smile at the immediacy of electronic communication - and the "network."  And all without using my Facebook profile!

Note:  I've found that cemetery records are available differently in each town.  In Salem, MA, while researching my own family, I found there is an office on site at the actual cemetery that holds all the records for plot purchases, going back to the 1800's.  (I also found the receipt in my mother's files - helpful - thanks Mom)

South Berwick does not have records for the sale of cemetery plots, but does have records of the exact date of burial of the actual body.  

The person I"m researching died in Sanford, Maine, was quickly transported to Topsfield, MA where his original family lived and where he was born, and then was returned to South Berwick, Maine for actual burial, and is listed on a headstone at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Historic Homes of New England

One of the majestic homes in the Historic Homes list:  Hamilton House of South Berwick Maine.
In 1914, Hamilton House was still known as the Tyson House.  Sarah Orne Jewett, another So. Berwick resident, was a close friend of Emily Tyson. Today, the name has reverted to the original owner/builder of the home:  Jonathan Hamilton, a shipping merchant.  The wings have been removed, and minor renovations have taken place, but it is much the same, gracing a scenic view of the Salmon Falls River.

(This postcard's message includes the names:  "Mixer" of Providence, RI, and "Hughes" (address unknown.)

Tyson House So Berwick Me 1914


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Historical Newspapers from NEHGS

"Explore your early American ancestors and the America of yesterday! The New England Historic Genealogical Society is excited to offer to its members an invaluable resource,Early American New England CourantNewspapers, Series I 1690-1876."

 From AncestryInk:   If you have a membership to
NEHGS, you will have access to this massive database of historical newspapers.  The search engine has great
refinement capabilities and you will be able to narrow
down your searches.  View a snippet, page or the download via PDF, the entire newspaper.