ancestryink fisherman

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spring is a Wonderful Thing...

Especially in cemeteries.  Today, while searching for Rollins - the Old Town Cemetery of Rollinsford, NH.

Old Town Cemetery, Rollinsford, New Hampshire

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

From Family Burial Plot to Park Cemetery

Today's research took me to Shapleigh, Maine and a search in the woods for the Emery family burial plot.  The Emerys were early and active citizens of Shapleigh, Springvale and environs.  The plot was a short walk off a dirt road, and the plot interior was greatly overgrown.  I suspected there were stones beneath the thick bed of pines and leaves and small saplings.  I dug them out and took photos for posterity. It would be nice to try to save that burial ground before it is lost forever.  Many of the stones are lying down, but could be restored, at this point.

Emery Burial Ground, Shapleigh Maine

Sarah E.
Daughter of Reuben and Sally Wentworth
Died Feb. 28, 1853(?)
AEt.  21 yrs.

I don't think this stone has seen the light of day in many
a year.

From one extreme to the other:

On my way home, after doing a couple of hours of research on the Pray family, in the Springvale Library Genealogical Room, I drove into the Oakdale Cemetery in Sanford.  What a surprise.  A perfect example of a "garden" or park style cemetery, complete with American flag, rolling mounds, small lake and waterfall, at the center.

Oakdale Cemetery, looking from older section to new.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Visiting NEHGS

With approximately 3 hours to spend at the New England Historical Genealogical Society on Newbury Street, Boston, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was hoping to uncover some new resources regarding my Henderson/Sweetland roots there, that I had not encountered before.

On the train into the city, I logged into their website and performed a search for my topics of interest which I then saved as a "Preferred Search."  This allowed me to hit the ground running once there. I simply opened up my iPad, located my search and started searching the stacks. I've visited many times before and have learned that one can get quickly sidetracked by the many resources available on the various floors of the building.  Microtext, microfilm, manuscripts, family genealogies, local histories, etc.

It was a productive few hours, however, I did not anticipate there would be a function in the Main Hall downstairs, rendering the library incredibly busy.  (I'm usually there mid-week, also.) Someone else in the Reading Room seemed to be exploring my region:  Guysborough, Nova Scotia.  So, I was a bit stymied in the Henderson research, and turned to the Sweetlands.  Family genealogies proved a big help, in both cases.

The benefit of being at the Library is actually locating and reading personal family histories submitted to NEHGS.  They never fail to yield information that you may not find (or may not find accurately rendered) online.
Always a few characters to be found there - today: a man in flying fishing vest using the computer database, under a watchful portrait. Not sure what he was hoping to catch, but the many pockets of vest were...helpful?

In delicate condition, a Sweetland family history bound with string.

Besides the resident historians to help you out, the rubbing of elbows and the long library tables, and helpful input of fellow researchers who happen to glance your way - is a nice interchange, after working alone in a home office.

A little advice:  Eavesdrop.

I overheard an energetic conversation between a man and woman about Nantucket seafaring families, which ended up relating to a family I have researched in Kennebunk, Maine.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fenway's 100th!

History at Fenway Park today.

Ten Steps to Finding Your Ancestor

Okay, I have noticed when my Yahoo news page opens, that the seemingly most popular articles are all entitled things like "Ten Things NOT to do at a Job Interview," or, "Five Top Towns for Retirement," or "Eight Things Men Never Want to Hear From Women," etc. etc.

Well, if only the path to "Enlightenment" could be narrowed down to a few easy steps.  Not likely.  But the human tendency to want to reach Nirvana in the shortest possible steps, with the least obstacles is just - human nature!

And so goes genealogical research.  It takes time, patience, and an acceptance that if you hit a brick wall today, it is likely that in a few weeks or months time, either a new, revealing source will show up, or your mind will jump on the problem from a different angle, leading you in a new and fruitful direction.

 Therefore, I will offer you a few random (very random) suggestions of my own, that have helped me along the way:

1.  Think randomly and outside the box when researching.  Use your imagination about where to look for people. Scour records of ALL kinds, from all different sources.  However, keep copiously detailed records of all your research.  Why??  Because as you spend weeks and months engaged in research, you WILL, I guarantee you, repeat your searches.  Suddenly, you will discover that the record, proof, or document you have found today - is actually already lurking in a file folder on your hard drive - from research you did LAST YEAR.  And you just forgot about it!  Sad but true.  It's happened to me over and over.

2.  Choose good online software.  I know, I know.  We don't all like to be slaves to the latest invention for genealogical research, particularly when it is going to require a software "update."  Maddening.  However, it makes keeping track of your information sources SO much easier.  And you can update and change your ancestral information in a flash.  I'm very visual, and it is helpful to "see" what I'm doing, in front of me, as opposed to weeding through pages of notes. I"m not going to tell you which one to use.  I am a Mac person all the way, so I use Reunion, and it's fine.  But there are free versions of software to download, and other Windows versions, etc.  Rule of thumb:  Choose one that you are happy using and fits your needs.  Don't worry about all the hype and don't spend weeks reading endless reviews.

And lastly  (because I see no point in trying to come up with 5 or 10 succinct "tips" when in fact, we all have our own style, and the "tips" could number in the hundreds, truly)

3.  When you find records on and other online databases, continue to remind yourself that these records have been read, and indexed by human beings.  And (being an indexer myself, I know this), thousands of records are being transcribed a day - very quickly.  There are a lot of errors!!  Make sure that you verify your information with a second or third source, whenever possible.

Also, in regards to same -- I have found that the family trees that individuals post on Ancestry and Rootsweb can be enormously helpful. Might even save you weeks of research. But then again - they can be enormously WRONG.  Use the information from them that you can PROVE. (I'm capitalizing this because you need to do it.) Don't just take some stranger's word for it.    If you see on someone's online family tree, that Mr. So and So died in "1881," and there is no source citation to back this up, it is safe to suspect that the author of this family tree simply did not find Mr. So and So in Census Records after 1880.

Trust me.  I've seen this happen over and over and again, only to find Mr. So and So living in another town, in 1910.

In short, be curious, be open - be suspicious.  Look for source citations.

The End!

And now a few visuals from yesterday's visit to the Forest Glade Cemetery in Somersworth:

Daniel S. Watson "fell asleep in Somersworth "1853.

Little Charlie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Old Fields Cemetery South Berwick Annual Clean Up

Over the past 5 years, Vicky and Bruce Whitney of South Berwick have taken it upon themselves to organize the clean up of the Old Fields Cemetery on Vine Street in South Berwick, Maine.  This has been no small task.  In the last three years, they have had 50 tall pines removed, opening up this once overgrown graveyard to the light.  Graves date back to Mehitable Goodwin, taken by Indians in 1689/90 to Canada, and eventually returned to her home town. For more information about this cemetery, visit the Old Berwick Historical Society page:

A few pix
(courtesy of Vicky Whitney)
Behind me, view of rear of cemetery, once lost in over-growth

Preparing to take down tree- Urban Tree Service of Rochester NH

Truckloads of leaves and branches - Bruce Whitney, foreground

Mehitable Goodwin grave

1940 to 2012 Inflation!

 What was a pork roast worth in 1940??

This is fun: an excerpt from the Weekly Genealogist, published by NEHGS:
A Note from the Editor: Interpreting the Value of the 1940 Dollar
by Lynn Betlock, Editor

The Weekly Genealogist
Vol. 15, No. 16
Whole #579
April 18, 2012
Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, and Valerie Beaudrault

Reader Philip Hermann, a professional genealogist and educator, wrote to say that after he found his relatives in the 1940 census, he realized that he needed to understand the impact of inflation. Several questions in the 1940 census make it necessary to interpret the value of money in 1940 relative to its value today. Mr. Hermann looked into this topic and wrote the following helpful piece.

The Value of the 1940 Dollar
by Philip Hermann

A few questions in the 1940 census required answers in dollar amounts. Under “Household Data,” the value of a home or monthly rent was recorded. Under “Employment Status,” “Income in 1939” was listed.

To fully understand the dollar amounts in the 1940 census one needs to consider inflation and convert the 1940 dollar amounts to 2012 dollars.

Below are comparisons, made using the U.S. Department of Labor’s inflation calculator, between 1940 and 2012 dollars. (The inflation calculator allows you to compare dollar amounts for any year between 1913 and 2012.)

1940 Dollars    2012 Dollars
$1    $16.26
$1,000     $16,261.64
$10,000    $162,616.43
For some context, here is a list of common goods and their prices in 1940 dollars, taken from

Pork roast    .39/lb.
Ground beef    .55/lb.
Coffee    .42/lb.
Bananas    .11/lb.
Nylon hose    .20 pair
Men’s suit    $24.50
Sealy mattress    $38.00
Ford Super Coupe    $1,395.00
Average Home    $3,920.00
Average Salary    $1,725.00

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lurking around the postcard collections...

The Camden, Maine Masonic Temple circa 1907
Since my ancestors from Deer Isle and North Haven eventually migrated to Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine in the late 1800's, I am always on the look out for postcards relating to those locations, during their life-time period.  Here is one.  Such an interesting view of Main Street in Camden.  Anyone who knows Camden today, can do the comparison.  Somehow, I'm still in awe that in basically just 100 years, we have gone from horse and wagon to....well, you know. Today.
Mrs. W.W. Hosmer, postmarked from Camden, 28 Aug 1907

The card is addressed to Mrs. W.W. Hosmer.  There is no signature. But, who is "Mrs. W. W. Hosmer?"  Hosmer is a well-known name in Deer Isle.  George L. Hosmer wrote "An Historical Sketch of the Town of Deer Isle, Maine" in 1905, the definitive tome of genealogical and historical research in that area.

I wondered if they were related, and if they were neighbors of my family at some point, on Deer Isle.  (And okay, one likes to fantasize that the nameless "Sender" may be one's relative. Chalk it up to "thinking outside the box," or just plain dreaming!)

William W. Hosmer and Anna M. Hosmer are picked up on census reports from 1900 - 1930, in Bangor, Maine. Wm. was born in 1856, and both were born in Maine.  William is a carpenter.

They have one son Edgar (who marries 'Doris B.' and they have one son in 1930: 'Harold E.')

For all intents and purposes, they do not seem directly related to the Hosmers of Deer Isle, but they are mysteriously absent from records, before 1900, and thus far, after 1930.

Southern Maine, and all of Maine really, is a mecca of antique stores, and almost all contain some kind of postcard collection, large and small, usually categorized by town.  (My favorite source actually has a nice chair placed in front of their huge table of postcards, so you can sit back and peruse in comfort.)

Finding a postcard that is significant to your own genealogical research is rare and the browsing can be a practice in "Be Here Now" kind of patience. However,  I would suggest:  don't count it out entirely.  At the very least, you will find fascinating images of the past,  all kinds of messages conveyed, and possibly a clue to further research for you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Restoration of Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, MA

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to observe extensive restoration work being carried out at the historic Old Burial Hill Cemetery, off Pond Street, in Marblehead.  Irving Slavid and Martin Johnson, partners in Monument Conservation Collaborative, LLC, (see link to their website in blog links, right) worked diligently and quickly, under a darkening sky to carefully carry out their work.  At the same time, they were gracious enough to answer many of my questions regarding the nature and origins of their historic preservation projects, during my brief 45 minutes of observation.  Many thanks to them, for this!

For a complete photo slideshow of Martin and Irving at work, please click here:
Irving Slavid, President Monument Conservation Collaborative, at Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, Mass.

(Photograph ownership is solely that of the author/photographer. No photographs from this album may be used without permission.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Potter's Field

Def. noun ( sometimes initial capital letters )
a piece of ground reserved as a burial place for strangers and the friendless poor. Matt. 27:7.

The Potter's Field; Forest Glade Cemetery; Somersworth, NH

 As in so many other New England cemeteries, this section, for the "poor and unknown" dead of the town of Somersworth, NH is in a rough, woodsy area of unyielding ground - not included in the well-tended rolling grassy areas divided by treed lanes.
'F. Brown' and 'A. Gibbon'  ~ Potter's Field; Forest Glade; Somersworth, NH

The stones are very close together and yet, almost every stone has a name or initials etched into the it's face.   

Below, in the center of Forest Glade Cemetery, a section to memorialize more influential and affluent members of this community, generally, manufacturers and businessmen related to the cotton mill and related textile industries situated on the Salmon Falls River, and started by the Wendell brothers of Boston, in 1822.  Rollinsford was also a part of this town until 1849.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ruminations, Random Thoughts and Cedar Shingles

Why a blog, I ask myself?  I'm not altogether comfortable with the 'sound' of my own voice in a one-way conversation, which is what most of our online communication is all about.

I actually rarely read blogs, unless they have to do with a DYI (which is my affectionate term for "Do Yourself In")  project, or ancestry information.  But, I came upon the blog of a woman in Ohio while looking for - of all things - how to stamp words into  silver spoons (without flattening them!). This woman spoke closest to my heart in sharing information not just about her art, but a grateful and graceful, beautifully photographed sharing of personal moments in her life. A new husband, a house sold, a farm bought, sheep, friends, much more than pedantic "telling" of how to do something.

She brought a nice light into my day, reading her posts.  It reminded me that sharing our lives is important, maybe more important than information -and reminds me that we are all knit together on some level, even if it is appearing one-dimensionally, online.

On that note, however, today I have removed our "Ancestry.Ink" Facebook page. It seemed redundant and honestly - impersonal. I've struggled with Facebook a lot.  I have friends far away on Martha's Vineyard where I lived for 30 years, before moving to Maine several years ago. For that reason, I keep my personal FB page - to keep up with their lives, and share a little bit of mine. It is not the same as being there, but will have to do for now.

But regarding genealogy and history and the seeking of ancestors,  here is where I would prefer to talk to you.

Today...sometimes we just need to see a beautiful view!   Stonington Harbor, on the island of Deer Isle:

Not so changed from the late 1800's - 1900s when my ancestors lived, fished and raised families.

(You will be amused that with a slip of the hand, I accidentally uploaded a picture of my brother Don, running a marathon in Germany, where he lives.  I thought I'd leave it up, just for fun. He is the tall, wiry, fast guy on the left.)
Alex Henderson, of Deer Isle, lost in the Civil War
Those of you who are PBS fans and also Civil War enthusiasts may remember the mention of the two Henderson brothers lost in the Civil War, in one day, and how the Henderson family of Deer Isle suffered their tragic loss.  They are ancestors of is the stone of one of the brothers, Alex (now you can go back and watch Ken Burn's wonderful Civil War movie, with a reason!)

And last but not least, my beautiful, good-natured daughter overlooking the sea at Owl's Head a couple of years ago, helping me explore the wilds (and cemeteries) of Deer Isle, Waldoboro, Owl's Head, Maine during her college Spring break:

And now I've shared enough and am heading out to put up the last pieces of sheet rock and the last few cedar shingles on my new studio!  Have a wonderful Easter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Best Helpful Hint of the Day

Since we have to search the 1940 Census records via Enumeration District, how do you find out what that district is for your ancestor?

Try locating your ancestor in the 1930 census, and look at the top of that page for the town's Enumeration District number. (It will look something like this: ED-57) Take that information to the 1940 Census search page and enter the ED number in the appropriate place. Start scanning the pages. Be patient!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1940 Census finally viewable

I was able to access the 1940 Census this morning.  For now, these records are available only by searching Enumeration District.  That means that you cannot search via surname yet.

Go to 1940 Census homepage (or directly to NARA) and follow the prompts to enter the state, town, and possibly section of town that your ancestor lived in.  You will be given a number such as ED-57, which should be a link.  Follow that link to the appropriate Census.  You will then have to scroll through the records to locate your person.

My first search was easy.  Stonington, Maine on the island of Deer Isle, is a relatively small community and it took me only about 3 minutes of browsing pages to find my ancestor.  So much information is available on that census, though.  It gives a much more detailed picture of each person, and therefore, the whole community.  And the good news is - I broke through a major brick wall with the new information.

The Old Burying Ground, Pepperell Road, Kittery Point

On another note:  Exploring cemeteries in Kittery and Kittery Point, while doing some research at York Public Library....pristine and lovely.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Today is the Day: Update

6:00pm. The servers crashed at NARA. Yes, so many people logged into the National Archives website to view the new 1940, the overload crashed their servers. And THAT explains why I could not access them this morning. If you are having problems, that is why. They vow to have them up and running some time tomorrow.

...the 1940 Census is released.  I have spent the morning hoping to access this new U.S. Census set, however, perhaps particular to my family searches or due to something else - I have not encountered one 1940 Census record.

I know from my own volunteerism efforts with Indexing program, that some of these records are still being indexed and arbitrated - at the speed of light - but it's possible that my Boston area searches this morning were due to this geographic location being still a "work in progress," on

So, it would seem key to keep checking back.  AND, the 1940 Census records are *free* on the website.  Click on the link above.  You have 10 days of free researching.

Painting by Fil Kennedy of the Isidore, the night she wrecked

Regarding a previous blog post:  Barque Isidore
Here is the crew list:

(I have found an excellent source regarding this local wreck and will post this, soon.)

Lost at sea:

Leander Foss
Clement Stone
John Crowder
George P. Lewis
John Tendell
Paul M. Grant
Geo. P. Davis
William Hardin
James C. Murphy
Charles Lord
James F. Hutchins
James Young
William Thompson
Alvin Huff
Daniel Perkins