Monday, April 29, 2013

Military Monday - Affidavit for Widow's Pension Request

Peter C. Virgin testifying on behalf of Harriet C. (Bean) Brown as she filed for a pension following the death of her husband, Simeon F. Brown, in Louisiana. He was serving with the 12th Maine Infantry, Company D.

     I Peter C. Virgin of Rumford
In the County of  Oxford and State of Maine on oath
state, that I was well acquainted with Simeon F. 
Brown late of Co. D 12th Maine Regiment, who is
reported to have died at New Orleans January 9th 1863, 
and am also well acquainted with Harriet C.
(cross-out) Brown his former wife, and that she has 
not remarried since the reported death of her said
husband, and that said Simeon F. Brown left
but his children and their names are Isabel C. 
Brown who is aged six years, and Phebe
K. Brown aged one years + ten months. 
    These facts I state from knowledge + belief 
derived from intimate personal acquaintance with the 
family of said Simeon F. Brown. 
    I further state that I have no interest in 
any claim of said Harriet C. Brown against the
United States. 
Peter C. Virgin

Oxford (?) Subscribed and sworn to this fourth
day of March 1863. I further certify that the
officiant is a (cross-out) respectable and credible person 
and that I have no interest in the subject matter
Sidney Perham Justice of the Peace

Sunday, April 21, 2013


By Saturday my head was spinning! Between starting the week with a nasty cold, the dreadful and cowardly bombing at the Boston Marathon and the ensuing manhunt, and my first genealogy conference, it's been an intense week! By Saturday there was a lot to be thankful for, my cold was reduced to a minor annoyance, the Boston bombers were identified and either dead or captured, and I was having a great time with all the wonderful people attending NERGC. 

Friday Night, Heather Rojo hosted a special interest group for bloggers. It was very well attended and I think everyone had a great time. It was a diverse group of experienced bloggers (some with multiple blogs), relative newbies, and a few who are considering starting their first blogs. Heather created a list of blog posts about the conference that can be accessed at Nutfield Genealogy. I noticed that several only have a day or two and I expect a few more posts will trickle in as people recover and write about the last day or write a wrap-up post. 

Saturday, I attended several very interesting talks and a workshop. The first talk was given by Craig Scott of Heritage Books. They specialize in histories and genealogies including reprints of hard to find older titles. I've purchased a number of their books but this talk was not about promoting the business. The topic was "Getting Ink on Paper: Publishing Your Material in a Digital Age." Craig shared his experience to help the audience understand what makes a quality genealogy book. He is one of the most entertaining speakers I've seen. 

Next I went to see F. Warren Bittner for a second time. This talk was supposed to be following the writing theme but his computer was hit by a virus and he lost his presentation. Being a class act, he politely told participants that they were free to leave without offending him but he would be giving a different talk than what was advertised. I chose to stay and learned all about courtship rituals, the guild system, Bavarian government, illegitimacy, and marriage laws in 19th century Germany - a great history lesson illustrated by the story of one family - "The Bittner Bastards of Bavaria." I highly recommend attending any talk he gives - you won't be disappointed! 

Then Donna Boumenot and I had just sat down to lunch when Heather and Vincent Rojo showed up at the same pub and we ended up all having lunch together. After lunch, I attended a workshop by Elissa Scalise Powell to learn how to write research reports. I wasn't sure I needed to do this but by the end of the workshop, I was convinced of the value to even the most casual genealogist. 

Next it was off to learn about "Symbolism on New England Gravestones" by Donna E. Walcovy. She had a few technical difficulties but once she got that fixed, "Oh Boy!" She is a character! She is also a highly intelligent and skilled preservationist who is passionate about New England cemeteries. She shared many photos of graves to discuss the changes in artwork over time. I laughed more in her presentation than in any other. 
Donna calls this common image from Puritan times "Lightbulb Head" for obvious reasons
Phew! Are you tired yet? I know I was. I had a quick break to call Bill and then a glass of wine before heading into Saturday's banquet. I shared a table with more interesting people. A man named Ivan from Connecticut who is a retired journalist but still an avid writer of fiction. He wanted my thoughts on high school students and disciplinary infractions so he could add realism to his latest short story. Fellow bloggers, Heather Rojo and Jennifer Zinck, were at my table. 

The dinner talk was "Cold Case Unit: Adventures of a Forensic Genealogist" by Milli Knudsen. It was fascinating to hear her journey from a teacher to a genealogist and indexer to working with the state police in New Hampshire on their cold cases. Although the stories of the girls she used to illustrate her work were sad and disturbing, it was interesting to see how solving a genealogy puzzle is like doing police work. Her skills at organizing information so it could be easily analyzed proved to be just what the cold case unit needed. Click here for a news article about her experiences. 

Then it was time to say goodbye to my new friends and head back to Maine...and I got home about 11:15 pm. Clearly I need to be better about taking pictures to use in my blog posts but if you check out the other blog posts from Nutfield Genealogy, you'll see that others have learned that lesson already. It was an awesome experience and I can't wait to see everyone again. I certainly got my money's worth out of this conference! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

NERGC Day 2 Highlights

Today was my second day at the conference. I've gotten even more great information! The speakers are wonderful and I enjoy getting to meet even more bloggers. Our blogging area was set up in the exhibit area and after the morning sessions about ten of us gathered and spent some time getting to know each other. 

Photos are courtesy of Heather Wilkinson Rojo's Facebook posts. Heather's blog is Nutfield Genealogy. Beside me are Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood and Lori Thornton of Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Heather and I had lunch together and listened to Laura Prescott talk about  "Jousting With the Gatekeepers."  She highlighted the challenges of accessing records and gave some tips for finding success. She also talked about the importance of preserving access for future generations. We live in a privacy-obsessed society and it threatens to undermine the work of future generations.

I heard talks on using the Library of Congress web site, finding records for soldiers in the French and Indian War, and finding information about farming ancestors. Blogger Lori Thornton gave the talk titled "Digging Up the Dirt on Your Farmer." She offered a wealth of resources for getting more details about the life of a farmer. I'm in a bit of an information coma but I know I'll benefit when I get back home and start putting it into practice with my own genealogy. 

Tonight is a Special Interest Group session for bloggers. Heather has identified about 18-19 who are attending the conference. Some have other commitments and won't be there tonight though so I expect a small casual gathering. Then tomorrow I'll be at it again. 

The Shot Heard 'Round the World

Asa Alden Barrows was born 28 July 1751 to Moses Barrows and Deborah Totman. He married Content Benson 19 November 1774.  He was a private in Capt. William Shaw's Company which responded to the alarm of April 19, 1775. He only served three days in that capacity but would re-enlist for eight months during the siege of Boston and in December 1776 he joined a militia company commanded by Joshua Perkins and marched to Barrington, R.I. where he remained for six weeks. In July 1780 he enlisted for a fourth time and served in the militia company commanded by Perez Churchill that marched to Tiverton, R.I. 

In 1832 at age 81, he submitted a pension form. He was awarded a pension of $33.33 per annum and received $66.66 in back pension pay. According to an inflation calculator, the pension would be $921.90 per year in 2012 dollars. His last pension payment was in 1850, meaning he was 99 years old (if he died after July 28). 

Asa's Signature on his application
Pension calculation sheet

Asa Alden Barrows - 5th great-grandfather
Rachel Barrows - 4th great-grandfather
Asa Freeman Ellingwood - 3rd great-grandfather
Nina King Ellingwood - 2nd great-grandmother
Annie Florilla Gibbs - great-grandmother
Fern Lyndell Cotton - grandmother

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My First Genealogy Conference!

I'm in Manchester, N.H. attending the 2013 New England Regional Genealogical Conference. As someone who's dabbled in genealogy for quite a few years, I must say this past year has really taken my hobby to a new level. As I reflect on what made the difference, I have to say it's blogging. When I go to write something about one of my ancestors, I need to dig deeper to find the story behind the names and dates. I am also aware that I don't want to spread false information so I feel an obligation to hold my research to a higher standard of genealogical proof than I did when I was "dabbling." I am so grateful to Bill West of West in New England as he is the person who cajoled me into giving it a try and his blog provided me with ideas of how to get started. 

The sense of community among those who blog about genealogy is amazing! People are so generous in sharing information and helping you when you're stuck. Everyone cheers for and promotes each others' blogs. At the conference, bloggers wear beads to identify each other as fellow bloggers and tomorrow night there is a special group meeting of bloggers. I'm very excited about going and meeting some people who I only know from the online community. 

I was a little apprehensive about attending the conference on my own. I knew a lot of people would be attending with friends and spouses and many would already know each other from other conferences or historical and genealogical societies. I have to say that it's not just the bloggers who are very friendly! From the woman at the registration desk this morning who asked about the surnames I am researching (we discovered a common ancestor!) to those who chatted with me at lunch and dinner (everyone seems to have a family member who attended or attends Bentley), I have met and heard fascinating stories about their adventures tracing their family history. 

And since it is a conference, I should note that the workshops are wonderful. The opening this morning was about the mills in Lowell and Lawrence...well, I teach about that so I wasn't prepared to learn much...but I was proven wrong. Sandra MacLean Clunies' use of three specific people who worked in the mills highlighted some aspects of mill work that I hadn't thought much about before. Laura Murphy De Grazia paid moving tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon victims before her attempt to define what constitutes a "reasonably exhaustive" search. She had great examples and analogies to bring to life the topic and I came away with a much deeper understanding of the rather nebulous term. Warren Bittner shared the trials and tribulations of documenting his grandmother's family in New York. It was fascinating to see how even a certified genealogist struggled to piece together the evidence. It was like a episode of Law and Order following him through the clues to the presentation of persuasive proof of her parentage. He has a very entertaining delivery with lots of humor. 

Tomorrow is day two and I can't wait to see what else I can learn and who else I can meet. Who wants to come with me next year? 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Funny - Mr. Adam Eve

While looking records of the Eveleth family in an database of Torrey's New England Marriages Prior to 1700, I saw this record where the groom is named Adam Eve..... U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2012. Original data: Torry, Clarence A. New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Funny - Squirrel Hunt Challenge

I found this on Genealogy Bank

Thursday, November 15, 1866
Daily Eastern Argus (Portland, ME)
Vol: 34   Issue: 266   Page: 2

--- A Squirrel hunt match came off in Bethel a few day since between two of the Bethel Nimrods, J. E. Ayer and C. C. Keith. The latter was the winner, having killed 1250 to the former's 875. Ayer paid for the oyster supper in Bethel.