Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mining Genealogical Gold in Federal Records

Often we think that the census records are the only federal records that hold useful information on our ancestors, but that is not the case! You have not done a "reasonably exhaustive search" unless you include more than the usual federal records. It is a myth that our families were not important enough to be in records preserved at the National Archives.

Our May speaker, Linda MacIver,  recipient of the Richard S. Lackey Scholarship for 2018, was awarded tuition and coverage for other expenses to attend the week-long seminar, the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records, held at  NARA, in Washington, DC, during July each year.  She will be sharing with us some of her discoveries regarding the wealth of federal records useful for genealogical research, as well as some breakthroughs in her own family history.

Linda MacIver is hardly a newcomer to government records. After several years as a school, college, and corporate librarian, she joined the Government Documents Department of the Boston Public Library. Over the course of 27 years, and as the Documents and Social Sciences departments merged, Linda attacked the considerable volume of patron genealogy reference requests with her comprehensive knowledge of records -- federal, state, and local. When the internet era changed everything, she developed a variety of computer-based genealogy classes and lecture series, all free to patrons and satisfying a growing public interest in family history.
Linda is currently the New England Agent for the Essex (England) Record Office.

 Join us on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, as Linda shares what to look for and how to access this valuable gold mine! Our meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 AM, at the Brewster Ladies Library, Rte 6A, in Brewster, MA. You are welcome to join us at 9:30 for coffee, donuts, and an opportunity to socialize with others who are researching their family genealogy.

Out of consideration for the Library's regular patrons, we ask that you use the adjoining parking lot behind the Baptist Church, unless you are disabled and need to park close to the building. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Letters To and From a Young WWII Soldier

Every genealogist longs to find stories of their ancestors' lives -- those intimate details of the day-to-day life that will tell us about those who came before us. This month, at our April meeting, Seema Kenney will share a family discovery -- over 300 letters found in her uncle's attic that reveal the experiences of a young soldier and his family during the years, 1943-1945.  Join us as we take this opportunity to travel through time.

Seema Kenney has visited us in the past and many of you will remember her.  She has balanced her life as a wife and mother with that of an experienced software instructor and professional genealogist. She has researched her own family's history, from their deep New England roots to their origins in England, Sweden, and Germany. Seema has received a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University and completed the ProGen Study.  She is an active member of a number of genealogical societies, as well as a member of the NERGC planning committee.  In addition, she is a certified Guided Autobiography Consultant and Legacy Planner.

Join us on Tuesday, April 16, at the Brewster Ladies Library, in the auditorium. Our meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 AM, but we invite you to join us at 9:30, for coffee and donuts and an opportunity to socialize with others who are researching their family's past.

In consideration of the library's regular patrons, you are requested to park behind the Baptist Church, which adjoins the library parking lot, unless you are disabled and require a handicapped space.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Received at the Library

Essex Genealogist (Aug. 2018) contains the transcript of a very chatty but informative presentation on Land Use Records, by the Register of Deeds for Middlesex North.  I learned from it that several of the counties in Massachusetts do not have their own Registry of Deeds, but rather are covered by the Secretary of State's office.  (The southeastern counties, including Barnstable, were more financially stable and have retained their own Registries.)  I also learned that Registries are based on names, not addresses -- names are what are indexed, and the deeds are just recorded in the order they come in.  And do you know what a "straw" is?  Before 1970 you couldn't transfer property to yourself and someone else, so if you wanted to add for example your new spouse to your deed, you had to go through a third party to avoid transferring the property to yourself.

Essex Genealogist for Nov. 2018 contains a very interesting presentation on "Researching Rural Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Essex County, Massachusetts."  I don't think many of us Yankees are aware of the extent of slave-holding in colonial New England.  This article explores how the author compiled information on two enslaved couples and their children.  There's also an article with extensive commentary on genealogy subscription services (Ancestry etc.)

The lead story in Your genealogy today for Jan./Feb. 2019 explores the role of children's literature in the lives of the author's mother, and her mother and grandmother, through the books they left behind.  Ir made me think about the books I inherited from my mother's cousin (old enough to function as a grandmother to me), the Little Colonel series by Annie Fellows Johnston, set in the Reconstruction-era South -- did anyone else devour those books like I did?  If you are lucky enough to find a printed family history about your ancestors, another article cautions your to carefully evaluate the content and check the sources, not accepting the research at face value just because it is in print.  In "Financing Wars" we learn that the very first Federal taxes began in 1791 with distilled liquor.  The government added other items and used the proceeds finance the War of 1812 and later on, the Civil War; records of these taxes often appear in newspapers.  Other article topics include: slang and slang dictionaries; how to cope with research paralysis; bookplates, book rhymes, and inscriptions; and how to write a successful proposal for a genealogy talk.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Trails West: Crossing the Continent 1840-1869

Our next general meeting, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, will feature a webinar about westward migration in the United States during the mid-19th century. Before the transcontinental railroad was completed, Easterners and Mid-Westerners began to settle the West.
How did they get there and what was the journey like?  The presentation, given by Mary Kircher Roddy, will cover overland and water migration routes along with description of the journey, and tips on using clues to discover how and when your ancestor traveled.

Mary Kircher Roddy grew up in San Rafael, California. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies from the University of California, Riverside, and a Master in Professional Accounting from the University of Texas. She completed her certificate in Genealogy and Family History at the University of Washington in 2005. Mary frequently lectures around the Seattle area, and is an active member of Seattle Genealogical Society. She is a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the National Genealogical Society. Mary has published articles in Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy. You can visit her website at

Join us on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, in the auditorium of Brewster Ladies Library  Our meeting will begin at 10 AM, but please plan to join us at 9:30 for coffee and donuts and an opportunity to socialize with others who are researching their family history.
Out of consideration for the Library's regular patrons, we ask that you use the adjoining parking lot behind the Baptist Church, unless you are disabled and need park closer to the building.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Learn How to Use Gedmatch at Our February Meeting

The next CCGS general meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at the Brewster Ladies Library. We will be welcoming back Thomas Greve as our featured speaker. Thomas will be discussing the use of Gedmatch for your DNA results.

Anyone who has purchased an autosomal DNA test from any company (Ancestry, FTDNA, 23 and Me, My Heritage) can upload their data to GEDmatch, a third-party database. By doing this, you will be able to access a larger pool of matches, increasing your chances of finding significant matches.

In addition to a basic overview of genetic inheritance, find out how to create an account on Gedmatch and take advantage of free tools including DNA matching and comparison, a chromosome browser, and more. Premium features of the site, such as matching segment and triangulation tools and their uses, will also be discussed. If you are unsure how to get the most from your DNA results, you will find this presentation valuable.

After pursuing the history of his own family for more than ten years, Thomas began researching professionally in 2016. He holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University and currently serves as the president of Falmouth Genealogical Society.

Join us on Tuesday, February 19,  in the auditorium of Brewster Ladies Library. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 AM; but plan to join us at 9:30 for coffee and donuts and an opportunity to socialize with others who are researching their family history.

Out of consideration for the Library's regular patrons, we ask that you use the adjoining parking lot behind the Baptist church, unless you are disabled and need to park close to the building.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

CCGS Member David Martin to Speak at NERGC 2019

The 15th New England Regional Genealogical Consortium's 2019 Conference will take place on April 3 - 6 at the DoubleTree by Hilton conference facilities in Manchester, New Hampshire. As a participating member organization of the the Consortium, the Cape Cod Genealogical Society (CCGS) is pleased to announce that one of our own highly regarded members, David Martin, will be giving a presentation at the Conference on Friday, April 5. The title of David's presentation is "Will the Real John C. Fowler Please Stand Up?" This promises to be an absorbing account of confronting a genealogical brick wall that led David on a journey of false leads and frustrations with final resolution achieved through the persistent application of genealogical research principles.
David S. Martin

David S. Martin is Past-President of the Cape Cod Genealogical Society, chairs its Education Committee, co-chairs its Publications Committee, and is past-Chair of its Computer Users Special Interest Group. He is a valued member of a CCGS team that teaches genealogical-education courses at various locations throughout Cape Cod. He is also a member of our neighboring Falmouth Genealogical Society. David's New England roots are apparent from his memberships in the Mayflower Society, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Flagon and Trencher hereditary society. Also, of special note, David was honored with the NERGC 2015 Volunteer of the Year award. 

Professionally, David has been a teacher, school principal, curriculum director, teacher educator, and retired as Professor/Dean Emeritus from Gallaudet University (the world's only university for deaf persons) in Washington, DC. He teaches part-time in the Graduate Program in Critical and Creative Thinking at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He lives with his wife, Susan--a retired director of university libraries--in Marstons Mills, here on Cape Cod.

Registration for NERGC 2019 is currently underway. For further information on the Conference and for online registration, please visit the website at

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Received at the Library

The October 2018 issue of Mass-Pocha describes the annual conference of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston.  Thee were several presentations on DNA.  CeCe Moore,described what happened when she got all her relatives to do DNA tests --  she listed an incredible set of coincidences discovered by newly connected long-lost relatives -- rather mind-blowing!  Another presentation tells the tale of a discovery of a presumably unintentional switch of infants at a hospital in the Bronx in 1913.DNA testing is leading to a lot of world-shifting discoveries, use at your own risk!

The cover story in Internet genealogy for Oct./Nov. 2018 reminds us that the Digital Public Library of America is a great place to start for historical background and context for our ancestors' stories.  In addition to texts, there are images, video and sound files, in this union catalog of online resources.  Tools for family history writers are reviewed: Grammarly, GrammarCheck, Cliche Buster, and Passive Voice Detector.  Are you on board with the bullet journal craze?  Using Evernote you can go digital with this method of planning, organizing, and tracking your genealogy research. David Norris explores Naval Muster Rolls, newly available records for researching your naval ancestor.  Sue Lisk explores websites that help identify occupations from the past, in various languages -- cool!  (Do you know what an "iron puddler" is??)  Another article suggests ways to get a picture of your ancestor's financial circumstances, and yet another collects websites with information on indentured servants.