Archive for November, 2012

Tuesday’s Tip – Utilizing Town Reports In Your Genealogy

Posted by Jim Sanders on Tuesday, 6 November, 2012

Town reports can be a tremendous find when looking for information about your ancestors. I have found a lot of hidden genealogy nuggets within town reports especially town reports from the mid to late 1800s. More than just town officials are located within this report. The towns poorest residents were listed as they often received monetary support from the town. The town often needed to pay for the burial of someone who died and couldn’t afford the burial costs. This may be the only evidence of your ancestors death in some cases.

Old town reports may be kept within your local town hall. Check with your town clerk. They may also be kept at your local historical society or even your local library.

The image below is from the 1891 Town Report from Seymour, Connecticut. For towns which did not have a cityor town directory, this type of report may be used to help create a census substitute.
1891 Seymour Connecticut Town Report Page 12
Here are a few highlights from this page;

  • J. W. Bassett digging grave for J. Iles 4.00
  • J. W. Bassett digging grave for Samuel Lum 4.00
  • W.B. Stoddard house rent for Thomas Sheehan 10.00

As you can see there can be some very helpful information about your ancestor. I’ve found about 10% of of a small town’s population are listed within a town report. If you do find your ancestor listed in one years town report look for the other years.

Below are some entries about my ancetsor Patrick Fraher/Fryher. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know a little background about him.

1870 New Britain Connecticut Town Report
1870 New Britain Town Report - Patrick Fryher

1871 New Britain Connecticut Town Report
1871 New Britain Town Report - Patrick Fryher

1873 New Britain Connecticut Town Report
1873 New Britain Town Report - Patrick Fryher

Patrick Fryher was a Civil War Veteran who was discharged due to a disability. Apparently he hit his head during training and was in and out of insane asylums for the better part of his life after the civil war. He moved to New Britain, Connecticut in about 1869. The town reports confirm his insanity and that his family received support from the town out of the poor house.

One additional item I overlooked until I was writing this blog was an entry in the 1871 New Britain Town Report. That entry was “James Glashean, for 2 children of T. Corocran … 110.00″. A great great aunt of mine was married to a James Glashean in New Britain, Connecticut. I would have never had expected him to be listed in the Poor House section of the report.

So look for town reports where your ancestors lived. You’ll never know what hidden genealogy nugget you will discover in them.

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Military Monday – Revolutionary War Pension Files

Posted by Jim Sanders on Monday, 5 November, 2012

For those of us lucky enough to have ancestors who were here during the revolutionary war and who served either with the militia or the regular army, there may be a pension file. These pension files contain a wide array of information about their lives and their military experience.

Below is one page from the pension file of revolutionary war veteran Abel Ford.
Abel Ford - Revolutionary War Veteran
This particular document indicates his service in Captain Benjamin’s company and indicates how much he got paid for his seven months of service.

Here is another document also from Abel’s pension file.
Abel Ford -Revolutionary War Veteran
It describes all of his various service. Other documents in his pension file indicate he was involved in the battle where General Burgoyne surrendered.

The document below is from the pension file of Moses O Banks
Abel Ford -Revolutionary War Veteran
Many of the documents in a revolutionary war pension file may look like the document above. It is essentially an affidavit documenting the revolutionary war veterans service and what battles if any he fought in. In many cases it will contain a signature of your ancestor.

Where can you find revultionary war pension files? You can search for revolutionary war pension files on Heritage Quest as well as other subscription based websites.
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Using Heritage Quest

Posted by Jim Sanders on Sunday, 4 November, 2012

Most researchers who’ve been doing genealogy for some time have heard of Heritage Quest. Heritage Quest is available through a number of libraries. In Connecticut, we’re lucky to have the state library have a subscription to Heritage Quest. With this subscription, a Connecticut resident can access Heritage Quest for free at their own home with a library card from the state of Connecticut.

There are six main areas of research available on Heritage Quest;

  • Census
  • Books
  • PERSI
  • Revolutionary War
  • Freedman’s Bank
  • U.S. Serial Set

In this blog post, we will explore a few tips for using the Census on Heritage Quest and how to get the most out of it. Although Ancestry.com has the census as well, you may be able to find that ellusive census record on Heritage quest which you weren’t able to on Ancestry. Heritage Quest has a different index than Ancestry and there are some tricks you can try on Heritage. When you click on Heritage Quest, go to the advance tab. Here are few tips I’ve used on Heritage Quest to varying degrees of success.

  • FIRST NAME SEARCH: You don’t need to include a last name. If your ancestor, his wife or one of his/her children have an unusual name, try to find you ancestor with just the unusual first name. In order to limit the results, you’ll have to include the year, state, county and a location.
  • IMMIGRANT ANCESTOR?: For immigrate ancestors, you may not need either the first name or the last name. I’ve been able to find some ellusive census records, including just the birthplace, state, county and location.
  • LAST NAME VARIATIONS Heritage Quest doesn’t have a soundex index so you’ll have to try variaions of your ancestors names. For example, my Fraher’s have been indexed as Fryher, Friher, Fraher, Fraher and Frayer to name a few.
  • SORT YOUR RESULTS In Heriatge Quest, a result set will only come back if you have 1,000 or fewer hits. You can page through the list looking for your ancestor, or you can choose to sort it various ways. If your ancestors first letter of his last name has been transcribed incorrectly, you might not look under “Boyle” if your ancetsors last name is actually “Doyle”

If you’ve had trouble finding a census record on ancestry.com, take a look at Heritage Quest. You might find that hidden genealogy record.

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Society Saturday – Oxford (Connecticut) Historical Society

Posted by Jim Sanders on Saturday, 3 November, 2012

The Oxford (Connecticut) Historical Society has a great collection of materials which would benefit genealogists looking for information about ancestors from Oxford, Connecticut. The Oxford Historical Society is located at 60 Towner Road in Oxford, Connecticut. The Twitchell-Rowland Homestead is a 1755 building which was saved from demolition. The society has a small collection of books and materials about Oxford, it’s history and the people who lived within it. These materials include;

  • Early Houses of Oxford
  • Oxford Records – A History of Oxford
  • History of the Town of Oxford, Connecticut
  • A History of Christ Church Quaker Farms in Oxford, Connecticut
  • Oxford Records, The First 175 Years
  • Barbour Collection Orange, Oxford, Plainfield
  • Riggs Genealogy – 23 Binders (Unlikely published anywhere else)
  • Woodruff Genealogy
  • Genealogy of Col. John Davis
  • Hale, House & Related Families mainly of the Connecticut River Valley
  • Various account books from businesses in Oxford, Connecticut
  • Seymour Past and Present

If you have ancestors from Oxford, Connectiocut, come check out Oxford’s first and only museum in a colonial homestead. You can also visit and like the societies facebook page Oxford Historical Society – Facebook. Feel free to leave a comment.

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