Archive for category Genealogy Resources

Thrifty Thursday: Newtown, Connecticut BMD now online

Posted by on Thursday, 14 February, 2013

Hidden Genealogy Nuggets is now hosting an index to Newtown, Connecticut Birth, Death & Marriage Records Index Search 1850 – 1895. This index is made possible through the efforts of Bob Pittman, Jeannine Wegmueller, Harlan Jessup, and the kind folks at the Genealogy Club of Newtown, Connecticut. The programming behind this index was also the work of Bob Pittman. Although I did not help in the indexing of this project as a member of the Genealogy Club of Newtown, Connecticut I am more than happy to host this index on this website.

There are thousands of names within this index. My own ancestor Orrin Shepard is listed within the database. If you have Newtown, Connecticut ancestors, be sure to stop by and search the index. I do not believe this index exists anywhere else on the Internet.

Search for your Connecticut Ancestors at Newspaper Archive

Search for your Connecticut ancestors in newspapers at Genealogy Bank

Society Saturday: PT Barnum and Tom Thumb’s Valley Connections, Oxford CT

Posted by on Saturday, 2 February, 2013

(At this point we do not expect to have to cancel ecause of snow. However, if there is significant snow, please check our website at, in case we need to cancel.)

“Barnum, Tom Thumb and the Tornado” will be the topics of an illustrated talk by Marion O’Keefe on Sunday, February 3, at 3 p.m. at the Twitchell Rowland Homestead Museum. Located at 60 Towner Lane, off Route 67, in Oxford, the Museum will open at 2 p.m.. This program is sponsored by the Oxford Historical Society.

Admission is free for Oxford Historical Society members and children under the age of 12. Cost for the talk for all others is $3. Refreshments will be served.

Mrs. O’Keefe is Director Emeritus and former curator of the Derby Historical Society. She is currently a Board of Directors member and curator of the Seymour Historical Society. Her lecture and photographs will focus on circus great P. T. Barnum, and how word of a tiny boy, later renamed “Tom Thumb”, brought him to Bridgeport, an event that would change both their lives. Mrs. O’Keefe will also discuss the devastating effects of the tornado which struck the P. T. Barnum Museum in Bridgeport in June of 2010 and the ongoing work to restore the structure.

Born Charles Stratton in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1838, Tom Thumb had a number of local connections to the Sharpe and Bassett families. His grandmother, Amy Shepherd, was from Southford. From the age of 6 months, he failed to grow normally, and was only 3 feet 4 inches high as an adult. Discovered by P. T. Barnum at the age of 5, he became an international celebrity as a singer, dancer and stage performer. He was introduced at court to Queen Victoria and later was received by President Abraham Lincoln. With Barnum’s management, he became a wealthy man, and his wedding in 1863 to another small person, Lavinia Warren, made headlines. While he and his wife escaped the Newhall House Hotel fire in Milwaukee in January of 1883, Tom Thumb died of a stroke 6 months later, aged 45. He and Lavinia are buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport.

A pink satin covered pillow used by Tom Thumb is on display at the Homestead Museum.

Tuesday’s Tip – City Directories

Posted by on Tuesday, 8 January, 2013

City Directories are a wonderful resource for the genealogist. It can track a family in between the census year and around that pesky missing 1890 United States Census. Many cities and towns have been creating city directories every year about their residents. Some of these city directories go as far back as the early 1800s. Generally the larger the city, the earlier the city began publishing its directory.

In many cases a city directory can provide a glimpse of what life was like when your ancestors were walking the streets. Below is a depiction of a building from New York City. This building was near where my ancestor Henry L. Sanders was living when he was in New York City. That area today looks a whole lot different.

NYC Store Front

City directories normally document all males who are working or retired. Woman may be listed in the directories as well. Generally women are listed when their husband has died or they are working. The directory will list the street address. It may also indicate the occupation and the employer of the individual. When a resident moved to a different town or city, the city directory will sometime indicate which town they moved to. You can find out a lot by looking at your ancestor over time.

The following four images are Washington DC City Directories between 1884 and 1886. My ancestor Edwin A Banks was living there at the time. Edwin was not listed in any previous directories or any after 1886.

1884 Washington DC City Directory : Edwin Banks
1884 Washington DC City Directory - Edwin Banks

1885 Washington DC City Directory : Edwin Banks
1885 Washington DC City Directory - Edwin Banks

1886 Washington DC City Directory : Edwin Banks
1886 Washington DC City Directory - Edwin Banks

1886 Washington DC City Directory : Abbreviations
1886 Washington DC City Directory - Abbreviations

  • In 1884 & 1885 Edwin A Banks is living at 1441 P nw and is working as an electrotyper.
  • By 1886, Edwin had moved to 1538 8th nw and is working for the Government Printing Office (g pr o).
  • Notice in 1886 there is a Ellen Banks, wid Robert (widow of Robert). Check for this is proceeding years to narrow down when Robert died.

City directories are usually easy to find. Your state library or archives will usually have a collection of the states historical directories. At the Connecticut State Library (CSL) for example, you can find many city directories microfilm or microfiche. The CSL also has some out of state directories for cities close to the Connecticut border. I was able to follow Sidney Ford from the time he resided in Albany, New York in the 1850s, through his move to Hartford Connecticut. I was able to narrow down the date he died based upon his disappearance from the Hartford City Directories. You can also find city directories in Google Books.

1837 Pigot Directory of Scotland

Here’s a word of caution I learned about the hard way. Just because your ancestor disappears from a directory and his wife shows up in the next years directory, doesn’t mean he died. My ancestor Patrick Fraher/Fryher disappears and reappears a number of times in the city directories. Each time he disappears his wife shows up instead. She is even listed as a widow in the 1884 New Britain (Connecticut) City Directory. I was looking for Patrick’s death certificate around this year. It comes to find out that my Patrick was still alive at least ten years after his wife is listed as a widow in the city directory.



Society Saturday: NERGC 2013 Update

Posted by on Saturday, 5 January, 2013

I previously posted about the 2013 New England Regional Genealogy Conference. The conference is getting closer so I thought I’d provide an update.

The conference will be held at the Radisson Hotel & Expo Center, Manchester, New Hampshire April 17 -21 2013. The theme of this year’s conference is “Woven in History – The Fabric of New England”. The program brochure is now available for downloading. The featured speakers are Colleen Fitzpatrick and Stephen Morse. There are also many other well known speakers who will be present.

Wednesday April 17 is a librarians and teachers day with special sessions devoted to them. Wednesday is also a tech day with Stephen Morse providing two separate talks during the day. Thursday through Saturday is when the bulk of the classes will take place. There are usually seven or eight different classes you might take at any given time. There are also several different workshops in which you must register in advance and space is limited.

If you are looking for an inexpensive genealogy conference to attend the 2013 NERGC might be just the conference for you. I know I’m planning on being there and will most likely post a blog entry and the end of each day summarizing the conference happenings I went to that day.


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