29 March 2011

Down and Out

Coming down off a genealogy high and got some things figured out, that is.

If you have never done it, you really owe it to yourself to take a trip to the library at the New England Historical and Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts. It is just not possible that there can be a finer library anywhere else; with a friendlier and more knowledgeable staff; or with a better selection of research material than what can be found at your fingertips - including a massive collection of manuscripts - at NEHGS.

Plan ahead though; wear comfy shoes, bring all your toys (laptop computer, charts, FlipPal scanner, water bottle, dollars for the copy card machine) and seriously consider getting in shape for the stair climbing. Oh, sure, they do have an elevator, but often the stairs are quicker, and there are some very interesting pieces of art on the walls that you would miss if you only took the elevator. Six floors of research materials!

And the shopping and dining on Newbury Street isn't too shabby either.

I've just returned from three full days of presentations and research at NEHGS, and the work fun really paid off.

Susie and I identified this handsome gentleman from our collection of unknown relatives...

Goodwin Stoddard

We found this same photograph of Goodwin (Henry Stoddard's brother) in one of the Yale Annual books. What a find! 

Other finds include wills of John Dean Mack, William Park Drew and Mary Ann (Sponagle) Drew. They finally confirm the relationships of Theresa and Drucilla (my great grandmother) - I found them in the Queens County, NS records on microfilm. The wills and accompanying estate inventories really give quite a good picture of how our relatives were living in Nova Scotia. More on that later... I need to transcribe the documents from the lovely handwriting to legible type first.

I finally know where the death certificates of Harold Mack, Burton Mack and Mary Drew Mack are located: Massachusetts State Archives in Dorchester, MA. Well, I knew they were there, but now I know which book to look in for each one.

And finally, a two-hour marathon consultation with Gary Boyd Roberts Friday night netted a tie to the Mayflower. I started thinking about that on the way home ... I wondered how many people are related to the 104 people who arrived in the Mayflower. Must be a huge number. 

We are just one big family, aren't we?

17 March 2011

Shopping List ca. 1765

"To Messrs Eben Backus & J Perkins

I have Inclosed a Memom of Such articles as we Shall want if you Send a Vessel this way. if you Send Cattle Send plenty of Hay as I have bought another pair of Cattle & Shall be Glad of Some Good English Hay, how Cattle will answer at Halifax is Quite unCertain if you send any that are not fat Let them be young Cows or Heifers - if Carew Comes Sooner than you ... please ... Send Some of the most material Articles by him.

10 bbl pork                Check flannel               1/2 Doz Gall measures
           Flower           yarn Stockins                   1 Doz 1/2 Gall    Do.
           Bread             8 dozn Mens Shoes         1 Dozn do Coffee pots
           Corn               4 Dozn Womens do.       1/2 Doz 3 pint    do.
           Rye                 3 Dozn boys                    1 Doz Quart pots
           Meal              6 doz. Brass Shoe            1/2 Doz Gall Tin Kittles
           Butter                      Buckles                  1 Dozn points
           Cheese           1 m. hhd Hoops               1 Doz half pints
           Hogs Lard     Some good hay               1 Doz Gill do.
           Molasses       Dryed Apples              1/2 Dozn pound cannisters
           Syder             Brown thred                1/2 Doz 1/2 pound    do.
           R                    Tow Cloath                     1 Dozn porringers
           Sugar              Oznabrigs                        1 Dozn Small Dippers
1/2 bb Linseed Oyl       Check Linin                    2 Dozn Lamps with
1/2 Ct Spanish Brown           Stuffs                                Spouts
1/2 C Spanish White      Large wooden Bowles  1 Dozn pepper Boxes
10lb White Lead             pen knifes                      1/2 Doz Lanthorns
1 Doz. Scythes midle      Shod Shovels                 2 Coopers Axes
     Size                             half Bushels                  6 Broad Axes
                                       Frying pans                     3 Doz Narrow  Do.

   In mean time I Remain

                               with Great Respect Gentln Your most Hbl Servt
                                                                              Simeon Perkins

When I left you Last by a mistake I Left a Bundle of Goods on the Counter Containing 4 yds Shalloon 6 yds Flowered Linin 8 yrds white Fustain & 10 yds Red Baize which were Charged to me June 21st and also 4 pound Tea in papers which I do not find Charged and also three potts & two Bottles of paints and oyl Pray Send those Articles and five or six pounds of Tea and Several Articles mentioned at foot p Mr Headley.

3 Gross Cod Hooks
1 m 30d Nails
6 m pump Nails
20 lbs Pepper
15 yds Bed Tick
The Bundle of Goods Left
my Pots & Bottles paints"

Excerpt from the Diary of Simeon Perkins 1804-1812, vol 5, page 394, published in Toronto by the Champlain Society in 1978.


11 March 2011

Mary D. Mack, 1868 - 1921

Right under our very noses.

Mary D. Mack has been bugging me since I first discovered her listed on the gravestone for Burton Augustus and Minnie Mack. Located initially by a search in Findagrave.com, and by the grace of someone who recorded it and posted it on that website, I got a picture of the gravestone. [Yes, Jane and I did get to the graveyard last year but that's another story]

It turns out they aren't the only Burton and Minnie out there in the greater world, but they are the only Burton and Minnie Mack buried in Plymouth, MA. Which isn't Sandwich, MA  - where Pop said his grandfather was buried, but close enough - within 6 miles. I hadn't been able to find Burton in Sandwich, despite the efforts of the good people at the Sandwich Historical Society.

So who is Mary D. Mack?

Burton and Minnie's children were living in Everett, MA. Their grandchildren did not include a Mary D. Mack. Burton had two sisters, Mary "Minnie" and Etta Ellen Mack and a half-sister Martha Desire Mack that lived with his family back in 1871 in Nova Scotia. Maybe one of them?

Or maybe a second wife after Minnie died? An adopted child late in life? A relative from the "old country"?

Lying in bed the other morning trying to sort out the Drews, I was thinking that maybe it was time to go back and take a good look at the copies of the pages from John Dean Mack's family bible that Jane got from Aunt Marnie. Hah! Now I know it wasn't Martha Desire Mack - she died in 1874 and Etta Ellen died in 1908.

The last entry looks like _any Drew Mack, died 13 February 1921. Mary Drew Mack died in 1921. My best guess is that they are the same person. So, who wrote the entry in the family bible? That is another good question. Since the page are pretty worn, the color of the ink is consistent with the other entries, and the hand writing is pretty darn close, it may be Burton's. I do have samples of his handwriting - he was the enumerator for the 1891 census for Mill Village, Nova Scotia.

second page of Mack Family Bible

excerpt from 1891 Mill Village, NS census

I'm not sure. On closer examination, I can't tell if Burton ever wrote in the bible. So much for that course I took in graphology! My instinct tells me it was probably the women who wrote family information in the bibles. That leaves Drucilla, Minnie, Blanche (Nana/GiGi) and Marnie, but I don't have samples of any of their handwriting to inspect.

There seems to be a family resemblance in the handwriting. Have you noticed the same with your handwriting compared to your parents' handwriting?

When I was younger, my handwriting was very like Mom's... straight up and down, smallish, legible. Now my handwriting is more like Pop's - slanted to the right and a bit more flamboyant and at times erratic. Really hard to read sometimes, even for me. Dick's handwriting is like Pop's, distinctive and legible. Jane's is in between. Sometimes I can't tell whether I wrote note or she did. Funny. I don't think I consciously changed my handwriting; maybe some latent genes kicked in and made my handwriting change.

Looking back at the bible page, it looks like there were at least three, maybe four or more different writers.
The last one might be Marnie's handwriting. I wonder when she got the bible - and who had it before her.

I really would love to know who has it now.

05 March 2011


Too many Lemuel Drews!

In January I finally found the vital records for "our" Lemuel Drew family at the New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston. The Lemuel Drew family that our great-great grandmother Drucilla Drew Mack came from. The helpful folks at the library pointed me in the right direction and helped me find the correct roll of microfilm (and taught me how to use the microfilm reader too) from the Nova Scotia collection that would provide me with a copy of the listing for the Lemuel Drew family. And it did. Here they are:

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Only I'm not sure now that this is the right Lemuel Drew family. It seems that these Lemuel Drew fellas like to marry women named Mary. And they also like to name their sons Lemuel and their daughters Mary. Fiends!

So I started a spreadsheet of Drews, and collected as many as I could find in the Lunenburg area of Nova Scotia.

Actually, not so many... you see, the family that I am looking for was around in the 1700's and, on the census forms in that time period, only the head of household was named. The rest of the members of the family were indicated by number; as in 5 males and 3 females. Darn it!

In frustration, I retreated to the online databases that I normally use - Ancestry.com, Familysearch.org, and Americanancestors.org. Let's just say there was a lot of mumbling under my breath during many sessions at the computer. And no additions to the spreadsheet either.

So, I started trolling through the message boards on Ancestry.com. Ding ding ding - we have a winner! I found a website by following a message thread that happen to mention South Shore Association (from the Lunenburg area of NS). Not much new there until I clicked on a website owned by one of the members. He had a listing of a zillion surnames. YAY!  I now have lots of new information on some Drews, and some Cohoons. The spreadsheet grew a little...

Back to the census records in Lunenburg with new names to look up. Nope. Still too early. Now what? I went to the Nova Scotia GenWeb Project site (just Google it). What a wonderful resource that is! I visited there last year when I was looking for Mill Village and Liverpool Macks. I was able to download cemetery records for Queens County, as well as Vital Records for Liverpool. Not the actual documents, but a listing of names and dates. Certainly enough to get started.

Well, they have a huge listing for Lunenburg County as well, and I now have a nice collection of Drews for the spreadsheet, including a couple of will extracts. So this, combined with information gleaned from Simeon Perkins diary volumes one through five, I should be able to put the proper Drew puzzle together. I hope.

This is what prompted the whole search...

Drucilla Drew Mack's death certificate. It wasn't easy to find and it offers some disturbing information. Not that she died of old age - good for her! But who the heck are William J. Drew and Mary Manning?????

Burton was the informant for all the relative data... could he have been mistaken? It seems like he should know who his grandparents are though. But who am I to talk? I didn't know any of my grandparents except for Nana Mack (aka GiGi), and I only remember her as a kid, when she taught me how to knit and bake apple pies. She was 95 the last time I saw her. She passed away at 106. Good genes, huh?

So there you go. Even if you don't know your ancestors, you can get to know them. It just takes some work.

02 March 2011

Oh, dear!

"Saturday, Jan 27th - Cloudy. Wind W.N.W. The Dolphin, Capt. Collins, and Mr. Silvanus Cobb in his Schooner Sail for Halifax before Daylight or one of them, Cobb, did not go till Sunrise. The Wind Starts in to N.W. &c. Very Slippery, & Cold.
   About ten of the Clock in the morning, Capt. Ephraim Dean was taken Suddenly Ill. Supposed to be an Apoplectick fit. He Lived till about 1 O'Clock, when he expired. I understand he was as well as usual about his Business, untill he Complained his tongue was Swelld or Num, that he could not well Speak.  He was perceived to Faulter Immediately, & was only able to Answer two or three questions in a Low Voice, after which he Never Spake more, but Continued to Ly as if a Sleep till a Little before he expired he had Some Struggles. This Death is a Loud Call to the Living, & is a Great & publick Loss to the place, more especially to his Distressed Family & work men, &c."

The Diary of Simeon Perkins 1780-1789, p. 354, courtesy of The Champlain Society who makes it available through http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/.

My doctor husband said it sounds like a stroke. Ephraim Dean was born the 17th of October in 1734. His birth was recorded in the Barstable, MA Vital Records 1625-1903, (courtesy of NEHGS library). I still have to find where he is buried in Liverpool - I got a clue from Simeon where he described the corps [sic] being carried to the back of the Meeting House. Maybe he is there... he is not listed in any of the graveyards in Liverpool.

Ephraim is my 4th great grandfather on the Mack side.