31 March 2013

I'm astonished!

To all my friends in genealogy - thank you for all your kind words about my blog! I write this blog for myself (to keep a record of my research); for my family (because I am now the oldest in my immediate family  - I want to make sure my family knows who came before us to help shape who we are); and for anyone else who may be related - by name or by the passion for researching the past. To find my blog so welcomed into the greater genealogy community means a lot to me. A place that I actually fit in!

Please know that I am aware of each of you out there, and am grateful that you have acknowledged my blog. If I can help you in any way with the people or places that I write about, please send me a note. I will be happy to hear from you!


21 March 2013

Mystery photos - Solved?

Remember these folks from a past post?

This is the photo I had the Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor take a look at. She was able to approximate the date of the photo and judge their approximate ages. It wasn't enough for me to even make a guess at who they were though, as I wasn't even sure they were actual family members - no identifying marks on the back of the photo. It came to me as a framed print, so I figured it had some importance to someone in the family.

But now, I think I know who they are. While looking into the Dikeman family (my grandmother was Mildred Russell Dikeman) on Ancestry.com, I came across Julia Dikeman - whose photo I have with identification on the back in my collection. 
Julia Dikeman b. 1866 dau. of Henry Botsford Dikeman and Emily Camp
(She is my 1st cousin twice removed according to Ancestry.com)

I didn't know where she fit into the family, but I did know she came from Newtown, Connecticut. I didn't really know much about the Newtown family members before yesterday, but I do now - at least enough to make possible identifications of people in photos and explain some of the photographs in my collection. 

On a whim, I clicked on the search the web link found on the lower right hand corner of a person's profile page. This time it brought me to a book in Google Play Books - "Newtown's history and historian, Ezra Levan Johnson" prepared by Jane Eliza Johnson The Historian's Life Companion. Newtown Connecticut, 1917.

What an interesting book! It covers the history from the first settlers to 1917. Freeman Oath lists, businesses in town, churches and groups. My mother is listed in the Dikeman genealogy. Oh, yes! Genealogies of some prominent families - I found a slew of relatives. I'm still unsure of all the actual relationships, but I was able to connect people in the Dikeman family bible with other families from Newtown; the Tyrrells, Fairchilds, Botsfords, Sanfords, Curtises and even Platts (!) 

The single best feature of the Newtown book for me is the photographs. I think the gentleman and lady above are Silas Norman Beers and his wife Sarah Nichols Beers. There is an etching of Silas N. Beers who looks very much like a younger version of the gentleman above. Silas Beers was an architect who worked on the fourth Church edifice in 1870. Mr. Henry Sanford was on the committee with him. I'm wondering if that Mr. Sanford and my Elizabeth Ann Sanford are related? It might explain why we had the pictures of the Beers and this man:

There is no marking on back of the photograph, but he bears striking resemblance to the Rev. Newton E. Marble D.D. in the Newtown book. And here is the church:

This was marked on the back "Church at Newtown"

I believe with a bit more careful reading of the Newtown history I will find some more answers. What a gift Google Play Books are - I downloaded this book for free. Now, I know my job isn't finished yet, I still need to find vital records for these folks, but what a wonderful starting point I now have.

I also am looking forward to later in the year when I will take a trip to Newtown to see where my Dikeman family lived, and find out more about the area. 

06 March 2013

Someone was listening...

My cousin and I get together as often as we can in Boston - usually a couple of times a year - to do some hardcore research on our families and to visit with our children who just happen to live in the area. We usually work at the NEHGS library, do a little shopping on Newbury Street, and eat at some fabulous restaurants with our kids.  Last weekend we attended Ancestry Day at NEHGS in Boston.

 Just before I left, I posted the Veturia Platt story in hope that someone would come forth and identify her. It wasn't the focus of this trip, but I would have been happy to come home to some new information. Well, I still haven't heard from anyone from this blog posting, but in a way, I did hear from someone over the weekend.

I was busy in the microfilm department looking for John and Ellen Young (who also elude me) and when the day was nearly done, I was only able to delete people from my search. It is still progress, I suppose. I went up to the 7th floor to meet up with my cousin and had about fifteen minutes left to look for more information. I wanted to look at the Dikeman books recommended to me by my cousin, so I pulled them from the stacks. After perusing them, I decided it wasn't the same family, so I returned the books to the re-shelve rack and spied a book that looked promising to me - New England Planters in the Maritime Provinces of Canada 1759-1800. Hmmmm. I have relatives in Nova Scotia... I did find references to Samuel Mack, Ephraim Dean and others... I never thought of Samuel Mack as a Planter, but I guess he was. The listing showed 14 pages of letters. Jackpot! Unfortunately, it was something I would have to come back for another day's follow up.

Just as I had finished photographing the important details before returning the book, a volunteer came around to tell us the library was closing in five minutes. Already? I returned the book and glanced again at the pile of returned books and spied the Platt Genealogy on top. What? I have three minutes to see if this is the right Platt - and I believe it is - Richard Platt of Milford, Connecticut. Another day, Mr. Platt, we have a date.

Coincidence? I think not.

Ancestry Day is a day that NEHGS partners with Ancestry.com and offers presentations given by experts from both Ancestry.com and NEHGS. It was an early start, and a long day, but there was a lot of great information exchanged. I hope I can do better searches on Ancestry.com with the help of Crista Cowan's tips. I'll let you know.

Other talks were equally interesting and informative, and the wrap up Live Q&A Panel was lively and inspiring. If you get an opportunity to attend an Ancestry Day with NEHGS, go ahead and do it! It isn't a huge cost, in time or money, and everyone is so nice and helpful.