All posts by Christopher C. Child

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Fudging facts

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Alternate dates of birth for our ancestors, perhaps ranging over several years, are common for many of us, and the reasons can vary considerably. A recent example in my own research came in the form of a deliberate change of birth date, with the sole intention to make the subject appear younger than her husband. Continue reading Fudging facts

Remembering William Monroe Trotter

William Monroe Trotter

The documentary “Birth of a Movement” – which premiered on 30 January at the Somerville Theatre outside Boston, and airs nationally on PBS on Monday 6 February during African-American History Month – explores D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) through a modern lens. What caught my attention about the film is the documentary’s protagonist, famed civil rights activist William Monroe Trotter (1872–1934). Trotter lived nearly his entire life in Boston and founded the Boston Guardian, an independent African-American newspaper. He also established the Niagara Movement, in 1915, with fellow Massachusetts native W.E.B. DuBois, and participated in numerous other causes for civil rights until his death in 1934. Continue reading Remembering William Monroe Trotter

A variety of faiths

Arms of Cornette. Courtesy of The American Heraldry Society, https://www.americanheraldry.org/heraldry-in-the-usa/roll-of-early-american-arms/P2080

I was very excited about our recent announcement that AmericanAncestors.org is digitizing the parish records of the Archdiocese of Boston. I had viewed some of these records in the past at their offices in Braintree. Some of the volumes had been in quite fragile shape, and having them digitized, and ultimately indexed, is going to provide greater access to an under-utilized record source.

When the records went online, I decided to browse some of the early volumes. While people with Catholic ancestors in other areas such as Quebec and Latin America can often find mothers’ full maiden names on baptismal records, and mothers’ maiden names for both parties on marriage records, I knew that this is not always the case for New England Catholic records: often the wife/mother is listed only with her husband’s name, without a reference to her maiden name. Continue reading A variety of faiths

A “wasted” correction

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In an earlier blog post about former ancestors, I noted some instances where my modern-day research turned ancestors into “former ancestors,” some quite recently. This one involves a correction I discovered several years ago; while valid, I should really have reviewed these charts more recently, for confirmation. Continue reading A “wasted” correction

A family register

thompson-register-1Over the holidays, my mother gave me the very nice present of a family register that began with my great-great-great-grandparents – Robert and Emma (Russell) Thompson of Industry, Maine. This framed register used to hang on a wall at my grandparents’ home in Kansas, and I had taken notes from it when I got interested in family history. My mother got it after her mother’s death in 2008, and she decided I was the best relative to receive it. This register was produced by D. Needham, 12 Exchange St, Buffalo, and years ago I recognized a copy of the same style register for sale in our own bookstore. Continue reading A family register

Changing town names

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Partial map of Norfolk County, 1888, showing Dedham, Hyde Park, and Milton still in the county, while Dorchester has already been annexed to Boston. Robinson’s Atlas of Norfolk County, Massachusetts (New York: E. Robinson, 1888)

In documenting the dates on Mabelle Clifton (Lippitt) (Bourne) Bevins in my last post, her step-mother’s data reminded me of other issues that come our way in family history with new towns being created, or annexed, and the shifting borders of counties and states.

Mabelle’s step-mother, Lillian Hannaford Blazo, was born at Hyde Park, Massachusetts on 5 December 1869, daughter of William Augustus and Mary Elizabeth (Farnum) Blazo.[1] She married at Boston 7 March 1901, Robert Lincoln Lippitt.[2] This marriage listed her birthplace as Dorchester. Lillian died at Providence, Rhode Island 7 February 1937 and her death record listed her birthplace as Milton.[3] Why was there confusion on these two records?

Hyde Park was incorporated as a new town in 1868, just one year before Lillian’s birth, from lands in Dorchester, Milton, and Dedham. From that alone, it’s difficult to say if Lillian was born in the part of Hyde Park that had been Dorchester or Milton, without looking at land records or town directories to see where Lillian’s parents lived, assuming a home birth. Continue reading Changing town names

Take a guess

mabelle-3In gathering records on people – especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – I often find people listed with middle initials. Sometimes finding the full middle names can be challenging; sometimes it’s impossible! (In some cases, such as Harry S. Truman or J.R. “Johnny” Cash, the initials may not even actually stand for anything.) Continue reading Take a guess

Former ancestors

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My recent post about twins in the family – correcting my ancestor Sarah (Johnson) Eaton’s ancestry – reminded me of various corrections to my family papers over the years. As I had indicated there, when I started my genealogical research, I was given an enormous head start on my native Connecticut ancestry. Two friends of my great-grandparents had prepared family charts tracing nearly all of my grandfather’s ancestors back to the immigrants in the 1600s. While this was a terrific help, over the years I have found sometimes that this material wasn’t always right. Many times the ancestors on the charts were listed in published genealogies, but my attempts to confirm the line have led me to revisit these ancestors, sometimes turning them into “former ancestors.” Continue reading Former ancestors

More twins in the family

twins-1Earlier this year I wrote about my ancestor Tryphena Kendall and her twin sister Tryphosa. Tryphena and Tryphosa Kendall were the granddaughters of Sarah Johnson, who married Nathaniel Eaton at Ashford, Connecticut, on 13 November 1755. As I looked at the documentation I had on this family, something wasn’t quite right.

The family charts that I had on this part of my family were prepared by friends of my great-grandparents nearly 100 hundred years ago, and while I have verified much of this information over the years and corrected some data, I had never verified anything beyond Sarah (Johnson) Eaton. Continue reading More twins in the family

Option D

bright-1In reviewing past literature on a family in England, I was reminded of the many potential scenarios afforded by kinship assignments in documents. In this case, these documents concern the ancestry of Henry Bright (1602–1686) of Watertown, Massachusetts, a native of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. Henry was the son of Henry and Mary (Woodgate) Bright, and the grandson of Thomas and Margaret Bright.[1] Thomas Bright wrote his will on 20 August 1587, mentioning, among other kinships, his wife Margaret and father-in-law Mr. Jervis, of Whepstead.[2] Continue reading Option D