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.

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

Click on images to enlarge them.

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

ICYMI: King Richard III’s Matrilineal Kin

[Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 1 April 2015.]

Barbara (Spooner) Wilberforce, wife of William, and the actual matrilineal descendant of Richard III’s sister.
Barbara (Spooner) Wilberforce, wife of William, and the actual matrilineal descendant of Richard III’s sister.

News of King Richard III’s reburial last week was interesting, especially the stories regarding descendants of the King’s sister, who each placed a white rose (the House of York’s emblem) on his coffin. These four living relatives (Canadian siblings Michael, Jeff, and Leslie Ibsen, and Australian-born Wendy Duldig) have been called Richard’s “closest descendants” in various news articles. Let’s examine this claim.

Millions of living people—including both the Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge—share about this same degree of kinship to Richard III: descent from one of his siblings. (The Queen and Kate both descend from Richard’s brother Edward IV.) The Ibsens and Wendy share matrilineal (all-female) descent from Richard’s sister Anne of York (d. 1476). Continue reading ICYMI: King Richard III’s Matrilineal Kin

The secret history

Marston 4
Warren Gould Child

If you have been binge watching the latest season of Orange is the New Black, you may have learned an interesting bit of trivia, courtesy of the Martha Stewart/Paula Deen-inspired new character of Judy King, who mentions that Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston (1893–1947) had “two wives” simultaneously.

As explored in Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Marston married Elizabeth Holloway in 1915 and had two surviving children with her; Marston also lived in an extended relationship with Olive Byrne, by whom he had two more children, who were then adopted by William and Elizabeth Marston. Continue reading The secret history

Gravestone photos versus transcriptions

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Gravestone of Fanny (Young) Howes in Windham, Connecticut. Courtesy of Findagrave

A practice I had utilized in a prior post, regarding New York state deaths appearing in Connecticut sources, has turned up in a new context. In the prior case, someone from Connecticut had died in New York, and her detailed death was recorded in a Connecticut newspaper, while no civil record of death was recorded locally, which is not surprising for New York State.

In this new case, I am working on an article for Mayflower Descendant on the Young family of Windham, Connecticut, which has descents from Mayflower passengers John Howland and Richard Warren. Several descendants are buried in Windham Center Cemetery, which has led to a few interesting scenarios in terms of finding information from gravestones. I’ll describe three below: Continue reading Gravestone photos versus transcriptions

Browse the images online

Jesus Badia 1
Click on images to expand them.

Often, when I’m looking at records on, I find source records in two categories: 1) “Browsable” (images only, no searching capability), or 2) “Searchable” (abstracted with various fields from the record). Sometimes, within the Searchable category, records will be linked to the images of the source records. In other instances, no image is available, but a link to the Family History Library film number is given. One can always then rent the microfilm to view the original record. However, before you rent the film, check the catalog, as you may be able to view the original record online, albeit in a slightly roundabout way. Continue reading Browse the images online

Know your suffixes

Moses Lyon
Moses Lyon (3d, 2d) of Woodstock

In writing about the marital travails of my great-great-great-great-grandfather Moses Lyon (1793–1865), I was reminded of another topic that comes up frequently in consultations with NEHGS members: the use of suffixes such as Jr., 2nd, 3rd, etc. Today most people named Jr. are the child of someone with that name, and suffixes such as III , IV, or V usually denote a descent from an earlier ancestor with that name. It is often assumed that this was the practice in earlier times, which was not the case at all, even a century or more ago.

Usually the notation “Jr.” or “2nd” just meant that someone else with the same name lived in the same town and was older. That was really all there was to it. They could be father and son, uncle and nephew, first cousins, or not related at all. Continue reading Know your suffixes