Posted in FamilySearch Wiki, Research tips, Websites, Worldcat

Pilgrims Rock: Researching Your Plymouth Colony Ancestors

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall 1882

From http://www.artcom.com/Museums/vs/mr/568.jpg “Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor” by William Halsall, 1882

This is a repost from 2012 in honor of the Thanksgiving season:

Did you have an ancestor on the Mayflower? Chances are better than you might think, since “tens of millions” of Pilgrim progeny have resulted from the original 102 passengers  who set sail from Plymouth, England  in September 1620, despite the fact that half of them perished the first winter.  One child was born en route—Oceanus Hopkins, and one passenger died en route—poor William Button, so 102 passengers were on the Mayflower when it entered Cape Cod on November 11th.  They anchored at what is now known as Provincetown Harbor, and for the next six weeks sent exploring parties out from the Mayflower to scout the area. Did you know they originally had planned to settle in Northern Virginia?

Researching ten generations back to a Mayflower ancestor may sound daunting, but fortunately for us Pilgrim-wannabees, research on the first five generations has been underway since 1960.  Although the ambitious project by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or Mayflower Society) is incomplete, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations and Mayflower Families in Progress are considered the authoritative sources for documenting descendancy. If you know who your Mayflower ancestor is, check this list to see if the Mayflower Society has published a book about him or her, and see links below to obtain the book.

There are plenty of good resources online to help you learn about the Pilgrims.  I enjoyed exploring Caleb Johnson’s MayflowerHistory.com, and also discovered a guide for teachers and students created by Duane Cline and hosted on Rootsweb.com.  They both have lots of links to images, maps, and source lists.  Of course, you should visit the General Society of Mayflower Descendants webpage—especially their “Books and Publications” area.

For an organized approach to genealogical research I recommend the Research Wiki on FamilySearch.  Typing “Pilgrims” in the search box will bring up a list of results which includes a link to “Plymouth Colony.”  (Of course, you could type that in directly if you were smart enough to know that is what it was called, which I did not remember.) This brings up a page with loads of information and links to Colony records, including the American Ancestors website, Mayflower Genealogies, Plymouth County records, and other NEHGS records. Continue reading “Pilgrims Rock: Researching Your Plymouth Colony Ancestors”

Posted in FamilySearch Wiki, Research tips, Websites, Worldcat

Pilgrims Rock: Researching Your Plymouth Colony Ancestors

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall 1882

From http://www.artcom.com/Museums/vs/mr/568.jpg “Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor” by William Halsall, 1882

Did you have an ancestor on the Mayflower? Chances are better than you might think, since “tens of millions” of Pilgrim progeny have resulted from the original 102 passengers  who set sail from Plymouth, England  in September 1620, despite the fact that half of them perished the first winter.  One child was born en route—Oceanus Hopkins, and one passenger died en route—poor William Button, so 102 passengers were on the Mayflower when it entered Cape Cod on November 11th.  They anchored at what is now known as Provincetown Harbor, and for the next six weeks sent exploring parties out from the Mayflower to scout the area. Did you know they originally had planned to settle in Northern Virginia?

Researching ten generations back to a Mayflower ancestor may sound daunting, but fortunately for us Pilgrim-wannabees, research on the first five generations has been underway since 1960.  Although the ambitious project by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or Mayflower Society) is incomplete, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations and Mayflower Families in Progress are considered the authoritative sources for documenting descendancy. If you know who your Mayflower ancestor is, check this list to see if the Mayflower Society has published a book about him or her, and see links below to obtain the book.

There are plenty of good resources online to help you learn about the Pilgrims.  I enjoyed exploring Caleb Johnson’s MayflowerHistory.com, and also discovered a guide for teachers and students created by Duane Cline and hosted on Rootsweb.com.  They both have lots of links to images, maps, and source lists.  Of course, you should visit the General Society of Mayflower Descendants webpage—especially their “Books and Publications” area.

For an organized approach to genealogical research I recommend the Research Wiki on FamilySearch.  Typing “Pilgrims” in the search box will bring up a list of results which includes a link to “Plymouth Colony.”  (Of course, you could type that in directly if you were smart enough to know that is what it was called, which I did not remember.) This brings up a page with loads of information and links to Colony records, including the American Ancestors website, Mayflower Genealogies, Plymouth County records, and other NEHGS records.

American Ancestors is the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and they have numerous helpful articles relating to early Plymouth Colony settlers, but also a series of articles specifically about Pilgrim research strategies.  “Researching Your Mayflower Ancestors: Part III…” details books about each Mayflower passenger published by the Mayflower Society in their Mayflower Families Through Five Generations  and Mayflower Families in Progress—mentioned previously.  These can be purchased on the Mayflower Society webpage, but they are also available in many libraries. Use Worldcat to locate any of these books in the library nearest to you, or to order them through Inter-library loan.

American Ancestors is a subscription database, but it does have free access to many articles and has a good number of Mayflower articles.  Of particular interest are all the Pilgrim Village Family Sketches (use these to give you a starting point, so you will know which town and county records to search in Massachusetts or other states where they might have migrated), an explanation of  Pre-1636 New England Immigrants: A Comprehensive Index, and the above-mentioned 6-part series on Mayflower research by Alicia Crane Williams:

American Ancestors also hosts the digital version of Robert Anderson’s The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, volumes I-III and the later volumes.  Ancestry.com has volumes I-III.  The Great Migration Study Project, with its goal to document every person who settled in New England between 1620-1640, hosts a website.

Map of Plymouth Colony, Research Wiki on http://www.familysearch.org

If you are researching Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims, you will naturally need to check under the broader topic of Massachusetts genealogy.  This link has a solid list of the essential published collections for early New England colonization and their Family History Library call numbers, as well as links to relevant family history and genealogy websites. It also describes the Card Index to the Massachusetts Archives.  “The Massachusetts Archives is a series of [328] volumes containing documents of Massachusetts from its founding in 1629 to the year 1799.” Eighteen of these volumes are indexed online in the Massachusetts Archives Collection Database, (1629-1799) on the Massachusetts Archives website.

A list of published sources for Mayflower research was compiled by Scott Andrew Bartley for the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Family Associations have been formed for many of the Mayflower passengers, and they are a great resource for connecting to those with a common research interest.

Depiction of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, reproduced by Lanternpress. Not sure if they are the original artists.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to submit an application for membership in the Mayflower Society.  Mostly, I was curious about the process.  I submitted my “review form” with a simple descendancy chart from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins and received a letter inviting me to submit a preliminary application and fees.  Upon receipt of these items I will be sent a worksheet and instructions.  The worksheet is something they complete, and it can often have the first five generations or more.  I assume then my job will be to provide documentation connecting me to the most recent individual on the worksheet. According to the review form they returned, it looks like I would need to prove descendancy from Seth Crane, who died in Milton, Norfolk, Massachusetts 4 Apr 1803. I haven’t decided whether to go through with it because of the cost (initial dues in California are $165 and then $30 per year thereafter), but it would be fun to document the connection, regardless.

And now, for the important stuff…costume ideas!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted in Civil War, FamilySearch Wiki, Friday Finds, Google Books, Military, Military pension, National Archives, War of 1812

Friday Finds: 1883 Pension Roll

Military records are a key record group for genealogists, and pension records in particular can be a rich source of personal information about an individual.  The 1883 Pension Roll is a handy index to some of these records.  If you have a an ancestor who might have served in the Civil War (Union side only), various Indian Wars, or the War of 1812 (of course, he’d be at least 90 years old by 1883!) you will want to check out this pension roll.

It is available on the subscription site Ancestry.com, but you can find the free ebook online at Google Books.  Each volume covers different states.  Western States researchers will want to see Volume 4:

Vol 1   Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, District of Columbia

Vol 2    New York, Pennsylvania

Vol 3   Ohio, Illinois, Iowa

Vol 4   Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada, Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Dakota Territory (North and South Dakota), New Mexico Territory, Montana Territory, Washington Territory, Idaho Territory, Utah Territory, Arizona Territory, Alaska Territory, Wyoming Territory

Vol 5    Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and foreign countries

U.S. Pension Bureau, List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883; vol 1, ebook (books.google.com : accessed 13 July 2012), Maine, p 19.

Check out the “cause for which pensioned” column – yikes!  “G.S.W.” means “gunshot wound.”  Here is a list of other abbreviations posted by the Illinois GenWeb project:

The 1883 Pension Roll lists anyone on the U.S. military pension roll as of 1 Jan 1883, including soldiers, their widows, or parents – whoever was receiving a pension check.  It gives a certificate number, pensioner’s name, post office address, cause for which pensioned, monthly check amount, and the date of the original allowance.

Use the certificate number to order the original file from the National Archives online (NARA), and then run to the mailbox every day in excited anticipation. If you prefer, you can mail in an application.

Here are your ordering options on the NARA website:

1.  Compiled Military Service File (NATF 86): $25.00

2.  Federal Military Pension Application – Civil War and Later Complete File (NATF 85A):  $75.00

3.  Federal Military Pension Application – Pre-Civil War Complete File (NATF 85A):  $50.00

4.  Federal Military Pension Applications – Pension Documents Packet (NATF 85B):  $25.00

5.  Military Bounty-Land Warrant Application File (NATF 85C):  $25.00

If you are seeking a Civil War pension packet you must choose between #2 and #4.  #2 will get you a copy of the entire packet, which can be upwards of 30 pages.  It is expensive at $75.00, but cheaper than a trip to Washington, D.C.!  #4 will get you 8 documents from that same packet, chosen by the clerk at NARA. They will choose 8 that have genealogical information. If you are on a budget, this will save you some money.  If you decide you would like the complete file later, however, you will still have to pay the full $75.00.  I know…rip-off!…but still cheaper than that plane ticket.

If you merely want a Compiled Military Service File choose #1.  These are valuable, too, but I would go for the pension file first, because there is usually more genealogical information in a pension file.

If you are seeking a pension packet from an earlier war choose #3 or #4, depending on what size file you want.

#5 will get you an application file with potentially great genealogical information, too.  Veterans of the Civil War were not eligible to apply, but those who fought in earlier wars might have applied. A subscription site, Fold3, has digitized the pension and bounty-land warrant files for the War of 1812.  You can access this site for free at your local LDS family history center. It has the COMPLETE file digitized, so you don’t have to order it from NARA!  As of today there are over 255,000 documents online, but this represents only 3% of the total collection.  An index to the application files from the Revolutionary War is found at FamilySearch.org.

The full citation for the 1883 Pension Roll is:

United States. Pension Bureau. List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883: giving the name of each pensioner, the cause for which pensioned, the post-office address, the rate of pension per month, and the date of original allowance, as called for by Senate resolution of December 8, 1882, Volume One. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1883.

Good luck on the trail to military pension records.  I hope this “new” source helps you out!

Posted in Census, Church records, FamilySearch Wiki, Friday Finds, LDS Church Censuses, Research tips

New LDS Census images posted

I recently posted about a little-used resource for researchers who had LDS church members in their family 1914-1960. This is the collection of LDS Church Censuses 1914-1960. The FamilySearch Wiki lists the contents of the censuses for each year. Each family in the worldwide church was counted beginning 1914, continuing every 5 years after 1920. 1945 there was no census taken because of the war.

I had known about this collection but never accessed it until this week. Here are images of the Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family in the 1914, 1925, and 1935 LDS Censuses.

Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family, 1914 LDS Census, FHL microfilm 245255

There are columns for age, gender, priesthood office, marital status, and church record number. There is a category for “where born” with columns for Utah, Arizona, Europe, Asia, Islands of Pacific, and Unclassified. The Ward and Stake is also identified, which can lead one to other LDS church membership records, such as records of ordinances, minutes of meetings, and genealogical surveys.

Since U.S. federal censuses were taken every 10 years–1910, 1920, 1930, 1940–the LDS Censuses falling in-between those years are nice to have. Here is the 1925 census:

Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family, 1925 LDS Census, FHL film 245,255

Notice that Sarah Matilda Pomeroy is enumerated with the family—she is Franklin’s mother—and the additional detail for “when born.” We also now have evidence of Sophia Isadora’s maiden name—Morris.

Here is the 1935 LDS Census:

Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family, 1935 LDS Census, FHL film 245, 255

Included in this census is the city or town of birth, and a street address. You might consider marking a map in Google Earth to show all the places where a family is known to have lived. Also, use the street view to take a walk around their neighborhood! It may have changed, but then again it may not have. At the bottom of each census for every year is, “checked with ward record by [signature].”

I am pretty enthused about this record group and plan to use them to launch into ward minutes and membership records next time I am in Salt Lake City. I expect to find details of my ancestors’ lives, such as service in callings and various ordinances received. If you have any LDS ancestry these church censuses might lead you down some interesting trails!

Posted in Archives and Libraries, Census, FamilySearch Wiki, Friday Finds, LDS Church Censuses, Research tips, Websites

Friday Finds: LDS Church Censuses 1914-1960

Here is an excerpt from the FamilySearch Wiki  regarding a source that is not widely known about—LDS Church Censuses.  If you are researching anyone who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lived anywhere in the world between 1914-1960, you will want to access these records by renting the microfilm at your local LDS Family History Center.  Clicking on Church Census Records, 1914–1960  will take you to a list of 651 microfilms.  Search alphabetically within certain years.  I have ordered the film for “Pomeroy” 1914-1935 and will let you know what I find.  I am excited to see entries for my mom, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

This article is copied from the FamilySearch Wiki LDS Census page:

LDS Census

A census is a count and description of a population. A well-indexed census is one of the easiest ways to locate where ancestors lived and to identify the dates when they lived there so that you can search other records. Church census records give the name of the ward or branch where a family’s Church records or civil records may be found.

Church Censuses (1914–1960)

 The Church took censuses to track members and Church growth throughout the world. The first Church wide census was taken in 1914. Beginning in 1920, the Church took a census every five years until 1960, except 1945. These census records were compiled in:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church Census Records, 1914–1960. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1962. (On 651 Family History Library films starting with 025708). Arranged alphabetically by the name of the head of the household. The five censuses for 1914 to 1935 were combined and microfilmed. There is a supplement for cards sent in late. The 1940 census was filmed separately with two supplemental films. The 1950, 1955, and 1960 censuses were filmed together.

Information in Church censuses consists of a card with information about each family in a ward or branch. Each person in the household is listed on the family card with their gender, age, priesthood office, and marital status. Each time the census was taken, additional information was included:

  • 1914 This census shows the geographical regions that were marked to show where each person was born; the family’s address; the name of the ward or branch, stake, or mission the person attended; and date of the census.
  • 1920 This census added the maiden name of married women, year of birth of each person, and the Church auxiliaries each person attended.
  • 1925 The complete birth date is included. The columns for auxiliaries are deleted.
  • 1930 This census adds the exact place of birth. Cards for the Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and parts of Maryland also provide the baptism date, the name of the person who performed the baptism, and place of baptism.
  • 1935 This census adds the previous ward or branch the family attended.
  • 1940 This census adds the family’s previous street address, and the date when the family moved to their present address.
  • 1945 No Church census was taken because of World War II.
  • 1950, 1955, and 1960 These censuses show the same information as the 1940 census.

If you cannot find a family on a Church census try these strategies:

  • Look for variant spellings of the surname.
  • Look for the wife as the head of household.
  • Check the supplemental films.

If you still cannot find the family, it may be because:

  • Some Church units did not participate.
  • The census taker may have missed the family.