Monday, April 30, 2012

Mappy Monday: Which "Haddam" am I looking for?

   This one's been coming up a lot lately on area list-servs, message boards, and other genealogy resources. People run into Middle Haddam, Haddam, and East Haddam and treat them like they're the same town. Since this runs straight into what I'm researching right now, I thought I'd clarify.
   1) Middle Haddam is not a town. It's a village of East Hampton. And it has nothing to do with the other two Haddams. Middle Haddam, as part of East Hampton, was originally part of Chatham, and before that, East Middletown. Recent records will be held in East Hampton. Historic records may be in Portland or Middletown.
   2) Haddam is due south of Middletown on both sides of the Connecticut River. (This was news to me! Haddam Neck - part of Haddam - is one side of the river, while Haddam Center and Higganum are on the other side.) Founded in the 1660s, it originally held East Haddam, which is across the Connecticut from Middletown. Haddam was originally one of Middlesex County's two county seats. 
    3) East Haddam began as part of Haddam but gained its independence in 1734. The area's first church was founded in 1704, so you should be able to find local records very early on.

Check out the linked sites for more information on the history of each village and town. Happy research!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Society Saturday and Surname Saturday: Daughters of the American Revolution Event Honoring James Wadsworth

   If you're descended from Durham's branch of the prominent Wadsworth family, a May 12th event may spark your interest. The Wadsworth Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be honoring its namesake, James Wadsworth. Fran Korn of the Durham Historical Society will present a program on Wadsworth, which will conclude with a visit to his grave. You do not have to be a DAR member to attend, but members and prospective members are more than welcome. The program will take place at 10 am on May 12th at the Church of the Epiphany, 196 Main St., Durham, CT.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Follow Friday: Ives Family History Blog

    I stumbled across the Ives Family History Blog while doing research on other blogs. I normally don't read family specific blogs unless they relate to my line. There's often a little too much detail on family members and not enough on the environment in which they lived. This isn't true of the Ives Family History Blog.  While many posts do relate to family members, search "Early Connecticut History." You'll end up with some nice information on early New Haven.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Postcards of East Haddam

    I'm still distracted by my research project on the Graves family, but I thought I'd share my latest related find. Turns out the town of East Haddam posted images from the Historical Society's postcard collection to their website. Most of the images are of houses from different parts of East Haddam, taken during the first half of the 20th century. Moodus is much better represented than other sections of town. No matter where your family was from, it's still a fun tour through hirstory.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Workday Wednesday: East Haddam occupations

  Unless you research East Haddam regularly, it's easy to miss the fact that the community functioned as two different towns. The first, East Haddam village, was a ship-building community. The town's history traces the production of area ship yards. At one point, it was over 400 ships. The inland community was heavily agricultural. A drive through the community reveals the area's farming history. Know which part of town your ancestor lived in, and you'll know far more about the ancestor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Upcoming Conference: Our State, Our Stories

Our State, Our Stories
Collecting, Preserving and Sharing Oral Histories in the 21st Century
A joint conference of the Connecticut Humanities Council and the Connecticut League of History Organizations

June 4, 2012
9 am – 5:30 pm

Manchester Community College
60 Bidwell Street
Manchester, CT 06040

Join us for a day-long conference on how to plan, conduct and present oral history projects, and a chance to learn how others use words, voices and images to capture and convey the experiences of individuals and their communities.

Featuring keynote addresses by Dave Isay, founder and president of StoryCorps and Mary Childers, author of Welfare Brat, the conference includes 16 workshop sessions on a range of topics including technology, project planning, effective interview techniques, working with at-risk communities, empowering individuals through personal memoir, and more.  Participating organizations include The Institute for Community Research, Mi Casa Family Service and Educational Center, Vermont Folklife Center, Mattatuck Museum, the Connecticut Veteran’s History Project and the University of Connecticut Oral History Office.

For more information or to register, visit

Our State, Our Stories is co-sponsored by Manchester Community College.  Funding support has been provided by The State Historic Preservation Office.

Tombstone Tuesday: John Crandall, Durham Cemetery, Durham

   We're once again returning to Durham Cemetery. John Crandall was born in 1815 and died in 1889. And beyond that, I can't tell you anything! The John Crandalls I can locate on the census are either too young (born 1830) or too old (born 1802). A search of The Hartford Courant left me empty-handed. Durham doesn't have city directories. So... I'm throwing out the question: who was John Crandall?
   See what you can find. I'd love to hear his story!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Website update

  I've updated my business website with links to Cromwell, CT churches. Please visit:

Madness Monday: Where is this Baptismal Certificate?

   Outlining my D.A.R. application yesterday highlighted a major problem. I'm missing the baptismal certificate for Mary (Graves) Stark. I can clearly prove a relationship between Mary Graves and Abiel Stark; tying Mary to her father is proving much harder. There's a DAR application on file, which suggests that some connection can be made. Mary Graves was born in 1763, but she's missing from the records of the First Congregational Church, where Benjamin Graves was baptized. Other Graves family members moved to Millington (a portion of East Haddam) and were married in that church. Yet, I can't find reference to Mary there either.
   So where was Mary Graves baptized? Millington Church is still my best guess, but I'd love to hear other ideas!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Creating a Connection to the Past

   I sat down today to start outlining my supplemental application to the Daughters of the American Revolution and figure out what I still needed to locate. I found some interesting issues I needed to address: one ancestor had recorded her mother's birth date incorrectly on a document, and I was only able to correct the error by finding the mother's gravestone. I also realized something. I feel a deep connection to this line.
   It's a little strange to feel that way. I have few photos, and very few documents. I don't have many tangible connections to my ancestors on this branch. However, I do have something that few of my other lines have given me: stories.
   This one branch was very insistent about writing down their memories and making their off-spring read them. I have memoirs written by my great-grandparents and one even older. That takes me back to a man that was born in the 1820s. And I can even describe his personality, because his son recorded his memories of his father in great detail. These memoirs are gems - and they give me a deep connection to a line I wouldn't otherwise remember.
   So, how do you connect to your past? Do you share those stories with your children or grandchildren.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Society Saturday: Lyme Historical Society

   I'm still working on my Graves family project. Since I'm working a Daughters of the American Revolution application, I need to trace all the ancestors that connect Benjamin Graves of East Haddam to yours truly. To get there, I'm relying heavily on historical society resources. I've already talked about East Haddam's Historical Society. Today, I thought I'd share the next one on my list.
   The Lyme Historical Society appears to no longer be active (please, if I'm wrong, correct me!). Founded in 1936, they collected extensive local history records. Those records have been transferred to the Florence Griswold Museum. While you can access them through a visit to their library, they do seem to not do research for you. A visit is on my to-do list. I'd love to know more about what they have.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Follow Friday: Curious Historian

  I stumbled across Curious Historian while looking for new local history blogs. Written by Bridgeport city historian

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Oxford Past

    If you're looking for genealogical resources for the area around Oxford, Connecticut, consider visiting a website called Oxford Past. Locals have worked together to provide resources for historians and genealogists. The result is a site containing cemetery databases, surname finders, digital copies of photographs, historic maps and more. Take them to search the site thoroughly. If you don't find what you need there, a link on the site might point you in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Irish Occupations

   I've traveled the path of Irish immigration many times recently. While my own ancestors fell outside the mold, I've learned a lot about those who did not. Most immigrated around the time of the potato famine, determined to start a new life. Most lived in cities. What I didn't know much about was what they did when they arrived here.
   An article on Connecticut's Heritage Gateway helps fill in the gaps in my knowledge. Apparently most Irish was factory, construction or textile workers. They staffed mills throughout the state.  In Portland, they worked in the quarries. While this information gives me an outline, I wish I knew more about the individual stories.
   Where did your ancestors work? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Ezra D. Burke, Durham, CT

  Ezra D. Burke was the father of the Burke family I traced in last week's Tombstone Tuesday. His information has already been indexed on Find A Grave (this photo is mine) but the description tells you little about his life. The 1880 census reveals much more. Ezra is indexed with his wife Augusta, 12 year old Edmund, and a 28 year old woman named Ella Bourson, a boarder. Ezra was a cattle dealer at the time. Tracing him back to 1870 reveals more details. In 1870, he lived in Chatham (modern Portland and East Hampton). There, he worked as a farmer. Back ten years further, he was in Middle Haddam (modern East Hampton). Ezra and Augusta were enumerated with two older couples. One, Edward and Mary Burke, may have been Ezra's parents.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mappy Monday: East Haddam and Haddam Early Maps

   For me, part of understanding an ancestor's history is tracing their past in the land. I always try to track down historic maps while doing my research. According to a town website, East Haddam was part of Haddam until 1734. To trace my ancestors' early heritage, I decided to take a look at the Haddam Historical Society. What I found wasn't of much use to me (wrong side of the river) but may be helpful if you're researching a Haddam family. The Haddam Historical Society has two maps posted on their website. The first is a modern map which traces settlement in the 1600s. The second, a historic map, dates from 1845. Check them out. You may find your ancestors!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Avon Congregational Church Historian

   I discover something new every time I write this blog! I was doing some searching for the Avon Historical Society and saw a mention of the municipal historian. Nora Howard, the municipal historian, has an M.A. in History from George Washington University. She is responsible for keeping records of the town's history and responding to questions posed to the town. She's also the historian for Avon Congregational Church. It's nice to know that someone is able to answer questions about often complex church records.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Society Saturday: East Haddam Historical Society

   Much of my recent research has been in East Haddam, so I'm especially glad for the work of those who have traced the town's history. I owe already a huge thank you to the East Haddam Historical Society. They run a museum at 264 Town St, which is open weekends between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Their exhibits include photographs of both Moodus Village and the Connecticut River bridge. In addition, members have published on many subjects in town history. Their material has done me a great favor. Contact them 860.873.3944 for suggestions and resources. They do a great job!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Follow Friday: Wesleyan University's Special Collections Blog (and lots of Middletown history)

   I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across Wesleyan University's special collections blog. While I do most of my research in the Middletown area, I often forget about Wesleyan University's collections. Why? Because it seems like they should all be about the "gown" side of the "town-gown" divide.  Of course, as the blog reminded me, the assumption was wrong.
   Recent posts have covered resources on town history held in the Special Collections unit at Wesleyan. Some are straightforward history texts - such as student dissertations. But others hold much more depth. They have vertical files containing photographs of the city, atlases with the traditional town streets, and more. I know I got some new ideas... and I suspect I won't be alone!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Westport Historical Society Research

  Like most genealogists, I always find that my research goals stretch further than my budget. There's always just a little too much to do. That's why I love it when an organization goes out of its way to keep its research affordable. The Westport Historical Society has done just that. Archives research fees are $10, including a small amount of copies and the cost of postage. They may not have all the vital records you'd like, but they appear to have some solid resources and a great idea of how to research local history.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Domestic Servant Classified Ads

   Was your ancestor a domestic servant? I was looking through old editions of The New London Day recently and stumbled across something that might help you learn more about his or her life. Turns out that families would advertise in the classified ads looking for "reliable" help. Take a look at this promotional ad from The Day about their program. It was definitely a part of early 20th century life I had never considered.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Edward and Louise Burke of Durham, Durham Cemetery, Durham, CT

    It's time for another visit to the Durham Center Cemetery.  (Yes, I'm still posting the dozen or so photos I took during a recent trip.)
   This time we're looking at the gravestone of the Burke family. The two names to the right are the family's elder members. Edward F. was born in 1867 to Augusta and Ezra Burke, and Louise C. in 1866. Both died in 1947. According to the 1900 census, Edward was a farmer. At that time, they had three children: May, Grace, and Milton. By 1910, they'd added an additional child - Luther, the husband of the second couple. The family lived in Durham for a few decades. However, by 1920, they'd moved to Madison. They bought a dairy farm locally, and Luther became an electrician. Edward and Louise seem to have remained there for the rest of their lives.
   Why did these two couples decide to be buried back in Durham? Why did Luther not remarry after Hazel's early death? I'm not sure. This family sounds like it has a great story.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mappy Monday: Digital Copies of West Hartford Maps

    I always enjoy searching for historic map databases, and this week's search once again turned up a great website. The West Hartford Public Library has digitized parts of two atlases. One dates from the 1890s; the other is from 1909.  Opening an image will allow you to view a plate from each atlas. Each plate covers a slightly different portion of West Hartford. While the images are not easy to search - there's no way to zoom up close - it's good way to start seeing the town's layout.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Looking for something fun to do with your relatives today?

  Check out the 1940 collection on  You can search the census, city directories, and more free through April 10th.

Sentimental Sunday: Happy Easter!

  Holidays always get me thinking about holiday traditions. That focus has increased lately because of the fact that I've been trying to trace my family using 18th century church records. Those records make me wonder how they must have celebrated their religious holidays. Were there lots of flowers? Did they eat special foods? Strangely enough, while I do know something about Christmas traditions, I know almost nothing about Easter. I wish I knew more.
   What about you? How did your family celebrate Easter or Passover?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Society Saturday: Chester Historical Society

   Chester's historical society is just starting to become active as a museum community, but it shows a lot of promise. In 2010, they expanded their office building on the Pattaconk River to host a new museum. Called the Chester Museum at the Mill, it hosts a permanent exhibit on the life of the town and a temporary exhibit on the town's participation in the Civil War. I haven't had the chance to visit the museum yet, but it's already winning a lot of awards.
   While it's not clear from the website, the Chester Historical Society is working hard to preserve local history. They've recently scheduled several programs retelling life in the 40s and 50s. I suspect they've gathered more than even I know about. If you're interested in Chester, give them a call!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Civil War Program April 22

“Connecticut Troops at Gettysburg”
April 22

The Manchester Historical Society hosts Civil War scholar Connie Satton on Sunday, April 22, 1 p.m., at the Manchester History Center, 175 Pine Street, Manchester 06040. Past-president of the Vernon Historical Society and independent scholar, Connie Satton will describe Connecticut soldiers and their experiences during and after the Civil War battle at Gettysburg. She will use song, story, and pictures to bring a local perspective to this three-day battle where so many lives were lost. Connie has attended the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg for twenty years and has gleaned a wide range of knowledge about the battle and about the memorialization of the battlefield. Parking for the lecture is available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street (no on-street parking) as well as in a small lot next to the History Center. $3 for non-members, $1 for Society members, and free for children under age 16. Light refreshments will be served. More information about the Historical Society at

Follow Friday: Genealogy Tip of the Day

      I stumbled across Kimberly Powell's newsletter looking for new introductory level genealogy resources.  I love her informative articles on the Her "Genealogy Tip of the Day" newsletter has just encouraged me to read more. Each newsletter offers a "tip" post and a series of related articles. The last two days have covered dating old photos and cemetery rubbings. To sign up, you visit and enter your email in the box next to "Sign up" under "Free Genealogy Newsletter." Happy reading!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Millington Church

   On Sunday, I blogged about my discovery that my ancestors had likely attended the Millington Church, not East Haddam Congregational. I've since learned a little bit more about the church. The most recent incarnation of the church - built in 1832- was destroyed by a fire in 1971. Sadly, the building's owner was in the midst of restoring the structure. A previous version dates from 1792. I suspect there are at least one or more older buildings on the site. This additional knowledge is great, but I still have a lot of questions.
   I'd love to know more about the history of the congregation and the building. It would be wonderful to know the details. When was it founded? How many people attended? I'd also love to see pictures. The Courant article which recounted the fire didn't include photos.
   I'll have to do some digging on my own to find records, but I thought I'd also pose the question to you all. How do I find more about Millington's church?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Connecticut Furniture Makers

   A new exhibit opened at the Connecticut Historical Society on March 30th. Entitled "A Tradition of Craft: Current Works by the Society of American Period Furniture Makers," the exhibit places modern pieces of furniture side by side with the period pieces that inspired them. For artisans, it is a chance to display their skills. For historians and genealogists, it is a chance to learn about the styles and techniques of our ancestors who might have made furniture.
  The Connecticut River Valley was a center of furniture making in the 18th and early 19th centuries- but never developed its own style. According to one article, workshops drew their inspiration from Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities. Local workers built their own tradition and served their own communities. Litchfield County, for example, developed its own patterns.
   Without delving deeply into the history, I cannot associate workshops with specific families. Check with the local historical society. Most have an excellent furniture collection.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Sarah J. ( ?) Tucker, Durham Center Cemetery, Durham, CT

   From her tombstone, Sarah J. Tucker's life is somewhat of a mystery. She died February 14, 1869 at the age of 19. She was married to Charles G. Tucker. Other than that, we know we little.
    The census fills in a few gaps. There's an 1850 census enumeration for a Henry Tucker, a Durham farmer, which includes a 3 year old Charles. In 1860, Charles still lives with Henry Tucker although he's now aged 16. By 1870, he's married to a woman named Eliza and a little girl named Sarah B. The name hints at something that I can't prove without looking at local vital records (the Barbour Collection doesn't cover this time period). Chances are high that Sarah B. was Sarah's daughter - and that Sarah died in childbirth.
  There's still some hunting to do. We don't know where Sarah came from. Yet, it seems that Sarah's daughter survived well beyond her life.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Upcoming Genealogy Program

      The Friends of Godfrey Library will present a free program on DNA and its value in genealogical research on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm at the Godfrey Memorial Library, 134 Newfield Street Middletown,Ct. Jennifer Zinck of Ancestor Central will conduct the program. Coffee and a question and answer period will follow the program. For more information contact the library at 860/346-4375 or

Don't forget. The 1940 census opens this morning!

   You're about to have access to the 1940 census. For now, you'll have to search by enumeration district. Steve Morse has created an enumeration district finder at Enter as much information as you know, and see what comes back. You can use that district to search for your family. Don't give up easily. It may take you a few pages to find what you need.  Meanwhile, volunteers are working hard to create an index. Consider joining them at And let us know what you find!

Mappy Monday: Maps of Redding, CT

   As you've already seen, I love historic maps. Large towns usually have dozens of resources available. Small towns, however, can be difficult to trace. Brent Colley has tried to ease the search for residents of Redding. His extensive Redding history and culture site includes a page called "Maps of Redding, CT." That site links to maps of Redding from a variety of different periods. For a local, this can be a huge help.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Researching Deep River?

The Deep River Historical Society has just completed of historic buildings in the town. The full report is available from the project administrator, James J. Hogan, III, at 860-391-2354. You can download a portion of the report from their website.

Church Record Sunday: church record transcriptions

  Poking around for more East Haddam resources led me to a new source of record transcriptions. Jane Devlin, a genealogist from Michigan, has been digitizing transcriptions of church and cemetery records from the whole of Connecticut. The site's main focus is Middlesex County.  Records are divided by town and then classed by record type. While, as always, you should choose actual images over transcriptions, this is a good starting point.
   I didn't find the records I was looking for, but the site did offer me a few new hints. First of all, there are far more Graves listed in the Millington church records than in the East Haddam Congregational Church. The village is closer to Lyme than the East Haddam Church (which is close to the river), so this was probably my ancestor's church. The building was destroyed almost forty years ago. I had never heard of it and never would have thought to look there. Second, the Barbour Collection is less complete than I had thought. After 1800, it only includes marriages. Good to know. Hopefully I'll be able to find what I need.