Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is our role in historic preservation?

   The area where I do most of my work is currently embroiled in a debate over zoning laws. The saga began because a local developer planned to build a large complex on a site that currently contains several historic homes. You can read more about the debate here:
   1) Middletown Patch:

  While you can probably guess how I feel about the issue - history is my lifeblood - the issue raises larger questions.
   1) What is our role in historic preservation?
   2) Can we - or should we - encourage our towns to consider historic homes as a business model?
   3) If yes, how do we do so?

Here are the views of one blogger. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Connecticut General Assembly, Connecticut State Library

   Did your ancestor serve in the Connecticut General Assembly? Why should you care? If your ancestor served in the General Assembly, he may have appeared in one of the many biographical sketch books of the legislature. And even if he doesn't - you may be able to learn more about his personality by seeing which political party he supported.
   Stumped on how to get started? Try the Members of the Connecticut General Assembly database from the Connecticut State Library. The database has entries for all members from 1849 to 2008 and goes back much further if your ancestor served in the Senate. You can search by chamber, town, name, and party. I tried one ancestor's last name and received a nice surprise. In addition to the man I knew about, at least three other ancestors had served.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Follow Friday: Lost History of Bridgeport, CT Missing Pieces

   Bridgeport doesn't have a huge online footprint, so I was very pleased to stumble across the Lost History of Bridgeport, CT: Missing Pieces. The blogger, also a dog lover, writes short posts on Bridgeport history.  Posts are somewhat irregular - there have been only three posts this year - but provide insight into the town's history. Each post covers a different topic, drawing on  publications from the period. If you have no knowledge of the city, this is a great place to start.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Military Monday: Fitch's Home database

    If your ancestor served in the Connecticut regiments during the American Civil War, you might have missed a record source. Fitch's Home for Soldiers served as the late 19th centuries equivalent of the modern veterans home. Soldiers were able to live there during the end of their lives, and receive care. Pensions were paid to them at the home, they may have been buried from the home, and they had prove their service. The end result - a rich paper trail.
    So how do you access these files? According to a Connecticut State Library webpage, access is onsite at the state library. On the plus side, an online database allows you to tell if your ancestor lived in the home. You can search by name, unit, or town. And if you need only your ancestor's regiment, this may be another place to check.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Follow Friday: Sinotte Loiselle Genealogy Blog

  Are you related to the French-Canadian Sinotte and Loiselle families? You may enjoy the Sinotte Loiselle Genealogy Blog. The author traces the family back to 1640s Quebec. Each post features a new generation and a new variation on the family name. Some child lists are more extensive than others, but each should provide you with a start for researching your family. By the way, the Connecticut branch of the family seems to be from Waterbury.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mystery Monday: Who was James Goddard, CSA?

  In researching last week's Mystery Monday, I discovered another mystery. There were two Goddard families that served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War - at least according to their gravestones. I've already mentioned Francis. The second family contained two soldiers, both named James. I found them referenced on Find A Grave. According to the gravestone - which post dates the family - suggests that the father James (1820-1894) and the son James Frank (1848-1922) both served in the Confederate Army.
   Is it true? From first glance, maybe. James senior would have been forty-one when the Civil War started. it would make him on the older side for a soldier but not impossibly old. James Frank would have been thirteen. A little more digging may help.
   James and Sophia Hayes are listed together on the gravestone, but they also appear together in the census. In 1860, James and Sophia were farming in Jackson, Butts County, Georgia. By 1870, there were back in Southington. Did he enlist in the meantime? It's unclear.
    There are a few clues. There were three Goddards in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database. James would have been ineligible for a pension, living outside the former Confederate South. There may be a hint in the Compiled Military Service Records.
   And James F... Well, try looking for Franklin James.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Church Record Sunday: There should be a bapistmal record, right?

       I've been doing research long enough to know that Protestant children didn't always have a baptismal record - they could baptized into adulthood - but that Catholic children usually have records. Infant baptism is an important part of the faith. Of course, I've forgotten something crucial until today.There wasn't always a Catholic church.
       I finally realized my mistake by reviewing church records for a period that had become a brick wall. As it turns out, my ancestor had been born years before the area's church was built. Chances are high that he was baptized at home. No formal record, which means it was time to stop looking for one.
    If you're looking for a Catholic record prior to about nineteen hundred, this is definitely something to consider. There might a reason why you can't find the record. There may not have been a church...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Blizzard Saturday: Connecticut Blizzard History

   Like most of New England, I spent today digging out - and will probably be doing so tomorrow as well. Since blizzards have such a big impact on our life right now, I'd thought I'd share some links to histories of the previous blizzards.

1) Blizzard of 1978
   a) National Weather Service: A weather related view of the storm.
   b) Jim Shea's view: A favorite Connecticut columnist remembers 1978.
  c) And photos...

2) Blizzard of 1888:
  a) A Courant article, which sadly, is making me feel better. At least it isn't 50 inches (somewhere around 30 with higher drifts).
   b) And an article from Connecticut History Online with photos.

3) Comparing and Contrasting the last three storms:
   a) New Haven Register article on all three.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Connecticuter, Today in Connecticut History: Follow Friday

   I try to avoid featuring news blogs, simply because I don't want this blog to turn political - but I found a news blog with a nice Connecticut history feature. The Connecticuter runs a "Today in Connecticut History" segment. Each blog post covers an event in Connecticut history. The blogger clearly loves basketball (many of the posts cover state basketball games) but is also willing to feature state military and civil events. A photo post about women in World War II especially caught my eye. These are not detailed posts, but they provide a good beginner's overview to Connecticut history.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mystery Monday: Why did Francis Goddard of Norwich join the Confederate Army in Alabama?

  I blame John Banks... For those of you who don't know who I'm talking about, John runs a Civil War blog dedicated to Connecticut soldiers. On January 23, he wrote about a Civil War soldier buried in a Norwich cemetery. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. This soldier's regiment was the 3rd Alabama. And John provided just enough detail to get me really interested.
  So I started my own research (John, apologies, some of what I found overlaps with what you already had...) First stop, Google. I just like to see what has already been done. Find-A-Grave and one pro-Confederate site (ugh), and a useful Norwich Bulletin article. Turns out Goddard's been a mystery in Norwich for years. Next stop, the census. I was able to find only two listings for Francis or "Frank." In 1850, he is listed as age 13, living in the household of his parents James B. and Jane N. Goddard. Although the two oldest children are recorded as born in Connecticut, the family lives in New Rochelle, New York. The 1870 census places "Frank," now 28, still with his parents and working in a pistol and gun manufacturer in Brooklyn. Finally, a few articles on Google Books provide more details on his parents. The Chronotype of 1873 indicates that Jane N. was born Jane Newton Adams and provides a sketch of the family. The Quarterly Register and Journal of the American Education Society suggests that the two may have met and initially resided in Norwich.
   What happened to "Frank" in 1860? How does he get to Alabama? Why?

I'd love to see if anyone could find an answer.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fun with Search Terms

  It's that time again... So here goes:
1)Connecticut Gravestone Network: CGN is devoted to protecting and restoring local cemeteries. Their website is

2) UConn Law Blog: I mentioned the Law Library blog in a previous post, but you're probably looking for the UConn Law blog written by students.

3) Holmes Family: There are probably more than this source, but start here.

And back to our regular genealogy :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Follow Friday: Greenwich Library Oral History Project

   I discovered the Greenwich Library Oral History Project blog only by accident, but it is a pleasant surprise. The oral history project dates back over twenty years, recording the memories of local residents. The blog is much newer, dating back to April 2011. Posts provide a fascinating view into the project's inner workings.  Some posts describe the interview process or the memories of a retiring chair. Others discuss the interviews themselves. One hurricane related post harkens back to a resident's memories of the 1938 hurricane. If you have recent Greenwich ancestry, it's more than worth a look.