Friday, August 24, 2012

Follow-Up Friday - This Week's Helpful Reader Comments

On Fridays, I like to follow-up on reader comments from the past week.  This week, the comments included:

1)  On Mining the Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954 (22 August 2012):

* Geolover said:  "Randy, since you are revisiting VT items, and your kin Nathaniel Seaver (1707-1777) and wife Judith Treadway wound up there, perhaps something I stumbled across would be of interest.

"In Lancaster VR is the intention of marriage between Nathaniel Seaver of Narragansett No. (blotch) and Judith Treadway of Framingham, recorded on a date that contradicts what you have for their marriage.  This is better indexed than some on the same page, but I entered a correction for Nathaniel's surname. My relative Aaron Sawyer is indexed as "Karoo Saroya."

"The "Naragansett" entry perked up my interest since Narragansett No. 1 was Buxton, then in York County, ME, where some generations of my kin dwelt at that time (and before and after). But I am not certain that "Naragansett No. 1" is what the entry in the Lancaster record meant.

" The item is here: "

My response:  Interesting - I had not found the Lancaster marriage intention before.  Here is a snippet of it:

The intentions were dated 26 June 1754.

In the Framingham [Mass.] town record book, the marriage is recorded as:

So, the marriage date is 17 July 1754, which is consistent with a 26 June 1754 intentions date.  As Geolover points out, the date I published earlier for the marriage was 17 July I made a mistake and he found it.  I don't know if the error is in the published Framingham Vital Records book or my extraction- error.  It's fixed now!

As I thought, Nathaniel Seaver resided in Narragansett #2 (Westminster, Mass.) where his parents had settled.  The Framingham record is very clear!  However, the Framingham records appear to be transcriptions of the original town clerk records.

Cathi makes a great point below:

*  Cathi Desmarais noted:  "I love searching the Vermont VR collection this way. I've found I have to try lots of variations in the spelling of the surnames though. 

"Also, please remember that these are not really "vital records." They are *index cards,* created by town clerks in the 20th century to index the actual vital records. These are only a finding aid to the actual records, which sometimes contain more information than is on the card. Some of these cards aren't even index cards to vital records - they are index cards to tombstones. On top of that, there are vital records that don't appear in the index cards. I am planning a blog post or two about this topic, but just haven't gotten to it yet!"

My response:  You're absolutely correct, and thank goodness for "Index Cards" created from the town records, and for FamilySearch for microfilming them and digitizing them.  As such they are Derivative Sources.  They are very useful for a one-name study that collects names, dates and places to help point other researchers to the actual Original source records.  If they were my ancestors, I would go look for the Vermont town record book entries on FHL microfilm to make sure that I had all of the information.

*  Delia Furrer asked:  "Just curious how long it took you to enter that one source. This is my huge frustration spending so much time trying to figure out how to enter that correctly to EE standards and deciphering Ancestry's records. Will be interested in reading others comments."

My response:  I did scuffle around a bit making three different source citations.  The one I did from scratch (using the RootsMagic source Template) took about two minutes to figure out which fields to use and make it look right.  But now I have a master source model.

*  Geolover noted:  "One anomaly is that most of the microfilms are not Town records but Church records. There are often overlapping entries that sometimes differ in dates, name-spellings and other record elements.

"Another is record titling: A partial Church (of Christ) record for Lancaster is peculiarly entitled "Immigration and Town Records," although there seem to be no 'immigration' entries (not even Warnings Out) or Town-Record permissions to settle. So figuring out the nature of a given record can be a real chore."

*  Martin commented:  "I think Ancestry does a real disservice to researchers by naming this Massachusetts Town Records. It's not. It's the Holbrook Collection, which is a collection of filmed vital records from many sources in Massachusetts. Town records are completely something else and include tax records, school records, town elections, warnings out, land records, and yes, vital records. But the Holbrooks only filmed the vital records. You are missing out on much if you think that all of a give town's records are what is filmed and indexed on Ancestry."

My response:  Thanks to Geolover and Martin for their observations.  As I highlighted in my post, there can be many different volumes in this Ancestry collections for one town, and Gelolover notes that the labelling of them may be "interesting."  I think Martin is right - should have labelled the collection the "Holbrook Collection" since it is not comprised of the entire Town Record books for all of these towns, but only selected portions of the town records.

*  Suzie Henderson said:  "Brown looks pretty plausible...but give some consideration to Harriet rather than Hannah... Just a thought."

My response:  Harriet crossed my mind, as did misspellings of Hannah.  I thought Hannah looked more plausible than Brown ... and the children's records name their mother as Hannah.  

*  RHolmes asked:  "I tried to look at the image on Ancestry to see it better. I found the image of the vital record book in Massachusetts, Town Records, 1620-1988, but I can't determine where you found the original record. What am I missing?"

My response:  I found the record by searching the Massachusetts, Town Records, 1620-1988 collection using the name John Phillips and a marriage year of 1749.  Three matches come up - the image I showed is here.

*  Rosemary asked:  "Can you tell if she was a widow when she married?"

My response:  No, I can't tell if she was a widow, but that is an EXCELLENT thought!  Why didn't I think of that?  One reason may be that John Phillips was all of 24 years of age when he married in 1749 and my mindset was that Hannah was probably about the same age.  All I need to do is search for a Hannah who married a Mr. Brown, and the Mr. Brown died before 1749. Should be a piece of cake, right? If I find this, I'll definitely report on it!  

*  Kay Haden commented:  "Ancestry may have changed/added to their algorithms for hint searching in the past two days or so. My hints have also multiplied. I have three small private trees. As of yesterday two of them had 0 hints - today both have between 40-80. The number has increased during the day today and I've noticed databases that I don't believe have been searched in the past. I have also noticed that as I add legitimate hints, additional ones are sometimes found within minutes."

*  Rosemary noted:  "They just added a buncha records to this Mass. database. "

My response:  I think the Massachusetts Town Records were the big factor for me - I'm up to 4024 "All Hints."  I do have 49 "Recent Hints" that are not from that collection.

My thanks to my readers for their comments, corrections and suggestions to help me solve my ancestral problems and process questions.  

Let me leave you with this comment from Martin:

"Also, Blogger's robot defense codes are so unreadable, I had to type in a code six times to get my comment published. I may go another six times for this comment."

My response:  I am sincerely sorry to put my commenters through the Captcha ordeal in order to submit a comment.  I've tried it with no Captcha and you don't want to see my spam file!  I'm damned if I don't, and less damned if I do.

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver (except for reader comments which are their copyrighted material)


Rosemary said...

I'll second the comment about Blogger's Capcha (sp) file. I end up magnifying the screen to have even a chance of commenting.

RHolmes said...

Randy, regarding item 3, the Brown name, thanks for the tip on finding the image for Phillips-Brown. I blew up the image on my (relatively) high resolution screen, then made comparisons between the individual letters in the name that appears to be Brown and others on the same page in the same handwriting. To my unprofessional eye, the first three letters are Bro – compare the B to the name Ball three lines above; then compare the r to the name Mary two lines above they appear the same to me. There no obvious comparison for the o, but it looks clear to me in Hannah’s name. I could not find good comparisons for the w or n, because to me they are the hardest to decipher, but I would conclude that the name is clearly not Farr, as indexed, and the name begins with Bro… Good luck!