Saturday, March 10, 2007

Googling for Cornelia's parents

I did a bit of Googling for the Bresee (and variant spellings) family today. I found a few flakes, but not the gold nugget.

1) Googling for "cornelia bresee" pulls up 10 hits, most of them mine.

2) I tried the surnames Bresee, Brezee, Brazie, Brazee, Brissee, Brusie, Bries, Brees and Breese in combination with the word "family" and got many hits (of course!). Most of the ones that referred to the family were my own musings on this blog. Many of the other hits were for modern day people and their businesses or schools or other activities.

3) Then I tried surname and locality combinations like "bresee family claverack" (or the localities "hillsdale," "copake," "linlithgo," "kinderhook," "livingston," "schodack," "greenbush," "stockbridge," "rensselaer," and "columbia"). These yielded several message board posts on Genforum and archived mailing list posts on Rootsweb.

By far the most informative and interesting post I found on the mailing list was at This gave a great history of the Bresee surname and followed one line from immigration to Albany to Livingston to western Massachusetts, including some forgotten history about the Gore - land in dispute between Mass and New York in this area. Here is an excerpt of it:

"The New York colony had made a grant to certain Dutchmen of New York for the same lands that the Massachusetts Bay Colony granted to the English, known as the Patent of Westenbook (the New York Colony's name for the Housantonic River). The Dutch claimed the territory as far east as the Housantonic River. This land between the Housantonic and Hudson Rivers was in dispute for nearly a hundred years.

"On May 7, 1757 a party of men from Livingston Manor, New York pulled down and burned the buildings of six families including those of brothers Christopher and Hendrick Bresee. This may have been done for the lack of payment of rent. After the burning most of the families moved and settled on the easterly side of the Taconic Range.

"Christopher and Hendrick Bresee came to West Stockbridge, Mass. where in 1766 Christopher purchased land from the Indian, Mhtocksin, on the uppermost banks of the Seekonk River (now Alford Brook) that extended south and east. In 1785 Hendrick died to befollowed by Christopher in 1789. "

If only I could find several more posts with that kind of detail!

I found many records in the IGI concerning the Bresee families in Berkshire County MA, and have included them in my database.

The major lesson I've learned in this particular exercise is that the archived Rootsweb mailing lists are searched by Google. It is definitely easier to search them using Google than by going to the archived mailing lists and searching one year at a time in a particular list. With Google, you get results from all of the boards based on your search terms.

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