Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mining Google Books for Seaver Data

Google Books has such a rich collection of family histories online now that it has become quite easy to search for and find useful genealogy and family data.

One of my "lifetime" genealogy projects is a Seaver surname database. As more Google Books come online, I've been searching for them, and transcribing information into the Notes of my database, usually quoting the source (at least for "out of copyright" books).

Here is one example (with some paragraph splitting for readability) of a biography in one Seaver line, from: William Richard Cutter, Compiler, "New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial," Volume 1, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York City, 1913, page 372.

"(VIII) Richard Adam, son of Joseph (3) Seaver, was born in Cavendish, Vermont, August 5, 1836. He attended the public schools of his native town. He removed to Pomfret with his parents and assisted his father on the farm during his youth; he has always followed farming for a vocation, and is now living at Hartford, Vermont. He is a member of the Congregational church.

"He has a notable military record. Was a member of the Vermont state militia under the command of Peter Thatcher Washburn, of Woodstock, Vermont, when the call came from President Lincoln for 75,000 troops. He was mustered in with the state militia and left for the front, May 25, 1861. The regiment took part in the battle of Big Bethel, June 12, 1862. Thence the company went to Newport News, Virginia, on guard duty. They helped to move the first rifle cannon that were pressed into service. He was honorably discharged and the company was mustered out of Service, August 16, 1861. He re-enlisted, October 1, 1861, in the First Vermont Regiment of cavalry, the only cavalry regiment raised in this state during the civil war and was mustered into service at Burlington, Vermont. Was made first sergeant of Company E, November 19, 1861, and was made orderly sergeant, March 22, 1863. Was commissioned second lieutenant, July 2, 1864 and was mustered out, November 1, 1864. During his second enlistment he saw much active picket duty and skirmishing and was in various important battles. He took part in the battle of Gettysburg, and was taken prisoner, July 6, 1863, at Hagerstown, Maryland, and confined in the rebel prison at Belle Isle for six months. At the end of that time, he was exchanged and sent to Annapolis. He took part in the siege of Richmond and was in the engagement, May 30, 1864.

"After he left the service he made his home in Queechee, Vermont, where he has since lived. In politics he is a Republican; in religion a Congregationalist.

"He married, October 13, 1861, Maria Eliza Barber, born January 15, 1841, in Woodstock, Vermont, died February 24, 1912, daughter of Warren and Sabra (Smith) Barber. Her father, Warren Barber, was born February 16, 1799 in Springfield, Massachusetts, died December 5, 1873; married (first) May 24, 1826, Abigail Goodman, who died September 27, 1838; (second) January 16, 1840 Sabra Smith, born at Woodstock, Vermont, December 19, 1805, died March 9, 1844. Children of Warren and Abigail Barber: James W., born April 16, 1827, died May 20, 1828; James W., January 1, 1829, died May, 1877; Sophia A., March 12, 1832, died April 10, 1896; Laura G., June 23, 1834, died April 5, 1870; John N., March 17, 1837, died October 24, 1837. Children of Warren and Sabra Barber: Maria Eliza, born January 15, 1841, died February 24, 1912; George E., May 7, 1843, died June 2, 1893; Augusta G., May 18, 1844, died November 5, 1899; Julia, April 20, 1847, died August 24, 1897.

"Children of Richard A. and Maria E. Seaver:

"1. Frank R., born October 31, 1864, resides in Springfield, Massachusetts; married, April 28, 1891, Mary Elizabeth Allen, and they have one son, Blake Allen, born July 26, 1895.

"2. William H., born April 22, 1866, died April 23, 1866.

"3. Fred Owen, born October 13, 1867, resides in Brooklyn, New York; married Annie L. French, born May 22, 1877; children: Helen Tyler, born August 6, 1903; Philip Barber, August 10, 1905, died August 16, 1905; Elizabeth, July 29, 1910.

"4. Philip Henry, mentioned below.

"5. Margaret Evelyn, born April 8, 1871, married, September 27, 1906, James L. Davis, civil engineer of New York City, and they have one child, Rebecca Margaret, born August 16, 1907.

"6. Robert William, born May 24, 1873; farmer in Williamstown, Massachusetts; married, April 17, 1901, Alice L. Leach, of Pomfret, Vermont; children: Edith Rachel, born February 4, 1904; Grace Dorothy, June 10, 1905, Richard Leach, July 25, 1907.

"7. James Thatcher, born January 24, 1875; a civil engineer in New York City; married (first) November 7, 1900, Mary J. Babcock, who died January 17, 1906; (second) September 14, 1909, Idella M. Benjamin; had one child by first wife.

"8. Mabel Jeanne, born April 12, 1878, resides with her parents.

"9. John, born July 21, 1880, a civil engineer in New York."

Isn't that great information? Not only the Richard Adam Seaver family, but the Warren Barber family as well. There was information on nine generations of this particular Seaver line in this book. You never know what you will find unless you do a search for a family.

Of course, this is a "vanity book," where the information has been contributed by a family member, so it is derivative source and often secondary information material. However, some or all of the names and dates were taken from family records of some sort, but many of these family records have been lost to the trash barrel. So these books can be very helpful to determine family members, dates and places, especially before vital records became available in the states.

Books like this should be treated as "finding aids" - to help the researcher find more genealogy and family history records in original sources such as vital records, census records, military records, probate records, land records, etc.

Have you used Google Books to find family history for some of your surnames? Your best chance to find results like that above is to search for late 19th century ancestors or relatives (siblings, especially!) that may have paid to be in the County history books.


BeNotForgot said...

Finding info about my kith 'n kin at Google Books is THE reason I set up my very first blog. I was trying to figure out a way to easily share clips of the info from the book pages with my family members, and I saw the option on Google Books to share clips via a service called Blogger. So I set up a blog, named it benotforgot to connect it to the genealogy website I had at the time, and found it was very easy indeed to post clips to the blog from Google Books. With all my New England ancestors from the 17th century forward, Google Books has been a treasure trove!

N. LaRue said...

I'm so glad you added the caution about these "vanity books". I had a surname hit through google books for an Ohio county history which gave a ton of info on the family's religious affiliations at the time but for some reason, it said that my ancestor had come to Ohio as an immigrant when we already knew that that was false. No source was given so it made me really have to retrace my steps to make sure that it was the same person. Scary business, tread carefully with those things. They are good for opening up POTENTIAL leads though.

Bill West said...

Not only have the Essex County Court
files I've found on Googlebooks been a wealth of family information, they've also provided me with plenty of geneablogging material as well!

Good post, Randy!

Mary said...

I love Google books. The county histories that have found their way online....and the vanity books....might be wrong sometimes, but they do give a glimpse of how the ancestors saw themselves and their accomplishments. Great reading and the closes thing to an interview I'll ever get!