Monday, November 22, 2010

Using the FAN Club Principle - Thomas J. Newton Problem - Post 2: Which Repositories?

In my post Target the FAN Club to tackle "Elusive Ancestors" problems, I described Elizabeth Shown Mills "Bullseye" concept to help researchers solve elusive ancestor problems using the "FAN Club Principle."

The research problem I chose to start with is Thomas J. Newton. I wrote about my research and the information I've collected in Mystery Monday - Thomas J. Newton of Maine (19th century).

In the post Using the FAN Club Principle - Thomas J. Newton, Father of Sophia Newton (1834-1923) - Post 1 last week, I outlined what I think I know about Thomas J. Newton. 

The search for records concerning Thomas J. Newton, his known relatives, others of the surname, and his (and theirs) friends, associates and neighbors covers at least three states - Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts (and perhaps New Hampshire too). 

How should I proceed?  What repositories should I access online, via microfilm rental (at a repository or at the FHL/FHC) and in-person?  Here is my starting list:

1)  Online record access record databases and family trees record databases record databases record databases record databases (including Historical Newspapers) record databases record databases historical collections, research wiki, research outline, family trees and library catalog record databases and family trees  Message Board Archives Mailing List Archives state and county pages record databases and
*  Record databases listed on and

Where else?

2)  Via microfilm usage or rental (at local repositories, the FHL or local FHC)

*  State vital record databases
*  State Bible, church, genealogical, military, etc. record collections
*  State newspaper collections
*  State manuscript collections

*  County probate records
*  County land records
*  County tax records
* County biographical and genealogical records (including manuscripts and vertical files)

*  Town public and vital  records
*  Town cemetery records
*  Town church records

What else?

3)  In-person

*  New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston
*  State Archives
*  State Library
*  State Historical or Genealogical Society
*  County or Local Historical or Genealogical Society
*  County and/or/town Library
*  County or town Courthouse
*  County cemeteries

What else?

The known localities for Thomas J. Newton include:

1)  Maine

*  Oxford County, Maine
*  Dixfield, Oxford, Maine
*  Andover, Oxford, Maine
*  Another town or county?

2)  Vermont

*  Lamoille county, Vermont
*  Windsor county, Vermont
*  Cambridge, Lamoille, Vermont
*  Springfield, Windsor, Vermont
*  Another town or county?

3)  Massachusetts

*  Worcester County, MA
*  Southborough, Worcester, MA
*  Sutton, Worcester, MA
*  Sterling, Worcester, MA
*  Leominster, Worcester, MA
*  Marlborough, Middlesex, MA
*  Another town or county?

That is a long list required to check with some consistency and organization.  How can I check into  everything within my lifetime?  I know, I'll make a form for each locality.  More later!

The problem is, of course, that the "low hanging fruit" - the census, vital, military and other online records - has already been plucked over the last 20 years.  I'm looking for the "needle in the haystack" records that are probably not indexed or digitized that are hiding in original source records in a repository or on microfilm.
I ask that my readers, especially those in or near these localities, to make suggestions and additions to my list above.  What experience do you have at the repositories mentioned?  Are there "secret" collections in these localities?  How can I determine the resources most that I'm most likely to succeed with?


Gena Philibert-Ortega said...

Hi Randy-

You may want to check out NUCMC to see what manuscript collections exist for the area that Thomas lived in. Some of his FAN's might be represented there. Also, a search on WorldCat for the locality might also be of help.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Check the online card catalog at NEHGS to see if there are any books or manuscripts with this name. Also, check with the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester. They have a great repository of manuscripts, newspapers and ephemera of Worcester County and New England- and most genealogists don't think of their library as a genealogical resource.

Geolover said...

Unless I missed something, you do not explicitly say whether the actual marriage record for Sophia (Buck) in 1862 said she was a widow. If it does not, perhaps the life-path time frame for Thomas J. Newton needs to be expanded as well as time frame for possible divorce -- even though you have a record saying a person by this name married after Thomas J. and Sophia's children were born.

Don't forget to look at the Town Warnings-Out where they are available, as some are at least in ME in the early to middle 19th century. Persons could be expelled from the Town (literally transported to the Town boundary in some instances) by reason of poverty, ill repute, misdeeds. Such records can give an occupation, age, prior residences, when they first turned up in the Town, name of spouse, children or others expelled at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Lamoille County was formed significantly later than 1790 so you may need to look at Jefferson County, Chittenden County, etc.

Also, there are at least two towns, Mansfield, and Stirling that existed in that time period and no longer exist. Mansfield was split between Stowe and Underhill, I believe Stirling was absorbed into Stowe.

Hemingways Vermont Historical Gazetteer might be useful.

Anonymous said...


Stowe, Vermont has published most of the Susan Downer collection of Stowe Genealogies. Only one Newton is mentioned in it. But, there is still one notebook of the original collection that is not printed.

Second, the cemetary association has printed tow volumns of cenetary records, annotated by Pat Haslam. They both have Newton entries.

I don't know of anything similar to these volumes from any other Vermont town or city.