The following post was originally included on Gnarls and Knots and has been reprinted here with permission by the author:
So you’ve found your ancestors on census records, and you have obtained copies of their birth, marriage, and death records. But what other records are available? Come to NERGC 2019 in Manchester, NH from April 3rd through April 6th to find out from Carol McCoy! Carol will be offering 3 presentations at this year’s conference:
Using Deeds to Solve Genealogy Problems (This is a 2 hour workshop being offered on Wednesday from 3:30pm-5:30pm)
Tax Records in Genealogy Can Be a Good Thing (Saturday 10am-11am)
Proving Mayflower Ancestry: Margaret York Randall of Maine, New York, and Alabama (Saturday 3:15pm-4:15pm)
I was at one of Carol’s presentations at NERGC 2017. She is knowledgeable and entertaining, and I’m looking forward to her presentations this year. Carol was kind enough to allow me to interview her.
You began your professional life as a teacher and a professional development consultant. What made you become a full time genealogist?
I have always been interested in psychology and what makes people the way they are. My doctorate in social Personality Psychology focused on early childhood memories and adult personality. Later I taught psychology and studied psychoanalysis in New York City. My hope was to understand people. Ultimately one cannot understand people without understanding their family dynamics and what is passed on through the generations of one’s family. So, as I learned more about my family origins and also did some free family searches for dear friends, I discovered that I loved doing this research. I give presentations because I love to share whatever I have learned that I believe can help others.
What are your other interests outside of genealogy?
First and foremost, baseball, especially following the New York Yankees, which can be a challenge in New England. I love playing the guitar and singing folk music being a child of the 60s and 70s—now I listen more than I sing. I also love to garden with enthusiasm if not skill. And my favorite interest is my sweet cat, Mr. Spice Pie, who offers me companionship, snuggles and amusement.
What is your favorite, most helpful resource that you feel is underutilized? What are the biggest challenges of Maine research?
Definitely New England town records including tax records. They can be hard to find, hard to decipher, hard to make sense of, but they are so worthwhile in terms of adding details about the location and times in which one’s ancestors lived and also about their lives.
Recording of vital records was not required until 1892 and so not all towns were diligent about recording them. Shortly after 1892 about 20% of Maine towns forwarded their records to Augusta but clearly that excludes many towns. In some locations, such as the Cumberland County Court House, records burned. The early Cumberland probate records prior to 1908 were destroyed. In general record keeping was not as rigorous as in Massachusetts proper. Records are not always located in a logical place and sometimes custodians guard them very fiercely. Maine deeds, many of which are online, can be tremendously helpful but researchers need to cast a wider net regarding time, place, names and other details to make the most of them. People need to pay attention to county changes. For example all of Maine was in York County until 1760 when Cumberland and Lincoln Counties were formed. York Deeds were published in about 18 volumes, which covered transactions up to about 1737—this leaves the time period from about 1738 up to 1760 unpublished. Some people assume that everything is published. Maine research is challenging but rewarding—local records provide many clues. The Maine Historical Society in Portland, the Maine State Library and Maine State Archives in Augusta, and other repositories are tremendously helpful. The Maine Genealogical Society, which has published more than 80 volumes of town/city transcriptions and also Maine Families in 1790, is a great resource. People should check our web: www.maineroots.org.
Two of your lectures at this year’s conference concern tax records and land deeds. Are there any of these records that would be helpful for folks researching female ancestors or other ancestors who may not have owned property?
Definitely yes. Women could be included in tax records if they headed a household or were widows. Deeds often mention release of dower by a wife and include the wife’s name, indicating if she could write or if she signed with her mark. Women may be mentioned as neighbors. Tax records often included a poll tax based on a male between the ages of either 21 (sometimes 16 or 18) and perhaps 65. If John Allen was taxed for 3 polls one year, that indicated 3 males were of taxable age that year. If the next year he was taxed for 4 polls, this indicated that someone else in the household had come of age. If the next year there were only 2 taxable polls, perhaps a male had died or moved out of the household or became unratable as a poll. The more you learn about these records, the more clues you can find in them.
What does this year’s conference theme mean to you? What would you say to convince a first-timer to attend?
Family– Link to the Past and Bridge to the Future—that says it all. I enjoy learning more family stories about my ancestors, but even more I enjoy finding as yet undiscovered relatives and sharing family stories with the next generation.
This is my favorite conference. There are always excellent speakers discussing useful topics and friendly participants willing to share their knowledge, time and friendship. If you have New England ancestors, the conference is especially helpful. Even if you don’t think you have New England ancestors, you might have them, and the Conference provides much helpful information on how to conduct genealogy research.
There are still spots available for Carol’s workshop on Wednesday, so register quickly before they fill up! The conference is not just great workshops, lectures, and fantastic featured speakers. There is also a marvelous exhibit area featuring books, gadgets, and representatives from genealogical societies. Did I mention books? I also love the chance to spend a few days with other people who are passionate about family history. Each conference is an opportunity to make new friends and connect with old ones. See you in Manchester!
Carol Prescott McCoy, Ph.D., lives in Brunswick, Maine with her beloved cat, Spice Pie. She grew up in Bronxville, N.Y., attended Connecticut College and Rutgers University where she earned her doctorate in psychology. She taught psychology for many years, then management development at Chase Manhattan Bank in NYC and at Unum in Portland, Maine. She founded McCoy Training and Development Resources (a one person consulting company) in 1999 and then started Find-Your-Roots.com about 2004 (still a one-person company.) She has been a professional genealogist for about 15 years and has been the president of the Maine Genealogical Society since Jan 2018. Finally, she is ready to write her own family history and so she will be stepping down from most of her professional responsibilities. She will continue to help others as a genealogy coach. Her family roots are in Northern Ireland, Germany and England, West Virginia, New York and New England with a delightful mixture of Scot Irish an
The town of Bowdoinham is located in Sagadahoc County and situated on the west bank of the Kennebec River on Merrymeeting Bay. The region was settled early, but conflicts with the Native American tribes for several years prevented a permanent settlement. It was not until after Dummer’s Treaty of 1725 that peace was restored and settlers began to return to the area. The town was incorporated on 18 September 1762 as the 14th town in Maine. In 1787 a portion of the town was set off to form the town of Topsham. In 1823 another portion of the town was set off to form the town of Richmond. According to the 1790 census the population of Bowdoinham was 455, rising to a high of 2,402 in 1840 and declining after that to a low of 904 in 1930.
Included in this book are transcriptions from a notebook containing marriages by the Rev. Constant Quinnam from 1833 to 1864. The notebook is located in the special collections of the Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine.
Elks Lodge, 397 Civic Center Drive, Augusta, ME 04330
What do I do with all the research I have accumulated? The simple answer is to write it up, publish it, and make your family proud.The Spring Workshop, led by the editor of The Maine Genealogist, Joseph C. Anderson, will cover the steps to turn your yellowing, dusty files into the printed word. Along the way, you will learn many of the tricks and tools that professional writers use to make the writing process simpler.The morning session will delve into a range of topics, including:
Defining the writing project
Assembling your research notes
Using writing as a research tool
Compiling a resource and style sheet
Exploring ways to make your writing come alive
Choosing a publisher to fit your project and budget
The afternoon session will focus on how to write for a genealogical periodical and include a presentation by MGS’s Membership Secretary, Deb Nowers, on how family heirlooms inspired her to write about her ancestors. Wrapping up, there will be a session covering illustrations, indexes and bibliographies, copyright considerations, and the printing process. If you have ever considered writing a blog, a family newsletter, or a book about that quirky ancestor, this workshop will give you the tools to make that happen. Because, after all that research, if you don’t write it up; rest assured, your heirs won’t either!
Joseph C. Anderson II is the editor of The Maine Genealogist, coeditor of The American Genealogist, consulting editor of Vermont Genealogy, and editor of MGS’s Maine Families in 1790 project. He has authored or edited eighteen books on various genealogical subjects and contributed dozens of articles to genealogical journals. In 2000 he was appointed a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists (FASG).
Thanks to Helen Shaw CG for all you’ve done as president of MGS for the past five years. You’ve worked tirelessly with the state legislature to ensure that we have access to vital records, and to ensure access to and preservation of cemeteries. Also, thank you to the Board of Directors for all your hard work. These excellent conferences could not occur without your dedication.
I’m excited about becoming MGS president. As a MGS Director and a past chapter president, I know how much work is involved. When I moved from NYC to Maine 26 years ago, I never dreamed I would be in this position. I love this state and I love genealogy. What a great opportunity for me.
I want to share with you five broad goals for MGS for the next couple of years.
(1) The Board would like to improve our communication with our chapters. I personally hope to visit each of our chapters to meet people, learn about your projects and goals, and find ways the Board and chapters can work together for everyone’s benefit.
(2) MGS intends to have atop-notch website. Thank you, Brian and Don, for all you’ve done to improve our website. Buying publications and registering for events online has been greatly simplified. Now let’s get genealogy and history resources throughout the state documented and publicized on the website.
(3) The Board wants to help build skills and confidence of MGS members so you feel more prepared to serve as an MGS officer, to write genealogy articles, and to transcribe vital records. Our Spring Conference on April 28th in Augusta will be on Writing Genealogy and will feature our own Publications Director, Joseph Crook Anderson II.
(4) MGS would like to strengthen our partnerships with other organizations such as the Maine Historical Society, Maine State Library, and Maine State Archives. We already work well together and we can find ways to do even more together.
(5) We’d like to encourage more member involvement. To that end, I’d like to form a guidance committee with MGS members from throughout the state and from other geographic areas to get your ideas on how MGS can serve everyone.
In June we added 2 new items to our Members Only content area.MGS Members in good standing can access the Members Only section of the website as one of the many benefits of joining our society. In June we created a new section of Town Reports and added the first 2 town reports of what we expect to be many to the collection:
Town reports are an often overlooked resource for genealogists. Many beginner (and some advanced) researchers don’t understand the value of these resources. Many town reports include vital statistics for the town, offering births, deaths and marriages for the given year. This can be particularly helpful for the all too often “All our records were destroyed in a fire years ago” story genealogists are faced with. Often charity and support for residents is also called out as is information pertaining to schools, including teachers’ salaries. Expenditures of the town sometimes include to whom payments were made. For example, in the Eustis Town report mentioned above includes a section of bills of the town. As part of this section we learn of $135 bill for “Insane Hospital for support of Susannah Moody, Geo. Ricker, R.B. Green and O. White”
What information is waiting to be found in the town reports where your ancestors lived?
MGS member, Katherine Adamo recently sent us the following information and related query:
I am specifically looking for any documentation that can support a connection between father or mother (Samuel Babcock III & Mehitable Pierce) to their son Calvin Babcock. I have a death record for Calvin which states his fathers name as Lemuel Babcock and mother as M. Pierce. I also have census records but no name for Calvin just ages in household that fit with place and time. After extensive and exhaustive research, I have been unable to locate any Lemuel Babcocks in the entire state of Maine. Only one Lemuel Babcock in MA but wife is totally different. I found sister, Susan Pierce death record which states father as Sam’l Babcock, and mother as M. Pierce (maiden name). Pertinent information:There are 3 Samuel Babcocks in Augusta Maine during this time period. Listed as Samuel Babcock Sr. or just Samuel Babcock, Samuel Babcock Jr or II, and Samuel Babcock III. After Samuel Babcock Sr died, Samuel Babcock III became known as Samuel Babcock Jr or II. All mentioned in Martha Ballard’s Diary. Martha died prior to the birth of Calvin.
His sister was Sarah Babcock DOB c 1814 Augusta ME, and no sadly I do not have the documentation to support the connection, who first married John Wright, then later a Pierce. The death record is Sarah Pierce. It was on her daughter Dolly’s death record that she mentions her mother’s maiden name Babcock, and supported by Sarah Pierce’s DR with parents. I did place Sarah in the household as well with her mother Mehitable, and two brothers Alexander and Stephen, both of whom are named in land deeds. By this time Calvin was already out of the home, married and living in either Orono ME or Newburg. Interesting though is that an Asa W Babcock, whom I believe is the son of Calvin’s grandfather’s brother Jeremiah Babcock. They were both in Orono ME and living very close to each other, and interestingly enough he was again in the census in Bangor ME where Calvin lived. So this would have been a 2nd cousin of his, but Asa W. Babcock was also born in Augusta ME but at an earlier time, and became a very wealthy businessman. However, after searching through so many records, I again could not find any connection to Calvin. I have taken the time to contact the United Methodist church in Orono ME, that has been established since early 1820 for any further information on marriage records and any family connection, however they have not replied to my multiple attempts. The Babcock families are listed in the Maine Families of 1790, Vol 4, 6 and 8, which actually inspired me to purchase the entire set of volumes for my library. This family is also mentioned in Martha Ballard’s Diary, as I mentioned, however Martha passed away prior to Calvin’s birth. I will keep on looking, but at this point I think I’ve done all I can do from Florida and online searching. What is needed now is feet on the ground digging and any assistance, or direction to point to whom might help would be so very very welcome. Thank you again for your reply and if I do solve this problem I will most certainly consider publishing the article.
Samuel Babcock III, born about 1775 Augusta ME; death October 1898 Augusta, Kennebec Co ME Mehitable born abt. 1776; death after 1850 Augusta Kennebec Co Me. Calvin born about 1817 Augusta, Kennebec Co Me; Married Sarah Miller abt 1840 in Orono Penobscot ME; death 1893 Bangor Penobscot Co Maine
From tracing the census records, Calvin Babcock left the family home around the age of 23 to go to Orono ME. I found a land deed record for Mehitable Babcock, naming two older sons, Alexander Babcock, and Stephen Babcock. According to the Geni, they are not accepting the fact that LEmuel, is SAmuel (note 2 letter difference), with only an initial for mother Mehitable Pierce and are requesting another connection to the generation.
I have been researching land deed records, but so far have been unable to make any connections.
If you can help Katherine find additional information about her she can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are an active MGS member, you can access exclusive, members only content on the website. First, you need to log in, which you can do from the home page, using the login form above the main menu links in the upper right corner of the page.
Once logged in, the login form should be replaced with a Welcome message and you can then click the MEMBERS link in the main menu which will bring you to our members only content area, including scanned images of land deeds, autograph books, and other primary documents as well as back issues of our quarterly journal, The Maine Genealogist and other MGS special publications you can’t find anywhere but through MGS.
If you’re already a member take a few minutes to look around the Members Only area. If you’re not a member, Join Today!
If you’ve been having trouble resetting your maineroots.org password after the site move, you are not alone. The instructions originally sent out were vague and the process was a bt confusing for many people. Additionally, we uncovered a bug with the program that was asking people to do one thing, but really want something just a little bit different… So, for everyone’s sanity and help in getting members the access they deserve, I’m posting these more detailed instructions on how to reset your password for accounts that were just migrated from the old site.
Open up the home page at www.maineroots.org and hover over the MEMBERS menu item to expand the menu and expose the link to the LOST-PASSWORD page. Click the LOST-PASSWORD link.
Fill out the Lost Password form by entering the email we have on file for you. This is the email where you get MGS announcements, newsletters, and/or notifications to renew your membership. Then click the Reset Password button. NOTE:The gray form field is not readily visible until AFTER you click in this area to enter your email address.
You will receive an email at the address you entered in the form. Click where it says “Click here to reset your password” to be brought back to the website to enter your new password.
Enter your new password. Then re-enter it again to validate it. Then click Save.
You will be presented with a message like the following indicating your password has been successfully reset. At this point, you should be able to login using the form to the right of the page and entering your email and newly created password. Once logged in you will be brought to your account page and can navigate to other areas of the site from there.
I hope this simplified process helps people who have been having issues resetting their password after the site migration. If you’re still having problems, use the Contact page on the site (found under About in the main menu.
At the annual conference in September 2016, MGS Program Chair, Paul Doucette, presented our latest Excellence in Genealogical Service Award to former MGS Membership Secretary, Celeste Hyer. Celeste’s plaque contains the following inscription:
Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service Presented to CELESTE HYER In recognition of her eight years as Membership Secretary of the Maine Genealogical Society, as well as her tireless behind-the-scenes efforts to assist with conferences, always adding her cheerful sense of humor to make every job more enjoyable. September 2016
At the annual conference in September 2015, MGS was proud to honor Richard Spinney with our annual Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service Award. The plaque, which was presented by MGS President, Helen Shaw, reads as follows:
Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service Presented to RICHARD E. SPINNEY In recognition of his fourteen years as Treasurer of the Maine Genealogical Society, as well as his leadership, dependability, friendship, and unwavering desire to advance the field of genealogy in the State of Maine. September 2015