Greater Lowell Genealogy Club - Fall 2008 Newsletter

Fall 2008


Newsletter of the Greater Lowell Genealogy Club of Lowell, Massachusetts



Upcoming Events:


September Meeting:  September 20, 2008 from 1PM to 3PM at the Pollard Library, 401 Merrimack St., Lowell.  Guest speaker will be Janis Duffy from the MA State Archives.  Topic will be “Beyond Vital Records.”


October Meeting:  October 19, 2008 from 1PM to 3PM at StonyBrook Fish and Game, Lowell Rd., Westford, MA.  Annual Pot Luck with elections.  Please try to attend and give some thought about helping on the board.


November Meeting:  November 15, 2008 at the Mogan Center, 40 French St., Lowell from 1PM to 3 PM.


December Meeting:  No meeting.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!



September Meeting:  We have invited Janis Duffy to speak on the holding of the archives

beyond just vital records.  We all know there is more information to be had there, but what do they actually have?  Well, bring your questions because Janis can definitely answer them!  She is a wonderful speaker and we have certainly enjoyed her lectures in the past.  If you haven’t attended a meeting for a while, this is certainly one you shouldn’t miss!


October meeting:  ELECTIONS!  This has become the annual meeting for elections.  We need a secretary!! This does not require much work. We have possibly three board meetings a year for planning purposes.  It would also be nice to have new board members. Again, there really isn’t a ton of work required for any position. We do think new thoughts are always a plus. We really do need to have a quorum, so please plan to attend.  We really don’t force anyone to become an officer, but we do need voters.


Driving directions: Take exit 32 off route 3 to Drum Hill rotary.  Get onto Old Westford Rd. Take the first right onto Graniteville Rd.  Proceed on Graniteville and stay left at the fork on the road just past Sully's Ice Cream. Continue on Graniteville (Parker Middle School is on your right) approximately 1.5 miles. When you come to a four-way (stop) intersection with School Street, proceed straight through. This is where Graniteville becomes Lowell Rd.  From this intersection, the StonyBrook club is about 0.2 miles on your right just after you cross the town line from Chelmsford to Westford.


November meeting:  Our meeting will be held at the Mogan Center.  We haven’t been to the center in a couple of years for a meeting and thought it would be a chance for everyone to see what is new. Martha Mayo and her staff have been very busy adding new databases and collections to the library, so this would be the chance for everyone to check them out!  Be sure to bring your pencils, paper and questions.



A note from our president


Hi, I’ve been trying to come up with new ideas for the club meetings.

I just called Joyce from the Hudson Historical Society and they have been thinking of opening the Hills House for



President – Laura Bedard –

      603-598-0834 –

Vice President  - Maureen Famolare –

       978-663-6491 –

Secretary –  

Treasurer – Karen Jeffers –

       978-663-3664 -

meetings etc.  The Alfred and Virginia Hills family were a prominent family in Hudson’s history who owned a large tract of land north of Hudson Village. The Hills House on Derry Street is their original family's vacation home and current location of the Town Historical Society.

 I believe it will be interesting if we can get a tour of the home and hold our meeting there.

This could be scheduled for the spring.

Laura Bedard



Past Happenings:

March Meeting:  Our March meeting featured guest speaker Kevin Dadoly talking about “Searching for my Scottish aunt.”  When Kevin was 14, he told his grandmother that he would find her missing sister, Mildred. Mildred was given away when Kevin’s great grandmother died right after giving birth to her.  The great grandmother was a Scottish Protestant turned Catholic and the great grandfather was an English Catholic. Mildred was baptized at St. Patrick’s in Lowell on the day of her mother’s funeral, then given to a Scottish Protestant man, who her mother knew.  Kevin talked about tracing the Scottish man and other angles of research for his great aunt.  Unfortunately, Kevin is still looking for her.

Members in attendance:  Diane Laferriere, Iona and Bob Henderson, Diane Shields, Laura Bedard, Karen Jeffers, and guests Janis and Maura Dadoly.


April Meeting:  We had a show and tell meeting in April.  We  had ten members in attendance who enjoyed sharing different methods of research and  display of family information. 

This type of meeting is really what we joined the club for in the first place.  It’s great to learn from others what we could be doing and what we overlooked!  We certainly think if more members were in attendance, more and interesting methods could be shared….

Members in attendance:  Barbara Poole and Bill Cheetham, Diane Shields, Diane Laferriere, Judi Clermont, Bob and Iona Henderson, Mary Latham, Karen Jeffers and Maureen Famolare


May/June Meeting:   Our annual spring pot luck took place at Laura and Roland’s home.  We were pleasantly surprised to have one of our original members, Isabelle Westover, with us.  She is such a pleasant lady to have around, always smiling.  Thanks for coming Isabelle!  The food was excellent, as usual.  We would have loved to have more people and much more food.  (Is there a pattern here?)

Members in attendance:  Laura and Roland Bedard, Yvonne and Ed Miller (with their Red Hots), Therese Masson, Diane Shields, Isabelle Westover, Gail Curley, Karen Jeffers, Maureen Famolare



Member News

Our member, Mehmed Ali, who until recently was the director of the Lowell National Historical Park’s Mogan Cultural Center has a new job as a cultural-affairs specialist, working for the U.S. State Department. This year-long assignment is in Baghdad, Iraq. Ali will be doing what he has done here for culture and historic preservation:  special events, museum development and oral histories.  We wish Ali great success in this venture and pray for his safety.



Tidbit from Barbara Poole


While talking to Barbara about her tidbit column I was saddened to hear she didn’t have one.  But, what she didn’t realize was she actually gave me one.  She asked, “When was the last time you visited the archives in Waltham?”  I answered, “Not for a very long time.”  She said there have been big changes at the archives.   Sign in is now right at the desk for the archives, not when you first enter. There is now one row of automatic readers, and a number of computers.  Now there is more desk space in the center of the room.  I guess we’ll all just have to take a trip to Waltham….  Thanks, Barbara.



Tip from Family Tree Magazine


All-Too-Common Problem


So there are 31,139 John Smiths in the 1900 US census—and your ancestor, unfortunately, is one of them. How will you ever find the right guy? We all have ancestors with common names. And if you don't think you have any, as soon as you start hunting for a particular person, you'll find out just how common his name was.

Not to worry. You can take these three steps to ensure the John Smith in a given record is your John Smith:


1.   Learn as much identifying information about your ancestor as possible.

2.   Anchor him with someone who has an uncommon name.

3.   Make a chronology of his life events.


Here's how it works for your John Smith: He lived in Illinois, limiting the possibilities to 1,719. You're sure he was in Chicago, Cook County-only a mere 537 John Smiths listed there. Lookin' better. Narrowing the search even more, you enter his birth year of 1867. Only 13 match. But the clincher to identifying your John Smith is his wife's name: Bronislava Smith.


Looking at another example, the surname Riggs ranked 886th of the 1,000 most common US surnames in the 1900 census. But, finding just two or three John Riggses living in Accomack Co., Va., in the 1700s made the name common in my research.


I used all three strategies to help me sort them out. First, I found my "anchor" for the John I wanted in his wife's rather unusual name, Jemima Melichop. Anytime John appeared in a record mentioning Jemima or the Melichop family, I knew I had the right John Riggs.


The next strategy was learning more about each of the John Riggses than they probably knew themselves. I did this by searching original land and tax records. No two men own the same property at once, or are taxed on the same horses, cattle and watches. So the details in these records become like fingerprints for a person with a common name.


Finally, I made a chronological table of events for each John Riggs and scrutinized all the dates. I feel pretty comfortable concluding that one of them, who died in 1830, almost certainly wasn't the same man taking someone to court 11 years later.

-Sharon DeBartolo Carmack



Space Filler  

If you have some spare time, a computer and access to the internet, maybe we have just the thing for you.


Help create free public access to the U.S. census indexes and other records!

The key life events of billions of people are being preserved and shared through the efforts of people like you. Using our online indexing system, volunteers from around the world are able to quickly and easily transcribe the records—all from the convenience of their homes. The indexes are then posted for FREE at

Millions of rolls of microfilm provide census, vital, probate, and church records from over 100 countries for indexing projects. Governments, churches, societies, and commercial companies are also working to make more records available.

YOU CAN HELP by volunteering to index one of the current U.S. census projects or the upcoming England and Wales census projects.

You can sign up at:

Also, Ancestry. com is looking for transcribers for their World Archives Project. Download the software from and select an image set to index.

All indexes created by this project will remain free on Ancestry. com.  To learn more visit

Note from Karen:  I have transcribed some images for family search.  Once you have downloaded the program you select an image type to transcribe.  They have tutorials to help you through the process.  You can do as much or as little as you like.  Each image takes about 15 to 20 minutes to transcribe.  Don’t worry about errors.  Two transcribers work on each image, and if they agree, the system automatically accepts the information.  If they do not agree, a third party checks the data and decides what is correct.


Great Web Sites:


We’ve decided to try this column for a bit to see how everyone likes it.  If you use a little known, free or minimal cost web site, please contact us.  But, for now here we go.   

On this free web site, you might find not only the final resting place of an ancestor, but perhaps even a picture of the tombstone.  Also, included in the 23,000,000 records you might find birth date, death date, and transcriptions of the tombstones.

This free web site has 3.9 million records from 8,375 cemeteries worldwide.  This is not necessarily a complete listing of each cemetery, but you just might find an ancestor.

If your ancestor died within 12 months preceding the 1850, 1860, 1870, or 1880 census you just might find this site useful.  It is also a free site.



Excerpted from Ancestry Weekly Journal (online magazine)


Types of Marriage Records

by George G. Morgan


Engagement Announcement. Newspapers today still publish a limited number of engagement announcements. In earlier times, though, when newspaper space was at less of a premium and less expensive, a couple or their families might publish a notice of engagement. The couple’s names, the names of their parents and other family members, the couple's places of origin, their educational institutions, their religious affiliations, and other details might be included.


Marriage Banns.

This is an announcement of a forthcoming marriage, proclaimed in the church of the engaged couple on three successive Sundays. There is usually a record of the banns in the church minutes, and sometimes you will find them listed in church bulletins.


Marriage License.

The marriage license was typically issued by the county or parish clerk in which the marriage was to take place. It always included the names of the bride and groom and the signature of the issuing clerk or ordinary. Sometimes the names of the couple's parents are listed. Often the couple's ages and their addresses are included. Other information varies, depending on the state and the county and municipal laws in effect at the time. A space for the officiating person's signature and the date of the ceremony is also included.


Marriage Ledger.

On completion of the ceremony, the signed license is returned to the clerk or ordinary for recording. The date and the name of the officiating clergy or other official are added to the license book, and entries are made in the bride and groom indexes of marriages. (These are often compiled at a later date in alphabetical sequence.)


Marriage Certificate.

Some municipalities issued a marriage certificate on completion of the ceremony and when the marriage was recorded. Sometimes elaborate and complete with a ribbon and wax or metallic seal, these certificates were intended for framing or display. Sometimes the religious institution issued certificates on behalf of their church or regional organization. The amount of information on such a certificate varies but always includes the couple's names, marriage date, and location.


Newspaper Marriage Announcement.

Newspaper announcements were not uncommon in earlier times. Some larger ones for more prominent society figures might include photographs and extensive details of the ceremony, names of family members and ceremony attendees, and announcements of the couple's plans for honeymoon and residence. Less prominent couple's marriage announcements might be smaller but can often contain details of the wedding; names of family members, attendees, and officiating clergy; and other pertinent facts.


Re-examining the Obvious

We often take marriage licenses for granted. We look at names and dates and simply record the data. We assume that all the information on them is correct, but that is not always the case. (One license I have shows the surname of SWORDS spelled as SANDERS.) We also always expect to find a license when, in fact, some were not recorded until after the ceremony -- sometimes months or years after the ceremony.

The point here is that you should take the time to re-examine the marriage records you have. If you have a marriage license, look at the name (and initials) of the officiating person and trace him or her to their religious institution -- where you may just find more records concerning your ancestor. In the absence of a license, look for alternative records in the form of newspaper announcements, religious records, census records, and city directories showing the couple listed as man and wife. Re-examine the obvious for facts that may not be so readily apparent and really think about what the data means. You may find clues right under your nose that you overlooked before.


Form for Sharing Information to appear in newsletter


Member’s Name _____________________________________________


Contact Information (E-Mail, Address or Phone – You choose.)




Lines Being Researched                                  Place                                       Time  

__________________      ______________    ______________

__________________      ______________    ______________

__________________      ______________    ______________

__________________      ______________    ______________


Brick Walls I need help on:





Use another sheet of paper if needed (or the back of this sheet).


------------------------------------------------- cut here------------------------------------------------

2009 DUES!!!!!!!!

(Remember, dues run January to December)


The membership rates are as follows:


 ___   $10.00 per Individual

 ___   $20.00 for a Family

 ___   $5.00 per Senior (age 62 and over)


Enclosed please find $_________ for 2009 dues.


Name    __________________________________________




Phone   __________________________________________

E-mail  __________________________________________


Send form and check to:

Greater Lowell Genealogy Club

c/o Karen Jeffers

35 Franklin Street

N. Billerica, MA  01862-1441