Friday, May 22, 2009

Members enjoy trip to Boston research facilities

Crossing over the Sagamore bridge on May 19, 2009, were 25 Cape Cod genealogists on their way to area research facilities in Boston, MA. Destinations for the CCGS-sponsored trip were: the Massachusetts Archives, the Boston Public Library, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Members who arrived at the Massachusetts Archives were welcomed by Janis Duffy, Reference Supervisor, who also provided first-time visitors an "inside" tour. Janis was the key presenter at the CCGS joint meeting with The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) earlier in the month.

Researchers at the Boston Public Library took advantage of the extensive microfilm collection of newspapers from across the US and Boston, housed right off the courtyard in the Microtext Department. Commented one researcher, "You get a strong feeling of nostalgia looking at newspapers you read as a kid almost 50 years ago."

The largest contingent spent the day at NEHGS. Taking time out for a picture at the front entrance on Newbury Street were (l-r) Joan Frederici, Beverly Decker, Judy Terry and Vicki Blair-Smith.

Passengers spent their travel time chatting about a variety of topics that included where and how to find vital records, how to handle clerks in City Hall, and how to prepare materials for distribution at family reunions. On the way into Boston Martha Day won the free raffle for a day-ticket to NEHGS, provided by David Martin, who acquired one from the April NERGC convention.

The Society expects to sponsor its fall trip to the same locations in October or November, 2009.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

CCGS and TIARA hold joint meeting

The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) and the Cape Cod Genealogical Society held a joint meeting on Saturday, May 9, 2009 at the Brewster Library. The featured presenter was Janis Duffy of the Massachusetts State Archives. She provided a most helpful presentation on Irish genealogical research. Her focus was on conducting research at the General Register Office (GRO), located in Dublin, Ireland. She indicated that the smallest segment of real estate is the Townland.

Birth indexes there go from January 1864 to December 1921, including the six counties in the North. Prior to 1864, one must use Church records. The registration district is needed in order to obtain the actual record. In 1922 the indexes are for records in the Republic of Ireland, while the six counties of Derry, Antrim, Armagh, Fermanagh, a Tyrone are in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in Belfast. Each county has a registry; check the GRO Web site for information.

Death indexes are registered in Ireland for the same years as birth indexes, again including the six counties in the North. The Death Index also lists the age at death. As of 1922, the same situation applies as for birth records.

Marriage indexes are registered in Ireland for the same years, again including the counties of the North, and the same rule applies for records after 1922.

For the years 1864 to 1877 the indexes are alphabetical by surname, and then the given name. Each index covers a single year for the entire country. One must know the registration district to determine the right record. In 1878 the indexes are divided into 4 quarters - January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December. Look for ancestors in each quarter of the year and again know the registration district. In 1903 the birth index covers the entire year, and also gives the mother's maiden name.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Latest edition of International Vital Records Handbook added to Library collection

CCGS Librarian Betsy Ferris has announced that the latest edition of International Vital Records Handbook, by Thomas Jay Kemp is now in the CCGS Library's collection. The 5th edition (2009) has the latest application forms and ordering information for vital records from the United States and internationally.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Book on decendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable donated to CCGS library

CCGS Librarian Betsy Ferris has announced that Early Descendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable, Massachusetts, by Susan E. Roser was donated to the Reading Room collection of the Cape Cod Genealogy Society this month by the author. Published in Ontario, Canada by Stewart Publishing and Printing in 2008, the book is the first volume in the Friends of the Pilgrims Series.

Susan E. Roser is a 12th generation descendant of Henry Cobb and Patricia Hurst through their son John. Her Mayflower descent is through Isaac Allerton and Mary Norris. She is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Canadian Society. She has served as editor of the Canadian Society's newsletter, Canadian Pilgrim, and has researched and written extensively for the Mayflower Quarterly, the Mayflower Descendant, and The American Genealogist.

This book is the culmination of ten years of research into the first four generations of the Henry Cobb families. The author personally transcribed epitaphs from family stones in 45 cemeteries. A list of the cemeteries is included along with locations and visiting information. The author also includes a full transcription of 35 family wills. Genealogists and historians will appreciate her extensive list of primary and other sources.

"We look forward to more in the Friends of the Pilgrims Series, which is about emigrants who came shortly after the Mayflower and settled among Mayflower passengers as friends and neighbors," said Betsy. Later volumes are to include the families of John Barnes, John Churchill, Daniel Cole, James Cole, John Doane, John Faunce, John Holmes, Samuel Ryder, and John Shaw.

Members staff booth at NERGC

Members of the Cape Cod Genealogy Society manned the booth at the Society Fair at the April 2009 New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Pictured at left is CCGS President Bob Ward greeting one of a number of visitors who stopped by to inquire about the Society and its resources.

The 2009 Conference offered meetings for special interest groups, The Ancestors Road Show, and numerous presentation sessions by experts in genealogy, including our own Dan McConnell who spoke on "The Great Migration: London Congregations Before the Court of High Commission."

The 2009 Conference offered meetings for special interest groups, The Ancestors Road Show, and numerous presentation sessions by experts in genealogy, including our own Dan McConnell who spoke on "The Great Migration: London Congregations Before the Court of High Commission."The Conference also hosted an excellent exhibit of genealogical products.

At the CCGS booth were examples of publications by the Society including back copies of the Bulletin and Cemetery Projects; inscribed cup plates with the insignia of the Society; copies of the Home Page of the CCGS Website; and membership brochures with the program of regular speaker topics at monthly meetings for the present year.

Also attending the Conference were: Sara Robinson, David Martin, Peg Spellman, and Dan and Betsy McConnell.

The next NERGC Conference will take place in April 2011 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Words and Sounds of the Civil War

Presented by Bebe Brock, Bob Ward and Carl Copp, April 11, 2009

Every two years the five libraries of Dennis, MA, host a month-long community event called Dennis Reads Together. The theme this year was the American Civil War and featured displays, talks, movies, book discussions, music, genealogy, and crafts centering around the Civil War era. The program culminated with a Civil War reenactor's encampment on the Dennis Green and a concert by the 2nd South Carolina String Band.

On Saturday April 11, 2009, and dressed in costume, CCGS members Bebe Brock, Bob Ward and Carl Copp shared their connections with the Civil War through the "Words and Sounds of the Civil War" program at the Jacob Sears Memorial Library in East Dennis, MA.

Bebe Brock
Bebe Brock's Civil War ancestry traces back through her great-great-grandmother Sarah Freeman Cornish from Plymouth, who married Gorham Crosby from Centerville. Their niece, Elizabeth Cornish, married an army lieutenant, Augustus Davis Ayling, who saw action throughout the Civil War and kept a personal diary.

In his retirement, Augustus Ayling, then an adjutant general in the New Hampshire National Guard, made a typewritten copy of his memoirs. These were lost until nearly 50 years later when Bebe's father, Charles F. Herberger, found the copy at the Centerville Historical Society. Her father edited the diary and published it under the title A Yankee at Arms : The Diary of Lieutenant Augustus D. Ayling, 29th Massachusetts Volunteers.

Reading from her father's book, Bebe shared some of Lt. Ayling's Civil War experiences with the audience. She cited several instances where soldiers on picket duty would converse across the lines, knowing that one day they would eventually be shooting at one another. One night Lt. Ayling got lost in the woods, but could hear muffled voices nearby. Fearing he was among the enemy, he tentatively called out and was relieved to discover he was among a company of Union soldiers 150 yards away from Ayling should have been. Embarrassed, Ayling retuned to his own company.

Bebe has Civil War connections also through her Crosby line and recently discovered another Civil War ancestor, Philander Keith, from Bridgewater, MA. Bebe suggests using the Massachusetts Civil War Research Center at "If you're looking for Massachusetts Civil War names," she says, "it's a great place to start." Once you have a unit or regiment name, she advises, you should follow through with looking up the name by unit in Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War, which will give you home town and other information.

Bob Ward
Bob Ward read selections from the Civil War letters of his great grandfather, Col. George H. Ward, who commanded the 15th Massachusetts Regiment Volunteers and was killed at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

Col. Ward and his wife, Emily E. Mayo, who were both born and married in Worcester, MA, exchanged nearly 300 letters during the Civil War. Bob read selections from his great-grandfather's letters, some of which described his being quartered in once-beautiful mansions now in near ruins because of the war, and his candid impressions of superior officers. Perhaps the selection most remembered by the audience was this paragraph from Col. Ward's last letter home, written about a week before he was killed at Gettysburg:

I am writing this out of doors in the open field. I have just reached down and plucked a leaf of clover which you will find enclosed. It was right by my foot and I send it as a memento. I am afraid we have not seen the worst of this rebellion yet and I almost shudder at the thought of what we are to pass through before this struggle is over, but I still trust and believe that all things will turn out well.

Were it not for the housekeeper of one of the Colonel's descendants, the letters and other items in the Colonel's collection would have been lost. They ultimately made their way to the Worcester Historical Museum, where Bob and his father, CCGS member David Ward, "discovered" them on an "ancestor-hunting expedition in the early 1990s," according to Bob. "We both became very excited and have since examined the collection entirely and have learned a great deal about that generation of our ancestors." Bob relates the letters are now being prepared for publication.

Bob has numerous ancestors who served in the Civil War on both sides of his family. In addition to Colonel George H. Ward, there were his two brothers Charles A. and Samuel S. Ward; and a half-brother, Henry C. Ward. On his mother's side was his great-great grandfather Elijah Huested of Cedarville, NJ. Bob has several Civil War ancestors among collateral lines as well.

Carl Copp
Carl Copp, a descendant of Union soldiers and a member of the Sons of Union Veterans, gave a live demonstration of some of the bugle calls used by the US Army during the Civil War and later.

"Calls were used to order movements during battle," explained Carl. "Bugles and their calls were designed to be heard over the din and confusion of battle." Bugles were also made with varying pitch and timbre, depending on their specific use. Many buglers in the Civil War were often young teenagers, according to Carl, since boys beyond that age usually carried guns. Not only buglers, but officers had to know and be able to play the calls used to order troops during battle.

Since bugle calls could be heard so clearly over the noise of battle, they could be heard by the enemy. "It was like spying by picking up the enemy's codes," said Carl. Generally it was too late to react by the time you heard the other side's buglers, he added.

Carl is a member of Bugles Across America, an organization that locates and provides certified buglers for military memorials and funeral services for veterans. Choosing a bugle from among the collection he brought with him, Carl gave the audience a moving rendition of Taps.

Carl found the Civil War pension records to be most helpful in tracing the lives and activities of his two Civil War descendants: Charles Dearborn Copp, who was a Medal of Honor winner at Fredericksburg; and John Copp, who was wounded at Olustee, FL, and a POW at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, GA.

Fall Genealogy Workshops Announced

Family History Methods Workshop: The Basics

Dennis Public Library, 5 Hall Street, Dennis Port, MA. Saturday, October 17, 2009, 1 - 4pm & Saturday, October 31, 2009, 1 - 4pm

A two-part Saturday Series intended for people who would like a review of the many basic techniques for doing family history, and for those just beginning a family history.
  • Saturday, October 17, 2009, 1 - 4pm. Topics: Birth and marriage records, military records, immigration records, church records, organizing your data, and more.
  • Saturday, October 31, 2009, 1 - 4pm. Topics: Death records, probates and wills, land and court records, computers in genealogy, using unpublished sources, overview of DNA, and more.
Cost: $15 per session for CCGS Members; $25 for both. $20 per session for non-members; $35 for both. Bring pen and paper; copy of your genealogical charts in progress (if any).

For more information contact David Martin at 508-420-0224, or email to

Directions to the Dennis Public Library.