Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Workshop Deadline Extended

The previously-posted deadline of June 30, 2010 for registration for any of the 3 August 2010 Genealogy Workshops has been postponed now until July 31, 2010.  The Monday, August 9 session will focus on an Overview of Genealogical Methods; the August 16 session will focus on Immigration and Migration; and the August 23 session will focus on Computers in Genealogy--both using the Internet and genealogical software for recordkeeping. All sessions will be at the Jacob Sears Library, from 1:30-3:30 PM; see the Upcoming Events announcement for a link to do registration and to send your fee by check made out to CCGS.  Each session is $15 for members or $40 for all 3 sessions, and $20 for non-members or $50 for all 3 sessions. Questions? Contact David Martin at

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Immigrant genealogy resources at CCGS Library

For those inspired by by Marcia Melnyk's speech about tracing European ancestors at the Annual Luncheon on June 16, 2010 (see summary), library staffers Brenda Hayes and Betsy Ferris are reminding members and other researchers that the CCGS Library has two of the books Marcia recommended in her talk--They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors Arrival Records, by John Philip Coletta, and A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Italian Ancestors, by Lynn Nelson. The two volumes are located in the how-to section (929.1).

And for anyone interested in researching immigrant ancestors who do not happen to be Italian, the library also has guides to discovering other immigrant groups—African-American, English, German, Hungarian, Irish, and Scandinavian, along with a good collection of the study guides for foreign research published by the Mormon Church.

See the Library's complete listing of study guides online.

The Library will be open all summer.  Happy ancestor hunting!

Alert -- Sandwich Town Archivist Position Eliminated

The Town of Sandwich has eliminated the position of Town Archivist as of July 1, 2010, due to the need to cut the town budget. Long-time CCGS member and friend, Barbara Gill, has occupied that valuable position for many years.

George Brennan reported in the Cape Cod Times on Thursday, June 18, 2010, that the "Friends of the Sandwich Town Archivist" has announced plans to accept donations to be used to pay her $11,000 salary. Without an archivist, access to the town records will be limited--a critical problem for anyone carrying out genealogical or historical research related to Cape Cod, especially its early years. In addition, much important analytical work with the Archives is being carried out by Barbara.

The press release from the "Friends of the Sandwich Town Archivist" went to say that anyone who donates $25 or more before July 13 will receive a chance at a drawing of prizes donated by two local artists -- Kathryn Kleecamp and David McDermott. The drawing will take place at the meeting of the Friends group at the Sandwich library, on July 13 at 3 p.m.

Donations may be sent to Friends of the Sandwich Town Archives, 142 Main St., Sandwich, MA 02536. CCGS members will want to consider supporting this important cause.

[Submitted by CCGS Past-President Robert Ward]

Thursday, June 17, 2010

President's 2009-2010 Year-End Review

[The following are remarks presented by outgoing President Bob Ward at the Annual Luncheon Meeting, June 16, 2010.]

The Cape Cod Genealogical Society had a very good year in 2010. We enjoyed a host of society activities, well attended and informative. 

Monthly Programs
Our monthly membership meetings attracted many of our members to hear interesting and informative talks by some of the region’s best genealogical speakers. David Dearborn, senior research fellow at the New England Historic Genealogical Society led off in September, speaking on Scottish genealogical research. Ralph Wadleigh from the Falmouth Genealogical Society, followed up several months after with his experiences researching his ancestors in the Orkneys. Donald Sparrow, a life-long resident of Eastham, spoke on growing up Cape Cod.

Our November joint meeting with Falmouth Genealogical Society was a great success with Michael LeClerc, of NEHGS, as our speaker. He will be again be our speaker for another joint meeting with FGS this coming fall. Our own Carolyn Weiss and Dan McConnell presented fascinating and informative talks; Carolyn on Tips for Searching the US Census Online, and Dan on the Congregation of John Lothrop, which emigrated as a body to settle in Barnstable. Marian Pierre-Louis spoke on early African-American communities in New England. This past May, Rev. Gary Marks of the Pilgrim Church in Plymouth spoke to us of the Rev. John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrim church in Leiden, Holland, and the spiritual mentor of those who sailed on the Mayflower.

Two genealogical workshops were held in October. They were organized and presented by Bebe Brock, Nancy Denise, Judy Terry, Carolyn Weiss, and David Martin. Topics presented in the two-part series included using the internet, land records, Bible records getting started in genealogy, standards of evidence, military and immigration records and death records.

Our Special Interest Groups, three in number, have become more active again. These are the Irish SIG under Pat Concannon, the Computer Users Group which had been under Nancy Daniels, but is now looking for a leader (any volunteers, please, and the Cape Cod Families Group under Bebe Brock). Each of these SIGs meet once a month and provide for those attending a sharing with those of similar research interests.

New this year is a Mentoring Program. The idea is that those who have expertise and experience in a particular aspect of genealogy will meet with others to share that expertise. It has taken off and provided those attending with some great ideas and tips in research techniques and sources.

Research trips to several sites in Boston were again held by the society, one in December, 2009 and another in May, 2010. These were a great success, attracting 27 members and even making a profit for the Society above the cost of transportation.

Seven people traveled to Salt Lake City in October to research at the Family History Center there. The trip was deemed a success by those who were on it. The trip was sponsored and organized by our Educational Committee.

A three-part genealogical course is set for August 2010 under the direction of the Education Committee and will be held at the Jacob Sears Library in Dennis.

A research trip to Washington, D.C is set for October 2010. It will take in several major research facilities found there.

The publicity committee gained two new members, Ed Barr and Anne Stewart. They were off to a flying start and have provided good information on the society’s activities the various media outlets here on the Cape.

Our Society's Genealogical Library at the Dennis Public Library in Dennis Port, continues to attract many patrons who wish to

Marcia Melnyk Advises on Immigrant Genealogical Research

At the Annual Meeting and Luncheon for CCGS, genealogist Marcia Ianizzi Melnyk gave an engaging presentation on Immigrant Research Strategies.

She described surname searches, using a variety of spellings, and then narrowing down the region from which ancestors originated. In order to find possible alternate spellings, put the name into the Mormon data base on, and one can then see the variations in spellings. One also should look up a name both with and without its prefix—e.g., as both Dowell and McDowell.

Marcia clarified a frequent misunderstanding. She pointed out that immigration officers in places like Ellis Island normally just verified the immigrant’s information that she/he already gave to the authorities at the departure city; errors may have occurred there rather than in America. She also indicated that many individuals on their own initiative changed the spellings of their names in order to Americanize them. The only original records created at Ellis Island were those done for stowaways. Men were allowed to leave their home country only if they were not of an age for being eligible to serve in the home country’s military.

The so-called “Island of Tears” name that is associated with Ellis Island came about because when an immigrant family member was found to have a communicable disease, he or she were sent back to the country of origin at the ship’s expense, but the ship would not pay for other family members to join that member. Thus, some families were sadly split up permanently by such events.

She made several recommendations for researchers:
  • Research the record before using the record for research, i.e., analyze the nature and quality of the record first.
  • Find a good historical map of a home country region and look at the geography of that region in order to understand ancestors' living patterns. 
  • Remember that in some countries, e.g., Italy, women retained their maiden names rather than adopting husbands' names, thus providing a strong alternative for frustrating searches.
  • Before “crossing the pond” to do research in the home country, first make sure that one has exhausted all of the possible avenues of research in the USA.

Luncheon Speaker Marcia Melnyk (left) answers questions from members about European immigration research

A full summary of Marcia’s presentation will be available in the August 2010 issue of the CCGS Bulletin.

Leadership Changes in CCGS for 2010-2011

At the Annual Meeting and Luncheon of the Society on Wednesday, June 16, 2010, at the Old Yarmouth Inn, the following members were duly and unanimously elected to serve as officers for the year 2010-2011:

    President: Dan McConnell
    Vice-President: Carolyn Weiss
    Recording Secretary: Ellen Geanacopoulos
    Corresponding Secretary: Bebe Brock
    Treasurer: Robert Ward

Appreciation was expressed to the outgoing officers--to Bob Ward for leadership for two years as President, to Dan McConnell for two years of arranging outstanding program presenters, to Nancy Daniels for 8 years of diligent work as Treasurer, to Bebe Brock for her continuing work as Corresponding Secretary, and to Carolyn Weiss for her work as Recording Secretary.  Appreciation was also given to Maureen Quinn for her hard work as Membership Chairman; she will be stepping down as of August 1, 2010 and handing over the responsibility to Bonnie Cormier.

CCGS continues to be fortunate in the quality and dedication of its leaders!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Military Records for Massachusetts--A Treasure Trove

A fire on 12 July 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis left the top floor of the military personnel records facility in ruins. This floor had contained some 22 million personnel folders, filed alphabetically, for U.S. Army personnel discharged from 1912 thru 1959 and of the U.S. Air Force discharged from September 1947 through 1963.

However, for Massachusetts we have good news. The military records of Massachusetts veterans from 1636 to1940 are at the Military Museum in Worcester. Included are the archives of the Office of the Adjutant General as well as military records of Massachusetts soldiers, marines, and sailors from 1775 to 1940. Records are found at the Massachusetts National Guard Military Museum and Archives, 44 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609. Telephone: (508) 797-0334, open Tuesday through Friday, 9-4. Col. Len Kondratiuk, Director of Historical Services, has been a guest speaker for CCGS in the past.

(Records from 1941 to the present are located at the Office of the Adjutant General at 239 Causeway St. in Boston, (617) 727-2964.)

Military history in Massachusetts began on 13 Dec 1636, when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the colony's militia companies into the North, South, and East Regiments.

The Military Museum and Archives, established in 1995, has objects and exhibits from all of the wars in which citizens of Massachusetts served. The Civil War Room has original colors, weapons, equipment, and documents on display.Of particular Civil War interest are the muster books and correspondence of the various Massachusetts regiments. A data card can be found on every one of the approximately 160,000 Massachusetts soldiers, marines, and sailors who served in the Civil War.

Other exhibit rooms include the early Massachusetts Militia, the 23rd Infantry "America" Division (1942-1971) and the Yankee Division honoring the service of the 26th Infantry Division, Massachusetts National Guard (1917-1993). Rooms are also dedicated to the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

For anyone searching Massachusetts military ancestors, a visit to Worcester needs to be on the agenda!

[Information provided by Brenda Hayes, CCGS Genealogy Room and Library]

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Census Language Difficulty

In the 1850 Federal Census, the Peter White (Pierre LeBlanc) family of Millbury is shown in Figure 1.

As you see, the parents came from French Canada (Qu├ębec). Their entry into the United States was in 1843. Thus, this was their first census here.

Learning English and being understood by the census taker was not easy. Peter found it easy to call himself by his Anglicized name, but Victoria had difficulty.

Her name (Victoire) is pronounced Victwa in French, and the census taker apparently did not understand. What must have followed were attempts to explain, such as “like the Queen!” or “Queen Victoire.”

So the result, as you see in Figure 2, is “Queen V. White”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ireland Genealogy--A New Resource

An important resource for those who are researching their Irish genealogy has now been put online by the National Archives of Ireland.  As of June 3, 2010, the Archives announced that the 1901 Census of Ireland is available on their website; these data are searchable in all informational categories.  This resource, when coupled with the previously available 1911 Census of Ireland that has been online for some time, now means that the data for all 32 counties of Ireland are now available for all.  A truly exciting development!

--Pat Concannon, Irish Special Interest Group

CCGS new books May 2010

CCGS Librarian Betsy Ferris has announced that two new books have been donated to the Cape Cod Genealogical Society’s library by the author, Richard F. Whalen.

Truro; the Story of a Cape Cod Town, is the story of four centuries of history in Truro, beginning before its incorporation in 1709 as the tiniest town on the Cape, through the end of the 20th century. The readable, anecdotal volume also includes an extensive bibliography and discussion of major local sources.

A companion volume, Everyday Life in Truro, Cape Cod, from the Indians to the Victorians, includes a chronology of Truro history.

Richard F. Whalen, a year-round resident of Truro, has been active in the town's civic affairs and is currently a trustee of the Truro Conservation Trust. He is the author of Shakespeare: Who Was He?, and his articles on Shakespeare and Truro history have been published in a number of magazines and journals, including Harper's Magazine and the Historical Journal of Massachusetts.

The Cape Cod Genealogical Society's online library catalog currently contains 83 volumes dealing with towns in Massachusetts, with emphasis on Cape Cod and southeast Massachusetts.

Research Trip to Boston helps many

The spring bus trip sponsored by the Cape Cod Genealogical Society brought 27 genealogists and family historians from Cape Cod to Boston looking for their ancestors. Destinations for the May 19, 2010 excursion were the research facilities at the Boston Public Library and the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS).

Many who went to the Boston Public Library visited the Microtext Department to research the microfilm records available, with most looking for obituaries found in old newspapers from around the country. Others searched the extensive collection of microfilmed city directories. Some researchers, fearing the microtext and newspaper collections may be in danger of being closed as a cost-saving move by the City of Boston, gave this venue their top priority.

Among those visiting the New England Historic and Genealogical Society on Newbury Street was Veteran CCGS member Roberta Bratti, who was thrilled to find information on her Knight line in a rare book at the NEHGS Library. "They went down in the vault to get it for me," she said.  "There are only four copies of it in the world!  It helped me a lot."

At the end of the trip, one passenger decided to join CCGS. "I'm hooked. Sign me up!" said Patricia Quasha from Dennis, having restarted her family research after a long lapse.

For two family historians this was their first trip to a large research facility. Fellow passengers advised them to take things slowly. "You'll need at least one more visit to figure out how the place works and where things are," said one. To that end, the Cape Cod Genealogical Society will offer another chance to visit Boston area research facilities with its fall trip, planned for late October or early November.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Historical Societies - Cape Cod and the Islands

The genealogical holdings of the historical societies of the Cape and Islands (Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard) range from biographies, genealogies, diaries and letters to captains' logs, applications to the National Historical Register and vintage photographs. Contact the individual historical society to inquire about specific holdings, family memorabilia, and to confirm hours of operation. In addition, it is possible to link to a free public website for some vital records located in Cape historical societies and town halls, in order to access particular records.

Cape Cod Historical Societies

Barnstable Historical Society
The Barnstable Historical Society is located next to the Sturgis Library in the Daniel Davis House and Museum, 3087 Main St. (Route 6A), Barnstable Village (location changed from across the street). The House is open from mid-June to mid-October, 1:00-4:00 p.m. or by appointment. Call 508-362-2982, or write to PO Box 829, Barnstable Village, MA 02630.

The genealogical collection contains family histories; documents supporting applications for the National Register of Historic Buildings (which contain lots of genealogical information); cemetery records; and a collection of manuscripts covering all the towns of Barnstable.

The Sturgis Library, located next door, also has items of historical interest, including the Hooper Genealogical Room and access to back issues of the Barnstable Patriot from 1830 to date.

Bourne Historical Society
The Bourne Historical Commission along with the Bourne Archives are housed in the Jonathan Bourne Historical Center, 30 Keene St., Bourne. It is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m to 2:30 p.m and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome during these hours. Telephone 508-759-8167 or e-mail to Their website is

Materials in the Bourne Archives include retired town records, histories of five Bourne villages, family collections, photographs, maps, and oral histories.

Brewster Historical Society
The Brewster Historical Society buildings are open 1pm-4pm, Thursday, Friday & Saturday, July, August and September. The Museum, in a mid-19th century Homestead located at 3171 Main St. (Route 6A - East Brewster), houses four permanent galleries, a special exhibits gallery, and archives which are available to researchers by appointment during the winter months. The Brewster Historical Society can be contacted by phone at 508-896-9521 or by e-mail at Their mailing address is PO Box 1146, Brewster, MA 02631. Their website is

Chatham Historical Society
The collection of the Chatham Historical Society is housed in the Atwood House, 347 Stage Harbor Rd., Chatham. Telephone is 508-945-2493. Their records include real estate tax records from the early 1800s to present, Chatham newspapers from the mid-19th century through the early 20th century, old letters, photographs, ships’ logs, ledgers and similar archives, and documents relating to