Celebrating friendships, stories and discoveries along the way

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Remembering the Gettysburg Address - 150 Years Later

On this day 150 years ago President Abraham Lincoln visited Gettysburg to dedicate the Soldiers National Cemetery as a place of honor for the fallen Union soldiers from the July 1863 battle. In doing so he marked the dedication ceremony with a 272-word speech that has since been revered as a masterpiece. Lincoln’s brilliant speech, the Gettysburg Address, presented the human sacrifice of the Civil War as devotion to the struggle for freedom and a continuation of the noble principles established in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln’s fervent dedication to preserve the Union and to secure freedom for all Americans situated the Union and the Confederacy on opposing sides during the four-year Civil War conflict. In honoring the sacrifice of the Union soldiers at Gettysburg Lincoln recognized that the Union cause must persevere and succeed to reconcile the divided nation, to establish a lasting freedom for all Americans, and to secure the Declaration of Independence as a cornerstone of democracy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Boston University Genealogy Alumni Meeting Schedule for 2014

B.U. Genealogy Program Alumni meetings for 2014

The schedule for Boston University Genealogy Program alumni meetings for the remainder of 2014 is listed below. All meetings are held at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society beginning at 9:00 A.M. except where otherwise noted.

January 25 at 1:15 P.M.
February 22 at 1:15 P.M.
March 22
April 26 - afternoon tour of Forest Hills Cemetery and St. Michael Cemetery
May 17
June 21 - guided tour of Back Bay
July 12
August 23
September 27 at 1:15 P.M.
October 18
November 22
December 20

In addition to the regular monthly meetings the group is planning two Boston Harbor Islands tours, a morning tour of Spectacle Island on Sunday, June 1 and a all-day tour of Georges and Peddocks Islands on Saturday, June 28.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Civil War Sites in Greater Boston and New England Presentation

Yesterday I gave a presentation at the monthly Boston University Genealogy Alumni meeting on Civil War sites in Greater Boston and in New England. As no Civil War battles were fought north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the focus of Civil War research in New England revolves around abolitionism, with Boston as its epicenter. My presentation drew heavily on my recent experiences at Civil War walks along Freedom Trail sites, on Beacon Hill, and the Public Garden in Boston, as well as walks at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Outside of Boston some of the sites highlighted include Concord, Massachusetts, the home and burial place of many abolitionists and literary giants, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott; the African-American Heritage trail in New Bedford, Massachusetts; the Clara Barton birthplace in North Oxford, Massachusetts; the Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire, and the New England Civil War Museum in Vernon, Connecticut.

The handout for the presentation, entitled Civil War Sites in Greater Boston and New England, is available from the Presentation Handouts widget located in the right-hand margin of this site.

For more information about Civil War sites in Boston please visit Boston Civil War tours at http://www.bostoncivilwartours.com/ and my Journeys of a Constant Genealogist blog posts labeled Civil War Walking Tours.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mayflower and Plymouth Colony Reading List

A wide range of source material exists on the Mayflower passengers and Plymouth colony. During our recent visit to Plimoth Plantation our tour guide Jim provided excellent recommendations for further study. I want to thank my friend and colleague Robin Wirthlin, who compiled this list during our tour:
  • Berry, Lloyd Eason and William Whittingham. The Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560 Edition. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
  • Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation 1620 – 1647. New York: Random House, 1981.
  • Bunker, Nick. Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
  • Hatcher, Patricia Law. Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006.
  • Heath, Dwight B., compiler. Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 1986.
  • James, Sydney V. Three Visitors to Early Plymouth: Letters about the Pilgrim Settlement in New England During its First Seven Years. Plymouth, Mass.: Plimoth Plantation, 1963.
  • Morgan, Edmund S. Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea. New York: New York University Press, 1963.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot. Story of the "Old Colony" of New Plymouth, 1620-1692. New York: Knopf, 1956.
  • Stratton, Eugene Aubrey. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620 – 1691. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1986.
  • Winslow, Edward. Good News from New England: with an exact relation of the first planting that countrey, a description of the profits accruing by the worke : together with a briefe, but true discovery of their order both in church and common-wealth, and maintenance allowed the painfull labourers in that vineyard of the Lord : with the names of the severall towns, and who be preachers to them. London: Printed by Matthew Simmons, 1648.
I would like to suggest three additional books that were not on our tour guide's list:
  • Deetz, James and Patricia Scott Deetz. The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony. New York: Random House, 2001.
  • Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York: Viking, 2006.
  • Van Zandt, Cynthia J. Brothers among Nations: The Pursuit of Intercultural Alliances in Early America, 1580-1660. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
This reading list is also available on the Suggested Reading page of this blog. For additional information about our recent visit to Plimoth Plantation please visit my Plimoth Plantation Tour blog post.

Plimoth Plantation Tour

Last Saturday I visited Plimoth Plantation with a group of genealogy friends and colleagues from the Boston University Genealogy program. Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum modeled after the original colony at Plymouth and is located approximately three miles south of Plymouth center. We were fortunate to have beautiful, clear, crisp autumn weather during our visit.

Our group met at the Visitors Center to view an orientation film before our tour began. We met our tour guide, Jim, who gave a brief lecture on the history of the Plymouth settlement and an overview of our tour and the sites along our visit. Our first stop was the Wampanoag Homesite, modeled after the native settlement of Patuxet. The re-enactors at the Wampanoag Homesite are of Wampanoag or other Native descent, who wear period costume but speak from a modern perspective. We observed a mishoon, or canoe, burning demonstration and visited a nush wetu, a large bark-covered house with three inside fire pits.

We also witnessed a demonstration of native cookery over an open fire.

Our next stop was the 1627 English Village, where the re-enactors speak in 17th- century English from the 1627 perspective. The village is modeled after the original settlement in Plymouth along Leiden Street.

This modern-day view of Leiden Street in downtown Plymouth is the site of the original Plymouth settlement. The brick house on the left side of the view is on the site of Governor William Bradford's house.

Our tour guide encouraged us to explore the 1627 village on our own. The fort at the top of the hill offered fine views of the settlement.

I visited my ancestor Governor William Bradford's home and had short conversations with Edward Winslow, who was tending the fire, and Juliana Carpenter Morton, sister of Governor Bradford's wife Alice.

Across the street from the Bradford home was the house of Mayflower passenger John Billington, who welcomed our group with tales about the settlement and its inhabitants.

We ended our tour at the Craft Center, viewing various exhibits of 17th-century craftwork.

For additional information about Plimoth Plantation please visit their website at http://www.plimoth.org. For additional information about Plymouth history please visit the Pilgrim Hall Museum website at http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org and the Plymouth Antiquarian Society website at http://www.plymouthantiquariansociety.org/. Please visit my Mayflower and Plymouth Colony Reading List blog post for suggestions for additional reading.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TIARA Family History Session with Jennifer Doherty of Clonmany Genealogy

On Sunday I attended a special Family History event held by the Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton. Jennifer Doherty of Clonmany Genealogy in County Donegal, Ireland was the highlighted speaker. Jennifer gave two excellent advanced genealogy presentations: Widows, Wills, and Workhouses: An Advanced Look at Irish Genealogy, and Advanced Irish Genealogy: Alternatives to the Brickwall. Both presentations focused on conventional and alternative methodologies for finding Irish ancestors in Ireland, the United States, and Canada. TIARA hosts frequent Irish genealogy events and trips during the year.

For additional information about TIARA please visit their website at http://www.tiara.ie. For additional information about Clonmany Genealogy please visit http://www.clonmanygenealogy.com.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Massachusetts Society of Genealogists 2013 Annual Meeting

On Saturday I attended the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) 2013 Annual Meeting at the LDS Church in Littleton. The theme of this year’s meeting was the Civil War. The meeting spotlighted three excellent presentations. Dr. Janette Greenwood, Professor of History at Clark University, presented a social history on the Union and Confederate home fronts. Dennis Ahern, a trustee of the Acton Memorial Library, presented information and methodologies for researching a Civil War ancestor. The 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Re-enactment group offered an interactive living history demonstration of Union soldier life and civilian attire. Meeting attendees had the opportunity to present displays on their Civil War ancestors, and I was delighted to present my three Civil War tribute blog sites along with the displays.

The Massachusetts Society of Genealogists has five chapters in Massachusetts (Bristol, Martha's Vineyard, Merrimack, Middlesex, and Worcester) and holds regular meetings. For additional information about the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists please visit their website at: http://www.massachusettssocietyofgenealogists.org or http://www.msoginc.org. For additional information about my Civil War tribute blogs please visit the Twentieth Massachusetts Regiment 150th Anniversary, the Thirteenth New Hampshire Regiment 150th Anniversary, and the 27th Connecticut Regiment 150th Anniversary.