Their weekly on line newsletter announced that the NEHGS consultation fee will go from $70/hr to $85 (+21%) for members and from $90/hr to $105 (+27%) for nonmembers. Ouch. Those who book the appointment before January 1st will have the 2017 rate honored, though. If you were thinking of asking for something like that for Christmas (or purchasing it for someone else), do it quickly!
Just passing along the message I found in my spam folder today.... The GSMD is asking those in a holiday giving mood (not just on GivingTuesday) to remember the Silver Books project. Their goal is $15,000. It takes a lot of work to get those written, researched, printed, and distributed but they are the source everyone must use to prove their 1st-5th generations, and in some cases, their 6th-8th. Here is the link to show your support: www.themayflowersociety.org/givingtuesday
Today's newsletter had a big ad, essentially, for a new website the NEHGS has set up for people who might be amenable to either joining (in order to use their databases to prove Mayflower descent) or hiring them to do some or all of the work involved. The site is Mayflower.americanancestors.org.
I tried it using both Firefox and Safari and found it very quirky. The images jumped all over, making it impossible to click on some of them. The big map where viewers are invited to "pin" their picture, name, and pilgrim requires a LOT of clicking. I didn't see a feature to list everyone in a particular state, whereas there WAS a feature to click on to see a list of descendants from a particular pilgrim. I guess the purpose is to make people feel good about themselves or feel connected, but it's not a great way IMO to reach out to someone for help with joining. I checked my own state, which had 4 people listed, only 3 of whom belong and the 4th must belong in another state. (If the person has a pink flower next to his/her name, he/she has proven descent to the GSMD's satisfaction and become a member.) Sometimes people think that a particular distant relative has joined and this would be one way to look for him/her except that you'd have to know which pilgrim they pinned to the map and then search by pilgrim, or know state of residence and start clicking on the markers one at a time. Data is all self-reported, too, so there are bound to be some misidentifications. (And how will they fit thousands (even dozens) of people onto a 3" long map of the US?)
On the plus side, NEHGS points out the databases that anyone can use for free, something not everyone is aware of. Overall, I would give it a halfhearted "somewhat interesting, but I hope you didn't spend a lot of my membership money on this." See what you think.
First of all, a thank-you to the Tempe chapter of the Arizona Family History Society, which invited me to speak there yesterday evening and gamely sat through an hour and a quarter of Intro to Pilgrims 101 and How to Fill Out a Mayflower Application 102. I appreciate the invitation very much. A special thanks to the person who brought the Mac adapter (I had left mine with the cat by mistake) so my laptop could talk with their projector.
The other item is another one of my complaints about weebly. (I know, I shouldn't complain because it's free, but they do want to keep their customers and advertisers.) Either they randomly changed the default fonts from one day to the next (for no apparent reason and without warning) but the latest entry came out in a different fault, and all "bold," with no ability to turn off the boldness. I tried making a new box elsewhere on the page but the same thing happened. I even tried typing her writeup inside the box containing another person's writeup, then cut-and-pasting it into her box. Doing that made only the title and words in italics bold, but it was still a different font. Sometimes weebly's weirdnesses turn out to be a software error, so weebly, if you are reading this, please fix Catharine Townsend in the Howland-Tilley section.
PLEASE NOTE: The new Part 2 covers ONLY the first four children of Billington son Francis (Elizabeth, Joseph, Martha, and Mary.) It does NOT contain anything about the next four: Isaac, Rebecca (who may have died young), Dorcas (Billington) May, and Mercy (Billington) Martin. I see no place where the buyer is informed of this - it is not on the cover, the spine, the title page, or mentioned in any of the front matter (introductory material.) The Doty silver books Parts 2 & 3, the Alden books Parts, 2-5, the Samson books Parts 2 & 3, and the Vol. 23 Howland silver books Parts 1, 2, & 3 all specify which child of that pilgrim is covered in that book. Perhaps someone thought that because Elizabeth, Joseph, Martha, and Mary were grandchildren of the father of the Billington clan, John, there was no need to state anything about the coverage of this book. Only one of the two Billington sons is known to have left children, so technically all books are about descendants of John's son Francis. Let's not stand on technicalities, though, particularly paternalistic technicalities. Fifty percent of the people who buy, consult, or receive this book as a gift are going to feel cheated. I know I did, madly flipping between the two volumes, trying to help an applicant over the phone, and wondering why I couldn't find her ancestor. The introduction mentions Rhode Island Billingtons and the writeup on the GSMD's shop-online page states "The book covers the Billington surname in Rhode Island" and "Part 3.... will include the Billington surname in Maine." Maybe the info about which grandchildren were covered in this volume was left off the title page in the excitement over this geographical oddity - that (apparently) the first 4 grandchildren moved south and the last 4 moved north. Lineage is what gets someone into the Mayflower Society, though, not where her/his ancestors lived. Hopefully Part 3 will appear soon (though I doubt it) and correct the oversight on its title page. Maybe the team could throw in a sticker to put on the Part 2 title page with the missing names, and change their advertising to be genealogy related, not a geography lesson.
This book is commendable for getting readers all the way to Generation 8 or 9 in some families (i.e. the 7th & 8th generations beyond the pilgrim.) Also, the author has made some remarks about sources used on pages xi-xiii and these are worth reading. One in particular is the reference to findagrave's unreliability, though he kindly does not use that word. The author cites findagrave extensively within the book and points out (in the introduction, which most people skip) that the site is full of random stuff added by readers that the GSMD does not accept. They accept only clear pictures of stones with legible inscriptions. Only. Period. I wish he had noted one more problem - people are not always buried where their stones are. Sometimes this is because the markers were put up much later and intended to memorialize those who "went West" or died at sea or died first, before there was even a burial plot in the town. Being on the same stone with someone is a good indication that the person who erected the stone thought the deceased was the spouse, child, or parent of the other individual on the gravestone. That isn't always true, though, and can also send the reader on a fruitless search for a death record actually on file hundreds of miles away. So remember, consider findagrave (which I use all the time) a tool for directing you to a place to look for a record, or a last-ditch source for a date - but it is still a third-tier source. You may not use it instead of death, marriage, and birth records unless those are proven, in writing, not to exist.
Ditto for previously published family history books he writes about. The ones known to be good tend to tempt users with what he calls "an irresistible urge to harvest 'low-hanging fruit'." An example of this is A Sketch of Elder Daniel Hix, with the History of the First Christian Church in Dartmouth, Mass., for One Hundred Years by S. M. Andrews (New Bedford: E. Anthony & Sons, 1880), downloadable as a searchable PDF from the Internet Archive (archive.org) site. It name drops what seems like every resident of Bristol County related to me. Sometimes the compiler arranged them confusingly but vital records found easily on the NEHGS site help readers sort them out. At least some entries in the new Billington book for Hix and his extended family left out information that is out there for the reader if he/she will go look for it, so don't stop with the silver book. (And technically Hix was the influential pastor of the First Christian Church, on Hixville Road in North Dartmouth, not "the Baptist church of Dartmouth.") I mention all this because too few of us (meaning me, too) do not read the bibliographic and explanatory material written by the authorial and editorial teams at the beginning and ends of the silver books, but we should.
The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) congress wrapped up this evening with a dinner and not one, but two speakers. One was the former US ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, the other the official GSMD geneticist, Dr. Jason Kolowski. The latter announced to the few people who did not know it already that the General Society was teaming with FamilyTree DNA to promote more genetic testing among proven Mayflower descendants, particularly those with straight-line paternal or maternal connections. There will be some sort of discount available to Society members; stay tuned for details when I get them. I will add links to this site to make it easier to get there if you wish.
I have personally done the y-DNA and mt-DNA tests and they seem useful if you are looking to find someone living to help you with your searching. I am not, being fortunate to have a family that moved a few miles away from Plymouth and then never left. The speaker was urging everyone in the Society to get tested. The benefit would be to the Society, which could then identify mass quantities of hitherto unknown humans who happen to be descendants of Mayflower pilgrims. Right now DNA tests are only used to help someone with a thoroughly documented line who gets stuck on just one ancestor. Would the GSMD be asking FamilyTree DNA to look through their records for people who match a particular genetic profile and so they can offer them membership? Would they do that person's research for him/her, just to get a new member? That doesn't seem fair to the members who worked for years, in many cases, to prove their connection. Furthermore, not everyone wants to be a Mayflower descendant or GSMD member and DNA results won't work for every line - some pilgrims invited siblings to come over on the next boat.
When I find out more, I will blog about it here.
Plymouth, MA has a variety of statues. One was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) some time ago, the other was more recently. On the back of the statue commemorating women of the Mayflower is a list that appears to be complete because it includes females for whom no first name, no middle name, or no name at all is known. The second is one of many statues created apparently in response to a recent contest to immortalize a certain edible crustacean. This study in bluegreen is at the Jenney Grist Mill in downtown Plymouth. No two are alike. I guess they are a lighthearted counterbalance to the seriousness of half one's friends dying of disease and starvation. Come visit Plymouth and see them all.
The last thing we did tonight was a ghost lantern tour of Burial Hill above Plymouth, which we had walked through earlier in the day (when the stones were readable.) Burials began in the pilgrim's time (1620s) and continued until 1957. You will see stones commemorating people who died elsewhere, such as shipwreck victims, memorials to Pilgrim ancestors who aren't actually buried there and to a few who are (William Bradford and John Howland), and markers for service in various wars, including the Revolutionary War. Stones are in various stages of repair and you can see in one picture a preservation technique in which the original stone is encased in a harder material. Burial Hill overlooks the harbor and the site of the original meetinghouse/church was built.
An annual tradition is that after the opening ceremony members "parade" down the main street a short ways, around the corner, and up to the Winslow House, aka the Mayflower House. There they have snacks, tour the inside of the house, chat, look for names of people they know on the commemorative brick walkway, and compare costumes. You can borrow one, bring your own, or wear your own ordinary clothes, which is what I do.
The author is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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- How do I find my Pilgrim ancestors?
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- Mayflower Faces BLOG (last post 11.29.17)
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