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.
Dr. Maura Mackowski is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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