The Peculiar Absence of Jacob Olswang’s Passenger Manifest


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Try as I might, Jacob Olswang’s passenger list chooses not to surface as I dig through the records. But as I overheard recently, “It’s never all for nothing.” and with that, I can demonstrate the approaches and steps I took to try and get the record I needed. Few genealogical sources daunt me, but passenger lists are admittedly a mixed bag when it comes to getting results. I don’t always get the results I want, and especially in the 19th century, it comes down to documenting all the possible matches and implementing further deductive reasoning.

For this piece, I really focused on using one-database and searching for Jacob Olswang with as many angles as I could suffice. Spelling is an aspect of genealogical research that needs to always be treated with an open-mind and I will attempt to demonstrate this. My objective was fixated on researching Jacob Olswang with the One-Step Passenger List Search at Stephen P. Morse’s website. It is an excellent database and tool for that matter for researching immigrants to the United States and more:


“This site contains tools for finding immigration records, census records, vital records, and for dealing with calendars, maps, foreign alphabets, and numerous other applications. Some of these tools fetch data from other websites but do so in more versatile ways than the search tools provided on those websites.”[1]


My last attempt at finding Jacob’s name on a passenger manifest was sometime ago, and I was not as careful in documenting everything like I am now. Regardless, it’s good to have a fresh start on a research problem.

Survey previous research on your ancestor to establish an estimated date of arrival

The acquisition of an exact or approximate arrival date is ideal for researching passenger lists. Our known information and facts will determine the range of dates we use.

  • Jacob and his wife Margrette McGrevey were married in Waterloo, Lancashire, England, 2 Aug 1895.[2]
  • Their first child Walter Olswang was born 25 Dec 1896 in England.[3]
  • His naturalization record suggests an exact date of 28 Nov 1896.[4]
  • Jacob’s second son Arthur was born in New York City 1899.[5]
  • Jacob and his family are living on First Avenue in the Borough of Manhattan, New York County, New York in the 1900 US Census.[6]
  • The household schedule for Jacob Olswang in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 Census consistently state his year of arrival as 1897.

With the facts in hand, I can determine he arrived about “1896-1899.” While it is a reasonable time span, it’s contained enough that we can manage the data results returned to us. I decided to extend the date range later to 1910, because many immigrants hopped overseas and back more than once.

I also had collected one other known first name Jacob had used in his life. According to his marriage certificate, he went by the name “John.”[7] Any aliases associated with our ancestors need to be taken into account when we conduct research.

Using Steve Morse’s One-Step Ellis Island Search

This website is basically a one-stop shop for researching all passengers and immigrants who arrived in New York. There are several options or “search-forms” for researching New York passenger lists:

  • Ellis Island Database, 1892-1957 (White Form)
  • Ellis Island, 1892-1924 (Gold Form)
  • All New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

To be specific, the databases I was working with the post were of passenger lists for vessels arriving at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1924.

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Fig 1. Stephen P. Morse, “One-Step Search for Ellis Island Database, 1892-1957 (White Form.)

Yes, this plain set of search bars and buttons is what I’m raving about, exciting right? The excitement stems from how we can use different parameters to more easily locate the desired passenger list. I started by searching Jacob Olswang, except for the first name I only entered the character “J.”

Each parameter, i.e. “starts with”, “exactly”, “sounds like”, “spells like”, and “contains” all utilize a different algorithm to retrieve results. Notice how much the number of matches change when I use a different parameter.


Table 1. Search results for first name “J” and “Olswang”, year of arrival between 1896 and 1910. One Step Ellis Island Form (white). Performed 29 Jan 2016.


is exactly “Olswang” sounds like


starts with




spells like


0 2162 0 0 1438


Filtering results that sound like and spell like the surname bring back many more results. I decided to hold off on checking all of these and see if I can narrow in on some better matches using different tools on the website.

Phonetic Matching

The “Gold” search forms for passenger lists on uses a different set of logarithms to calculate the results, specifically Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching. It serves as an improvement of the Soundex Code. Alexander Beider and Stephen Morse configured a search form that could return results “phonetically equivalent to the desired name.”[8] I found this helpful, because the results provided insight as to how one interpreted the pronunciation and spelling of the surname. Federal policy mandated that passenger lists for vessels arriving in the US were recorded before the vessel embarked to America, so the captain or appointed officer would have created the original manifest before filing a copy at the port of arrival.[9]

Records of Jacob’s family in England and the U.S spell his name at Olswang, but the native tongue sometimes pronounces it more like “sch” then “s.” The following phonetic matches for Olswang came back when I performed the search in Ellis Island (Gold Form). This is important data to track in your research, because these variations of the surname needed to be considered when researching ancestors online.[10]


Table 2. Phonetic Matches for Olswang. One-Step Ellis Island (Gold Form).











Try a different family member

Jacob Olswang did not arrive alone, but with his wife, Margaret McGrevey and their infant son, Walter (Waldemar). This is a good strategy if seemingly a brickwall encompasses our target ancestor, we can try to work around it and look for another family member in the passenger lists. But no matches for Margaret and little Walter have been located either.

Use less characters

Less is more when it comes to using databases in genealogy. We need to remain flexible for all the errors that could potentially appear in database entries. Using the search forms of, The first name search field only requires one character, while the surname requires at least two. When we remove characters from the names, the extent of our results are often more broad and allow for those phonetic interpretations to be retrieved. Looking at the actual data retrieved from your search, genealogists should look for details that match the profile of our ancestor, particular the arrival year, birth year, and the name. Of the possible matches I retrieved, none were close enough to warrant a closer look.

A Suggested Arrival Date

All aliens applying for U.S. Citizenship since 1790 have had to provide an arrival date for their petition for naturalization. These dates do not always prove out to be true, genealogists have to take into account our ancestors did not always recall these events accurately, but must be investigated to be proven or disproven. Steve Morse’s website provides the right tool for this. Using his search form called “Ship Lists”, you can view all available manifests for a particular date or particular vessel. From the results you receive on a particular arrival date, you can click the link to view images of the manifest. From 26 Nov to 28 Nov 1896, the Olswang family did not arrive at Ellis Island.

Next steps

  • Consider other ports of entry. One-Step passenger searches are available for the ports of Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and many more.
  • Become more creative with phonetic interpretations in the first and last name.
  • Use different search engines and databases for passenger lists (,




[1] Stephen P. Morse. “One-Step Webpages – Home Page.” accessed 28 Jan 2016.

[2] Marriage Certificate of John Olswang and Margrette McGreevey, 2 Jun 1895, no. 247, Christ Church Waterloo, Sephton Parish, West Derby Registration District, Lancashire County. Certified Copy from GRO Office made 28 Jan 2015.

[3] World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” images, Ancestry (accessed 5 Feb 2009), card for Walter W. Olswang, serial no. 3114, Local Draft Board no. 265, Jamaica, Queens County, New York.

[4] Petition for Naturalization, Jacob Olswang, 27 Jun 1904, petition no. 2935, Vol. 134: page 214B-215B, Circuit Court, Southern District of New York.

[5] Certificate of Death, 10 Apr 1942, cert. no. 2870, Arthur Olswang, Queens County, New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, City of New York

[6] 1900 US Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, page 7B, enumeration district (ED) 243,

[7] Marriage Certificate of John Olswang and Margrette McGreevey.

[8] Alexander Beider and Stephen P. More, “Beider-More Phonetic Matching (BMPM).” accessed 28 Jan 2016.

[9] John P. Colletta, Ph.D., They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Arrival Record. Third Edition. (Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing Co., 2002,) 35.

[10] The variations recorded are a result of searching the surname only without any characters.


Further Reading:

John P. Colletta, Ph.D., They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Arrival Record. Third Edition. (Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing Co., 2002.)

Stephen P. Morse, “Overview of One-Step Ellis Island Search Forms,”

Stephen P. Morse, “A One-Step Portal to Online Genealogy,”

Stephen P. Morse, “Frequenty Asked Questions,”


Copyright (c) 2016 by Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.

Jake Fletcher, “The Peculiar Absence of Jacob Olswang’s Passenger Manifest,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 2 Feb 2016.


January 2016 Newsletter



January has been nothing short of busy and productive. But as luck may have it, my area of North Central Mass has received little to no snow, so I’m able to save some time for contemplation on long walks.  I had a wonderful time last week presenting a webinar to the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists on researching seafaring ancestors at the National Archives (NARA). For those who attended or are interested in the subject, a thorough research checklist is available in the “Publications” page titled as “Maritime Genealogy Guide and Bibliography.”

Last night, I attended a talk given by journalist Mike Richards who gave his “View of the Gardner Scene.” Gardner is a small city in North Central Massachusetts that is struggling in the post-industrial world. While I’m not from Gardner, I could appreciate what he was talking about and understood how important his role as a local historian and journalist was. He and many others take the time to keep the stories alive and preserve them for the generations. This is an important action for communities to take and we should be grateful to those who give their time so we can reminisce and revel in the days of old. My observations have led me to conclude that interest in genealogy is not particular to any region. From large cities to the smallest hamlets, there is a universal desire to learn the stories of our ancestors. I am especially glad this remains true for my own area based on the fact I am booked for so many lectures locally. For more information on where I’ll be appearing and teaching genealogy, visit the Lectures page.

Most of my readers are already “GeneaBloggers.” but for those who are not or if you know someone who is just getting into genealogy, consider sharing some of the benefits of having a genealogy blog with my newest post for Legacy News, How can blogging help your family history?” I did not underestimate the importance of the research I conducted over the last seven years, therefore I was very excited to receive a print copy of my blog this month. Not only is it wise to keep a hard copy backup, but it serves as an important tool in my genealogy library.

Hope you all enjoy all of the links I shared and find them useful. It seems that the genealogy community is back to it’s normal level of business and it seems I’m finding multiple useful articles daily. It is an exciting time to be involved with genealogy!

Looking forward to updating everyone next month, in the meantime, new research posts are coming to you shortly.

– Jake Fletcher

Recent Travelogues

Who is Elizabeth Shields?” posted 15 Jan 2016.

Azrow D Freeman, Postmaster of Belmont, Portage Co., Wisconsin.” posted 23 Dec 2015.


Recommended Articles, Resources, and More!

Drake Baer. “Here’s Why Writing Thing Out By Hand Makes You Smarter.”

“Boston Public Library – Digital Commonwealth.”

Christopher Child. “ICYMI: Tips for online genealogical research. ”

Zoe Craig. “London’s Entire History To Be Mapped By New Project.”

Lisa Louise Cooke. “Why Google Bought YouTube – And Why That’s Good For Genealogy!”

Niall Cullen. “How to use Griffith’s Valuation for Irish family history research.”

Bruce Dearstyne. “History Resources To Watch in 2016.”

Amanda Foreman. “The British View the War of 1812 Quite Differently Than Americans Do.”

Zachary Garceau. “The last survivor.”

Guest. “Researching African American Families that Came out of Slavery.”

Yvette Hoitnik. “Five Things I Learned From Working With Archivists.”

Alison Kimball. “how rootstech changed me.”

“Louisiana, New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945.”

National Public Radio. “When Ancestry Search Led To Escaped Slave: ‘All I Could Do Was Weep’.”

Catherine Robertson. “Agridulce.”

Chris Smith. “Virginia Untold: Freedom Suits.”

Tyler S. Stalhe. “3 Ways To Use Your Smartphone for Family History.”

Eric Stanway. “Central Mass. Genealogical Society explores roots of family trees.”

Frederick Wertz. “Discovering your World War I family history.”

Frederick Wertz. “Militant politics: Did you ancestors participate?”

Michael Wood. “Keeping up with the ancestors.”

Simon Worrall. “Making Maps Under Fire During the Revolutionary War.”




Jake Fletcher

Genealogist, Historical Researcher, Blogger

Lunenburg, MA


Follow and connect with Jake on social media:


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Instagram: @jake_fletcher226

Copyright © 2015 Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.


Who is Elizabeth Shields?


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Lizzie Williams’ life has always been surrounded in obscurity. As a genealogist, I always seek the truth. Strange anecdotes about her life have been passed down such as the notion she ran off with a priest after her first marriage. Such stories seem like an attempt by the Freemans to estrange her from any role in the family. But what I do know now is that she married four times. The more I learn about Lizzie’s life, the more I find myself thinking about what she was like and what exactly motivated her decisions.

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Fig 1. Photo of Wallace Ephraim Freeman and Lizzie Williams.

In 2009, I received a copy of the divorce file from the Superior Court in Lincoln County, Washington, which gave some insight into the tumultuous relationship between Lizzie and my great, great grandfather Wallace Freeman. Lizzie married Wallace as a young spinster, 18 years old, experiencing young womanhood in the waning era of America’s frontier. Life in the impoverished pioneer settlement of Harrington, Washington was not for the faint of heart. What was it about Wallace that made Lizzie admire and want to marry him? Wallace was a farmer of no particular stature in the community. About 15 or 16 years older than Lizzie, one could imagine he assured to bring some stability in her life. However, any promises held together by the bonds of matrimony would soon dissolve. Around 1897, Lizzie was raising a newborn son that was my great-grandfather and her third child. Wallace looked north to the prosperous mining town of Rossland, British Columbia. It was here supposedly in Rossland that Wallace took the three children and left her to go to California.[1] Almost overnight, her support and stability was pulled like a rug from underneath her. The discovery of this was heartbreaking. Lizzie must have suffered a lot of grief as a young mother, having been estranged from her three children. The young bride waited for eleven years in hopes that her family would return, but to no avail and then in 1908 she filed for divorce at the Superior Court in Lincoln County, Washington. Wallace never appeared in court and his account or perspective of the relationship will never be known.[2]

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 7.21.20 PM

Fig 2. “Summons and Complaint of Lizzie Freeman,” 4 Nov 1908, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court Docket No. 4997, Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of Lincoln.

As eye opening as my previous research had been, the trail went cold after Lizzie’s divorce to Wallace. I wanted to know what happened to Lizzie in the end. Breaking through the brickwall to find Lizzie’s story was persuaded by the laws of the domino effect. Each clue led to another and subsequently fell into place. I found myself in the past few weeks saying, “A-ha,” quite often as I located bits of evidence.

Things we want come when we least expect. I was simply doing some cataloging of family papers and began entering data on the files for my great-grandfather James Wallace Freeman. Several postcards survive in the family papers, including a photo postcard of Jim Freeman sent from his address at “24 W Archer, Tulsa, Oklahoma” to “Mrs. Elizabeth Shields, Kellogg, Idaho.” It then hit me that I needed to investigate who this person actually was.

Fig 3. Postcard from Jim Freeman to Elizabeth Shields.

It did not take long. The first reference to Elizabeth Shields came in the 1916 Directory for Kootenai, Bonner, and Shoshone County, Idaho. Elizabeth was at 114 Gold Av. in Kellogg with husband John H. Shields.[3]

It got even better when I located the marriage record. The Western States Marriage Index from BYU Idaho provided the reference I was looking. A search of the database for John H. Shields found an entry for the marriage of John Harvey Shields and Elizabeth Booth, 21 Aug 1915 in Wallace, Shoshone Co.[4] The fact that the bride’s name was not Elizabeth Freeman was a real surprise, but when I accessed the original marriage license and certificate on, my gut feeling told me I had a match.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 5.02.39 PM

Fig 4. Entry for John Harvey Shields and Elizabeth Booth, Register of Shoshone County Marriages. Accessed via “Idaho County Marriages, 1864-1950,” FamilySearch.

What proved to be a pleasant surprise in Shoshone County, Idaho’s marriage books is that the certificate, license, and affidavit were all on one page. In addition, I found the marriage’s entry in the register for Shoshone County, which included different details about Lizzie’s identity.


Fig 5. Licenses, Certificate, and Affidavit for Marriage of John Harvey Shields and Elizabeth Booth, 21 Aug 1915. Accessed via “Idaho County Marriages, 1864-1950,” Familysearch.

Information about Elizabeth Booth from marriage sources:[5]

  • Married John Harvey Shields, 21 Aug 1915 in Wallace, Shoshone Co., Idaho.
  • Elizabeth Booth was a resident of Spokane, Washington.
  • She was born in
  • She was
  • Clerk does not state her exact age. Rather, the clerk enters in “Of Legal Age”, denoting she was at least 18 years old. A calculation of her age based on her birth would conclude she was 43 years old at the time of her marriage to John H. Shields.

I wanted to know a little bit more about Mr. Shields. How did they know each other when they were living in different states? The long distance relationship I suspected was not so much true, because Spokane is located in the easterly part of Washington State; it was only 70 miles from Kellogg, Idaho. According to his WWI Draft Registration Card, John Harvey Shields was born in Grove Springs, Missouri on Jan 16 1888. His address is “Blackbear, Idaho” and he worked as a miner for the Hecla Mining Company in Burke, Idaho.[6]

The Shields family does not appear again for more than a decade. In 1927, Lizzie’s first husband Wallace died of heart failure in Laton, Kings County, California.[7] Her youngest son Jim had been overseas and by this time, moved to New York City. What I found next was John Harvey Shields and Elizabeth Shields in the 1930 Census, revealing that Lizzie’s marriage had yet again dissolved. John Harvey Shields was a laundry truck driver living at 686 San Juan [?] in Los Angeles. He was a boarder in the house of Susie Clandino and gave his marriage status as “divorced.”[8]

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 11.07.31 AM

Fig 6. John Harvey Shields, 1930 U.S. Census, Los Angeles Assembly District 57, Los Angeles County, California. Accessed via “United States Census, 1930”, FamilySearch.

Elizabeth Shields was a nurse in the nearby suburb of Glendale, California at 1125A Harrard Street. In her household were her parents, John and Annie Williams, and their description led me to conclude without a doubt that I had identified Elizabeth Shields as my great, great-grandmother. She on the other hand listed herself as a widow in the 1930 Census.[9] I thought it was interesting how each answered the question differently. Lizzie might have felt it necessary to suppress the memory of her rocky marriages and somehow attempt to remove the stigma.

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Fig 7. Elizabeth Shields, 1930 U.S. Census, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California. Accessed via “United States Census, 1930”, FamilySearch. 

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But what keeps my head scratching is how Lizzie took the last name Booth for a time when she was living in Spokane. Did she marry a man named Booth or change her name as a reaction to social pressures? Researching my great, great grandmother’s life has been challenging and rewarding. I hope that this case study will serve in giving researchers hope and some guidance for breaking down the brickwalls presented by female ancestors, especially women who had multiple marriages throughout their life.




[1] “Summons and Complaint of Lizzie Freeman,” 4 Nov 1908, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court Docket No. 4997, Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of Lincoln; photocopy in possession of author; “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law,” 13 Apr 1909, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court Docket No. 4997, document 11.

[2] “Order of Default,” 9 Feb 1909, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court Docket No. 4997, document 6.

[3] R.L Polk & Co.’s Shoshone County Directory, 1916-1917 (Spokane, Washington: R.L. Polk & Co., 1916), 496. Accessed via “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database with images, Ancestry.

[4] BYU Idaho, “Western States Marriage Index,” database, ( accessed 16 Oct 2015), entry for John Harvey Shields and Elizabeth Booth, 21 Aug 1915; citing Shoshone County Marriages, vol. 7: 65.

[5] “Idaho, County Marriages, 1864-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 October 2015), certificate image, John Harvey Shields and Elizabeth Booth, 21 Aug 1915; citing “Shoshone, Idaho, county courthouses, Idaho; FHL microfilm 1,548,799.”; “Idaho County Marriage, 1864-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 October 2015), John Harvey Shields and Elizabeth Booth, 21 Aug 1913; citing “Shoshone, Idaho, County Courthouses, Idaho; FHL microfilm 1,548,797.”

[6] “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 October 2015), card for John Harvey Shields, serial no. 72[?], Local Draft Board, Blackbear, Shoshone County, Idaho.

[7] Wallace E Freeman, certificate no. 1583, (dated 31 March 1927, died 28 March 1927), California State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, copy in possession of author.

[8] 1930 U.S. census, Los Angeles County, California, population schedule, Los Angeles Assembly District 57, enumeration district (ED) 19-153, sheet 18-A, household 686, Susie Clandino, accessed via “United States Census, 1930,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 January 2016); citing NARA Publication T626, roll 139.

[9] 1930 U.S. Census, Los Angeles county, California, population schedule, Glendale, enumeration district (ED) 985, sheet 1-B, household 20, Elizabeth Shields accessed via “United States Census, 1930”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 January 2016); citing NARA digital publication T626, roll 127.



Copyright (c) 2015 by Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.

Jake Fletcher, “Who is Elizabeth Shields?”, Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 16 Jan 2015.


Azrow Freeman, Postmaster of Belmont, Portage County, Wisconsin



As a volunteer researcher for the National Archives,  I am routinely more and more inspired to do original research based on the overwhelming abundance of history at my fingertips. Many of NARA’s regional facilities have overlaps in their microfilm collection. These are duplicate microfilm publications created by the Archives in Washington and donated to regional archives. The one which I was interested in happened to be NARA Microfilm M841, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832- Sep 30, 1971.

Our ancestors interacted with the United States Federal Government in a diverse number of ways. Many of them were civilian employees for the Federal Government, such as postmasters and mail carriers. The reference to Azro’s occupation came to my attention after contacting a genealogist in Wisconsin who found records related to my 3x great-grandfather in a local history publication including that he was the postmaster for the Belmont Township from 1856 to 1864. [1]

Azro arrived from Westville, Franklin Co., New York in the middle of the 1850s. One of my goals in my research is to pin down exactly when he arrived in this area, because this is where he had most of his children. Other evidence of his residence in Wisconsin includes Civil War muster rolls, census records & agricultural schedules, and federal land records. Tracking down these westward-moving frontier families can be tricky because settlements and townships generally have scanter records in their early years. He and other Freemans moved around to other states after Wisconsin including Kansas and Washington State.

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Fig 1. Appointment of Azrow D Freeman as Postmaster for Belmont, Portage County, Wisconsin on 25 Sep 1856. Image reproduced from National Archives Microfilm M841, Records of Appointments of Postmasters, 1832 – September 30, 1971, Roll 144, Wisconsin: Polk-Wood Counties. Accessed at National Archives and Records Administration – Northeast Region (Boston), 23 Dec 2015.

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Fig 2. Close-up manipulation of microfilm image in Fig 1.

Records of the Appointment of Postmasters are arranged alphabetically by state and thereunder county. Each county has manuscript volumes arranged chronologically and thereunder by the name of the post office.  The record of Azro’s appointment, created by an unnamed clerk of the Postmaster General’s Office, provides only basic information including full name, Azrow D Freeman, date of appointment, 25 Sep 1856, and the name of the post office (Belmont). Post offices and their locations could often be discontinued and relocated to other townships. The clerk’s appointment book also shows that the position was superseded by John Price on 27 Oct 1857. [2]

Surely this discovery isn’t a genealogical goldmine, but it was nice to work on some personal research at the National Archives. Having the source was able to at least correct the actual duration of Azro’s service as postmaster, concluding it was much shorter then eight years. This also happens to be the earliest record of Azro documenting his residence as  Wisconsin, therefore I am able to better approximate his migration to this part of the country. Consider the diverse ways in which your U.S. ancestors interacted with the Federal Government and left records.


  1. E-mail from LuAnn Elsinger, 10 Nov 2014.  Information cited in Wayne Allen Guyant, History and Memories: Portage County, Belmont Township, (W.A. Guyant, 1984) . 
  2. Records of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832- September 30, 1971, microfilm publication M841 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1973) roll 144, Portage County, Wisconsin, 25 Sep 1856, Belmont.


Further Reading:

National Archives, “Appointment of Postmasters, 1832 – September 30, 1971,”

National Archives, “Post Office Records,”

NARA Genealogy Home Page at

National Archives Catalog at

Microfilm Catalog (Order Online) is available for viewing at When you find a title of interest, click on the title, then click on important publication details which will allow you to view a descriptive pamphlet or roll list.


Copyright (c) 2015 by Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.

Jake Fletcher, “Azro Freeman, Postmaster of Belmont, Portage Co., Wisconsin,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 23 Dec 2015.



December 2015 Newsletter


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Happy Holidays from Travelogues of a Genealogist! I hope everyone has the chance to reconvene and rekindle good spirits with families, friends, and loved ones during this time. Talking about family history can solidify the family bonds and make for conversation during family celebration more enjoyable. Perhaps you have some new discoveries from your research or you want to enjoy an old photo album with relatives.

I am certainly humbled and grateful for the support from people this year. Thank you to my beloved family, friends, colleagues, followers, and readers! I’m leaving this year and entering 2016 with great optimism. The societies and organizations I have joined, including Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and the New England   Chapter (NEAPG), Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG), and Central Massachusetts Genealogical Society (CMGS) have been nurturing communities for myself as a genealogist simply because they are great resources. Thanks to the National Archives at Boston as well for being my research getaway (one of the many perks of being a volunteer). Genealogy becomes more meaningful everyday; challenges and discoveries are equally exciting. Successful genealogy, I have learned through the years, lies in the process and this is a subject I think Travelogues of a Genealogist has tried to touch upon more this year. The methodology and evidence articles are always fun to do and hope they have assisted you in your own research. My increasing involvement with societies will take me to new repositories as well as visiting familiar sites, which will certainly be among the updates coming to you in 2016.

If you are interested in learning more about how genealogy can take on a more meaningful role in your life, I am happy to be offering a wide-range of services, from client research and consulting to lecturing and class instruction. The message behind Travelogues of a Genealogist is really the adventure one takes with their family history, in which we rediscover the past and putting into our own context the lives of our ancestors. My passion for history is fueled by the knowledge from working with and consulting others on their research. Monthly newsletters feature links with exciting news and developments in the family history field that I find while perusing social media. I am sure you will want to add some of these to your research toolbox for future use. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you receive all the updates from Travelogues of a Genealogist. It’s been a great year of genealogy and your support has been the greatest holiday gift of all.


– Jake Fletcher


Recent Travelogues

“New Post on Legacy News: ‘Deconstructing the Deed’ ”, posted 8 Dec 2015.

Dexter J. Anderson and the Attack on Pearl Harbor,” posted 7 Dec 2015.

Using and Appreciating Indirect Evidence in Colonial American Genealogy,” posted 3 Dec 2015.

Suggestions For Your Research Toolbox

Fiona Fitzsimons, “The Evolution of Irish Surnames,” Findmypast (Blog), 15 Dec 2015.

Abigail Rieley, “Traditional Irish Naming Patterns,” Findmypast (Blog), 16 Nov 2015.

Sheilagh Doelfer, “Maps of Maritime Canada,” Vita Brevis, 4 Dec 2015.

Using PERSI for research: Periodical Source Index,” GHL Blog, 30 Nov 2015.

Shannon Combs Bennett, “The Ins and Outs of Social Media for Genealogists,” The In-Depth Genealogist, 30 Nov 2015.

Judy Russell, “Mapping The Census,” The Legal Genealogist, 25 Nov 2015.

Diane MacLean Boumenot, “Providence County, Rhode Island Research,One Rhode Island Family.

New England Regional Genealogy Conference – Call for Papers

NERGC will be back in 2017 and I’m looking forward to attending, and who knows, maybe speaking.

To view the press release from Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, click here.

To submit lecture proposals, visit here.

Stories of Interest

Erin Blakemore, “Logbooks From 19th Century Whaling Ships Could Help Climate Change Scientists,” Smart News (, posted 17 Dec 2015.

Christopher Klein, “Legendary Billion-Dollar Shipwreck Found Off Colombian Coast,” History in the Headlines, posted 8 Dec 2015.

Judy Russell, “Not passing in the night,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 19 Nov 2015.

Jeff Keeling, “Young historian helping bring county’s history to the fore,” The Johnson City News & Neighbor, 25 Nov 2015.

Michael Schulder, “The 14 Year Old Boy Who Survied ‘In The Heart of the Sea,'” The Huffington Post (The Blog), posted 10 Dec 2015.

Robert Grandchamp, “Died in the Service of his Country:’ A New Look at Rhode Island Civil War Death Records“, The Online Review of Rhode Island History, posted 29 Oct 2015.



Jake Fletcher

Genealogist, Historical Researcher, Blogger

Lunenburg, MA



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Copyright (c) 2015 by Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.


New Post on Legacy News: “Deconstructing The Deed”



If you are beginner to land records, head over to Legacy News for my latest post “Deconstructing The Deed”. Learn to maximize the potential genealogical information within land records.




Dexter J. Anderson and The Attack on Pearl Harbor


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The voices of history fall silent sometimes because a person witnessed such horror that it would never be talked about again. That happened to be the case with grandfather Dexter J. Anderson. Only knowing him in his final years, he was even more reserved than when my mom was growing up. The subject of Pearl Harbor and Dexter’s experience in war was seldom, if ever brought up. In short, it was off limits for any discussion. So when these voices of our past fall silent, the records we use for historical research and genealogy become the orators of past events.


But can we really blame him for trying to suppress this and maintain some semblance of his once innocent life?


USS California sinking in Pearl Harbor, Official U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-32456. Accessed on Wikimedia Commons.


All in the span of two hours, everything would change for my grandfather, his fellow shipmen who carried on their duty, and all Americans. In what probably felt like minutes or seconds to the men on the ground, 2408 people died, hundreds of planes were lost, and dozens of ships capsized.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.28.22 AM

Dexter James Anderson was born 6 May 1915 in Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts to parents were Henry Walfred and Signe Maria (Johansdotter) Anderson.[1] A love for the ocean and maritime life always captivated Dexter; he joined several boating clubs and collected many model ships and nautical instruments. After high school, Dexter enrolled in Bates College for one year, followed by two years at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve and duty called him away from home in 1941.[2]

peliad report of changes

USS Pelias (AS14), Report of Changes, “Officer Passengers”, 8 Nov 1941, page 13: accessed on

Perhaps the one detail that slipped out from Dexter into the ears of my parents was the name of the destroyer he served on during the attack. Muster rolls and personnel records show Dexter served on at least three vessels, but at Pearl Harbor, he Dexter was stationed on the USS Patterson. The USS Patterson (DD-392) was a Bagley-Class Destroyer; the vessel gallantly cruised the seas with a 342-foot long hull and impressive armament.



USS Patterson. Removed Caption, “U.S. Navy Photo 116-17”: Accessed at Wikimedia Commons.

On the morning of the attack, the USS Patterson and 30 other destroyers were docked at Ford’s Island. Ford’s Island was a strategic point on the naval base that lays in the harbor’s center. The first submarines crawled into American waters under the cover of darkness, only to surprise the American base with torpedoes and soon after airstrikes from above. The air horn and call to attack came at 7:55 AM. Immediately, Dexter and his shipmen flew out of their bunks and manned their stations.[3] The destroyer’s action report, written by the commanding officer, provides us with the only known account of this particular destroyer’s experience in the battle.


Pearl Harbor Looking Southwest, October 1941. Official U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-182874: Accessed on Wikimedia Commons.



USS Patterson cruising Pearl Harbor, May 1942. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, removed captain Photo # 80-G-64754. Accessed at Wikimedia Commons.

Commanding Office Frank Robinson Walker, while he was not on deck during the engagement, report that the Patterson’s main and .50 caliber guns took down one enemy plane that was diving on the USS Curtis. The debris fell around the intended ship and was saved from any harm. He commends the crew of the Patterson for their “exemplary work”.[4]

Dexter and his destroyer was one of the lucky ones to come out unscathed physically from Pearl Harbor. In later episodes, imminent danger became all the more a reality. While escorting convoys in the Battle of Guadalcanal, Patterson collided with another destroyer named McCalla. Dexter lost three of his fellow shipmen and ten were injured.[5]

anderson uss patterson

Lieut. Dexter James Anderson was transferred from the Patterson to the Comserfor. Report of Changes, 31 Mar 1943, USS Patterson, accessed on

As records and sources recant the voices of history, I become more reflective in assessing my grandfather’s service in the Navy. I just want to take a moment to thank all the courageous men and women who through respectable conviction, sacrificed for the protection of civil liberties.

I’m glad I set out to learn more about this story, because the man Dexter I knew was based on distant, if little communication. My younger self led to the conclusion he was kind of grouchy and irritable. Dexter died 3 May 2000 in Salem Hospital and his funeral would be the first I ever attended.[6] Fifteen years later, he has becomes a figure in my family history that I see with a lot more empathy and subtle complexities.


History of Pearl Harbor and the Attack:

“Attack on Pearl Harbor,” Wikipedia. Scroll to “External Links” for contemporary sources and documents of the attack.

Further Information on USS Patterson (DD-392):

“Patterson II (DD-392),” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

“USS Patterson, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack,”

“USS Patterson (DD-392),” NavSource Naval History: Photographic History of the United States Navy.

“USS Patterson,” Destroyer History Foundation.

“Bagley Class,” Destroyer History Foundation.

U.S. Government Documents about Pearl Harbor:[7]

“Document text”, US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, United States National Archives, Modern Military Branch, 1942, archived from the original on 13 January 2008, retrieved 2007-12-25.

“Document text”, Peace and War, United States Foreign Policy 1931–1941, Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1943, retrieved 2007-12-08.

“Damage to United States Naval Forces and Installations as a Result of the Attack”, Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1946, retrieved 2007-12-08.


[1] Certificate for Dexter J. Anderson, 6 Sep 1915 (recorded 10 Oct 1915), Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, registration no. 100, certificate no. 0473113: Copy sent from Town Clerk’s Office

[2] Genealogical Profile of Dexter J. Anderson, held in author’s possession.

[3] “USS Patterson, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack,”

[4] “USS Patterson, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack,”

[5] “USS Patterson,” Destroyer History Foundation.

[6] Copy of Record of Death, Dexter James Anderson, 3 May 2000, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, registration no. 234, certificate no. 0473931. Copy sent from Town Clerk’s Office in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

[7] Copied from “Attack on Pearl Harbor,” Wikipedia. 


Copyright (c) 2015 by Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.

Jake Fletcher, “Dexter J. Anderson and the Attack on Pearl Harbor,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 7 Dec 2015.


Using and Appreciating Indirect Evidence in Colonial American Genealogy


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Learning to appreciate indirect evidence is a good thing, because how we evaluate and piece together fragments can lead to astounding genealogical revelations. What keeps the field of genealogy so interesting, at least for me, are the complex puzzles. Whether it’s identifying a person, a relationship, or an event in someone’s life; a genealogist usually serves to bring closure and clarity to these entangled webs of records and evidence. Perhaps in this case, I am not quite untangled yet, but I find it extremely beneficial to document my research process and assess the evidence and it’s ability to support my hypothesis.

Research on this family, past and present, has supported a hypothesis that the wife of Elisha Freeman is Lucy Bartlett, born 18 Nov 1750 in Windsor, Connecticut to Gershom and Margaret (Darte) Bartlett.[1] Elisha was born three years before, 10 July 1747, in Mansfield, Tolland, Connecticut to Sylvanus and Mary (Dunham) Freeman.[2] Elisha Freeman and Lucy Bartlett were married on 2 Nov 1775 in Hanover, New Hampshire.[3] Sylvanus received a land grant as a proprietor of Hanover, which lay 175 miles north from Mansfield and later deeded the tract to Elisha as a young adult.[4] The realties of frontier life at this time were harsh. A decade before, future father-in-law Gershom Bartlett served in the Connecticut militia during the French-Indian War, an event that cast anxiety over colonists regarding settlement in what was still considered Indian country. Settlement of Hanover and adjacent townships did not begin until six years after they were originally chartered. But with consent, a band of adventurous men from the rolling pastures of Connecticut including Elisha went up in the winter to fell the first trees and begin work on the new township.[5]

The families that migrated into new settlements were already close and connected by ties back home. Demographically, they constitute as your “run of the mill” New England families, but certainly with some extraordinary talents. Gershom left his mark on cemeteries of New England with gravestones that are characterized by a stylized version of the 18th century evangelical “cherub” motif and remain some very unique examples of craftsmanship in the period.[6] His contribution is summed up in an article from[7]

“His portfolio of over 1,000 stones found in more than 70 cemeteries in almost 50 towns, provides historians with vital records about travel, demographics, technology, and commerce in the early colonies. In addition, the rich, detailed epitaphs Bartlett carved in these pieces are telling records of life, death, and familial relationships in 18th-century New England.”

Gershom Bartlett was born 19 Feb 1723 in Bolton, Tolland County, Connecticut to Samuel and Sarah (Ward) Bartlett,[8] although this is stated with caution, because his birth recorded as 12 Feb 1722/3 in Northampton, Massachusetts.[9] Hans Depold, historian of Bolton, Connecticut, weighs in on the discrepancies as to where the family of Samuel Bartlett lived before Bolton was incorporated into a township. He indicates that Gershom’s parents, Samuel and Sarah (Ward) Bartlett, had married in Northampton but eloped south to Bolton where they worked the land almost 20 years before the town was created.[10] The published vital records of Bolton, Connecticut and Northampton give an account of the children born to Samuel and Sarah Bartlett:

Children of Samuel and Sarah (Ward) Bartlett in both Bolton, Connecticut and Northampton, Massachusetts:

i. Sarah, b. 12 Mar 170

ii. Hezediah, b. 22 Sep 1708

iii. Experience, b. 3 Aug 1710

iv. Samuel, b. 18 Jul 1712

v. Edmund, b. 13 Jun 1714

vi .Jonathan, b. 1 Aug 1716

vii. Elinor, b. 3 Mar 1719

viii. Eunice, b. Jan 20 1720/1

ix. Gershom, b. 19 Feb 1722/3 (12 and 19 Feb in Northampton, MA VR)


Children in vital records of Bolton, Connecticut only:

x. Eunice, dau. born 14 April 1725

xi. Joseph, son born 14 April 1725 [twins]


Gershom reportedly moved to Windsor for a brief time, near the time when his father Samuel died in 1746, but was back in Bolton by 1751.[11] The birth of Gershom and Margaret’s daughter Lucy 18 Nov 1750, was recorded in the town of Windsor only. The quaint town of Bolton proved to be a haven for artisans in the 18th century because of the rich deposits of schist and mineral rock used for carving stones.

Gershom married Margaret Darte, daughter of Daniel and Jemima (Shayler) Darte in Bolton on 1748. The couple had twelve children in both Bolton and Windsor.[12] One would think Gershom was content in the artisan haven of Bolton, but in 1772, Gershom for unknown reasons, bought an inexpensive tract of land along the Ompomponoosock River in Norwich, Vermont.[13] His wife Margaret died in Norwich on 20 Sep 1778[14]; he then second married Hannah Burton, 24 May 1780.[15] Some historians and researchers believe he came back to Bolton and died there, but records of his death and gravestone indicate he died 23 Dec 1798 at his late homestead in Norwich.[16] His estate was administered by the Hartford District Probate Court in Windsor County, Vermont in 1799.[17]

Vital records recorded Elisha Freeman married Lucy Bartlett, 2 May 1775 in Hanover, New Hampshire. The original reference is located in the vital records filed by the town clerk in Hanover, New Hampshire, but was first located in the New Hampshire Vital Records Index.[18] No references to the marriage have been found in church records.

Indirect evidence demonstrates a close relationship between Elisha Freeman and Gershom Bartlett. The evidence stems from the following sources:


  • Hanover was a sparsely populated town in 1775 and there was certainly only one Elisha Freeman living in the town at that time.
  • On 5 Mar 1776, Gershom Bartlett sold land to Elisha Freeman in Norwich, Windsor County Vermont, then Gloucester County, New York.[19] Town records do not show when Elisha was admitted to Norwich, but the fact that he bought land from his father-in-law almost a year after his marriage correlates with the timeline. Elisha does not appear in town or proprietor records after the marriage.
  • A family manuscript titled, “Freeman-Hedges, Vermont” was reprinted in The American Genealogist and names the children of Elisha Freeman, wife unnamed. One of the children is Gershom B[artlett] Freeman, born 14 May 1778 in Norwich, Vermont.[20]
  • On 29 Oct 1799, Probate Court ruled in the administration of Gershom Bartlett’s estate that creditor Elisha Freeman was owed 9 dollars and 34 cents by book. Elisha appears later in the court rulings as having not furnished a voucher of payment for his portion of the estate.[21]

Many sources document Elisha as living in Norwich through his appointments to town offices and military service.[22] In 1802, he sold land to Abijah Wheeler of Norwich and according to the deed, stated he lived in nearby Stratford, Orange County, Vermont.[23] He is found in Norwich in the 1810 and 1820 census. He did not however file for a Revolutionary War Pension.

Nevertheless, Lucy’s life remains a complete mystery. The challenge of finding Elisha’s wife Lucy stem from the following obstacles:


  • The only records identifying Lucy Bartlett are the birth record and marriage to Elisha.
  • She is not buried with Elisha in Westville, New York. Elisha left Norwich as an old man with his son David Freeman and his family in the early 1830s. According to the tombstone, Elisha died 8 Jul 1836, aged 90 years and is buried next to his son David Freeman and wife Lavinia Waterman.[24]
  • She is not named in the documents that suggest relationship between Gershom Bartlett and Elisha Freeman. She is not named alongside in any of Elisha’s records, minus the marriage in 1775.
  • Vital Records of the children do not identify Lucy’s last name.
  • The entry of the marriage made in Hanover, New Hampshire’s town records does not mention either groom or bride’s parents.

Several visits to NEHGS have furnished these clues, including an astounding collection on the Freeman family, authored by Willis A. Freeman. In his collection of manuscripts was a genealogical sketch of Elisha, that suggested he married possibly Lucy Baxter, but his reasoning is not cited or deducted from any genealogical sources and the entry is written with a cautionary question mark [?].[25] Research has not found any possible match for a woman named Lucy Baxter that married Elisha Freeman. Another local historian and genealogist, Gilman Dubois Frost, who studied in great depth the families of Hanover, had trouble drawing a conclusion on Lucy’s identity. Frost thinks Lucy Bartlett may have been the sister of Nathaniel Bartlett, who married Susanna Clark of Canaan, and the aunt of Nathaniel Bartlett, who married Lucy Bridgman in 1806.[26]

Clues about what happened to Lucy can be gleaned from evidence in the US Census. She could have died between 1820 and 1830 based on the schedule of Elisha’s household in the US Census. Elisha is head of household in the 1820 Census, living next to his son David Freeman. In the household schedule, there is one woman over 45 years old and would most likely be Lucy.[27] In the 1830 Census, Elisha does not appear on the schedule. In son David’s household schedule for the 1830 Census, an elderly man is living in the house, which would have to be the Elisha, at this time about 83 years old.[28] David is the only of Elisha’s siblings left in Norwich; the other siblings had already sought other prospects and moved to upstate New York.

This post serves as an exercise in how to evaluate and present evidence. With no source directly stating that Lucy Bartlett who married Elisha Freeman is also the daughter of Gershom, indirect evidence supports this hypothesis and demonstrates a relationship between the two families. The little bits and pieces discovered along the way in research really help to tell the story.



[1] Lorraine Cook White, The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004), Vol. – Town of Windsor, 30.

[2] Birth Record of Elisha Freeman, 10 Aug 1747, Vital Records, Mansfield, Tolland, Connecticut, 138.

[3] Hanover Town Records, Birth, Marriages and Death, (Genealogical Society of Utah: Salt Lake, 1950), 36: accessed on Family Search, New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947. Hereafter cited as Entry of Marriage for Elisha Freeman and Lucy Bartlett, Hanover Town Records.

[4] Sylvanus Freeman quitclaimed the 45th plot in the township of Hanover, New Hampshire to son Elisha on 10 May 1769. See Registry of Deeds, Rockingham County. Deed from Silvanus Freeman to Elisha freeman, 23 May 1769, 100:425; accessed on Microfilm at NEHGS.

[5] On 17 Dec 1767, Elisha received six shillings for two days of highway work. See Hanover Town Records, Proprietor Records, (Genealogical Society of Utah: Salt Lake, 1950), 57. He appears several times in the town records of Hanover for payments and appointments in town administration. See Ibid, 106, 108-109; The records of the town of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1761-1818 : the records of town meetings and of the selectmen, comprising al [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations Inc, 2005, 13, 16-17.

[6] Hans Depold, “The Bolton Art Colony & Gershom Bartlett,” Bolton Horizons (Bolton, CT: June 2010; Revised Jan 2015): accessed on Hereafter cited as Depold, “The Bolton Art Colony & Gershom Bartlett”.

[7] “The Art of Life and Death in Colonial Bolton,” posted on [?],

[8] “Vital Records of Bolton to 1854 and Vernon to 1852,” (Hartford, Conn: Connecticut Historical Society, 1909), 21: accessed at

[9] Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850, Town of Northampton (Vol.1), 254. Accessed on

[10] Depold, “The Bolton Art Colony & Gershom Bartlett”.

[11] “The Art of Life and Death in Colonial Bolton”. Samuel died 19 Nov 1746 in Bolton, Connecticut. See Vital Records of Bolton to 1854 and Vernon to 1852,” (Hartford, Conn: Connecticut Historical Society, 1909), 64.

[12] Depold, “The Bolton Art Colony & Gershom Bartlett”. The maiden name of Gershom’s wife Margaret should be treated with caution. A marriage intention was filed by Gershom Bartlett of Windsor and Margaret Herron of Hadley, Massachusetts 13 July 1747, published the following day. See Massachusetts Vital Records To 1850, Town of Hadley (Vol.1), 82: accessed on American

[13] Hans Depold states Gershom was involved in land speculation while living in Vermont. See Depold, “The Bolton Art Colony & Gershom Bartlett”.

[14] Data Entry and Photo for Gravestone of Margaret (Darte) Bartlett, Waterman Hill Cemetery, Norwich, Vermont:, Memorial no. 51570726.

[15] Norwich, Town and Vital Records, Vol.1, 1761-1793, 255.

[16] Index card for Gersham Bartlet, 23 Dec 1798, Norwich, Vermont: accessed on Familysearch, “Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954”; Data Entry and Photo for Gravestone of Gershom Bartlett, Waterman Hill Cemetery, Norwich, Vermont:, Memorial no. 43393024.

[17] Administration of Gershom Bartlett’s Estate, Apr 1799, Probate Records for Windsor County, Vermont, Hartford District, 1783-1851, (Genealogical Society of Utah: Salt Lake City, 1982), on microfilm at NEHGS.

[18] Hanover Town Records, Birth, Marriages and Death, (Genealogical Society of Utah: Salt Lake, 1950), 36: accessed on Family Search, New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947; Town of Hanover, New Hampshire, Marriage of Lucy Bartlett and Elisha Freeman, 2 May 1775: accessed on, New Hampshire Vital Records Index.

[19] Gershom Bartlett to Elisha Freeman, 5 Mar 1776, Norwich, Vermont land records, 1:27, recorded 14 May 1787: photocopied at Town Clerk’s Office.

[20] Donald Lines Jacobus, “Freeman-Hedges, Vermont,” The American Genealogist, Vol. 10 (1933), 127.

[21] Administration of Gershom Bartlett’s Estate, Apr 1799, Probate Records for Windsor County, Vermont, Hartford District, 1783-1851, (Genealogical Society of Utah: Salt Lake City, 1982), on microfilm at NEHGS.

[22] Norwich, Town and Vital Records, Vol.1, 1761-1793 (State of VT: Filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake at Norwich, 31 July 1952): accessed on Familysearch; Elisha Freeman, compiled Military Service Record, (Corporal, Peter Olcott’s Regiment, Vermont Militia), in Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, Microfilm M881, Roll no. 896.

[23] Abijah Wheeler to Elisha Freeman, 15 Apr 1802, vol. and page not retreved, Land Records of Norwich, Vermont: photocopied at Town Clerk’s Office

[24] Transcriptions of the tombstone for Elisha Freeman, Franklin County, New York: accessed on Northern New York Tombstone Transcription Project; D.A.R. New York State Series. Graves of Revolutionary Soldiers buried in New York, Vol vi, part 1, page 48; cited in George Willis Freeman, “Freeman Collection [manuscript],” call no. SG FRE 55 [111].


[25] George Willis Freeman, Freeman Collection.

[26] Gilman Dubois Frost, Microfilm Edition of Dr. Gilman Frost’s Genealogical Records of Hanover, New Hampshire, (Hanover, New Hampshire: Dartmouth College Library, 1972).

[27] Elisha Freeman, 1820 US Census, Norwich, Vermont, Roll 128, page 349, image 216: accessed on

[28] Elisha Freeman, 1830 US Census, Norwich, Vermont, roll 187, page 218: accessed on


Copyright (c) 2015 by Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.

Jake Fletcher, “Using and Appreciating Indirect Evidence in Colonial American Genealogy,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 3 Dec 2015.

November 2015 Newsletter



Travelogues of a Genealogist just celebrated it’s seventh anniversary and I am reflecting back with fondness and am humbled by the encouragement of others. Genealogy is truly a wonderful field to be involved in.

In it’s seventh-year, the blog is going through some changes. A new theme and design has given the page a more user-friendly and authentic look. Plans for the upcoming months are to register a domain name with a web address that I found particularly clever but will not release it until the website is launched. I will always continue to blog and will certainly keep you posted on where you can connect with me.

*** Genealogy Societies ***

2016 is shaping up to be a great year of getting involved with local and regional societies. Starting in January, I will begin my tenure as Vice President for the New England Association of Professional Genealogists. The annual meeting was located in Boston at an all-time favorite location for genealogists, New England Historic Genealogical Society. The morning’s panels offered informative discussions on career topics such as education opportunities, large genealogical studies, and publishing articles. Members were also treated to a tour of the book conservation lab before the annual meeting. An all around great day for sure! I look forward to working with the officers and members in the upcoming year.

Earlier that week, I attended the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Chapter meeting in Worcester where Sara Campbell gave a great talk on how land records are used in genealogy. Land records are among my favorite and deserve great study in any research case.

The biggest takeaway is that there are many opportunities to educate yourself wherever you look.

***2016 Lecture and Class Schedule***

My lecture schedule is up to date and available for you viewing. Most of my appearances are locally based in North Central Massachusetts. Please contact me  if you would like to learn more about obtaining a recording. Click “Lectures” in the menu for more information.

*** Past Travelogues ***

A list of my blog posts published since the last newsletter:

Tracking One Name in the Census,” posted 9 Nov 2015.

Faces of Next Gen,” posted 6 Nov 2015.

History of the W. & A. Olswang Co. in Jamaica, Queens Co., New York,” posted 1 Nov 2015.

The True Sons of Ireland,” posted 30 Oct 2015.

Records of Civilian Deaths Overseas (US and UK),” posted 21 Oct 2015.

I’ve Been Nominated,” posted 20 Oct 2015.


*** Favorite Links ***

Lowell Police Court Naturalizations 1838-1854, 1885-1906  – Irish researchers should look at the fantastic work of Walter Hickey who put together this database of naturalizations. This has led me to consider to a similar genealogical study of Irish communities in other Massachusetts cities and towns. – I give Lisa Louise Cooke all the credit for showing me how useful non-genealogy software programs can be for our research. In particular, Google Earth provides an exciting and dynamic way to educate others on one’s family history. Additional information on how to search in Google is available here: (

The Genealogy Professional Podcast – There’s nothing like first-hand experience and that’s what Marian Pierre-Louis’ podcast is all about; having professional genealogists provide first hand how they worked their way into successful careers. Always a good boost of inspiration!

Research guide A3: Tracing family history from maritime records | Royal Museums Greenwich – An excellent guide on researching ancestors that sailed with the Royal Navy, Merchant Marine, or other British maritime occupations.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list!


Jake Fletcher

Genealogist, Historical Researcher, Blogger



Follow and connect with Jake on social media:






Copyright (c) 2015 Jake Fletcher.

Jake Fletcher, “November 2015 Newsletter,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 18 Nov 2015.

Tracking One Name in the Census


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Time consuming as it may be, tracking the occurrence of a surname overtime in a particular locale can actually be extremely helpful.  We want to get to know the nearby families that share the name of our ancestor, especially if they live in the same town, because their records may very well be able to lead us further back in our family trees. If you see two families with the same surname living on the same street, there’s no question you should investigate who the neighboring family is.

I have studied several Irish surnames in Berkshire County, Massachusetts by collecting data from population schedules and created maps of how the name is distributed throughout the county. This technique is useful in studying large immigrant communities, but could be implemented in any genealogy case. About a year ago, I was researching a laborer named Owen Murphy from North Adams, Massachusetts. No records of Owen Murphy were able to identify parents, brothers, or cousins. All the evidence I had gathered gave the frustrating conclusion he was only born in Ireland. Research problems like these have existed an almost infinite number of times and many researchers would say your not going to find where Owen came from within the country of Ireland.

Nevertheless, I made a conscious decision to not forfeit the pursuit and decided I would research every other Murphy family within the county and neighboring counties for an answer or even a clue. Based on how common the name Murphy is, it’s no surprise that retrieved 1200 results for Murphy in Berkshire County, Massachusetts records, 1850-1900.  I was left with the task of abstracting all these names, by no means a short task and at times tedious. I abstracted the information into an excel document with headings for each of the census columns.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 6.29.02 PM

The next step was to create visual representations of the data. I would suggest finding a county map online or in a book that has town borders outlined A Guide to Berkshire County Massachusetts had a perfect example of this and from here a color-coded legend was created to represent how many Murphy families lived in each other. This results in a better comparison and understanding of how the families moved around. Overtime industrious cities like Pittsfield and North Adams are home to the most Murphy families, while quainter villages like Sheffield are home to one or two. Most Murphy families have settled in the central and southern part of the county.

Demographical information collected from the census in large quantities lends itself useful to migration studies. They are also evidence of historical trends and ethnic diversity in a community. Starting in 1850, census takers asked individuals to give the state or foreign country which they were born in. Abstracting and evaluating data from the census showed that Irish born males with the surname Murphy increased overtime from 1850 to 1900. If more Irish Murphy families are coming to settle in Western Massachusetts, are they relatives of people who settled there first? Chain migration occurs when a family or community over time leaves their home village to adopt a new community. In order to investigate this, we need to go into record groups that could provide the parish or town of origin and collect this information to see if there is a correlation. After gathering information about where the Murphy’s originated, it was clear they were not all coming from the same county in Ireland.

Distribution of Murphy Surname, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. 1870 US Census

Distribution of Murphy Surname, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. 1870 US Census

Distribution of Murphy Surname, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. 1880 US Census.

Distribution of Murphy Surname, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. 1880 US Census.

Population schedules recorded by the government, such as the U.S. Census, are often emphasized as go-to sources for family history research. This is because the demographical information provided in population schedules provide many pieces of evidence to discern if this person or family in the census actually belongs in their family tree. The various questions such as name, age, residence, birthplace, occupation, and family members can be evaluated and compared in adjacent census schedules to confirm their identity. Assuming that sources prove the family did in fact stay in the same area, those individuals who move elsewhere as indicated by their absence in the town’s schedule can be eliminated from the list of possible matches for the target ancestor.

We as family historians need to be careful in presenting conclusions of identity. Is the person you are adding to your family tree in fact your ancestor? These kind of questions always need to be taken into consideration and can be more of a challenge with common surnames. Getting to know the surname in the area where you are looking can help to provide more definitive proof of the target ancestor’s identity. It is through doing this type of work for others that I’ve learned how valuable is and will need to implement the same strategies on certain branches of my own family tree.


Copyright (c) 2015 Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without author’s permission.

Jake Fletcher, “Tracking One Name in the Census,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 8 Nov 2015.


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