One of the notable record collections owned by NEHGS is microfilms of Massachusetts Vital Records from 1841-1915. Carolyn suggested I do some research on James Watts, who married one of my Swedish relatives, Asserina Anderson. I consulted the census record I had of James Watts when my great-grandfather, Henry W Anderson, was boarding in his house. According to his listing in the 1910 US Federal Census, he was born 41 years old which would put his birthdate from 1868-1869 in Massachusetts. I checked the index of Massachusetts Births 1866-1870 and had an entry of James R Watts in Marblehead in 1866. With the volume and page entry handy, I found the original.


James R Watts, born Jan 1 1866, male, born in Marblehead, his father is James Watts, mother is Roseanne Burns, they are living in Marblehead, his father is working as a ropemaker, his father was born in Cambridgeport, his mother was born in Ireland

The same process happened when looking for a marriage record. The 1910 US Federal Census had them listed as married for 10 years, so I looked in the Massachusetts Marriage Index for 1900. James R Watts was listed in the index as being married in Marblehead in 1899, so I consulted the original.


9 Nov 1899, Marblehead, James R Watts & Aserina Anderson

James R Watts, living in Marblehead, 33 years old, working as a painter, parents are James Watts & Rosana Burns, 1st marriage

Aserina Anderson, living in Marblehead, 27 years old, working as a domestic servant, parents are Isak & Ingrid K. Anderson, 1st marriage

signed by J.D. Rong, Minister of the Gospel?

Aserina Anderson is Henry W Anderson’s sister. So I established the connection and why they came over to the US. Even though the Watts are related to my family by marriage, I continued my search for James R Watts’s father, James Watts, who was a civil war veteran. The only evidence  I had of this was the civil war sabre and the medal.

Marie Daly, director of the NEHGS, was curious about the research I was doing and found some good information for me. She was not finding any results in the censuses earlier then 1900 on Watts in Marblehead, but in the 1870 US Federal Census, she found a Rosanna Watt, widowed with two children, James R and John D Watt, living in Marblehead. With the new information I had found on James R Watts, this seemed like a match. She also found James Watts in the Massachusetts Vital Records. He was listed in Marblehead deaths in 1869.


 James Watt, male, married, died at 26 years 5 months old, died from consumption, died in Marblehead, worked as a shoemaker, born in Cambridge, father was Alexander Watt and mother was Mary Loaflen?, both born in Ireland


Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1915, Marblehead, Births, 1 January 1866, vol. 186, page 237.

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1915, Marblehead, Marriages, 9 November 1899, vol. 488, page 471.

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1915, Marblehead, Deaths, 5 May 1869, vol.220, page 220.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Jake Fletcher