Sunday, April 10, 2011

New England Regional Genealogical Conference - Day Three

Well, the party's over, I guess. Now we get to go home and use all the new things we learned! Last night was an interesting mix of genealogists and young women who were competing in dance contests. The Sheraton was hopping! There was dancing in the halls, in the elevators and in the restaurants. (And probably dancing, dancing in the streets...)

The first session I took yesterday was entitled "Where Did They Go, Following the Paths of New Englanders Who Left New England", taught by Mary Ann Boyle, PhD. CG. I was expecting a lecture on migration patterns from New England to New York, Ohio, Michigan and beyond, but the lecture was actually about Mary Ann's experience as a private investigator and genealogist, finding people, (mostly alive). Mary sprinkled the lecture with tips on how to do the type of research she does, and gave us a few helpful websites to use. Mary's sense of humor was evident in the lecture, and because of this, the lecture was quite enjoyable, although not what I was hoping to learn.

The next two sessions, "Using Collateral Lines to Build Your Family Tree", by Janis P. Duffy, and "Where is Great Grandma Hiding? Finding the Forgotten Females", by Sandra MacLean Clunnes, CG., were both case studies. Both lecturers discussed how they broke through their specific brick walls, gave advice for searching whole families, neighborhoods and associates and to look out for errors perpetuated through early transcription mistakes. "Using Collateral Lines" focused on a family that settled in Massachusetts from Ireland, and included a lot of information about researching in Ireland, while "Where is Great Grandma Hiding?" focused on an earlier New England family.

I had more time today to speak with many of the vendors in the Exhibit Hall. Had an informative discussion with Bruce about RootsMagic and the differences between version 3 and 4. One of our concerns, in the middle of two large book projects, is migrating over customized facts. In using version 3 we found that we wanted descriptors on some of the pre-installed facts. Since they were considered primary facts, we couldn't change them, so we created new ones to suit our needs. Now I am concerned that there will be a lot of data cleanup if we move our database from version 3 to 4, as these customized facts don't exist in 4. Bruce said that RootsMagic can probably write some SQL code to migrate our facts. Has anyone been through this? If so, please e-mail me!

The last session I attended was entitled "How Autosomal DNA Testing is Changing Genealogy", by Blaine Bettinger, PhD. Blaine lives and works in my neck of the woods (Syracuse, NY), and I have had a chance to meet him and pick his brains about DNA in the past. He's a wealth of knowledge, and a great guy. I especially appreciate his ability to explain complex scientific theories and methods in language that non scientists can understand!

Blaine gave a brief overview of the types of DNA testing that have become available and targeted towards the genealogy crowd over the last ten or more years, and focused on the relatively new Autosomal DNA test. My boss, Bill Pomeroy, had taken the test recently and I've been having a tough time understanding the results and matches he's been getting. Blaine explained that when DNA is passed from parent to child, it contains a random sampling of the DNA of the parents. A sampling - NOT ALL THE DNA FROM THE PARENTS! The DNA passed on to the child stays relatively intact within the first 5 generations, but after that, it's anyone's guess which of the older generations' DNA will be passed on to the child. As Blaine explains it, "not all of your Great Great Grandparents DNA is handed down to you, and there is no way to tell who has fallen off your (genetic) tree." Thus you have a Genealogical Tree (the research you've done that identifies your forebears), and a Genetic Tree, which will contain some of the DNA from people in your Genealogical Tree, but not all of it.

Blaine and I also had a chance to have a brief discussion before the class, where I explained that some of the matches Bill is getting appear to be way farther back in his Genealogical Tree than 5 generations. Blaine noted that he had found this also, and that this could be based on the randomness of the DNA that gets passed down. Apparently some DNA is luckier than others, (or maybe just more persistant)?

So, is Autosomal testing a wise investment at this time? Sure, if you understand that it's not going to replace dilegent research into your Genealogical Tree. Can it help you find cousins, and break through brick walls? Sure, but a lot of that has to do with how many people take the test - more participants mean more potential results. So get out that cheek swabs!

Friday, April 8, 2011

New England Regional Genealogical Conference - Day Two

A bit of a late blog entry today, as we just got back from a wonderful dinner with some Pomeroy friends at Mykonos European Restaurant. We all enjoyed wonderful food and great company!

The first session I attended this morning was entitled "Genealogy and The Six Degrees of Separation", taught by Colleen Fitzpatrick, Phd, a Forensic Genealogist. Colleen explained about the theory of connectivity and how the internet has allowed for greater connection, which is lessening the 6 degrees to about 3.5 degrees.

Colleen gave some great tips for finding anyone. First off, if you have an old address, look for neighbors, ask local reference librarians, ask local ministers, rabbis, and look for similar people - same ethic backgrounds and professions.

One particularly good tip, when making a cold call, is to be prepared - and when speaking with a stranger identify your self as a genealogist and give information that you've learned about the family, so that the person on the other end of the line won't think you're a telemarketer!

Colleen identified several common mistakes made by researchers. These are: being too focused on the problem so you forget the bigger picture, missing obvious clues and not understanding the geography and history of the place in which your ancestor (or the person you're trying to find) lived.

Colleen has writing several wonderful books. We own "Forensic Genealogy" and I just picked up "DNA Genealogy" today at the vendor hall. I can't wait to read it!

The second session I attended was entitled Travel, Highways, Ferries, Bridges and Taverns", taught by Richard C. Roberts. This class focused on the collections at the Connecticut State Library.

Record Group OO1 consists of Early General Records, public records of the Colony and later State, including the Particular Court 1635-1665, the Court of Assistants 1665-1711 and the papers of the General Assembly from 1640-1820, which contain information about the Colonial Wars, Indians, the Revolutionary War, and records pertaining to Travel, Highways, Ferries and Bridges which are in two series. The first series contains 1152 documents arranged chronologically spanning the years 1700-1788. The second series contains 1801 documents in arranged topically and spanning the years 1737-1820.

Indexes of the Connecticut Archives are available on their website at . Back to the travel part - in 1638 the first formal road in Connecticut was built between Windsor and Hartford. In 1643 each town was made responsible for making and mending "ways" within its bounds. In 1679 "ways" between towns were designated County Roads or Biways.

In January 1641 the General Court authorized a ferry at Windsor, which had already been in use and operated by John Bissell. And, did you know that in 1822 Connecticut started a project called the Farmington Canal? This canal was never finished, but there are some fabulous maps from the project that include names of property owners. So, head out to the Connecticut State Library website and start to poke around. Your ancestors just may be hidden in the many records the library contains!

We broke to visit the Exhibit Hall where I picked up a few books, including one entitled "The Isles of Shoals in the Age of Sail, A Brief History" by Russell M. Lawson, Phd. I'm excited to learn more about the place where Richard Pomeroy settled. We then met Diane L, an APHGA member and friend who came down to the conference from New Hampshire with her mom, Lucille. We had a nice lunch and wonderful conversation. It was so nice to meet Diane after e-mailing and having phone conversations with her for years!

The third session I attended was entitled "Erie Canal Genealogy" and was taught by John Philip Colletta. John gave a general outline of the history of the Erie Canal and explained in detailed the many types of jobs that were created by and for the canal system. The Erie Canal was the largest public works project funded by a state. The Canal Bill was passed in 1817 and construction started July 4, 1817, and was completed by 1825. The canal was widened between 1847 and 1862 to allow for boats with deeper hulls and to allow two-way traffic. John also explained how the canal was used both for travel/immigration and to move freight.

The records of the Canal Board, established in 1826 have been microfilmed and are available for viewing at the New York State Archives in Albany. These records contain many petitions and appeals from local landowners and workers. The New York State Museum, also in Albany, and connected to the Archives, also ahs payroll records of Canal employees.

The fourth session I attended was entitled "Diaries and Journals, Finding and Using These Valuable Resources" taught by Laura G. Prescott. Laura discussed the value of diaries an offered many tips for finding them, and included several websites such as with contains the diary of Martha Ballard, an early Maine midwife; which is part of the New England Historic Genealogial Association website; the Library of Congress website at; the Maine Diary Directory at ; - the National Union Catalog of Manuscrupt Collections; and Cyndi's list at

The last session I attended was entitled "Discovering Your Ancestor's Life, Political Affiliations and Their Records", by D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS. Joshua gave a consise history of political parties and movements in the US including where and why they were formed, key locations and platforms. By finding out what political parties were available in the places your ancestors lived, you can start looking for records that may contain information about these ancestors. Joshua suggested two books that detail political parties. The first was the "History of U.S. Political Parties" by Arthur Schlesinger (in 5 volumes) and the second was "National Party Conventions" published by the Congressional Quarterly in 1983. Joshua also explained that local newspapers often had political affiliations, so if you know which party your ancestor belonged to, you would be most likely to find him in the paper of the same affiliation. Some addional records to check are Convention Records (was there a political convention in the place where your ancestor lived?), which can include voting records, souvenir books and memorabilia from the convention. Check State and local Archives and Historical Societies private collections and University/College archives and Special Collections for these records.

That's it for tonight - I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New England Regional Genealogical Conference - Day One

Hi Everyone,

Just a short post to recap the first day of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. This is my second time at the conference and I really recommend it to anyone interested in genealogy.

The opening session featured D. Josh Taylor of the New England Historic Genealogical Association, and recent "Who Do You Think You Are?" fame. He had some fun stories about Sarah Jessica Parker and Ashley Judd. He spoke about the changing face of genealogical research and genealogists. He mentioned the importance of blogs (yay!), twittering (haven't done that yet), and social networking as ways of communicating. Lots of great stuff!

I then attended a session on graphoanalysis (handwriting analysis) taught by Irene Lambert. This was a tantalizing "tip of the iceberg" look at using handwriting analysis to identify personality traits and how to tell if two different pieces of handwriting were written by the same person. I love the idea of figuring out your ancestor's personality by how they write, but I'm sure there's a lot more education needed than a one hour class to do this justice! (But I am looking at old letters in a new light!)

The second lecture I attended was entitled "French Canadian Pathways" by Patty Vigeant Locke. I signed up for the class because I was hoping to learn about records that might contain some of our Ontario Province and Quebecois Pomeroys. I learned a lot about New England railroad lines and how this effected populations. I now have he URLs of some interesting websites I need to check out.

The last lecture of the day was entitled "The Impact of Bounty Land on Migration Within and Out of New England", taught by Craig Roberts Scott. Craig is a fantastic lecturer, and I wrote three pages of notes in the hour. Lots of interesting Bounty Land facts for not only New England, but the Southern states also. Craig also provided a great history lesson on early colonial and later American wars, and what bounty lands were made available for service in these wars.

I checked out the Society Fair afterwards, and met some great society volunteers, including a woman whose neighbor is a Pomeroy! It's a good thing I brought a lot of business cards! Tomoorow I will be attending five sessions and the Exhibit (Vendor) Hall. That burning smell is my credit card!

Friday, April 1, 2011

APHGA Blog Post for April 1, 2011

The Great A. A. Pomeroy Book Update Project

First off, Bill and I are really excited about attending the upcoming New England Regional Genealogical Consortium’s Conference, which will be in Springfield, MA, Wednesday April 6 – Saturday, April 10, 2011. If you’re planning on attending, please let us know! Even if you can’t do the whole conference, the exhibit hall is open to the public starting Thursday at 6pm. We’ll be peppering the conference with “got pomeroys?” and “got anvils?” stickers. We’ll also have contact information on the query boards, and you can always reach me at or on Facebook.

One of the courses I’m taking that is so timely, is “How Autosomal DNA Testing is Changing Genealogy”, taught by Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D. Blaine lives in the Syracuse area, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet with him and pick his brain – it will be great to see him again, especially as Bill’s FamilyFinder (Autosomal) results have come in, and I’m knee deep in organizing all this information.

I have also been corresponding with a gravestone scholar who is working on an article regarding crosses on early New England Puritan gravestones. Two stones in particular were of interest to him – those of Seth Pomeroy and Jonathan Allen at the Bridge Street Cemetery. Interestingly, both Seth and Jonathan are ancestors of Bill Pomeroy. I’ve been providing background information on both of these individuals and have requested copies of the wills and probate files of Seth Pomeroy, Jonathan Allen and Nathaniel Phelps (considered to be the stone carver of these memorials.) As we dig deeper into the families of Northampton, MA, we are finding how inter-related they all were.

Judy has been diligently entering a pile of matched records, and doing additional research to answer questions that arise in the data entry. Some of the lines she’s been tracing are the Ancil Eleazer Pomeroy (Daniel, Eleazer, Daniel, Noah, Samuel, Caleb, Eltweed) family; Fred L. Pomeroy (Horace G., Lyman Horace, Timothy Lyman, Timothy, Timothy, Ebenezer, Eldad, Caleb, Eltweed); the Carl P. Rose (Parker W. Rose, Daniel Pomeroy Rose, Jr., Daniel Pomeroy, Rose, Elizabeth Polan Pomeroy, Daniel, Noah, Joseph, Eltweed) family; the Grace Lisk (Pomeroy) Fearon (William Conover, Christopher F., Rosel) family of New Jersey (currently in our “Unlinked Pomeroy” database); and the John F. Pomeroy (Charles Carlyle, Albert L., Lewic C, Lewis) family of Fulton, Oswego and Hannibal, New York. We lose track of this family with Lewis Pomeroy, born abt 1802 in Canada, who married Louisa (last name unknown) by 1829. The family is found in Syracuse, NY in the 1850 US Federal Census; then moves to Oswego County, living in Lysander and then Granby.

Barb continues to review and transcribe the Church of Christ, Northampton, MA records. Betty is entering those records that match people in our database. Barb is also working on an article about a diary belonging to Cora Patrick who married Harry Dwight Pomeroy (Theodore Clapp, Stephen, Ebenezer, Ebenezer, Eldad, Caleb, Eltweed). Harry was born in Cortland, Cortland County, New York in 1866, moved with his parents to Syracuse by 1880, was educated at Cornell University as a mechanical engineer, married Cora in 1890 and lived in Syracuse and Schroeppel, New York. She is also continuing her review of Pomeroys in Americas Historic Newspapers.

Betty continues to review, match and enter Pomeroy related research, and has of late been concentrating on filling in collateral lines. Nancy has handed over several Pomeroy research projects from APHGA members and Betty is working to identify these families and add the research we’ve done to our Pomeroy databases. One of the real mysteries she’s been working on is Sterling Fagan, aka Sterling Pomeroy, born 2 Aug 1882 in Ohio, Bureau County, Illinois, who married Frances Myrtle Spratt, 1904 in Fergus County, Montana. Sterling was found living with his grandmother, Henrietta S. (Jackson) Pomeroy in the 1910 and 1920 US Federal Census in Chicago, Illinois, with the surname Pomeroy, but his death record, recorded in Illinois identifies his father as Robert H. Fagan and mother Agnes Pomeroy. Were the surnames of his parents switched by mistake, or was his name changed? Agnes Pomeroy’s line is as follows: Sterling, Hiram Sterling, Hiram, John, Noah, Joseph, Eltweed. The name “Sterling” seems to be popular in this line. We’ve also been chasing a Sterling Pomeroy Searle born abt 1807 in Berkshire, Franklin County, Vermont, who married Ellen Dalton in 1842 in Lake Geneva, Wallworth County, Wisconsin. Is anyone else researching these families?

Barb found an interesting article about early Sandwich Islands missionaries Reverend William Richards and his wife Clarissa Lyman. Two of their children, Harriet Keopuolani Richards and Levi Lyman Richards were adopted by Samuel and Emily (Graves) Williston of Easthampton, and educated in Massachusetts. Clarissa Lyman was an Eltweed descendant (daughter of Lucretia Kingsley, daughter of Abigail Pomeroy, Daniel, Ebenezer, Medad, Eltweed). Also interesting is the fact that Emily (Graves) Williston was also a descendant of Eltweed (daughter of Lydia Pomeroy, Benjamin, Josiah, Ebenezer, Medad, Eltweed). Emily (Graves) Williston and Clarissa (Lyman) Richards were third cousins.

Christine continues to enter Pomeroys from the George Pomeroy book into a separate database so that we can sort out the earlier Pomeroy research we’ve done. Once completed, she will start entering the matched research on that line. Christine also researched Nathaniel Phelps and early gravestone art in New England, and has been continuing to match currently unmatched Pomeroy research. Christine will also start work on Bill’s many lineage society applications.

Ed continues to research to match previously unmatched census and vital records, and also to add family groups to our Unlinked Pomeroy database. He’s been spending a lot of time in the Southern US, hunting down Pomeroys in Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, West Virginia and Tennessee, and when it gets too muggy down there, he hops up to Michigan and Ohio. One family he’s been tracing is that of Milo A. Pomeroy, b. 1872 in Anoka, Anoka County, Minnesota who married Louise Brown in 1909 in Saint Paul. Milo’s parents were John Tyler and Sarah C. “Sadie” (Hayden) Pomeroy. This family traces its lineage back to Richard Pomeroy of the Isles of Shoals. Ed and Christine worked on the Benair Pomeroy family. Benair, born 1924 in Schenectady, Schenectady County, New York, married Irene Bixby in 1973. He was the son of Andrew William and Fannie G. (Kastrlberg) Pomeroy. Andrew was born 1884 in Schenectady and was the son of Benair J. and Catherine (Komp) Pomeroy. Benair J. was born in 1860 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He and Catherine had at least 7 children: Henry John “Harry”, born 1881; Philip Edward, born 1882; Andrew William, born 1884; Agnes, born 1886; Edward George, born 1887; William B., born 1891; and Joseph B., born 1893. Benair J. Pomeroy had a sister Annie, born abt 1862 in PA, who married a Mr. Hewitt. Does anyone know this family?

Another family Ed’s been working on is that of Harry C. Pomeroy, born 1866 in Ohio. He married Nora M. Oberlies in 1891 in Hamilton County, Indiana. He was the son of Samuel and Eva (Cadwalter) Pomeroy. Samuel was born abt. 1841 in Ohio and Eva was born abt. 1848, also in Ohio. Harry and his family lived in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana. He and wife Nora had at least five children: Glenn W., born 1892; Sarah E., born 1894; Blanch, born 1897; Gertrude E., born 1905; and Martina Mae, born 1909. We’d love to learn more about this family.

Ed also researched the John Larrabee Pomeroy family. John was born in 1883 in Kentucky, married first Lillian B. Brennan by 1908, and second, Lecile Jones in 1930. John was a physician working and living in Los Angeles, CA, where he was additionally the Public Health Officer for Los Angeles County. He was the son of Danforth Witherby and Mattie Buchanan (Norris) Pomeroy. Danforth was born abt. 1832 in Painseville, Lake County, Ohio, and Mattie was born in 1851 in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. Danforth was the son of Charles and Phila (Witherby) Pomeroy, of whom we know very little. Phila was born abt. 1805 in Vermont and was found living with her children, Danforth and Philinda P. Pomeroy in Oxford, Butler County, Ohio in the 1850 US Federal Census. Who was Charles Pomeroy, and does he connect to the Eltweed line?

Lee continues her research into the Reverend Lemuel Strong Pomeroy family, with an eye to publishing her research. Lemuel’s parents were Captain Stephen Pomeroy (Ebenezer, Ebenezer, Eldad, Caleb, Eltweed) and Hannah “Polly” Clapp. Stephen was born in Southampton, Massachusetts in 1775 and had moved with his wife to Otisco, Onondaga County, New York, by 1806 where their ten children were born. This fascinating family contained a Reverend, a Physician and a Merchant, whose lives were integral to the communities they lived in. Lee has also been heading up research done by the department at the Onondaga County Public Library, the Onondaga Historical Society, the Onondaga County Clerk’s Office and several research facilities in Cortland, NY.

The Pomeroy Collection

Tammy continues to work on the boxes of genealogical data that belongs to Bill’s mother and the Santmyers/Crawford side of the family.

Nancy has started to re-assess the set-up of the storage space for the collection.

The Mary Ann Coe Project

I completed my review, transcription and analysis of the first two ledgers of the Onondaga County, New York, Poorhouse Ledgers and have sent the information on to the archaeologist working at the Poorhouse site and the Town of Onondaga Historian. I’ll be writing an article (hopefully for publication), regarding my finds, so stay tuned!

I’ve also been getting down to the brass tacks of the Mary Ann Coe book – writing and identifying areas for further research, then doing the research. This is such a valuable experience; and I would suggest it to everyone tracing their family history. We use a genealogy database (RootsMagic) to organize our research and are very conscientious about recording and citing our sources, but I’ve found that you don’t get “the big picture” by just looking at your genealogy database. It’s not until you start writing that you start asking questions and seeing patterns. Even if you’re not planning on publishing, I highly recommend writing out your family history, even in outline. You’ll be amazed at the places it can take you!

Pat continues her research of Carlos C. Coe, an early balloonist and relative of Mary Ann Coe, with an eye to publish an article about this fascinating man. She has also been following some great deductive reasoning in order to identify the parents of Matilda Brown, the wife of Francis W. Pomeroy, son of Spencer Pomeroy and Mary Ann Coe. We’ve been stumped about this one for years, as she has such a common name. She is also chasing the Pixley family that was in Pompey, NY who settled early in Huron County, OH. She continues to add names into our Early Pompey Residents database to see if we can figure out who else from Pompey and Manlius settled in Norwalk and Huron County, Ohio, as did Mary Ann.