Thursday, April 27, 2017


 I received the following e-mail announcement about an hour ago from Alex Cox of Findmupast:


-         From Thursday 27th April until 1st May 2017, over 1.9 billion birth marriage, death & and census records will be completely free to search and explore at Findmypast

·         This includes 595 million UK BMDs, the largest collection available online, over 80 million exclusive parish records you won’t find anywhere else, over 13 million Catholic Sacramental Registers covering England, Ireland, Scotland & the US, and over 168 million United States Marriages

London, UK, 27th April 2017
Findmypast is encouraging fledgling family historians to start their journey of discovery by providing five days of free access to their entire collection of birth, marriage, death and census records. From 09:00 BST, 27th April until 23:00 BST, 1st May 2016, all record matches on Findmypast Family trees and the 1.9 billion records they cover will be completely free to view and explore.

By providing free access to these essential beginner records, Findmypast aims to help budding genealogists start building their family tree and discover new ancestors through their records. Researchers will also be provided with daily getting started guides, expert insights and useful how-to blogs over the course of the free access period. A free webinar entitled “Start Your Family History Journey” will also be broadcast at 4pm BST, Friday April 28th.

For the next five days, all visitors to Findmypast will be able to access all of the following records for free;
           Over 595 million UK birth, marriages & death records including exclusive parish collections

·         The Catholic Heritage Archive – a rich archive of over 13 million baptisms, marriages, burials & Sacramental registers from Ireland, Scotland, Westminster, Birmingham and Philadelphia – only available on Findmypast

·         Over 370 million US & Canadian vital records

·         Over 9 million Irish census records including the 1901 & 1911 census – the only Irish censuses to survive intact

          Over 27 million Australian & New Zealand BMDS

·         Over 257 million UK census records including all intact national censuses and a variety of early census fragments

·         Over 704 million US & Canadian Census records

·         Over 487,000 Australian & New Zealand Census record

 All 1.9 billion records covered by the free access period are automatically matched against the names, dates and locations stored in Findmypast’s online Family Tree Builder. As information is added, Findmypast does all the hard work by sifting through the archives to instantly identify potential matches. Once potential matches have been made, users can quickly and easily review possible leads before adding the relevant information to their tree.

Keeping a tree on Findmypast is the first step towards exploring their archive of more than 8 billion records from around the world, more than 1 billion of which aren’t available anywhere else online.

For more information visit;

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I found the probate file for 9x greaat grandfather Richard Reith  in the Essex County, MA:
Probate File Papers, 1638-1881file on  The will was apparently
written on an oversized piece of paper so there are two images of it, one for the upper half
and one for the bottom.:

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)23463:14

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)23463:15

Here's my transcription of the will. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization are as written in
the document, and some of it is the most unique I've run across so far:

The last will and testementt of Richard Reith of Marblehead
In the name of god amen. I Richard Reith sener being weake of body but perfect of memmory knowing the unsartonty of my pressent life and being desirous to setle the termperall estate lent me by god Dow hereby revoke null and Absolutely make void all former wills and dow declare this to be my last will and testement: In pr I committ my Imortall Soull into the hands of god my creator and Redemer, my body to the earth desently to be burried: my temperall estate to be desposed of in manner following.

I will that all my Just debts :which: I dow to  any person whatsoever be firstly satisfied with funarall charges: also in convenentt time by my Executers

Item i give unto my dear and loveing wife: her thirds of all my estate with in dors and withoutt only the iland to have no thirds their all the rest of my estate I give her her thirds of deuring the time of her widowhood: but if she marry I will she shall have forty five pounds out of my estate as it is apresed.

Item i give to my son Richard the rest of the iland beginning at the onlong(?} in att
the west side to the garden wall: and the westernmost stage: and the sault roome: and the part of the {?}scales to him and his heirs not be sold except it be to his brothers, ether William Reith or John Reith: and i will that son Richard Reith shall have his part of my :estate: equall with the rest of my children: Item i give to my son william reith half of the garden upon the iland :with a (?} roume: to the estern side the stage and half the esternmost stage and half the fish house and  half of the scales to him and his heirs forever not to be sold esecept it be to his two brothers Richard reith and John reith : and I will that he shall have his equell part of my estate as the rest of my children have Item i give to my son John Reith the other half of the garden over all the iland and half estermost stage and half the fish house part of the scales to him and his heirs forever not to be sold except it be to his two brothers Richard Reith or william Reith and i will allso thatt he shall have part equely with the rest of my children in my other estate: amd all the Rest my estate not willed above mentened both land and houses and whatso ever to be equely devided betwixt all my sons and daughters and my will is :that my son Richard Reith shall pay to my daughter Isabealah Reith out of his part of my estate forty shiling Daughter anne Reith shall pay to my daughter mary reith four pounds : out of her part of my estate and i will that my daughter abigaill mearshall pay to my daighter mary Reith foure pounds : out of her part of my estate: and my will is that my son Richard Reith shall be my soule Executor of my estate and also i make choyce of my loveing frindes: James denes and John Norman to Joyn : with him To act or to dow :honestly : as the law derects :to serv or to straine (?)
to (?) and to pay:
this thirteenth day : of january : Anno dom 1706 and In the fifth year of the reign of our Soverigne lady anne of Ingland Queen of which. In testemony here of:: I have set to my hand and seall: the time and
day about righton.
Richard Reith Sener
ann rieth
I  Dow aprove that this Will
shall stand ass itt iss.
Ann Reith Ann Reith

signed and delivered in the
presence of
Jobathan Thomson
Thomas Trofry
Richard Sedgmore
From this I learned Richard Reith was a commercial fisherman whose operation included an 
"iland" (island) with at least two buildings and scales to weigh the catch.

To be continued

Sunday, April 23, 2017


9x great grandfather Richard Reith is one of those ancestors where what little I know of him
teases me but there's not enough to fill in all the gaps.

-When he died in Marblehead on 28 February 1708 he was said to be 73 years which would
put his birth year in 1625.

-I have found records of his marriage on 16 February 1664 to a young lady but depending on
which record you are looking at her name is either Elizabeth Goryr or Elizabeth Gorge or
Elizabeth George. After Elizabeth's death he remarried and his second wife Ann is mentioned
in his probate file.

-Richard seems to have a number of different properties in Marblehead, Salem, and Gloucester,
Ma. One transaction was with another of my ancestors, Moses Maverick. According to his will
a property he owned was an island.

-In those land sales records Richard's profession is variously given as merchant, fisherman, and shoreman. From what I've seen in the probate file I think the island mentioned might have been
the base of his operations because it mentions "scales". It must have been good sized because he bequeaths a half of it to two of his sons.

I'll have a transcription of that will in the next post.

Friday, April 21, 2017


The Findmypast Friday records released this week include nearly 130,000 Irish and Australian records:


Easter Rising & Ireland Under Martial Law 1916-1921
Documenting the events of the War of Independence and the population’s interaction with the Army under the rigors of martial law, these unique records include prisoner lists, case files, search reports, court-martials and much more

New South Wales Parish Registers, Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle
Discover your ancestor’s baptism, marriage, or burial record in these parish registers from Christ Church Cathedral in New South Wales. These transcripts span the years 1804 to 1900 and most will reveal the names of your ancestor’s parents.

1881 British Census, Crew and Passengers on Ships Arriving in New South Wales
Is your ancestor missing from the 1881 UK census? Explore this index of crew and passengers arriving in Sydney between January and March and uncover details of their voyage and occupation.


Australia, Boer War Contingents
New records: 2,222
Total records: 3,782
Covering: Military personnel who served in the Boer War between 1899 and 1902
Discover: Your ancestor’s full name, birth place, enlistment place, contingent, rank, awards and any additional notes

New South Wales, Closer Settlement and Returned Soldiers Transfer Files
New records: 19,087
Total records: 23,590
Covering: Registers of settlement purchases & land transfers
Discover: The property dealings of your New South Wales ancestors

Thursday, April 20, 2017


I'm going to explore my 6x great grandmother Sarah (Tuck) Ellingwood's maternal ancestors soon.
Through her mother Sara Reith they include some interesting families: Reith, Haskell. Hardy,and
Griggs. I've already written a bit about the Haskells here in the past, but hadn't done much work
on the others. There were a few surprises for me, like a prosperous shipowner in one family and
a new connection to the Salem Witch Trials in another. And there are blank spaces I haven't been
able to fill in yet.

Here's a relationship chart for Sarah Reith and her grandfather Richard Reith that shows how she
connects with these other families:

Hopefully I'll be able to fill in the blanks for several other ancestors along the way!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Today is the 242nd Anniversary of the Battles of Lexington & Concord which
started the American Revolution on 19Apr 1775. They were celebrated Monday in
Massachusetts on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April, when the Boston Marathon is run.

These are our colonial ancestors from our Dad's family lines for whom I have
so far been able to discover records that they took part in those battles and served in the

Jonathan Barker Jr. My 5x great grandfather
Was a Minuteman from Methuen Ma with rank of Sergeant.
He responded to Lexington and Concord with his sons
Served in Captain Samuel Johnson's Company in
Colonel Titcomb's Regiment for 2 months in 1777 in Rhode
Island and then with Nathaniel Gage's Company in Colonel
Jacob Gerrish's guards from Dec 1777 to l Apr 1778 guarding
the captured troops of General Burgoyne.

Jonathan Barker 3rd  My 4x great grandfather
Enlisted on 19 Apr 1775 in Continental Army, Capt. John
Davis' Company, Col. James Frye's Regiment, in the
Massachusetts line for 8 months in Cambridge, Ma. At the
conclusion of the term, he reenlisted for another 3 months in
Capt John Allen's Company, Colonel John Waldron's Regiment,
General Sullivan's Brigade in the New Hampshire Brigade at
Charlestown, Ma. He then enlisted a third time in June 1778
at Methuen, Ma., joining Captain Samuel Carr's Company, Col.
James Weston's Regiment, in General Lerned's Brigade at
White Plains, N.Y. and serving for another 9 months.

John Ames   My 5x great grandfather
Was a Minuteman under Capt. Asa Parker on April 19th,
1775. He then enlisted in the Continental Army under Captain
Oliver Parker, Col. William Prescott's Regiment and
in the Brigade that was commanded in turn by Generals
Putnam, Lee, and Washington and served for 8 1/2 months.


Asa Barrows    My 4x great grandfather
A member of the militia from Middleborough , Ma. (south of
Boston) in the Company of Captain Joshua Benson, in Colonel
Cotton's Regiment, and General William Heath's Brigade for
8 months during the siege of Boston. In December 1776 he
joined a militia Company commanded by Captain Joshua
Perkins and marched to Barrington, R.I. and was stationed
there for 6 weeks. In July 1780 he again enlisted, this time
in a militia company commanded by Captain Perez Churchill
that marched to Tiverton, R.I. .

Moses Coburn  My 4x great grandfather
Moses Coburn got into the War late and by reason of being
"hired by a certain class of men in the then town of Dunstable
to go into the Continental Army in the summer of 1781."
When he reached Phillipsburgh in New York he was placed in
Captain Benjamin Pike's Company, in the Regiment of the
Massachusetts line commanded by Lt. Colonel Calvin Smith in
which he served for nearly two years until it was broken up.
He then transferred to the Company of Judah Alden in the
Regiment commanded by Colonel Sprouts until his discharge
in 1783.

Samuel Haskell   My 5x great grandfather
Samuel served in Captain Joseph Elliott's Company in Colonel
William Turner's Regiment and then under Captain Hezekiah
Whitney in Colonel Josiah Whitney's Regiment.

Amos Hastings   My 5x great grandfather
Amos  responded to the Lexington Alarm as part of
Captain Richard Ayer's Company and Colonel William
Johnson's Regiment. He later served in Captain Timothy
Eaton's Company in Colonel Edward Wigglesworth's Regiment
and was at the taking of the British General Burgoyne at

Elisha Houghton   5x great grandfather
Enlisted at Harvard Ma as a Private in May of 1777 in the
Massachusetts militia and was at the Battles of Bunker Hill
and Stillwater. He then enlisted for three years in the infantry
company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown in Colonel
Timothy Bigelow's 15th Regiment of the Massachusetts line.
and took part in the Battles of Monmouth and Newport and
was at Valley Forge. He twice was promoted to Sergeant and
twice was busted back down to the ranks.

Amos Upton    My 5x great grandfather
Responded to the Lexington Alarm and marched there from
his home in Reading. He later joined the militia company
commanded by Captain Asa Prince as an orderly sergeant
and then enlisted for eight months in the Continental Army
under Colonel Mansfield. He was at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
He was discharged in October of 1775.

John Griffith  My 5x great grandfather
Enlisted in 1781 as a Matross (he swabbed out the barrel of
the cannons after they fired, or so I've been told) in Captain
William Treadwell's Company in Colonel John Crane's
Artillery Regiment.

Reuben Packard   My 5x great grandfather
A Sergeant in Captain Josiah Hayden's Company in Colonel
Bailey's militia. They marched to Lexington at news of the
Alarm. He also responded several more times as a Minuteman
for a total of nearly 8 months duty.

Jonathan Abbott   My 5x great grandfather
Served as a Sergeant in the Militia under Captain Henry
Abbott and responded to the Lexington Alarm

Samuel Stowe  My 5x great grandfather
Minuteman from Sherborn, Ma. Served in Capt. Benjamin Bullard's
Company in Col. Asa Whitcomb's 5th Massachusetts Bay
Provincial Regiment.

Besides those direct ancestors, these other relatives fought
in the Revolution:

Moses Barrows, brother to Asa Barrows.

Samuel, Jesse, and Benjamin Barker, sons of Jonathan
Barker, Jr. and brothers to Jonathan Barker 3rd.

James Swan, brother in law to Jonathan Barker.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


((I first posted this back in 2012 for the 237th anniversary of the Battles of Concord &
Lexington. I'm posting it again for the 242st anniversary tomorrow. Many of my ancestors 
answered the alarm on 19Apr 1775 and I'll republish a list of their names tomorrow.)) 

We've all heard about the "shot heard round the world" fired at Concord, but there's more to
the poem. So, in honor of the 241st anniversary of the Battles of Concord and Lexington, here's
Ralph Waldo Emerson's  "Concord Hymn":

Concord Hymn
Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.