Category Archives: Research Trips

Mary Hill’s Legacy webinar “Land Records Solve Research Problems” really solved my research problem!

I’ve posted about some of my successes using land records previously, and how I was able to piece together the 18th century business relationships of my Wasgatt and Stanwood families who intermarried frequently on Mount Desert Island, Maine, by using Hancock county’s digitized land records.  (You can read my post here.)  Having dabbled in land records, I felt like I had a basic understanding of the info contained and how it could benefit my research.  However, I was still a bit intimidated by the terminology utilized in the records, so when I saw Legacy Family Tree’s webinar by Mary Hill entitled, “Land Records Solve Research Problems” earlier this summer, I decided to listen in.  (Actually, I ended up subscribing – their series of webinars is excellent!)

Mary did a superb job of explaining the various terms used in land records, the differences in assorted types of mortgage transactions, and how this info can help you in your family history.  Probably the most important tidbit I picked up was how records pertaining to multiple individuals (i.e., “et al”) are some of the most important records, as they may contain clues about relationships of the people listed and are often the most helpful in our research.  Armed with this knowledge, this past July while visiting the Penobscot County (Maine) Registry of Deeds I spent the bulk of the day happily researching the transfer of Benjamin Stanwood’s three lots located in Northern Woodville as they passed from hand to hand.  That evening, back at the hotel, I drew a diagram showing the names and dates of grantors/grantees, trying to see a pattern.  Benjamin often mortgaged the property, and the mortgages were frequently sold.  The property always ended up back in family hands (you can read here about finding my fourth cousin who currently resides on the property), but I wanted to try and connect each sale through the land records.  Some may have considered it a waste of time (why does it matter that that property was mortgaged with a sale to Hayford but mysteriously purchased back from Swett?) but I was determined to trace it’s passing from hand to hand whenever possible and headed back to the Registry of Deeds the next morning to try and find the missing link.  THANK GOODNESS I DID!!!

Deed referencing the late Benjamin Stanwood, dated 12 October 1860.

Deed referencing the late Benjamin Stanwood, dated 12 October 1860.

That one missing deed, showing the land was sold by Timothy Hayford to C.T. Bragg and William Hayford, includes a very important statement:

…being the same lots deeded to me by Benjamin Stanwood, late of said township, deceased… Continue reading

Sleuthing, serendipity and magical Maine maps!

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

I love maps. They often hold the keys to learning more about our ancestors. They place these people in context with those with whom they lived. They show a community, give us an idea of of who their friends, family and associates were. They simply make it all “click” for me, connecting the dots in a way nothing else does. Finding those maps, however, can be exceptionally challenging.

Consequently, I’ve spent the better part of the last nine years looking for maps of early Penobscot county, Maine. Specifically, I wanted to see where the families lived who resided in the towns of Chester and West Indian Township (now known as Woodville, and formerly Township No. 2 Indian Purchase).  Imagine my delight a few weeks ago when I finally found the online images for the 1859 map above, clearly indicating my great-great-great-great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, lived in North Woodville, just south of the Pattagumpus stream. Continue reading

Excel, Evernote, RootsMagic, and my research log

Excel spreadsheet for New Hampshire – a combined planning tool and research log

After my first day at the Family History Library, I realized I need a major over-haul of my research log.     For quite a while now, I’ve used Excel to plan what materials to research at a repository and updated the spreadsheet with what I’d located.  However, I didn’t have a really good way of incorporating that into a research log.

However, I think I’ve come up with a system that will work and is relatively simple to use.   Continue reading

In which I confess my sins – Family History Library fun!


The Family History Library

I feel like a kid that ditched church to go fishing.

I was bad.

I was VERY bad!

Here I am in Salt Lake City, registered for the RootsTech conference, but spent 80% of my time at…..DRUM ROLL please….THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The library has been a place I’ve sought to visit for the last 25 years.  After checking in to my hotel on Wednesday, I made a beeline for the library and oriented myself to the various floors and holdings.  Thankfully, it’s very user friendly and organized well.  I made quite a few finds, but most importantly, found a book, written in 1991, on the Westcoat/Wescoat/Westcott/Wescott/Wasgatt family.  There wasn’t a ton of new info on my own line, but I did get a few new hints to follow up on.   In addition, I was able to review dozens of rolls of microfilm and books, and have completely overhauled how I’m handling my research log.  (See my post about Excel, Evernote and Roots Magic here.)

Back to RootsTech…the sessions I did go to were very good.  I will leave the details to the official bloggers who’ve done a phenomenal job covering the event.  The energy and amount of interest in genealogy was awesome.  Oh yes…also had to make my purchases in the Exhibit Hall.

Here’s my loot:

My RootsTech loot

Books on researching, books on writing, and webinars by Thomas MacEntee, Marian Pierre-Louis, and Karen Clifford

I’m hoping to listen to Karen Clifford’s webinar, “Organizing For Success” at the airport on my way home tomorrow.  While I may not have had as much time as I’d planned at the conference, my time here in SLC was certainly well spent!

Evernote and everyday genealogy

I hate paper.

Paper requires time to organize.

Drawers to hold it.

Folders to straighten it.

Paper is messy.

Paper cannot be stored in the “cloud.”

Paper is inefficient.

I have a LOT of paper!

Having been active in researching my family history over the last twenty years, I’ve amassed a wealth of paper.  In the “olden days,” a trip to the library typically resulted in paper.  I’d come home and dutifully file photocopies of book pages and research in folders that were created for each couple in my family.  I had one for my grand parents, another for their parents, another for their siblings, etc., etc., etc.   My home office is equipped with two filing cabinets to hold twenty years worth of research.  However,  thanks to Evernote, bit by bit, the papers in those cabinets are slowly decreasing. Continue reading

I’m hooooooooome – here in Bar Harbor!

Almost there – Fort Knox, on the way to Bar Harbor

My grandmother died in 2004, and to honor her and work on her family history, my mother and I decided to take a trip to Maine. With our hotel in Bangor, we decided to take a day trip to Bar Harbor, where our ancestor Job Stanwood was an early settler. As we approached Bar Harbor we both exclaimed, “we’re HOME!” We canceled our Bangor hotel and stayed the rest of our trip in Bar Harbor. The next year I brought Ed to see my “home away from home,” and have always wished I could live here.

This afternoon we made the six plus hour trip from Rowley, MA to Bar Harbor, and I was just as enthralled with the view as I was the first time Mom and I visited in 2004. I haven’t been back since my mom died five years ago, so it was a bit emotional coming to our special place without her, but it feels sooooooo good to be HOME! Continue reading

A morning with the Bradstreets

Jabez Howland Home in Plymouth

Yesterday was quite an adventure! We took the subway to Braintree, MA, only to find that the trains to Plymouth had been canceled about 3 month ago. So, we decided to rent a car (had planned to do so that evening anyway) and drove to Plymouth. Had hoped to see the home of Jabez Howland, son of John Howland, my pilgrim ancestor. (I’m quite proud of the fact that MY ancestor fell out of the Mayflower and was pulled back in – what a goof ball!) Would have been nice if the tours of the house were still going, but they’d already stopped for the day by the time we arrived.

This morning we set off for Ipswich and Rowley, Massachusetts, neighboring towns where my colonial ancestor Humphrey Bradstreet resided. Continue reading

Today’s Adventure – NEHGS

The above video only hints at the massive crowds that flooded Boston in preparation for the Bruin’s parade today. Why did they have to choose THIS month to take back the Stanley cup?? We left our hotel at 8:30 a.m., giving us plenty of time to get to New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) by 9 a.m. It’s one of my favorite libraries with six floors filled with books, microfilm, microfiche and periodicals on New England families. It’s a genealogists dream!

I digress. Continue reading

Gloucester, Ancient Seaport and Stanwood Home!

Lobster Cove in Gloucester Massachusetts

Lobster Cove in Gloucester, MA – Home of Philip Stanwood and Benjamin Bradstreet

Gloucester, Massachusetts is a charming seaport village, and was the home to my oldest colonial ancestors, including Philip Stainwood (selectman of the town and resident as early as 1654), and Rev. Benjamin Bradstreet, who was the first pastor of the Third Parish Church, now known as Annisquam Village Church. Continue reading

New England 2011! Here we are!

After tons of planning and preparing for visits to multiple libraries and other repositories of ancient genealogical (and other!) records, WE’RE HERE IN NEW ENGLAND!!! :-) I absolutely LOVE the East coast, and would love to spend time here even if it wasn’t the region that my colonial ancestors lived!

Our trip has been rather interesting, starting with take off. Due to weather in Chicago where we had a layover, our flight out of San Diego was delayed. By the time we touched down in Boston, it was 2:30 a.m. We made it to our hotel about 4 a.m. on Thursday the 16th. Needless to say, we didn’t get the early start we’d wanted that day. I had quite a list of items to search for at the Massachusetts Archives and unfortunately didn’t quite get to them all. First on the list were items I’d promised to my wonderful cousin Clarke. However, the War of 1812 and Revolutionary Muster records were not to be found for Lemuel and Benjamin Bursley.

Moving on to my Stanwoods and Bradstreets, I had a little more luck.

Dr. Humphrey Bradstreet treats Capt. Greenleaf

Dr. Humphrey Bradstreet treats Capt. Greenleaf – 1695

Dr. Humphrey Bradstreet was my 8th great grandfather, very prominent in the Newbury, Massachusetts area. I was thrilled to find several records of his care and treatment of patients. Continue reading


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