Sunday, March 12, 2017

I Found My Great-Grandfather on DeadFred!

DeadFred is a "genealogy photo archive," a website where people upload old photos to connect them with family members. Visitors can easily search to see if they recognize anyone and request that a photo of a relative be mailed.

I have known about this website for a long time and every once in a while, will check to see if one of my relatives has a photo there. Last week, I was reminded of the site and entered a few family surnames into the search box. Imagine my surprise when I found one identified with the name Lowell Copeland!

I contacted the person who posted the photo and he mailed it to me. When I asked him where he found the photo, he wrote: "Found 7+ years ago in an antiques mall in Berkeley Springs WV." (I have no idea how it got to West Virginia!)

The photographer is Ritz & Hastings, at 147 Tremont St. in Boston. The website Broadway Photographs has a page about this photographer which helps me narrow down the date of the photo to 1882-1884, when Lowell Copeland was 20-22.

As far as I know, Lowell Copeland did not attend college. His brother, Charles Townsend Copeland (Copey of Harvard), graduated from Harvard College in 1882, so perhaps this photograph was taken on a visit to Boston for his brother's graduation.

On the back, the name is written in distinctive handwriting, but I have not found this handwriting in my other records.

Besides the fact that Lowell Copeland is a relatively uncommon name, I recognized him because of another photograph that I have which was taken a few years earlier.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Surname Saturday ~ Davenport of Massachusetts and Rhode Island

My earliest known Davenport ancestor is Thomas Davenport, who was in Dorchester, Massachusetts, by 1640, when he became a church member. He was married by 1643, as his oldest child was born in December of that year. His wife's name was Mary, but I have not found confirmation of her surname.

According to the Dawes-Gates genealogy, Thomas Davenport appears in plenty of early records, including several land purchases, in 1653, 1659, and 1665. Records also indicate that he served as a fence viewer, assisted in laying out a "highway" in 1677, and served as a constable for a few years.

His property was near Mount Bowdoin, seen in the middle of the map at right (courtesy of Wikipedia).

Thomas Davenport and his wife Mary had ten children: Sarah, Thomas, Mary, Anna, Charles, Abigail, Mehitable, Jonathan, Ebenezer, and John. His oldest son Thomas died on December 19, 1675 fighting in King Philip's War.

He died on November 9, 1685. His will was proved on February 4, 1685/86, but his estate wasn't settled for another 35 years, after the death of his administrator, his son, Charles.

I descend from his eighth child and third son, Jonathan.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday's Tip ~ Massachusetts Town and Vital Records at

I have been researching my Davenport ancestry and have gotten back to 17th century Dorchester, Massachusetts. has a very useful database called the Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. From the description of the database:
Massachusetts boasts some of the oldest and most extensive records in the United States, and some documents in this database go back to the colony’s earliest days. They were made more readily accessible through the efforts of Jay and DeLene Holbrook. About 30 years ago, the Holbrooks began filming vital and town records in Massachusetts. To date, the Holbrooks have visited 315 of the state's 351 towns and cities and filmed their records collections.
I am looking for the marriage record for my 7th great-grandparents, Jonathan Davenport and his wife Hannah. I found four versions of their marriage record in this database because it had been copied several times. I am guessing that the first image is the original. The last one was obviously created in the 20th century.

Dorchester Births Marriages, Deaths, 1646-1682

Monday, February 6, 2017

NERGC Interview ~ Diahan Southard

The 14th biennial New England Regional Genealogical Consortium will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts from April 26-29. Visit the website for all the conference information and register before February 28 to get the early bird discount!

Several New England Geneabloggers were invited to interview some of the speakers and I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard.

Following are the questions I posed and her answers:

Elizabeth Handler: What got you interested in genealogy and how long have you been doing it?

Diahan Southard: Genetics actually got me interested in genealogy. It started back in college in 1998 when I first heard the idea that we could create a database of genetics and genealogy that would help us identify how we were related to others, and help us find out where in the world we came from. That project eventually became the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), the first of its kind.

EH: Your bio says you have spent 15 years in the genetic genealogy industry. I didn’t realize that genetic genealogy was even a “thing” in 2002. What did you do in the early years?

DS: In the early years I worked for SMGF in various capacities. I spent a good deal of time working for their for-profit arm, called Relative Genetics. I did everything from the actual lab work, to the computer analysis, to sales and marketing, to training the executive team (a bunch of business guys) on what exactly DNA had to do with genealogy.

EH: One of your sessions at NERGC is “Your DNA in Action: Real Time, Hands-On Fun” (a great title). Can you share anything about this session?

DS: I am always excited to break out of the traditional lecture mode. It is so much more fun to have hands-on, real life experiences. I find that even if you pay very close attention in a lecture and take copious notes, when you get home and look at your computer and your actual results, things just look different. So here is a chance for you to sit down with your own results and do as I am doing - and ask all of your questions along the way.

EH: Many genealogists will recognize you from Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems podcast, where you explain various DNA concepts in easy-to-understand segments (pardon the pun). When and how did you start participating in her podcasts?

DS: Isn't Lisa the best!! She and I are so similar in our style, enthusiasm and passion that when we first met at the Florida Genealogical Societies Conference in the spring of 2014 we knew we were meant to work together. That very day, when the conference was over, I sat down with Lisa and Sunny and we talked about all the fun ways we could combine our talents to create fun and easy to understand content for other genealogists. We decided right away that I would blog and podcast for her, and that I would write DNA quick sheets that she would publish. This partnership has far exceeded my expectations and I continue to learn and benefit from Lisa's knowledge and expertise. When I grow up, I want to be just like her!

EH: Have you attended NERGC in the past? What are you most looking forward to at NERGC 2017 (besides enjoying the company of hundreds of other genealogists)?

DS: I have, actually! It was many many moons ago. It was when I was working for Relative Genetics, I believe, and I came to NERGC to man a booth and talk to genealogists about this new thing called Genetic Genealogy. I just love the northeast and its natural beauty. I am excited to see real Spring, since here in Florida we kind of skip over that season.

Diahan will be teaching the following sessions at the conference:
Your DNA in Action: Real Time, Hands-On Fun (Saturday 10:00-11:00 a.m.)
Your DNA and Your Origins (Saturday 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.)

She is also teaching "Five Tips to Make Sense of Your DNA Testing" at the Pre-Conference Beginning DNA Day, which will be on Wednesday, April 26, and requires an additional registration. The conference brochure suggests that you register early for this Beginning DNA Day because seats are limited.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

NERGC Interview ~ Maureen Taylor

The 14th biennial New England Regional Genealogical Consortium will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts from April 26-29. Visit the website for all the conference information and register before February 28 to get the early bird discount!

Several New England Geneabloggers were invited to interview some of the speakers and I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective.

Following are the questions I posed and her answers:

Elizabeth Handler: Please share some of your background that has given you the experience of being able to analyze family photographs.
Maureen Taylor: I began my career in the Graphics Department of the Rhode Island Historical Society. The collection consisted of all sorts of non-print materials including photographs. Advanced study through workshops increased my knowledge of pictures. Genealogists would come to the library to research their family but never asked about any possible pictures of their ancestors. I worked to change that.

I’m always reading about old photos, attending conferences and talking to colleagues. Plus I seem to be addicted to collecting images as well. <LOL> There is no end to the fascinating details present in pictures. Everyday is a new experience. Every new picture brings a piece of history to light.

EH: You have written many books, including two books with photographs of Revolutionary War Solders: The Last Muster, volumes 1 and 2. Are you still receiving more photos of these 18th century individuals? Is a volume 3 in the works?
MT: When I began searching for these photos I thought there couldn’t be too many of them in the world. Was I wrong! Yes, I’m planning on a volume three. A big thank you to everyone that brings these images to my attention. So far I’ve found more than 200 pictures (photographs and engravings based on pictures).

EH: I love your books that include pages upon pages of old photos. Are most of the photos yours or have you had success with getting people to share photos with you (like I did in your Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats book)? [Note: I shared two photos with Maureen for this book. I recently blogged about them here and here.]
MT: I’ve been collecting images for about 20 years. Occasionally a collector will share images with me for a book when I don’t have a suitable picture in my collection. That happened with Bonnets and Hats. A collector I know shared several pictures of men in interesting hats! I have a file on wedding images and over the years many people have sent me pictures for that project. Now all I need is more time to put it together.

EH: How long do you spend working with a client on analyzing an old family photograph? Or is it completely different for every client?
MT: Clients that sign up for consults receive my expertise in a fifteen minute conversation. What’s not covered it that short block is the time I’ve spent getting ready for the call researching details and verifying the details in their family history. The amount of time I spend on each picture depends on the images.

EH: How many times have you attended NERGC?
MT: I think I’ve only missed one!

EH: What are you most looking forward to at NERGC 2017 (besides enjoying the company of hundreds of other genealogists)?
MT: I love reconnecting with all the people I’ve met over the years. There is a nice energy to regional conferences. It’s like a big family reunion! Can’t wait for it.

In addition to having a booth at the Exhibit Hall, Maureen will be teaching the following sessions at the conference:
Fashion Clues to Understanding Who Your Ancestors Really Were (Friday 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.)
Workshop: Photo Detecting 101: Photo Identification Tips and Techniques (Friday 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.)