Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jacob Jennings Brown and his adopted children

Jacob Jennings Brown was appointed commanding General of the U. S. Army in 1821, following his successful leadership in the War of 1812. He was also founder of the town of Brownville, Jefferson County, New York.

What is less publicized about him is that he and his wife, Pamelia Williams Brown, who had many children of their own, became adoptive parents of at least two children whose parents were close friends of his. In both cases of adoption the natural parents had died as young parents, and had left their young children orphaned.

One of these children is Mahala Bellows, who married William Dillin. She was born in 1804 in New York. Another adopted child in the Brown family is William Waffle, born 1787. He married Mary Baxter. Both of these adopted children later named one of their own daughters Pamelia, after their adoptive mother.

I wonder how many more there may be?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Orleans, Vermont resources

Orleans, Vermont is one of those genealogical watersheds. It is a place Rhode Islanders and Bay Staters passed through, and you can find a lot of significant colonial names there in that late 1700 and early 1800 period.

There is a useful website, called, interestingly, North East Kingdom Genealogy of Vermont. Although they encourage visitors to subscribe for a low fee, browsing is indeed free, and browsing will get you access to all the names in the census and cemetery transcription data. There are excellent gleanings of marriage and death notices from old newspapers dating back to the early 1800's.

Image from rootsweb

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is gedmatch and what can it do for me?

Gedmatch is an excellent website which can be useful to anyone researching a family tree. There are many possibilities.

If you have had your autosomal DNA tested there are lots of fun things to do.

But, even if you have never had your DNA tested, you can still use one section of Gedmatch. That is the gedcom matching section. You just load up your gedcom (family tree), and if you don't have one, it may be worthwhile to buy  a program like Family Tree Maker because of its great versatility. If you don't want to do that, there are some free alternatives for creating gedcoms. Just check around online. Once you have done that, you load the gedcom  up and it will automatically be compared to many other gedcoms to see where there might be names, dates,  and places in common. Some of  the results will seem silly--Jamie Johnson from Tennessee  is matched against Jamie Johnson of Wales, and they have nothing in common. Other matches will prove more intriguing. You can just scroll though the results to see where something looks like a good match. If you find a distant cousin, you may find that there is a chance to get more information on your ancestors, either by contacting that person, or by looking at other information on the cousin's tree.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Massachusetts Witch Trials: draw your own conclusions

Want to read the arrest warrant for John Alden? Yes, the one who loved Priscilla. You can see that, and there is more...and more fascinating stuff in very old court records.

Did you know that you can look at Massachusetts Court records of the Salem witch trials? The transcribed records are available through the Salem Witch Trials and Documentary Archive Transcription Project. 

The archive site also has other court records, and if you have any ancestors from Salem, you may find their names there as judges or as complainants, or defendants or even as witnesses.
 Another site with excellent transcriptions is: .Salem Witch Trials

Read the actual petitions of accused "witches." I put that word "witches"  in quotes because there were no witches in Salem, just victims of bad behavior on the part of their neighbors and countrymen.
I find the witch trials fascinating, and have pored over them to learn more about the time and events in Salem.

It is all there, and you can read the words as they were  recorded.
In my opinion, the court records always provide a great view into society and motives.
Image taken from Famous American Trials.(

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Francis De Pau and the slave trade

Francis De Pau, born 1773 in Bayonne, France, is well known in Northern New York for his financial successes, his shipping line, and his marriage to Sylvie de Grasse. A ship was named after him, and so was a town in Jefferson County, New York: Depauville. He lived in Trinidad, in New York, and in South Carolina, and married the daughter of  the French Count DeGrasse in New Jersey.

My research on this individual can serve as a useful model for successful research via the internet.

In hoping to find more information about him and his family, I used many forms of his name and places he had lived in search engines, and then built on the information that popped up. I found that as the administrator of an estate, he had sold a slave, so I then checked his name in connection to the slave trade.

What little information did appear was quite informative, and it came from an unlikely website.  Some business papers De Pau wrote are up for sale for quite a bit of cash at an auction site, believe it or not. Sometimes these obscure marketplaces are indeed where we can find the best authentic information. The papers are written to a captain of a ship, and are very revealing about the degree to which De Pau was a corrupt slave dealer.  He reveals his tactics for taking over a ship and acquiring slaves, and  describes the number of slaves to obtain and what their height may  be.
His family was very interesting, and  has inspired stories of intrigue and romance in the area where the French once settled in Jefferson and Lewis Counties, New York, but I had never heard of this side of him before.

As always, back to the original documents for the best information. De Pau reveals in his own hand what kind of businessman he was, and now those papers are, ironically, worth quite a bit of money--tens of thousands.

 I found scanned images of his papers and long descriptions of them at the website "Goldberg Coins and Collectibles."

The image of the ship Francis DePau is taken from

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bucks County, PA resources

There are many excellent resources for Bucks County, PA. Somehow it seems that the original settlers had great success in establishing large families with many descendants.

Many Quakers lived there, and there were immigrants from Scotland via Ireland, and from India, Holland, Germany, and Sweden as well, way, way back in time, beginning in the 1600's.

The PA GenWeb Archives for Bucks County is one of the best of all the GenWeb archives, with excellent abstracts of wills, which are well-indexed.   The abstracts themselves are excellent. They will really help you link your family connections together. You can find the wills in complete form by using the website. The wills are not yet indexed there, but you can combine the indexing done at PA GenWeb Archives with the documents at FamilySearch with good results. The will abstracts at the Bucks County Genweb Archives cover time periods from the early 1700's to the early 1800's.

Also very useful is the website PARoots.

A few additional resources for later years can be found on google books, but not all pages will be shown online.

There are also excellent biographies, area descriptions, and the like online for Bucks and Philadelphia counties.

George Williams Brown,  a prolific writer from the area, has written a number of books on people he knew or heard about in the history of that area. Many of the books can be found digitized online.

Just takes some looking, but a lot of what you may be looking for in Bucks County is digitized.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New way to order microfilms at LDS Family History centers, which is updating its records and its accessibilty at a breakneck speed (which I have to applaud) has recently changed procedures for ordering microfilms to be viewed at its centers. Instead of sending checks by mail, or walking into a Family History Center to fill out order forms, everything is now done online. Go to and you will find that you need to set up an account (quick and easily done) and then you can go ahead and order your microfilms online. As I was advised, it is very important to designate the family history center at which you wish to view the films. Otherwise, a center is chosen for you, and as was pointed out to me, it might be one that is open one day a week by appointment. So just do a little planning, a little clicking, and you have your order in and your hopes up for good results when you get to see the films!