Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Robert Alexander, died 1818 Dunbarton, New Hampshire - Tombstone Tuesday

This tombstone was photographed at the Dunbarton Center Cemetery in Dunbarton, New Hampshire.

In memory of
Mr. Robert Alexander.
who died
March 3, 1818.
In the 93 year
of his age.
Stop passinger as you go by,
Remember you are born to die. 

Robert Alexander, born 9 August 1724 in Scotland, son of John Alexander and Katherine Walwood, came to Dunbarton from Bedford, New Hampshire.  He moved into the former farmstead of John Raymond.  (from page 252 of The History of Dunbarton, by Caleb Stark, 1860)new


Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Robert Alexander, died 1818 Dunbarton, New Hampshire - Tombstone Tuesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 22, 2020, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2020/09/robert-alexander-died-1818-dunbarton.html: accessed [access date]). 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Genealogy Research in New England During the Pandemic: What’s Open? How is the Records Access?

I haven’t been out much during these last five or six months to research in-person.  Most of my personal genealogy work has been online, or some day trips to quiet cemeteries where no one else was visiting.  However, as I get braver about venturing outside safely, this is what I learned about some local genealogy repositories.  Caveat: Please contact these locations for the latest information about their hours and availability during the pandemic. Things sometimes change overnight, and may not be reflected in this blog post!


American Antiquarian Society https://www.americanantiquarian.org/ :
185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts (508) 755-5221
Closed to the public until further notice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

American Canadian Genealogical Society  https://acgs.org/ :
Recently relocated to 1 Sundial Avenue, Suite 317N, Manchester, New Hampshire (603) 622-1554 and reposed as of June 24th to the public.  The library is open on two shifts per day, and patrons can sign up for the 8 spaces available for each shift.  Reservations are no longer required, but with the limit call the librarian to make sure there is a place for you. Masks required by visitors and volunteers, see this page for safety guidelines https://acgs.org/acgs-library-reopening/   One major change outlined on this page is that all books that have been used will be quarantined for 72 hours before the librarians put them back on the shelves. This could be problematic for anyone wanting a certain book upon arriving at the library. Use the website or call to make a reservation in advance.  Members are free, and the non-member day fee is $10.  You may become a member when you come in to visit. The website contains links to much information, but most is available to members only.

Boston Public Library  https://www.bpl.org/resources/genealogy/   :
700 Boylston Street (Central Library), Boston, Massachusetts  (617) 536-5400 email ask@bpl.org
Available only for patron pickup of items during limited hours at the current time.

Connecticut Historical Society  https://chs.org/  :
One Elizabeth Street, Hartford, Connecticut  (860) 236-5621
Researchers by appointment only at the Waterman Research Center. Free to members, or $12 for non-members. Public access is restricted due to a renovation project. Call at least 2 weeks prior to your visit at ext. 228. 

Connecticut Society of Genealogists Library https://ctfamilyhistory.com/  :
175 Maple Street, East Hartford, Connecticut  (860) 569-0002
The library opened to a limited capacity on July 7th by appointment only.  Please call ahead, masks must be worn. 

231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut  (860) 757-6500
Closed until further notice.

Maine Historical Society https://www.mainehistory.org/ :
489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine  (207) 774-1822
Research by appointment only Wednesdays to Saturdays 1pm – 4pm.  Members free, non members $10 a day. See this webpage for more information:  https://www.mainehistory.org/library_visit.shtml 

Massachusetts State Archives https://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ :
220 Morrissey Blvd, Boston, Massachusetts (617) 727-2816 or fax (617) 288-8429
The research area is open with regular hours, but call ahead to find out if what you need is available and the staff will determine if they can assist you remotely before you come in.  Reference phone: (617) 727-2816 or email archives@sec.state.ma.us  Updated COVID-19 policies are on this page:  https://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/covid-19/covid-19.htm 

Massachusetts Historical Society https://www.masshist.org/ :
1154 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts  (617) 536-1608
The MHS library is currently closed until further notice.  The reference team is available to assist you remotely.  Please see this page for more information:  https://www.masshist.org/library/visit  The MHS has been holding several online events every month, and their card catalog is online.

150 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, Massachusetts  (617) 740-2600 

There are limited in-person services at the Mass. VRs.  The Public Research Room is closed. They are taking mail and web requests, and limited counter service, see this page for details:  https://www.mass.gov/alerts/massachusetts-registry-of-vital-records-and-statistics-rvrs-covid-19-update#1459986

4 Winslow Street, Plymouth, Massachusetts (508) 746-3188, ext. 11 or email the librarian library@themayflowersociety.org  or support@themayflowersociety.org  The research library is closed to the public until further notice. The staff will be working remotely from home with limited access to the library materials.  Usually it is open to the public by reservation.  Free to members, $5 research fee for non-members. Copies of approved lineage papers can be purchased for $10. 

National Archives at Boston (NARA)  https://www.archives.gov/boston :
380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Massachusetts  (866) 406-2379
The research room is closed currently.  You may experience a very long delay to your requests and Freedom of Information Act requests or appeals.  https://www.archives.gov/boston/research There are many online research tools available.

New England Historic Genealogical Society https://www.americanancestors.org  :
99 – 101 Newbury Street, Boston, Massachusetts, (888) 296 – 3447
The library and archives in Boston remain closed to the public until further notice.  Members may use the website to access databases online.  There are many virtual events being held online for the general public, see this link:  https://www.americanancestors.org/education/online-classes

New Hampshire Historical Society Library  https://www.nhhistory.org/
30 Park Street, Concord, New Hampshire  (603) 228-6688
The library is now open by appointment for research.  See this webpage about the new safety measures: https://www.nhhistory.org/Research/Using-the-Library  or email research@nhhistory.   The society also offers research services for a fee. 

New Hampshire County Registries of Deeds  https://www.nhdeeds.org/
Effective June 18, 2020 The registries of deeds are open to the public.  Face masks are encouraged, or required and available upon request.  Each county registry has different safety requirements, and limits on the number or individuals allowed access to the records, please check the website. 

New Hampshire State Library  https://www.nh.gov/nhsl/ :
The state library is open to the public by appointment only, with safety measures in place until further notice.  Appointments are for 30 minute and 60 minute sessions only.  See the website for more information.  The statewide interlibrary loan program is suspended for the time being.

9 Ratification Way (Formerly 71 South Fruit Street), Concord, New Hampshire, 603-271-3242.   
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Archives and Vital Records are closed to walk in traffic.  The public is encouraged to use the website.  You may call 603-271-2236 with urgent business or email info@sos.nh.gov 

Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum https://www.pem.org/visit/library  :
306 Newburyport Turnpike, Rowley, Massachusetts
Only three researchers are allowed in the reading room each day, and appointments are required by contacting research@pem.org 
See this blog post for more information:

The Rhode Island Historical Society   https://www.rihs.org/ :
10 Benevolent Street, Providence, Rhode Island  (401) 331-8575
The Robinson Research Center has reopened to the public by reservation only.  Free to Rhode Island residents, $8 to non residents ($5 for students and seniors).  Please contact the staff reference@rihs.org

Rhode Island State Archives  https://www.sos.ri.gov/divisions/state-archives :
33 Broad Street, Providence, Rhode Island  (401) 222-2353 statearchives@sos.ri.gov
Closed to the public.  Archivists will provide reference and general assistance by phone and email.  Some resources are online. 

82 Smith Street, Room 208, Providence, Rhode Island  (401) 222-2473
The state house is closed to the public, including the state library.  Librarians will provide reference and general assistance by phone and email. Some resources are available digitally through the online catalog.  Email statelibrary@sos.ri.gov

Rhode Island Vital Records https://health.ri.gov/records/ :
Rhode Island has changed some service, and closed some walk-in service, so please check this webpage for more information: https://health.ri.gov/about/customer-services-updates.php   They recommend using VitalChek for online ordering of vital records. 

UNH Dimond Library
18 Library Way, Durham, New Hampshire  (603) 862-1535
All UNH library locations are currently closed.  See this page for updates and resources you can access remotely:  https://www.library.unh.edu/news/covid-19

Vermont Historical Society Leahy Library https://vermonthistory.org/leahy-library/  :
60 Washington Street, Suite 1, Barre, Vermont  (802) 479-8509
Open by appointment only.  See this page for COVID-19 safety procedures:  https://vermonthistory.org/leahy-library-covid-19-procedures

Vermont Vital Records and Archives   https://sos.vermont.gov/vsara/about/hours-directions/  :
1078 Route 2, Montpelier, Vermont (802) 863-3208 or email vitalrecords@vermont.gov  or sos.archives@vermont.gov
The vital records office is currently closed to walk-in services, but curbside services may be arranged in advance. The reference room is available by appointment for researching records in the state archives https://sos.vermont.gov/vsara/research/ 


Cite/Link to:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Genealogy Research in New England During the Pandemic:  What’s Open? How is the Records Access?", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 17, 2020, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2020/09/genealogy-research-in-new-england.html: accessed [access date]). 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Gravestone Restoration Project, Turkey Hill Graveyard, Merrimack, New Hampshire

These tombstones were photographed at the Turkey Hill Graveyard in Merrimack, New Hampshire

Back view of the restoration project of the Pratt gravestones
The Turkey Hill Graveyard located at 3 Meetinghouse Road in Merrimack, New Hampshire was mentioned in the town history when in 1754 the community set aside land for the meetinghouse and burying ground.  The meetinghouse used to stand next door, and is now marked with a plaque.  The oldest grave in this cemetery is for Hugh McInnes, dated 1771.  The cemetery is now closed to burials. According to Find A Grave there are over 360 tombstones in the Turkey Hill Graveyard.


There is a good description of this cemetery, with links to epitaphs, and other interesting information at the New Hampshire Search Roots website:   http://www.nh.searchroots.com/HillsboroughCo/Merrimack/turkeyhill-cemetery.html 

Restoring the tombstone of Catherine Pratt, who died in 1877

Two views of the Wilkins tombstones, which are toppled and broken

More toppled gravestones, some are broken into multiple pieces

This plot is undergoing restoration, too

The Barron Family Plot photographed in 2012

The Barron Family Plot photographed in 2020, the stones have been cleaned

For the truly curious:

A previous blog post about Turkey Hill Graveyard:

The Barron Family Plot:  https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2012/10/tombstone-tuesday-barron-family-plot.html


Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Gravestone Restoration Project, Turkey Hill Cemetery, Merrimack, New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 15, 2020, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2020/09/gravestone-restoration-project-turkey.html: accessed [access date]).

Friday, September 11, 2020

Remembering September 11th

This photo was taken at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado last year when we were there for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants Board of Assistants meeting in Denver.  We took a few days to explore Colorado, where I have never been.  One of our stops was a few days in Colorado Springs.  The Air Force Academy was our first destination.  

This memorial is labeled "In Memory of Our Fellow Graduates Who Have Fallen in Battle".  It was our specific desire to see the carved name of Chuck Jones, who was Vincent's boss and co-worker, and who was on American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11th, 2001.  Chuck not only was a co-worker, he was a 1974 graduate of the Air Force Academy, former Air Force Colonel, an ex-astronaut, an MIT graduate, and a wonderful man. It was a great honor that his death was considered "Fallen in Battle" because he was working for a defense project at the time of this act of terror. 

The chapel of the US Air Force Academy

Charles Edward Jones, wikipedia article:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Edward_Jones    


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Remembering September 11th", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 11, 2020, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2020/09/remembering-september-11th.html: accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Two Spotted at an Ice Cream Stand in Sterling, Massachusetts - Weathervane Wednesday!

Today's two weathervanes were spotted over the Rota Ice Cream Stand in Sterling, Massachusetts.

Two versions of dairy cows on two weathervanes above the ice cream and farm stand. 

The Rota Spring Farm was established by Giovanni Rota in 1911 in Sterling, Massachusetts. After staying in the family for three generations, the farm and ice cream stand was opened in 1998 by a grandson.  The farm suffered a devastating fire in 2018 and lost a two story barn, but no animals were lost.  You can visit the farm animals, and there are hay rides and pumpkin picking seasonally.

There are two small weathervanes above the ice cream stand.  Both are dairy cows.The black and white cow on the taller cupola stands out against the sky better, and you'll probably notice it first.  The other shiny, metal cow is harder to spot.

This farm produces its own ice cream in delicious and unique, seasonal, and local flavors such as lavender, pumpkin, and peach.  It's delicious!  I grew up in Holden, a contiguous town, and my Mom still lives nearby.  We like to treat her to a drive to the Rota Farm for ice cream in the summertime.

The Rota Family Tree:

Generation 1: Ferdinando Rota, born about 1860 in Italy, married Maria.

Generation 2: John (Giovanni) Rota, born 10 October 1881 in Almanno, San Bartolomeo, Bergamo, Italy, died 24 February 1938 in Sterling, Massachusetts; married to Marcella Massonlini. Three children:  Ernesto Pietro Rota (1914 - 1970), Gino Rota (1922 - 1922), and James Henry Rota (1925 - 1988).

For the truly curious:

Rota Spring Farm Homemade Ice Cream  http://www.rotaspringfarm.com/

Rota Spring Farm Ice Cream Facebook page   https://www.facebook.com/Rotaspringfarmicecream/


Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Two Spotted at an Ice Cream Stand in Sterling, Massachusetts - Weathervane Wednesday!", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 9, 2020, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2020/09/two-spotted-at-ice-cream-stand-in.html: accessed [access date]).

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Robert and Sarah Alexander, buried in Dunbarton, New Hampshire - Tombstone Tuesday

These two tombstones were photographed at the Center Cemetery in Dunbarton, New Hampshire

In memory of
who died
March 3, 1818
In the 93 year
of his age.
Stop passenger as you go by
Remember you are born to die. 

in memory of
wife of
Mr. Robert Alexander
who died Feb. 12, 1812,
Aged 66.
And thou my soul stoope down & nin
this hollow gaping tomb this gloomy prison
waits for you whenere the summons comes. 

From The History of Dunbarton by Caleb Stark, 1860: 
"ROBERT ALEXANDER removed from Bedford to this town.  He purchased the Dunbarton farm of John Raymond, Esq., upon which he resided until his death, March 3, 1818, at the age of 93, when the farm was divided between his sons, David and William.  The latter removed to the western part of New-York more than forty years ago. David was an exemplary husbandman and worthy citizen. He never sought office, and his affairs prospered.  He was a good officer of the militia, and deacon of the church. He led a reputable life and died respected, June ---, 1852, aged 70.  Mrs. Alexander died May 29, 1854." 

Robert Alexander, son of John Alexander and Kathrine Walwood, was born 9 August 1724 in Renfrew, Scotland, and died 3 March 1818 in Dunbarton, New Hampshire.  He married Sarah Davidson, daughter of John Davidson and Sarah McNutt, born 23 January 1746 in Tewksbury, Massachusetts and died 12 February 1812 in Dunbarton.  They had four children:

1.  Agnes Alexander (1763 - 1846) married Rev. John Houston
2.  Robert Alexander (1767 - 1832) married Elizabeth Dickey
3.  William Alexander (1776 - 1859)  married Anna Whiting Worcester
4.  David Alexander (1781 - 1852) married Martha Cunningham


Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Robert and Sarah Alexander, buried in Dunbarton, New Hampshire - Tombstone Tuesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 8, 2020, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2020/09/robert-and-sarah-alexander-buried-in.html: accessed [access date]).

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Merci Train Boxcar of Manchester, New Hampshire

The Merci Train Boxcar 136 Reed Street, in the West Side of Manchester, New Hampshire

What was the "Merci Train"? Why is there a Merci Train boxcar on display in Manchester, New Hampshire? And where are all the other Merci Train boxcars?

A close up of the Merci Train boxcar taken through the display glass
of the protective building in Manchester, New Hampshire

Crowds welcome the Merci Train Boxcar in 1949 Manchester, New Hampshire
Photo courtesy of the Manchester Historic Association

Back during World War II, after the citizens of France suffered terrible hardships under Nazi occupation, the United States sent the Friendship Food Train in 1947.   This was actually three trains with 270 box cars full of food worth over $40 million at the time.  This was a volunteer effort all done by donation, not costing the government a penny for the transportation by ship, rail and truck.  Every package had this label in French and Italian "All races and creeds make up the vast melting pot of America, and in a democratic and Christian spirit of good will toward men, we, the American people, have worked together to bring this food to your doorsteps, hoping that it will tide you over until your own fields are again rich and abundant with crops.

In return for this kindness, and for liberating their country from Nazi occupation, the citizens of France sent 49 boxcars to the United States. These were known as the Merci Train boxcars.  One boxcar for each state and the District of Columbia.  Each car toured France, and the villagers placed gifts inside each car.  These items included handmade lace, dolls, wines, cheeses, paintings, crafts, photographs of the war, as well as American, German and French weapons taken from battlefields and other objects. 

Only 35 of these Merci Train boxcars still exist. This historic event is long forgotten in American history.  Do you know where the Merci Train boxcar in your state now resides?  Were your ancestors involved with the Friendship Food Train project, or the Merci Train boxcar projects? 

The New Hampshire boxcar arrived in New Hampshire on 10 February 1949. It stopped first in Nashua at 7am, and then at Manchester at 8am where it was moved to a large trailer truck and paraded up Elm Street to a reception at City Hall.  The next day it went to Concord, where it was officially presented to the state of New Hampshire on the State House plaza.  It was accepted by Governor Sherman Adams.  

The New Hampshire boxcar was held at Concord until 1953.  It now rests in a display building at 136 Reed Street in Manchester, on the West Side off of Bremer Street. The land is part of the tiny Monsignor Gilbert Park donated by a local church.  A ceremony is held at this site on the last Sunday of every September, which commemorates the ties between France and the United States. A parade leaves the Justras Post at 56 Boutwell Street and marches to the Merci Boxcar.  It is unknown if the parade and ceremony will take place this year (2020) because of the COVID pandemic. 

An organization called the Grand Voiture du New Hampshire of the 40 & 8 safeguards the box car and its history. This group is named for the 40 men or 8 horses which could be held inside a box car.  This organization cares for Manchester's boxcar, and many of the boxcars from other states. There are links to explore (see below) if you are interested in learning more.  

Most of the items inside the boxcar were distributed to societies across New Hampshire. Here in Manchester there are some items at St. Anselm's College, which were formerly part of the collection of the Library of the Americaine Canadienne Association. This link has some photos of some of the items that were inside the boxcar, donated by citizens of France:   http://mercitrain.org/NewHampshire/   

For the Truly Curious:

A video by WMUR TV's Fritz Weatherbee, from his history spot on "Chronicle" about the Merci Train in Manchester, New Hampshire:   https://www.wmur.com/article/fritz-wetherbee-the-merci-boxcar-in-pinardville/31020345 

The Merci Train New Hampshire:  http://mercitrain.org/NewHampshire/
This same website has pages for each state that received a boxcar, including Washington, DC, and a good overview of the whole history of the Merci Train boxcars:   http://mercitrain.org 

This website has a list of the gifts from inside the New Hampshire boxcar:   http://www.trains-and-trains.dk/Arrangements/USA/Merci/new-hampshire.shtml 

New Hampshire: War and Peace, by John Clayton, Peter Randall Publishers, 2001.  Out of print, but still available at the Manchester Millyard Museum, and also at AbeBooks.com: 
     John Clayton, director of the Manchester Historic Association, also wrote this article about the Merci Train Boxcar:

Forty and Eight (La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux) -
       Wikipedia:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forty_and_Eight 
        Website:  https://www.fortyandeight.org/  
        Facebook group:

The Friendship Train 1947 website:  http://www.thefriendshiptrain1947.org/ 

The Journey of the Gratitude Train blog:  https://gratitudetrain.typepad.com/ 


Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Merci Train Boxcar of Manchester, New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 4, 2020, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2020/09/the-merci-train-boxcar-of-manchester.html: accessed [access date]).

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Robert Arthur Allen, 19 July 1937 - 27 August 2020

My uncle, Robert Arthur Allen, passed away this week. He was my mother's brother.

Obituary from the Edgerly Funeral Home in Rochester, New Hampshire:

Rochester NH - Robert A. Allen, 83, formerly of Eagle Dr. died Thursday, August 27, 2020, at the Colonial Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in Rochester.
Born July 19,1937, in Beverly, Mass., to Stanley and Gertrude (Hitchings) Allen. Bob has lived in Rochester for the past 17 years after moving from Georgetown, Mass. He was a self-employed carpenter, who loved woodworking and being outdoors.
Members of his family include his wife of 42 years, Diane (Brown) Allen of Dover; his daughters, Theresa E. Trumbull and her husband John of Rochester, Kimberly A. Reid and her husband Robert of Lexington, Ky.;a son, Christopher C. Allen and his wife Alana of Middleton,Mass.;step-children, Corey R. Marshall of Middleton, Mass., Bonnie J. Madigan of Methuen, Mass., Rebecca Allen of Plaistow, NH; 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren; brother, Richard L. Allen of Virginia; a sister, Phyllis Wilkinson of West Boylston, Mass.; he is predeceased by sons, Robert Allen Jr., John F. Allen; daughters, Patricia M. Rivers and Catherine L. Trumbull; brothers, Donald J. Allen, Joseph G. Allen, Stanley E. Allen Jr.; and a sister, Barbara Thatcher.
Cremation is under the care of the R.M. Edgerly & Son Funeral Home, 86 South Main St., Rochester, NH 03867.

Services are private.

1975 My grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary
and their seven children.
Uncle Bob Allen is in the back row, far right, behind Mom

Our ALLEN lineage from William Allen of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts (our immigrant ancestor in the 1600s):