Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nahant Historical Society

Another “New to Me” Genealogy Resource

Nahant is located on the Massachusetts coast,
north of Boston
Nahant, Massachusetts is a small island off the coast of Essex County.  You can reach it by a mile long causeway from Lynn, Massachusetts, at the traffic circle on Lynn Shore Drive.  I was at the Nahant Historical Society last week with my godparents, searching for some GOVE ancestors at the Greenlawn Cemetery and meeting some distant Gove cousins who had a copy of the 1922 Gove Genealogy Book by W. H. Gove.  Armed with lots of information about the lineage we had to research, we set off to the Nahant Historical Society.

Before you set off to the Nahant Historical Society, be sure to check the website (listed below) for hours and times.  And street parking is not allowed in the area of the Nahant Community Center, where the Historical Society is on the first floor.  There is a small parking lot, so keep your fingers crossed! 

The Nahant Historical Society has some great exhibits, including one installed in 2004 that won the prestigious “Certificate of Commendation” from the American Association of State and Local History.  This exhibit is called “Nahant on the Rocks” and it tells the story of how Nahant grew from an island where Lynn residents grazed livestock to a celebrated summer colony for wealthy Bostonians.   My godfather liked this exhibit very much, and there were several artifacts from the Gove family there, including his great grandfather’s sign for his fish market and a wooden lobster trap built by a cousin.

My godfather photographing
tombstones at the Greenlawn cemetery, Nahant, Mass. 
The best part of our visit was all the time we spent together in the library.  The Hodges Reference Room is a very large reading room with many shelves of good local history, biographies of summer residents, town information and a genealogy section.  I found a copy of The Polands from Essex County,  by Chester Harrison Poland, 1981, and the librarian made photocopies of many pertinent pages for me (only 10 cents a page, a bargain compared to 25 cents at NEHGS and $5 a page at the New Castle, NH Historical Society!).   My godfather found a bookcase full of the old Nahant town reports, and in one he found references to his grandfather’s service as the town treasurer, along with a short biography.  There were books on Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, too, and the same Gove grandfather had been Lodge's personal secretary while he summered in Nahant.  Again, the librarian cheerfully made copies.  We found a few more books, and made many more copies before leaving.  
This was the second time my godfather had visited the Nahant Historical Society.  Both times the staff warmly received him and was able to tell him much information on his families genealogy, including the places in the cemetery where he would find the Gove burials, and they also knew all the Gove descendants still living in town.  Nahant is a small community, but the staff at the Historical Society is extremely knowledgeable and friendly!   The museum and library are free, but voluntary donations are accepted.

While you are in town, take the time to check out the views from the coast, or from the beaches around the island and on the causeway.  Nahant is a beautiful place to visit, even if you don’t have ancestors from there!

The Nahant Historical Society website    

The town of Nahant website

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Heather, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on the old photo - I actually posted an even older one, earlier:

    It is the oldest of mine, I am confident! Cameras were still young, then... ;-)