Sunday, March 31, 2013

Familiar Sights through Foreign Eyes

I met Jill Ball, the Australian Genealogist, at RootsTech last week.  We had been "virtual friends" online for a long time, but there is nothing like finally meeting another blogging friend in person.  When we found out that Jill and her husband would be in Boston this week we asked if they would like to spend an afternoon touring the sights nearby with us.  I'm so glad they said yes!  I've taken many foreign visitors to see Lexington, Concord, Salem and Plymouth, but usually these were Spanish cousins and I didn't quite understand their questions, or know how to explain the history.  This time it was so much fun to have not only English speakers, but friends with a common British heritage. 

Jill had expressed an interest in seeing Harvard University, Harvard Yard and Harvard Square.  We drove along the Charles River, and first saw MIT and then the brick neo-classical buildings of Harvard along the banks,  the famous boat houses and crew teams rowing on the river.  It was quite fun to see Harvard Yard again and to point out the buildings where I took classes, or where I used to hang out when I was dating my husband more than thirty years ago.  It was a trip down memory lane for me, and fun for Jill and Robert to see the scenes they had only seen before in movies and on television.

The Lexington Minuteman 

In Lexington we stopped to see the Munroe Tavern, where my Munroe ancestors and relatives had lived during the Revolutionary War, but it was closed for the season!  Most of the visitor centers and historic homes were closed until April 1st!  (So close!)  The Munroe Tavern, home to ardent patriots and rebels during the War of Independence, in now the home of the "Museum of the Redcoats" in Lexington.

I laid a bunch of flowers at the grave on Lexington Common where the first seven Colonists died in the famous battle on 19 April 1775, because most of those seven were cousins to me through the Munroe or Harrington families. I have ancestors who were on both sides of the Revolutionary War and our Australian friends understood that this was just like a Civil War that separated families. They had just spent the morning at the Tea Party Museum in Boston, learning the politics behind the decisions that made the Colonies rebel against Mother England. 

Robert Ball posed on a milemarker we found along Battle Road, between the towns of Lexington and Concord. We had met up with Jill and Robert at their hotel right on Boston Harbor that afternoon.  The milemarker reads 14 miles.  Imagine the Continental Army marching from Boston Harbor to face battle and then return to Boston again all in one day, facing defeat and sniper fire from the Colonists all the way back on the return.  It must have seemed like an endlessly long trip! 

At the Old North Bridge in Concord we met up with a re-enactor dressed as a British Regular by the grave to the "Unknown British Soldier".  Every time we visit here, there is someone dressed as a Redcoat here to answer questions, standing at attention by the grave site. Even American tourists are surprised to see the thoughtful attention given to the fallen British dead.  Although the Victorian era language on the American plaques to the Minutemen seems inflammatory and archaic, this quiet gesture towards remembering our British common heritage is always touching to me. It was fun to see Jill and Robert pose with the soldier. 

The Concord Minuteman statue was sculpted by Daniel Chester French.  It shows the common farmer ready to leave his plow in the field to answer the alarm "at a minute's notice".  This is a much nicer statue, and more famous than the one on Lexington Green.  

We ended the day at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, made famous by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and philanthropist Henry Ford.  At the Wayside Inn, the British Union Jack flies over the door until April 19th every year, and then the American flag flies later.  We enjoyed a few drinks in the old fashioned tavern room while waiting for our table for dinner.  What a wonderful day to share with a bunch of history minded friends! It was also so much fun to spend time together with a very fun couple, and we hope to see them again at another genealogy event or even in Australia maybe someday. 

Jill Ball is the author of the Geniaus blog:

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Parade 1963, Fifth Avenue, New York City

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, 
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade. 
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over, 
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade. 
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us, 
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure. 
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet, 
And of the girl I'm taking to the Easter Parade.

- "Easter Parade" by Irving Berlin, 1933

This is a photo from the 1963 Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York.   My husband is the little boy in the hat near the bottom middle.  His father is the gentleman on the left, and his mother is the woman dressed in the black mantilla, traditional for Easter in Spain.  His mother's aunt, Tia Chon (Ascencion), is to the right, also dressed in black. Tia Chon was my husband's nanny.

They were in New York when my husband was a child because his father worked at the United Nations.  Walking down Fifth Avenue for the Easter Parade was one my my mother-in-law's favorite memories of New York.  She said many people took photos of her Spanish mantilla.  I understand that New York still continues this tradition on Easter Sunday.

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, March 29, 2013

Photo Friday ~ A Bridge in New York City

This photo is dated 1963, so my husband must have been about two and half years old in this photo!  The woman is his great aunt, "Tia Chon".  Her real name was Maria Ascension Garcia,  sister of my husband's grandfather.  When his parents married in January 1960 and came to New York City from Spain, my husband was born in November of the same year.  In Spain the extended family would have taken care of any children, but they were newly arrived immigrants to the USA.  So they arranged for Tia Chon to come be the babysitter, since she had never married and wanted to see America.  Tia Chon came from the tiny village of Puerto Seguro in Salamanca, so New York City must have been a great experience for her.   My father-in-law worked at the United Nations, and my mother-in-law worked for a New York publisher.

I'm told that the bridge in the background is the George Washington Bridge, and that this was photographed at the Cloisters Museum.  If anyone from New York City can help identify the setting, that would be very helpful!

How do you like the hat?  My husband is still a big fan of hats.  He has a hat  in his current wardrobe just like this one, and a fez, a Mexican sombrero, a Stetson, several Panamas, berets, baseball hats, fedoras, a colonial tricorn, and a collection of wild winter polar fleece hats that are pretty unbelievable.

This photo was taken at Bear Mountain State Park in New York.  The background shows the Hudson River and some buildings or a bridge.  It probably dates from about the same time as the photo above.  Starting at the right is my mother-in-law with my husband on her lap.  Next to her in the dark clothing is Tia Chon.  The young girl in the foreground is, Julia, a friend of the family, and to the left is a young woman named Amparo.  Amparo was another relative from Puerto Seguro, Spain who also came to New York to babysit my husband.  She later became a nun in Peru.

UPDATE- Reader Wendy Walter has identified the bridge in the first photo as the Queensboro Bridge.  We checked on Google Maps and Google Streetview and from the angle of the photo we think it was possibly photographed at the United Nations Plaza.  This makes sense, because that is where my father-in-law was employed at this time!  Thanks, Wendy!

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, March 28, 2013

April 2013 Genealogy and Local History Event Calendar

Local Club Meetings

Hudson Genealogy Club, at the Rogers Memorial Library, 194 Derry Road, Hudson, NH  every 2nd Friday of the Month, at 1:30 PM contact Gayle St. Cyr 603-886-6030 for more information.

Genealogy Roundtable, at the Derry Public Library, 64 East Broadway, Derry, NH  every first Tuesday of the Month, at 1 – 2:30 PM.  Contact: 603-432-6140 for more information.

Greater Lowell Genealogy Club meets at the Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell, MA 10AM to 1PM once a month. 

Newton, NH Genealogy Club- Gale Library, Newton, NH, 603-382-4691, 3PM on the third Wednesday of the month. 

Chelmsford Genealogy Club, at the Chelmsford, MA Public Library, first Tuesday night of the month at 7PM in the McCarthy Meeting Room, contact Judy Sylvia 978-256-5521

Rye Genealogy Club, at the Rye Public Library, first Tuesday of the month at 2PM.

RISE Genealogy Group at the Nashua Public Library, Hunt Room, on the first Friday of the month at 1pm  (Rivier College Institute for Senior Education, see )

April 2, Tuesday, 2pm, Researcher Forum: Resources, strategies, services, and navigating the world of 21st century research at the National Archives, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Mass. Reservations required, call 866-406-2379 or email FREE

April 2, Tuesday, 7pm, Using Our Nation’s Library Online, at the Chelmsford Library, 25 Boston Road, Chelmsford, MA.  For info call 978-256-5521.  A lecture by Laura Prescott on the most rewarding, yet overlooked, free resources available at, the website for the Library of Congress.  FREE to the public, sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

April 3, Wednesday, 7:30pm New Hampshire’s One Room Rural Schools: The Romance and the Reality, Bedford , NH Public Library, 3 Meeting House Road, Bedford.  Contact Bill Earnshaw 472-3866.  FREE. Sponsored by the NH Humanities Council.

April 5, Friday, 5:30 – 10pm, Genealogy Lock-In at the Andover Memorial Hall Public Library, 2 North Main Street, Andover, MA  $10 fee. Space is limited.  Register at or call 978-623-8401 x31  Sponsored by the Friends of Memorial Hall Library

April 6, Saturday, 10 am – 2:30pm, New Hampshire Society of Genealogists: Spring Meeting, at the Holiday Inn, 172 North Main Street, Concord, NH.  Two lectures “Researching your Ancestors on the Internet” and “Spinsters & Widows: Gender Loyalty within Families” with a lunch buffet. $15 members, $20 non members, must register in advance by emailing Hal Inglis at or calling 1-603-0664-9080.  Seating is limited so register early.

April 7th, Sunday, 2 – 3:30pm, Tobias Lear and the Barbary Wars, at the Gov. John Langdon House, 143, Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, NH  $4 Historic New England members, $10 nonmembers, Registration required, call 603-436-4406 for more information and to purchase tickets.

April 8, Monday, 7:30pm, The Other Side of the Midnight Ride: A Visit with Rachel Revere, at the Congregational Church, 7 Church St. Amherst.  FREE.  Contact Neil Benner 603- 315-8413.  Sponsored by the NH Humanities Council.

April 10, Wednesday, 7pm, Liberty is Our Motto: Songs and Stories of the Hutchinson Family Singers, The most notable musical entertainers of the mid-19th century, recognized for their songs about social reform and abolition, women’s suffrage, temperance, and the Civil War. Contact the Merrimack Public library 603-424-5021.  FREE at the Merrimack Public Library, 470 DW Hwy, Merrimack, NH.  Sponsored by the NH Humanities Council.

April 12, Friday, Historic Deerfield, ends the winter hours and starts the regular season of daily operations.  This living history museum is located at Deerfield, Massachusetts

April 13, Saturday, 1 – 4:30pm, Two Brothers: Stories from the Front Lines of World War I, at the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, MA, Free to Historic New England and Cape Ann Museum members, $5 nonmembers.  Archaeologist and curator Timothy Kendall shares the story of his grandfather and great-uncle who were volunteer ambulance drivers in the American Field Service during World War I.  The Boston born brothers documented their experiences in photos and journals. Gloucester resident Abram Piatt Andrew founded the American Field service with Beauport’s Henry Davis Sleeper.  Following the talk at 2:30 is a viewing of Our American Boys at War in Europe, the film Sleeper used to recruit volunteers and funds for the American Field Service.  Registration recommended 978-283-0800.

April 13, Saturday, 2pm, Irish Genealogy, Amesbury, MA Public Library. 149 Main St., Amesbury, MA Tom Toohey will present Irish Genealogy 404.  Registration required .  978-388-8148 or register online at

April 13, Saturday, 2 – 4pm, Beacon Hill in the Civil War: Walking Tour, meet up at the Otis House, 141 Cambridge Street, Boston, Mass.  $7 Historic New England members, $15 nonmembers.  Call 617-994-5920 for more information and to purchase tickets.

April 17 – 21, New England Regional Genealogical Conference, at the Raddison Hotel and Conference Center, Manchester, NH  For more information see the website
April 18, Thursday, 7pm Getting Started in Genealogy, an informative talk by Rhonda McClure, at Andover’s Memorial Hall Public Library, 2 North Main Street, Andover, MA    Free.  Please register at or call 978-623-8401 x31

April 21st, Wednesday,10am  FREE Vacation Week Genealogy For Kids Program at the National Archives,  38Trapelo Road, Waltham, Massachusetts.  Participants research their family history with volunteers and staff available to help out.  Reservations are required, please call 866-406-2379 2379 or email

April 21st, Wednesday, 2pm, Behind the Scenes at the National Archives, a 45 minute tour to see original documents of our nation’s history.  National Archives, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Mass.   Reservations suggested, please call 866-406-2379 or email

April 25th, Thursday, 7pm Mary Todd Lincoln: Wife and Widow, at the Epping Historical Society, 11 Water St., Epping, NH, contact Joy True 603-679-8855, FREE, sponsored by the NH Humanities Council.
April 25, Thursday, 6 – 7:30pm Voices from the Back Stairs, at the Otis House, 141 Cambridge Street, Boston, Mass, $7 Historic New England members, $15 non-members.  Call 617-944-5920 for tickets and information.

April 27, Saturday, 9:30 am – 4pm, Introduction to New England Architecture, at the Lyman Estate, 185 Lyman Street, Waltham, Mass., $45 Historic New England members, $60 non-members.  Call 617-944-5959 for more information and to purchase tickets.

May 1, Wednesday, Strawbery Banke Museum reopens for the season.  You can find this living history museum at 14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

May 7, Tuesday, 2pm, Our Town: Discovering Local History at the Archives,  National Archives, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Mass.   Reservations suggested, please call 866-406-2379 or email

May 10, Friday, The Fort at No. 4 re-opens for the season.  You can find this living history museum at 267 Springfield Road, Charlestown, New Hampshire

May 16, Wednesday, 6pm Finding Our Jewish Ancestors: Jewish history, migration, and genealogy, Genealogist Meredith Hoffman of the Jewish Genealogical Society presents. .  National Archives, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Mass.   Reservations suggested, please call 866-406-2379 or email

May 20, Monday, Canterbury Shaker Village re-opens for the summer season until October 31st.  This museum is located at 288 Shaker Road, Canterbury, NH  03224

May 22, Wednesday, 7pm Genealogy Apps for Mobile Phones, a lecture by genealogist Dick Eastman at Andover, Massachusetts’ Memorial Hall Library, 2 North Main Street, Andover, MA.  Free.  Register at or call 978-623-8401 x31

May 30, Thursday, 1pm, Introduction to REUNION by Richard Doyle at the Amesbury Public Library, . 149 Main St., Amesbury, Mass.  Registration required .  978-388-8148 or register online at  This is a gathering for participants that went to Richard’s first class, it will be a fun afternoon to see everyone and talk about their successes.

Thursday, June 6, 13, 20, and 27 at 1:00 Richard Doyle’s Introduction to Genealogy.  At the Amesbury Public Library, 149 Main St., Amesbury, Mass. Learn basic steps to get started on your genealogy.  He will also show you how to use and Heritage Quest to further your search.  When you register for June 6th you are registered for all of the classes.  Registration required .  978-388-8148 ext. 610 or register online at 

Coming Up:

August 4 – 9, 2013, The 33rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, Boston Park Plaza Hotel

October 19, 2013 Family History Day, LDS Church, Concord, New Hampshire

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Weathervane Wednesday ~ a Horse and Buggy

Weathervane Wednesday is an on-going series of photographs I post weekly, usually of weather vanes in the Nutfield, New Hampshire area, but sometimes they can be from anywhere. Occasionally they are elsewhere in New England, or very historical weather vanes from anywhere else. Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, but all are interesting. Often, my readers tip me off to some very unique and unusual weathervanes, too!

Do you know the location of weather vane #88? Scroll down to the bottom to see the answer!

This horse and buggy weathervane can be seen in Derry, New Hampshire at the Derry Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center  (Birchwood Nursing Home) on Chester Road (Route 102).  It is hard to see this one from the main road as you are driving, but if you look up the hill you can see the weathervane up on the cupola.  This building dates from 1946.

Click here to see the entire collection of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Discoveries from RootsTech 2013

The speaker's bag (yellow) and the regular
conference goer bag on the right (blue)

1. I discovered that every conference goer receives one of these cool RootsTech bags.   But I also learned to pack light since it's a long day and all the goodies you collect at the Expo will magically and exponentially weigh more by about 5pm.

2. I learned some new vocabulary, and my favorite new word is “Geneajaunt”- from Australian genealogist Jill Ball.

3. And I learned even more new vocabulary, like “Flying monkeys”- a collective term for all of Thomas MacEntee’s bloggers and followers.  Another “new to me” moment.

4. I saw David Pogue live on stage and learned that he is much more than just a geeky technology writer (he is also a pianist, composer, comic as seen in this video of his keynote address at on Saturday, March 23rd at 8:30am  )

ZUCA rolling bag

5.  I discovered the wonderful Z√úCA bag while waiting in line for a session to start.  The woman who owned it raved about it, and showed me all the features.  It is the ultimate gadget for genealogists at  This expensive rolling travel bag also comes in a carry-on size, too (but it’s even more expensive).   It is very light (aluminum) and has a built in seat for waiting in those long lines, or to support a second load piled on top.  This bag is perfect for the long walks in Salt Lake City between your hotel, the Family History Library and the convention center, or to carry all your stuff during the day.  I saw two people using this bag at RootsTech.  Beware - It costs as much as a new mobile device! But it is super cool.  These are the things you learn while waiting in lines…

6. I learned that there are battery phone cases and capacitor chargers to extend the life of your mobile devices at conferences, in the FHL, on the plane with a capacitor that stores energy for hours, or a super capacitor that stores enough energy for days at a time.  The battery mobile phone cases double the life of your regular phone battery and the capacitor chargers (also called external battery chargers) can be used on your laptop or tablet.   Thank you to Jill Ball from Australia and Marie Doughan from Scotland for introducing these to me.  They used them on those long airplane trips to RootsTech.

7. I also learned about the value of Blogger beads- You must wear them everywhere- to the FHL, to restaurants, around town to spark conversation (speak up at the first raised eyebrow) and be prepared with a ten second "elevator" speech and business cards with your URL.   These beads are not just a fun accessory; they are a powerful media tool.  The blogger bead subtle advertising is so successful that I am going to supply beads at NERGC 2013 in Manchester.

8. Be prepared to hug in the oddest places. Suddenly a complete stranger will come up to you in the restroom, or the elevator, or when you have your mouth full at breakfast and introduce themselves as a blog fan, Twitter follower, or Facebook friend.

9. Also be prepared to act like a complete fool and gush like a groupie when you find out you are sitting next to Cyndi Howell of or MaureenTaylor, the “Photo Detective”.  More hugs usually follow this encounter, too.

10. I learned that even when you fly across country to a national convention, there will always be a New England Yankee, or someone who lived briefly in your state, or someone with New England roots sitting right next to you at a session, or at the same table at the luncheons. This happened to me at all three luncheons, every session and even at the keynotes. Even at the FHL because it was busy and every table was full. A gentleman sitting right next to me at the NGS luncheon lived on Alexander Road, Londonderry, NH in the 1980s!   Strangers from New England introduced themselves even on the street waiting to cross at the lights because apparently I have some sort of accent when I pronounce the word “car”…

11. Another important lesson- If you want to enjoy an adult beverage, be prepared to walk away from Temple Square to other hotels and restaurants. It is still possible to enjoy a lovely evening at the Roof with Pellegrino as the only bubbly in your glass.

12. I discovered the joy of belonging to the Geneabloggers community!  Many, many times my fellow Geneabloggers have helped me solve technical problems on my blog, or helped me stop sploggers, or even gently suggested edits and corrections.  I've also made cousin connections with dozens of Geneabloggers, and shared lineage information.  We find time to share meals, cheer each other on before presentations, and support the newbies.  

At RootsTech I found time, even with a busy schedule, to return the Geneablogger karma.  I filled in on a panel that needed an additional genealogist, I found information at the FHL for someone who commented on Dear Myrtle’s HOA video show, and I was able to steer several other bloggers towards good resources for New England research at the Family History Library.  What goes around comes around.  And it’s fun, too!

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tombstone Tuesday ~ A carver makes a boo boo

This tombstone was photographed at the Chester Village Cemetery, in Chester, New Hampshire.

In memory of
who departed this Life
April 30th 17 79
In the 80th year
of his age

Apparently the carver started to engrave another numeral and 
had to disguise his boo boo with a large concave circle

John Dickey was born in Tyrone, Ulster, Northern Ireland about 1698, and died 30 April 1779 in Chester, New Hampshire.  He married Margaret Reed/Reid, and she died on 4 July 1787.


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ A carver makes a boo boo", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 26, 2013, ( accessed [access date]). 

Monday, March 25, 2013

A NH Yankee at Day Three of RootsTech 2013

David Pogue, Keynote Speaker on the last day of RootsTech

All I can say is “Wow!” you need to watch the video of David Pogue at the keynote session. Even I need to find time to watch this video because his fast paced, hilarious talk had me laughing so hard I missed several of his informative bits. Thousands of genealogists are suddenly learning to play the ocarina with their iPhone. If you want to be in on this inside joke click this link 

Blogger James Tanner from the blog "Genealogy's Star" 
Of course, I was feeling sympathetic for James Tanner, who was filling in for Gilad Japhet of the MyHeritage website as the second keynote speaker.  What an act to follow at the last moment! However, his talk was also fast paced, informative and gently humorous. It was full of the kind of announcements that make keynotes memorable. He was great! Kudos to a fellow blogger for pulling off a great follow up.  His message about new developments at was even more powerful coming from a blogger, than from the company CEO.

The last day of RootsTech was full of ambivalence. Do I spend more time chatting up vendors? Do I rush off to a session? Do I meet up with friends I won't see again for another few years? Do I search out bloggers I haven't hugged yet? Well, I managed to squeeze in all of these activities before 3 pm  by tweeting my location, and checking Facebook statuses. Using a mobile device helped, even with spotty connections around the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Sonia Meza and her translator, Debbie Shurtz Gertler
We had our most emotional moment at RootsTech when attending Sonia Meza Morales’s presentation on “Finding Spanish Records from your Sofa”.  Sonia had come all the way from Madrid, Spain to present this lecture, and two other presentations given at the Family History Library.  Her talks at the library were well attended, but at RootsTech the room was barely half full.  Knowing that the Western and Southwestern parts of the United States are highly populated with Hispanic citizens, she was quite sad that they were not represented proportionately at the conference. The attendees were a sea of white and English speaking faces. Why? Her spontaneous plea for more genealogy involvement, collaboration and education with the Hispanic community was the one emotional moment that touched me the most this weekend.  I hope to stay in contact with Sonia after RootsTech and work on this problem.  We'll meet up with her in Madrid, hopefully in May.

Even though we needed to pack up (we had to check out at 4am for our flight home) and sleep, we walked down to the Radisson so we could enjoy an adult beverage and maybe say a few goodbyes to fellow bloggers. This was a great idea, and we met up with so many old and new friends who were finally just taking time to RELAX. I even had a chance to meet a few new genie friends like Tonia Kendrick, Drew Smith and Cyndi Howell.  Another important lesson learned at RootsTech- never miss a chance to chat up other genealogists, even if you are tired!

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Catch me on video three times!

If you didn't get enough RootsTech from the live streaming video available at you can catch even more by watching Yours Truly on these three videos taped in Salt Lake City last week.

Dear Myrtle interviewing bloggers at the FHL
Temple Square is barely visible outside the windows

1. Dear Myrtle's Google + hangout  (HOA, Hangout On Air)  "Monday's with Myrt" taped on March 18th at the big Family History Library in Salt Lake City, a few days before the RootsTech 2013 conference.  Click here to see "Dear Myrtle, Live at RootsTech":

A.C. Ivory, Yours Truly and Jill Ball in the Media Hub at RootsTech

2. An interview with Jill Ball for her "Geniaus" blog in Australia, taped in the "fish bowl" of the RootsTech Expo on Thursday, March 21st:

The Genealogists Gadget Bag panel live on stage at RootsTech

3. The "Genealogist's Gadget Bag", a panel discussion hosted by Jill Ball of Australia,
taped on Thursday, March 21st at 3pm live on stage as part of the first day at RootsTech 2013:

For a great review and writeup on this panel discussion of genealogy gadgets, see "What's in your gadget bag?" on the Family Recorder blog by Audrey Collins of the U.K. at this link:

Enjoy!  And catch more video at and on the many blogs written last week and still being written as bloggers return home to catch up on their writing...

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Munroe Tavern becomes a Public Museum

The Munroe Tavern was built by William Munroe, Jr.(1669 - 1759) in  Lexington, Massachusetts in 1695.   William was the brother of my 6 x great grandfather, George Munroe.  William later sold the house.  His son, William Munroe III (1742 - 1827) bought the house in 1770 and ran a tavern.  During the Battle of Lexington, 19 April 1775, William was the sergeant of the Minutemen company in Lexington.  His family hid in the forest behind the house during the battle, and the British Brigadier General Earl Percy took it over as a field hospital.  Before leaving the tavern, the British troops shot John Raymond, the handy man who had stayed with the house, and tried to burn down the building.  You can see bullet holes in the ceiling of the dining room, remnants of the damage done by the British.

In 1789 the Munroe family entertained President George Washington in the Munroe Tavern when he came to visit Lexington and other places in New England that had seen battle during the American Revolution.  You can still see the room, tea service and furniture Washington used on display at the house. The family continued to run the tavern until 1858.

In 1911 the Lexington Historical Society was deeded the house by the last Munroe to live in the tavern.  It was added to the list of the National Register of Historic Places during the bicentennial in 1976.  In 2011 the house underwent extensive renovation and reopened as the Museum of the British Redcoats.  This was a controversial move, considering that the Munroe family home was almost destroyed by the British during the aftermath of the Battle of Lexington.

The Munroe Tavern is located at 1332 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, Massachusetts.  It is owned by the Lexington Historical Society and is open from April to October for guided tours.

1911 news clipping
unknown newspaper

The James Smith Munroe mentioned in this article is my 4th cousin, 4x removed.  His ancestor, William Munroe, Jr., (my 6x great grand uncle), built the tavern, and it was ultimately inherited by J. S. Munroe, who left it in his will to the Lexington Historical Society.  The first William Munroe (1625 -1718), our common ancestor, was a Scots prisoner of war, sold into servitude in Cambridge, and he later settled in Cambridge Farms, now known as the town of Lexington, Massachusetts.


Munroe Tavern Soon
to Open to Public

     Beginning Monday next the thousands
of pilgrims to historic spots in New
England will have a new point of in-
terest, and the equal thousands of auto-
mobilists will have a new place at
which to get afternoon tea.  I'dr on
that date is to be transferred into a
historical museum the famous Munroe
Tavern in Lexington, which, closed to
the public since about 1858, is now to be 
open every day throughout the warmer
monts and probably at inervals dur-
ing the winter.  Under the will of 
James Smith Munroe, who died Dec. 10
last the property has come into posses-
sion of the Lexington Historical So-
ciety, "which shall keep the premises
in good repair and forever maintain the
name in substanability their present
or original condition * * * and shall at
stated and suitable times open the 
house for the inspection of the public."
     Since the acceptance of the bequest
by the society  a special committee has
been actively at work putting the house
into shape.  Four rooms, together with
the great rambling garret, will be open
to the public from May to November,
every weekday from 10 AM to 6 PM,
and on Sundays from 8 to 6 PM.

The Lexington Historical Society Munroe Tavern website

Some previous blog posts I have written about the Munroe Tavern:

Rebranding History

5 November 1789, George Washington Dined Here!

You can help with Munroe Tavern Renovations

The URL for this post is

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Friends at RootsTech 2013

My first day in Salt Lake City, and I met up with lots of friends
at Dear Myrtle's interviews at the Family History Library

Sonia Meza, a genealogist from Spain, gave a talk at the 
Family History Library with her translator Debbie Shurtz Gertler

The RootsTech Genealogy Gadget Gang
Catch our act at this link: 

At the Billion Graves booth with their
blogger, Lisa Moncur (check out her great blog post at

Linda Seaver, Yours Truly, Randy Seaver

On the last afternoon I bumped into Audrey Collins from the United Kingdom,

I finally found Eric Jelle "GenDocs Wetpaint" in the Expo on a computer

Genealogists and bloggers relaxing after the end of RootsTech

It's amazing to go all the way to Utah from New Hampshire, and find so many friends to hang out with, to discuss genealogy, to try out new technologies and have fun with for a few days!  Please try out the links to see if you like their websites and blogs.

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ BILL of Boston, Connecticut, Nova Scotia and Salem, Massachusetts

The Billtown Baptist Church, 2007
We drove the little red convertible all the way to Nova Scota
to see if there really was a place called "Billtown" and we found it! 

This is sometimes a difficult line to research.  Whenever I Google “BILL” I usually get hits on first names, not surnames, and newspaper searches pull up legislation instead of people.  But I was lucky, several very good books have been compiled on the Bill family, and they helped me to form the skeleton of my research.  Using vital records, newspapers, and in the case of one minister in this line some college archives, filled in and confirmed my lineage.

The first Bill in America was John Bill (1598 – 1638), who lived in what is now Winthrop, Massachusetts.  It was across the harbor from Boston, and at that time was known as Pulling or Pulllen Point, and then known as Bills Farms.  The earliest Bills are buried in Boston at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground next to the Old North Church.  From Copp’s Hill you can look across the harbor and see Winthrop and to where the Bill family had settled.

Son John Bill, aged 13, arrived on the ship Hopewell , and his sister, Mary, age 11 with the Tuttle family, arrived on the ship Planter, both in 1635 as part of the Winthrop Fleet.   The earliest record of the father John Bill is in the records “Town of Boston”  where it reads “John Bill died 10 mo. 1638”   Another record on 21 January 1638/9 made Richard Tuttell responsible for “one Dorthie Bill, Widdowe, a sojourner in his house…for any thing about her”  [see Drake’s History of Boston, p. 245]   Richard Tuttle was her brother.

Phillip Bill (1629 – 1689), son of John Bill, left Pulling Point, Massachusetts, where his children were born,  and removed to a part of New London, Connecticut that is now the town of Groton.  He died the same day as his daughter, Margaret, of throat distemper (diphtheria) on 8 July 1689.  His widow married again to Samuel Bucknall or Buckland.

Phillip’s grandson, Ebenezer Bill (1695 – 1788), lived in Lebanon, Connecticut and eventually sold his home to his brother James.  He removed to Nova Scotia as a planter upon the removal of the “French Neutrals” ( The Acadian Huguenot Protestants).   He settled in Kings county, Nova Scotia.  His children came with him, and Asahel Bill (1748 – 1814), my 4th great grandfather, settled on a large tract of land  which became known as “Billtown”.   

Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill  (1805 – 1891), my 3rd great grandfather, was the youngest of eleven children.  He was moved to become a Baptist at a very young age, and was called to the ministry.  He was one of the founders of Acadia College in Wolfeville, Nova Scotia, which was founded by several Baptist ministers.  He was the pastor of the Billtown Baptist Church for over twenty-three years, and then pastor of the Germain Street Baptist Church in St.  John, New Brunswick.  He preached in Prince Edward Island, Maine, England and all the states as far south as Alabama.   He was the editor of “The Christian Visitor” Baptist newspaper and wrote the book Fifty Years with the Baptist Ministers and Churches of the Maritime Provinces of Canada in 1880. 

Rev. Bill’s son, the music professor Caleb Rand Bill (1833 – 1902), removed with his family back to New England.  He lived and taught music in Houlton, Maine,  and in the towns of Watertown, Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts. 

Some sources for researching the Bill family:

History of the Bill Family, edited by Ledyard Bill, 1867

A supplement to the Bill Family book was privately published by Harry Bill of Billtown in the 1990s for members of his immediate family.  I don’t have a copy of this book, but I do have copies of pages pertinent to my lineage which Harry sent me before he passed away in 2010.  If you can find a copy of this book you will find all the family lines updated.  

There is much about the Billtown Bills in local history books of Kings County, Nova Scotia, and the archives at Wolfeville’s Acadia College have copies of the biographies and sermons of the many Bill Baptist ministers, including Reverend I. E. Bill, my 3rd great grandfather.  

There was a senator Caleb Rand Bill, appointed to the Canadian Senate 23 October 1867 by Royal Proclamation from Queen Victoria. He represented Kings County from 1855 to 1859, and the northern region of Kings County from 1863 to 1867 in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.  He was a brother of my ancestor Rev. I. E. Bill, and is buried at the Billtown Baptist Cemetery.  You can find his biography in any good Canadian encyclopedia or list of famous Canadians.

My Bill genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Bill, born about 1598, died 21 January 1638; married about 1612 in England to Dorothy Tuttle, daughter of Symon Tuttle and Isabel Wells.  She was born about 1592, and died about December 1638 in Boston, Massachusetts.  Five known children.

Generation 2: Phillip Bill, born April 1629 in England, died 8 July 1689 in New London, Connecticut; married about 8 July 1689 in Groton, Connecticut to Hannah Waite.  She was the daughter of Samuel Waite and Mary Ward, born about 1625, died 1709 in Groton.  Eight children.

Generation 3:  Samuel Bill, born about 1665 near Boston, died 27 January 1730 in Groton, Connecticut; married about 1685 in Groton to Mercy Houghton, daughter of Richard Haughton and Catherine Unknown.  Eleven children.

Generation 4:  Ebenezer Bill, born 14 December 1695 in Groton, died 23 May 1788 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia; married first about 1719 to Elizabeth Unkown;  married second on 8 September 1726 in Lebanon, Connecticut to Patience Ingraham, daughter of William Ingraham and Elizabeth Chesebrough.  She was born 2 April 1706 in Stonington, Connecticut, and died October 177 in Groton.  Ten children. 

Generation 5: Asahel Bill, born 7 April 1748 in Lebanon, died 10 November 1814 in Billtown, Nova Scotia; married on 18 June 1778 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia to Mary Rand, daughter of Caleb Rand and Mary Mayhew.  She was born about 1758 and died 19 February 1845 in Billtown.  Eleven children.

Generation 6:  Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, born 19 February 1805 in Billtown, died 4 August 1891 in St. Martin’s, New Brunswick; married first to Isabella Lyons, daughter of Thomas Ratchford Lyons and Ann Skinner.  She was born 28 January 1806 in Cornwallis, died April 1872 in Carleton, New Brunswick.  Rev. Bill married second on 14 May 1873 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Susan L. Nichols, widow of George Dove.

Generation 7:  Professor Caleb Rand Bill, born 30 May 1833 in Nictaux, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, died 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Ann Margaret Bollman, daughter of Bremner Frederick Bollman and Sarah Elizabeth Lennox.  She was born on 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg, and died 1923 in Salem, Massachusetts. Nine children.

Generation 8: Isabella Lyons Bill, born January 1863 in Machias, Maine, died 19 January 1935 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 18 October 1894 in Salem, Massachusetts to Albert Munroe Wilkinson, son of Robert Wilson Wilkinson and Phebe Cross Munroe.  He was born 7 November 1860 in Danvers, Massachusetts, died 12 May 1908 at the Corey Hill Hospital, Brookline, Massachusetts. Two children.

Generation 9: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Surname Saturday ~ BILL of Boston, Connecticut, Nova Scotia and Salem, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 23, 2013, ( accessed [access date]). 

Friday, March 22, 2013

A NH Yankee at Day Two of RootsTech 2013

Here I am at Day Two of RootsTech.  There were two keynote speakers today.  The first speaker was not as interesting to me today as the presenters yesterday.  Jyl Pattee is a popular blogger with a very nice message about family, and she demonstrated how to use technology to preserve family memories and stories.  Nice and sweet, but her methods were all things that have been blogged about and demonstrated before.  I was very surprised that she was a keynote speaker over other presenters who had messages that were more cutting edge and ground breaking. Perhaps her celebrity won out over other choices for speaker? I had never heard of her before, but I surmise she was a "big deal" for RootsTech.

Speaker two was an improvement.  Tim Sullivan had a balanced message about, recognizing the shortfalls of some pedigrees submitted to the website, as well as admitting that the presence of these family trees is a valuable lesson in genealogy for all who use the website.  He also made several breaking announcements you can hear in the archived version of the video. I won't rehash his entire talk here, since you can see it for yourself, but the main announcements were a new iOS app 4.1 for Ancestry on iPhone and iPad devices (he explained that 1/3 of users now arrive at the website via mobile devices), $99 DNA tests, $100 million to digitize documents over the next four years, and a collaboration with FamilySearch to digitize 140 million US Probate records.  It was a great message, and the perfect place to break the great news to the genealogy community.

David Lambert from the
New England Historic Genealogical Society
The rest of the day was spent in smaller presentations, including hearing David Lambert of NEHGS at his talk on "Creating a Virtual New England Community Archive",  Thomas MacEntee at "Backing up Genealogy Data", and Amy Johnson Crow in "Turning Google Street View into a Time Machine with HistoryPin and WhatWasThere".  Then a few hours at the Family History Library, cramming in a last research session.

Thomas MacEntee hosted a huge birthday party for himself at the Radisson, and it was a "Who's Who" of genealogy bloggers, genealogists and genealogy company representatives. Thomas was the Man of the Hour and everyone in attendance had a great time!  We were sorry to leave early and crawl into bed (but not before posting this to my blog!)

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo