New Old Massachusetts Vital Records on

The Weekly Genealogist, an e-newsletter from the New England Historic Genealogy Society, usually contains three current news stories of interest relating to family history research.  The newsletter of 21 March 2012 included a link to a story about a private collection of microfilmed old vital records from Massachusetts being sold to, a “for profit” genealogy site.  A Massachusetts official was quoted as saying that:

Most of the records are, of course, already public and free, a point that Secretary of State William F. Galvin emphasized when told of the sale. His spokesman said that vital records and other documents can be made available to anyone who asks for them at their local city hall or town hall. Vital records from 1841 through 1920 are also available at the Massachusetts Archives. “What they’re doing is fine, but he [Galvin] wants people to know those records are available at city and town halls at no cost,’’ said Brian McNiff.

I suspect that neither Galvin nor McNiff is a family researcher.  I appreciate the fact that the records are on Ancestry now.  I can visit that site 24/7, unlike trying to go to a town hall during business hours.  In fact, when I did go to a town hall for my grandfather’s birth certificate, a prominently posted sign said “Genealogy Inquires on Tuesdays Only”.  Just by coincidence, we were there on the specified day.  With Internet access to the records, I don’t have to wait in line.  I can do my research in my jammies.  I spend no money on gas or parking.  I have an immediate digital copy of the record.  I suspect that while someone can look at the records for free, copy costs probably apply – if in fact they will copy or scan the fragile documents.  A researcher has to know which city or town hall to visit.  While it would be wonderful to see those records in person, for those of us who are on the opposite side of the country, the collection on line is truly a treasure.

To read the full story, go to


Charles Constantine Jeffrey-Smith Update

Charles’ story was first reported in an earlier post,

I was recently contacted by Charles’ granddaughter, who stated that her family had been researching their family history.   She was able to fill in some blanks, and of course raise more questions. My original posting ended with references to Charles’s 1942 draft registration card, and the observation that “Iris” was his contact person, but her relationship was not known.  The granddaughter confirmed that Iris was Charles’ wife.  The granddaughter sent me photographs of Charles’ headstone, which clearly gave his year of birth as 1879.  We discussed why he would have made himself 7 years older.  Perhaps he thought he would be too old to be called up to serve in the first World War.  His brother Leslie died 22 June 1917 in Flanders.  Charles joined the 55th Aero Construction Squadron, which was mobilized in August 1917.  The unit went from Kelly Field in Texas, to Hazelhurst Field, in New York, Issoudun, Saint-Jean-de Monts, and Latrecey-Ormoy-sur-Aube in France, and back to Garden City, New York in 1919. The Unit’s purpose was to construct and maintain facilities, and as an engineer, this would have been a good fit for him. 

Although I have not been able to find Charles in the 1920 census, a newspaper article that year from Rushville Indiana reported that Charles C. Jeffrey-Smith had won a lawsuit to collect $36.54 and court costs, as the two defendants had failed to pay their account at his garage. 

Charles married for the third time on 28 April 1928 to Anna Cunningham.  In this record, he claimed to be born in Paris, and the 1930 census with his wife and her children listed his birthplace as Paris.  Charles’ granddaughter believed that this was his correct birth place.  We weren’t sure why he would claim Paris instead of Jamaica, unless there was some benefit to being from France. 

Charles married for the fourth time to Iris Adelai (Adlai) Malone on 28 Dec 1936.  She was born 25 Dec 1911 in Jamaica.  This was described as something of a mail-order bride situation, as he had not met her in person.  Adlai attended school in Jamaica, and perhaps was known to Charles’ sisters, who were teachers and school administrators.  Some time before this marriage, Charles had gone to law school in Montreal.  Although I have not found the actual marriage record, a newspaper item from the Jamaica Gleaner reported on the wedding:    MARRIES ATTORNEY-AT-LAW. MISS IRIS A. MALONE, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Malone of this city was united in Holy Matrimony on December 28th in the U. S. A. to Mr. C. C. Jeffrey-Smith, Attorney-at-Law. Mrs. Jeffrey-Smith is well known among the younger set in Jamaica. She is a past pupil of the Wolmer’s High School for Girls. Quick-witted and with a lively imagination, short story writing as a remunerative hobby comes naturally to her. She has plenty of atmosphere and scope for her talent in the United States. Although she has only been away from the island for a short while her charming personality has gained many friends here. Unable to speak a word of Spanish, nevertheless, her warm rich beauty, has been the cause of her friends mistaking her for a latin and not a true daughter of Jamaica as she really is. French has always been her favourite language, which she speaks, reads and writes fluently. Mrs. Jeffrey-Smith is also a keen sportswoman, indulging freely in horse back riding, hunting and fishing on her farm and those of her friends.

Charles died 8 Oct 1958 in Micheltree, Indiana, and is buried at Trinity Springs Cemetery in Shoals, IN.  His obituary says that he was a retired machinist, that he operated a Law and Detective office (private merchant police), and that he did Secret Service work for France in the early part of World War 1.  He was a member of the Methodist Church and the American Legion.  His wife died in 1996.

Henry Z Pollard Update

Henry Pollard’s initial post was January 25, 2012, and ended with the question of where he was buried.  Thanks to a cousin who lives near DC, I now have a copy of Henry’s death certificate, and a couple other documents from his Civil War pension record at the National Archives.  Henry’s place of death was Forest, in Bedford County, Virginia.  His date of birth was given as 1 April 1843, in New York.  Parents were confirmed as Clinton Pollard and Amarilis Sawyer.  The informant on the certificate was his daughter Etta, and it appears her address was 730 Rail Road Avenue, in Bedford.  Henry died 2 June 1912, and cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage (apoplexy).   The death certificate indicates that he had been at his residence for 1 year, 6 months, and 23 days, so they apparently moved from VT to in early 1911.  Place of burial appears to be Clay, Bedford County…but it is hard to read.  Forest VA is a rural suburb of Lynchburg.  Clay is listed as a “populated area” in Bedford County – a subdivision or neighborhood, not found on maps.  I have not yet been able to identify the exact cemetery.  I have a query in to the local library, which has an index of interments in the area cemeteries.  If it was created from death or cemetery records, Henry may be in it.  If it was created from a headstone inventory, he’s less likely to be listed. Also, the undertaker was WD Diuguid, and there is still a funeral home with that name, so perhaps they will have the information.   I have e-mailed to see if their records go back that far.

Henry’s wife Betsey apparently tried to claim a widow’s pension, as the other documents scanned and sent to me included proof of marriage.

Charles William Smith 1834 – 1910

Charles William Smith was born 10 December 1834 in Ipswich, MA, the first of nine children of John Smith and Betsey Dodge.      

The 1850 census lists the Smith family in Ipswich.  John was a farm laborer, and Charles, at age 15, was also listed as a laborer.  His siblings were Sarah Jane, Emeline, John Allen, Lucy Mary, and Edward.  A brother died as an infant.  Alice and Jesse were born after the 1850 census. 

The 1855 Massachusetts state census lists Charles living at home with his family.  He and his father both listed their occupations as “teamster and farmer”. 

In 1860, Charles lived in Ipswich with an older couple named Frederick and Louisa Mitchell.  Frederick was a farmer, apparently fairly well off, as his farm was valued at $5000, and his personal property at $1000, the most by far on that particular census page.  Charles was a laborer. 

On 13 September 1859, Charles married Mary Jane Barton, daughter of Nathan Barton and Eliza Thayer.  They were married in Rowley, but the marriage was recorded in Ipswich.  This was the first marriage for both, and Charles was a teamster.   

During the Civil War, Charles enlisted in Company B, Massachusetts 1st Heavy Artillery Battalion on 9 October 1862.  He mustered out on 29 Jun 1865. 

HISTORY:  First Battalion, Heavy Artillery.-Majs., Stephen Cabot, John W. M. Appleton. The total strength of the battalion was 39 officers, 1,285 enlisted men, and its only loss during service was 15 men, who died by accident or disease. The organization was originally composed of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th unattached companies of heavy artillery, but two companies of one year men were added in the summer of 1864. CO. A (1st unattached) was formed early in 1862 and was designed for service in the forts of Boston harbor. It was the first of the many companies raised for this purpose, nearly all of which were subsequently organized into regiments of heavy artillery and sent to the front. Co. B (2nd unattached), was organized in the autumn of 1862, and with the preceding company served as heavy artillery organizations at Fort Warren, Boston harbor, until the spring of 1863. CO. C (4th unattached), was mustered into service April 22, 1863; Co. D (5th unattached), was mustered in on June 6, 1863. These four companies were at this time united to form the 1st battalion, which was enlarged by the addition of Cos. E and F in Aug., 1864, and which were mustered in for one year’s service. The battalion performed garrison duty at the forts in Boston harbor during its entire term of service, though it furnished many detachments for service in the other forts along the Massachusetts coast. Cos. B, E and F were mustered out in June, 1865, and the remaining three in September and October of the same year.

Charles was counted in the 1865 Massachusetts state census with his family.  Son Sidney Lawrence had been born 11 Sep 1861.  At that time, the family lived in the North District of Ipswich, and Charles was a teamster. When son Charles was born 1 Apr 1863, the family lived on High Street in Ipswich, and Charles (the father) was still working as a teamster.  At the time of the 1865 census, Charles listed his occupation as soldier.  A third son, Elmer C, was born in October 1865,

Charles moved his family to nearby Rockport.  They were counted there in the 1870 census.  Charles was a stone cutter, and they lived next door to his brother John.  Charles and Mary had twin sons, Oren Willmoth and Otis Evred, born 15 December 1873 in Franklin MA. Oren died died 13 Jan 1876 in Rockport of scarlet fever, which is strep throat with a rash, most common in children.  His twin Otis died 10 November 1876 in Ipswich, and older brother Charles died 18 May 1877 also in Ipswich, both of typhoid fever.  Typhoid is most commonly transmitted through poor hygiene and public sanitation.

In 1880, Charles, Mary J, Sidney and Elmer lived in Franklin MA.   Charles was a laborer, and Sidney worked in a straw shop (possibly a hat-making business). 

Charles was not listed in the 1890 Civil War pensioner census, as he did not file for a pension until 6 October 1890.    

The 1900 census lists Charles and Mary living on East Street in Ipswich, and Charles is still employed as a teamster.  Living with them is their 13-year-old grandson Chester but I’m not sure if this is Sidney’s son or Elmer’s.    

On 7 May 1908, Charles was admitted to the Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Togus, Maine.  His record says that his disability was insufficiency and stenosis (hardened) tricuspid valve heart with arrhythmia, chronic arthritis and rheumatism, and muscular contraction of left ring finger.  The record describes him as born in Ipswich, age 73, height 5 ¾, light complexion, gray eyes and hair. It says he cannot read or write.  He was a Protestant, teamster, resident of Ipswich, married, and his nearest relative Elmer C Smith, son, Ipswich.  He received a pension of $15 which would have gone to the hospital to pay for his care.  

The facility was built in 1858 as a resort hotel, then in 1866 was purchased by the federal government to become the Eastern Branch of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.  Togus was run as a military post where the men wore army uniforms and were subject to military discipline including confinement in the guardhouse for infractions of the rules.  The residents signed over their federal pension in return for their care. Those able to work could earn money by working on the farm or in the shops.  An electric railway provided transportation to Augusta.   In 1904, the population peaked at about 2800 residents.  Some men lived in dormitories, some in small cottages.  Togus became a popular recreation destination for civilians in the area, who came to watch baseball games and military band concerts.  The facility even had a small zoo. 

Charles discharged himself on 8 October 1908.  In 1910, Charles was at the Soldier’s Home in Chelsea, listed as married.  This facility was established in 1882.   

Charles died 29 Sep 1910 in Ipswich.   His residence was Country street, cause of death was chronic valvular heart disease.  His occupation was listed as retired teamster and US pensioner.  His son Elmer was the informant for the death certificate.  The father was listed as John Smith, and his mother as Hannah Lord.  I suspect that when the clerk asked for the father’s name and then “his” mother’s name – Elmer named John’s mother’s name which was Hannah Lord, instead of naming Charles’ mother, Betsey Dodge.  Charles was buried at Old North Cemetery (now also called Highland).  His grave is marked with a military headstone. 

Mary J Smith died 15 October 1910 at the state hospital at Danvers MA of pulmonary tuberculosis and is also buried at Old North Cemetery.

Walter C Amsden born 29 January 1865

Walter C Amsden was born 29 January, 1865, in Walden, VT, the sixth of nine children of Samuel Amsden, born in Walden, and Lucy Briggs Stevens, born in Montgomery VT.  Samuel was a joiner, a finish carpenter, someone who makes cabinets, furniture, or other fine woodworking.  Walter’s father had been previously  married to Elizabeth Briggs (unknown relation to Lucy) and Samuel had four older half-siblings. 

Walter’s mother died in 1869, just 2 ½ weeks after the birth of Elmer, her 9th child.  Cause of death was listed as inflammation of bowels. 

Some of the older Amsden children were married by 1870, but it appears that at least some of the younger ones went to live with other families.  Walter at age five was living with the Joseph Conant family in Hardwick, VT.  Conant was a well-to-do farmer, with real estate valued at $5000 and personal property at $2650. In 1880, Walter was still listed with Conants in Hardwick, now listed as a servant and farm laborer. 

Walter’s father and third wife, Edna Davis, lived in Manchester NH, and Walter moved there.  On 1 June 1889, in Manchester, NH, Walter married Alice Runnells, daughter of Joshua (or Joseph) Runnels and Elizabeth.  Walter’s occupation was teamster, and this was his first marriage.  Alice listed this as her second marriage, reporting that she was widowed. 

The 1890 Manchester city directory lists Walter C Amsden working at 44 Manchester, as a driver, and residing at 10 Laurel avenue.   Walter began working for the Concord & Montreal Railroad as a brakeman, and in 1891, 1892 and 1893, was boarding at 502 Manchester, in the town of Manchester.   Walter and Alice divorced.  She later married William Bruce Heselton, then John W Finn. 

In 1894, Walter’s father Samuel died of cancer in Manchester.  (Walter’s stepmother Edna lived until 1906.)  

Walter moved west, and in 1900, was counted in the census in Anaconda, MT.  He was a farmer, and listed his marital status as single, not divorced.  He had two boarders, Ruth Masters, a dressmaker, and John Tanner, a machinist. 

Walter returned to New Hampshire, and on 2 May 1901, married Carrie A Holt, daughter of Samuel Holt and Matilda Gray.  This was her third marriage, as she had previously been married to Arthur Vinica and Fredrick Gilman.  This record lists Walter’s mother as Isabell Stevens – I wonder if the person recording the information misunderstood “Lucy L” for Isabell.  Walter was a farmer.  He listed this as his second marriage, and it was the bride’s third.  He was divorced, she was widowed. 

Walter’s second marriage ended, but I don’t know if by divorce or death.  He moved to Melrose, CA, and the Oakland Tribune reported on 8 February 1908 that he and Sarah (Sadie) A Baker had taken out a marriage license.  Sadie, nee Sarah A Broadway, was born 23 November 1860 in England.  I do not know the name of her first husband.  Perhaps Walter was in the San Francisco area at the time of the 1906 earthquake, or thought that his vocation of carpenter would be put to use during the rebuilding of the area.

The 1909 Berkeley CA city directory lists Walter living at Harmon Avenue #2, east of Nutley, and he was a dairyman.  In 1910, they lived at 3307 E 14th, and he worked at a creamery.  The 1910 census lists his occupation as “creamery and confectionary shop”.  Besides Sadie, his 25-year-old step-son Harry Baker lived with them. 

The 1912 directory shows a new address of 247 Bacon Building, probably his office as a real estate agent, and residence at 1424 34th Avenue.   In 1914, they lived at 5720 Harmon avenue.  In 1915, they lived at 1510 51st Avenue.  In 1917, Walter and Sadie lived at 1000 39th Avenue, and Walter was a mill hand at National Mill & Lumber Company.  

The 1920 census shows Walter and Sadie at 2240 39th Avenue.  Walter’s occupation was builder, stage.  Perhaps he worked in the movie industry.  The 1921 directory lists him as a carpenter. 

The Oakland Tribune in 1922 had advertisements for different religious services.  One church, under the label of Spiritualist, advertised the Fruitvale Spiritual Church Inc, which met at the Carpenters’ Hall at East 12th and Fruitvale.  The pastor was Rev. Jennie Northgraves, and W. C. Amsden was the president. I cannot find that this church still exists. 

The 1924 and 1925 directories show that Walter and Sadie moved to 1033 35th Avenue, and he worked as a carpenter. The 1926 and 1927 directories have the same address, but a change of occupation, to mill man.  In 1928, he was working as a carpenter again. 

The 1930 census lists Walter and Sarah living at 1033 35th Avenue.  Walter was a laborer at a grain elevator.  They owned their home, which was valued at $6000.    The 1933 and 1935 directories list them at the same residence, with Walter’s occupation listed as laborer.  Walter was listed in the 1937 directory, but starting with the 1938 directory, the listing said Sadie A, widow of W. C. Amsden.  I do not have Walter’s exact death date. 

After Walter died, Sadie lived with her daughter.  Sadie died 2 September 1952 in Berkeley.  I did not find any records for children of Walter with any of his wives.

Joseph W Fuller born 1803

Joseph Fuller was born in 1803, in Rye, NH, the son of Theodore Atkinson Fuller and Hannah Jenness.  The Dover Gazette & Strafford Advertiser, (Dover, NH) reported on Tuesday, June 10, 1828:  Marriage notices – Mr Joseph Fuller to Miss Mary T Gale.  Mary Tucker Gale was born 23 February 1800 in Wakefield, NH, daughter of John Gale.

Joseph and Mary were counted in the 1830 federal census in Portsmouth.  They had no children at that time.  I have not yet found the family in the 1840 census.    Joseph and Mary had a son, John born about 1839.

John, Mary, and John were in the 1850 census in Portsmouth, NH.  Joseph was a farmer, with property valued at $500.  The 1851 Portsmouth city directory lists Joseph as a farmer, living on Sagamore Road.  The 1857 and 1860 directories indicate the property is on Sagamore between Auburn Street and the city cemetery.

According to her headstone, Mary T Fuller died in 1851, and she is buried at Harmony Grove in Portsmouth.  Within the next couple years, Joseph married Eliza Jane Hawkins, daughter of Cornelius Hawkins and Sarah Winkley.  Eliza was the widow of Joseph W Denny, and had daughter, Elizabeth Josephine, who had been born in 1850 in Chelsea MA. 

Joseph and Eliza had four children – Frances (Fanny) born in 1855, Maria born in 1857, George born in 1860, and Theodore born in 1864. 

The 1860 census lists the Fuller family living in Portsmouth.  The household included Joseph and Eliza, his step-daughter Elizabeth, their first three children, and his son John.  Joseph’s real estate was valued at $1500, with personal property of $500.  His occupation was farm laborer.  His son John was a seaman.   The 1867 city directory lists him as a farmer, with a house on Sagamore Road.

The 1870 census lists the family in Portsmouth.  Joseph’s real estate was valued at $1000, with personal property of $500.  Joseph’s household included his wife and five children.  His stepdaughter was not in the household.  Joseph and John were laborers.  Fannie, Maria, and George were attending school. 

The 1871, 1877, and 1879 directories all list Joseph living on Sagamore Road.  John was also listed there in 1871, but that is the last record I have for him. 

Joseph died 10 March 1880 in Portsmouth, and is buried at Harmony Grove.  The death record for his son George says that Joseph was the cemetery caretaker.  Cause of death was listed as shock.  The Portsmouth Journal reported his death: In this city, March 10, Mr. Joseph Fuller, aged 76 years. Mr. Fuller has for many years been employed at the South Cemetery, and was well and favorably known to most of our citizens.  He was stricken with paralysis Feb 28.   

While researching the Hawkins family, Joseph helped me connect his second wife, Eliza Jane Hawkins, to Sarah Ann Hawkins, wife of Barney Laclair.  Sarah’s grand niece remembered that when her mother (Josephine LaClair Hemmings) was little, an Uncle named Fuller came to visit – he had a wooden leg.  Joseph Fuller was Josephine’s uncle – her mother’s (Sarah) sister’s (Eliza) husband.