Do you have early New England ancestors who settled in Essex County, Massachusetts?
If so, you might want to check out The Essex Antiquarian, a “magazine devoted to biography, genealogy, history and antiquities of Essex County, Massachusetts,” published by Sidney Perley from 1897 to 1909.
The complete run can be found on HathiTrust.
What kind of articles were published in The Essex Antiquarian? Well, many that will interest genealogists.
Mr. Perley published epitaphs from many early tombstones – not just birth and death dates, but entire epitaphs. Yes, we have online websites with gravestone information, but I guarantee that some of those transcribed in 1897 (from even earlier records) are (1) either no longer legible or (2) destroyed, sunk into the ground or are in some other non-readable condition.
There are also interesting historical articles to be found. Were your ancestors in Haverhill in the 1730s? There was a “throat distemper” epidemic that spread through the area from 1735-1737 that killed many children.
Between 17 November 1735 and 31 December 1737, 256 children died in Haverhill alone. The article identifies Haverhill families who lost one, two, three, four or even FIVE children to the epidemic.
Another article tells of the 1769 murder of Ruth Perley Ames, poisoned, shortly after having given birth. John Adams, later U.S. President, was counsel for the defense. It’s a very interesting story.
Do you have Essex County ancestors who may have given service in the American Revolution, but for whom no pension has been found? The magazine starts with A surnames, giving a very short synopsis of each man’s service.
There are also genealogical studies, such as the one written about Captain John Appleton, born in 1622 in Little Waldingfield, Suffolk, England, which not only details his descendants, but includes notes from historical events back to the 1400s. Clues, to be verified, for sure, but still clues!
Although none of those submitting queries is still around to chat with, when others found answers, the replies were published in future issues. Some replies even cited a source.
Another valuable set of records are Essex County court records, which are abstracted and date from the 1640s.
In any event, even if you have no early Essex County ancestors, reading through the issues is an enjoyable experience.
The Essex Antiquarian was one of the first genealogical journals of which I was aware and I had pulled issues off library shelves to read. It’s helpful that they are now accessible online.