Category Archives: GeneaGems

New GeneaGem Discovered! Kentucky Tax Records

Tax records are an under-used resource available to genealogists.  Often, such records are just not available. They may have been destroyed in a county courthouse fire or just haven’t been microfilmed or digitized.

However, if you have Kentucky ancestors, take the time to check You might be pleasantly surprised to see what is available. Husband Dave has a lot of ancestors who passed through Kentucky at one time or another. Some were there quite early, right at the turn of the 19th century.

Two families came from Virginia, which has no 1810 census. Looking for any and all resources that might help create an accurate timeline for their migrations, I discovered extant tax records for Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, which was the destination of the Miller and Whitmer families.

Here is what I found for Martin Miller:

No Martin Miller on the Muhlenberg County tax list

Miller, Martin, one white male & 2 horses

Miller, Martin, one white male & 2 horses

Miller, Martin, one white male & 3 horses

Miller, Martin, one white male

A few years are missing, such as 1814 in this sequence, but for the most part, it is possible to track the arrival and departure or death of an ancestor along with their economic circumstances.

The downside is that FamilySearch hasn’t yet digitized the Kentucky tax records, so one either needs to visit Salt Lake City or order the films at your local Family History Center.

I have used these films to track Martin Miller’s family and establish that he was not related to any of the earlier Millers in Muhlenberg County.

I also used them to determine that the entire Whitmer family apparently removed to Tennessee for a few years, but they dribbled back to Muhlenberg County, little by little. I know this because they appeared on tax lists as they became of age, disappeared together and then reappeared on the lists a couple at a time.

These records are especially valuable if you are searching for family in a burned county.

To find the records, go to Under the “Search” tab, choose “Catalog.” Next, enter “Kentucky,whatever county” and look for “Taxation.” Some counties have books of transcribed tax records that have been donated to the library. I just use those to confirm that  the names I am looking for are there. Then I pull the microfilms and begin reading.

Happy Hunting!

New GeneaGem: U.S. Petitions for Naturalization Index 1791-1906

FamilySearch has done it again! I love looking through their collections. Do you have a New England ancestor who acquired citizenship somewhere in the six state area in 1906 or earlier? Then this collection – United States, New England Petitions for Naturalization (1791-1906) is for you. It is searchable by name.

Always on the hunt for more Carlisle family information, I entered just the surname in the search box. Only eighteen hits came up, which surprised me since that is not a particularly unusual surname and this database covers all of New England.

Five possibilities caught my eye: Abraham, Charles and Robert Carlisle and John and William Carlile, all born in Canada and naturalized in Maine. A look at the index card showed papers filed in Washington County, Maine for Abraham and Robert, Waldo County for John and William and Aroostook County for Charles. Washington County is my main area of interest, but Charles in Aroostook County is likely related because his record says he was born in Sussex, New Brunswick, the exact village where my Carlisles lived for many years.

This is just an index to the petitions. Next, I checked Maine, Washington County for naturalization records and found a link to more digitized records. There I found the record for Abraham Carlisle, who is a nephew of my two Carlisle 3x great grandmothers, Abigail and Catherine Carlisle.

AbrahamCarlisleNaturalization1847Image832 AbrahamCarlisleNaturalization1847Image833
Two Page Petition of Abraham Carlisle, 1847

Although the petition is handwritten, it is very readable so I won’t include a transcription. From it, I’ve gleaned some good information about the time the Carlisles came into Maine from New Brunswick, Canada. The family patriarch, Robert Carlisle, fought in the Royal Fencible Americans, based in Nova Scotia, during the Revolution. No Carlisles are in Washington County, Maine in 1820, but they are there in 1830. Robert died in 1834 in Charlotte, Maine and his widow returned to Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada, likely to live with relatives.

Abraham states in his petition that he was born in New Brunswick on 3 January 1814, so I now have his exact date of birth. He further states that he first lived in Baring, Maine (a town just north of Charlotte) for five years from the fall of 1822 and then removed to Charlotte, where he has since lived.

Abraham was only eight years old when he moved to Maine, so he was likely part of a family migration. I also didn’t know that the Carlisles had first lived in Baring because that happened in between censuses.

This search took me about five minutes and I know a bit more about the Carlisle family than I did before. It was well worth five minutes. Now, I need to go back to that index and look up the other Carlisle men!

New GeneaGem Discovered! Boston Public Library Online Resources

When it rains, it pours! Friends without New England ancestors were always envious of all the finds I made, having many colonial Massachusetts lines. None were on the Mayflower, but lots were on boats #2, #3, #4 and so on.

At first glance, one would think that the Boston Public Library, established in 1848, would be more of the same – lots of resources about early New England settlers. The answer to that is yes AND no.

First, we need to visit the Boston Public Library website.

Point the cursor along the brown tool bar and choose “Our Collections.”

The drop down menu includes “Online Collections” and that is the one you want to click on.

There are some terrific choices – Boston Public Library at Digital Commonwealth, Newspaper Directories, American Revolutionary War Manuscript Collection, Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection and Boston at the Movies: First Films of the City 1901-1905.

First is the Digital Commonwealth. There are 21 different collections!

One of my favorites is the Carte de Visite collection that has 50 pages of photographs, many dating from the 1860’s.  Some photos only have first names inscribed on them. Many are of Civil War soldiers with a rank and surname given. Included in the collection are some Presidential photos like this one of Abraham Lincoln:

LincolnPhotoFront LincolnPhotoBack
Digital Images of Both Front and Back

Being able to see the back of the photo is important in case there is a photographers’ mark. In this case, there is none. If you double click on the image, an information box comes up.

Not only is there source information included about the photo, there is a permalink and statement about Terms of Use. Many of the items in the library collection are long out of copyright and have no restrictions. Other categories in this collection include American Trade Cards, Early Baseball Photos and Travel Posters. The one collection in Digital Commonwealth that is text instead of images is the Boston (Mass.) Overseers of the Poor Indentures, 1734-1805.

There are lots of beautiful, historic and fun images in the collection so check them out.

A second great collection is the American Revolutionary War Manuscript Collection, which does mostly relate to New England. Here is the muster roll of Gershom Nelson’s Company, which marched on 19 April 1775, the day the shot heard around the world was fired, to answer the alarm of the Battle of Lexington:

Muster Roll of Gershom Nelson’s Company
19 April 1775

 Last, but not least, there the Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection, linked through Internet Archive.

Boston Public Library has earned a thumbs up for an easily accessible interesting online collection.