Category Archives: GeneaGems

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.

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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:

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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.

New GeneaGem Discovered! BLM Website

I have discovered a new GeneaGem. Months back, I wrote about using DeedMapper to plot out metes and bounds land surveys. As Americans began the Westward Movement, the government began issuing land parcels using an organized planning system call the Public Land Survey System, often referred to as the Township, Range and Section system.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) General Land Office (GLO) has a Records Automation website that is both fabulous and free.

This site is very easy to use. Simply click on “Search Documents” at the top left corner.

A search box opens for you. The great thing about this site is that it can be used in several ways that are very helpful for genealogy research.

First, if your ancestor lived in a state that uses the PLSS for land parcels, but you don’t have the land description for the property that he/she owned, you can search by Location and Name.

I put in the surname “Sturgill” in Ohio and three hits came up, all for William Sturgill, one of my husband’s mystery ancestors:

All three listings are dated 1837 so I chose the first patent in the list because it has the lowest number. I then clicked on the live link under “Accessions.”

William Sturgill Land Patent Information

There are three categories of information. The first is Patent Details, which shows that the land was sold from the Chillicothe Land Office under an act of 1820 and there were no mineral reservations. William received 43.05 acres located in Township 5N, Range 17W and Section 10 in Lawrence County, Ohio.

If you click on the land description next to the box, it plots the land location for you:

Land Plotted on a Map

From the dotted lines representing the borders of Lawrence County, it is easy to see that the county was an odd shape, but it is also possible to see that William’s land was in the eastern portion of the county, not far from the Gallia County line.

A township normally was divided into 36 sections, so William’s land was in the north central area.

The best part comes next! Click on “Patent Image.”

The first page of William Sturgill’s land patent papers has been digitized and there is a Print Friendly button on the top right side of the screen. The downside is that most land patent files are more than one page long. If you would like the whole file, you will have to contact the BLM to order it.

Also, not all land patent files have the digitized first page available yet. I first tried this with “Stufflebean” in Oklahoma and the file that came up did not have the image in it yet.

The third tab is for Related Documents. It shows all the people who have some type of relationship to that piece of land.

The other tab on the home page is the Reference Center.  Click on that to see the various resources available on the website to help you understand the land records:

All in all, this is definitely a GeneaGem. In addition to accessing land records for ancestors, researchers can use the Related Documents section to look for the FAN (Family and Neighbors) Club. Instead of looking at the 1840 census and wondering how close someone lived to a person of interest, this database can show exactly how close together two people lived. In the case of William Sturgill, his neighbors consisted of current family members and future extended family through marriage.

This website deserves a definite thumbs up! Check it out for yourself.