Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spring 2011 American Ancestors: SDBs, methods, and more

The current (spring 2011) issue of the New England Historic Genealogical Society's popular publication, American Ancestors: New England, New York, and Beyond, heralds the addition of back issues of the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine to the NEHGS web site. Inside are numerous articles. I was struck by two with Midwestern angles, and one of methodological interest:

Shellee A. Morehead provides "A Genealogist's Guide to Seventh Day Baptists," a branch of the Baptists from Rhode Island founded in 1671. Many members settled in or near Milton, Rock County, Wisconsin as they moved west from New York and New Jersey; today their historical center is in Janesville. Although never large, this sect was exceptionally cohesive and generated good records. Those who stuck to their conviction that worship should be held on Saturday also found it convenient to live in clusters. So there was a good deal of intermarriage as well as an early well-developed system of national newspaper communication. You could have SDBs in your tree without knowing it, and Morehead provides a table of surnames and locations (although at least one later location in North Loup, Nebraska, is absent).

Sherill Baldwin outlines the hard-to discover life of Rev. E. W. Dunbar (1823-1893), an effective preacher and popular hymn author, who also did time in Minnesota for bigamy.

Even those without Huguenot ancestry will find methodological interest in Oliver Popenoe's research chronology explaining how he managed to break a brick wall and add generations of prosperous French ancestors to his tree. Two intertwined strategies are noteworthy: he spent a lot of time researching the papers of an unrelated patron of his known ancestor; and early on in his research push he established a web site to document it. Together the classic broaden-the-search strategy and the 21st-century approach got the job done.

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