Chebacco Parish: a Missing Link for Lyme, Connecticut Research

If you’re looking in Connecticut records, Hannah Thompson seems impossible to trace before her marriage in Lyme in the 1710s. From the lack of entries in the Barbour, you’d likely assume her information simply was not recorded. It wasn’t uncommon for the period, especially for a woman, who would not have to prove legal status to vote. However, you’d be wrong.

Hannah and her husband to be, William Ely, appear in the marriage intentions for Chebacco Parish, which was at the time, a subdivision of the Massachusetts town of Ipswich.  While her husband to be was from “Lime” (Lyme), Hannah was from Chebacco parish, and she wasn’t the only bride to make such a pairing. Richard Eli (Ely) of Lyme is listed only a few lines further up in the intentions. Clearly, the Ely family – and perhaps all of Lyme – had strong ties to Chebacco and commonly married into area families.

Hannah’s marriage reminds us that you have to check more than just Lyme, or even Connecticut, for family relationships. The Elys looked out of state for their brides to be. Their ties to Chebacco parish are a missing link in Lyme, Connecticut research.


Are you sure there’s no surname in Barbour? : The marriage of William Ely and Elizabeth Smith

Created as an index to and transcription of Connecticut’s early vital records, the Barbour Collection can be a huge timesaver for your research – provided you know its flaws.  To start, it created using information that was recopied several times, creating the possibility for error. Second, it does not cover the entire period before the state of Connecticut required vital records: after about 1850, you should look elsewhere for your information. Third, certain towns have no bound volumes and therefore no entry in the Ancestry collection. Finally, the marriage of William Ely and Elizabeth Smith reveals one more issue.

The Ely-Smith marriage, which occurred in 1681, is listed twice in the Barbour. The first time is under William Ely. That marriage entry correctly lists Elizabeth’s maiden name. The second time is in the “no-surname” section. William’s full name is listed – but Elizabeth has only a first name. Most marriages would be listed twice, but Elizabeth’s entry should have fallen under Smith.

The person who transcribed the original record didn’t know how to handle the fact that it was altered. As William’s entry revealed, Elizabeth’s surname was apparently added later. When the marriage record was first transcribed, the addition was left out, leading to the “no-surname” entry. Yet, the transcribe or another individual later changed their mind and added the surname. The end result was a different entry depending whether you looked for William or for Elizabeth.

The Ely-Smith marriage reminds us that there’s one more thing you should consider when using the Barbour: does the entry look logical? If there’s anything “strange” about the entry, such as missing names, dates too close to the next birth, and more, be sure to refer back to the original document. Transcribers didn’t always know how to record dual dates or later additions to the record, and their mistakes can throw off your research. Be sure to check their work!


Sometimes you just have to break the rules: why surname searches may be helpful in Connecticut genealogy

Eunice (Crocker) Way has long been a brick wall to researchers studying the family of Lt. Elisha Way of Lyme. There’s no doubt of her marriage or of her date of death. Eunice’s 1782 marriage to Elisha is documented in the Barbour Collectionwhile her dated tombstone is listed in the Hale. But everything before that was a mystery.

Who were Eunice (Crocker) Way’s parents? The Barbour Collection gave one hint. The town clerk, from whose material the Crocker-Way marriage was extracted, did not list a residence for either Elisha or Eunice. In most Connecticut towns, that’s a good indication that the bride and groom were both from that town. Eunice’s parents, therefore, most likely resided in Lyme.

That’s where we get stuck. There is no birth record or church record for Eunice Crocker, born Lyme about 1764. There are two birth records for Eunice Crockers born in other towns, but they can be demonstrated to have later married other men. The logical conclusion is that Eunice’s birth, for some reason, was not recorded.

However, it’s still possible to find Eunice’s parents. It just requires breaking a cardinal rule of genealogy: don’t assume people of the same surname are related.

If we break that rule, we start by assuming that Eunice Crocker’s father was probably a Crocker. The next step would be to locate any male Crockers living in Lyme at the time of her birth. The Hale Collection entry for Riverbend Cemetery in East Lyme indicates two male Crockers living in town around the 1760s. Mary Crocker, wife of Daniel, died in 1789. While the Hale Collection says she was 33, Find A Grave indicates she was 53 – and Daniel could very well be of the right age. There’s also Constant Crocker. The Hale Collection indicates that his daughter Mirus died in 1778 at age 8.  There are, therefore, two good options for Eunice’s father: Daniel Crocker and Constant Crocker. Since wills often list the children of the deceased, the next step was to check out probate records. And that’s where we hit the jackpot: Constant Crocker’s probate file names one of his heirs as the “heirs of Eunice Way” (who was deceased by that time). Eunice’s father, therefore, was likely Constant Crocker.

By rethinking the “don’t assume the same surname is related” rule, we’ve made a connection between Eunice and her likely father – and more importantly, learned an important research technique for small Connecticut towns. Use the common surname to find locals who might be related. Just don’t forget to test the theory!



How to find #Connecticut birth, deaths and marriages handout

Are you stuck trying to locate and purchase a copy of a Connecticut birth, death or marriage?

Not finding what you need in a web search?

 I’ve put all my “how to” hints together in one handout that details how to access records from Connecticut’s founding to the present, both when you know the town and when you don’t.

Purchase a copy for yourself or to use in your genealogy classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Interested in #Connecticut #history and #genealogy? New resource available

There’s a new listserv available for people interested in Connecticut history and genealogy. Thanks to the Office of the State Historian, CTHISTORY-L has been launched through UCONN… It’s designed to be a place to ask questions about history, share about upcoming events and more. I’m excited to see what events and historical facts are shared.

For information on how to subscribe, go to

Want to take a class dedicated to #Connecticut #genealogy?

There’s one running next week!

I’m teaching a two session overview of Connecticut genealogy at Middletown Adult Education October 10th and 17th. We’ll identify the resources you want to use when building your family tree and how to access them. The class will give you plenty of time for hands on practice and questions.

Too far to travel? Please let me know if you might be interested in an online version, and I’ll see if I can make it happen!

Additional Resource for #Connecticut Revolutionary War Service

Are you looking to demonstrate that your Connecticut ancestor supported the Revolutionary cause for a DAR/SAR application or supplemental?

Be sure to check out the Patriot Record Project Index .  Created by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the index searches an online database of Revolutionary War related documents by name. It can allow you to discover, for example, if your ancestor loaned money to the Continental Army.


Click on the document image will bring up an image of the document, while clicking on the question mark next to the document type will tell you more about where the document came from and where to go to order a copy. In the case of the document cited above, the original needs to be pulled from a National Archives microfilm.

Currently, the collection includes records from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.  It is scheduled to expand.

If you’re stuck on a service source, this is a great additional place to look.