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!



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.

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.

How do I find #Connecticut land records online to use in #genealogy research?

For years, the only way to access Connecticut land records from a distance has been the FamilySearch microfilm program… and it’s due to end shortly.  What’s a genealogist to do?

  1. Want free access?
    • A few Connecticut libraries have microfilm copies of the land records that you can review onsite. Check out the Connecticut State Library’s collection for the greatest number of films.
    • FamilySearch is slowly planning to digitize the film. If there’s a camera image next to the film information in the catalog, you can access it for free – provided you’re in a Family History Center.
  2. Willing to pay?
    • Go to the town clerk’s website. Many towns have digitized all of their land records – and even better, they’re searchable by name. Be prepared to pay a daily access fee (less than $10)  and then a per document fee ($1 a page).  If you’re a ways from the closest family history center, this can be a fantastic option!
    • For those towns that haven’t digitized their records, consider hiring a local genealogist. You’ll pay the hourly rate, plus the per document fee… and you’ll get your records fast! Personally, I can scan copies and have records to you by that evening!

Military Monday: A New World War I Resource

As part of the commemorations for the start of World War I, Ancestry has released a new resource. Called U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939, it’s a database containing images of the passenger lists for ships that carried U.S. troops during the time period 1910-1939.  Each list includes details on the ship’s departure or arrival (if they were coming to the United States), the names of the passenger, their service unit, and their next of kin and where those next of kin were living.

Why is this database helpful? First, it confirms someone’s service in the military. You even have unit information, so you can learn more about their service by searching regimental history.  Second, it can prove relationships. Some next of kin listings include how the two are related: cousins, mother, etc.  I found a few Connecticut families who might benefit from checking out this source.

Military Monday: Connecticut in World War I

Does your family have original material from World War I, such as service records, photos, and more? Are you researching an ancestor’s experience during the War?

Be sure to check out Connecticut in World War I ( Run by the Connecticut State Library, the site includes a list of World War I events, details on their efforts to digitize historic documents, access to the digitized collections, and more.

If you’re researching the little documented World War I period, this resource is priceless.

Happy hunting!

Connecticut Resident?: Did you know you can get free database access?

Using Fold3, The New York Times, or other databases for personal research? Are you a Connecticut resident? Did you know that you can get access to a number of genealogy databases for home for free?

All you need is a Connecticut State Library card. To get one, complete this application and mail it back. The card will be mailed to you.

Once you receive it, go to the database section on the Connecticut State Library website. Anything with an open lock or a blue library card image can be accessed from home. Just be sure to read the directions on the log in screen.