2 Favorite Photo

As a new grandmother, I’ve been wondering how I could share my passion for genealogy with my grandson. The task is especially challenging since he lives 1,800 miles away and he’s only 6 months old!

I subscribe to a weekly email blast called ‘Zap the Grandma Gap’ by Janet Hovorka that discusses how to get our grandchildren excited about genealogy and the benefits they derive from knowing their place in the world. One of last month’s topic was titled ‘Start With the Child’ where she encouraged me to think about family history from my grandson’s point of view.

I remember being little and struggling with family relationships. I had two grandmothers that I often mixed up until I remembered that one had a tantalizing cuckoo clock. So she was delighted when I told her she was my Cuckoo Gramma and loved to repeat the story again and again. As a child, I loved to hear it again and again.

My Dad had one sister and we visited with her family almost every year when I was growing up. As a child, the repetition, familiarity and size of the task made it was easy for me to learn those family relationships: aunt, uncle and cousins. But my mom came from a large family that was strewn across the country making family visits difficult. I was a teenage before I was able to work through her seven siblings and which of my dozens of cousins belonged to which aunts and uncles.

Children hear snatches of conversations with names that don’t always have faces attached. Family stories become even more confusing because the character names change depending on who is telling the story – tricky business. My Uncle Bob mysteriously morphs into Brother Bob when my mom is talking about him.

Then relationships change again as family members marry, divorce or time passes. Just for fun, I love to tell three-year-olds that their parents used to be toddlers just like them. They usually don’t believe me. But I can see the wheels turning as they try to grasp tricky genealogical concept.

So back to my grandson, Cooper, his first genealogical lesson had to be basic, repetitive, focused on him and couldn’t include words. And the theme needed to be ‘Your family loves you even though we aren’t with you.’ Perhaps a little book that he could maul and study would fit the bill. I found some instructions on Pinterest and created a cloth book with photographs of his mom, dad, grandparents, aunt and dogs. He’s in most of the pictures too because every child loves to see pictures and hear stories that revolve around them.

In my favorite photo, I see a budding genealogist…..




I loved listening to my grandmother Sears’ stories and I imagine that if she were asked, “Where are you from?” she would say:

I am from black swim boots meant for wading not swimming

And itchy wool bathing dresses with hair tucked under mob caps.

I am from Entenmanns’s Danishes instead of dinner and

Gold therapy treatments in tiny, dark duplexes.

I am from riding trolleys to stenography school and

Clam chowder served in rooms adorned with Salt cellars, chiming clocks and Sandwich cup plates.

I am from co-ed baseball and games of Pinochle, Cribbage and Whist;

Repurposing eyeglass lenses into hand painted jewelry;

Post cards, letters and occasional telegrams.

I am from learning to drive a car before women could vote.


Emery Family Bible

file-sep-24-11-40-45-amIn 2015, I stumbled upon an Emery Family bible for sale on eBay. The bible was being sold by “Milkman” at Ridgecrest Farms in Wilton, Maine. When I received the bible, I was delighted to note the family records detailed the descendants of William and Ruth (Brown) Emery. William was born at the Old Emery Farm in 1779 either in this house or in the cabin that preceded it.  I have contacted the seller to see if he has any additional information about the history of the bible.

This Holy Bible was published in 1821 by Holbrook & Fessenden in Brattleborough, Vermont. It measures 12 inches tall, 11-1/2 inches wide, and 4-1/2 inches thick. There were quite a few papers tucked into the middle and the family records pages had been filled out with births from 1779 to 1925 and deaths from 1848 to 1908. There are also marriages listed from 1802-1925. (See family records transcription here). See family tree at Ancestry.com here.



Going to the registry of deeds is like going to a foreign country. The first thing you have to do is learn the language. Even if your just visiting online, here are the two main terms that you need to know:

Grantor – is the seller of the property
Grantee – is the buyer of the property

I recommend that you start with yourself as the current owner of the property and work backwards. Here is a worksheet that you can fill in to track your progress using Adobe PDF Deed Research Worksheet or Excel Deed Research Worksheet. So you will hopscotch back in time by recording your deed on the first line and then searching the Registry of Deeds looking in the Grantee Index for the person who sold you the property.

To find Andover deeds on or after August 1, 1823 go to the Merrimack County Registry of Deeds website. The home page tells you what records have been indexed for the Grantors and Grantees. This continually changes, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, check back later or plan a trip to Concord.

Searching the index is free. But if you want to actually view and print the documents, you will need to set up an account and pay for them. The details of the charges are on the web site (on 4/18/16 it was $4 per document  or $25 per month to subscribe and $2 per document).  Or you can go into the registry in Concord and pull many of the records yourself. The last time I was there, there was a small charge for copying the records. Or you can take a scan of the document with a smartphone or camera.

When you are ready to search, click on “Search Registry Records”.I like to start my search with broad parameters and then narrow them down if I get too many responses. At the Merrimack County site,

  • Click on the woman in a green sweater to do a name search
  • For the Party Type, select “Grantee” from the drop down list
  • Enter the last name of the person you bought the property from
  • Leave the document type and dates at their defaults at first
  • Select “DEEDS” from the Document Category drop down list
  • For the Town, select “Andover” from the drop down list
  • Click “Submit”

Based on your search results, you may need to narrow the filters down by changing some of your choices. You might want to narrow down the dates or add a first name if you are getting too many results. To change your search parameters, just scroll back up to the top of the page, make your changes and click “Submit” again. You can find more search instructions back on the home page if you are not getting the results you expected.

Scroll through your results list  until you find the person who sold the property to you in the Grantee column. Keep an eye on the Legal column to see if there is a description of your property there. If you’re lucky, you will find enough information in the index to identify your property and get the name of the new grantor. Fill this information into the second line of the Deed Research Worksheet and repeat the search using this new grantor as the grantee.

If the previous owners of your property had a lot of real estate transactions in town, you may need to actually go to Concord or set up an online account to view the documents to be certain it is your property.

I would recommend initially focusing on deeds and ignore the mortgages, liens, releases and other document types. But later, you might want to go back to see what other documents are available.

Once you are back to 1823 in your deed search, you will go to the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds.  Fortunately, most of these old deeds are available online.

….More to follow…


Peter and Sarah Ann (Leeman) Murray photographed by J.B. Wallace

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Number # 12
Photo  2015-10-13 17.10.39
Type Cabinet Card
Size 6.5″ x 4.5″”
Est. Date 1886
Photographer J.B. Wallace Main Street, North End, St. John. N.B.
Dates in Bus. 1884 found in city directory at this address. Other photos from this photographer were CdV’s so they are probably older than this one
Description Seated man and full pose woman with painted backdrop. Off white card stock (popular 1866-1880) with no border. Same backdrop as the photo of the woman by the gate, a CdV by the same photographer. Straw on the floor
IDENTIFIED Peter Murray b. 1851 would be about 35 years old, his wife
Sarah Ann (Leeman) Murray b. 1852 would be about 34 years old.


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