Finding ancestors

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(Host) Commentator Edith Hunter had lots of summer visitors again this year – and many were looking for more than just a good place to swim.

(Hunter) Summer is a great time for amateur genealogists to set out in search of their roots. They come from every corner of the United States. If they have contacted the Weathersfield town clerk, they are usually given my name. I am happy to share with them the material in the Weathersfield Historical Society Genealogy File.

During the fifteen years that Armstrong and I published the Weathersfield Weekly I wrote many history features and during those years found myself looking up the same dates over and over again. Then, in 1987, I started the Historical Society Newsletter, and found myself looking up the same dates. And so I decided to start a Weathersfield genealogy file.

With money left to the Society in memory of one of our members, I bought two 3″x5″ card file drawers, a thousand blank cards, and started the project. In fifteen years the two drawers have grown to eight file drawers with 16,158 names. One of our members has transferred the information from the cards to a computer, using the “Brother’s Keeper” program. Where did I get my information? Many of our Weathersfield Historical Society members made cards on their own families. And the well-organized library of our historical society had data on many of the old families.

In addition, there were newspaper articles on old Weathersfield families by local correspondents, Thelma Putnam Hoisington and Betty Goodale Murray; wonderful hand-written notebooks kept by Winifred Eliza Perkins; the carefully researched manuscripts of Dr. Ernest Butterfield on our early inhabitants, and his transcription of the data from all the stones in our thirteen cemeteries; and the learned papers on several early families by the Rev. Raymond Beardslee.

A variety of books were mined for information. In 1975 and 1978, the Society had published John Hurd’s Weathersfield Century One, and Weathersfield Century Two. Our library had a copy of, The Life and Times of Hon. William Jarvis, written by his daughter Mary, with a great deal of Jarvis genealogy. A memoir of the John Warren family by Ethel Page Duncklee, the Springfield, Baltimore, and Rockingham town histories, and the three volumes of Families of Cavendish by Linda Welch have all been mined.

Finally, everyone who comes to Weathersfield looking for information is a rich resource. Invariably they give me twice as much as I have given them. Now, whenever I write an article, I just turn around and pull out one of the drawers to find the genealogical information I need.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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