Who is Alvin?

Signature of D.F. Johnson on the letter. Ms 101848

Signature of D.F. Johnson on the letter. Ms 101848

One of the things I really like about working with manuscripts is trying to identify the people mentioned in a document. For example, we recently received a letter that was written June 12, 1864 from Willimantic, written by D.F. Johnson to his mother and referring to “our Alvin that was reported wounded”. Okay, it is 1864, so Alvin must be a soldier, but there are probably a lot of men named Alvin who served in the Civil War. So, where to look now?

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The Colors of Fall!

Fall is my most favorite time of the year – slightly cooler weather, fairs and festivals serving delicious pumpkin and maple flavored treats, and the changing of leaves from green to vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. If it were up to me, (and I know a lot of you will be happy that it is not), fall in New England would last all year! Continue reading

This Week in the Archives: Mary K. Talcott, Genealogist

Editors’s note: “This Week in the Archives” is filling in while “This Month in the Archives” posts itself to the beach for a week or two.

Mary Kingsbury Talcott (1847-1917) was a lifelong resident of Hartford, Connecticut. She was one of the foremost genealogists of her time in the state. According to a remembrance in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Talcott traced her descent back to John Talcott of Cambridge, MA (1632).  She also had family connections with many other prominent Connecticut families.

Among Talcott’s accomplishments were writing many articles about Hartford, Contributing to the Memorial History of Hartford County, and editing two volumes of Talcott Papers in the Connecticut Historical Society’s Collections . She was active in the Connecticut Society of Colonial Dames,  the Ruth Wyllys Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Connecticut, and the Order of Descendants of Colonial Governors, and a member of various Hartford clubs.

We have several of Mary Talcott’s collections already listed in our online catalog. Yesterday I encountered another (Ms 86768). The collection has received several levels of processing over the years and consists of three sets of boxes. The first set, numbered 1-6, contains correspondence sent to Talcott with genealogical inquiries. Personal letters comprise one folder. The material is arranged chronologically and the folders are labeled with the dates.

In the second set, numbered 1-4, there is a collection of forms gathered by Talcott for the History of the Kingsbury Family (I have not yet found that this was ever published). Additionally, it contains correspondence (1892-1908) and one folder of assorted printed material. Folders are also labeled with the dates.

In addition to correspondence, the final three boxes (not numbered) contain church records, certified records, copies of Hartford’s death records and probate records, two publication rough drafts, and a volume on the King family. These items have been foldered, but are not necessarily in any order.

For those interested in genealogy and the history of genealogists in the Hartford area, the collection likely contains a wealth of information. It is open for research and the catalog entry will be added at the end of the month. Please visit our website for more information about researching at CHS.

January in the Archives

The cataloging has continued here at CHS. Here is a sampling of some of the records making their way to the online catalog.


Ok, maybe not that kind of alien. One of the collections cataloged last month was the Governor John Treadwell papers. The papers include incoming and outgoing correspondence and several speeches of John Treadwell while Lieutenant Governor and then Governor of Connecticut.  The incoming letters discussed such issues as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the election of 1800, the use of gun-boats for national defense, and the early talks of Union secession over the institution of slavery. Correspondents include Lyman Beecher, Henry W. Dessasure, Chauncey Goodrich, Governor Roger Griswold, James Hillhouse, Ebenezer Huntington, Joseph Lyman, Timothy Pitkin, Benjamin Tallmadge, Uriah Tracy, Jr., Benjamin Trumbull and Rev. Newton Skinner.  Treadwell’s speeches include his acceptance as Governor and those given at the opening of the General Assemblies during his term. (Ms 22445)


An unusual piece Barbara uncovered is a handmade booklet, primarily consisting of newspaper clippings about witchcraft in Connecticut and Massachusetts printed in the Hartford Evening Post and The Union and Advertiser of Rochester, NY.  Along with it is a handwritten letter from Jules to Pat (no last names) about witches in Windsor. The booklet is titled Witches of Windsor, and the Witch-hunters of Hartford and was written by David Williams Patterson.  (Ms 10732)

Why the teacher always told you to put your name on the paper!

Ten of the account books we cataloged this month have unknown authors. They include several merchants and storekeepers, a dressmaker, a weaver (more below), a bricklayer, and two butchers.  We have many anonymous account books, which is really too bad. The information can be quite interesting and it would be great to be able to give the authors credit.  For example, the Dressmaker’s account book records the sale of shoes, hooks and eyes, dresses, undersleeves, hats, hair pins, whalebone, welting, yard goods, lace veils, and aprons. Charges were for cutting, fitting, making and basting dresses.  The customers, mostly women, lived in the Norfolk, Connecticut area.  There was, though, also an account with Joseph Battell & Co. (Account Books/2010.002)


Lately Barbara has started venturing into our genealogical manuscript collections. Among these is the collection of Donald L. Jacobus genealogy correspondence, research, and personal diaries.  The collection consists primarily of correspondence, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, related to Jacobus’ genealogical research. Correspondents include Helen G. Carpenter, John I. Coddington, Meredith B. Colket, Jr., George Dudley Seymour, Helen Turney Sharps, Frank Farnsworth Starr, Clarence A. Torry, and the publisher Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor.  There are also notebooks, abstracts of vital and cemetery records, newspaper clippings, index cards for his sources, research on the descendants of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and a selection of book announcements, sent to him either in his capacity as editor of The American Genealogist or as an independent researcher. Included are manuscripts for two of his books, one on the families of New Haven and the other on the Waterman family. Of note are diaries kept by Ida Wilmot Lines Jacobus and her son, Donald Lines Jacobus, which provide insight into their private lives. Both Donald and Ida lived in New Haven, Connecticut. The volumes from 1905-1907 and 1922-1948 were kept by Ida Jacobus. When she became ill at the end of 1948, the diary was continued by Donald. With the exception of one entry in 1952, Donald kept the diaries from 1903, 1952, and 1963-1969. On February 27, 1952, Donald noted his mother’s death. Ida’s diary entries were more in depth than Donald’s, but both wrote of day to day activities. Also of interest is Donald’s baby book and several posters, in Russian, promoting socialism over capitalism. (Ms 97520)

D.L. Jacobus

Genealogist D.L. Jacobus in his early years (Donald L. Jacobus Genealogy Correspondence, Research, and Personal Diaries, 1903-1969, MS Jacobus. CHS, Hartford, CT)


In addition to the Anonymous weaver’s account book, I also cataloged the Lippitt Manufacturing Co. weaving book and the White & Robinson weaving book. All three seem to be from Rhode Island, though the clients recorded in the anonymous book resided throughout central Connecticut.  The Lippitt volume has an interesting twist. In addition to listing the names of the weavers, as well as information on the amount and type of work they performed and their pay, the volume was used to record sales of lottery tickets for the Fairfield (Connecticut) Episcopal Society. Most of the purchasers were from the Pomfret, Connecticut area. Geographically, Pomfret and Fairfield are about as far apart as any two Connecticut cities can be! (Oversize/Ms 64633, Ms 66336-12, Account Books/Ms 66336-22)

All of these collections are open for research. Come visit!

Ancestry now available to patrons

In an effort to better help our patrons find the information they need, visitors to the CHS library now have access to the genealogy database Ancestry from our public computers.  Ancestry.com provides access to federal census records, military records, the social security death index, state indexes and censuses, immigration data, and a host of other sources.  When I get a new manuscript collection, I often start with a search in Ancestry to put the individuals into context by finding birth and death dates, occupation, etc.  So, Ancestry is useful for anyone doing research, not just genealogists.  Please come by and try out this new online resource.