An expert on 19th-century emigration from Germany, Clifford Neal Smith was keenly aware that a large percentage of German passenger lists (for the port of Bremen in particular) had perished during World War II. Intent upon making the surviving records available to researchers, he set himself the task of transcribing and publishing passenger records from “hidden” sources. Smith derived many of his passenger records from “buried” secondary works–including historical monographs written in German–books that even the conscientious genealogist was unlikely to discover. Smith compiled scores of books consisting of obscure German (and to a lesser extent English and French) ships’ passenger lists. The records found in his books CANNOT BE FOUND in any other publication: not in print, nor in electronic format.
Prior to 1868, the procedure for proving and recording wills in North Carolina changed on a number of occasions. From the colony’s 17th-century beginnings until about 1795, a will could be proved before the county court of pleas, the quarter sessions, or the governor himself. After 1795, the probate business was left to the county court clerks; however, considerable variation existed among counties regarding how wills were recorded (in will books), how and where the original wills were preserved, and so forth. Owing to fires, natural disasters, war, or carelessness, many original wills from this period have not survived. After 1868, when the county courts were discontinued, the responsibility for probate was transferred to the county clerk of the superior court, sometimes referred to as “judge of probate.” From this point on, only transcriptions of wills and their probate documents were entered in the will books; the original wills were filed in the clerk’s office.
When Genealogical Publishing Company began reprinting books in the 1950s, a number of its earliest publications were devoted to heraldry. In fact, the Company has more than 20 titles on heraldry in the catalogue. Coats-of-arms continue to intrigue individuals both artistically and genealogically. According to Heather Child, “In an age when people are surfeited with too much printed matter, it is a relief to turn to a vivid picture language such as heraldry, with its framework of rules, variety of detail and romantic historical associations.” (To add a cautionary note here, some persons may overlook the rule of primogeniture that governs the inheritance of noble titles and their arms. In fact, when a knight or count died, all rights to his title were passed on entirely to his eldest son. None of his other children inherited that ranking or its accoutrements. This practice of primogeniture continued with each succeeding generation.)
Genealogical Publishing Company has just re-issued one of the best introductions to that field ever published: SHIELD AND CREST: An Account of the Art and Science of Heraldry. 3rd Edition, by Julian Franklin. While this work is mainly devoted to British heraldry—its development and usage, with accounts of the shields, crests, charges, banners, helmets, devices, orders of chivalry, language, and so forth—it contains much material that cannot be found elsewhere, such as important information on heraldry in the U.S., South Africa, and Japan. The entirety of the work is profusely illustrated with inset shields and heraldic devices, including sixteen full-page plates with nearly 200 coats-of-arms!
Image credit: US Seal Coat of Arms, via Wikimedia Commons.
Published between 1896 and 1910, George Brown’s columns in the Yarmouth Herald focused almost exclusively on New England families who migrated to Nova Scotia around the time of the Revolutionary War, many of them descended from Mayflower colonists. Brown’s work had been badly neglected, owing to the scarcity of the newspaper; however, Martha and Bill Reamy put together as complete a collection of columns as possible, reset the type, and indexed the entire collection. The 186 articles in this consolidated volume name as many as 60,000 individuals.
This monumental work by Alexander Fraser contains records of the claims for losses of over twelve hundred persons who found it necessary to flee to Canada during and immediately after the Revolutionary War. These notes contain a goldmine of biographical, historical, and genealogical data. In general, we are given the claimant’s name, his country or place of origin, reason for emigrating, date or migration, place of residence in America, occupation, names of family members and friends, location and value of confiscated property, war service rendered, losses sustained, evidence of character, statements of witnesses, notes of deeds and wills, and highlights of the claimant’s experiences during the war.
Image credit: Flag of the United Empire Loyalists, via Wikimedia Commons.