Spotlight – Northern New England Genealogy Resources
The northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont were inhabited later than their southern neighbors and one way or another, derived or wrested their existence from them. Maine, for example, once the property of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, was acquired by Massachusetts in 1677 and became known as the Province of Maine of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although Maine was an important battleground during the Revolution and War of 1812, it did not achieve statehood until 1820. New Hampshire, once a part of Maine, came under Massachusetts’ control in 1641. While New Hampshire became a royal province in 1679, it would again be governed by Massachusetts between 1699 and 1741.
Land disputes played an important part in the colonial history of the three northern New England colonies, especially in the case of Vermont, where grantees from New Hampshire and New York held rival claims. Even after the English crown ruled in favor of New York, a number of Vermonters refused to bow to that colony’s demand that they obtain new grants. Instead, they formed the famous Green Mountain Boys, a resistance group that, coincidentally, helped defeat the British at Ft. Ticonderoga and Crown Point during the Revolution. A Vermont assembly ultimately declared independence from New York, and the former colony was granted statehood in 1791.
The people of northern New England were a fairly homogeneous lot prior to 1800. Most colonial inhabitants could trace their roots directly to southern New England or England itself. Eighteenth-century Maine and New Hampshire attracted infusions of Scotch-Irish; New Hampshire attracted some Huguenots as well. During the following century the influx of Canadians – notably from Quebec and Nova Scotia – Scandinavians, and Germans brought greater diversity to the region.
If you’re looking for your ancestors that came from northern New England before the Civil War, there are resources that may make your search easier. If you own or have access to a computer with a CD drive, Massachusetts and Maine Families, 1650s-1930s on CD contains images of the pages of Walter Goodwin Davis’ “Massachusetts and Maine Families,” a three-volume work that treats all 180 families deriving from each of the author’s 16 great-great-grandparents. Almost anyone with considerable New England ancestry – and as many as 100 million living Americans have some colonial New England forebears – will descend from one or more, often a dozen or more, of the 180 families covered here. This work is largely a compendium of “North of Boston” families. As a bonus, this CD also contains a complete run of the scarce periodical, “Cape Cod Library of Local History and Genealogy.”
To search for your relative in the intertwined history of Maine and New Hampshire, The Pioneers of Maine and New Hampshire, 1623-1660 contains genealogical notices on 1,000 early settlers of Maine and New Hampshire and constitutes a crucial revision and supplement to the Maine/New Hampshire entries in Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England. The notices were compiled from public and private archives as well as ships’ passenger lists. The Maine federal census for 1790 lists approximately 15,500 heads of household and can be found in Heads of Families at the First Census of the U.S. Taken in the Year 1790: Maine. Similarly, Heads of Families at the First Census of the U.S. Taken in the Year 1790: New Hampshire is the federal census for 1790 and lists about 22,000 heads of household.
If your relative may be buried in New Hampshire, Mrs. Charles Carpenter Goss has assembled a list of about 12,500 names found on New Hampshire headstones prior to 1770. Her transcriptions are as complete a record of colonial New Hampshire gravestone inscriptions as we are ever likely to have and can be found in Colonial Gravestone Inscriptions in the State of New Hampshire.
The federal census of Vermont for 1800 was never published by the government. It survived in the form of the original enumerators’ sheets until 1938, when the Vermont Historical Society published it for the first time. In Vermont Heads of Families at the Second Census of the U.S. Taken in the Year 1800, Names of the heads of households are given in full, and for each household the number of free white males and females by five age groups, and the number of other associated persons except untaxed Indians are also given. Altogether, over 25,000 families are listed.
The unusual work, Soldiers of the Revolutionary War Buried in Vermont lists the names of nearly 6,000 Revolutionary soldiers buried in Vermont. Many of the soldiers emigrated there from other states during the years immediately following the Revolution. The names were gathered from a variety of sources, but the largest number by far was extracted from a rare list of Vermont Revolutionary War pensioners. The soldiers are listed alphabetically by county or town of interment. This can be helpful if you’ve lost the trail of your relative, but suspect they may have moved to Vermont or served in the Revolutionary War.
Lastly, Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont is an authoritative two-volume collection of illustrated biographical/genealogical essays of noted Vermonters and their families. In all cases, the lines are traced forward from the oldest known ancestor of the line to the family member (living or memorialized) featured in the sketch, for whom, in turn, a biography is provided. This information is often followed by additional collateral lines linked to the subject of the essay. The work as a whole contains upwards of 30,000 references to kith and kin.
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