Back from hiatus

I realize that it has been five years since I last posted here.

I’ve been busy with other things and just wanted to check in here.

One of my ongoing projects has been to reset and edit a copy of History of the Lunt Family in America.

Another project is to research the New England Wyeth family to get a better understanding of how they are related to me. I’m also writing out a publishable article on the family.

Haven Genealogy Available on Lulu.com

Here is the link to the Haven genealogy on Lulu.com.

I’m removing the link in the below article as the for-sale and only available version is corrected and the free version wasn’t.

Thanks!

NPM

Announce: Richard Haven, of Lynn, Massachusetts Genealogy Available

Adams, Josiah, author, and N. P. Maling, editor. Haven Genealogy: Descendants of Richard Haven, of Lynn, Massachusetts. Boston, Massachusetts: the author. 1843 (reprint, Seattle, Washington: Sea Genes F.H. & G.R. 2012).

I’m making this work of mine available at no charge on this site since the source material it is from is in the public domain. Printed copies of it will be available for purchase on Lulu.com in August 2012.

The Original Version and Changes Thereto

The format of the published research is the author’s own creation and interesting in that it combines in discrete family group sketches several generations of the Haven family. The author created a format for presentation of his forebears and relations that is extremely dense and difficult to work with, however. Adams’ style of using all caps, small caps, and italics for each of the generations within the sketches makes for easier finding.

Due to these factors, I decided to re-work what Mr. Adams had done to make it more accessible to current and future researchers.

The pages are also full and the text cramped. The author used a large number of abbreviations for places (i.e., “Fram.” for Framingham) and terms frequent in the text (i.e., “com.” for committee). The result of the abbreviations and the typographical style is a nightmare of typography.

The type has been changed and the formatting slightly modified to meet current publishing standards. The original page size was smaller than it is here and the type more closely set, resulting in difficult reading.

Most of the abbreviations that Mr. Adams used in the original have been fully spelled out to prevent possible confusion. This change also makes the text flow more realistically.

Editorial and Content Changes

When I started working with this particular book as a resource in a genealogical research project, I kept wondering how much easier it would be to use if there were an index. I also wondered what it would look like if it were re-set in a somewhat different format. An index however, would be as unworkable and as dense as the original, so I decided to leave the volume as an online, on-screen document. This way a researcher can simply work with the book alongside their favorite genealogy program, making their own changes there and comparing their work to what has already been published.

The first thing I did was find a clean copy to work from. One copy I found had considerable marginalia and blobby type. Another copy had no marginalia and clean type; perhaps it was an earlier impression in the printing run. The text file from the clean-type copy gave a much better working draft to begin cleaning up and indexing. The mechanical editing and proofreading was carefully done as there were stray characters inserted by the optical character recognition (OCR) software. Words and characters also had to be reinserted because the OCR software had either misread the text or removed them entirely.

Further editing was then possible. This was necessary to flesh out abbreviated terms and correct typographical and other errors. The resulting text is more readable, and a bit more visually pleasant to use. I also made a number of editorial and typographical changes to modernize the text.

More Improvements

One idea I had was to restructure the text into a New England Historic and Genealogical Register-style format. This would have resulted in a completely different text, so I have left the structure pretty much as found in the 1843 edition. Readers familiar with that edition can compare it to the new one. Because the new edition has a different typeface and a more open presentation, the original pagination was lost. The original page numbers are inserted where they occur as editorial additions in the margin, as such “OP 42”. This addition also preserves the connections between the jump links in the original (i.e., the use of jump links between sketches, like “(See p. 48.)” and “(From p. 17.)”) placing the “From p. 9”, for instance in the margin, also.

It is important to remember that the generation numbers used by Mr. Adams do not consider the immigrant ancestor as generation one. Generation numbers in the Haven genealogy begin with Richard Haven’s children; Richard, the immigrant would be considered generation zero.

The name Sherburne, as used by Mr. Adams, refers to the place called, officially, Sherborne, and later, Sherborn. There was another place called, officially, Sherburne, but it is not correct in the context of this genealogy. I have changed it to the proper form.

Almost all of the italicized words, especially those inside quote marks, have been made regular type. The reason being is that the unnecessary italicization makes the proper names in italic type harder to find.

Toward the end of the original are several items that I thought would be unnecessary in the new edition. At the bottom of page 49 of the original is a note from Mr. Adams; it has been removed. Following page 49 in the original are two tables listing graduates from New England colleges and universities. These have been removed as their content has been shifted to the index. Pages 53 and 54, the transcript of Richard Haven’s will, remain and are set pretty much as found. The will transcript is referred to in a number of the earlier family sketches, while the graduate tables are not referenced at all.

The Typesetting

The typeface used in the original is unknown to me, so I used Linux Libertine. Linux Libertine is a modern interpretation of an early typeface and is designed for use in general-purpose publishing. While the Haven genealogy uses only a few of the characters in the Linux Libertine set, the visual effect is reminiscent of the time that Josiah Adams lived in, and is therefore appropriate to the subject matter of the book. A number of weights and fonts in the family appear, making the entire volume pleasant to look at on-screen and in a printed version. While there appear to be many fonts used, the important thing to remember is that they are all complementary and they fit together as a family in themselves.

Announce: Descendants of Simon Mellen is Published

Maling, N. P. Descendants of Simon Mellen, c. 1636–1694. Seattle, Washington: Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research. 2012. 296pp. Indexed, illustrated. ISBN: 978-1-105-90833-0.

The first full-scale genealogical treatment of the Massachusetts Mellen family. The progenitor of this family was Simon Mellen, c. 1636–1694, who settled in Sherborne and later Framingham. The genealogy continues from Simon1 to the late 1800s birth of Albert Fisher10 Mellen, presenting 10 generations of this family. The focus is on the Mellens who settled in New England; fought in the early wars, including the Revolutionary War and Civil War; and established families. Their migration coverage ranges from Massachusetts, to Maine, to New Hampshire, to Connecticut, and to Rhode Island. Several tendrils extend into New York.

Growing out of two brief genealogies previously published in the town history of Framingham, Massachusetts, this greatly expanded and corrected history of the Mellen family is amply documented and footnoted. It corrects and clarifies numerous other publications concerning the Mellen family history. Over 2300 footnotes provide and discuss the source materials used for each piece of information. The index provides both personal names, including maiden names of wives, and place names, enabling a researcher to pinpoint migration patterns.

Constructed in the classic New England Historic & Genealogical Society’s Register style, the first ten sketches are:

1. Simon, b. circa 1636; d. Sherborne, 19 December 1694.

2. Simon, b. Winnisimmet, 25 Sept. 1665; d. Framingham, 30 Aug. 1717.

3. Thomas, b. Malden, in Aug. 1668.

4. Mary, b. Malden, between 1674 and 1677; d. Framingham, 13 March 1727.

5. Simon, b. Sherborne, 16 May 1690.

6. James, b. Framingham, 8 March 1697/98.

7. Henry, b. Sherborne, 12 Aug. 1691; d. 13 May 1767.

8. Sarah, b. Framingham, 22 March 1696/97; d. Sherborne 28 Aug. 1725.

9. Richard, b. Framingham, 10 Nov. 1701.

10. Tabitha, b. Framingham, 4 Jan. 1703/4.

The sketches continue through to numbers 123. Edward E. Mellen, b. 27 Sept. 1886; and 124. Walter Leslie Mellen, b. 10 Jan. 1868. These sketches include the descendants of both men, for a total coverage of 10 generations into the early 20th century.

This volume is available in softcover and hardcover from Lulu.com.

Writing – Creative Non-fiction – Fiction or Fact?

“Whose story was true?” From Keep it Real, page 77, asks where for the footnotes in historical accounts since the 1970s.[1]

The scope of genealogical and family history writing borders on creativity sometimes. How does one know which parts are fictions and which are verified, and verifiable facts?

One way to determine is the scope of research done by the writer. A writer may have included a preface or introduction laying out the basis for the writing. Another way to tell is simply which material is footnoted and which not. Spot-checking some random facts, or material stated as fact can give you an idea of the veracity of the writer.

  • If no citations, treat the entire thing as fiction
  • If well cited, tread with caution, especially when the data isn’t explained in at least some of the notes.

The article cited in Keep it Real also discusses the dry-as-dust historical writing and the trend away from it. Another question asked is whether the truthfulness of the writing is good or not depending on the marketing acumen of the writer/publisher affects the acceptance of one version but not another. In other words, is the truth subjective? Yes.

There are any number of genealogies out there which could be fact or fiction. The only way to tell is by checking spot only, or better yet, by reviewing the entire writing assertion by assertion.

For example: Without directly referring to the material in the Shearer book[2] on the Mellen family, I was able to construct a quite different view of Richard Mellen’s family. What my little publication on the web amounts to is a subjectively different view of the truth of Richard Mellen’s descendants. Essentially the same could be said about Simon Mellen, one of the alleged sons of Richard.

Again, the only way for a genealogist to figure out the most likely course of events is to compare both versions and decide on their own what the most likely discussion of assertions is the better.

Asking me whose story is true is asking a scholar whether his work is questionable. I will, however say that I believe that my account of Richard Mellen is the more accurate. Not having checked the veracity of the rest of the Shearer book, I could not say whether much or any is either fact or fiction. The only parts I have considered here, and in my writing are the lines from Simon and from Richard in New England.

[1] Gutkind, Lee and Hattie Fletcher, eds. Keep it Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 2008.

[2] Shearer, Gail Elizabeth. The Mellen and Shearer Families: Pioneers, Puritans and Patriots. Baltimore, Md.: Gateway Press, Inc. 2000.

NPM

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research

Update to Mellen Family History Research

I’ve just updated my published research into the Richard and Simon Mellen families in Massachusetts during the 1600s. There is an interesting document in the published Middlesex County probate records. My added material to the introduction follows.

———

In the published Middlesex County probate records we find a James Milengs’ property in Malden, in 1674, mentioned.[1] This record, combined with the Weymouth boundary description record provides scant evidence that there was a Maling, or some variation of the surname in the area at those times. The spelling in both records is atrocious and given the consistent spellings otherwise, I’m still less than inclined to believe a Maling, rather than a Mellen, was responsible for those records.

Given that I consider the Weymouth land record a more authoritative document than the Malden will; it is an actual proof of legal division. The will, on the other hand, was probably scribed by the decedent or someone connected to him, but not an officer of the court, or a judicially or legally designated person. Thus, the two documents are still less than the standard of proof that I’d require for a satisfactory saying of “yes, there was a Maling family in that area at that time.”

[1] Robert H. Rodgers, Middlesex County in the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in New England: Records of Probate and Administration: February 1670/71–June 1676 (Rockport, Me.: Picton Press, 2005), 274.

———

The information gleaned from this snippet of data is interesting in that is shows the process of applying the Genealogical Proof Standard in a real-world manner. What I’ve done here is look at the given information in context with other information concerning the family and my overall interpretation of that information. That there is evidence a James Mellen lived in Malden is a given. That there is no evidence a James Maling (referenced in any other document that I’ve seen) lived in Malden, is also a given.

You can download the updated Richard Mellen of Massachusetts: A Brief Genealogy of the Mellen Family from this site. The current document supersedes previous versions found here.

Review: The Best Genealogical Sources in Print by G. B. Roberts

Gary Boyd Roberts has updated his survey of some of the best genealogical source material published in book and database form. This volume, previously published under the same title in 2004, updates a number of chapters and adds more material to the mix.

The early chapters review progress made in publishing materials since the 1960s. The middle chapters cover introductions to various significant books and series of print and digital materials. The later chapters discuss some of Mr. Roberts’ own work, the Mowbray descendants. The scope of The Best Genealogical Sources in Print is not limited to New England. It covers the entire eastern seaboard, the launching pad, so to speak, of most North American families that have been recorded in significant source materials. Published and unpublished family histories and genealogies are discussed as well as primary source materials such as federal, state, and local resources. Online and Internet-based resources are also considered, as they are the direction most modern genealogical data publishers are taking.

While printed materials are considered secondary, or derivative, sources in modern terms, they are increasingly valuable as more writers and compilers improve their source statement practices. Among the significant materials discussed are those based on the Jacobus school’s practice. Donald Lines Jacobus, a 20th century genealogist, began a rigorous practice that has developed into standards for genealogists of his, and future generations, that improves the accuracy of the materials published. Mr. Roberts reviews many of the more comprehensive materials in this book.

The Best Genealogical Sources in Print is a resource for beginners and experienced genealogists along the lines of New Englanders in the 1600s, by Martin E. Hollick, and The Great Migration series by Robert Charles Anderson. Mr. Roberts covers source materials rather than people, but the concept is the same as we use both people and printed materials as sources.

By studying Mr. Roberts’ discussions, the materials themselves, and examining the level of detail those materials contain, you can judge for yourself whether the source you use is of the higher quality. While not all good or great sources are covered in The Best Genealogical Sources in Print, the sources you use should reflect the standards of quality discussed by Mr. Roberts. I’ve found a few potential resources here that I hadn’t considered over the past fifteen-odd years that might improve my own work.

Roberts, Gary Boyd, ed. The Best Genealogical Sources in Print. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012.

NPM

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research