Jean Baptiste Morin

Jean Baptiste Morin is my wife’s second great grandfather. Last year, I located his headstone in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Springfield, MA. He is interred in Section 3. This section, as well as Section 2, contains single grave lots. Plots were usually sold as needed. The result is most of the headstones are in order by death date. This does help when searching. Unfortunately, many of the interments do not have headstones.

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Massachusetts Vital Records 1841 to 1920

The Massachusetts Vital Records are a great resource. Births, marriages and deaths in Massachusetts from 1941 to 1920. are readily available on usually include a scan of actual record, which is helpful as not all information is indexed.

Some people may not be aware that the records from 1916 to 1920 are not indexed. If you did a search, you will not have results from this era. But with a little work, you may still get good results. The scans of the images are mostly available. The records are in order by city or town and date. If you have an idea of the place and time of a record, you may get results.

Recently, I was looking for information on my wife’s second great grandmother, Marie Lavalle. I didn’t have much on her. I knew she lived in Southbridge and died between the 1910 and 1920 Federal Censuses. I started my search by leafing through the Southbridge death records. I found her on page 22 in the 1917 Southbridge death records. The record contained her parents’ names, birth date, death date, and burial location.

With the names of Marie’s parents, I was able to quickly find additional information. Her father, Cyril Lavallee, died in Southbridge in 1919. Coupled with the research of others, this was the information I needed to further my research.

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Samuel J. Smart, Jr

Samuel J. Smart was my wife’s great grandfather. He is currently interred in the St George section of Saint Michael’s cemetery. His wife, Catherine Sullivan, is interred in an adjacent lot. If you are looking to locate this headstone, count nine rows from the back (closest to the back gate) and start your search around the middle of the row.

Samuel was 41 when he died. According to family lore, he fell ill after working on his car. It had been wet and cold. His wife warned him not to be outside, but he didn’t listen.

I will admit, I am suspicious of this tale. When I first heard it, I had the impression Samuel died in the winter. He died November 8th. It can be cold in Massachusetts at that time, but I don’t think he was crawling around in snow. My guess is that his adventures in car repair hurt his ability to fight off an illness, but not the direct cause.

After he died, Samuel’s three young daughters went to live with other family members while their mother got back on her feet.

Samuel was initially interred in the Sullivan family plot in the St Agnes B section. By 1958, this lot had filled up. Samuel was moved to the St. George section. This made room for his brother-in-law William and allow him to be next to Catherine.

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Grace Slick

I have added Grace Slick to my famous relatives page. She is my 10th cousin, once removed. Our nearest common ancestors are Mayflower passenger Resolved White and his wife Judith Vassall. Grace is descended through their Resolved and Judith’s daughter Elizabeth. My ancestry goes through another daughter (Anne). I ran across Grace Slick looking for famous descendants of Resolved White. This seems to be a fair exclusive club. Right now, Grace seems to be the only known member, but I will keep looking.

Grace was born Grace Barnett Wing. “Slick” was a married name. This was an obvious curiosity for me. It turns out that Grace’s Wing ancestors immigrated from Norway, thus making it unlikely she descended from the Wings of Sandwich.

In looking to confirm the Resolved White connection, I noticed something else I found interesting. Based on the research at Dowling Family Genealogy, Grace’s direct ancestors includes Anne and Joanna Batcheler. They were the younger sisters of Wing family matriarch, Deborah Wing.

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Elisha Flint

This summer, we took a side trip to Royalton, Vermont to search cemeteries. I have family including direct ancestors who had lived in the area. My goal was to first locate the family members with known (to me) burial locations and maybe find others.

My best unexpected discovery was the Flint lot in South Royalton Village Cemetery. The headstone included Elisha Flint and Polly Keyes (3rd great grandparents), their daughter Betsey, their son Jonas Flint and his wife Clarissa Rowe (2nd great grandparents).

Polly Keyes was Elisha’s third wife. He had two children with Polly and twelve children all together. I located some of Elisha’s other children in the same cemetery, but not his first two wives. His first wife, Patty Wood, died before 1807. His second, Betty Orvis, died in 1826. I don’t know if they were interred in Village Cemetery or somewhere else. If they had been buried in Village Cemetery, it wouldn’t surprise me that I couldn’t find headstones.

One of the curiosities this satisfied for me when Polly died. The History of Royalton put her year of death at 1891, making her 104 at her death. For me, this seems too old for the time to be believable. It turns out she died in 1881 make her are more realistic (but still very old) 94.

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Mitt Romney

I have added Mitt Romney to my list of famous relatives. He is a Wing descendant through his maternal grandmother. There were three Wing brothers (Daniel, John, Stephen) who immigrated to the New England during the Great Migration. Many Wings identify themselves by the brother from which they are descended. Mitt can claim both Daniel and John as his own.

Thanks to Rick Wing for the heads up on the connection.

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Pierre Beauregard and Matilda Marquis

A couple weeks ago, I located the graves of Pierre Beauregard and his wife, Matilda Marquis. Pierre and Matilda are my third great grandparents. Both have been somewhat of genealogical dead end for me. I have the death record for both. The records include the names of the parents and the fact they were born in Canada. Unfortunately, that is the only thing I know about them.

Matilda’s death certificate had her interred at Notre Dame Cemetery in South Hadley, MA. The office’s records were incomplete. They had an index of burials, but had lost the original records. The best they could do was guess at the section. They didn’t have a record for Pierre.

I spent some time in the cemetery, but things weren’t adding up. Lots in were issued on a an as needed basis, meaning the headstones were in order by death date. Matilda died in 1905 and this seemed to have been started around 1910.

I started to wonder if it was possible Matilda was moved. Turns out, she was moved. Her daughter, Emma Balthazar was interred in nearby Precious Blood Cemetery. I had previous asked who else was buried in this lot and didn’t have this information.

When I went out to the lot, I was surprised to see Pierre listed on the headstone. This gave me a birth year and a death year. I suspect Pierre was also buried somewhere else and moved. I can’t imagine they would have been interred separately if this lot was in the family when Pierre died.

When the office determined Matilda was buried in Precious Blood, they also said that there was a Napoleon Beauregard there too. This was a surprise to me. My second great grandfather was named Napoleon. I don’t know if this is the same person or if it was meant to be Pierre. I believe him to be buried in Norwich Bridge Cemetery in Huntington. His name is listed on a headstone, but some of the information on the headstone is incorrect, so I don’t know.

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George Flint and Julia Abbott

George Edward Flint and Julia Etta Abbott were my second great grandparents. Their ancestors had lived in the Windsor County, Vermont area for several generations. Most of their descendants stayed in the same area. One exception was their son and my great grandfather, . He first moved to Springfield, MA, then Rochester, NY and finally California.

Last week, we were passing through the South Royalton, VT area and took the opportunity to visit local cemeteries. I knew George was buried in Riverview Cemetery. I figured that was the good starting point.

George shared a lot with his wife Julia and her parents, and Ervilla Hackett. I have included the photo for George and Julia’s headstone. Unfortunately, it is a little hard to read. I find that this style of headstones can be a challenge to photograph. If you click on the link, you can see a larger view.

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Wright Brothers

I have added aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright to my famous relatives pages. Our common ancestor is Samuel Wright. Samuel is my ninth great grandfather (twice). His lineage to the Wright brothers looks like this:

Samuel Wright (?-1665)
James Wright (1639-1725)
Samuel Wright (1674/75-1734)
Benoni Wright (1718/19-1761)
Dan Wright (1575-1832)
Dan Wright (1790-1861)
Milton Wright (1828-1917)

I always do some level of research before adding anyone to my famous relatives list. There is a lot of bad research out there and I would be doing a disservice to repeat it. My research into the Wright brothers proves this point. I was initially researching them because I read that they were descendents of Abel Wright, who is also a ninth great grandfather. Obviously, this wasn’t the case.

Abel and Samuel were amongst the founders of Springfield, MA (and possibly related). I have researched the first three generations of Abel Wright’s ancestors, so I am comfortable distinguishing Samuel’s lines from Abel’s, at least while they are in the Springfield area. The problem starts once they leave Springfield. Samuel Wright (1674/75-1734) relocated his family to Lebanon, CT. A descendent of Abel Wright (also named Abel) did the same thing and he also had a son named Samuel. The net result is two Samuel Wrights living in Lebanon around the same time. Abel’s grandson married Mary Case and Samuel’s grandson married Rebecca Sikes, thus making it easy to distinguish children of the two families.

Once I get through this hurdle, the research supporting the rest of the family connections seems to be sufficient, but not rock solid. The references are available through my Genealogy Database.

As a mentioned before, Samuel Wright (?-1665) is my ninth great grandfather twice over. My sixth great grandmother, Miriam Goss, was a direct descendant and she married into Abel Wright’s line. Abel Wright is my mother’s family. Another of Samuel Wright’s descendants was Carrie Jane Loveland and she married into my Wing line, which is my father’s side. While I have had many ancestors with common ancestors, this was the first time I discovered my parents’ trees crossing.

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Abel Wright

Abel Wright was my 9th great grandfather. He was amongst the earliest settlers of Springfield, MA. A group led by William Pynchon first settled in Springfield in 1636. The first official record of Abel was a land grant in 1655. Prior to this record, there doesn’t appear to be any solid information on Abel, how he came to Springfield or his parentage. One theory is he may have been related to Deacon Samuel Wright. Samuel Wright was also part of Pynchon’s group. His children are well documented, so it seems clear that Abel wasn’t his father.

Abel died in 1725 at the age of 94. He is interred in Springfield Cemetery and his headstone is in excellent condition. He was initially interred in Springfield’s Old Burying Ground. This cemetery was located somewhere between Old First Church and the Connecticut River. It was relocated in 1848 to make way for railroad tracks. Most of the graves were moved to Springfield Cemetery, but some were relocated to West Springfield. The only other Wright headstone that seems to have survived from this period was that of Abel’s son, Benjamin (my eighth great grandfather). I would speculate that his other family members were also interred in Old Burying Ground, but either didn’t have headstones or their headstones didn’t make it through the years. Because of its proximity to the Connecticut River, Old Burying Ground was susceptible to flooding and this may have contributed to the loss of headstones.

Abel married Martha Kitcherel in 1659. Martha was the daughter of Samuel Kitcherel of Hartford, CT. Based on vital records, they had 13 children with 10 surviving until adulthood. Martha died in 1708. She and some other members of her family were victims of an Indian attack during King Philip’s war. She survived the initial attack but had been scalped. She died as a result of her injuries two months later.

When I started my research on Abel in earnest, I acquired a copy of Genealogy of Lieut. Abel Wright of Springfield, Massachusetts by Rev. Stephen Wright. It was published in 1881 and it appears to be the earliest research available. This publication was only nine pages long, but does cover the first and second generation male lines fairly well. It does extend some lines out to the sixth generation, but this is far from complete. I suspect the author’s lines were amongst the lines that were expanded more fully. At the end of the publication, there is a note from the author stating that he had additional research and intended to include future generations, but was limited by space. I haven’t been able to locate subsequent publications from Steven Wright, but I must admit, I haven’t looked too hard.

I have expanded my genealogy database to include all the entrants in Steven Wright’s publication. In many cases, I was able to back up the information with primary resources. I have also expanded upon this work. I believe I had the first three generations including female lines mostly complete and I have a lot of good information on the following three generation. Right now, I am limited my scope of work to the first six generations in order to keep things manageable.

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