ONLINE FAMILY TREE (Ancestry.com)
As I discover the possible burials at Brigham Street Burial Ground, I post the working research notes (complete with documentation and notations) on Ancestry.com. For subscribers to the site, the tree to view is listed as Early Northborough, MA Settlers. My notations are fairly clear and if any life events do not have attached citations, it means that I have either yet to locate a source or the event is irrelevant to my project. Finding aids and online databases are not cited as sources, but the clues they provide are detailed under the appropriate event in a profile's timeline; the original records will be located and transcribed during future research.
Please bear in mind that I am primarily adding events from online sources to the Ancestry tree, partially due to the accuracy and convenience of copy-and-paste. Offline, I am keeping additional notes and copies of records that may not make it to the public tree, at least for the time being. Conflicting evidence for events are noted and will be resolved during future research.
As the focus of the research is to establish whether or not a particular person died during the period 1727-1750, the biographical information I post to the tree is only that which I evaluated as part of determining a person's date of death during those years. (There are many more stories and details about the settlers and I hope to include them at a later date.) Those persons who are "known" burials at Brigham Street can be quickly identified on the "List of All People" page with their names in all CAPS (example: "ADAM HOLLOWAY"). The "probable" names will have capitilized surnames only (example: "Hannah OAKE"). "Possible" names will be noted on their individual profile pages. Those settlers found to have died before 1727 or after 1750 will have either a recorded death date or a note that they died outside the research period (example: "died after 1757 when last child was born.")
Finally, the town of record in any event closely follows the historical timeline of how the land was known at that time. In other words, if a person lived in what is Northborough today their life events will be recorded on the tree as:
- Marlborough (1660-1717)
- Westborough (1717-1744)
- Westborough Precinct 2 (1744-1766)
- Northborough (after 1766)
During the curent stage of the Brigham Street Burial Ground project, the publications and records I am researching are also available online through a variety of sites:
(1) Ancestry.com has digitized histories and vital record compilations.
(2) American Ancestors (NEHGS site) has digital publications and records, in addition to those on Ancestry.com.
(3) Google Books has many of the same digital publications as Ancestry.com, as well as other rare and limited release books.
(4) The Library of Congress has a selection of its holdings accessible online (see also The Internet Archive).
(5) The Internet Archive has digital book uploads, comparable to Google Books, from a variety of institutions and users.
I use a combination of the above, along with hardcopies of the publications not available digitally, to document the evidence for the research. Ideally, the original copies of any of the works and documents should be located and cited. If you are interested in any of the sources I have accessed to date, they are listed on my SOURCES page. Hardcopies can be ordered online through sites such as Amazon.com and rare/used booksellers.
WORDS OF CAUTION
OCR front cover
I have found that some uploaded digital books are of poor image quality or are simply OCR versions of scanned originals. In both instances, material is either missing or illegible. Therefore, I do not use anything except "exact copies" of the original texts as to stay true in my documentation. (Note: In the illustration to the right, the company that published this OCR copy sells a digital [PDF] exact copy of the original book for a fee and can be bought from them directly.)
Westborough, MA Birth Records for James Eager
When using the search function to locate names in digital books (basically PDF files), a problem arises when two or more people have the same name. For example, "James Eager" of colonial Westborough is actually 4 different people. Only by reading texts thoroughly and in chronological order can the confusion be avoided. Additionally, using the history books in conjuction with vital records is imperative to evaluate a person's age and circumstance (living, married, or dead) at the time of a given event and whether or not it makes sense.
Note that not all information in history books and family genealogies is documented and should be used with discretion. Family lore and local stories are often passed down through the ages like the "telephone game", where details get modified or added as the story gets retold. Therefore, my goal is to find more than one independent and reliable source of evidence before classifying an event as probable. Furthermore, known will be a very rare label, used only when an event is reported by an eyewitness.
Author's note on last page of publication.
A final note of advice for using any publication (print or electronic) is you should read the work in its entirety before using its information for research. Footnotes, endnotes, and appendices can contain corrections or clarifications to the text and must be considered before citing the evidence. In my case, it wasn't until I reached the end of the Topographical and Historical Sketches of the Town of Northborough (Allen, 1826) that I found his "Errata" containing corrections to names, dates, and places. Any information I cite will be noted as the corrected version.
Beth Finch McCarthy