REPOSITORY REPORT - AmericanAncestors.org
Name variations, misspelling of names, and multiple relatives with the same name can all present challenges when trying to locate a correct record for a specific person. As I mentioned in my last post, the name "James Eager" was used over three generations in the same family, including siblings. A closer look at that family illustrates a common naming pattern for families, which is to reuse a name for a child born after a sibling with that name had died. My favorite name variation example is that of "Joshua Townsend," also known as "Joshua Dowsing." Put on your best colonial British accent, speak both surnames quickly, and you'll see why! Finally, phonetic spelling is very subjective and frequently resulted in records under different names for many of the people I researched.
For determining death dates, I was able to find most of the proprietors in the series of Massachusetts Town Vital Records compiled by Franklin Rice in the early 1900's. In other cases, the NEHGS index listed a will or probate record indicating an approximate year of death. When a probate court record was given, I made note of the record number for finding the original document at the Massachusetts State Archives. On Ancestry.com, I used the death records to source cite a proprietor's death and noted where original probate and will records existed and still need to be consulted before source citing.
A few of the men could not be located in either the Massachusetts Town Death Records or the Probate Record Index. For the purposes of this specific database search, I noted the results as having returned no information. However, on the Ancestry.com tree page for those men, there is evidence found in other sources providing clues as to where and when those men may have lived and died. None of the men in this category had an indicated death date during the research period.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
After performing record searches in the American Ancestors database for probate and death records for each of the 39 original town proprietors of 1744, it was found that only 3 died during the research period. Of these, Joseph Wheeler has already been documented as a burial at the Brigham Street Burial Ground. The Tomlin family members, father and son, both died before or near the time that the Brigham site was closed.
Additional information about where the 2 Tomlin proprietors were buried may be found in the Westborough and Northborough church records. Copies of the Westborough Church records are at the Westborough Public Library and the First Church of Northborough records are in the archives of the American Antiquarian Society. Gravestone transcriptions for the 2 towns' colonial burial grounds need to be located.
Original probate and will records are archived at the Massachusetts State Archives. Names of living family members, inventory of estate, and personal information (including burial directions) may be found in the documents.
Reverend Parkman's diary entries may also provide information about the men's last days.
American Ancestors (website for the New England Historic Genealogical Society), www.americanancestors.org.
Kent, Josiah Coleman. Northborough History. Newton, Massachusetts: Garden City Press, 1921.
Vital Records of Westborough, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849. Worcester, Mass.: Franklin P. Rice. 1903.