Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Witches of Salem and Groton

This summer I visited Salem, Massachusetts, a city famous (or infamous) for the witch trials of the 1690s. And, being the genealogy-obsessed person that I am, I headed promptly for the Burying Point Cemetery ( 

The Burying Point
Salem, Massachusetts

The following are photographs of the stones commemorating the persons who were hanged for witchcraft. I loved the tokens of remembrance (flowers and coins) that people had placed on the stones.

Bridget Bishop

George Burroughs

Martha Carrier

Giles Corey

Martha Corey

Mary Easty
Sarah Good

Elizabeth Howe

George Jacobs

Susannah Martin

Rebecca Nurse

Alice Parker

Mary Parker

John Proctor

Ann Pudeator

Wilmot Redd

Margaret Scott

Samuel Wardwell

Sarah Wildes

John Willard

If you would like more information on an individual, see the execution list at Important Persons in the Salem Court Records In addition to these victims, there were several people who died in jail, including an infant. See

To my knowledge, I am not related to any of the "witches" of Salem. However, twenty years prior to the Salem witch trials, in Groton, Massachusetts, my 8th great grandmother, Elizabeth Knapp, was accused of being a witch. In 1671, at the age of sixteen, Elizabeth had gone to work as a maidservant for Rev. Samuel Willard in Groton. (1)  In the autumn of 1671, she began exhibiting fits and odd behavior for about three months. (2) Soon after January 1672, Rev. Willard sent an account of Elizabeth's ordeal to Increase Mather. (3) Fortunately, Elizabeth was deemed possessed but recovered. In 1674 (4) she married Samuel Scripture, my 8th great grandfather.

The following article about Elizabeth Knapp is available online:
There is some controversy about whether the Elizabeth Knapp who married Samuel Scripture was the same Elizabeth who was possessed. See the comment by Sam Russell listed at the end of the following article:
If you would like to learn more about the Salem witch trials, see the Documentary Archive and Transcription Project on the Salem Witch Trials on the University of Virginia’s website:

There are also countless books to read on the alleged witches in New England. Here are three that I own because they mention Elizabeth Knapp:

Salem, Massachusetts


(1) Demos, John. "A Diabolical Distemper." In Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England. updated ed. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1982, pp. 99-100.

(2) Ibid., p. 100-103.

(3) Ibid, p. 99.

(4) "U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900," database, ( : accessed 25 Jul 2014), entry for Elizabeth Knapp.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Visiting the Newberry Library in Chicago

I recently visited the Newberry Library (, a renowned genealogical repository, at 60 West Walton Street in Chicago, Illinois.  Admission is free to the public.

The Newberry Library
Chicago, Illinois

Before you go, be sure to check the library’s hours ( The reading rooms are closed on Sundays and Mondays. When you arrive, depending on what you have with you, you may need to put some of your belongings in a coin-operated locker near the lobby. We put our coats and an umbrella in the locker.

The first thing you need to do when you visit the library is obtain a reader’s card at the third floor reference desk ( This is a quick process.

The research room is on the second floor.  When you enter, you will need to sign in. The librarian will assign you a table.  Before your visit, become familiar with the Reading Room Procedures ( and Policies ( Remember to turn off your cell phone!

The Newberry Library
Chicago, Illinois

Prior to your visit, be sure to go online ( and research the holdings at the Newberry. This will save you time when you arrive.  There are many books available on open shelves for your perusal. However, more specific items and materials for a few states need to be ordered at the front desk.  There are forms available for this purpose.  The librarians promptly retrieve your requested item and deliver it directly to your table.

There are also computer workstations for online research. There are many digital resources ( available, including JSTOR.
In addition, there are numerous microfilm readers.

Other than some distant cousins, I do not have any Chicago ancestors. However, that is not a problem since the Newberry caters to numerous locations in addition to the Chicago area. While I was there, I did research on my ancestors in Vermont, Tennessee, Arkansas, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. My husband was researching his ancestors in Illinois and Kentucky. Here is a link to the library’s Research Guides: No matter what your heritage, the Newberry will no doubt have material to help you in your research.

Some of the resources I reviewed were:


Ritter, Kathy A. 1986. Apprentices of Connecticut, 1637-1900. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Pub.


American Antiquarian Society. 1961. Index of marriages in Massachusetts Centinel and Columbian centinel, 1784 to 1840. Boston: Hall.

American Antiquarian Society. 1961. Index of obituaries in Massachusetts Centinel and Columbian centinel, 1784-1840. Boston: G.K. Hall.

Longver, Phyllis O., and Pauline Johnson Oesterlin. 1993. A surname guide to Massachusetts Town Histories. Bowie, Md: Heritage Books.


Patterson, Ferne Kitson. 1985. Pioneers of Vernon, Oneida County, New York, and the Root family. Interlaken, N.Y. (3605 West Ave., Interlaken 14847): F.K. Patterson.


Chamberlain, Mildred Mosher. 1985. The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co.


Ray, Worth S. 1950. Tennessee cousins; a History of Tennessee People.

Whitley, Edythe Johns Rucker. 1980. Tennessee Genealogical Records: Records of Early Settlers from State and County Archives.


Bartley, Scott Andrew. 1992. Vermont Families in 1791. Camden, Me: Picton Press.

Holbrook, Jay Mack. 1976. Vermont's First Settlers. Oxford, Mass: Holbrook Research Institute.

Rollins, Alden M. 2003. Vermont Religious Certificates. Rockport, Me: Picton Press.

Rollins, Alden M. 1995. Vermont Warnings Out. Camden, Me: Picton Press.

The Newberry Library
Chicago, Illinois

I found my Newberry experience to be extremely favorable. The library workers were very professional and pleasant. The reading room was comfortable, attractive and quiet.  I can’t wait to return.

I stayed at Hotel Indigo, which was an easy walk—about five blocks.  There are many other hotels nearby along with numerous, wonderful restaurants.  After a hard day of research, be sure to treat yourself to a night in the fabulous city of Chicago. 

Chicago, Illinois

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Summertime invokes the wanderlust in me, and so I flew to New England a few weeks ago.  The trip was not foot loose and fancy free, however—I had a mission. In the coming weeks I will share with you some of the places I visited, most with genealogy in mind.

I visited Lexington, Massachusetts, former home to my Cutler ancestors.  My 9th great grandfather, James Cutler, came from England and settled in Cambridge Farms, now Lexington.  James had three wives. I am descended from his son Thomas Cutler, whose mother was Mary Bernard, widow of Thomas King. (1)

Our first stop in Lexington was the Visitors Center, 1875 Massachusetts Ave., where we purchased tickets for the Liberty Ride Trolley.

1. Lexington Battle Green

While we were waiting for our tour to start, we walked over to the nearby Lexington Battle Green.

Militiaman Statue
Lexington, Massachusetts

When we reached the green, we were greeted by a gentlemen dressed in period costume who explained to us the events leading up to the American Revolution. Danger was in the air, the Redcoats were on their way and the militia was called.  I tried to imagine the fear of the town’s folks and the bravery of the people who stood on that green defending themselves, their families and their land. Our guide then walked us to the Revolutionary Monument honoring the dead and wounded.

Revolutionary War Monument
Lexington, Massachusetts

 2. First Parish in Lexington

There was still time before our trolley arrived, so we headed toward the beautiful white church next to the green: the First Parish in Lexington. For the fascinating history of this First Parish, click here here.  James Cutler and about 30 other families signed a petition in 1682 asking the Massachusetts legislature for permission to start their own parish. (2)  The first meeting house was built in 1692. (3) In 1696, Thomas Cutler, Sr., was one of the signers of the First Covenant. (4)

First Parish Church
Lexington, Massachusetts

3. Ye Old Burial Ground

While we were looking at the church, I noticed a sign for "Ye Old Burial Ground".

Ye Old Burial Ground
Lexington, Massachusetts

I realized that was where many of my Cutler ancestors were buried, so I hurried to the side and back of the church to explore the cemetery. Time was running out and the grass was wet, but did that stop me? No.  I sped up and down the haphazard rows until I found some Cutler/Cuttler stones.  What an exciting feeling to see gravestones from ancestors who lived 400 years ago. There were grandparents, great grand aunts, great grand uncles, 1st cousins 8x removed and half 2nd cousins 8x removed. It was a reunion of sorts. My sneakers and socks were soaking wet, but I was happy.

Cutler Gravestones
Ye Old Burial Ground
Lexington, Massachusetts

Cutler Gravestones
Ye Old Burial Ground
Lexington, Massachusetts

4. Liberty Ride

We rushed to get our trolley. The tour guide was an elderly lady dressed in colonial attire. She spoke passionately for 1 and ½ hours about the historic sites complete with many tales about the people who lived in Lexington and Concord. I have heard dozens of tour talks in my day, but she was by far the best.

Liberty Ride Trolley
Lexington, Massachusetts

5. Minute Man National Historic Park

Minute Man Statue
Minute Man National Historic Park
Concord, Massachusetts

The tour stopped at Minute Man National Historic Park. The day was beautiful, and I was able to take dozens of photographs. Here are a few:

Concord, Massachusetts
Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, Massachusetts

It was such a serene setting that it is hard to imagine the violence in 1775.

Later, on our way back to Lexington, we passed many tantalizing places: Orchard House (Louisa May Alcott’s home), The Buckman Tavern, the Emerson House, the Scottish Rite Mason Museum and Library and so much more. If only I had more time. 

6. Cary Memorial Library

Once we were back in Lexington, we grabbed a tasty lunch at Lexx and then headed for the Cary Memorial Library. A quick search in their catalog showed that they had books on the Old Burying Ground and on the Cutlers. Within minutes, I was paging through:
Brown, Francis H. 1905. Lexington epitaphs. A copy of epitaphs in the old burying-grounds of Lexington, Massachusetts. [Lexington]: The Lexington historical society [Spatula Press, Boston].

Burgess, Marjorie Cutler. 1965. A genealogy of the Cutler family of Lexington, Massachusetts: James and some of his descendants, 1634-1964.

Fortunately, Lexington Epitaphs is available through Internet Archive at

A perfect day! I wish I could spend a week in the Lexington area. There were so many other sites I wanted to visit, such as the Lexington Historical Society, which was not open the day we were there.

Lexington Historical Society
Lexington, Massachusetts


(1) "A Cutler memorial and genealogical history : containing the names of a large proportion of the Cutlers in the United States"[database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Originaldata: Cutler, Nahum Sawin,  A Cutler memorial and genealogical history : containing the names of a large proportion of the Cutlers in the United States and Canada, and a record of many individual members of the family, with an account also of other families allied to the Cutlers bymarriage, p. 18. Greenfield, Mass.: E.A. Hall & Co., 1889.
(2) “History of First Parish in Lexington,” First Parish in Lexington, Lexington Unitarian Universalist, Massachusetts, copyright 2014 ( accessed 8 Jul 2014). 
(3) Ibid.
(4) Ibid.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


This is the final segment in my five-part series on online genealogical resources in Central New York.  Another college that maintains a helpful website is that of Morrisville State College, located in Morrisville, Madison County, New York.

The Donald G. Butcher Library at Morrisville has an excellent local history page with links to a variety of websites containing information that could be helpful in your research. See If you don’t have ancestors from Central New York, don’t despair. You will find information on other places as well. There are numerous links on the Local History page, so I am just going to mention a few that caught my eye:

APHNYS-The Association of Public Historians of New York State Here you will find a wonderful chart that lists the contact information for the New York public historians by county.  New York researchers are lucky that New York has appointed local historians.  A knowledge of local history is crucial to our research. I have been meaning to contact the historians in the towns frequented by my ancestors.

Drums Along the Mohawk Learn about New York during the American Revolution. This website is loaded with information: timelines, battles, letters and stories about loyalists and patriots.

The Loomis Family of Sangerfield. This site contains a genealogical chart of the Loomis line as well as many links to information on the Loomis family from Connecticut.

Long Island Memories.  This is a fabulous website. I especially liked the link to Suffolk Historic Newspapers.

Madison County GenWeb Page I go to this website often because I have plenty of Madison County ancestors. I especially like the cemetery transcriptions.

New York History Net   Here you will find book reviews, information on the Erie Canal, links to New York historical societies, links to New York museums and historic sites and much more.  Be sure to see the New York State Military Museum (

Women of Courage Profiles. This website gives you mini biographies of important women from Northern New York as well as articles, such as “The Birth of Nurse-Midwifery in America” "The Birth of Nurse-Midwifery in America."

There are many more links on Morrisville's Local History Page, so check it out.

Thank you, Morrisville State College, for taking the time to compile such a valuable list of historical resources.


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, American Historical Illustrations and Emblems, 2001.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Civil War Illustrations, 2003.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments, 2006.