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The "why" of old-style vs new-style is addressed by the document at this URL:

Old style dates do NOT refer to how the date is written. (EXAMPLE: day/month/year vs month/day/year). It has to do with converting from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Up until 1752, the Julian calendar was used by England and her colonies. The first day of the year was Mar 25. To confuse this more, the whole month of March was listed as month # 1. (Oct, Nov and Dec were named such because they are the 8th, 9th and 10th months under this system.) When the Gregorian calendar was used, the first day of Jan was the legal first day of the year. Also there was an 11 day difference that had to be made up. So that the day after Sep. 2, 1752 was Sep 14, 1752. This was because the makers of the Julian calendar did not take into account that the year is slightly longer than 365 days. We have leap years to do that now. The 400 year rule says that every 400 years you have to add a day to make up for the differences that are too small to make up otherwise.

Some European countries switched to the Gregorian calendar as early as 1600. Because of the confusion over whether the first month was Jan or Mar depending on which calendar was used, the practice became to either name the calendar used. OS meant OLD STYLE for the Julian and NS meant NEW STYLE for Gregorian) or to give any date between Jan 1 and up to and including Mar 24 a double year. (For example: 01 Feb 1710/11.) This is because it could either be the last month of 1710 OLD Style or the second month of 1711 NEW Style. From Mar 25 to Dec 31, no correction would be needed so the date would be as is (Example: 25 Mar 1710).

QUAKER PRACTICE - Prior to 1752, the 12 months of the year were numbered beginning with March and ending in February. After 1752 they were numbered beginning in January and ending with December. Example: 18th of the 5th mo. 1750 (O.S.) becomes 29 Jul 1750 (N.S.) N. S. is the Gregorian Calendar and the O.S. is the Julian Calendar. The Quakers refused to use the names of the months (as they were pagan names) and used numbers instead so you get dates like 3-1-1710/11. Unless they said the 3rd month or month 1 or something similar, it got confusing. The American way of saying month/day/year was not the European way which was day/month/year. This is a good argument for always writing out the month (or using the first 3 letters.)

The dates when various countries changed over varied, so this has to be figured separately for each jurisdiction. England was relatively late. Scotland, being more advanced culturally than England, changed the date of the New Year in 1600, though they didn't subtract the days for excess leap years until 1752. Russia and Turkey changed to the Gregorian calendar in 1918, Greece in 1928.

The first dates prior to 14 Sep. 1752 must be assumed to be the Old Style Dates, unless there is an indication that they were converted to New Style. To convert Old Style dates to New Style dates, add 11 days.

In determining the age of a person who was born 14 Sep 1752 and who lived after that date, one must take into account of the 11 days that we last in Sep 1752, otherwise the person will appear to be 11 days older than he actually was at any given time after the calendar change. In order to determine the Old Style (O.S.) birth date when age of death is given for a person who was born before the calendar change and died after 1752, 11 days must be subtracted.

Step 1: Begin with the last 2 digits of the year.

Step 2. Add 1/4 of this number, disregarding any remainder.

Step 3. Add the date in the month.

Step 4. Add according to the month
January 1 (for leap year, 0)
February 4 (for leap year, 3)
March 4
April 0
May 2
June 5
July 0
August 3
September 6
October 1
November 4
December 6
Step 5. Add for the:
18th Century 4
19th Century 2
20th Century 0
21st Century 6

Step 6. Total the numbers.

Divide by 7. Check the remainder against this chart to find the day of the week:


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During the colonial period, the law required a true and perfect parish register. After 1780, ministers were required to report all marriages to the county court clerk whose duty it was to see that the returns were entered in a book kept for that purpose. In 1783 the law recognized that the scarcity of ministers in the western counties had produced a situation whereby not only dissenting ministers, but some magistrates and others had been induced to solemnize marriages. The amended act of 1784 removed the four ministers per denomination per county restriction for marriages and permitted any ordained minister to perform marriages. Also Quakers and Mennonites were permitted to marry under their own customs, but the clerk of the meeting was to make a return to the county clerk. The county record books which have survived are sometimes titled "Marriage Records" or " Marriage Registers," although they might contain only the entry of the marriage bond and not the actual return.

H/F after a person's name on birth and marriage records means "Handfast". Basically it is a sign of the confirmation of a type of "uncanonical, private or even probationary form of marriage". Handfasting was for announcing a union between a man and woman who wished to live together as husband and wife before receiving the blessing of the church.

The couple would stand before a group of their peers, hold their clasped hands above their heads and state their intentions. The agreement was good for a year and a day or until the preacher came to perform the rites of the church. If at the end of the specified time, each wished to go his own way, they could do so with no ties. No matter what happened, any child born of a Handfast would inherit.

A crossroads wedding was one in which the marriage was held at a crossroads after the sun had set with the bride wearing only her shift. This was done to show she had no debts to bring to the marriage. From Antique Weekly, Vol. 30,#14, June 23,1997 edition.

LINEAL means ascending or descending in a direct line. Example - If your surname/maiden name is Brown, your Brown line is your direct lineal line.
COLLATERAL means descended from the same ancestor but not in a direct line of descent.
ALLIED families are families related usually through marriage.

Enclose a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) when requesting information from ANY source, individuals, Court House, Library, etc. You stand a much better chance of a reply if you do. Otherwise, your query may go into the trash pile.

In England, the terms "Yeoman" and "Freeman" mean the same thing. There were roughly six social classes in early England: the peers or noblemen; the gentry; knights of the shire who lived off the rents from their lands; lawyers, merchants, professional people; Yeoman farmers and then the common people. A Yeoman farmer was a freeholder having quite a lot of land and employing others to help him farm it. The terms in New England probably meant much the same thing.

Some organizations sell photographs of passenger ships that carried immigrants from Eastern Europe in the first two decades of this century.

The Steamship Historical Society of America, University of Baltimore, 1420 Maryland Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201 and The Steamship Historical Society, 415 Pelton Ave., Staten Island, NY 10310.

The Steamship Historical Society of America Collection at the University of Baltimore Library is a great source of information about ships. They have more than 100,000 ship photos and more than 30,000 negatives. Send the name of the ship to Librarian at SSHSA Collection, University of Baltimore Library.

By snail mail, you, you can send to the Mariner's Museum and get an 8 x 10 black and white photograph and other information about the ship such as when, where built, when dismantled, size, tonnage, etc. for $5.00. You do need to know the name of the ship. They have 350,000 photographs of ships. There was a great article in the "Genealogical Helper" for July-August 1995 about it. They don't have passenger ship lists, but they do have immigrant stories of their trip. They also have a FAX, it's 1-804-591-7310. The Mariner's Museum, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA.23606-3759.

Boat - as used by seamen the term does not apply to a vessel, but to a small craft. Boat as distinguished from the general term ship, is constructed of bent frames and a vessel of ship of sawn frames. (This is the opinion of a shipbuilder.)

Ship - Strictly a vessel, square-rigged, on all masts from three up. The term is used loosely and applied to quite generally to all vessels. A seaman speaks of his vessel as "the ship" regardless of rig or power.

The effort to achieve identification is as old - yet as contemporary - as man. Primitive man gave himself a distinguishing identification by means of tattoos, scars, bone piercing, hair cuttings and other markings. Indian tribes adopted special facial colorations and markings, and stylings for the head and hairpiece. African tribesmen pierce their nose with weird bone structures. These markings and mutilations all tend to identify the individual as belonging to a tribe or clan under one cause. Costume is another means of differentiating one group from another, i.e. the sari of India, the kilt of the highlander, the tunic of ancient Rome. We still see that today with groups, clubs and even gangs and their attire and tattoos.

Soon after the Crusades in Europe, many people began to feel the need for family names which would identify them. The nobles were the first to adopt surnames, usually from the names of the lands they owned. Soon others did the same. Surname can be classified in four categories: Local surnames, kinship surnames, pet names and nicknames, occupational surnames. The local surname was derived from the place where the man once held land or where he once lived. Kinship names derived from the father is common in most countries. The addition of -son to a name would identify the offspring of a person. Pet names and nicknames were given to someone with some noticeable characteristic so he would be remembered, i.e. "Red", "Shorty", etc. Occupational surnames refer to the services one might offer such as Carpenter, Miller, etc.

Another method of identification arose in the Middle Ages to identify one from another. During the Crusades, the knight, completely covered from head to toe with his armor, came to identify himself with his shield and his Coat of Arms. Many families can associate themselves with coats of arms dating back to medieval times.

Coats of arms were granted to persons by the King. Originally a Coat of Arms was a surcoat (i.e., the cloth coat worn over armor to keep off the sun and rain) with symbols painted on it to distinguish which individual was wearing said armor, in the hope of avoiding friendly fire. The crest was the device worn on the helmet for the same reason. Rules vary from country to country as to who can or cannot use a particular set of arms. The crest is part of the arms. Arms were never issued to entire families, but to an individual and inherited by the eldest son. Until his father died, a son could only display the crest.

Grant of arms reposed in the king in most, if not all, countries, but was generally delegated to the College of Arms (England) or equivalent. In many jurisdictions anyone can register arms with the appropriate authority.

CRESTS from William L Pratt -
Crests were granted to persons by the King. Crests were, and are, part of an achievement of arms. Originally a Coat of Arms was a surcoat (i.e., the cloth coat worn over armor to keep off the sun and rain) with symbols painted on it to distinguish which individual was wearing said armor, in the hope of avoiding friendly fire. The crest was the device worn on the helmet for the same reason. Rules vary from country to country as to who can or cannot use a particular set of arms. The crest is part of the arms. A common usage is that arms are inherited by the eldest son. Younger sons) may display the crest alone. I believe right to display the crest is not inherited by issue of the daughters and younger sons. In Scotland, I think, only the chieftain (eldest son of the Chief) may display the crest of the chief's arms undifferenced, though any clansman may bear the crest surrounded by a "belt and buckle" {the clans man's badge).

Grant of arms reposed in the king in most (all?) countries, but was generally delegated to the College of Arms (England) or equivalent. In many jurisdictions anyone can register arms with the appropriate authority. In Scotland the Lord Lyon King at Arms also registers tartans. In Scotland it is a misdemeanor to display someone else's arms (I think, it may just be actionable in a civil suit). In England it is a gaffe, but legal. Other countries will have other regulations.

Arms were never issued to entire families, but to an individual and inherited by the eldest son (until Papa died, he could only display the crest) (English usage). In Scotland, today, clan membership is generally figured on the basis of surname, so one can use the tartan and display the clans man's badge of the appropriate clan (your father's) based on surname.

Excerpt from notes of Morris Birkbeck concerning his journey to America in 1817, as quoted in PENN PICTURES OF EARLY WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, edited by John Harpster, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press 1938 - (telling of travellers he met as he crossed Pennsylvania).

"The family are seen before, behind or within the vehicle according to the road of weather, or perhaps the spirits of the party. The New Englanders, they say, may be known by the cheerful air of the women advancing in front of the wagon; the Jersey people by their being fixed steadily within it; whilst the Pennsylvanians creep lingering behind, as though regretting the homes they have left...often the back of the poor pilgrims bears all his effects, and his wife follows, barefooted, bending under the hopes of the family".

All evidence is relative in its value; none that I know of is absolute. There are three kinds of facts: those for which you have abundant proof, those which you believe to be true but for which you do not have overwhelming evidence, and assumptions which you use as leads, hoping to find more evidence or a strong reason to abandon it. The problem comes when two pieces of evidence do not agree completely, or when we are not absolutely certain that the evidence we have applies.

Here are some guiding principles:
1. The nearer the recording is to the event, the more likely it is to be correct. For example, a birth certificate is probably more accurate than a tombstone.
2. Legal documents tend to be more accurate than family notes or traditions. They were probably prepared by a third party and people tend to be more careful with legal matters.
3. The census is not a legal document. It is only as accurate as the census taker and the person giving the information. Names may be spelled incorrectly. Included may be nieces or nephews with the same last name being mistaken for children, and children may not be listed if they were away at the time of the census.

1. With Family Bibles, ask the following:
a. What is the date of the publishing edition on page 2? Is it such that the family purchased it early in their marriage, or did an enterprising child fill it in later?
b. Is the handwriting the same for all entries (someone "caught up" the record at one sitting)? Even if the same person wrote it all, if it was done over a period of years, their handwriting will vary, certainly the pen and ink will.

2. With birth certificates:
a. The date and place is probably correct, though in very olden days, the doctor or midwife may have done the paperwork later and there may be a day or two difference.
b. The mother's name is probably correct though the spelling may be off. The doctor knew who his patient was.
c. Likewise the spelling of the child's name can vary. Be especially careful of transcribed copies of lists made before the days of birth certificates.
d. The biological father is probably correct but not as sure. The doctor can only record what the mother told him.

3. With tombstones:
a. Don't be surprised if dates vary from other records. The stone mason may have made a mistake, but more often the family member providing the information was doing so from memory.
b. If the data doesn't fit, look for another explanation.

4. Wills:
a. A good source of information but don't draw too much from them.
b. If older children are missing from the list, don't be alarmed. Instead turn to land deeds and see if the father may have helped the older son buy land at an earlier date, or even have deeded some of his own land to him.
c. Very rarely a person may have mentioned a brother, sister, niece, or nephew by name but without identification as to relationship.

5. The more facts we have about a person, the more he/she becomes a unique individual. Nothing is absolute and you may have to judge between conflicting facts.

Salem, MA accused and imprisoned many of its citizens in the spring of 1692 and many went to their deaths on the gallows protesting their innocence. Among the twenty alleged witches and wizards who were executed in 1692 were: Bridget (Playfer) Wasselbe Oliver Bishop, the first to die. She was hanged in Salem on Jun 10, 1692. Other women were (known maiden names are in parentheses) - Rebecca (Towne) Nurse; Sarah (Solart) Poole Good; Martha Rich Corey; Mary (Towne) Easty; Sarah (Averhill) Wildes, Susannah (North) Martin; Alice Parker; Ann Greenslade Pudeator; Wilmot Redd; Elizabeth (Jackson) Howe; Martha (Allen) Carrier; Margaret (Stevenson) Scott and Mary (Ayer) Parker. Six men were executed as wizards: George Jacobs, Sr.; John Willard; John Proctor; Rev. George Burroughs; Samuel Wardwell and Giles Corey who was pressed to death. George Jacobs is said to have been 80 years old but this could be incorrect. Also charged with witchcraft was his son George Jacobs, Jr.; his daughter-in-law Rebecca (Andrews) Frost Jacobs; his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs and George Jacobs, Jr's brother-in-law Daniel Andrews.

If you have New England roots, you may find you have ancestors who were involved in these infamous witch trials. Millions of Americans are descendants of the victims, the judges, the juries, witnesses and the accusers.

There is a place on the WWW that has information on some of these witches, including pictures. You might try searching with one of the search engines for Witches.... and hopefully you will find it.

If you have an ancestor who was judged a witch, you may be interested in Daughters of American Witches Co., c/o Mrs. Kline L. Engle, 1800 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85014.

C.G.R.S. - Certified Genealogical Record Searcher, proven ability to search original and published records and to provide information from these. He/she has not had to show ability to construct a pedigree or prepare a history, although the researcher may be able to do so.

C.A.L.S. - Certified American Lineage Specialist has shown competence to prepare and authenticate a line of descent (such as for a lineage society).

C.A.I.L.S. - Certified American Indian Lineage Specialist is able to work with records, such as tribal records, dealing with American Indians.

C.G. - Certified Genealogist has shown capability for researching primary and secondary records and also to solve genealogical problems based upon investigation and analysis of the sources.

C.G.I. - Certified Genealogical Instructors and

C.G.L. - Certified Genealogical Lecturers have fulfilled requirements to show competence in instructing and lecturing.

When the county courthouse reports "records missing", write to the State Archives. With changes in county clerks, they are not always informed when records have been moved, usually as space limits their capacity for storage.

In the lower left-hand corner of most deeds, you will find signatures of two to four witnesses. The first one is always from the husband's side. The next one is always from the wife's side. This is to protect her 1/3 dower right under the law. Nothing you will ever use will give greater clues to maiden names than witnesses to old deeds!

Also in the 1800's and before, it was traditional when the daughter got married, as part of her dowry, the father either covered the loan or carried the note for his son-in-law. If you know the husband's name but not the wife's maiden name and you can find out to whom they were making their mortgage payments, about 70% of the time it was her father.

When land was sold, the spouse had to be listed in the land record. Land records should be searched after a death as often a list of heirs will be shown during partition of the estate and even sometimes a map.

If there is a will, it is probated by an Executor - if there is no will, the estate is cared for by an Administrator appointed by the court.

"IN RE" concerning adoptions means "in regards to" something. You can often find adoptions listed in record books where divorce and probate records are filed. Instead of putting adoptions in under the letter "A" they may place them under "I" for "in re". Under this category you will find petitions to change name, petition to adopt, etc.

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