My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Doing Genealogy in Lowell, Massachusetts? Here is Help.

The city of Lowell first hit a little over 106,000 people in 1910 and we have a few more thousand in population now, so there have been a lot of people born here or just passed through. So, where are the records kept? I wasn't born here, nor do I have relatives, except for my born and bred Lowellian husband. Therefore, even though I spend a lot of time on my genealogy, I have often been confused as to where people doing research should go for reference material.

During the past week, I've spent time in the Lowell Library, also known as the Pollard Memorial Library, and at the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center. It is the later that has always puzzled me...does this belong to the Lowell National Historical Park? City of Lowell? University of Massachusetts?  I've seen park rangers in the building a lot, but knew there was a university connection, so what it this place all about?

If you are doing Lowell research, I believe you have two options, first the Lowell / Pollard Library and second is the Cultural center. I did a Lowell Library blog post in 2012, and just updated it. In a nutshell, it has a typical reading room, with a section for genealogies, reference materials, computers, and a separate room for looking at microfilm, mostly newspapers. Parking can be limited (since it's next to the city hall), but they do have a free small parking lot next to the library (in the back).

For all parking, either the Lowell Library free parking lot or on the street using meters, the limit is two hours. Parking garages aren't too far away and you can stay much longer, but cost is rather high.

One nice thing about the library is if  you discover you need a vital record, you could easily walk next door to the city hall and have them type one up for a fee. My link for the Lowell Library is HERE.

The remainder of this post is about the Center for Lowell History (located in the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center) and is maintained by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The building is owned by the Lowell National Historical Park. In the building are also office space, restrooms, and the entrance to the Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit (see 3rd picture for full picture of the building). There is no close parking, but a block away there is on-street parking with meters and a full-sized parking garage. During the summer and class breaks is the very best time to use this library because school is out (a 4,000 student high school is a block away), and parking could be tight.
This is where  you enter.
The Boarding House Park is on the right side (see below photo).

Boarding House Park
(The free Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit is through the middle door showing the young girl.)

The Center for Lowell History at  40 French St, Lowell, MA 01852
 web page for Genealogy Resources may be found at

Phone: 978-934-4997

I selected a few of the links from above to give you an idea what is located in this facility. City directors, which aren't online, provides useful information. The Lowell's Civil War Soldiers and Sailors has over 3,000 names and was a project which I participated in with along with a few other people. The entire list is alphabetical. The third section regarding Vital records, taken from newspapers.

     Lowell Directories are available from 1832 to 1990.  They include: Resident Directory arranged by name, listing work address, occupation, and home address; Business Directory arranged by product; and Advertisements.  In 1836 they had a Female Supplement City Directory. After 1881, dates of death are noted.  Beginning in 1883, most directories contain a ward and street map.  Beginning in 1917, wives' names are listed and there is a section arranged by street address. 

     A small group of volunteers have transcribed the 4 volumes that
contain the 3,525 names of the Soldiers and Sailors mustered from Lowell
that served in the Civil War (1861-1865). Many of these men were from
Lowell and the surrounding towns. They are listed alphabetically.

     As part of an ongoing effort to document the City's History, a small
but determined group of volunteers in conjunction with the Center
for Lowell History staff are gathering Lowell Vital Records (Birth, Marriage, Death)
from local newspapers.  The indexes are far from complete but new
information is added frequently.

As you can see, there are plenty of tables, and a copy machine.

The file cabinets contain reels of film, a lot of early Lowell newspapers (Lowell Advertiser dated 1838, and Lowell Sun papers), early census film (1790-1855 (for all states), and Massachusetts birth records from 1841-1891, and the index from 1841-1905. Maps and other material are located in the long drawers shown below on the right side.

Some archived material is located here, some upstairs.

The majority of the books are about Lowell, and yearbooks are also here, as well as a selection of the Massachusetts Vital Record books to 1850.
Six of these old city directories are being replaced, because I had copies stored in my cellar for 15 years. A genealogy club member got them when a library was tossing them, so several of us took them to store at home. Our club disbanded and after various discussions about them, we just kept them. Because I decided to write this post, I figured it was a good time to get rid of some of my books. There are two sets of city directories in Lowell; one here at this location and the other in the Lowell / Pollard Library. The dates are circa 1892 - 1987, more or less and depending where you look.
This google earth photo shows the locations and distance between the two libraries.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Art, Antiques, and A Whistler Room Fill this Lovely Old House

"There is A Lot to Like About Lowell" is the city slogan.

(See tab on right side called "Lowell Series" for many more articles about Lowell.)

The Whistler House Museum of Art has changed since I first visited 20 years ago, and it is now what I consider a major gem in Lowell. You step into a beautiful past and spend as much time as you want to look at the art by New England artists, silver, furniture, or enjoy the views from the windows like I did. Outside, you must stroll around the park.

Tourists think the city is all about the Industrial Revolution, as described in the Boott Cotton Mills Museum or Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit both presented by the Lowell National Historical Park, but there is something else...THIS MUSEUM. The American Textile History Museum is now closed, and I think this Art Museum should be in your plans. If you live in the Lowell area and haven't been here, you are missing  out. 

“'Apres James McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black' 1906, Oil on canvas, by Edith Fairfax Davenport, a cousin of Whistler. This is an exact scale copy of the original painting which, it is said, heralded modern art. The original hangs in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris." Information taken from their information pamphlet.
I've never seen a copper bathtub.
Painting on the left is View of Merrimack, c. 1875 by William Preston Phelps.
(The Merrimack River flows through Lowell, and many other towns.)
Down the hall or up two floors, art is everywhere.

 Period kitchen recently renovated.

Studio on the third floor.

View of Parker Gallery, City Hall and Whistler Park.

Entire room is devoted to James McNeill Whistler.

Whistler in Lowell
     "James McNeill Whistler was born in 1834 in the Paul Moody House now known as the Whistler House Museum of Art. The first born son of George and his second wife Anna Mathilda, he was baptized as James Abbott Whistler at St. Anne's Church on Merrimack Street, Lowell.
     In 1843 the family left Lowell and moved to Russia, where Whistler's father was a consulting engineer for a railroad to be built by Czar Nicholas I. After her husband's death in 1849, Mrs. Whistler and her children returned to America, moving first to Stonington, Connecticut and then to Pomfret, Connecticut.
     In later years, Whistler would deny being born in Lowell, claiming instead that he was born in Baltimore, Maryland or in St. Petersburg, Russia."
The encased fan was autographed on the back, one signature is by James McNeill Whistler.


243 Worthen Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Views from upper windows showing the Lowell / Pollard Library on the left and the City Hall on the right.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wistariahurst -- Historic Estate, Gardens and Genealogy

Wistaria and formal garden
seen from 2nd floor window.
I first heard the name Wistariahurst from facebook friend and genealogy blogger Sara Campbell when she said she was going to lecture there. I googled and learned what it was and where it was located. Research told me that it is an historic house museum located in Holyoke, Massachusetts. But, there was something else that interested me besides the fact that the house WAs covered in Wistaria / Wisteria, and there is a large formal garden. I discovered that a Kilborne and a Skinner lived there. Both surnames are in my family tree for many generations. I needed to find out more.

Front of the house showing a row of Wistaria. The house has had additions, and you can see below the Wistaria growing on several sides. Over 130 years ago, Sarah Skinner (the original owner) had these plants planted.

This estate was built in 1848 for William Skinner, the owner of a successful silk spinning and textile business. See Wikipedia for more information.

The photos above and below show part of the back of the house (which is where we entered). Because all the trees were full, I couldn't get a decent photo of the house.

This was taken as we entered into the house for the tour. The guide mentioned that the slabs on the ground contain dinosaur footprints. I could see them clearly, but unfortunately I didn't take closeup shots because of the shade. Apparently, these slabs came from an area close by where the dinosaurs roamed.
Katharine Skinner Kilborne was not directly related to me, but her husband Robert Stewart Kilborne was my 6th cousin 4 times removed. I had an easy time determining that the original owner, William Skinner, 1824 - 1902 was not in my tree because several census records (1870, 1880, 1900) stated he was born in London. My Skinner family came from England, between 1649 and 1652 and settled in Malden, Massachusetts  before moving to Colchester, Connecticut. The Kilborn / Kilborne / Kilbourne line was pretty easy because this line left a good paper trail, records such as vital records, obituary, censuses, newspaper marriage announcements, and a lot of Find-A-Grave memorials. Unusual first names such as Truman, Allerton, Horatio and Jesse allowed for easier than normal research on that direct line.
Above and below are photos of the garden.

Three photos of the Dining Room (above and below.)

Enormous Music Room, used for lectures, weddings and various events.
Two bedrooms.

Sitting area.
Room used by one of the household help.

It is believe that this stained glass could have been made by the L. C. Tiffany Company and it might have been in their New York City house. The minute I saw this, I thought it was, because I want it to be. I believe one of the photos on the window sill was taken in their old house, and those were made by Tiffany.

I got American Phoenix by Sarah S. Kilborne out of the library and also downloaded it from Amazon. Because of the subject matter and the fact that the author is probably a distant cousin to me, I had high hopes of really enjoying this book. There is a little disappointment here, because it is all about the Skinner family, the silk business and the disaster involving his business and house after the flood. The small photos were nice, but there was nothing shown for the interior of the house (so I'm glad I posted mine), and nothing about Sarah's relationship to Mr. Skinner. Being that I love and do genealogy, I was able to trace and gather information about some of the family, including R. Stewart Kilborne's tragic death in New York City.