I remember when the New England Historic Genealogical Society opened up their databases and archives to the public for the Thanksgiving weekend a couple of years ago. I managed to get on and I was amazed at the amount of information available. I made some great finds in the short time I was on the site. Their servers must have been getting hammered that weekend because I wasn’t able to get in again that weekend.
This year I joined NEHGS in anticipation of being able to access those volumes of information at my leisure. What happened? Where are all the databases and online archives? I probably don’t use the site as much as I probably should because it’s a pain to navigate and when I do find some information I’m looking for, it’s because I accidentally drilled at the right spot. There’s information I found that weekend that I can no longer find on their site. What gives?
I’ve found access to Heritage Quest to be a plus but I can get that with my library card. I found a couple of genealogies of interest, including the first volume of Benedicts in America. It’s great that I can download these documents but they have a limit of 50 pages per download. So I downloaded the “Descendants of James Benedict” in two downloads of about 40 pages each and began going through it. I had begun to download the whole thing but I found it easier to determine which pages dealt with my Benedict line and get those. I’d love to read the entire volume as well as volume two.
Most people would find reading a genealogy such as this pretty boring but I found it fascinating, particularly the footnotes and some of the anecdotal information for many individuals. There are a lot of stories there. Many of my Benedict cousins fought for independence in the Revolutionary War, others had their homes and businesses burned by the British Army. Some were prisoners of war and still others remained loyal to the crown. I found a relation that lost three sons in the War of 1812. Another’s son came down with “camp fever” in New Jersey during the Revolution. He went to help care for him and they both died from it. A Benedict cousin was killed on the gunboat Clifton in the Battle of Sabine Pass during the Civil War. History seems more real when you know that people who were related to you were directly involved in it as opposed to just living during those times.
There are gaps in the genealogy. I’ve found instances where someone was married three times and name and dates for wife number two is missing. Naturally, the majority of the children were born to her and the children are just listed as his without reference as to who the mother is. What fun would genealogy be if it wasn’t challenging? If only our ancestors had kept better records and offsite backups.
I never did find the Gaines genealogy I was looking for. I thought I had seen it at the NEHGS site, maybe it was somewhere else. Now that I think about it, I think I had found it at Genealogy.com and I’ve let my subscription with them expire. That reminds me, my Ancestry.com subscription is about to expire in a few days. I need to find a way to keep that going. Donations will be gratefully accepted.