Kimmitt Genealogical Research

31 August 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Animals!

Browsing around in my husband's photos folder tonight, I came across this photo. We took it in June of 1989 when we were newlyweds touring across Ireland. We were at Powerscourt Estate near Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland. It is an absolutely stunning estate, dating back to the 13th century, and though they had had a fire a few years before we visited, it was still lovely in its opulence. This whole cemetery was for pets. I remember being annoyed at the time that animals would have an entire cemetery to themselves while my own ancestors were lost in a maze of unmarked graves covered by brambles.

Jersey Cow
Died 1967 aged 17 years
She had 17 calves and produced
over 100,000 gallons of milk

Aberdeen Angus Cow
Died 1972 aged 11 years
3 times Dublin Champion

I browsed the web a bit and found this more recent photo which shows just how much moss and dirt it has gathered in the 21 years since we photographed it. 

March 16th 1905.
Irish Terriers
Faithful friends for
12 years.

Yup, I know it's a class thing, but it still rankles to have my "bog Irish" great-grandparents lying in some unknown spot whilst Jyp & Tim get the timeless memorial.

Enhanced by Zemanta

29 August 2010

Revolutionary War Pension Application File, Reuben Damon / Daman

So many ancestors, so VERY little time!! I was just cleaning up my hard drive when I came across a Revolutionary War Pension file for my 4th great grandfather, Reuben Damon. I had downloaded it from Heritage Quest several years ago.  At the time I was thrilled with the fact that it was available online. I downloaded all 6 pages of it and haven't thought of it again until today. 

You may not be aware of it, but Heritage Quest, which is accessible through many libraries,  has a database of "selected" Revolutionary War pension application files. They are taken from the National Archives and Records Administration "selected" series, which means NARA went through and picked out those files they thought genealogists might want to see, and filmed them. Heritage Quest put them online, which seemed altogether miraculous at the time. BUT they only contain the pages of the selected series. The other, more complete microfilm series contains all pension and bounty land records, but was probably much too large for Heritage Quest to tackle at the time. As a result this database is woefully incomplete, something that might be overlooked by a new researcher. Not only that but the images are shot at a low resolution and very grainy, as you'd expect for earlier technology. Here is one page, plus a detailed shot. 

In the years since I downloaded the HQ file, has come online, and bless them, they have complete Revolutionary War pension files (along with hundreds of other records types). So off I rushed to check their version. I used to have a stand-alone subscription to their site, but my subscription ran out on 28 July of this year. I knew that NEHGS had an agreement with Footnote and we were supposed to be able to get a discount on it through our membership with them, so I went hunting for that information.

From what I can tell, NEHGS and Footnote no longer have this agreement. I found an old link to the offer being the brazen beast I am, clicked on it. Though it was supposed to have expired in February, my transaction went through. So I'm okay for another year!

Here is the much easier to read version. This one has 23 pages.

Reuben Daman's file is a moderate 27 pages long. Exactly which of these pages did the HQ people select? One was the index card, so that left only 5 pages of information. Suffice to say, lots was left out of the HQ file.The clerk had extremely neat handwriting and his spelling was impeccable, even by today' standards, though punctuation is a bit wobbly at times. Our pensioner's memory is very good, and he has witnesses to most of his service, including, wondrously enough, Samuel Deane, author of the History of Scituate! I feel I must run to that book now and see if he speaks of his buddy Reuben, knowing that anything he said about him was likely first-hand information.

To transcribe the file I created a document in my Mac word processing program, Pages. It has facing pages so that I can insert the pension page on the left and transcribe it on the right side. This makes it easy to compare and contrast.

Pension files contain a wealth of information about the pensioner, his family, his war service, his buddies and his era. The absolute best part is that we get it in the pensioner's own words. Below is the first part of his file, not in Reuben's words, but tells what he was up to during the Revolution. I like to think I got my interest in the flute from Reuben, Fifer! I started here with's page 4 of the file, just because I thought was the most interesting and concise portion. I will do the rest later and probably upload it to my new website (in progress). Don't look for it soon, but I plan to put up transcriptions and little histories, etc. 

This is what it will look like.

Here is the version. So much easier on the eyes.

State of Massachusetts }
County of Plymouth       }  ss.
On this twenty second day of August A.D. 1832 personally
appeared in open Court, before the Honl Wilkes Wood Judge of the
Court of Probate for the said County of Plymouth, now sitting
at Hanover in said County, Reuben Damon a Resident of
Scituate in the said County of Plymouth & State of Massachusetts
aged seventy three years, who being first duly sworn according
to law, doth on his oath make the following delaration in
order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.
That he entered the service of the United States under
the following named officers and served as herein stated to wit:
1st In August or Sepr of 1776 he entered said service as a
private and did the duty of Fifer in the Company commanded by
Joseph Stetson, Lieut. Bemjamin Studley and Ensign Benj Holmes,
marched to Roxbury was stationed there a short time, then marched
to Boston, and was stationed near [Acmoody’s] lane, there was one
other Company there at the same time. his duty to guard the town 
and public stores. he served three months, was then discharged
and returned home to Scituate. He can prove this service by
Charles Turner, who served with him and his deposition is annexed.
2d In the month of May A.D. 1777. He volunteerd and went
to Castle William in Boston harbour, was employed in repairing
and rebuilding the fortifications which the Brittish troops had de=
molished on their leaving Boston, the Engineer under whom he
served was Coll Burbeck. he served three months was then
discharged and returned hom to Scituate, he knows of no one 
living by whom he can prove this service and his deposition is
3d In the month of July as he thinks A.D. 1778 he
entered said service as a private in the Company commanded
by Joseph Cliff of Marshfield, the other Officers not recollected
he with two other soldiers went directly to Howland’s Ferry, and
there joined said Company, in August crossed the Ferry to Rhode
Island. his Company was attached to Col Thayers’ Regiment as he
thinks. Genl Sullivan was commander in chief. The American
troops remained on the Island about three weeks after he joined
them, then they all retreated before the British troops, and his
Regiment retreated over Howland’s Ferry to Tiverton, then marched
to Providence, then to Patuxett and there continued to the end
of his term he having served, one month & 19 days he was then dis=
charged and returned home to Scituate the last of October as he
thinks. he can prove this service by Francis Litchfield who
served with him and his deposition is hereto annexed. Also see
the Certificate of the Secretary of the State of Massachusetts annexed, in which
he is who stated to have served four days more in the Lexington Alarm
4th In April A.D. 1779. he entered said service as a private
in the Company commanded by Captain Wilder, the other Officers (not)

[new page]
recollected, went to Nantaskett, joined said Company was there
stationed and served to the end of his term, he having served three
months, was then discharged and returned home to Scituate, there
was a Company of Artillery commanded by Peter Nichols stationed
there at the same time. he knows of no one living by whom
he can prove this service.
5th In July as he thinks A.D. 1780 he entered said service
as a private in Cap Amos Turner’s Company, Lieut Benjn Stetson
Ensign Nathl Brooks, marched to Howland’s Ferry and crossed over
to Newport on Rhode Island. his Company was attached to Coll John
Jacob’s Regiment, Lieut Col John Clapp, After serving with said Regt.
four or five weeks, he with three others of his Company was detached to
tend Howland’s Ferry and so continued untill the end of his term, and
having served four months. he was discharged and returned home.
Elisha Briggs who served in the same Company with him can prove
this service, his disposition is annexed.

He served in all as aforesaid fourteen months & 19 days, he never
received a written discharge, nor has he any documentary evidence
of his service.
He was born in Scituate the 13th day of February 1759.
His birth is recorded in the town Records of Scituate. He lived in
Scituate when he entered said service and has always lived there,
He volunteered or enlisted into each tern of service aforesaid
he was in no instance drafted, nor was he a substitute. He
has named all the officers under whom he served that now recollects
also all the important circumstances of his service.
He is known in his present neighborhood to Samuel Deane
Samuel A. Turner and others who can testify as to his character
for veracity and their belief of his services as a soldier of the
Reuben Daman (signature)
He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension
or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the
pension roll of the agency of any State.
Reuben Daman (signature)
Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
Attest Jacob H. Loud Register
We Samuel Deane       a clery man residing in the town
of Scituate in the County of Plymouth and State of Massachusetts
and Samuel A. Turner     residing in the same town hereby
certify that we are well acquainted with Reuben Damon who
has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration, that we believe
[new page]
him to be seventy three years of age, that he is reputed and believed
in the neighbourhood where he resides, to have been a soldier of the
Revolution, and that we concur in that opinion_
Samuel Deane (signature)
Samuel A. Turner (signature)

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid,
Attest Jacob H. Loud Register
And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion after
the investigation of the matter and after putting the interrogatories
prescribed by the War Department, that the above named applicant
was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states, And the Court
further certifies that it appears to them that Samuel Deane who
has signed the preceding certificate is a clergyman resident in the
said town of Scituate and that Samuel A. Turner who has
also signed the same is a resident in the same town and is a 
credible person and that their statement is entitled to credit.
By the Court attest Jacob H. Loud Register
I Jacob H. Loud Register of the said Court of
Probate do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original
proceedings of the said Court in the matter of the application of
Reuben Damon for a pension.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and
seal of said Court   this twenty second day of August in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred & thirty two,
Jacob H. Loud

Here is a lovely record of his birth, something commonly found in Revolutionary War pension files.

27 August 2010

Looking Ahead on My One-Year Blogoversary

Photo on Display at the Museum of Appalachia
I've been blogging for a whole year! I'm glad I've been able to stick with it because it has introduced me to new friends, relatives and concepts, and it's a wonderful way to jot down fleeting thoughts. I will continue to blog because it spurs me to think outside the box and it gives me an outlet to express my views.

I've been thinking about my recent "media blitz": I'm quite uncomfortable with it! At the annual Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference in Knoxville, Tennessee I was honored to receive a certificate of appreciation from the Assocation of Professional Genealogists (APG) for my leadership of the New England chapter last year. After having attended so many talks on marketing I felt obliged to announce to the four corners of the earth my humble achievement. So why do I feel uneasy?

The problem is my achievement is not genealogical in nature. Rather it lies in more of an organizational/motivational arena. It has virtually nothing to do with my skills as a genealogist. Instead it called heavily upon talents first learned in my days as an executive secretary long ago, and later finely tuned as a mother. Oh sure, some of the skills overlap with genealogy, but so do some of my skills as a knitter, chorus singer, blogger, and graphic designer. All it proves is that I was able to take advantage of being in the right place at the right time. My predecessors had prepared a solid groundwork and chapter members were instrumental in carrying out the tasks. I just facilitated.

Immediately upon receiving my award I intensified my thinking about writing an article. I've been contemplating this for quite a while, but just never seem to focus long enough to do it. As of yesterday, my blog is a year old. While I enjoy writing it, the style is off-the-cuff, casual in nature, inconsistent and fun. But because of this I don't feel it reveals much about my abilities as a genealogist. Though I make a point to mention my sources in narrative format while blogging, I do not use formal citations. I don't have to assemble vast amounts of information. No complicated analysis or corroboration is necessary. There is a lot of nostalgia and talk of my own opinions about things. It's like looking at the world through a magnifying glass, up close and personal, but with no perspective.

But an article! An article published in one of our field's top journals would make me feel very proud of myself. About that I would gloat! With an article I would stand high on a hill and survey the horizon. My eye would scan the view, and perform a reasonably exhaustive search of my surroundings. I wouldn't be able to leave out inconvenient conflicting evidence. I'd have to search for things I couldn't see. I'd have to tell a story, convincing readers that they had all the information necessary on the subject. I'd have to go somewhere no one has been or revisit a spot where the first visitor was blinded by something, and correct the story. I'd be contributing something to the community. And most frightening/exhilarating of all, I'd be edited by the best genealogists in the country. I'd receive their precious feedback, and that would enhance my skills. Investing a lot of energy into creating a logo, brochure, website and conference booth presence is helpful, but doesn't improve the genealogical community in quite the same way.

Blogging has been so rewarding! I've met a whole line of family that had been invisible to many of us for fifty years! We held a family reunion in the summer and my kin seemed really excited about genealogy for the first time. I've made lots of geneablogger friends, and read others' fascinating and entertaining blogs. I have even gained a few clients this way. So while I will continue to blog, I am content knowing I have a New Year's resolution ready to go.

2011––Year of the Article! Now, anyone got any good ideas?

Enhanced by Zemanta

26 August 2010

A Press Release!


SHREWSBURY, MA, August 26, 2010 –––

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) last week honored five members for their outstanding achievements in the field of genealogy at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference in Knoxville, TN.

Among those awarded certificates of appreciation in recognition of outstanding contributions to APG was Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt, CG of Shrewsbury, MA. Kimmitt was was honored for her activities as president of the New England Chapter of APG in 2009. During her tenure, Kimmitt was responsible for spurring an increase in meeting attendance and chapter memberships and motivated the organization to design a chapter logo, brochure and new interactive website. Under her leadership, the chapter created a booth and presence at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference and its featured Ancestors Road Show. The chapter credits Kimmitt's energy and guidance in helping gain its recognition as "Golden Chapter" at the APG Gathering of the Chapters at the 2009 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"We congratulate today's award recipients," said APG President Laura Prescott. "As the world's leading professional organization of family history and related professionals, the APG celebrates excellence and ethics in the genealogy profession. These recipients have distinguished themselves in many ways and have strengthened APG as a result. They are models for what it means to be a professional genealogist."

Kimmitt owns Kimmitt Genealogical Research in Shrewsbury, MA. She is a certified genealogist, and has been an associate of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) since 2009. She currently serves on the Professional Issues Committee of the APG, and was president of the New England Chapter of APG (2009). Among other professional associations, she was regent of the Col. Timothy Bigelow Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Worcester, MA (2007-2009). She has attended the National Institute on Genealogical Research in Washington, DC (2006), and the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, AL (2007). A native of Scituate, MA, her specializations are: Massachusetts, immigration, and lineage society applications. She speaks Italian and French, as well as her native English. She is a 1978 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is currently accepting clients and can be reached through her website at

24 August 2010

Delegate's Eye View of FGS 2010 in Knoxville #fgs10

18-21 AUGUST 2010
I submitted a delegate's report to the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists this morning, and thought it might interest some of my readers as well so I'm adding a few photos and personal thoughts here. 

I drove down with two good friends, my geneababes. We had a great time talking and the time passed rather quickly. We stopped overnight in Winchester, VA and we drove through some nasty rainstorms.

A total of 1,800 people participated in the conference: of those about 1,000 were registered. The others consisted of volunteers, speakers, librarians, and about 500 beginning genealogists who attended a special event on Saturday.
On Tuesday, 17 August, the day before the FGS conference, the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) sponsored a Professional Management Conference (PMC). Directed at those who operate genealogy businesses, the day was split between a morning session for all, and two afternoon tracks. In the morning, Laura Prescott, APG President, presented “From the Trenches: How We Manage Clients, Time and Projects.” Laura’s presentation was filled with practical ideas on how to get your desktops (real and virtual) organized, and how to control the use of your time. She featured photos of colleagues offices and had participants guess which one belonged to whom!

At lunch, I hosted a table for “The Part-Time Genealogist” and we discussed juggling our businesses with some other time-consuming component: in my case, family!
After lunch I attended Anne J. Miller, PhD’s “Overcoming Obstacles that Interfere with Genealogical Research,” which focused on psychological aspects of problem-solving techniques, especially the concept of divergent vs. convergent thinking. Very interesting!
Next, Paula Stuart Warren, CG’s session on “Niche Planning and Marketing” encouraged us to develop a niche. Paula brought home her marketing points by singing the first half of some well-known jingles, such as “plop plop, fizz, fizz…” and having us finish them. 
For a detailed syllabus, visit

Wednesday, Society Day
The first day of the conference is traditionally dedicated to talks on managing genealogical societies. The Opening Session featured Curt Witcher on “SOS! SOS! Saving Our Societies: Answering Our Distress Beacons,” and focused on ridding boards of toxic officers! Sadly, I missed this one due to a brief illness. Curt also mentioned the need for many states to send a liaison to the FGS RPAC (Records Preservation and Access Committee), Massachusetts being one of them. If you have a talent in this direction, MASSACHUSETTS NEEDS YOU! I also missed the FGS annual meeting, including the announcement of the upcoming ballot which included my own name, as I am running for the FGS Board of Directors! 

One lecture I thoroughly enjoyed was Julie Miller, CG, speaking on “Firing Up the Next Generation of Genealogists!” This treated not only the educational possibilities but the sometimes frustrating task of passing on our passion to children and grandchildren. I also attended Josh Taylor’s “Reaching Out: Beyond Your Society’s Doors,” which examined ways in which to engage more people in your society, primarily using modern technological methods of communication such as social networking. Jana Broglin gave a great lecture on “Tips for Planning a Successful Seminar,” which will be extremely helpful. Finally, Lori Thornton spoke on “Organizing Your Society’s Library and Archives,” which was primarily on creating a means to catalog collections via diferent methods, online or software.

Thursday’s Keynote Session was a very amusing “feud” between Tennesse[e?!]an Mark Lowe (Davy Crocket) and Kentuckian Kent Whitworth (Dan’l Boone), each of whom tried to win the audience’s affections while introducing us to the customs and range of records in their respective states. We even got to sing a few tunes! After that we were fired up for a great conference. I attended countless informative sessions, presented by some of the best genealogists in the nation, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Pamela Sayre, David Rencher, Curt Wicher, Paul Milner and Paula Stuart-Warren, to name but a few.

The Exhibit Hall was the central meeting spot, though the number of vendors seemed lower than at some conferences. I volunteered some time working at both the APG and BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists) booths. It’s a great place to wander around, investigate member societies, try out new software, collect nametag ribbons, BUY BOOKS and network.

I attended a few of the organized meals, specifically two evening meals, both rather informal, which is not usually the case, and one luncheon hosted by APG. The dinners both made us feel fully immersed in Tennessee life and featured on Wednesday, local singer and storyteller Sheila Kay Adams, who presented “Come and Set a Spell,” an amusing look at an Appalachian “family wreath.”  We visited the Museum of Appalachia on Thursday evening and enjoyed another concert as well as exhibits on all kinds of local marvels. 

At the APG luncheon on Friday, Laura Prescott announced the five winners of awards for outstanding contributions to the field of genealogy. See Dick Eastman's Online Newsletter at for details. I was the lucky recipient of one of those awards for the work I did for the New England Chapter of APG as president last year, and am very honored and humbled by it all. AND, I received this award on my birthday. Doesn't get much better than that! Laura also broke the news that for the first time APG will have a presence at the “Who Do You Think You Are” conference in London, 25-27 February 2011. Interested members are encouraged to attend. Check your calendars now!

I missed the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, speaking at the FGS luncheon, but understand it was a great talk on the future of the National Archives. He disclosed that the 1940 census will not be microfilmed, but directly digitized by NARA, without the participation of any other entity such as or The census will be available on the internet.

On Friday evening, FGS hosted a reception to celebrate the War of 1812 digitization project. FGS is proud to be partnered with NARA in this multimillion dollar project and encourages its members to make donations to the cause which will require $3.7, or $0.50 per image (7.2 million images) to complete.

The conference finished on Saturday at 6:00pm and we relaxed and celebrated on our last night in Knoxville. The drive home was much less rainy and allowed us to see the gorgeous countryside of Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania (with a bit of West Virgina and Maryland, too!)

Looking back on the conference, apart from the wonderful sessions on methodology, records and business practices, the outstanding theme of this year was social networking and efficient use of the internet. Whether you are a seasoned professional or brand new to genealogy, you will benefit from connecting with other genealogists and records via the web. It is simply no longer possible to keep up without having an online presence of some kind. But this is only because it enables a closer connection with live people, real records and archives, and learning via the experience of others. There is something for everyone at these conferences and I encourage everyone who wants to learn more about the field to attend as many of these as possible.
For more details on this conference, visit

Delegate for the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists

Polly Kimmitt
Enhanced by Zemanta

11 August 2010

Wordless Wednesday - FitzGeralds

 Taken on the occasion of Patrick and Annie's 50th wedding anniversary, probably in Arlington, Mass. They were married in Boston on 6 September 1896. Their oldest child, Mary, is not pictured.

Left to right:
James Edmund "Jim" FitzGerald  [my father]
(1 August 1910 – 25 May 1988)

Phillip Francis "Frank" FitzGerald
(13 August 1906 – 20 April 1963)

Julia Theresa "Theresa" (FitzGerald) Murphy Bradshaw
(6 February 1902 – 11 May 1963)

Annie Josephine (O'Sullivan) FitzGerald
(18 December 1869 – 2 August 1949)

Patrick John FitzGerald
(21 March 1867 – 21 August 1949)

John Joseph "Jack" FitzGerald
(5 July 1899 – 11 September 1988)

Stories to come, in another post. One thing to note, since their dates are here is that they seemed to die in twos. Patrick and Annie died within three weeks of one another. Frank and Theresa died within three weeks of one another and Jim and Jack died a bit more than three months apart, and my wedding was sandwiched in between their deaths.

06 August 2010

Contemporaneous Thoughts on Hiroshima

My parents did not serve in the military in World War II, but their siblings did. My mother's twin sisters, Abbie and Anne were in the Waves and Wacs, and Billy was in the Navy. My father worked in munitions stateside and my mother had two small children. Here's a little snippet in time...

This is my Uncle Billy, William Humphrey Barnes (1920-1992), and his mother, my grandmother, Vernetta Gertrude (Jones) Barnes (1892-1962). I don't know when it was taken, but I think Billy looks about 17 or so: definitely before World War II. He was Vernetta's only son.

This is a letter in the Barnes Family Papers, passed down to me by my mother. It was written by Vernetta to Billy.

[page one]
Sunday, Aug. 12, [1945]
Dear Billy, Isn’t the news wonder-
ful? It won’t be long before Japan
gives in – and how thank-
ful I , and millions of us, will
be. I keep wondering where you
are. in Pearl Harbor, I guess.
Just now I am waiting for
the official news of peace – the
radio is on practically all
the time ––
Maybe I sounded a
little soft over the Atomic
Bomb, but I can’t see waging
wars on innocent children,
altho heaven knows they
would [on us, interlined] quickly enough.
Anyway the news of Peace
will be wonderful, and I

[page two]
can rest easier over you.
Louise says Ed is being dis-
charged. Abbie thinks she
will be released soon – I only
hope she completes her course
first. Anne will be in for
quite a long time even
after Peace. How long do
you think it will be before
you get thru? I hope it
will be soon. The State of
Mass is giving each returning
veteran $100 – the federal
gov’t more.
Abbie was going to come
home last night but called

[page three]
up in tears from New York
to say she missed her train –
no more last night. Its
hard to tell who felt the
sadder Abbie or me.
I’ll write again, maybe
tomorrow – –– (if its V. J.) I’ll
be sure to.
Did you get the books
and magazines?
Love to my dear boy
my brave boy. Oh I’ll
be so glad to know
you won’t be in danger.
God bless you

Georgianne "Anne" (1924-1994) Barnes and Billy Barnes, shortly after the war, I think. 

Anne, Louise Bethia (Barnes) Sullivan (1915-1997) and Billy
Dec 1944

The note is self explanatory. 

This photo and the one above were scanned by Abbie and her husband Kenneth, and put onto a CD which was distributed several years ago. My sister gave me a copy at the recent family reunion, and I'm loving it!