Thursday, April 21, 2011: The Connecticut State Library

A delicious breakfast was served at the Chester Bulkley Bed and Breakfast in a lovely dining room with large rose and pink background wallpaper.  A large grandfather clock was across the room between two windows and it chimed the quarter hour and then the top of the hour.  It was very nice.

Most B&B’s will give you a TV tray if you ask and you can put your computer on it and work much easier especially if they don’t have a desk in the room.  I asked and sure enough the host found me one to use.

Today I was off to the Connecticut State Library.  Before leaving for the trip I took a look at their holdings and catalog and pulled some titles review when I arrived.  The trip so far might reveal some other interesting things to review.  So I was prepared for the day.

This was my second trip to Hartford and the Connecticut State Library.  So I was pretty familiar with this archive from before and had studied their website thoroughly.  They have a lot of great information on their website and I highly recommend that you review it before you go if you are not familiar with CSL. 

The CSL is not to hard to find.  It is right across from the capital building with the beautiful gold gleaming dome.  It is south of there. You can park on Hungerford if you can find a space and it does not cost anything.  There is a left turn lane from Capitol Ave. onto Hungerford with a light so that is nice for you do have to cross Capitol Ave. coming from the east to the west.  I came up Hartford Ave. in Wethersfield to Wethersfield Ave. to Main and then I turned at Capitol and went east.  Smooth sailing the whole way.  It didn’t take too long either.

Another thing I did was to wait till about 8:45 am before I left so I didn’t have as much traffic.  I did get to the Connecticut State Library (CSL) about 9:30 am.

When you park on Hungerford just make sure you read the signs carefully and park on the correct side. I had been on the left the last time but this time I was on the right side of the street facing south.  It is one way I believe.  Lock your valuables in the trunk.  Make sure the car is locked up tight. 

The walk from Hungerford is along Russ Ave. then you turn north onto Oak and the entrance to the CSL is a little odd, like in the back of the big building which is the Connecticut Museum and more.  The research room is in the lower floor.  You enter walking up the walkway and there is a sign and into a small court yard with a Public entrance.  You skirt the parking lot and think you are going into a receiving area but it is the entrance. 

The Dome of the Capital, The State Library from across Oak St.

Entrance to the State Library, be prepared for a security check

You are greeted by security and have to give up everything in your pockets etc. and go through a scanner. You don’t have to remove you shoes however.  Then you walk this long hallway and there are signs pointing the way.  You pass through a door area and then turn right into a small room with lockers and then left into the Main Reading Room.  The first things you see are card catalogs, filing cabinets and then the librarians desk and the main Reading Room.  To the left is the special collections and archive area.  You go into it only if you order documents that require special handling. 

I found things pretty much the same in the room and headed for the table area next to the wall by the windows on the left and took over the left side of the table. I used this area before. I set up my computer and got organized and ready to dig in. 

First I needed to figure out if there was a probate for James Barclay sibling to Mary J. Barclay Ford and my great grandfather George A. Barclay.  I had reviewed the films the last time I was there but various indexes were missing.  The librarian was a nice young woman with dark long hair.  She studied what I had and talked with the other librarian (he seemed familiar) and they decided I should just order the probates for those missing indexes.  She figured out what I needed and had me sign up for an Archive’s pass.  I filled out the paperwork and returned just about a couple minutes before 10 am.  This was their first run to storage and they have them periodically throughout the day.  I think the next was 12 noon?  Check with them for their hours.  They do hand you a flyer on the rules and times.  So read that.  Fill in the form and they issue you a card.  You sign that and then other order forms are filled in and you are ready to put your order in.  She was very helpful.  It was going to take about an hour to get the information. 

What this means is if you can’t find an index listing on the films then the CSL might have the actual books or probate/estate packets that you can look at. 

I was very impressed with this librarian she knew what she was doing and I like that!!! The other librarian was also equally helpful and pleasant.  Unfortunately I didn’t get their names. 

They were cute calling me Miss Bonnie Jean.  Made me feel young!!

They told me the former director or head of the research room had retired.  He had given a lecture at the last NERGC in Hartford that I had attended.  Things change. 

The other good news was the woman who had given me a hard time when I had visited before was not there.  It was an unfortunate situation and I had to complain to the librarian. 
This time my visit to the Connecticut State Library (CSL) was a happy one and productive. 

The next problem was figuring out a source that Paul H. Goss had given listing the volumes of the Founder and Patriots.  There is hope.  There are lineage books in volumes but unfortunately the CSL does not have Vol. 25.  They also have the applications of the members.  I decided that since I would be at the DAR Library again in a month and I could go to the Library of Congress, one of those archives should have Vol. 25.  Why am I so interested in these sources?

Well I have been going through all of Paul’s work on the Goss family looking for these old sources.  First of all it is fun to investigate them.  I have had some challenges in the old sources because some been republished.  Once I get all the sources identified I can evaluate their value, add more updates and then publish my findings for future Goss researchers.  There are primary sources and secondary sources. Paul used a log of secondary and I have been trying to figure out if they are reliable and then add more of the primary sources like births, deaths, marriages, deeds, land records, probate/estate.  One thing you do have to remember is that Paul was not wealthy like most of us and he had to decide where to put his money.  He did hire Donald Lines Jacobus the father of modern genealogy to help him so he did hire professional genealogists when he needed to. This was the 1930’s and 1940’s.  It was the depression and he was raising his family.  Like most of us he had to do genealogy as best he could.  I think he did very well. 

I was having a little problem figuring out their coding on the various books I had pulled to research.  Most were in the stacks as they call them.  This is a really interesting experience.  You go into the hallway where all the card catalogs are and through a door that looks like a bomb shelter door.  It is metal and I think “Green?”  you then go down a couple steps into a cool room with rows and rows of bookshelves and books.  It must me heaven!!!!  No it is the stacks silly girl!!  Now this room is big but then there is another room with more books and over sized books.

Be careful…you will be tempted to pull more than you came for!!!  Once you start figuring out the number system you catch on and go in the direction you need to as the numbers get larger or smaller.  The first one or two books or pamphlets or periodicals you are looking for might be a little slow going but then you are on your way. 

The Court Cafe was still operating across Oak St. in the tan building so I head there and ordered a chicken salad sandwich and coffee.  I didn’t check the hours but I was concerned they would be closed by 2 pm.  It is very convenient to the library. 

Back at the library Reading Room and have to say that the drawback of the stacks is that you can’t load up on books like you do at the Family History Library.  It is too far and then there is the door.  You are asked to take them back to the Reading room and work on them there rather than sit on the floor next to the stacks.  It really isn’t pleasant.  I found that I could handled 2 – 3 books at a time but then it started to get too much.  You might be able to do more.  If my hubbie was there I could have really smoked!!!  He is very good at finding things. 

My order had come so I went into the Special Archives area and I showed my card. You sign this register. You initial another form that states I was in possession of one book of probate to look at  a time.  The attendant a nice young man put it on the table and I was allowed to look without gloves in the indexes for James Barclay.  The book was a big book just like any court clerk’s book.  No Barclays at all.  The second book also did not reveal any Barclays.  So I was in the area a short time and had to initial this and that and sign out.  I am glad the young man assisting me was so patient and kind. 

Bummer, James Barclay was just not showing up in the indexes for Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1906.  He died during the probate of his brother Alexander Barclay’s estate.  I pondered an obituary notice but I did not have a specific death date so slogging through a couple of months of a newspaper or longer was not my idea of fun and frankly I didn’t have the time.  So I set that aside.  I would work on what I had found from his sister Mary J. Barclay Ford in Bristol and expand that information.  Technically I was after my great grandmother Margaret Barclay – where she was buried, her last name and more.  James could wait.  I do like to study the whole family and the sibs to a point.   

Now when you are in the book stacks at CSL you need to keep focused…don’t start reading all the titles around your target or you will end up carrying back more books.  I am just kidding go have fun!  I succumbed to pulling other titles too. 

I worked on other things like some Kendall family histories, checked the Church and Bible indexes, and found a copy of the thesis by Brady on the John Franklin.  I have work to do when I get home. 

The time flew and it was 4 pm and I was getting very tired.  I was also pretty much done and ready to head out.  This had been a good experience and I was pleased.  The librarians were helpful, friendly and the whole day and been a good day.  So I am not a fan of the CSL. 

I left the building and headed to my car.  The day was sunny but the wind was sharp and strong.  Ouch!

My care was still on Hungerford and I had not parked incorrectly. Whew!  I was soon off and on my way back to Wethersfield.  This time I found my way back just fine.  I turned right after the big church with the square towers onto Wethersfield Ave and then I found Hartford Ave which took me back into Wethersfield’s historic district and back into time.

This time I was going to have dinner at Lucy Lou’s.  I ordered a Caesar salad and Crab Cake appetizers.  Little did I know that they would both be big dishes of food.  There was no way I could have had more dinner.  It was good food, a nice class of Cabernet.  They have the tall tables and chairs so I had to climb up and in and when I got down that was interesting. Loud music and big screen TV with sports on. It was fun to sit and look out the window and watch the activity on the Main Street of Wethersfield.  It is a mix of old, new and very old.  It works.

I am pleased that I chose the Wethersfield area to stay.  It is not hard to get to Hartford just takes about 15 minutes.  You step back in time there and it is quieter and lovely.  Food is easy to find. I believe there are others B&B’s in the area beside the Chester Bulkley. 

Soon I was in my room tending to chores. 

Note:  Blogspot is giving me trouble and I am sorry if things are mixed up.  My post on the Old Settlers Burial Field in Lancaster for April 12 was wrong and I tried to fix it and it is giving me grief.  It should be April 13th.  I may have to wait till I get home to see what I can do to fix the situation. I might have lost some comments as a result. I was trying to edit a post and it wouldn’t accept the changes.  Grrrr…..!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011: Bristol Town Hall and on to Hartford

I had a lovely room in the Chimney Crest Bed and Breakfast.  This is a mansion.  To the right is the living room and at the end is the sun room.  The hallway has rounded archways in the windows and the curtains are also rounded at the top.  To the left is the formal dinning area.  The hostess is very kind, friendly and helpful.

You almost feel like you have traveled back in time to another world.  This house is the Barnes house.  A prominent family in Bristol owned it.  My room was comfortable.  There was a desk and chair.  It was lovely.  The windows looked out on the circular driveway.  The house is a Tudor style.  It is along Woodland Drive in Bristol near Paige Park.  It is lovely.  Just look for the brick pillars before you go down the steep hill.

I told the hostess that I got up early and she provided a coffee maker with cream in the ice cooler with ice! Wow!  How thoughtful.

The breakfast was wonderful and the conversation with my host Cynthia was a joy. She asked me questions curious about my genealogy research.  Apparently this house was her father’s dream. It was a mess when he purchased it but it is lovely now!  She has taken on his legacy. This was truly happy experience.  Just lovely!

As usual I talked to much and had to head out on my quest for ancestors.  My goal the Bristol Town Hall.  Well I was told it was the white building but it was the building next to it!

Now for some reason my sense of direction was messed up in Bristol.  I was having a terrible time with were things were.  Hmmm….am I getting too tired?

Fortunately, I found the Bristol Town Hall.  I was seeking records on my Barclay family (See the Barclay’s of Pine River my blog on this line of my family.  It is listed on the right under blogs.)

The Town Hall is located on N. Main St. between Laurel and Center Street.  I parked on the street and I believe it is a 2 hour limit?

The sign out in front of the Town Hall, Bristol, CT
This is the Bristol Town Hall
The entrance to the Town Clerk office in the Bristol Town Hall

So far I have had no problems in Town Halls with security or restrictions.  I had good experiences at the Enfield and East Windsor Town Halls.  These two are in Connecticut and no problems in Massachusetts.  Friendly and helpful people in all.

Well…In relating this episode I do not want to reflect badly on Bristol.  It was a charming town and I enjoyed my stay there.  So far everyone had been friendly, pleasant and helpful.

I knew about the privacy issues and the rules of becoming a member of various authorized genealogical or historical organizations.  I investigated this before I came on the trip and decided I was within the law for the vital records and I would be okay. Well I was wrong!!!!!!  I did not take into consideration that the indexes went beyond the legal requirements for birth into earlier than 100 years.  I was going to look at births in the late 1800’s and deaths in the early 1900’s.  I also brought my birth certificate, my dad’s information and my Barclay’s vital records to show that I was an appropriate relative.

An assistant town clerk approached me and I explained carefully what I needed. I explained I wanted to see births in the 1850 to 1900 time frame.  Deaths in the 1915 to 1920 time frame. She asked if I had a card. I told her I was a professional genealogist but I was with the Association of Professional Genealogists.  I believe she showed me a list for Connecticut.  Of course APG is not on that list. I told her and showed her the papers I had brought about my appropriateness as a relative.  She refused to look.
.
Somehow I did get lead into the vault area where they keep the land record books after signing a form and showing ID and she asked me about what I needed.  I started with the deaths and apparently that was okay for me to see.  Apparently she misunderstood and reversed them thinking I wanted birth in the 1900’s.  I repeated what I wanted.

I was brought an index and I found them in it.  I asked for the books and found the death certificates for Mary J. Ford and Jerome Ford in the death records. I requested copies and was told that they would have to be certified.  I told the clerk that I really didn’t need certified but that is apparently all they did and she said they “had to be certified” in a very strong tone.  I said that I was just asking because some places give you a choice?

I left to get some more money because it was $20.00 a copy for a each vital record. I had forgotten to do so prior. I also needed to get my computer to try to pin the information down on births so they, the clerks, would not have to work so hard.  The vital records are in the back area in another room locked away.  They can only retrieve so many at one time and it is a bit of a walk.

Now I usually go into a vital records office prepared.  I had my information on Mary J. Ford but not much on Jerome or their three girls.  Even the obituary had not given me much to go on.  It did reveal that the daughters had probably not been born in Bristol.

When I returned with my computer and money the books were gone.  The first clerk said not to worry and brought them back.  “We aren’t suppose to leave them out!”   Now when I left I did tell her I had to go out.  They had me wait for the certified copies before they came to help any further.

I then tried for birth records. Another clerk assisted me from in the other room “wondering what the controversy was about?” and pulled a index book and the first clerk yelled at me “I was not suppose to see them because I didn’t have a valid card!”  Then she grabbed the book from me before I had even opened it.  I was so perplexed I made a face and she threatened me with the Town Clerk saying “I can have the Town Clerk explain it to you!”

I took a deep breath and in as calm a voice as possible I explained that I didn’t live in Connecticut and didn’t know all the rules and was just trying to find out.  She seemed to be a little better.  I tried to remain calm and found it difficult.  She was “stomping” around and rushing around.  It was all very confusing.

Another clerk who was tall and very nice assisted me when the first clerk went on break and she was very  helpful.  I gave her my best guess on the births and she pulled an index.  I was not suppose to see this because it went beyond the time limit.  It had birth, marriage, and death and I found the marriage of one of the daughters Lizzie to a Frank E. Yale and asked for a copy.  Again I had to wait.

This same clerk went in the back area of the large vault room and looked for births for Lizzie (Melissa) and others but didn’t find anything and announced this.  I did not look at any books.

I decided that I had about all I could handle. I did get two death records and a marriage and eliminated many things.  I may have the maiden name of my great grandmother Margaret.  I knew so very little of her.  I also found where a sibling of great grandfather George A. Barclay was buried.

After I left the Town Clerk’s office I leaned against the wall in the hallway to get my whits about me.  I was still shaking when I returned to my car and it took a long time to calm down.  I was not angry just befuddled and frightened at the anger thrown at me and the hostility from this person.  The other two clerks were trying to help. When I was at the counter paying for the copies she asked me if I wanted a receipt and I said yes please.  She was helpful and pleasant.  The first clerk would not look at me at all.  Something was very wrong in this office and it is not the laws of Connecticut!

It is difficult to share this experience because it reflects badly on a town hall and Connecticut.  I have worked as a government employee and I know how hard it can be to work in this type of environment.  Still, this is unacceptable to me to be treated in this manner.

If you are planning on doing research in vital records in Connecticut learn from this experience.  Realize not all town halls will be like this, Enfield was wonderful.  I was looking at records in the middle 1800’s however.

Recommendation:  Join a Connecticut Society that is on their list that is acceptable no matter what and then you will not have this type of experience and if you do then you probably can really complain.  It might cost $35+ but it just might be worth it. Here is the explanation and an approved list of societies:  http://www.americanancestors.org/connecticut-vital-records/

While in the vault room of the Bristol Town Clerks office I found it to be a good sized room, very neat, orderly and clean.  It had along the walls these cabinets that held all these land record books with numbers on the side.  I wandered a round a little reading titles and was promptly asked by one of the researchers if he could help.  I said no I am just looking.  I did not pull anything I just observed.  It was a wonderful room but hardly any tables to work on.  There were several researchers who knew each other but didn’t even acknowledge me.  I was tempted to photograph the room but the other researchers would hear the click.  I didn’t wish at this time to push my luck or cause further trouble.  I believe there is a finding aid to the land records.

Bristol Historical Society
Amazing castle down the street from the society

On my way out of Bristol I was driving up Center Road and I spotted the Bristol Historical Society so I stopped and took some photos.  As I was walking around several people came out of the building and I asked when they were open and this nice lady approached and we started chatting.  We discussed my research about the Barclays and the Fords and she told me she would take a look.  I believe her name was Lillian and she was very nice.  She knew about the Chimney Crest Manor belonging to the Barnes.  It was a very nice exchange.

My very special goal was the Forestville Cemetery which was called the East Cemetery years ago.  I was warned it was a big cemetery and was a little worried as to how I would find them.

I was looking for Mary J. Barclay Ford and Jerome B. Ford and there three daughters.  I knew about Mary J. from the estate file of my great uncle Alexander Barclay.  Mary and Alexander were siblings of my great grandfather George A. Barclay.  I have been tracking her and it was exciting to know that I had an obituary for her and her husband.  I need to study it all and do a post on my Barclays of Pine River blog.  See link to the right of this blog under blog list.

Forestville Cemetery (formerly East Cemetery), Bristol, CT

The Forestville Cemetery is on Circle Street in Forestville.  I found it by going along W. Washington St. to Center and then to Circle.  It is a very well kept cemetery and easy to get around on the paved roads which are numbered 1-4.  The information I had obtained from the History room in the Bristol Library gave me other names on tombstones to use to try to identify my family.  They have a cemetery book with listings done by rows although the rows are not identified you can tell by the page number approximately where the graves might be.  You could call the Forestville Cemetery Association.  Most cemetery jobs are part time so you do have to be patient.  I didn’t do that but decided I could figure it out myself.

It took awhile but I did find them, actually I found first Frank Yale’s tombstone and Melisa M. Ford but she didn’t have a death date? A Tilton was buried with them?

Frank E. Yale Dec 7, 1862 to Sept. 18, 1916
Melisa M. Ford Jan 19, 1871 to ?
Alvah L. Tilton Aug. 17, 1884 to Aug. 27, 1924

Jerome Ford and Mary J. Barclay Ford were buried over by the fence and right of road #3.  It was good to see the graves.  Next to them was their daughter Rozelia who died at 18 years old?  In Mary’s obituary grandchildren are mentioned.  If you are out there I want to meet you!

Jerome B. Ford, Died July 5, 1817 Age 72 yrs.
Mary J. Barclay wife of Jerome B. Ford
Died Mar. 28, 1917 Age 75 yrs. 3 Mos.
Rozelia Daughter of Jerome B. & Mary J Ford
Died Feb 28, 1866 Age 18 yrs 8 mos.

I finally had a picnic in a cemetery.  The weather was okay, maybe a little misting?  I ate my sandwich and cookies.  My tenny runners were soaked and my socks were so wet it was difficult to remove them.  I was getting ready to drive to Hartford when Jack stopped in his truck and asked if I needed help.  That is when I proceeded to tell him about my problem with Melissa Ford and whether she was buried there.  He went back to the office (near the entrance) to check to see if she was buried there but it appears she isn’t and only two are buried in this plot.  I thanked Jack for caring about the records and the cemetery.  He said he was learning but he was enjoying it all and liking the challenge of figuring things out about the burials.

It was time to move on.  It took awhile to find my way.  Boy was my direction meter messed up.  Anyway I found Hwy 6 and headed East. HURRAH!  I had to take South Street to get to Hwy 4 because I missed my turn.  I was trying to get out of the way of a red car behind me on my bumper and almost hit another car on my right in my blind spot.  I felt bad.

What is it about Connecticut drivers??? Why do they hang on your bumper?  I did not have this problem in Massachusetts. AUGHH!

I headed up Hwy 4 and found Boulevard Drive.  It was lovely.  The houses were lined up on both sides and were large and beautiful.  All different designs. The road was smooth and pleasant to drive.  It was a kick looking at the all the beautiful homes. It calmed me down.  I was still pretty wired because of the day’s events.

This road became Capital Ave. and I was back in the center of Hartford and driving past the State Library and I remembered it all from my first trip years back.  The Capitol Dome is beautiful and gleams gold in the light.

Chester Bulkley House Bed and Breakfast

I was looking for Wethersfield  Steet but it was really Main St.  Turning south I ended up on Franklin but then I used Prospect to go to Wethersfield St. I was in South Hartford.  When I saw I was on Silas Dean Hwy I knew I was too far south but there was a sign to the historic district of Wethersfield and I took it. I think it was Wells Road and it became Main St in Wethersfield.  I headed north again and doubled back finding the Chester Bulkley Bed and Breakfast on the east side of the road south of the main area of Wethersfield.

This area of Wethersfield is very lovely.  It was like a little oasis near Hartford. I parked across from the Chester Bulkley B&B and rang the door bell.  No one answered.  It was about 4 pm so I was about 2 hours early.  I was thinking of going to the Hartford City Hall for vital records but my experience at Bristol had made me rethink that idea.  They had on their website that the records started in 1852 and that was really too late for my needs.  Not worth it.

I tried the doorbell again but no one answered.  So I wandered down the driveway on the south side and ran into puppy dogs and the owner who was surprised to see me.  The dogs were okay and she gathered them up.  She offered to call the B&B for me.  I turned around and wandered back to the front of the B&B and the door opened up.  I was greeted by the host and entered into the foyer.

He took me to my room, up some very steep stairs and down a hall way and up and over a small built up area with steps on both sides.  Oh dear this was going to be hard to negotiate.  The host did help me later after I had eaten.  However, my room was delightful and had a little sitting area out in the hallway.  Hmmm…no desk but there was Wifi.

My host told me that there were several restaurants north of the B&B just a few houses up and I could walk to them.  So I parked my car in the driveway in the back parking area.  I walked south first but I saw only shops and then turned north and over to some lovely Saltbox houses on the west side of the road.  I spotted other buildings that looked interesting.

Wethersfield’s Historical District is a step back in time. The Wethersfield Historical Society was across the street.  Silas Deane’s home was on the west side.  Silas Deane, why do I know that name?  I picked the Village Pizza Restaurant.  It was pleasant.  I spotted a cemetery in the distance?  My dinner was good and simple.  The teenagers behind me kept kicking their seats but finally settled down.  My tummy was happy!

My room in the Chester Bulkeley B&B is on the second floor and I have a little sitting area with a TV.  I miss my Dish!!!  My hubbie is probably having fun watching what he wants. I did find NCIS but it is not my favorite.  I found Criminal Minds.  So I am content.

Sitting room area 2nd floor

The sun finally came out and I could smell Spring in the air.  I have a window and I watched the sun go down in Wethersfield over the spires of the building north of the B&B.
So I was having trouble posting.

Note:  B logspot started to give me error messages and would not accept by edits.