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[MA] Research helps fill gaps in family's history

Research helps fill gaps in family's history

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Over the past year, I have received correspondence from readers, and this seems like a good time to respond to some. I would prefer inquiries of general interest or involving counties of Massachusetts served by the Plus Papers and The Republican.

A gentleman in Wilbraham was curious about the word "removed" in genealogy . Specifically, he asked what is meant by first cousin "once removed." One of my first cousins, Susan Martinelli, married Jeffrey Ernst. They have two children Steve and Katie. These children are my first cousins "once removed."

I also have a cousin Francis Kelly, who married Holly Doig. They have a son Kyle. Kyle Kelly is the second cousin of Steve and Katie Ernst. They are second cousins because they have the same relationship to a common set of great-grandparents, namely Patrick O'Connor and Nora Fitzgerald. First cousins have the same relationship to a common set of grandparents. This seems like a good time to mention that in genealogy columns a female is always referred to by her name at birth, not her married name. This custom is centuries old, and I will not attempt to change it. In French-Canadian death records, you will find an entry "Prudence Sauve-Laplante, vve Joseph Metayer dit St-Onge." "Vve" means "widow of." This practice continues today.

Note also that in a city directory the term "removed," abbreviated "rem," as in "rem to Fall River," indicates that the person moved from Springfield to Fall River during the previous year.

An e-mail came to me recently from British Columbia. Lexi Clark was looking to fill gaps in research involving James Hunter, his wife and children, especially his son Basil J. and his wife and children.

With the exception of Basil's obituary, which was on microfilm in Springfield Central Library, all the information she sought was available at the Genealogy and Local History Library at Connecticut Valley Historical Museum.

My reply to Lexi Clark informed her that James Hunter, born in Scotland Oct. 6, 1874, emigrated to the United States in 1909. In the 1910 Census, he boards at 148 Allen St., Springfield.

His wife and three children, Margaret, Basil and Robert arrive at the port of Boston Oct. 24, 1910, onboard the SS Parisian. The passenger list indicates port of departure as Glasgow, Scotland, and destination as Springfield. Feb. 18, 1918, James became a citizen in Hampden County Superior Court and registered for the draft to serve in World War I Sept. 2, 1918.

James and his wife, Isabelle, had a daughter, Isabelle, born in Springfield in 1919. In both the 1920 and 1930 censuses, the family lived at 17 Beaumont Terrace. City directories list James' occupation as a linotype operator at The Republican. He was also employed by Phelps Publishing Co. James Hunter died in Springfield Oct. 28, 1966. Basil J. Hunter was born in Scotland May 2, 1903, and emigrated to the United States in 1910. He acquired derivative citizenship from his father and registered to vote Oct. 15, 1924. Basil listed his occupation as accountant or private secretary. In 1940, Basil married Hazel Hunt and moved for a short time to Fall River. Basil died in Springfield May 21, 1977, leaving his widow, a daughter, Jane Gittings, and a sister, Isabelle Trauschke of Springfield. At the time of his death, Basil lived at 58 Larkspur St. He is buried in Hillcrest Park Cemetery.

Hopefully, many of you read Patricia Norris' three-part series in The Republican on Western Massachusetts' ethnic groups. T hose who have German, Swedish or Scot ancestors who settled in this area might want to check resources at Connecticut Valley Historical Museum.

Readers in Franklin County might find help by contacting Greenfield Public Library at librarian@townofgreenfield.

John P. O'Connor is a family historian at Connecticut Valley Historical Museum Genealogy Library at the Quadrangle in Springfield. Readers are invited to send questions to

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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