International Institute of Genealogical Studies


International Institute of Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Town Histories for Researching Mayflower Descendants

Town and County Histories

Town and county histories often contain a great deal of genealogical data on its pioneers and early residents. As with family genealogies, search an online library catalog or digitized book website to see if a history has been written about the town where your ancestors resided.


As you peruse these older town histories, be aware that they are known to contain errors, which can mean that the unsuspecting beginner then takes those errors and repeats them. The problem is not so much that errors are circulated (although it does get frustrating to see inaccurate statements made which were corrected in journals ten years ago!), but rather that the source was not cited with these errors which means that the next unsuspecting person who receives this lovely little error will not be able to evaluate its reliability… and so on… and before we know it, it is the error which stands out over and above the ten-year-old printed correction. So, while early town & county histories and family genealogies are susceptible to a high degree of error, some more so than others, as an authored source they are important, and as a source, it is important to cite them.

When you cite this type of authored source, what does it tell you about your information? It tells you that you need to look further for verification. You have been given a clue, a starting place, and it is now your job to set out to prove the information you have found.

Some examples of New England histories with genealogical content are the following:


Jacobus, Donald L., History And Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield, 3 vols., 1930. Available on Ancestry.


Stiles, Henry R., The History of Ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut, Comprising the Present Towns of Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, and Newington; and of Glastonbury Prior to Its Incorporation in 1693; from Date of Earliest Settlement until the Present Time, 2 vols. New York: The Grafton Press, 1904. Available online at Internet Archive.


Lapham, William B., History of Paris Maine, from Its Settlement to 1800, with a History of the Grants of 1736 & 1771, Together with Personal Sketches, a Copious Genealogical Register, and an Appendix. Paris, Maine, 1884. Available online at Internet Archive.


Stackpole, Everett S., Old Kittery And Her Families. Lewiston, Maine: Press of Lewiston Journal Company, 1903. Available on Internet Archive.


Winsor, Justin, A History of the Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, with Genealogical Registers. Boston, Massachusetts: Crosby & Nichols, 1849. Available online at Internet Archive.


Mitchell, Nahum, History of The Early Settlement of Bridgewater In Plymouth County, Massachusetts Including An Extensive Family Register. Boston, Massachusetts: Printed by the author, 1840. Available online at Internet Archive.

New Hampshire

Furber, George C., History of Littleton New Hampshire in Three Volumes. Cambridge, Massachusetts: University Press,1905. Available online at Google Books.


Lyford, James O., History of the Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912, 2 vols. Concord, New Hampshire: Rumford Press,  1912. Available online at Internet Archive.

Rhode Island

Wilbour, Benjamin F., Little Compton Families, 2 vols. Rhode Island: Little Compton Historical Society,  1967. Available from Ancestry.


McPartland, Martha R., The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, 1677-1960, with Related Genealogy. East Greenwich, Rhode Island: East Greenwich Free Library Association, 1960. Available online at Internet Archive.


Cudworth, Addison E., The History, with Genealogical Sketches, of Londonderry. Montpelier, Vermont: Vermont Historical Society, 1936. Available online from Ancestry.


Wells, Frederic P., History of Newbury Vermont from the Discovery of the Coos Country to Present Time With Genealogical Records of Many Families, 1704-1902. St. Johnsburg, Vermont: The Caledonian Company, 1902. Available online at Internet Archive


Learn more about what histories are available for Mayflower families by taking our course “Research: Mayflower Ancestors”.

The Bowman Files

What are the Bowman Files?

Carrying Mayflower genealogies well into the seventh generation and beyond, are the transcriptions of the research of George Ernest Bowman, known as the Bowman Files, in the form of three volumes of multi-family works by Susan E. Roser, Mayflower Marriages and Mayflower Births & Deaths (2 vols.). Since these books contain many lines of all Mayflower passengers who left known descendants (with the exception of Moses Fletcher), it is possible to find out which Mayflower family your ancestor belongs to without checking all of the various single family books.


What are the Bowman Files? George Ernest Bowman (1860-1941) spent a lifetime researching what became known as The Mayflower Genealogies. His discoveries were published in his quarterly genealogical journal, The Mayflower Descendant, of which he was the editor from 1899-1937. During his lifetime, Bowman amassed approximately 20,600 handwritten pages of research—including lineages and family group sheets and documentation abstracts such as wills, probates, deeds, bible records, church records and cemetery inscriptions. In 1983 the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants (which Bowman himself founded in 1896), filmed the entire collection of handwritten pages onto microfiche, consisting of two hundred and twenty-nine microfiche cards, each containing approximately ninety-six handwritten pages and grouped by Mayflower family surname. Bowman’s research was the foundation for the continuation of serious Mayflower research which included the methodology that you pay careful attention to where you acquire your data and that you cite your sources.

Genealogies of Mayflower Families, by Gary B. Roberts is a multi-family book of a different sort. In it, he included all the Mayflower family related articles that appeared in the journal The New England Historical & Genealogical Register. Note however that some of the early articles in NEHGR were not well documented and contain errors.

Learn more about the Bowman Files and tracing your Mayflower ancestors with our “Research: Mayflower Ancestors” course.


Mayflower Family Genealogies

Your Mayflower Find

There is no better feeling than to open up a compiled family genealogy and actually FIND the ancestor for whom you have hit a brick wall. There he is—his parents, his grandparents, all the dates and places, right there waiting for you. Perhaps the book even contains his line all the way back to a Mayflower passenger —how ecstatic are you? How quickly do you enter all of this information into your genealogy program and gleefully shout to the world that you have finally found your entire line? Not to put a damper on your discovery, but finding your genealogy, or part of it, in a family genealogy book is just the first step.


In the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, family genealogies were often written by members of that particular family who were very keen on getting their family into print. The author often related his family history in the most glorious terms—his people were heroes in every war, passengers on every famous ship, related to every politician and traced back to all the kings and queens. Unfortunately, one thing they were not so keen on was providing sources. Did they consult vital or church records? Did they scour cemeteries or court houses? Did they interview family members? In many, many cases, the sources for their information was not given. Does this make that particular family genealogy useless as a source? Certainly not— but you need to evaluate and verify what you find.

There are several multi-generation genealogies that pertain to specific Mayflower families, such as the following:


Alden, Ebenezer, Memorial of the Descendants of the Honorable John Alden. Randolph, Massachusetts: Samuel P. Brown,  1867. Available online at Internet Archive.


Alden, Mrs. Charles L., Elizabeth (Alden) Pabodie And Descendants. Salem: Eben Putnam,  1897. Available online at Internet Archive.


Allerton, Walter S., A History of the Allerton Family in the United States, 1585-1885, and a Genealogy of the Descendants of Isaac Allerton, “Mayflower Pilgrim”…Chicago, Illinois: Samuel Waters Allerton, 1900. Available online at Internet Archive.


Hall, Ruth G., Descendants of Governor William Bradford (through the first seven generations).  1951. Available online at Internet Archive.


Jones, Emma C.B., The Brewster Genealogy, 1566-1907…New York: The Grafton Press, 1908.Available online at Internet Archive.


Cushman, Joseph A., The First Seven Generations of the Cushman Family in New England. Massachusetts,  1964.


Doty, Ethan A., The Doty-Doten Family In America. Brooklyn, New York: Ethan A Doty, 1897. Available online at Internet Archive.


Fuller, William H., Genealogy of Some Descendants of Edward Fuller of the Mayflower. Palmer, Massachusetts: C.B. Fiske & Co. , 1908. Available on Internet Archive.


Fuller, William H., Genealogy of Some Descendants of Dr. Samuel Fuller of the Mayflower. Palmer, Massachusetts: C.B. Fiske & Co. 1910. Available online at Hathi Trust.


Howland, William, The Howlands In America. Gouverneur, New York: The York Press, Company 1939. Available online at Internet Archive.


Vinton, John, The Sampson Family. Genealogical Memoirs of the Sampson Family in America from the Arrival of the Mayflower in 1620 to the Present Time. Boston, Massachusetts: Henry W Dutton & Son, 1864. Available online at Google Books.


Standish, Myles, The Standishes of America. Boston, Massachusetts: Samuel Usher, 1895. Available online at Internet Archive.


Holton, Davis P. and Mrs. Frances K., Winslow Memorial. Family Records of Winslows and Their Descendants in America, with the English Ancestry, As Far as Known, Kenelm Winslow, 2 vols. New York: D-P Holton, MD, Publisher,  1877,1888. Available online at Internet Archive.


The above list is not complete but gives you an idea of what books are available for specific Mayflower lines. Most of the above genealogies carry the Mayflower lines up to the seventh generation and some beyond, therefore it is possible to find an early 1800s ancestor and in one book, find an entire line back to the immigrant ancestor.


Learn more about your Mayflower ancestors with our course “Research: Mayflower Ancestors”.

Mayflower Passengers Who Left Known Descendants

Are you a descendant of a Mayflower passenger?

Which Mayflower passengers left known descendants? The following are the heads of families who left descendants and the only families from whom descent has been proven:

There are many names missing in the above list, names of men who died the first winter leaving no family behind. Some entire families were wiped out – the Crakstons, Martins, Rigdales, Tillies, Tinkers and Turners. Did these families leave other children behind? Men or boys traveling on their own died and we will never know if they were married and possibly left descendants behind in Holland or England—Allerton, Britterige, Butten, Carter, Clarke, English, Holbeck, Hooke, Langemore, Margeson, Prower, Story, Thomson, Wilder and Williams. Some men died but the families they left behind came over later, therefore we have known descendants from Fletcher and Priest and an unidentified daughter of Turner whom Bradford tells us came later who may have left descendants. Some passengers are not in the above list because they chose to return to England and any descendants they may have left have not yet been found—Cooper, Ely, Gardenar, Trevore and Winslow. Goodman, Latham and Litster all died without known issue.

Ready to explore your Mayflower ancestor? Start with our “Research: Mayflower Ancestors” course today.

Original Records for Mayflower Research: Vital Records

Mayflower Research: Vital Records

Many 17th and 18th century New England vital records come in two forms—original and printed. An original record is the first recording of an event. Once it has been transcribed into printed form, that record becomes a derivative. Early birth, marriage, and death records are usually a little sparse and to the point. Birth records will generally not give the mother’s maiden name and occasionally not even her first name. Death records give the date, place, and often the age, while marriage records provide the date, and neither name parents. Vital records in the 19th and 20th centuries usually contain more information. In long form records, full parentage may be given in all three records and death records may also contain full birth information. In most cases, vital records may be obtained from the town clerk where the event occurred. Of the New England states, three have exceptionally good, early vital records: Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.



Town clerks began recording vital records around 1644 and in 1897 copies were being sent to the state office in Hartford. The websites American Ancestors, Ancestry, and FamilySearch include the Barbour Collection.


One thing to remember about Maine is that until 1820 it was a part of Massachusetts and up to 1760 was considered “York County, Massachusetts.” Vital records recorded before 1892 can be found at the town clerk’s office. Records between 1892-1923 are at the State Archives while records after 1923 are at the Office of Vital Records. The websites American Ancestors, FamilySearch, and include databases for Maine vital records.


New England Historic Genealogical Society’s website American Ancestors includes the database Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 as well as others. Other Massachusetts vital records databases are available on FamilySearch and Ancestry.

New Hampshire

Town clerks began keeping vital records in New Hampshire in 1640, while state registration began in 1866. All original records can be found at both the town where the event occurred and the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics in Concord.

Rhode Island

Towns began recording vital records in Rhode Island in 1636, although civil registration did not officially begin until 1853. James N. Arnold (1844-1927) spent seventeen years collecting records for his Vital Records of Rhode Island which were published between 1891-1912. He not only extracted entries from the town vital records, but from church records and newspapers up to 1850.


Vital records were recorded in Vermont as early as 1760, however the record keeping was not kept up on a regular basis until 1857. Some published works regarding Vermont vital records include Vital Records of Putney, Vermont to the Year 1900 With Selected Additional Records, by Ken Stevens.

You can find Vermont vital records online at Ancestry, and earlier records starting in the 1700s can be found on FamilySearch and American Ancestors.

Learn more about these records and how they can help you research your Mayflower Ancestors while taking our “Research: Mayflower Ancestors” course.