Author: Nora
•Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The digitizing of all kinds of microfilmed records and books by the Mormon Church has put a treasure trove of genealogical and historical documents at our fingertips on the excellent web site And of course millions of these records are now available to us simply by typing names, dates, etc., in the "Search Historical Records" query form and clicking the search button.  But literally millions of other documents are accessible only by using the browsing feature on this web site.  This is because only a portion of the records have been indexed.

Try this:  from the home page of, click the ‘Search’ tab and choose Records from the drop-down menu, then click on one of the countries or continents on the map under “Research by Location”.  The “Choose a Location” box will appear, where you can choose a country or a state.  I’m searching in the United States, Massachusetts.  So after clicking those two options, I’ll click “Start Searching in Massachusetts” in the drop-down box.

The next screen shows the Massachusetts Indexed Historical Records and the query form at the top, and below that are the Massachusetts Image Only Historical Records.  I’m going to search Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986 for my example.

When you see a screen like this next one, don’t be discouraged by the words “Browse through 5,766,135 images”.  Click on this phrase and you’ll see that the collection is divided into counties.  Within each county, there are further divisions, such as by types of record, date range and often by initial letter of the surnames.  You’ll essentially be searching through images on one microfilm.  But with the navigational tools, you’ll be able to ‘jump’ forward and backward though the images without having to view them screen by screen, or page by page.

Tip 1:  When indexes are available, always search them first.  Make note of the specific volumes and page numbers for the records you wish to view; then return to the screen listing all of those volumes, such as deed or will books and find the ones you noted.

I’m going to select Essex County, then when the next screen comes up, I’ll search for the surname of Gould in the earliest deeds, in index of grantors, those selling land in Essex County.  I click on “Deed Index (grantor) 1640-1799 Fos-Nix”.

Finding the Gould surname in the index is a little tricky – it’s ‘guestimating’ and adjusting if you go too far or not far enough into the alphabet.  But it gets easier with practice. To 'jump' ahead or backward through these images, type the desired number in the Image navigation box (top of screen between the right and left arrows), and press "enter".

I want to look at deeds for Zaccheus Gould, and I find him listed at image 127.  My notes record what I need to know in order to find a specific deed for Zaccheus:

1703 Mar 24   Zaccheus  Gould et al to Henry Lake, Volume 16, page 32 – land in Topsfield

This one looks interesting to me, because the term “et al” tells me that there will be other names mentioned as grantors, possibly relatives of Zaccheus.  Returning to the screen listing all of the deed indexes and deed books, I choose “Deeds 1701-1706 vol 16-18”.

Now the fun begins!

Tip 2:   The page numbers don’t often correspond with the image numbers.  When the books were microfilmed, they were usually filmed two pages at a time.  Also, some record books number every single page in the book, while others could have two pages to each number, such as page 3 (left side) and page 3 (right side).   Also you’ll notice that many films contain 2 or 3 deed books.

The deed I’m looking for (page 32 in volume 16) turns out to be found on image number 40, and here’s how the top part of that deed looks:

Turns out this is a VERY helpful deed for my family research on the Gould's.  Not only is Zaccheus mentioned in the deed, but his relationship is stated as being the "son of the said John Goold, of Topsfield & Sarah His wife", so we have the names of three of the family members, including that of Sarah, the wife of John Goold/Gould.

I hope you'll give this browsing feature a try.  Yes, it's more involved than using the search query forms, but my experience with it has been so very worthwhile.  It has truly been a way for me to bridge more generations and answer questions without having to travel great distances to visit court houses or to order a multitude of microfilms.  It's truly put the records of many of my ancestors at my fingertips.
Author: Nora
•Friday, September 26, 2014
Petition of Lucy (Goff) Bishop, widow of John Fitch Bishop
Essex County, New York Surrogate's Court - record dated 16 October 1840
I felt it was important to include Lucy Bishop's petition in order to clear up confusion over the date of John Fitch Bishop's death, which in most on-line family trees has been recorded as 16 October 1840.

This is understandable, since the petition and other probate documents were recorded on that date.

But on lines 8 through 10 is the statement that John's widow Lucy Bishop:
had lived and co-habited with him until the time of his death which was on the 27th day of July 1840."
It's also an extremely valuable document because, although it's not a will, it lists most of John's heirs: Julius Bishop, Charlotte Bishop, Delia Ann Bishop, Mary Bishop, Clinton Bishop, Harrison Bishop, Emeline (Bishop) Chipman and Jerusha (Lawrence) Bishop.
Author: Nora
•Friday, September 26, 2014
Born on the 27th of June in 1770[1] in Wales, Massachusetts, John Fitch Bishop lived for exactly 70 years and one month.  He died on the 27th of July in 1840[2]  in Crown Point, New York.

John was probably about 17 years of age when his parents left the Massachusetts town of South Brimfield (now Wales) in 1787.  This is based on land, court and tax records regarding John’s father William Bishop.  At any rate, they’re not in the 1790 South Brimfield census.

It’s one of my ‘unsolved mysteries’:  what happened to William and Catherine after this?  They were said to have moved to New York[3], but I haven’t been able to positively ID them yet.  However, John Fitch left more clues to help us follow his trail, the first being in 2 September 1800, when a John Bishop took the Freeman’s Oath in Clarendon, Rutland County, Vermont.

There are no Rutland County deeds wherein John was a grantee or grantor; but “John F. Bishop” witnessed three deeds in the town of Clarendon, two in 1802[4,5] and one in 1805[6].  In one of the 1802 deeds[4], Daniel Goff was the grantee; Daniel’s daughter Lucy was to become John Fitch Bishop’s wife, perhaps in that very year of 1802.  Some researchers in the family have cited that date; I’m hoping that someone reading this post may have a source for their marriage date and share that with us.

Deeds in the town of Crown Point, Essex County, New York, help us follow John’s trail to that town as of 1806.  For it’s here that John is found as a grantee, buying 100 acres in Lot 44 – across Lake Champlain from Vermont[7].  He’s age 36 now, and it’s in Crown Point where he and Lucy establish their family, parenting nine children:

Julius Bishop - birth and death dates unknown; Julius was listed among the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who were in Nauvoo, Illinois as of 1845[8]
Emeline Bishop - born about 1808, died (perhaps in 1880 in Chicago, Illinois - needs verified)[9]   
3       Daniel Bishop - born about 1810, died before 1840
4       Jerome Bishop - born 28 May 1811, died 1849
5       Henry Harrison Bishop - born 12 June 1814, died 24 March 1888
6       DeWitt Clinton Bishop - born 2 March 1818, died 8 December 1901
7       Charlotte Bishop - born 19 March 1923, died 14 February 1895
8       Adelia Ann Bishop - born 5 November 1826, died 29 December 1913
9       Marion* Bishop - born 14 November 1829, died 1 May 1911
*Marion was alternately found recorded as Mary Ann, Marian and Mary An.

The 1810 census seems to be the first time John appears as the head of household.   He would have been 40 then, making him the male between the ages of 26 and 44.[10]

In 1811 fifty men in Crown Point combined their resources in order to begin a public lending library there.  John was one of those men.  Each charter member donated either $2.00 or one book.  I couldn’t help feeling more connected to John when I found out he apparently cared so much about reading.  I love libraries – they’re like candy stores for the mind.

As for John’s military service, an obituary for his son DeWitt Clinton Bishop stated that John had been present at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane (in Canada) during the War of 1812 and that he’d suffered a wound to his lungs during the battle.  I’ve been unable to find anything to back this up, but he did indeed serve in the New York militia from at least 1807 until 1814 and was promoted that year to First Major.[11]

By August 23, 1839, John and Lucy had sold the farm in Lot 44 and bought another tract, Lot 49 in Crown Point.[12]

This farm was their residence when John died one year later, on the 27th of July, 1840.  This is the date his widow Lucy gave when she petitioned the Surrogate's Court of Essex County, New York for the authority to sell the property.  See my next post for an image of this document.

Please see Reference Notes under the Pages heading on the side bar.
Author: Nora
•Thursday, September 18, 2014
Carrot and a Stick

Although it took twenty-five years plus to trace the generations after John Fitch Bishop, it took less than two years to follow the trail to John and to learn when and where he died.

Grandma B. (Lucy Jane Atteberry Bishop) kept a Family Bible, but she had only recorded births, etc. starting with her and Grandpa Bishop.  My dad told us names of our great grandparents, though; and that gave my quest a big boost.

Here’s the page in the Bible where Grandma began recording the births:

In later posts, I’ll be sharing with you readers how I linked each of the generations back to John, and then from him back to the immigrant ancestors in Salem, Massachusetts.  I had a great deal of help in this process, and I’d especially like to mention here the help of my second cousin, Janine Bishop Rittel.  She’d been diligently searching and acquiring documents years before I started my quest, and she generously shared everything she’d found with me.  I owe so much to her.

We all have that curiosity-bug that impels us to wonder about our family history, don’t we?  For me, the curiosity was partly driven by wanting to know where we came from, but it was also to see if I could prove or disprove a family story we kids had heard throughout our childhood.  We’d been told that Ulysses S Grant was our great-great-great something, perhaps an uncle.  That certainly piqued my interest.

I found that there was a grain of truth to the story.  On my father’s side, one of my ancestors was a distant cousin of Ulysses S Grant, making us fourth cousins three times removed.

The reward gained from following that carrot-and-a-stick was discovering a book called, “A Genealogical History of the Descendants of Matthew Grant of Windsor, Connecticut, 1601-1898”, by Arthur Hastings Grant.  In this book I found listed my great grandfather Julius C. Bishop, my great-great grandparents, DeWitt Clinton Bishop and his wife Elizabeth Grant AND DeWitt’s father’s name:  John Fitch Bishop.  DeWitt was born 2 March, 1818 in Crown Point, Essex County, New York.

In my next post, I’ll share more of what I’ve learned about John Fitch Bishop, my elusive third great-grandfather.
Author: Nora
•Thursday, September 11, 2014
This is a success story that I thought I’d never be able to share with my family and with all of my fellow Bishop family researchers.

I have the recent addition of some Massachusetts Town and Vital Records to the collection to thank for that success story.  The take-away lesson for me is that we should NEVER stop trying, and that we should keep revisiting databases and on-line sources - especially because these sites ( and are being updated and added to constantly.

The birth record of my third great grandfather John Fitch Bishop is available on line at  He was born on 27 June 1770 in what is now the town of Wales, Hampden County, Massachusetts.  At the time of his birth, it was still known as the 'west parish' of South Brimfield and was in the county of Hampshire, Massachusetts.  John’s parents were William and Catherine Bishop.  Catherine’s surname may have been Fitch, but I haven’t as yet found her birth record, nor have I found a marriage record for William and Catherine.  The last name of Fitch comes from genealogical notes about families in Wales by a man named Absalom Gardner.

So it was that after searching for John since the 1980's, I came across this record and almost leapt out of my desk chair., Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011; Holbrook Research Institute, (Jay and Darlene Holbrook).

And that was the beauty of it:  this is the first birth record I'd found or seen for a John FITCH Bishop which gave his full name.  No other record we researchers had found for a John Bishop born in the right range of years (1770 to 1775, according to census records up to 1840), had stated that middle name or even included the initial "F".

Finding this one link opened up this Bishop line all the way back to the emigrant ancestor, Edward Bishop, of Salem, Massachusetts.  More about this discovery in future posts.