Tuesday’s Tip – Finding Seth Ring Shackford’s Diaries Via Great Libraries’ Search Engines (Blog 347)

In February 2013 we wrote about a dream to travel to New Hampshire to find Seth Ring Shackford diaries and this last week we found some of his diaries at the New Hampshire Historical Society and the Portsmouth Athenaeum.  These two libraries have exceptional historic collections, have created fabulous catalogs of their collections, and shared their catalogs online!  We are very thankful to these libraries and their excellent staff who care about ensuring documents are preserved properly, spend the time to create detailed inventories of their very large collections, and help all the visitors who visit access their exceptional historical documents!

New Hsmpshire Historical Society Search for Seth Ring Shackford's Diary
New Hampshire Historical Library’s Listing for Seth R Shackford’s Diary

We found most of Seth’s diaries at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, NH.  We had searched their online catalog for the word Shackford and discovered that the diary was described as Diary of Seth Shackford, 1805-1813, 1813-1824.  We called ahead to ensure they had the diary onsite (important because some libraries store some of their documents offsite and it may take them time to pull them!).  We drove to Concord on a Saturday to avoid traffic and felt awed at the great historical building . When we showed up we felt totally spoiled when Mali Ebel, the reference librarian told us she’d pulled the documents out for us ahead of our visit!

We discovered that we had found a treasure!!! Seth wrote daily documenting the weather, who he visited, what he did, where he traveled, when he was planting, what he was planting, what he was harvesting, who was visiting, who he was visiting, etc.   There is a comment in the diary when the War of 1812 ended that is written in larger handwriting commenting on his happy feelings about peace!  We were allowed to read this incredible diary, copy the pages of the journal (with a camera – a copier might damage this old book).  We had hoped to read the part of the journal describing Seth’s trip to Ohio in 1810 and follow this route on today’s roads but while we found a reference in his diary to this journal we did not find that journal within the documents.   We wish to also thank Mr Paul Friday, the onsite genealogist who helped us find some of the documents that were in the Historical Society that helped us learn the details of how the diaries arrived at the library helping us find letters from Seth’s grandchildren Mary Bennett Morse, Helen Champion Bennett, and Harriet Bennett Cate that discuss their donation of these diaries to the library – there’s possibly more to this donation story but that is for another day. We plan to transcribe Seth’s incredible diary and gift our transcription to the library that preserved this document.  We anticipate this project will take a very long time…  We hope to return to this wonderful library in the future – they have an exceptional collection of other materials…

Portsmouth Athenaeum Archive Record Seth R Shackford Diary
Portsmouth Athenaeum Catalog Listing of Seth R Shackford’s Diary

We also found another of Seth Ring Shackford’s diaries from 1838 at the Portsmouth Athenaeum which is an amazing place!  Just being in this building and peeking into it’s inner sanctum is breathtaking — before you even open a book! (Take a look at their Website!!!!)  And to open a diary from 1838 in this special space just draws your breath away.  Thank you very much to the members of this Athenaeum for allowing the public to visit this exceptional place and for ensuring that the history in your fabulous book and manuscript collections are shared with visitors by your exceptional staff.  We received excellent help from Tom, Caroline, and Robin!  We were there two days and these folks were so very helpful to everyone who entered this precious space!  Not only did they allow me to copy this exceptional diary, but when they learned that I  couldn’t find William Moore Shackford’s property on 35 Daniel Street Tom did some research and explained that the street numbers had changed and shared historic pictures of William’s original home with me. Then they helped me learn that William Moore Shackford was one of the original members of the Athenaeum – he owned share 74!  They also helped me find an article in the The Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics!

We hope to eventually transcribe this diary which describes Seth and his son William’s trip west in 1838 (they were avoiding a court issue related to a fraudulent American Revolution Pension) and continues to March 1848, a month before Seth’s death.  We thought about trying to trace Seth’s travel’s following this diary but he begins by traveling by ship to New York City, then heads to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by waterway.  We’re in an RV and stay away from big cities so instead of driving this route we’ll draw out the journey he took on a map sometime in the future.

It’s an honor to get the opportunity to touch and read these diaries.  Thanks again to these fabulous libraries  their staff for maintaining such wonderful resources such as Seth’s diaries!

(Ooops – posted on a Monday – when you’re traveling you sometimes forget what day of the week it is!!!)

All posts on this website are a work in progress.  We’d love to learn of any corrections or additions to the information shared.  Also we’d love it if  you’d like the post here or at http://www.facebook.com/shackfordgenealogy) as that helps share the post with others.


Copyright 2017 Joanne Shackford Parkes  (sharing a link to this post is appreciated but please do not copy this material and paste it elsewhere)

Treasure Chest Thursday –Samuel Burnham Shackford’s Donation to the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Blog 346)

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is an incredible Treasure Chest itself.  It’s in a great part of Boston in a beautiful building full of very helpful staff, genealogists, archivists, volunteers, and researchers.  The collections are vast – an extensive book collection, an incredible archive of special collections and donated genealogical material, a major digital collection, and probably much more.  Fortunately I’d read and watched videos from many genealogy bloggers who described how to prepare for such a trip – it’s most important to know what you want to look for before you arrive and know where it is located,.  They also advised that one call ahead to be sure the material is available and read the organizations Website so you know if and how you can copy materials and other important site guidelines.

New England Genealogical and Historical Society Description of Samuel Burnham Shackford Collection.JPG
Description of Samuel Burnham Shackford’s Donation from NEGHS Website

We were only going to be in Boston for one day and I knew that I would spend that time
looking at the items that Samuel Burnham Shackford had donated, a goal that I’d had written about in Feb 2014.  I reviewed the collection description and discovered the collection listed as SG SHA 5, called Shackford collection, [manuscript] and wrote to the archivist  to ensure the materials would be available.

Even though I’d reviewed the NEHGS collection description, had read the, newspaper article describing his donation, and had reviewed many newspaper articles where S.B.S. asked for input on his research, I had no idea of the vast size of Samuel’s donation. I also didn’t realize that seeing and touching Samuel’s research would have such an emotional impact on me!

I spent nine hours reviewing just a few of the boxes of the collection SG SHA, titled Shackford collection, [manuscript].  Here’s a bit of what I learned:

Samuel B Shackford’s work shows that he had goal of connecting all the Shackfords, interestingly a goal that I also had when I got stuck determining my own Shackford ancestry.

  • Samuel reviewed all the published material that existed on Shackford’s that he could find which was probably a lot as he was on the NEHGS Committee on Collection of Records. He then documented his research on Shackford families; keeping an alphabetical list of each Shackford he discovered along with the sources he could find relating to that.
  • He wrote to many vital records offices asking them for the cost of obtaining copies, then often purchasing copies of the records of the vital records from each person. The vital records copies that he received are included in his collection. (Interestingly, this is how I started my research)
  • Samuel published lists of questions related to research he couldn’t resolve in the Genealogy Sections of newspapers and articles. Usually these were posted under S.B.S., his initials (I posted many questions on genealogy research boards)
  • He wrote general letters to every Shackford or person who knew about Shackfords that he could find telling them he was researching Shackford genealogy and asking for general information about their family lines. Those letters and the replies to the letters are in this collection!  I found letters that he received from my grandfather and great grandfather written on company letterhead that gives me insight about my own relatives that I didn’t have.  The collection even includes the returned mail! (I started writing to Shackford’s around 1998 but did not keep copies of the letters that I wrote but I did keep many of the hard copies of letters that were returned.)
  • Samuel then replied to many Shackford’s with a list of detailed questions that were very personalized focused on obtaining specific information he wanted to complete his genealogy quest. Many people hand wrote the answers to the questions on the letter he sent and returned the letters.
  • He shared the results of his genealogy research with people who wrote to him. (I’ve done this too)
  • People with whom he started to correspond sent him clippings, photographs, wedding invitations, funeral notices and more. Some people sent letters they had saved from their correspondence with other researchers including Samuel Shackford of Chicago/Winnetka.  This collection of letters is in itself a gem!  I only had time to review one box of the letters which had been opened, flattened and placed in manila folders but believe there are more boxes that have not yet been organized (very understandable as this library receives huge amounts of donations of genealogical material!!).
  • Samuel tried hard to identify the ancestors of William Shackford, the immigrant ancestor and kept extensive notes of this research but decided that he could not resolve that question.
  • He handwrote a genealogy descendency of William Shackford with some biographical information of some of the descendants – focusing on the positive items people had shared and choosing to not include negative newspaper articles or information that he’d received. He typed and updated his manuscript and shared all or parts of the typewritten versions with individuals looking for their input and critique.  The letters box includes some critical responses and other responses thanking him and asking for a copy of the final document.  It’s probable that there were multiple versions of the typewritten manuscript.  The final edition has some handwritten notes which may be from him or someone else.  Some pages and notes that appear to be added by his brother Moses A.C. Shackford.  The sources in the manuscript often refer to a person who sent him a letter, a published material, include the word Conjecture, or in some cases are missing.
  • Samuel appears to be hoping to publish this or another manuscript as he kept copies of letters which included the cost breakouts for publishing a manuscript. He did donate it to NEGHS but stipulated the he would have access to his donation.

I knew that Samuel B. researched Shackfords thoroughly but had no idea that he had compiled such a comprehensive manuscript.   Many of the Shackford family connection puzzles that I’ve worked out would have been solved had I had a copy of this manuscript but then again, doing that research independently 80 years later has taught me a lot about research and forced me to find sources that independently verify the research.

It will take months if not a year or two to sort out the information I learned from my short review of this enormous collection. I’m already trying to visualize how I can spend 4-6 months in Boston in the future volunteering at the Society to help sort through, organize and review more of Samuel B Shackford’s donation but that’s also a question to think through after this year’s genealogy/sightseeing RV trip is over in October 2016.

I’d encourage anyone with Shackford ancestry to make the time to look at Samuel’s collection, especially the correspondence boxes as they may contain letters that your direct ancestors sent to Samuel.  Be sure to call ahead as and it takes 7-10 days for the archivists to pull the materials from their offsite location.  I’d love to hear from anyone else who has reviewed this collection to learn about your perspectives!

I wish to thank Judy Lucey, the archivist who helped guide me to the boxes I might find most helpful, pulled some other boxes for me during my visit and ensured I was able to maximize my time during my short visit.  I hope that someday I can meet her again in the future and stay longer!

Lastly I just have to add that I’m in awe with the amount of research Samuel B Shackford created sometime between 1900-1925 with pen and paper, letter writing, a lot of collaboration, and a typewriter (thank goodness as his handwriting is sometimes difficult to read).  I am very thankful that he kept so much of his material and donated it to the New England Historic Genealogy Society.  I hope by describing the importance of this collection to others interested in Shackford Family History, I’m helping to meet Samuel’s desire to “have the fullest use made of it.”


Shackford Samuel Burnham 1871-1934, “Shackford Collection, SG SGG 5, R Stanton Avery Special Sollections,”; SGA SHA 7, New England Historic Genealogy Society, Boston, Massachusetts. (only reviewed a small part of this immense collection)

Tombstone Tuesday – Searching for my great great grandfather William Brown Shackford and his wife Catherine Mullet Shackford’s Gravestones (Blog 345)

We finally made it to Boston!  Well – we’re actually staying at an RV park in Mansfield, Massachusetts which placed us away from city traffic but close enough to drive into Boston.  Today we drove into Boston to search for  the gravestones of my great great grandparents – William Brown Shackford and his wife Catherine (Mullett) Shackford.

William Brown Shackford’s death records stated that he had died of cancer of the stomach November 21, 1866 and was interred at St Augustine’s Cemetery[i] Massachusetts, Boston, St Augustine's Chapel Cemetery Front Entrance.jpgso we reached out to our friend Mr Google and discovered that the St Augustine’s Church and Cemetery was located at 181 Dorchester Street.  We found their phone number and called to learn about accessibility.  Javier wonderfully directed us to two folks, the archivist, Thomas Lester and the chapel who oversaw the church.

We called Thomas and got an answering machine that asked us to place a research request on their WEB page which we did.  We then contacted the oversight church and were told that St Augustine’s was locked except for Saturday services at 4 pm  but a volunteer who works thereMassachusetts, Boston, St Augustine's Chapel and Cemetery Gravestones.jpg Tuesday might be able to open up the church for us on Tuesday, the day we would be visiting!!!!  Unfortunately we received a follow-up call later that night stating that the volunteer had become unavailable so there would be no access.  We drove to the church anyway and took these pictures of the hapel and the gravestones.

We’re considering coming back on a Saturday from Exeter, NH but will call ahead to see if we can learn more about William’s burial.

Catherine (Mullet) Shackford’s death was reported in the Syracuse Journal on February 3, 1902[ii].  The article stated that her remains were taken to Boston for burial.  The Boston Herald reported that she died at Syracuse and her remains were coming to Boston on Feb 5th for internment in Forest Hills Cemetery[iii].   Before traveling we called and learned that she was buried here.   We arrived at this cemetery  which is beautiful Gravestone May Kate Shackford Forest Hills Cemetery Taken June 14 2016 by Joanneand learned that Catherine and her daughter May Kate Loughrin  who died in 1885 were buried in Lot 932 on the Iris Path and that the plot belonged to Edward W. Rowland — we haven’t yet figured out the connection.  We went to the plot and found a gravestone for May in the right location according to the plot diagram.  We did not find one that could be clearly identified as Catherine’s   Perhaps she didn’t have a gravestone or it went missing.

Even though we didn’t find gravestones for William and Catherine we did find May’s gravestone and we had a wonderful day looking.

We also met up with a cousin, Karen Deborah Shackford Tedeman, my seventh cousin once removed – our common ancestor goes back to William Shackford & Deborah Trickey.  We had a wonderful time discussing our common search for the Shackfords and I learned that her father who was very interested in genealogy named her after Deborah Trickey who is our common ancestor!!!  We visited the grave of her ancestors – George Alonzo Shackford and had a wonderful lunch together!  Hopefully I’ll get to see her again when I go to the New England Genealogical and Historical Society tomorrow.

All posts on this website are a work in progress.  We’d love to learn of any corrections or additions to the information shared.  Also we’d love it if  you’d like the post here or at http://www.facebook.com/shackfordgenealogy) as that helps share the post with others. Thanks!


[i]  Massachusetts, Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, , William Shackford, death record, 21 November 1886; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 May 2013); Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records

[ii] “Obituary. Mrs. Katherine Shackford.,” The Syracuse Journal, 3 February 1902; Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 12 July 2013).

[iii] “SHACKFORD,” Boston (Massachusetts) Herald, ; digital images, Genealogy Bank (http://www.genealogybank.com/ : accessed 16 April 1916).

Copyright 2017 Joanne Shackford Parkes  (sharing a link to this post is appreciated but please do not just copy this material and paste it elsewhere)

Treasure Chest Thursday – Newly Married Sabrina S (Shackford) Lanfair Runs Away (Blog 344)

Sabrina S Shackford, the daughter of Samuel and Susanna (Hobbs) Shackford married Edwin A Lanfair in Guilford, Vermont on Dec 14, 1843.  As mentioned in an earlier blog, we’re not sure why the couple who were from Deerfield and Greenfield married in Vermont — perhaps it was because she was only seventeen years old and he was 32.

Apparently Sabrina did not like her married life with Edwin because he posted this announcement in the newspaper only three weeks after their marriage:

Edwin Lanfair announces he will pay no debts on behalf of Sabrina NOTICE, The Franklin Democrat (Greenfield, Massachusetts), 23 January 1844

Whereas Sabrina S. my wife, has
left my bed and board, without any
reasonable excuse. This is to forbid all
persons from trusting her on my account as
I shall pay no debts of her contracting after
this date. EDWIN LANFAIR
Deerfield, Jan. 6, 1844

The couple did reconcile and had six children.

We’re currently in Deerfield, Massachusetts where we spent a few hours earlier today researching Sabrina Shackford Lanfair at the wonderful Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library which has extremely helpful staff who shared their excellent understanding of the region!   We’ll be back their tomorrow to learn more about their newspaper collection.   We didn’t find this article at the library — had a bit of extra end of the month GB on the phone so spent it online searching the newspapers at Fulton History.

All posts on this website are a work in progress.  We’d love to learn of any corrections or additions to the information shared.  Also we’d love it if  you’d like the post here or at http://www.facebook.com/shackfordgenealogy) as that helps share the post with others. Thanks!


“NOTICE,” The Franklin Democrat (Greenfield, Massachusetts), 23 January 1844; digital images, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : accessed 9 June 2016).

Copyright 2018 Joanne Shackford Parkes  (sharing a link to this post is appreciated but please do not just copy this material and paste it elsewhere) (Updated 10/8/18 as we now know she was Samuel’s daughter)