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Hunter: Researching Ancestors

12/28/10 5:55PM By Edith Hunter
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(HOST)  These days, many people research family geneology on line, but commentator Edith Hunter prefers more tried and true methods - that are still effective.   

(HUNTER) One day in early fall there came a knock at my door. Could I help these people with their Tolles ancestors? I said that I certainly could, and invited the man and woman pilgrims in. I learned that the woman was a member of the Tolles family.

In the late 1700s the Tolles family owned a good deal of the land in Weathersfield Center. The land on which the lovely Weathersfield Center Meeting House stands was once Tolles land.

In 1987 after I started a newsletter for the Weathersfield Historical Society, when I was writing articles, I found myself looking up the same dates, again and again. For example: when was Submit Grout born? Who were her parents? When did she die? Who did she marry?  How many children did they have?
And so I began making 3x5 cards about each of our early inhabitants. Almost 25 years later, we have 17,000 cards with this vital information.  I say "we" because I have been aided not only by the research of our wonderful early historians, but by one of the members of our historical society who is a real genealogist. She adds information to the cards all the time, and  has put all of our data on the Society's computer. But here at home, I still keep 3x5 cards with the same data.

So I began sharing what information I had with this Tolles descendant.  I found I had 70 cards just on the Tolles family.  Her husband, a dedicated historian, asked if he might take a picture of each of the cards (front and back) with his digital camera, and I assured him it would be fine with me.

In short order he had found the Tolles from whom his wife was descended.   I was able to direct them to the large cemetery where many Tolleses are buried. Prior to 1914, local historian Dr. Ernest Butterfield copied down every epitaph in our 13 cemeteries, and our historical society has printed up his work which is now available as one of our publications.

Several weeks later the Tolles pilgrims came again, with another member of the Tolles family. This time we visited the small Tolles Cemetery where the patriarch of the Tolles family in Weathersfield is buried. Then we visited our Weathersfield Historical Society Library at the Dan Foster House where we have archived all the materials that we have gathered about our early families, and early history.
These Tolles descendants were thrilled and I was happy that we had an historical society that could satisfy these descendants of one of our early families.
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