August 10, 2018
Last week I published Egbert T. Bush’s article “Crosskeys Tavern,” which was a short history of the landowners of the village of Rosemont. I decided to just publish the whole article without interruptions from me, and then publish my own version of Rosemont history, starting today with
Lately, research and writing issues have gotten my attention.
Beware of Early Histories
James P. Snell’s History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties is the go-to book if you’re starting to learn about the history of Hunterdon County. Recently, while working on the history of Rosemont, I reread the chapter on Delaware Township, and was somewhat dismayed to discover there are many errors there. It prompted me to add a warning to the Goodspeed Histories page “Basic Resources for Hunterdon County.”
Why so many mistakes? The book was a compilation of contributions from local historians in the 1870s. They were generally writing from memories of their own or from stories told to them by local families. And you know how it is with family myths. Take Snell with a grain of salt, folks.
Deeds, Deeds, Deeds
You may have noticed that I rely heavily on the information in early deeds to figure out what was happening to the families of the time. When I started doing house histories, back in the dark ages of the 1980s, there was no internet. Which meant that whatever research I found I would have to copy and store away in file folders and binders. And over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of paper.
Some time ago Family Search microfilmed the index to the Hunterdon Co. Deeds up to 1955. When I discovered this, it made my life both easier and more challenging. Easier because I could quickly and easily find all the deeds associated with whatever individual I was researching. But more complicated because being aware of all those deeds meant I had to look them all up.
Becca Hoff came to my rescue by volunteering to get copies of whatever deeds I needed. She was such a blessing. But Technology has changed things again. Not only has Family Search put the Index online, it has also posted microfilm images of all the deeds up through volume 300! This not only lets Becca off the hook, but changes the way I keep and file all those copies of deeds I’ve reviewed in the past. I’ve got a two-drawer file cabinet chock full of deed copies that now can all go to recycling. As long as I have an internet connection, I have no need of them anymore.
Another leap forward: At the Hunterdon County Historical Society, things have also improved. Don Cornelius, the archivist there, has managed to install a very helpful search function on the website for locating records in the Society’s Archival Collections. There is so much interesting material in those collections, but they are not much use unless people can search them. Problem solved.
Last but not Least
Scrivener, a writing application I used many years ago and gave up on, is making me rethink my articles. Recently my writer sons urged me to try it again, and now I find it is making the research and writing process far more logical and efficient than it used to be. Not only that, it nudges me to think more “big picture,” to think about how all my articles relate to each other. It will be interesting to see where this takes me.
Ragweed season has arrived, which means I will be slowing down for the next month or so—but never stopping.