Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alfred Cornelius White, born Nov. 23, 1847 - Mayflower Descendant?

Alfred Cornelius White was born Nov. 23, 1847 in Amherst, Massachusetts to Samuel Newell White and Harriet (Chamberlain), both born in Brookfield. He came to West Brookfield with his parents and siblings sometime between 1850 and 1852 and settled on the White family farm. (now Salem Cross Inn)  Alfred, the only male child among nine children in the family, appears to have left West Brookfield between 1870 and 1880, for a period of at least twenty years.  He returned to the family farm sometime in the 1890's and became active in West Brookfield town and social affairs.  He was a long time member of the school board, the West Brookfield Farmers' Club, the grange, and the Masonic Lodge.

Where was Alfred for those twenty or so years?  According to his obituary in the Springfield Daily Republican of August 8, 1914, he lived in the south and west, and for a time was a "sheep raiser and ranch man in Texas."  I have not yet found any evidence of his whereabouts during those years, but intend to continue my research. One might wonder about the circumstances of his leaving the family farm, and also of his return.

What of the Mayflower ancestors?  It has been written, that Alfred's family was descended from Peregrine White, who was the first white male born in this country.  I have not done the research necessary to verify this information, and some who  have attempted to verify it, have been unable to identify the parents of John White, the first of this White Family to settle in West Brookfield.  Readers might start a search by contacting the Mayflower Society.

Some information on Alfred and his family in West Brookfield may be found online at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Mary Catholic Parishes to Merge on Nov. 21, 2011

An article from the Catholic Free Press of Nov. 17, 2011 may be found online at

According to the article, the new Parish will be named Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and although both churches will remain open, the West Brookfield Church with more space and more parking, will be the main church.

Useful Data in Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts Membership Cards

Members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society now have access to Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts Membership Cards, 1733­–1990.  They are available at for surnames beginning with A thru T.  The cards contain person's full name, date and place of birth, residence, occupation, dates pertaining to status in the lodge, and in some cases, date of death for those who died or left the organization before 1990. 

The database may be searched by name, but for my purposes as a West Brookfield researcher, I found it helpful to search by only the name of the lodge in West Brookfield, which is Bay Path.  I went to the search screen and selected the Category, Societies and Organizations; then the Database, Massachusetts: Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards, 1733 - 1990; then I scrolled down the page to where it said Lodge and typed in Bay Path.  There were 105 entries from which I was able to extract information which I had not previously found, such as birth dates post 1915, and death dates predating the Social Security Death Index. 

What's next?  I can search for West Brookfield men who left town and became members of Masonic Lodges in other towns using the name search function.  I can use dates of death to look for obituaries at  I can look for census and vital record information on for free, or on paid sites such as  I can use address information to search the 

I hope my readers find this information helpful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Some still without power in West Brookfield

It has been almost a week since 15" of snow fell in West Brokfield, and many homes are still without power.  Snow covered trees and branches, with leaves still on them, are laying across power lines and roads.  Some power and phone lines were even ripped from homes.  Patience is wearing very thin for even the hardiest of folks blame the power company for not trimming the tree branches which were hanging over the lines. 

Those familiar with the area know that cell phones do not work in some locations due to the lack of cell towers and the hilly terrain. Communication is difficult, if not impossible.

Snow is beginning to melt slowly, and businesses along Route 9, where there is power, are open.  Gas stations and restaurants, especially, are doing a booming business.  I would imagine that people who cut and sell wood are doing well, too.

Schools remain closed.  Quaboag Regional High School is still operating as a shelter for people who need a warm place to sleep, or perhaps a warm shower.

Today's Quaboag Current does have some storm related stories and photos.  You may view them online at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

James Dillon - born Nov. 2, 1807 in Ireland has a database called, Selected U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1966.  A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to find an entry in Vol. 3-468, Worcester Superior Court, for James Dillon of West Brookfield.  The index card gave Nov. 2, 1807 as his date of birth, and Ireland as his place of birth or allegiance.  His naturalization date was January 1, 1860.  This source is the only one I have found which gives a date of birth.  James' death record , [Massachusetts, Worcester, West Brookfield Deaths, 1860, Vol. 140: Pg. 258,] does not give his age at death, nor does it name his parents.  It does say that he was born in Ireland.  Census records seem to indicate that 1807 certainly could be the correct birth year for James.

I know that James came from Ireland sometime between 1846 when his son, John was born or baptized in County Galway, Ireland, and 1849, when a daughter Honora, was born in West Brookfield.  James and his wife Honora (Liddy) had a least four children when they came to the United States from Ireland.  The first known child, was a daughter Sarah, born or baptized in Galway in 1839.  Sons Patrick, John, and James, also were born or baptized in County Galway.  West Brookfield vital records reveal five children born to this couple in that town.

James worked as a laborer in town, possibly on the railroad.  The 1850 census indicates that he was unable to read or write.  He died on April 16, 1860 of Dropsey, according to West Brookfield records.  He was a storekeeper at the time of his death.  The 1860 Federal Mortality Schedule has an entry for James Deland, of West Brookfield who died of "Consumption Blood."  This James Deland's age was noted as 56, and birth place was given as Ireland.  He was a day laborer who had been ill for 11 months.  Burial was in St. William's Cemetery in Ware.

Three sons of James and Honora Dillon, Patrick, John, and James, fought in the Civil War. 

More about the family of James and Honora (Liddy) Dillon may be found on the West Brookfield Genealogy Website   This is a free site, and no log in is needed in order to search the site.

The County Galway birth/baptismal records may be purchased from    Three of them are from the civil parish of Oranmore in County Galway.  The fourth says, " St. Nicholas Combined N&E," on the Parish/District Line.  Witnesses are noted on all four records.