Friday, October 12, 2007

Interviewed by the Genealogy Guys

As a new feature on my website you can listen to an interview David Lambert and I did with The Genealogy Guys. Drew Smith sat with us at the 2006 Federation of Genealogists conference and talked with us about our Revolutionary War project. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Rebecca Mayo Missing

In 1904 a photograph of Rebecca Mayo and her Virginia home appeared in the Boston Globe. At this time she was one of two surviving widows of the Revolutionary War. Mrs. Mayo had the “most notable pension granted by the last session of Congress” given to her. The sponsor of this pension was Col Campbell Slemp, who was the only Virginian republican congressman. Mrs. Mayo’s pension increased from $8 per month to $25.

Her husband was Stephen Mayo who fought from 1776 to 1781. She lived in Newberne, Pulaski County, Virginia, and was over 90 years old, helpless, paralyzed and almost entirely deaf. She required the constant help given to her by her daughter, also widowed.

Does anybody have the original picture of Rebecca Mayo, or know where it is? If you do send me an email at

Friday, June 22, 2007

Finding the Last Men (and Women)

As I'm writing this book, I'm still hoping for a few more images. It's not that we don't have "enough." David and I would like to find a photo of each of the last living Revolutionary War vets and last living Revolutionary War widow from each state. We know these images are out there. Every state had one.

Can you help us by asking your local historical society if they have any daguerreotypes of very elderly men and women? We'll do the research to verify the connection and give you credit for the find.

Right now, I'm looking for an image of Caleb Harrington of Lexington, Massachusetts. He attended the 75th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. His image isn't in the collections of the Lexington Historical Society or the Concord Public Library.

Thank you to all the people that have already provided tips!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Exciting News!!

David and I met with our wonderful editor and finally set a deadline for finishing the book. We had no idea it would take us more than five years to get this far. Of course, we both have full-time jobs so our time to work uninterrupted is rather limited. It will take us several months to finish writing the text, but as soon as I know a definite publication date, I'll post it here.

For all the curious folks that have written to us inquiring if we've found their ancestor...Please be patient. We're not going to post all the images we've found online because we want you to buy the book :). Actually, we can't put them online. We've signed permission forms restricting the use to publication in book form. Sorry about that!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Fortunate Find

My co-author David Lambert collects mid-nineteenth century photographs of very elderly people. Yesterday he called me to report a previously unidentified image in his collection now had a name. Here's what David told me:

"While examining a supplement to the History of Goshen, N.H. I stumbled upon a small section of photos. I noticed that some of them were reprints of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and CDV’s. One caught my eye. I knew it as one of the unidentified carte-des-viste in my collection. I never had his name before, nor did I know he was a centenarian. But now I know purely by accident who he is.

John McCrillis, born at Deerfield, N.H. July 15, 1773; died at Goshen, N.H. September 4, 1873. His father was Capt. John McCrillis (1746-1822) his father's rank of Captain was granted before the Revolution!

Here is the little blurb from Walter R. Nelson's History of Goshen, New Hampshire (1957)on John the centenarian

"Family tradition cites the fact that he remembered the Revolutionary War, being nine years old at its close; he recalled seeing a cannon bust at a meeting of rejoicing and told of seeing incidents of enlistment of men into the Colonial Army who were to receive a two year old heifer each as a bounty".

Monday, April 23, 2007

Revolutionary News!

I've been traveling all over the country talking about our search for the Revolutionary War generation. Here's the latest news.

IT'S ALL RELATIVE: A Revolutionary idea in research
By Kevin Shue
Lancaster New Era

Published: Apr 20, 2007 11:19 AM EST

LANCASTER - Independence Day picnics and fireworks may seem very far off this early in the spring. Here's another concept related to the American Revolution that may be difficult to imagine: Many people who lived during that war survived into the age of photography.

Maureen Taylor is exploring this revolutionary idea by searching nationwide for portraits of men and women of the American Revolution. She has launched a blog to document her groundbreaking project, David Lambert, the online genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, is working with Taylor on the project.

Taylor was the keynote speaker at the Lancaster Family History Conference a few weeks ago. She gave me some clues to help determine whether your old family photo depicts a Revolutionary War ancestor.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

About My Co-author: David Lambert

David Lambert, the Online Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society is working with me on this search for eighteenth century characters. David's interest in finding photographs of elderly persons dates back to his pre-teen years!

Since joining the staff of NEHGS in 1993, he's published several articles in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register; the New Hampshire Genealogical Record; Rhode Island Roots; The Mayflower Descendant, and New England Ancestors magazine.

As a former Civil War re-enactor for the 12th Massachusetts Infantry, David is very interested in military history. His genealogical expertise includes New England and Atlantic Canadian records, military records, and Native American and African American genealogical research in New England.

David is the author of a best selling book on cemeteries in Massachusetts, A Guide to Cemeteries in Massachusetts (NEHGS, 2000) and Images of Stoughton, Mass. (Arcadia Publishing, 2001). His radio and television appearances include the PBS show The History Detectives and an NEHGS video production on researching your Civil War ancestors. He is also the host of a local television talk show, devoted to capturing the stories of the U.S. Military veterans of the town of Stoughton, Mass.

His current projects include transcribing the vital records, church and cemetery records of the town of Stoughton, Massachusetts from 1726-1900 and compiling biographical sketches for Revolutionary War soldiers who served as Officers and were eligible or were members of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati (founded in 1783). An online database of these biographies is available at

David is Tribal Historian for the Massachuset-Punkapoag Indians of Massachusetts and is involved in Native American genealogical research efforts. A Life Member of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Stoughton Historical Society, of which he has been a member since the age of 10.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New York Gathering of Men of the Revolution

Searching GenealogyBank's database of newspaper, I came across a notice for a reunion of Revolutionary War veterans in the New-Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette for August 28, 1845.

In that month, George Washington Park Custis, adopted son (and grandson) of President George Washington visited New York City. There was a reception at the house of Alderman Peters attended by "the friends and companions in arms of the great Washington." At that time, photography was still a relatively novel invention, but it's quite possible that some of the attendees sat for a daguerreotype portrait before their death.

The following individuals were at the reunion. Their ages at the time (if known) are in parentheses. Not all were veterans. Some were well-known in New York while others were children of veterans.

Major Popham (93)
John Battin (93) of New York City
Major General Van Buren of Staten Island
Judge Miller
Judge Lynch
Thomas Lyell, Rector of Christ Church
William Mandeville
George B. Thorp
Elisha Whittlesey of Ohio
James M. Crane of Virginia
Samuel L. Waldo
Dr. John W. Francis
Isaac T. Hopper
Homer Curtis of Mount Vernon, Ohio
Jacob Hays
Dr. James E. Maney
Thomas Morris (born in 1771)
Teunis Quick (born in 1767)
A.S. Norwood (born 1770)
Philip Schuyler
Gilbert Smith (born 1772)
Sylvanus Miller
James Black of Newark, New Jersey
W. Vermilye
Joseph Weeks
Cornelius Bogert
R. Cheseborough
John W. Mulligan
Daniel B. Tallmadge
J.M. Matthews
A.L. Underhill
J.D. Beers
Judge Ogden Edwards
Geroge F. Hopkins
George Coggill

These are the only individuals named in the article, but according to the report about two hundred men who had served in the American Revolution came to pay respects to Custis.

If you know of any images of these men, please contact me at

Thank you for your help!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Finding the Missing

There are three categories of images for this project.

  • In the missing pile are newspaper mentions of pictures that once existed or engravings drawn from daguerreotypes. I'm looking for the original image or at least a photographic copy of them.
  • On the positive side are all the found pictures. By contacting historical societies and libraries, I've been able to locate photographs of vets, their wives/widows and their kids. Each and every one of these discoveries is a pleasant surprise. In a few cases, I've been able to attach tentative identifications to previously unidentified images.
  • Then there is my wish list. In this category are photographs I hope were taken and are just mislaid.This includes those last living vets and their wives.
If you can help me locate photos, please send me an email at

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Can you help?

It'll take an army of volunteers to find all the members of the Revolutionary War generation that had their picture taken. We need your help! If you own or know of a photograph of an individual who served in the American Revolution, was born during the War, or who was married to a soldier, please let us know. Your assistance is needed.

A full description of our project and several articles are online.

Here's what you can do to participate:

  • Look through your family photographs and see if you own any images that fit our categories. We've had fantastic luck tentatively identifying previous unidentified photographs. We do all the research.
  • Spread the word by telling your local genealogical society about this project.
  • Search local historical society collections for images that meet our criteria.

Email Maureen at for additional information.

Types of Photographs

We're looking for images that date from the beginning of photography such as:

Daguerreotypes (1839 to 1860s): The first photographs, daguerreotypes have reflective surfaces; you must hold the photos at an angle to see their images. Daguerreotypes are often found in cases.

Ambrotypes (invented in 1854): Often placed in cases because of their fragility, these glass images are backed with dark material.

Tintypes or ferrotypes (invented in 1856): This third type of cased image is produced on thin sheets of iron.

Cartes de visite (CDV’s) (introduced in 1854): Inspired by 19th-century visiting cards, these small paper prints usually measured 2 x 4 inches.

Finding the Revolutionary War Generation

Are the people in your family pictures old enough to be part of the Revolutionary War generation? Here's who qualifies:

Patriots, soldiers and loyalist adults: Anyone who was an adult during the American Revolution would have been at least 80 years old by the advent of photography. Several veterans appeared in Reverend Elias Hillard ‘s Last Men of the Revolution in the 1860s, but thousands of men applied for pensions after the War.

Children: Anyone who was a child during the American Revolution would have been in his late 50s or older when they had their picture taken beginning in the 1840s.

Wives and widows: The last surviving widow of a Revolutionary soldier died in 1906! Esther Sumner married Noah Damon when she was 21 and he was 75. Finding pictures of wives and widows means looking at pictures taken anywhere from 1840 to the early 1900s.