Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Willey House

I use Google Analytics and StatCounter to track visits to I can track the number of Visitors and what country and city they are in, among many other things.

I can see the Search keywords that where used to find the site and repeat the Search. This helps me to know what Visitors are interested in. I can also see the Traffic Sources including Search Engines and Referring Sites.

One recent referral site was the Library of America’s which posted an article about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1835 story: The Ambitious Quest, about the Willey Tragedy. There is a link on that page to The Willey House page on

After the article was posted, visits to the site increased from an average of about 10 per day to about 90 on Jan. 8th and have continued to be about twice as high as normal for the last 10 days.

Shortly after this article appeared, Letters from a Hill Farm posted the article: Short Stories on Wednesdays - The Ambitious Guest by Nathaniel Hawthorne, based on the Library of America’s Story of the Week. It also includes a link to The Willey House on

I’m very flattered (and humbled) about the referrals and grateful for them. I hope that Visitors will find the information interesting and helpful.

David Brown

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Comes to Dorchester in the 1840's

I have no record of how the Ball Hughes' family celebrated Christmas in Dorchester, but I can imagine that Ball Hughes, being the innovator that he was, may have been one of the first to have a Christmas tree in his neighborhood.

From the Dorchester Reporter, December 6, 2001:

It Happened Here
Just Another Day
For Dorchester's First Two
Centuries, Christmas Was
No Holiday

In the 1840s, as the Victorian Era hit New England full-bore, Christmas in Dorchester began to change. A social historian notes: "But with the beginning of the nineteenth century, the need for a festival to have some commemorative time made the Americans embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday. Christmas was declared as a national holiday for celebration on June 26, 1870. And that was not all; Americans even re-invented the Christmas celebration and transformed it from a mere carnival into a family-oriented day of feast, fun and frolic." Read more

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interested in Genealogy?

Are you interested in learning more about genealogy research? According to a poll by Maritz Marketing Research in 2000, sixty percent of Americans were interested in tracing their family history, up from 45 percent in 1995.The number is probably even higher today with Baby Boomers retiring and having the time and interest in their ancestry.

I started my quest with some sketchy family stories about my ancestor. I went online and was immediately surprised to find numerous books and articles that mentioned him. I was lucky in that he was fairly famous in art circles in the early to mid 1800’s. The work got more difficult as I had to research each piece of information and search for more information but is was worth it. New information leads to more new information.

There is a wealth of free information on the Internet to help you. I recommend that you start with Genealogy. This comprehensive site is led by professional genealogist, Kimberly Powell. The site has information on how to get started, searching online, and how to share and preserve your family history. Genealogy also has a blog, a user forum, and numerous links to free tutorials, online classes, and magazines. You can sign up for the free weekly Genealogy Newsletter, the Intro to Genealogy (E-Course), and the About Genealogy Tip of the Day (E-Course) from Kimberly Powell of Genealogy.

Of course, most genealogy websites rely on advertising and you can evaluate the services offered to see if they are of interest to you. Genealogy research does not have to cost you any money if you’re on a tight budget like me. I use Google, free Internet resources, and Inter-Library Loan. I’m increasingly getting help from art collectors, museums, researchers, and art enthusiasts for which I am extremely grateful.