cf1400dI couldn’t tell you why, but lately I keep coming across books worthy of serious attention but have titles that would make most think these treasure in disguise are not for them. Massachusetts and Maine Families: In the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis is just such a book. The title would have been just fine without all that “in the ancestry of” stuff. Why? Well, “almost anyone with considerable New England ancestry—and probably 100 million contemporary Americans, about 40 percent of the population, have some colonial New England forebears—will descend from one or more, often a dozen or more, of the 180 families herein.”

Massachusetts and Maine Families is a reprint, into three volumes, of an original seventeen volume twentieth-century genealogy. The work was created by Walter Goodwin Davis as a compendium of his ancestry, plus the inclusion of Thomas Haley of Winter Harbor and His Descendents. There are 2,300 pages, plus an index. In all, there are 180 families covered, plus 19 English families in the “immediate ancestry of American immigrants.” Most of the families lived in Massachusetts, 114, with 29 in Maine and 18 in New Hampshire.

The introduction to the 1996 reprint was written by Gary Boyd Roberts, who now retired was then working as the Director of Special Research Projects at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Roberts writes glowingly about Davis’ life long dedication to genealogy and his contributions to the practice. Boyd refers to Davis as “the third pillar of two triads of genealogists that revolutionized both local (i.e. northern New England) antiquarian studies and national genealogical standards overall.”

The original 17 volume set covered Davis’ sixteen great-great-grandparents, plus the inclusion of Thomas Haley of Winter Harbor and His Descendents. This reprint consolidates these seventeen volume into three, indexes the whole set, and  rearranges the contents into alphabetical order. The sixteen g-g-grandparents for whom Davis focused each original volume where:

  • Nicholas Davis, 1753-1832, of Limington, Maine
  • Charity Haley, 1755-1800, wife of Nicholas Davis
  • Joseph Waterhouse, 1754-1837, of Standish, Maine
  • Lydia Harmon, 1755-1836, wife of Joseph Waterhouse
  • Joseph Neal, 1769-c. 1835, of Litchfield, Maine
  • Sarah Johnson, 1755-1824, wife of Joseph Neal
  • Annis Spear, 1755-1858, of Litchfield, Maine
  • Sarah Hildreth, 1773-1857, wife of Annis Spear
  • Dudley Wildes, 1759-1820, of Topsfield, Massachusetts
  • Bethia Harris, 1748-1833, wife of Dudley Wildes
  • Abel Lunt, 1769-1806, of Newbury, Massachusetts
  • Phoebe Tilton, 1775-1847, wife of Abel Lunt
  • James Patten, 1747?-1817, of Arundel (Kennebunkport), Maine
  • Sarah Stone, wife of James Patten
  • Lieut. Amos Towne, 1737-1793, of Arundel (Kennebunkport), Maine
  • Sarah Miller, 1755-1840, wife of Lieut. Amos Towne

Each volume has an index for that individual book; though, the book itself is arranged by surname of each ancestor. There are pedigrees charts for each of the 16 g-g-grandparents on the first few pages. This will help the reader identify where each individual actually falls in the family with one quick glance. Volume I covers the surnames Allanson to French. Volume II covers Gardner to Moses, and the third Neal to Wright.

Copies of the three volume set of Massachusetts and Maine Families: In the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis are available from Family Roots Publishing – now at 50% off the original MSRP!