Friday, April 2, 2010

The Boston Infidels

A Free Thinker – Romanus Emerson

The Boston Investigator motto “…Hear all sides – then decide.” If genealogists use this same motto while gathering and compiling data without judgment, we would have fulfilled our basic ideas of “telling history, not rewriting it.”
In reviewing the Nutfield Genealogy blog authored by Heather Rojo, the importance of coupling newspaper articles with historical references were brought to the forefront. Through her compilation of Romanus Emerson’s obituary, references to him in history books, and articles from the Boston Investigator, Rojo was able to take us on the religious path of Romanus Emerson from a Universalist minister to becoming an atheist; sharing with us his association and generosity to the Boston Infidel Society [1].

The background given on the Boston Infidel Society, a printed copy of his obituary, and his self-written Funeral Address printed in the Boston Investigator paired with the “letters to the editor by fellow infidels,” also help the reader keep an open mind while holding true to the spirit of Romanus Emerson and the spirit of the newspaper:
Truth, perseverance, union, justice- the means; happiness – the end. Hear all sides – then decide.
This six part series also gives the reader a peek at Boston’s social history at the time, at least of the “free-thinkers.” Less than 100 years after the Salem Massachusetts Witch Trials, Romanus Emerson was born in a Massachusetts society where in spite of his “peculiar” ways he was seemingly respected.

Accurate, Accessible Answers

[1] “He gave to the Infidel Society five hundred dollars…”As printed in obituary notice from South Boston Gazetter, 20 Oct 1852, Issue 25, Col A. copied by Heather Rojo in Nutfield blog:


  1. I was presented the "Ancestor Approved" Award by Texicanwife of Moutain Genealogists and Dionne of Finding Josephine.

    I'm passing the award on to you!

    You can pick up the award at Georgia Black Crackers

  2. Thanks so much Kathleen! I feel very honored to have a professional genealogist reading my blog. Where did you find the photo of the "Boston Investigator?"

  3. Excellent Follow Friday - thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"