Saturday, December 26, 2009

Moving into the New Year

After being listed in GeneaBloggers's new blogs today, I looked back at the first post I placed on this blog almost 3 years ago and thought, "Wow! Things certainly have changed!"

My son turned 7 this month (and I turned 35), thus making it 7 years since I became a stay-at-home mom.  Even though I became passionate about genealogy at the age of 12, and researched sporadically from then until I was 28, I never had the time to dedicate until I swapped full time jobs - from paralegal to mother.

Every day since then, my life has been about indulging my dreams - homeschooling mom, traveling the world, writing, and genealogy. This year brought the biggest change of all when we moved to South Korea. 2010 will bring yet another big move. 

It is amazing to contrast and compare "then" and "now" as 2010 approaches. Where were you 5 years ago? 10 years ago?  In life?  In genealogy? 

How will you begin 2010?

I will begin it with - don't laugh - genealogy.

My husband had to work Christmas week, including on the holiday. However, in a day and a half, he will be home for 6 days. I will close myself up in the bedroom with my laptop and wireless internet, books and vital records CDs, pedigree charts and plenty of scrap paper.

Every so often I will yell for my husband to bring me a can of ginger ale or some crackers and cheese. He will entertain our son, take him outside to play, take him for his martial arts class, while I move into 2010 as productively as possible!

And wondering if it is too early to consider how I might spend some of my tax return...  (As a descendant of Hope Howland, I simply must add volume 3 of the John Howland books to my collection!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

2010 Genealogy Goals

Great-great grandmother Emma, why doth thou elude me?

Despite my belief that the first place I would visit for foreign research would be Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, it seems that the mystery of Emma and my husband's Loyalist ancestors will have to wait...

Or perhaps not with regard to the unknown Hawksley ancestor.

At this very moment, we are waiting impatiently to know where the military will move us, and hoping that it will be Europe.  Where we are now (South Korea) was not exactly on my list of places I wanted to visit - this assignment is more of a gateway to the places I have always wanted to see.

Besides the obvious educational value to us as a homeschooling family (bringing our son to see ruins, cathedrals, tombs, and more!), the genealogical value of such an assignment is immense.  Germany seems the most likely place for my husband's job, and we do get some preference because he has been in South Korea for 2 years.

What does that mean for me in 2010, if (when!  The power of positive thinking!) we move to Germany?

1.  A visit to Italy is my first and foremost goal.  I have been in touch with my cousins Mauro (in Savigliano) and Claudia (in Cuneo, where my great-great grandfather was born).

I would hop on a train and find my way to Cuneo immediately to research my great-great grandfather's parents, as well as to meet the 6 cousins whose names I already know.

After that, it would be time to see Moneglia, where my great-great grandmother was born.  My Italian ancestors would be within my grasp at last!  (That, and one of my favorite international cuisines...)

2.  France would be the next likely destination.  The family story is that great-great grandpa Galfre's parents or grandparents were from France.  If I confirm this, I would certainly have to cross the border.  This is one of the reasons I am grateful that we have been learning French as a family!

Even if the story did not turn out to be true, I would like very much to see the train station at Ventimiglia, which is about 20 miles from the border.  This is where great-great grandpa worked as a baggage master, before coming to Massachusetts.

3.  Manchester, England is where my great-great grandfather, John Wood, was born.  His parents immigrated to Connecticut with the children.  How wonderful it would be to see the places mentioned in the British censuses, visit the General Register's office, and collect birth, marriage and death records on John, his parents, his grandparents, and more!

Meanwhile, maybe I will find out if there is a list somewhere of British soldiers who fought during the Revolution or the War of 1812, and which ones might have been stationed at Fredericton, New Brunswick.  If I can find one named Hawksley, he might be the man I seek...

4.  Our 3-year assignment to Europe would not be completed without trekking to Dublin, Ireland, where my 4th great-grandfather, Edward Marshall Haley, went to college.  We don't know exactly which county or town he comes from in Ireland, but his granddaughter said he went to school in Dublin, received an allowance from his parents, and used that allowance to travel to Massachusetts.

If I can pinpoint the school he attended, then perhaps I can learn where he was born!  I have his parent's names, his birthdate, and an adventurous spirit to get me started.

When I think about the New Year and all the possibilities in store, I am excited for each new day - each new possible discovery!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blake family of Dorchester, MA

Cold days keep us indoors, and since we are more than prepared for the holidays this week (and I have given my son a partial homeschooling break - we are doing half our usual work for two weeks), more time than ever has been devoted to genealogy.

In working to make the transition from Family Tree Maker to Legacy, I have finished moving my husband's family and my father's paternal family. I am currently looking at my father's maternal side.

The Shaws are done and now I am working on the Blake family of Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The Blake Family

The Blakes have a long legacy in Pitminster, Somerset, England. I am fortunate that they have been studied extensively, with many articles published about them over the years (however one must discount the lineage perpetuated by Somerby!).

However, I am even more fortunate that someone in the family thought to keep a large number of Blake documents, which began my interest in genealogy at the age of 12.

The Blake Family in Middleborough, MassachusettsMy grandmother, Barbara (Shaw) Wood, had a crumbling leather wallet that included documents such as deeds, family trees and a few miscellaneous little items (a receipt from the Order of Odd Fellows, reprinted "Confederate Money"), as well as photographs.

This is the photo that appears in my sidebar, and was the first old family photo I ever saw.  Kneeling on the ground is lovely Nina Gertrude Blake (later to become Shaw), my great-grandmother.  Her mother, Ada Estella (Gay) Blake, is standing at the table behind her.  Her father, Edward Blake, is sitting on the right side of the table.

Edward was a locksmith and musician.  His shop was in Middleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

He was born in 1856 in Wrentham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, as was his father, Jeremiah Darling Blake (1820-1900).  In fact, 7 generations of my Blake family were born in Wrentham.  Most died there as well.  Anybody researching Blakes in Wrentham vital records must be very careful to ensure that they are connecting the correct parents, siblings, spouses, and dates!

Prior to that their ancestors were in Dorchester, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

Another thing found in that old leather wallet were my great-great-great grandfather Jeremiah's papers from the Civil War.  I found official Leave papers, Discharge papers, his Pension, and a letter from an attorney in Washington, D.C. informing him about the pension.

I sent the entire file of yellowed old documents to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, except for the family photographs and miscellaneous little documents.  NEHGS added the deeds, family trees, and Civil War papers to their Dorchester, MA Blake family collection.

However, before I sent them, I made sure to photocopy everything and scrapbook the copies.  I gave the family photographs to my aunt, and she had everything scanned onto CD (I did not have a scanner at this time).  She provided me with 2 or 3 CDs of old photographs after we cleaned out my grandmother's house, which included unexpected photos, such as a baby photo of Nina Gertrude Blake in 1891.

They also printed everything on photo-quality paper and sent these to accompany the CDs. 

The copies hang in my home, and can be reproduced any time from CD.  Meanwhile, I know the originals are being kept safe at my aunt's home.

It is amazing to think that things that are over 100 years old can still be enjoyed by people today. 

Now to go back in time about 500 years to spend a little time on my Blakes!

Family Holiday Traditions

To be honest, our family really does not have any holiday traditions.  Christmas is generally a bank holiday for us... a bank holiday with gifts! 

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, has some serious traditions behind it, particularly for those of us who are from New England.  I'm fairly uptight about Thanksgiving, to the point that I shudder at the sight of macaroni and cheese, collared greens, or any other non-traditional food on the table for that meal (not in my house, of course, but if I go to a party or potluck, I must often endure this sight...  ;).

So, for us, there is no baking day, no making of paper chains (although we enjoyed this as children) or stringing of popcorn, and no religious observation at Christmas time.

The magickal night for our family is Solstice, when we observe the longest period of darkness in a 24-hour day, waiting for the sun's light to return.  This is symbolic of the rebirth of the God from the Goddess.  Modern Pagans such as myself refer to this holiday by a variety of names, including Yule and Midwinter.

The evergreen tree decorated with lights is a reminder that life never ends, but merely sleeps.

Next year I hope to start actually incorporating some crafty traditions into our winter holiday season.  I would like to develop some additional Solstice traditions (besides placing a candle in the window in honor of the sun, watching for the sunrise, and having a ritual to honor the Goddess and the returning God) to pass on down through the family.

Telling ancestor stories at Samhain (Halloween) is probably my favorite tradition of all time, but it might be nice to also pass along such stories at Midwinter.

May your winter holidays, no matter what you choose to celebrate, be lovely, filled with light and warmth, family and friends!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mary Elizabeth Haley - adoption

I have worked hard to put together a complete genealogy of my Haley family, and there were only two challenges that remained.

Until recently.

Now, there is only one.

The one Haley mystery I solved was that of Mary Elizabeth Haley, born 14 October 1860 in Plympton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.  Her parents were John Barrett Haley and Mary Peterson.

John died 5 July 1862 at Fort Monroe, Hampton County, Virginia.

Mary (Peterson) Haley remarried on 3 June 1866 to Moses Sherman in Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.  However, she died shortly thereafter on 25 March 1871 in Marshfield.

The two eldest daughters of John and Mary had documented marriages, and - while I'm not sure how they lived between 1871 and 1880 - were old enough not to be adopted or have their names changed.

Mary Elizabeth Haley was only 11 years old when her mother died, and I did not find her in her stepfather's family in the 1880 census.  I could not find a marriage or death record for her, so I surmised that her name was changed.  But who adopted her?

I started with the closest family members - her older sisters.  However, neither of her older sisters adopted her when they married. 

Before I even had an opportunity to start analyzing aunts and uncles, I had a chance encounter with Google that gave me the answer.

When I Googled "Mary Elizabeth Haley" I came up with the following result:

"List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in Massachusetts 1780-1892", Collated and Published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth under Authority of Chapter 191 of the Acts of the Year 1893. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1972.
I felt it was too much to hope; there were many Haley familys from Ireland who had settled in Boston, and the odds that this was my Mary Elizabeth Haley seemed slim.  Our Haley family had pretty much stuck to Plymouth County.
The website with the list of name changes gave the following entry:
1872 Apr 8 Mary Elizabeth Haley * Mary Elizabeth Thompson Marshfield
It was her!  I had been spared a huge amount of legwork (researching aunts and uncles), simply by Googling her name.  The answer was staring me in the face:
She was adopted by her maternal aunt and uncle, Daniel H. & Lydia A. (Peterson) Thompson.
After that, locating records on Mary Elizabeth (Haley) Thompson was a piece of cake.
She married Sidney Smith Baker on 30 September 1889 in Marshfield.  They had 6 children total, 4 of whom were still living in 1910.  The four children who lived to adulthood were Sally Thompson Baker (b. 1890), Sidney Smith Baker, Jr. (b. 1899), Arthur H. Baker (b. 1900), and Milton Baker (b. 1903).
I found birth records on 5 of the children, a death record on one, census entries through 1920 on all, census entires through 1930 on 3 of them, and even two Social Security Death Index entries.  I even found the marriage of the one living daughter in 1912.
Now I am left with only one mysterious Haley descendant who disappears at the age of 16, with no further record...
...and, of course, the life and ancestry of my 4th great-grandfather, Edward Marshall Haley!

Cold Weather Inspiration

Is it just me, or do the cold days inspire us to spend more time with vital records CDs, NEHGS, Family Tree MagazineGoogle Books, and internet genealogy in general?

Where I live, below-freezing temperatures are in the forecast.  Yesterday, I turned into a popsicle while doing my shopping (we currently reside overseas, and choose not to own a car). 

However, I came home and warmed my fingers right up at the computer with some genealogy.  I am still in the midst of transferring my file from Family Tree Maker to Legacy, person by person... 

This has also resulted in new discoveries (I am waiting for a death certificate on one to confirm my analysis of the facts, and will share it - there are many people out there who do not have this information; I am counting on you, O Town Clerk of Glocester, Rhode Island).

What have you been up to, fellow genealogists?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

William W. Winsor of Duxbury, Massachusetts

My great-great-great grandfather, William W. Winsor, has been a bit of a mystery. He was the son of the inn-keeper, John Winsor (who shared grog with the likes of Daniel Webster and Thoreau).

William's birth and marriage are documented, however he disappears after the 1860 census.

Tonight I went looking and finally figured out where he went.

While he appears in the 1860 census (taken 20 June 1860) in Duxbury, it seems he also appears in the census (taken 21 July 1860) of Tatooch (Tatoosh) Island, Clallam County, Washington.

I went on to find the following

The first American settlers at Port Angeles were Angus Johnson, Alexander Sampson (b. abt 1817, Duxbury), Rufus Holmes (b. abt 1814, Duxbury) and William Winsor, although accounts differ as to who arrived first and whether that first arrival came in 1856 or 1857. None brought families -- Sampson was separated from his wife and the others were bachelors. The men staked Donation Land Act claims near the Klallam villages. Sampson located his claim in the cemetery near Tse-whit-zen and residents resisted his intrusion until he worked out an agreement with a local leader that allowed him to build a home on the condition that he not disturb the graves.

A handful of additional settlers arrived over the next few years. In 1859 several of the newer arrivals joined with Sampson, Holmes, and Winsor to form the Cherbourg Land Company to plat a town site and sell lots, despite the fact that by law their donation land claims were only for settlement, not re-sale. The company's name was inspired by Isaac Stevens (1818-1862), former governor of Washington Territory and at the time its Congressional delegate, who foresaw Port Angeles harbor as an important American navy base, dubbing it a "Cherbourg of the Pacific" (Martin, 14). (Cherbourg was a French seaport where Louis XIV established a fortified naval base.)

Cape Flattery Light on Tatoosh Island begins operating on December 28, 1857. Essay 5703

First Keepers

In 1860, William W. Winsor arrived at Tatoosh as the third head keeper. Shortly thereafter, a visitor described trying living conditions at the lighthouse. Rain seeped in under the roof’s shingles, wind drove chimney smoke back into the dwelling, and moss grew on interior walls. This state of affairs lasted until 1875, when authorities repaired the old keepers’ quarters and also built a new, detached living structure.

I thought it might simply be a coincidence that a William W. Winsor, the same age as my own 3rd great-grandfather would be the same one at Tatoosh Island, until I found this court case from the Plymouth County Court of Common Pleas, session begun 7 December 1857:

[16.] Zadock Bradford (Duxbury) v. William W. Winsor (Duxbury). Continued from August term.
Contract, for $90.88 for goods, wares and merchandize was sold and delivered.
Deft. being out of the Commonwealth and no personal service having been made upon him, he was duly notified by the plft.'s publication of an attested copy of the Court order for 3 successive weeks in the Old Colony Memorial.

Default by deft. Judgment for $90.88 and $20.52 costs.

The date is correct for my 3rd great-grandfather to have been the very same William W. Winsor at Tatoosh Island as the light keeper in 1860, and among the first group of white settlers at Port Angeles, Washington.

I have not yet pinpointed a death record, but this evening's discoveries certainly satisfied both the genealogist and Twihard in me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wood, Woodbury & Dodge in Beverly, MA

While I tend to stick to direct lines when it comes to pre-1850 ancestors, sometimes there are groups of people I know connect, or names that repeat so often that I feel the need to include siblings to ensure that I have the correct dates on a family.

The Wood family (my direct paternal ancestors) of Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts (and later of Blue Hill, Hancock County, Maine) are such a family. For the first 3 generations, practically every son is named Anthony, Israel, or Joseph (my line, incidentally). This can cause confusion among somebody looking at online family trees for the first time.

Furthermore, there are several Woodburys who married into the Wood family. Once more, names are often repeated, particularly William, John and Humphrey.

And, finally, the Dodge family is married both to my Wood ancestors and into Woodbury collateral lines.

Today I am working on making sense of it all. My own lines through Wood, Woodbury and Dodge are quite straightforward. 

However, with all of the Woodbury and Dodge spouses, knowing they connect to the same ancestor, it does not make sense to leave them 'dangling' in my family tree. Unfortunately, many online family trees are incredibly confusing on these families. Even the ones that are well-documented have befuddled me. 

It is my goal today to ensure that I have connected the correct sons and daughters to the correct parents on the Woodbury family, before continuing with the file changeover.

I am pleased to say that I have 100% of my husband's family's information switched over from Family Tree Maker to Legacy. And I probably added more documentation in the course of my work.

It is quite an effort, working on each individual separately. I have researched these people time and again, and have very little to add to most of the entries, except a page number on a citation. 

Yet, many times I am pausing and re-addressing brick walls or disappearing relatives, and have been making new discoveries as a result.

It is Sunday morning here, so back to work for me!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

French-Canadian Ancestry

My husband's maternal lineage is almost entirely French-Canadian. This makes research both simple (I can focus entirely on one province; sometimes a second as families move) and difficult (there are ancestors with 4 or 5 names, not to mention the "dit" names).

This is probably my weak research point, so I am pleased that Cyprien Tanguay's Dictionnaire Genealogique is available online. 

While there are errors, and it is best to verify events with church records, these 7 volumes are a wonderful way to get started on checking names and dates.  This website is particularly useful to me, as I currently reside in Asia (off to Europe next year, we hope), and cannot simply hop in my car for a trip to Quebec.

I highly recommend this site to anybody with French-Canadian ancestors, with the reminder that - at some point - you should try to verify the dates and places with church records.  Or at least include the caveat in your genealogy that Tanguay's books do have errors, so that perhaps future generations who have the opportunity to visit Quebec will take the initiative to do so.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mayflower Ancestors

At Thanksgiving, we always talk about our Mayflower ancestors. Our son is only 6-years-old and does not yet grasp the concept that some of his 14th, 15th, or 16th-great-grandparents were participants in the very first Thanksgiving. 

Our son has a total of 65 Mayflower lines thus far, between myself and my husband. This is the result of second cousins, and then more distant ones, marrying time and again.  Besides Mayflower ancestors, my husband and I share many other New England ancestors.

My husband has 4 Mayflower ancestors (3 of whom I have as well), for a total of 7 lines. 

I have 15 Mayflower ancestors for a total of 58 lines. This does not take into account the fact that they are now accepting lineages from the women who traveled on the Mayflower, effectively doubling some lines.

Hubby's Mayflower Ancestors (7 lines total)

1.  John Alden (2 lines)

2.  Francis Cooke (2 lines; the only one of my hubby's Mayflower ancestors from whom I do not share descent)

3.  William Mullins (2 lines; as John Alden's father-in-law, clearly this doubles the lines of any person who descends from John Alden)

4.  Richard Warren (1 line)

My Mayflower Ancestors (58 lines total):

1.  John Alden (5 lines, paternal and 7 lines, maternal, for 12 lines total)

2.  Isaac Allerton (1 line, paternal)

3.  John Billington (1 line, paternal)

4.  William Brewster (1 line, paternal and 1 line, maternal, for a total of 2 lines)

5.  Peter Brown (1 line, maternal)

6.  Stephen Hopkins (2 lines, paternal)

7.  John Howland (2 lines, paternal)

8.  Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley (2 lines, paternal - mother-in-law to John Howland, thus doubling those lines)

9.  William Mullins (5 lines, paternal and 7 lines, maternal; father-in-law to John Alden, thus doubling those lines, for 12 lines total)

10.  Mary (Norris) Allerton (1 line, paternal - wife of Isaac Allerton, thus doubling that line)

11.  Henry Samson (1 line, paternal)

12.  George Soule (3 lines, paternal)

13.  Myle Standish (2 lines, paternal)

14.  John Tilley (2 lines, paternal - father-in-law to John Howland, thus doubling those lines)

15.  Richard Warren (4 lines, paternal and 10 lines maternal, one of which was used for my application to The Bartlett Society and General Society of Mayflower Descendants - 14 lines, total)

One of the things I want to work on in the future is filing my supplementals with GSMD. However, it would be a costly, albeit very enjoyable, endeavor.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans in the Family

My husband, David Hawksley, a veteran of the Gulf War

My husband's stepfather, Bill Ruby, a veteran of the Vietnam War

Grandpa Haley - still living, a veteran of WWII

Grandpa Wood - passed away January 13, 1995, a veteran of WWII

My husband's Grandpa Hawksley - still living, a veteran of WWII

My husband's Grandpa Terrien - passed away February 2, 1996, a veteran of WWII, who saw action at the Battle of the Bulge and the Rhineland, including the battle to take the Remagen Bridge in Germany.

He received three Bronze Stars.

All of our great-great grandfathers enlisted or registered for the draft during WWI.

My great-great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Darling Blake (1820-1900) fought during the Civil War in Company D, 40th Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts.

Countless cousins and distant great-uncles who fought through the years.

Long-ago grandfathers who fought during the Revolution.

Happy Veterans Day and thank you to those who have served, and continue to serve!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sleepy Hollow Ancestors

Now it is time to look at my husband's spooky heritage!

All of you know the story of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman.

Sleepy Hollow is a real place in the town of Tarrytown, in Westchester County, New York. Every time we would drive by it during our frequent road trips from Delaware, home to Massachusetts, I wanted desperately to go see it. Why? Not just morbid curiosity about whether or not there is a headless horseman, but also that unceasing interest in genealogy!

My husband's ancestors, who would have been contemporaries of Washington Irving and the inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow on whom characters may have been based, are:

Johannis Yerxa, 5th-great-grandfather, born before October 8, 1751 in Tarrytown, baptized in the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow on October 8, 1751. Died June 11, 1828 at Keswick Ridge, York County, New Brunswick.

His parents were Abraham Jurckse and Engeltje Storm (descendant of Dirck Storm, whose book chronicles early life in the area), who were married on October 24, 1750 in Tarrytown (this marriage is recorded in the first record book of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow).

As Washington Irving was a visitor to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in 1798, he may have met Johannis, or his mother Engeltje, or any of Johannis's siblings (my husband's distant cousins).

Washington Irving's story is a part of the American subconscious; I can't help but feel a little thrill when I hear of or pass by Sleepy Hollow, New York.

I know that when I finally visit the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground, where the Yerxas and Storms, and other ancestors of my husband are buried, I will remember that this is not far from the area where the final events of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow occurred.

May the idea be as thrilling in the future as it is to me now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Haley Family of Plympton, MA

I wonder if my Irish ancestors celebrated Halloween in America, and Samhain in Ireland.

My 4th great-grandfather (on my mother's side) was Edward Marshall Haley. He was born September 8, 1810 in Ireland.

Information from Plympton, Massachusetts records tell us he was born in Dublin. Letters from one of his granddaughters (my cousin's grandmother) tell us he was a Protestant from Northern Ireland, and went to school in Dublin. His parents, Thomas and Mary Haley, sent him an allowance, which he used to come to America.

Sometime before 1830, Edward came to Massachusetts. On February 5, 1830, he married Clarissa Barrett in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Edward and Clarissa had 12 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood. This included 6 sons and 4 daughters. One child died before the age of 2 and one daughter, Elizabeth, died when she was 6-years-old. Almost all of the living children probably have descendants living today (I have researched down as far as I can, and have connected with a few cousins). Those children were:

1. Thomas Haley - born March 4, 1831 in Plympton, Massachusetts, died April 5, 1863 in New Orleans, buried at the Chalmette Battlefield.

He has descendents living today, who have his Civil War sword. These descendants and through his son, Henry Thomas Haley, about whom stories still exist in Plympton, such as:

"Tom" Haley loved baseball and bowling. He was also the partner of Frank Hanley in the old H & H Blacking Company (Hanley & Haley) in Brockton, Massachusetts. After Tom and Frank died, the company was changed to K & H Blacking Company, with Harry Haley (Tom's son) as one of the partners.

He is also mentioned in "Tales of Old Plympton," (1977) vol. 1, pg. 338 by Eugene A. Wright with regard to baseball. Tom had moved into Plymouth and joined their baseball team. In a game against his old hometown of Plympton, "The Plymouth boys licked the ------ out of the Plympton boys, but didn't Tom look nice in his uniform."

Henry's son, Harry Franklin Haley (my cousin), is the author of Immortal Athalia.

2. John Barrett Haley - born October 29, 1832 in Plympton, died July 5, 1862 at Point Comfort, Fort Monroe, Virginia. He may be buried at the Hampton Military Hospital there.

3. Susan B. Haley - born August 18, 1834 in Plympton, died August 9, 1857 in Abington, Massachusetts.

4. Mary M. Haley - born May 3, 1836 in Plympton, died January 3, 1910 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

5. William Barrett Haley - born July 10, 1837 in Plympton, died November 24, 1882. He served in the Civil War and his pension file was of great use to both myself and his granddaughter, my cousin. The affidavits written by his wife talked about how they had met and ultimately married in 1873.

6. Ruth Barrett Haley - born January 23, 1839 in Plympton, died 1918, probably in Plympton or the surrounding area, as she is buried there. Her husband, Edward Turner, died at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

7. A Haley child born in 1840 and died August 4, 1842 in Plymouth.

8. Elizabeth Haley - born August 3, 1841 in Plympton and died September 4, 1847 in Plympton, just a month after her 6th birthday.

9. Edward Haley - born April 14, 1843 in Plympton, died August 23, 1905 in Middleborough, Massachusetts, evidently the longest-lived of the 4 Haley brothers who went to fight the Civil War!

Whether or not he has descendants is unclear and his daughter is one of my biggest mysteries. He had a son who lived to adulthood, married, but never had children. And then there was his daughter, Annie, who had an illegitimate Haley in 1892. After that, Annie and her child disappear. One of the mysteries to be solved (and you know how much I enjoy genealogical Nancy Drew-ing)!

10. Clarissa Haley - born February 14, 1845 in Plympton, died June 26, 1927 in Middleborough, Massachusetts. Clarissa had 2 marriages and 4 daughters, and is buried with both her husbands in Plympton.

11. Charles B. Haley - born February 18, 1847 in Plympton, died August 8, 1927, probably in Plympton or Middleborough. One of the few (or perhaps only) children who has no descendants today.

12. My 3rd great-grandfather, the youngest child, Benjamin F. Haley - born between August 1851-1852 (for some reason there is no birth record), and died after 1930, probably in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

Oddly enough, my own grandfather eluded me for quite some time! His wife and 3 out of 4 children died in a diptheria epidemic in Plympton. It took me a long time to find out that he had remarried and settled in another county!

Meanwhile, his son, Hiram Frederick Haley - the only survivor among his siblings and mother - lived on to marry the daughter of Irish immigrants and have children.

So there it is... My Celtic ancestry (nothing is known beyond grandfather Edward, except the few facts listed above), and my genealogical connection to the Irish celebration known as Samhain.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ernesta Maddelena Bergamasco

I am doing a series of posts at my daily blog about ancestors and relatives I am honoring throughout October, for the holiday of Samhain.  It seemed a good idea to cross-post them here, since they are all genealogical in nature!

Today I was thinking about my maternal lineage - my mother's, mother's, mother's mother. Most Pagan traditions center around the feminine divine (Goddess), and thus embrace feminism and the importance of matrilineal heritage.

In DNA, intelligence is passed via the mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA). Men do not pass mtDNA to their children; only women do. The mtDNA is used to identify deep ancestry: that is, where in the world your genetic origins lie.

This is my maternal great-great grandmother, Ernesta Maddelena Bergamasco

Ernesta Maddelena Bergamasco

Grandma Ernesta was born May 12, 1874 in Moneglia, Italy. Her parents were Giuseppe and Giabatta. Giabatta's maiden name is unknown. Ernesta had 6 siblings, but we only have information about two of them. Her brother Giovanni came to Boston, Massachusetts, but returned to and died in Italy. Her brother Peter  went to Los Andes, Chile, where he had a textile business. He was there until at least 1923.

Banns for marriage between Ernesta and Bartolomeo Giovanni Michele Galfre were posted November 24, 1894. For a time they lived in San Remo, Italy, where my grandmother was a seamstress.

Ernesta's uncle was a Bishop in Italy. However, because we do not know her mother's maiden name, our research has been stalled. (I have several cousins on the Galfre side in Italy and look forward to meeting them in the future; I'm hoping they can assist me in my Bergamasco research.)

Bartolomeo came to the U.S. on the ship EMS, arriving at Ellis Island on May 12, 1897. Grandma Ernesta came to Massachusetts two years later on a "cow boat" (whatever that means).

Ernesta died at the young age of 50 on March 8, 1925 in Middleboro, Massachusetts.

She had 8 children, 6 of whom lived to adulthood. Her eldest living son, my great-great Uncle Dante, died in a housefire on January 3, 1976.

This photograph of Ernesta survived.

In 2006, I had my mtDNA tested. The result placed me in Haplogroup H1.

This was interesting, but I still have not put the puzzle of my Italian heritage completely together. When I honor my ancestors, Ernesta - my direct maternal ancestor - and her mother, Giabatta, are always first in my mind.

I honor my mother, her mother, her mother, her mother, and her mother first and foremost among my ancestors.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cahoons and Haleys

One of the best things about posting your genealogical findings online is hearing from cousins you never knew you had.

This is how I met Colleen, a descendant of my distant great-uncle, William Haley. 

Of particular interest to Colleen was the sketchy history of her great-great grandmother, Bessie, William's wife. Bessie was a difficult lady to trace, but soon we were able to put together most of the story! And then Colleen was able to fill in the rest of the information from William and Bessie, through their daughter Martha Lenora Haley, who married Alphonso Francis Cahoon on 18 Jul 1891 in Bourne, Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

Bessie was born Bessie Philenia Harrison approximately 29 Apr 1851 in Sandwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. No birth record appears to exist.  Her mother, Roselia Fuller Shaw, died 7 May 1851 in Sandwich. The cause? "Hastened by childbirth."

Bessie's father, George Lewis Harrison, sent her to be reared by John and Pamela Covill. 

At the age of 18, Bessie was married for the first time to Matthew S. Fletcher - 4 Aug 1869, Sandwich, MA. He died at sea, and Bessie married William Haley on 28 Mar 1873 in Middleboro, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

William died in 1882, and finally Bessie married Charles Howard Noyes on 31 Jan 1888 in Boston, MA.

She had children in each marriage, most of whom lived to adulthood.

The one child who remains a mystery is Roy Lester Haley, born about September 1882, and supposedly died in St. Louis, Missouri at the home of Bessie's brother, George Henry Harrison, around 1883 or so. No birth record exists for Roy in Massachusetts. 

Bessie Philenia (Harrison) (Covill) (Fletcher) (Haley) Noyes certainly gave us quite a headache! Fortunately, William Haley's Civil War pension file helped fill in some blanks, but this family tree is still sketchy at best.

The Harrison side requires more research (which I am in the midst of at this very moment) and we would love to know exact dates for little Roy Lester Haley!

Friday, August 28, 2009


Now that I'm settled and acclimated to South Korea, I'm trying to figure out the next direction my research will take.

At the moment, getting into a new routine takes precedence over extended periods of research (our new homeschool year is beginning, I've been trying to spend most of my time on my writing, etc.).

I still volunteer for NEHGS.  I can think of no better way to give back, since I can't exactly endow them financially.  I am grateful for their existence.  That genealogical society membership has really paid for itself a thousandfold over the years!

I am also still in the process of transferring all information, person by person, from Family Tree Maker to Legacy.  Oddly enough, when my husband gave me a new laptop as a "Thank you for flying halfway around the world despite your fear of flying" gift, my Family Tree Maker 16 required a download to make it compatible with Windows Vista (which I dislike intensely), but my Legacy program (dated 2002) did not.

One of the things I did to keep busy while I was waiting to fly from the U.S. to Korea was research for the lovely family who had us as houseguests as we awaited our passports.  Her family comes from the Rochester, NY area, and she also ended up having Mayflower ancestors.  I had fun tying her lines to mine, as well as getting her started on her New York research.

She had gone to Utah for the UU General Assembly (where the Unitarian Universalists of Central Delaware were officially recognized as a new congregation!!!), and spent one of her days there at the LDS Family History Center.  (Yes, I envy her the experience.)  So her interest in family history finally had the chance to not only take root, but sprout some branches!

Of course there remains the issue of my brick wall ancestor, Emma Anna Murphy, whose mystery can be read here and here.

Finally, what overseas assignment would be complete if I did not take advantage of the opportunity for on-site research?  None.

The problem is, I don't have any Asian ancestors.  However, I DO have recent ancestors from Italy and England.  Our hopes are that our next set of orders will put us in Europe (end of next year), and if that happens, I am ready to hop a train to Italy to meet my cousins!  To cross the English channel to visit Manchester, where my great-great grandfather was born!  Perhaps I will even solve a Mayflower mystery!  (Ok, wishful thinking there.)

I must say I am grateful to have New England ancestry.  Other than that unexpected branch of ancestors from North Carolina and Virginia (who married into one of the oldest Massachusetts families), I have been fortunate to find that my family is very well-documented.   Their names are all over Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island (and of course there is a bit of New Hampshire and Maine in there as well).

Naturally I will continue to work on my husband's Loyalist ancestors - those Hawksley and Goodwin families.  I am thankful that I managed to hook up with one of my husband's distant cousins in Canada.  We have been working together to fluff out the branches of the family tree, which now is a bit fuller thanks to our cooperative research efforts. 

She has also provided invaluable assistance to me in understanding what holdings are available in New Brunswick and throughout Canada.  (Marian, I hope you're enjoying your Icelandic vacation!)

For the moment, I'm ready to call it a night.  But tomorrow seems like a good day to work on my file, and figure out how I will refocus my research efforts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Settled in - genealogy awaits!

I am settled into my new home in South Korea. Our household goods have arrived and I am organized. Yes. I am sitting at my very own desk for the first time since June 12.

It feels good to know life will resume in a (new kind of) normal way in t-minus 3 days and counting... :)

Those 3 days being an estimation of how long it will take to catch up on everything else, like transcribing 2 months worth of writing from notebooks into Word. I COULD have done that during my travels, but hubby purchased a brand new laptop for me as a reward for me actually getting on an airplane for 14 and a half hours.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hawksley in Halifax, Nova Scotia

My husband's cousin just sent this to me last night. She found the following:

Hawksley, William, bachelor married May 20, 1810 to Anne Greenwood, spinster, St. Paul's Anglican Church, Halifax, NS

If you look at the marriage bond at, the poor guy's name is mangled in the index as Haireheley, or something like that. It is just easier to look up Ann Greewood and find the marriage that way.

Looking at the marriage bond (original document), it was clear to see that this is a Hawksley.

Now I wonder who William Hawksley was, if he and Ann/e had children, where they lived, and if William has any relationship to the Mr. Hawksley who fathered my husband's ancestor, John Goodwin Hawksley. John did name a son William, so it is possible that this William who married Ann/e Greenwood is an uncle or cousin. Or maybe not.

You never know until you research!

I wish I could spend all day on this family...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Life is busy

I've been focused on the move to Korea and the general craziness of life, so no new WWII photos have gone up. I shall get to them today!

Meanwhile, I am happy to report contact with new cousins regarding my husband's family. Fabulous. Someday I hope to meet these wonderful folks.

Isn't it funny how Korea was not a place I ever planned to visit, but I'm about to live there, while I would love to live in Canada, but will have to settle for visiting sometime in the future (I'll probably be in my 40's by then... Oh, wait... That's only 6 years from now!).

Off to the UU for church (speaking of religion, I highly recommend "Religulous" for anyone who will not be offended by Bill Maher's questioning of the Abrahamic religions. Obviously I am not Christian, Jewish or Muslim, so I found it HILARIOUS), and then I must pounce on my genealogical emails when I get home, as well as clean out my desk (how did the bottom drawer get so heavy?) and go through photographs for an aunt.


I spent this past weekend running errands, including purchasing luggage and all the necessary items for flying with cats (awesome new carriers, harnesses, ID tags, etc.).

And I will also get up a post with some new WWII photos today. I'm ambitious!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Walsh Family - from Ireland to Newfoundland to Brockton, MA

I'm working on my uncle's ancestry. The research on his father and grandfather was the easy part - I obtained vital records from Brockton, MA without a problem. The grandfather then left me wondering where in Newfoundland he had been born, a problem that was easily solved by ordering his form SS-5 and WWI registration card.

This brought me to Colliers, a town in Harbour Main district of Conception Bay, Newfoundland in 1882, researching the Walsh family.

A helpful website has been the Newfoundland Labrador GenWeb. Just select your region and see what is there. I am fortunate that the Harbour Main District is really rich in records.

The other website on which I have relied is Newfoundland's Grand Banks. The baptisms from St. Peter & St. Paul Roman Catholic Church helped me put together the family of my uncle's ancestors, Thomas Walsh and Johanna McDonald.

There were other Walshes there early on and I have no idea if there is any relation to my uncle's family. Today is a good day to work on this file! My uncle is particularly interested to know where in Ireland his ancestors came from before settling in Newfoundland.

I think a trip to Newfoundland first would be an interesting way to trace his family's footsteps!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Mayflower Quarterly, March 2009

As a member of the Mayflower Society, sometimes I get rather tired of all the mentions of God. I know. My ancestors were uber-Christians. But, after a while... Blaaaah.

So when "The Mayflower Quarterly" arrived today, I did what I always do when it comes to my mailbox (for "New England Ancestors" or "Family Tree Magazine", for that matter): I drew a hot bath and settled in for a nice, long read.

I enjoy each and every issue, but I was enthralled by "A Curious Pilgrim Book of Remedies" by James W. Baker. This article talks about Thomas Lupton's A Thousand Notable Things, a book that had a place in the pilgrims' libraries (Samuel Fuller owned it, then it was apparently passed on to William Brewster).

The remedies read like my own personal Book of Shadows! As a modern-day Pagan, I enjoyed reading about treatments that involved herbs, stones, and more (yes, we still use 'em too!).

So in all that icky religiosity I found something about my ancestors that I could relate to at last! A reliance on Mother Nature's gifts to help us stay healthy and balanced.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Timeline for Emma

We're going to go back in time, as is only logical, to look at Emma Anna (Murphy) (Regan) Shaw, my great-great grandmother, and most frustrating brick wall. She lived most of her life (at least from 1888 until the 1930's or 1940's) in Middleborough, Massachusetts.

28 February 1970 - Harrison Shaw's death certificate lists his mother's place of birth as Nova Scotia

2 October 1951 - The first and final accounting of Emma's estate is filed by Harrison

4 May 1945 - Petition for administration of Emma's estate is filed by Harrison. Emma died intestate (without a Will).

17 Mar 1945 - Emma's obituary in the Taunton Daily Gazette gives the same information as her death certificate, below

14 March 1945 - Emma dies in Taunton State Hospital. Her death certificate says:

84 years, 1 month
Birthplace: Portland, Maine
Father's: England, John P. Murphy
Mother's: Scotland, Mary A. Frasher

2 April 1933 - Emma's husband, Erastus Shaw, dies in Taunton State Hospital.

1930 U.S. Census - Middleboro, MA, Emma A. Shaw, age 67, born in Maine, parents born in Canada

1920 U.S. Census - Middleboro, MA, Emma A. Shaw, age 59, born in Maine, parents born in Canada

7 October 1910 - Emma appears on the front page of the Middleboro Gazette in an article about charges of assault (in which she was the defendant!). Yes, my great-great grandmother attacked her neighbor. She "biffed him" in the head with a jug.

1910 U.S. Census - Middleboro, MA, Annie E. Shaw, age 45, born in Massachusetts, parents born in Massachusetts. In this census, she is also noted as having had 2 children, with only 1 living (my great-grandpa, Harrison Shaw).

So far I have yet to find a birth and/or death for a child of this family between 1900 and 1910. I'm pretty sure a neighbor gave this information.

1909 - Emma A. Shaw as grantor, book 1022, page 153, Plymouth County Register of Deeds.

1905 - Emma and Erastus grant land to Ruth Bliss, book 914, page 562, Plymouth County Register of Deeds.

1900 U.S. Census - Middleboro, MA, E. Anna Shaw, age 38, born in Maine, father born in England, mother born in Scotland (like the death certificate)

1897-1899 Middleboro Directories - Emma appears on her own in as owner of a variety store and "dining room" at 143 Plymouth Street, also her home.

1890 Middleborough Directory - Mrs. E.B. Shaw, Occupation: Variety story, Location: Plymouth, E. (as in Plymouth Street in Middleboro)

Family rumors place Emma's store in Cambridge or the surrounding area. We have no idea why. Nothing has been found in Cambridge or area directories for an Emma Shaw. She might have owned a shop under her first husband's surname (Regan). We've not found an Emma, Anna, Annie, E. Annie, E. Anna, or E. A. Regan in directories either.

We don't know her first husband's first name, under which it is possible such a store existed. I've searched Regans (and all sorts of spelling variations) for deaths in Massachusetts between 1880 and 1888 (when Emma married Erastus at the age of 25). Nothing found yet.

9 May 1889 - Her son, Harrison Clifford Shaw (my great-grandpa) is born 6 months after their marriage (so she was in Middleboro at least 3 months prior to her marriage, unless Harrison was quite premature. But the likelihood of a preemie surviving back then was pretty low). His birth certificate says that "Emma A. Reagion" was born in Maine.

So on we go with Maine, right? You might wonder why I think that she was born in Nova Scotia, when reference to NS only comes up twice - for the second (and final) time in my great-grandfather's death certificate in 1970, and for the first time in:

17 November 1888 - Marriage certificate/record/register (in Middleborough, MA) for Erastus B. Shaw and Emma A. Regan. The original handwritten register indicates that her maiden name is Murphy.

It was the second marriage for both parties. Emma gives her birth as 25 years old, her birthplace as Nova Scotia, her father's name as Patrick Murphy and her mother's name as Mary ____.

A search of the 1880 and 1870 censuses for Maine and Massachusetts give me nothing. I've tried so many variations - not just in naming, but in searching. I've looked for Murphy born in all the places mentioned, throughout the entire census. There is a slim possibility here or there, but nothing that screams, "Hi, I am your family!"

I've also tried the 1881 Canadian census and found "potentials" but, again, nothing to fit the known facts.

So this is when I must stretch into the unknown and unanticipated.

I've gone a step back to 1860 in Maine and Massachusetts, to try to find a John Patrick Murphy and wife Mary Ann, but so far I haven't turned up what seems like the correct family.

So between 1888 and 1945, Emma's life is pretty well-documented. She was in Middleborough for most of it. Before that, she is nowhere.

Well, she's somewhere.

I'm just not sure if it's on this planet.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Emma Anna (Murphy) (Regan) Shaw

I have never wanted to scold a grandparent before, but my great-great grandmother Emma takes the cake!

Tracing her back has left me with about 60 years of her life figured out, and the first 25 years a complete mystery.

She died in 1945 at the age of 84, according to her death certificate from Taunton, MA. Her death certificate tells me she was born in Portland, Maine. Censuses from 1900 to 1930 also tell me she was born in Maine, except for one which lists Massachusetts. Her son's birth certificate (my great-grandfather Harrison Shaw) gives her places of birth as Maine as well.

But either they screwed up big time or her family dodged the 1880 and 1870 censuses!

If you look at the death certificate of my grandpa Harrison, it gives his mother's place of birth as Nova Scotia.

And the same goes for the 1888 marriage record of Emma Anna (Murphy) Regan and Erastus Bartlett Shaw.

I have checked the 1870 and 1880 censuses to no avail. I checked births and marriages in Massachusetts to see if Emma Anna Murphy's first marriage occurred there or if she was born there.

Her parents are usually listed as being born in Canada or England (her father) and Scotland (mother). The father has been listed as John Murphy and Patrick Murphy (so his name is probably John Patrick Murphy). Her mother is Mary Ann Frasher, but since I can't find any Frashers in Nova Scotia, I'm thinking she might be Fraser or Frasier.

Yes, I've checked to see if there are other children with parents by these names. Since Emma was born either in 1861 or 1863, her birth is not found in province registrations.

Since there isn't a province-wide index to the 1871 census, I have to guess at which towns to research.

Since she doesn't appear in the 1880 U.S. Census OR the 1881 Canadian census, I can only theorize that she was traveling at this time.

Or came to earth via U.F.O. in 1888.

I believe great-great grandma Emma must be upgraded from a "Brick Wall" to a "WTF???" ancestor.

It was nothing at all

I'm jamming to Heart and thinking how only yesterday, I thought I would just leave my old GEDCOM at Rootsweb, even though I was creating a new and improved (I hope!) file. I thought about the fact that it just isn't perfect.

And I can't help but be a perfectionist when it comes to genealogy. Sources, checking every possible record, not settling for just one method of research, etc. (I will miss the local FHL so much!!! Microfilms, where will I find thou whilst in South Korea???)

But this morning I woke up to an email thanking me for the GEDCOM, which gave another person more information on their family - information I was able to locate because I specifically spent a gorgeous summer day at the NEHGS library to look at a particular file on the archives floor.

It reminded me that when we share, our concerns about the imperfections of our work are of little importance to the person who finds a name they needed, a date they could not seem to find, or a story that gives "life" to their ancestors.

Monday, April 6, 2009


The Shaw family came to Plymouth, MA in the 1600's and quickly spread throughout what is now Plymouth County. My ancestors lived in all the typical Shaw towns - Plympton, Carver and Middleboro. Many of my aunts, uncles and cousins are still in the area.

My cousin Kenny certainly has done his best to put together the Shaw family puzzle. He has worked on practically every single line from Plymouth, as well as many others.

As for me, I tend to keep it simple. I save cluster genealogy for brick walls or post-1850 relationships. It can get far too confusing otherwise! Moreso with all the Josephs in the Shaw family (and the Bartlett family... but that is a post for a later date).

Starting with my great-grandfather and going back, I have a pretty simple line there:

1. Erastus Bartlett Shaw who married Emma Anna Murphy (my great-great grandma - the bane of my genealogical existence... ARGH! More about her later this week)

2. Harrison Shaw & Adaline Crocker Bent

3. Joseph Shaw, Jr. & Sarah Murdock

4. Joseph Shaw & Lydia Shaw (yup, another line that comes back around on itself; but who doesn't have tons of 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins who married each other?)

5. Nathaniel Shaw & Hannah Perkins

6. Jonathan Shaw, Jr. & Elizabeth Atwood

7. Jonathan Shaw & Mehitabell Pratt (I can't stand the name "Mehitabell" because the spelling variations are ridiculous)

8. Jonathan Shaw & Phebe Watson

9. John Shaw who came to Plymouth in the 1600's, but whose origins are unknown at this point.

I am glad that documentation in Massachusetts is plentiful. The Vital Records to 1850 series is extremely useful when it comes to the Shaw family; both Carver and Plympton give me almost all the births, marriages and deaths I need. When it comes to Middleboro, I feel fortunate that their vital records were indexed and placed online (in PDF format) by the Middleborough Public Library a few summers ago.

That was probably one of my most fortunate genealogical encounters... I think it was the summer of 2003 or 2004. I was sitting on the floor of the Middleboro Town Hall at their filing cabinet, going through births, deaths, and marriages on my Haley family (also a story for another day).

A woman was sitting at a laptop and told me that if I needed a certain group of index cards to let her know. I asked what she was doing, and she told me she was an employee of the library, transcribing the index cards to go online through the library's website.

It is funny to think of all the pleasant hours spent trudging through cemeteries, chatting with town clerks, and scrolling through microfilm in musty libraries, only to find a few years later that what you discovered then is available online now.

But I wouldn't trade those types of memories for the world.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

NEHGS volunteer work

I probably put about an hour a day, give or take, into working on files sent to me by NEHGS. But today is the perfect day to sit down, transcribe and proofread, while watching hours and hours of shows on my DVR!

When it comes to TV, I don't watch much. Basically, just give me "Venture Brothers" and "Robot Chicken", and I'm a happy camper. But there are other things on my DVR that just sort of sit, waiting for the day I want to watch them.

Do I want to watch "Out of Africa" today or the pilot for the TV show "Cupid"? I don't do war-type guy-movies, but I have "Taking Chance" on my DVR because of the mention of DAFB. But I think I'd prefer a laugh today. Hmm...

Either way, it is a good day to sit on the couch, put my feet up, plop my laptop on my lap, and get to work on some cemeteries!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy - Uncle, Uncle

I have never participated in this before and, despite being a writer, I have always had a difficult time with creative writing "assignments" (I do better when I select my own topic), so please bear with me. ;-)

My precious Uncle Jon and I almost shared the same birthdate. Jon Bartlett Wood definitely had the Sagittarian wanderlust! Born on December 10, 1945, Uncle Jon was a young man when he joined the Coast Guard, and then later became a merchant marine.

For me and my sister, this meant presents from places we had never heard of or even imagined existed. We did not see our father's favorite (and eldest) brother often, but when we did, we were always thrilled to have him at home.

He once brought us t-shirts from Trinindad & Tabago. Both my sister and I had no idea where those places were, but we loved those shirts!

Uncle Jon enjoyed pulling pranks, but was able to do it so endearingly that you could not help but love him. He tormented my father to varying degrees during their childhood but never with malice. I recall stories of my Uncle Jon telling my father to jump as high as he could, then pulling his legs out from under him while he was in the air!

When Uncle Jon visited, he would give us not just gifts, but attention. He knew how to make us giggle by playing all sorts of "I got ya!" games, or he would sit quietly with us and share a coloring book. I will never forget his version of The Wizard of Oz Tinman - a seamless blend of a rainbow of colors, all done perfectly inside the lines, but with unconventional colors.

One Christmas, Uncle Jon brought me a Barbie house - the kind with 3 floors, a cardboard back with a different background for each level of the house, and an elevator you could pull up by a string.

We would not see him again after that Christmas.

Uncle Jon was a crewmember on the SS Marine Electric, which departed from Norfolk, Virginia, on its way to Massachusetts on 10 February 1983. The 34 crew members were bringing up a cargo of granulated coal.

The ship was, it was later determined, unseaworthy, yet kept in service anyway (as were so many other ships). The ship had holes in the deck plating and hatch covers, but sailed anyway. Fake inspection reports showed the ship to be in good shape, but those hatch covers had never been tested by inspectors.

The SS Marine Electric sank and 31 of the 34 crewmembers died during the day of 12 February 1983.

My favorite Uncle was among the 24 dead recovered.

I was only 9 years old when he died. Uncle Jon was 37 with no wife or children, but a big family with his parents, 3 siblings, 2 nephews, and 2 nieces, as well as grandparents still living.

Jon Bartlett WoodThe "Deep Sea Detectives - Ship of Doom" episode that aired on the History Channel in November of 2004 was difficult to watch, but we watched it nonetheless. It is only a small consolation to know that this tragedy helped make the entire merchant marine system safer for sailors, but it hurts to know that it took this kind of event for unseaworthy ships to finally be scrapped!

There is a monument to sailors at Bourne or Buzzard's Bay, and my Uncle's name is mispelled on it. For some reason people always want to throw an "h" in his name. :) I have not visited the monument; I was in Onset last year, but I don't think I could see it.

For us, the untimely loss of Uncle Jon is still one that hurts. He was fun, loving and generous to us, even though he only had the opportunity to see us a handful of times in the short 9 years I had to know him.

The first photograph is Uncle Jon and me, taken in 1978. The second is probably 1982 or 1983, with my beloved Barbie house in the background.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Still at it with FTM and Legacy

Wahhh! Do I get to take a break yet?

I do like Family Tree Maker, but the decision to switch to Legacy is based on the fact that I like the format better, particularly for source citation.

I've been at it for... Umm... Almost a year. Why so slow?

1. Because I am not importing my GEDCOM and calling it a day.

2. I chose to go person by person to ensure that all source citations are complete and up to date, as well as to do additional research (not extensive research, but just triple- and quadruple-check things, such as maybe having a grandparent in the 1900 and 1920 censuses, but not finding their 1910 entry previously).

3. I'm a writer, so I'm always working on my trade. I also proofread and edit for "The Beltane Papers", and that takes time, as it is produced 3 times a year.

4. I am the editor for the Bartlett Society's newsletter. That also takes time, as I produce it twice a year.

5. I homeschool my son. Yeah. You guessed it. That takes time. Every day.

6. My husband has been in South Korea since November on his second remote tour (he was there previously in 2002 - but he's glad to be there again. It's a very nice change from the desert!).

Soooo the whole family file transfer moves slowly, but steadily. My Rootsweb tree has not been updated since last year. Life happens.

But I certainly am more fortunate than most, since my days involve putting my feet up to check email and work (on writing or genealogy), then sitting my son down to recite his French, addition and subtraction facts, to study nature, and to create art, then back to the computer for more work on (and I'll bet you guessed it again) writing or genealogy... Or a combination of the two!

Well, I hope to have the file completely done before June, because my life is - hopefully - about to become infinitely more complex.

Let's just say that our follow-on to Alaska at the end of the year is turning into something that might happen sooner... And take me further away from home.

Regardless of the Air Force's decision on our next move (Monday can not come fast enough), the result will definitely mean no more quick and easy 8-hour trips home to Massachusetts, and days spent at cemeteries, town halls and libraries, while my in-laws spend time with my son.

Thank goodness for NEHGS!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Cracker Tavern, Duxbury, Massachusetts

John Winsor and the Cracker Tavern
My ancestor, John Winsor (my 4th great-grandfather) ran The Cracker Tavern at the corner of Winsor and Washington Streets in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The beautiful building was torn down in 1962.

Daniel Webster and Henry Thoreau were both patrons. Thoreau wrote about my great-grandfather in his 1865 book, "Cape Cod" (pages 77 and 78), as follows (paragraph breaks are my own to make it easier for you to read, and references to my great-grandfather in bold):
I once sailed three miles on a mackerel cruise myself. It was a Sunday evening after a very warm day in which there had been frequent thunder-showers, and I had walked along the shore from Cohasset to Duxbury. I wished to get over from the last place to Clark's Island, but no boat could stir, they said, at that stage of the tide, they being left high on the mud.

At length I learned that the tavern-keeper, Winsor, was going out mackerelling with seven men that evening, and would take me. When there had been due delay, we one after another straggled down to the shore in a leisurely manner, as if waiting for the tide still, and in India-rubber boots, or carrying our shoes in our hands, waded to the boats, each of the crew bearing an armful of wood, and one a bucket of new potatoes besides. Then they resolved that each should bring one more armful of wood, and that would be enough. They had already got a barrel of water, and had some more in the schooner.
Thoreau continues to discuss the sailing trip and then we learn that John Winsor ended up overboard.
The boom swung round once or twice, and Winsor cast overboard the foul juice of mackerel mixed with rain-water which remained in his trough, and then we gathered about the helmsman and told stories.
It sounds like they ultimately had a good time that Sunday evening and it was fun to see my ancestor through Henry Thoreau's eyes. Too often we are very "removed" from our ancestors, the further back they are. So this kind of story can be a wonderful treasure.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blackden, Blagdon, & Blagden

Sometimes putting families together is a pain, I must say. Particularly when you get back into the 1700's and the men in every generation were named, as my correspondent put it, "John, Charles or William!"

Thankfully, I have completed the transfer of my husband's entire family (even all the ancestors of his step-parents) from FTM to Legacy. Now I'm working on mine (I'm still on my paternal side...).

Meanwhile, my focus is also on the Blackden, Blagdon and Blagden family (families?) that settled in Massachusetts and Maine in the early to mid-1700's.

I have plenty of documentation going about 6 or 7 generations back. But from that 7th generation, and on back, things get cloudy. This is the problem that my email correspondent is having as well. Her female ancestor is a Blagdon, and everything from her marriage through the present day has been figured out.

But the Blagdon's parents? She has not a clue. So I am focused on pulling together every little snippet of Blackden, Blagdon, and Blagden (sometimes even Bragdon and Bragden!) information as I try to help this potential cousin (to my husband).

If you are also researching this family in Somerset County, Maine, and surrounding areas, feel free to drop me a line!

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a genealogical gold-mine!

A gold-mine of requests, that is!

I am still in the midst of transferring my family tree file from Family Tree Maker to Legacy. I finally completed my husband's side a week ago, and am working on mine, which is (at this point) far more extensive. We are talking thousands of people from very well-documented New England families, for the most part.

Of course, there are variations - my Italian great-great grandparents, who came to Massachusetts in the 1890's, my British great-great grandfather, whom came to Connecticut in the 1870's, and the odd and unexpected Southern side (originally from Perquimmans and Tyrrell Counties in North Carolina, and from Norfolk County, Virgnia before that), that creeped in through marriage to one of the many sailors in the Winsor family from Duxbury, Massachusetts!

Meanwhile, the past week has also brought me many genealogy-related emails. One asked me about my Westgate ancestors, one about my husband's Blackden (Blagdon, Blagden) ancestors, and my sister asked me to research her fiancee's paternal name.

My sister's request is the most difficult to fulfill. "Daviage" is a rare name and I can not find it anywhere! I can find her fiancee's mother and uncle in the Social Security Death Index. I can find another uncle all over the internet. But if you look in the 1920 or 1930 censuses, I can not find his grandfather.

I told my sister that I need more information, of course.

Her fiancee's maternal lineage is easy-peasy. They are old New Englanders. We end up being cousins, of course!

But his father's side? I'm not sure. His mother was caucasian, but his father is African-American. This would be my first foray into "black" ancestry and, honestly, it has been something I have wanted to research for a long time now! I've always been curious about the challenges of documenting African-American ancestors.

The funny thing is, despite the way the "Daviage" name sounds, it does not appear to be French. Or, at least, not French-Canadian. It shows up predominantly in English records! So I don't know what to make of his ancestry just yet... A Caucasian ancestor back there? Adaptation of the name from the family who "owned" them during slave times?

We honestly don't know.

This will certainly be a one-step-at-time process, unlike New England genealogy where you can often hit upon a connection (say, the Alden name comes up), and when you've proven that this particular Alden daughter is your ancestress, immediately go to Mayflower silver books, volume 16, parts 1, 2 and 3, and put together a family tree for that particular branch in 60 seconds flat.

Nuh-uh. This one is going to take some serious genealogical Nancy Drew-ing on my part, and I am looking forward to it!