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!


  1. Hi there,
    I found your great blog while searching for Dorchester family photographs to use on our Dorchester Descendants facebook page. I would love to use your Blake family image, maybe you could look at our new page (and even 'like' it if you want to!) then let me know if it is ok to use it?
    Thank you,
    Rosanne Foley

  2. Hi there Rosanne,

    You are welcome to use the photo. It was taken in Middleborough, MA and these Blakes were several generations removed from their Dorchester grandparents. But if it's of interest, I would be honored if you shared it with others. :)