Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mildred Marian Burrell

What can I say, except this is going to be a whopper of an ahnentafel when I post it?  My Burrell ancestors throughout Norfolk County (names mostly found in Randolph, Braintree, and Dedham) branch out, and then back in again on each otherThis occurs so many times with my great-grandma Mildred's ancestors, that I must always refer to pedigree charts for a visual, even if I am working on Legacy!  It is one of those befuddling lines when you come across a name and say, "Wait a moment...  Didn't I just work on descendants of... Yes, yes, I did.  But now I'm descended from his fourth daughter, as well as his firstborn son."

In particular, the Pray family of Braintree gives me several lines down to Mildred Burrell, as does pilgrim John Alden.  This will probably be the most extensive ahnentafel on my family, besides my Shaw ancestors (through my paternal grandmother) and my Bartlett ancestors (through my maternal grandmother).

And so we begin with Mildred Marian Burrell, who has quite the most interesting history!  Hers is the key to the "mysterious" family group I referenced in my last post.  Why?  Because great-grandma Mildred was married to a man named Joseph St. Onge, with whom she had 4 or 5 children (the paternity of at least one child is in doubt).  Joseph is rumored to have been quite the black sheep, and he received his own post back in January of 2010.

Nobody knows what happened to Joseph after he left Mildred.  I have been in touch with Joseph's and Mildred's descendants (my cousins through our shared grandmother and great-grandmother), and where and how his life ended is a complete mystery.  There is only speculation based upon the fact that he wasn't the most law-abiding citizen.  I did suggest to one second cousin that contacting the FBI to see if they have a file on Joseph St. Onge (potentially also known as "Joe Brown") might yield some results, if she is that interested in what happened to her great-grandfather.  I know that I'm curious, even though he is not my ancestor, but rather the first husband of my ancestor!  Some family members have even been told "you don't want to know" with regard to Joseph!

Wouldn't that make *you* more curious about what he had done that was so awful, even if he wasn't your great-grandfather?

I descend from Mildred through her second marriage, this time to Herbert Benjamin Haley, whose ahnentafel was the subject of my last post.

Mildred is one of the ancestors that I wish I could have met.  She died in 1972, two years before I was born.  She had 6 children, one of whom was rumored to be the child of somebody else completely.  The family consensus from my grandfather (her son), my Nana (her former daughter-in-law), and my cousins through Mildred and Joseph, are that Mildred was not a good mother.  She did not raise all of her children; many were fostered out to other families, perhaps even officially adopted, as may have been the case with the son whose paternity was in question.

My female cousins and I agree that Mildred probably did not have the best adult life, and that perhaps this is what caused her to appear to be such a cold, unfeeling person when it came to her children.  Her first husband was clearly a good-for-nothing who abandoned her with 5 children.  This was not long after the Great Depression, and goodness knows how that must have affected Mildred, especially followed by that abandonment!

Out of all of the people in my family, I think Mildred must have had it the hardest.  Surely her situation in life must have affected her as a person.  Maybe she gave her children away, not because she did not love them, but because she knew that others could provide better for them.  Mildred's family looked like this:

Mildred Marian Burrell (b. 1897, Randolph, MA, d. 1972, Abington, MA) married between 1918-1922 to Joseph William St. Onge (b. 1893, Marlborough, MA, death date and place unknown, but sometime after 1940).

I do not know if they were even married, but I do want to check the courthouses back home in Massachusetts to see if there is a divorce docket for Mildred St. Onge.

They had:

1.  Joseph St. Onge (1919-1978) - I am in touch with his daughter, my 1/2 first cousin, once removed

2.  Mary Ellen St. Onge (1920-1985) - I have been in touch with one of her sons, my 1/2 first cousin, once removed

3.  Gertrude Mildred St. Onge (1921-2000) - A cousin once called her to ask about the family, and Gertrude refused to discuss it.  I hope someday to be in touch with her son, my 1/2 first cousin, once removed

4.  William L. St. Onge (1924-after 1972) - The son whose paternity is in question; he changed his name to "William Perry", raised as the adopted son of George Perry of Bridgewater (1930 census)

5.  Frank W. St. Onge (1925-1996) - I am in touch with his granddaughter, my 1/2 second cousin

Mildred then married Herbert Benjamin Haley before 26 April 1942.  They had:

6.  Herbert Benjamin Haley, Jr., my grandfather (living)

7.  Lorraine Janice Haley, my great-aunt (living)

My grandfather had actually lost touch with his sister many, many years ago.  *Just* before I left the United States in 2009 to live in Korea, they were reunited (I have a letter from Aunt Lorraine - one of the first contacts any of our family had with her in so long, about 2008, I believe - it's in the place where I keep all the most precious family documents; it is something I will always consider a keepsake).  It was one of the happiest moments of my life, even though I could not be there, because we had been trying to find her for so long!

Maybe someday we will be in contact with Gertrude's son and any descendants of William (St. Onge) Perry, and learn more about the family, as well as reunite some cousins.  I have a feeling that everybody ultimately lost touch with one another over the years.

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan


  1. Hi, Wendy...

    I'm going to enjoy reading through your blog as I have strong New England family ties starting with several Mayflower families (including John Alden). =)

  2. Thank you Cora! I enjoy your blog very much and appreciate you reading mine. :)