Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Grab Bag

The Christmas Tea 
 
When I was a child, growing up in Southern Tier New York State, my mother would attend the annual Women's Society in Christian Service Christmas Tea at our church. Hostesses would bring their best table linens, china service, sterling silver flatwear and a special Christmas dessert to be shared with all the ladies . . . and my mother was ALWAYS a hostess. I remember her baking and gathering all her finest, wrapping them in towels and packing them in boxes to take to church. I had always wished I could attend . . . .

Years later while living in Western Massachusetts, I longed for such a tradition to begin in our local church, but the people there were not accustomed to such elaborate celebrations as an English Christmas High Tea, so we opted for a Christmas Cookie Exchange instead. But even that wasn't what I was accustomed to, where women in the church brought several dozen of their family's favorite home-baked Christmas cookies and enough copies of the recipe to exchange with all the participants. In that circle, busy women weren't inclined to bake holiday treats, and some even resorted to purchasing cookies at the local supermarket . . .

Still longing for a traditional Christmas Tea, I spoke to a good friend who suggested we begin the tradition on our own. So, that year I hosted our first annual Christmas tea at my home with the special addition of using Delores' bone china cup and saucer collection. The fellowship became the tradition I had always hoped for, and each year I would invite a select group of friends to share tea and cakes, and other holiday treats, mingled with laughter and good conversation. What special times they were.

Now that I am living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, I am finding people even less inclined to attend such a formal occasion which perhaps the Vanderbilt might have enjoyed at the Biltmore Estate in times past.

It will, however, remain a very fond memory that perhaps one day might be revived in another place.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog Caroling: Tua Bethlem Dref, a traditional Welsh Christmas carol




Tua Bethlem Dref
On To Bethlehem Town:
a traditional Welsh Christmas carol
Music by: David Evans 
(pseu. Edward Arthur) (1874 - 1948)
Lyrics by: Will Ifin

When I saw the footnoteMaven's challenge to go Blog Caroling, I took the opportunity to find out more about my Welsh roots. While I was unable to find any history on this carol, the words are presented here in both Welsh and English, and you can listen to them in both languages in the videos posted here. 
I hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Other Traditions: Christmas Movies

Beginning on Thanksgiving afternoon, watching Christmas movies together had been a long-standing tradition in the Carter household when the children were growing up in the 1990s . . . especially for our daughter and me. It began with the original 1947 version of Valentine Davies' Miracle on 34th Street, starring Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood. Then we'd watch Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.

But one Christmas story has grown beyond tradition to a season-long event, and that is the viewing of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in as many versions as possible, starting with Albert Finney in Scrooge: The Musical (1970).

According to Darcy Oordt, author of The Haunted Internet, there have been "over 50 versions and that does not include foreign versions or television episodes." And over the years, it has become a seasonal pre-occupation to expand my collection of all things Ebenezer Scrooge.

There are two scenes in the story that vary to some degree between versions which I especially appreciate:

The Ghost of Christmas Past
What was the purpose of this spirit's ethereal visitation? One line, which varies between versions, especially intrigues me here. In Charles Dickens' original A Christmas Carol, Scrooge meets the unearthly visitor as the bell sounds One. When Scrooge inquires of the spirit what business brought him there, he answers:
Your welfare . . . . Your reclamation, then. Take heed.
(Stave 2: paragraphs 31-33)
In Scrooge: The Musical, the ghost, who is portrayed as an elderly female, the purpose beyond Scrooge's welfare is his redemption. My favorite retelling of this purpose, however, is found in The Muppet Christmas Carol where an ethereal, boyish child warns Scrooge that the purpose is his salvation.

 The Ghost of Christmas Future
 As far as I know, there is only one version that adds this scene, which was cut from many television broadcasts for commercial break, and that is the final part of this visitation by the ghastly specter of The Ghost of Christmas Future whom Dickens refers to as the Phantom. Albert Finney's portrayal of Scrooge shows him falling into his grave and awakening in the torments of HELL. The unexpected twist here, however, is that Scrooge must suffer the very deprivations he forced upon his clerk, Bob Cratchit. 

Conclusion
Bill Petro gives us an History of A Christmas Carol: A ghost story of Christmas in his blog Bridging the Gap Between Strategy to Execution. I would also recommend this book,  The Annotated Christmas Carol: A Christmas Carol in Prose which I hope to  add to my collection this season.
I hope you will explore some of the wonders of this story 
and take its message to heart in this Christmas Season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Santa Claus

As a child, my mother taught me that if I was good, Santa Claus would visit our house on Christmas Eve night and fill my stocking with lots of goodies and leave presents under the tree. I would write a letter addressed  to Santa Claus, North Pole, and leave it in the mailbox. And on each Christmas Eve night, as I lay in bed half asleep, I could hear the sound of bells going down the hallway toward the place where our Christmas tree stood. 

I believed it was Santa . . . but if I had really analyzed the sounds, I would have realized that if Santa came down the chimney, he would've landed in the basement and walked up the stairs into the living room, rather than come through the trap door from the attic which was just outside my bedroom door. 

But as I grew older, my list grew longer, and I soon discovered quite by accident that if I didn't send Santa a letter, I received more than I would have asked for. That continued for several years, until one year I received a rude awakening. 

Years before, Gram Gram Silverman had comissioned a stocking to be knitted with a Jolly Old St. Nick, coming down the chimney. He had a white angora beard, and there were bells sewn around the top where my name had been knitted into the pattern, and a bell sewn to the stocking's toe. That year I awoke on Christmas Day morning, eager to look inside my stocking and open my gifts . . . but what I found had puzzled me

Inside the stocking was a chocolate Santa, an orange and some nuts. That was all. Then I looked at the gifts under the tree. The boxes with tags that had From: Santa printed on them were wrapped in identical paper as those with From: Dad & Mom written in cursive on them. 

"Mom," I asked, "why are the presents from Santa wrapped in the same paper that you used?"

"Santa Claus is poor this year," she said, "so we helped him out and let him use our gift wrap."

WHAT! How could Santa Claus be poor!? As I opened the presents that year, I found practical gifts like school supplies and socks and underwear. That was the worst, most disappointing Christmas I ever had! 

 As a young child, my husband had wondered about a white Santa Claus coming down a chimney (which his family didn't have) . . . or breaking in through a door or window . . . in an African-American neighborhood in the city. He didn't have a chance! 


So when our children were born, we decided to teach them about the real Saint Nicholas. Our treatment of Santa Claus changed from that of a magical, all-seeing rewarder of good behavior to that of the true historical figure, a man who had accepted the free gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ, who became a priest and sought to live a life worthy of the calling of Christ to make provision for the needy. And, at the foot of our Christmas tree we placed a figurine of a kneeling Santa, adoring the Christ child.                              The True Saint Nicholas

The lyrics of the song, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, state: 
He sees you when you're sleeping, 
He knows when you're awake. 
He knows when you've been bad or good, 
So be good for goodness sake!

I would much rather my children believe this eternal message: 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: 
for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, 
and that he is a rewarder of them 
that diligently seek him. 
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)





Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories -- Christmas Food

Harriet (JONES) NEWTON
Till the time I was five years old, my Grandma  Newton would send us a Christmas parcel which faithfully included the traditional tin of Crosse & Blackwell's English Style Brandied Plum Pudding. Christmas Pudding had been a tradition in Dad's household as a boy, his father's family being English farmers and his mother's Welsh coalminers. On Christmas night we would have steamed plum pudding with Grandma's hard sauce, which Mom would make strictly from the recipe, found in a handwritten letter in Mom's recipe tin.

I say the parcels came till I was five years old, because Grandma died tragically on October 19, 1966. She had already purchased and wrapped our gifts, and Grandpa mailed them off to us that December. Our tradition, however, continued all through my childhood.

When I went away to college, some friends wanted to share a Christmas dinner, and I was asked to prepare a traditional family dish. Of course, Christmas Pudding was our family's fondest tradition, so I made a plum pudding from scratch for the very first time that year.

Ever since I have made my homemade plum pudding with hard sauce . . . but I've changed it up a bit since those early days, and my hard sauce has become a little richer than Grandma's was. But here is the recipe I use today, ideally to be made the Sunday before Advent begins . . . but I've made it anywhere up to a week before Christmas Day.

The night before making your Christmas Plum Pudding, soak 1/8 c. each raisins and currants in 1/2 c. apricot brandy.

The next day: In a large bowl, sift together: 3/4 c. flour, 1/4 tsp. each baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; and 1/8 tsp. each ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Add: the raisins mixture, 1/8 c. chopped walnuts, a little fresh grated orange & lemon zest, 1/4 c. each carrots, raw potato and apple. Stir in: 1/4 c. finely minced suet, 3/8 c. milk, 1/8 c. dark molasses, and one egg, beaten. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart greased pudding mold (I like to use Crisco shortening). If you don't have a pudding mold: pour into a medium-sized greased Pyrex bowl. In both instances: cover with several layers of waxed paper. If using a pudding mold, close the top and secure the fasteners; tie a double piece of butcher's twine to the ring of the mold. If using a bowl, cover and seal well with a double layer of heavy duty foil, crimp the edges firmly around the edge of the bowl and tie securely with butcher's twine. 

Place the pudding on a rack set in the bottom of a dutch oven. Carefully pour boiling water from a kettle two-thirds the up the side of the mold. Bring to a boil rapidly, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and boil gently for 4 to 4 1/2 hours, adding more water as needed. Remove from the heat, cool. I like to take my pudding from the mold and tie it up in cheesecloth soaked in apricot brandy. Store in the refrigerator, adding brandy as it gets soaked into the pudding. 

My hard sauce is made by making a roux with 1/4 c. butter and 1/4 c. white flour, then gradually adding  eggnog till it's the desired consistency. I like mine quite thick. I then flavor with apricot brandy and nutmeg. The pudding is steamed in a double boiler before serving, and the hot hard sauce is poured over the top of each serving.

I hope you enjoy our family's tradition . . . 
                 a rich sweet to be savored but once a year.  

 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories -- The Christmas Tree

The Carter Christmas Tree, 2003
Our family has always had an artificial tree. Allergies . . .

Over the years our family's Christmas tree took on various shapes and sizes. My first tree was given to me by my grandfather, Mark Silverman. The two-foot tree made of silver tinsel boughs came with small, blue, glass balls to hang on them . . . sort of a Hannukah bush.

When our first child was born in 1984, I ordered a four-foot tall artificial spruce tree from the JC Penney Catalog along with wooden ornaments. In 2003, our daughter asked, "Why is our tree so small?" Dad answered, "Because when we got it you were so small! We didn't want you to get overwhelmed by it." So that year we replaced it with this six-foot tree. After the death of our youngest child in 1990, we went to the Yankee Candle factory store in Deerfield, MA and each selected an ornament that reminded us of her, which are displayed on this tree along with some of the original ornaments.

Now that my husband and I have moved the nest from Western Massachusetts to Western North Carolina, we put up a Thomas Kinkade Nativity Tree in the living room. My husband first pulls the box out of his den closet, sets it down on the living room floor, and then places the tree on a stereo speaker. "Oh, I'm exhausted from that chore," he jokes. But the HO train set his father gave him as a boy still goes around the base of the tree . . . or should I say, around the base of the stereo speaker.

First Presbyterian Church, Galveston
When I was a child, though, the tree I always loved the best was the Chrismon Tree in our church sanctuary. There was always a Saturday Christmas Craft Day when children and adults would meet in the recreation hall to make giant pine cone Christmas trees, wreaths and a variety of ornaments. The following Sunday was the Hanging of the Greens service, and the Advent Wreath with its three purple candles, one pink and a white Christ candle in the center was displayed at the altar. The Chrismon Tree stood on the right side of the sanctuary by the choir loft.

The members of Women's Society of Christian Service (WSCS) at Vestal United Methodist Church, Vestal, NY had made ornaments called Chrismons by decorating symbols cut from styrofoam with pearls, glitter and gold beads. Each shape represented an aspect of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. At church the tree and the greens were real . . . the evergreen being a symbol of eternal life.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - Challenge #48 - Personal Genealogy Library

Personal Genealogy Library
While I have participated in some of the past genealogy challenges presented by GeneaBlogger's  52 Weeks To Better Genealogy even before I started blogging, this is the first prompt I have participated in that got me excited enough to actually write about. The challenge this week was perfect for those of us well-intentioned organized folks who have accumulated so much stuff that it seems nearly impossible to get it all together, but here it goes . . .

The challenge was to examine three online tools for cataloging our personal genealogy library -- LibraryThingGood Reads and Shelfari -- "and see how genealogists use them". 

I started out by taking the tour on LibraryThing. I liked the way books were presented as covers on a shelf; but I was impressed even more as I discovered its versatility in customizable lists. The site boasts that it "helps create a library-quality catalog of books." Many times when I am writing source data I have thought it might be so helpful to just look in one spot and find it all there, ready and waiting, in the format I need. The search engine accesses titles from 690 sources, and allows you to manually add titles not found. That was particularly good for me since I use many antiquarian texts, many of which I have only been able to find on WorldCat.org. But I was pleasantly surprised that many of the titles I had were already in the system because of the added feature of linking you to all the people who have also read the same sources. 

Next I tried Shelfari. I immediately noticed that the graphics were more color-blocked and fresh looking, but could it stand up to to the test? The tour is more visual than Library Thing, and it seemed more in line with searching out popular titles that others are reading. I typed in "genealogy" in the title search and got a listing of popular how-to books. Nothing I was interested in. Then I browsed the groups and could not find a category for genealogy or family history. Doing a group search left me with four groups with a total of 22 members and 9 discussion posts. This may look like a flashy site, but unless I'm totally missing something here, it just doesn't make the cut.

The last site I tried I have been a member of since 2009. I started my GoodReads account because a librarian friend of mine on Facebook had posted what he was reading, and I kind of liked the idea. So I joined.For this challenge, however, I decided to go back to square one and go through the tour, just so I had a fair means of comparison. 

What you get is a boring list with subtitles. I just wanted to scroll down to the bottom and skim the page . . . if I had to do it again, I don't think I would've ever signed up . . . at least not from their tour page. I updated my list by adding what I am currently reading, but noticed that I had not added a book since June 13, 2010. In searching for groups, there were no genealogy nor family history categories in the browse list. A search for a genealogy group led me to 6 groups with a total of 199 members. A little better than Shelfari, but it seems that LibraryThing is definitely the way to go.

I'm not usually a joiner, but a group search on Library Thing led me to thirteen active and eight dormant groups. From the list there were two groups I checked out and joined: Genealogy@LT with 336 members and Antiquarian Books with 118 members. The Discussion Boards are varied in topic, and again, there is something there that should grab your attention.

In all, I think this was a good challenge. It's certainly getting me on the path to catalog those obscure titles in PDF format on CD-ROM. Perhaps now I won't purchase any more duplicates, as I did with The Ancient History of North Yarmouth and Yarmouth, Maine, 1635-1936, by William Hutchinson Rowe.

Happy cataloging! 

                     And come see me on LibraryThing. 

                                                    My handle is debraNC.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Preserving Family Legacies, No. 1, Part 6

Letters from Aunt Helen, Part 6

O P Q contained the PARKER family letters. Alright, now we've departed from tracing the Gertrude Ellen (WALTER) lineage and have gone back to her husband's NEWTON ancestors. Let's take a look at the NEWTON generations to see where Aunt Helen may have been going with this:

George Ulysses (8) Newton md. Gertrude Ellen WALTER, 1 July 1895 in Binghamton, NY
Francis Louis (7) Newton md. Elizabeth Mary RILEY, 5 Nov. 1854 in Maine, NY
Nahum (6) Newton md. Thankful PARKER, 22 Oct 1818 in poss. Worcester County, MA
Nahum (5) Newton Jr. md. Damaris BRIGHAM, 6 May 1778 in Marlborogh, Middlesex, MA
Nahum (4) Newton Sr. md. Tabitha SANDERSON, 30 Feb 1741 in Leicester, Worcester, MA
Joseph (3) Newton Jr. md. Abigail ----
Deacon Joseph (2) Newton md. Katharin WOODS, abt. 1670 in Marlborough, Middlesex, MA
Richard (1) Newton md. Amy LOKER, 9 Aug 1636 in Bures, Essex, England

R held the RILEY family history letters.
W provided letters relating to WALTER/DUDLEY/FIELD/SCRANTON/HOWARD, all of Guilford and Norfolk, CT. An interesting letter from the War Department, dated July 13, 1931, states:
There are no military records in this Department of a date prior to the War of the Revolution. Such Colonial War records are in existence, except those in the possession of the British Government, are most likely to be found in the custody of the various states that sent troops to those wars or, in some instances, of historical societies. . . . Signed, C. H. Bridges, Major General, The Adjutant General.
 Aunt Helen generally did not preserve copies of her outgoing correspondence, except in this case, where the War Dept. stamped it and returned it to her.
X & Z preserved a variety of documents. First is a blank fan chart from the Media Research Bureau, 1110 F. Street, Washington, DC, measuring 22" x 15". Following is an advertisement brochure for The Story of Connecticut, published by The Hartford Times. . . . "Every Home Should Have a Set" it boasts. "Original Price $3.00 for 3 Volumes. Now On Sale: $1.50. As you can see, a used copy now costs $30.00...ten times the original price!

American Library Services , 117 W 48th St., NY, NY
Much of the rest of my aunt's correspondence seems to be with a company where she was seeking to purchase genealogical volumes: The History of Chenango and Madison Counties, NY, by James H. Smith; The British Invasion of New Haven, Connecticut, by Charles Henry Townsend; The Morse Genealogy; The Newton Genealogy; History of Enfield; History of Madison County, NY, by Mrs. L. M. Hammond; History of the Colony of New Haven, by Edward E. Atwater; various other histories of Ridgefield, Wallingford, Simsbury, New Haven, Putnum, Connecticut, and various published genealogies on family surnames already mentioned. 

Tucked away in the very back of the file, however, was a real treasure: 
Letters from Mrs. Bertha Davey of Binghamton, NY.
She was my aunt's first cousin, the daughter of Charles Philetus WALTER and Ellen Adell DARLING, the sister of my great grandmother Gertrude Ellen (WALTER) NEWTON. Pages and pages of typewritten transcriptions from the CURTIS, SCRANTON, DUDLEY, MINOR, DARLING, and HOWARD genealogies, were held together by paperclips, and loosely rolled up at the bottom, revealing a multitude of abstracted family history.

It could take months and months just to process this information into my genealogical database, but this is nothing compared to the years of research and correspondence that went into this small letters file. 

Many thanks to all our family historians before us 
who left us a well-worn path through prior generations!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Revolutionary Song, by Capt. Asaph Morse

Little did I know that I would find my 5th great grandfather, Col. Asaph Morse's Revolutionary Song lyrics in time for submission to: 
While it is not a mid to late 19th Century poem, it fits every outlined requirement. Here is a transcription of the original posted in Letters From Aunt Helen, Part 5.

Revolutionary Song.
____________________________________
Composed by Capt. Asaph Morse, an old Veteran of
the Revolution, who was at the capture of Burgoine,
battle of Monmouth, and with Sullivan at the siege of
New Port in Rhode Island. Age 92 years. Groton, 
April, 1852. This is a copy from the original print, by
his great grandson, B.S. French, of Susquehanna, 
Pa.  February, 1896.
 __________________________________________
Washington the father of our Country,
Quelled the British riots in this North America.
By the help of his Aids, Greene, Schuyler, Hamilton,
La Fayette, Gates and Putnam too,
Sullivan and Wayne gained the Victory,
At the battle of Brandywine.
John Burgoyne came down across the northern lakes
With 10,000 men to dissolate our happy States,
The 17, of Oct. at Saratoga he was fast in chains,
There he had to remain till the capitulation was made
to ground arms & march to england & there stay,
'Till peace was made with Yankees in N. America.
With brass Canon we have got all,
Fifty six both Great and small,
Covered waggons in great plenty,
Proper harnesses no ways scanty,
Ten thousand stands of Arms, 
To prevent all future harms. 
Let Brunswick and let Clinton tell,
What noble deeds they have done,
In '78 June the 19, day
On sunday the battle is begun;
Continued until dark expecting to come to it the next day,
But in the night was put to flight,
Left hundreds dead upon the ground for us to enter
And thousands ran away

We had a bold commander he feared not sword or gun
A second Alexander his name was Washington,
He had his troops all formed in martial array
To maintain our charter right in North America,
Go tell the savage nations you'r crueler than they
You fight your own relation in this North America

Throughout our latest struggles boys we still victorious were,
Jackson's deeds at New Orleans bright they appear
His bravery & his virtues every feeling must revere
For its great delight to march & fight as a yankee volunteer.
We trust in Heaven's protection nor fear to win the day,
For we will maintain our charter right in this North America.

The 4, of July on Independence day,
Will crown our deeds with many a loud huzza!
The names of these Veterans are wrote in CAPITALS
     which never will decay,
As long as the sun and moon doth shine in this North America.

________________________________
B. S. French, Printer, Susquehanna, Pa.






Preserving Family Legacies, No. 1, Part 5

Letters from Aunt Helen, Part 5

Attempting to reconstruct a genealogist ancestor's research path can be quite a challenge, but the more time I spend with Aunt Helen's letter file, the more I am beginning to see the course she had chosen.

Tracing allied ancestral families
The next file, H I J, revealed the HOWARD family ancestry, tracing back to Thomas HOWARD of Lynn, MA. A pattern began to emerge. Looking at a fan chart of my great grandmother's family, I realized that this is my aunt's research on her grandmother's family and collateral lines.
Ancestors of Gertrude Ellen (WALTER) NEWTON
 If this theory is correct, then I should also be able to find the surnames KINGSLEY, MORSE, WARD and CHAPMAN. 

The K  L file revealed responses to KINGSLEY queries for Sarah KINGSLEY in CT; Nathan and Warren KINGSLEY in Franklinville, Machias, Rushford and Ellicottville, NY; and, a letter from Mrs. M.L. Palmerlee of Detroit, MI, the granddaughter of Warren KINGSLEY, daughter of Avery KINGSLEY. Electa Ann KINGSLEY, the wife of Smyrna DARLING, was Mrs. Palmerlee's aunt.

M certainly held the letters pertaining to the MORSE family. On my fan chart you can see that Phebe Morse married my 4th great grandfather, Horace Walter. In an unclaimed, returned letter, Aunt Helen asked of J. Howard Morse, who evidently wrote the Morse Genealogy, for she states, 
I recently acquired a copy of the Morse Genealogy and found a note asking that corrections and additional records be sent to you. Would say that I have found four cases in which your book does not agree with family records I have. . . . Have considerable data of this Walter family and a small amount on other daughters of Asaph Morse should you care to have them.
Revolutionary War Song by Capt. Asaph Morse
 I will certainly keep her corrections in mind when consulting the Morse Genealogy in the future. The only other envelope in this file contained letters from War Department: The Adjutant General's Office, Veterans Administration Bureau of Pensions, and The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of the Secretary (Archives Division). It appears that she was looking for the Revolutionary War record of Asaph Morse, a certificate of his service was available from the latter office for payment of $1.80 on April 22, 1931. I'm sure the cost has changed since then. But one other piece, tucked into this letter was of great interest, and shown to the right.

N held the NEWTON family letters . . . but what will I find in O through Z?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Preserving Family Legacies, No. 1, Part 4

Letters from Aunt Helen, Part 4

An update on the West Clasp Letter Filing System
The next section of the file provided the answer I needed. Instead of each tab being a divider followed by that letter's surnames, the previous section was actually the "D" section with the letters lying on top of the the dividers. 

Therefore, the previous section represented the DARLING Family. . . .

. . . . and now, on to the next section in use: "F" for FIELD.

All roads lead to Northampton, MA
The first letter came from a Mrs. Hugh Victor Mercer from Minneapolis, Minnesota, dated October 23rd, 1940. 
My dear Mrs. Beers: Your letter via the Times has reached me and since I visited our Historical Library last Wednesday, I looked for the Field-Stanley reference about which you inquired. The Field Genealogy does not give Mary Stanley as the wife of Zachariah Field, but I found other references which do name her as his wife viz; Daughters of the American Colonists National Number I899 and 2089; "300 Colonial Ancestors" by Rixford and The Compendium references which you mention. . . .
With the exception of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists, all the other resources are available on Ancestry.com. I started digging into the Field Genealogy and discovered that my ancestry paths are crossed once again . . . . and I am beginning to wonder if all roads lead to Northampton, MA. 

According to The Field Genealogy, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (1901), 
112. ZECHARIAH FIELD (John, John, Richard, William....), b. East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England, in 1596; md. about 1641, Mary ----. She d. about 1670. He d. June 30, 1666. Res. Dorchester, Mass, in 1629; Hartford, Conn., in 1636; Northampton, in 1659, and Hatfield, Mass., in 1663 (p. 97).
 After several pages of narrative, the genealogy continues:
155. i. MARY, b. about 1643; m. Oct. 6, 1663, Joshua Carter, Jr. of Northampton. He was b. in 1638; was son of Joshua, of Dorchester, Windsor and Hartford. Was in Northampton in 1660, and was one of the first settlers of Deerfield . . . .
156. ii. ZECHARIAH, b. about 1645; m. Sarah Webb.
157. iii. JOHN, b. about 1648; m. Mary Edwards.
158. iv. SAMUEL, b. about 1651; m. Sarah Gilbert.
159. v. JOSEPH, b. about 1658; m. Joanna Wyatt and Mary Belding(pp. 100-101).
The second letter was from Mrs. G. Roy Phelps in Albany, Wisconsin, dated November 13, 1940. 
Dear Mrs. Beers: . . . . I think the other correspondent is correct in thinking there were two Mary Stanleys. It looks so from the references given. I have also seen the History of Hadley. There are several histories in that vicinity which give the Field family, one being the History of Hatfield. The following I am quoting from David Dudley Field book, in case you have not seen it: "Zechariah Field, eldest son, m. Sarah Webb, of Northampton, moved to Deerfield. Had three sons, Zechariah b. Sept. 12, 1669, Ebenezer b. Oct. 31, 1671, John b. Dec. 8, 1673 . . .
So now my searches return to my old stomping grounds, thus rounding out the KING family history. . . .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Veteran's Day Tribute

George Dewey, Francis Allyn, Richard Allen, David Francis NEWTON.
Chester Jr. and Harrison David CARTER
Thank you to all our family Veterans! Your service to our country is deeply appreciated.
Herb SILVERMAN, Ralph CANGSON, Robert & David SILVERMAN

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Preserving Family Legacies, No. 1, Part 3

Letters from Aunt Helen, Part 3

The first section of the LETTERS file to hold genealogical correspondence was the "C" section. As I read through the letters found there, I began to wonder about my aunt's filing system. I had expected each letter found there to focus on surnames beginning with "C", or at least from correspondents whose surnames began with the letter "C." But it appears that was not the case.

The surnames found there were BLISS, ENGLISH or ENGLIS, and DARLING. The only "C" connection I found was a series of letters from Carlos Darling.

One researcher from New Lebanon Center, NY wrote on August 28, 1930 that John Darling's name appears in their charter. "The Columbia County history states that John Darling owned mill property on the stream in West Lebanon but doesn't mention store or Hotel. States that first place of meeting of No 9 was held at the home of Casporus Hewson and John Darling was S.W."  Morris G. Bowman reports that the minute books from 1788-1800 "were stolen some years ago in a post office burglary," but not knowing what "No. 9" refers to makes it difficult to reconstruct what my aunt was researching.

At that point I thought I could do a search for Casporus Hewson and try to establish what he and John Darling shared in common. At the end of the letter was the note "Unity No. 9 F&AM." A quick reference from Google shows that F. & A. M. stands for "Free and Accepted Masons." The Manual of Freemasonry states that the abbreviation "S.W." stands for Senior Warden (p. 190). 

On November 6, 1940, Carlos Parsons Darling of Lawrenceville, Tioga County, PA, stated in a letter to my aunt that he has been "interested in compiling records of the various branches of the Darling family for the past thirty or more years, and have accumulated some ten thousand pages of manuscripts on the subject. . . . If the work is ever published, it would have to be under different heads, as it wouldn't be possible to put it all into one book."

I found a reference to him in The Darling family in America: Early Settlers Prior to 1800 (1913, p. 5), where "he asks that all members of the family shall send him their family history and record. He also asks for newspaper clippings referring to births, deaths and family gatherings . . . ."

For further information, I plan on contacting The Darling Family Association (USA).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Preserving Family Legacies, No. 1, Part 2

Letters from Aunt Helen, Part 2

Genealogical research was a whole different world in the 1930s and 40s. Behind my aunt's baptismal record was this letter dated March 12, 1941, addressed to the Hartford Times:
Whenever correspondence was communicated through the genealogical section of a newspaper, each researcher was identified by an assigned number and their initials. In this case, Dorothy A. Y_____ requested to communicate with my uncle, R. L. B. [Ralph Loren Beers], who had answered Query 8010 on the Howard family on March 8, 1941.  A portion of my Aunt Helen's legacy was a binder with the original genealogical newspaper clippings attached to paper with cellophane tape, which had yellowed and become brittle. The pages smelled musty, so I photocopied them to acid-free paper and placed them in archival presentation sleeves in a new binder. 
 
As I paged through the HOWARD section of the clippings, I found the original query dated 12-21-1940 and it's reply, dated 3-8-1941. As you can see, it took nearly three months to get a response. I don't know if I could wait that long! The age of email has certainly benefited genealogists tremendously!

My HOWARD connection looks like this:
Debra Ann (10), Richard Allen (9), Francis Allyn (8) NEWTON; Gertrude Ellen (7), Charles Philetus (6) WALTER; Betsey Elizabeth (5), Amos (4), Nathan(3), Nathan (2), Thomas (1) HOWARD, emigrant.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Preserving Family Legacies, No. 1, Part 1

Letters from Aunt Helen, Part 1

On 17 November 1990 my grand aunt, Helen Gertrude (NEWTON) BEERS, daughter of George Ulysses and Gertrude Ellen (WALTER) NEWTON, and the widow of Ralph Loren BEERS, died in Garden Grove, California at the age of 89. She had been the NEWTON family historian since about 1930. Before she died she had her family history archive divided between my Dad, her oldest brother's oldest son, and my Dad's cousin Doris, the oldest child of Aunt Helen's only surviving sister. 

Dad had no interest in family history, so he passed the information on to his younger brother, David. Eighteen years later, on March 1, 2008, Uncle David and Aunt Sue stopped by our apartment in Asheville, NC to hand-deliver to me the legacy my Dad had forsaken.

Among the file boxes of handwritten and typed family group sheets and notes was a West Easy Clasp File marked, LETTERS. The spine of the file is imprinted:
Frank A. West Co., Inc.
Office Equipment and Supplies
130 State Street
Binghamton, N. Y.

Unlatching the metal clasp, the front opens to reveal a typed carbon copy of the first three pages of the NEWTON genealogy, followed by twenty pages of originals, beginning with "Nahum Newton, born Oct. 25, 1795 . . . " The next  item was a cream colored booklet entitled "Church Membership," which is displayed here.

The poem following a photograph of First Baptist Church in Johnson City, NY, and entitled, "The Church," by Timothy Dwight holds great interest for me. 

The Rev. Timothy Dwight (14 May 1752 - 11 Jan 1817) was the son of Timothy and Mary (EDWARDS) DWIGHT, the grandson of the Rev. Jonathan EDWARDS; the grandson of Col. Timothy and Experience (KING) DWIGHT. He was a Congregational minister, born in Northampton, MA. He led a very distinguished career, his credits including an appointment by the U. S. Congress to the chaplaincy of the Connecticut Continental Brigade, and president of Yale. 
It was believed by some that he was an ancestor of mine . . . a cousin through the KING family tree. However, a family legend yet unproved may show that we may not be linked to this distinguished Northampton family. I had spent the better of three years documenting the KING family history, and one day hope to complete the volume from Capt. John King down through this past generation. 

In any event, it seems remarkable that my Northern Baptist grand aunt's baptismal record of 24 March 1918 includes Dwight's poem, with the exclusion of two stanzas:
             *  *  *  *  
If e'er to bless thy sons
My voice or hands deny,
These hands let useful skill forsake,
This voice in silence die.
             *  *  *  * 

Jesus, thou friend divine,
Our Saviour and our King,
Thy hand from every snare and foe
Shall great deliverance bring.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Hyphen Between the Dates

My 4th Great Grandparents


A grave marker doesn't leave much space to tell about a person's life. While there may be an engraved picture or memorialized photograph on the stone, most grave markers leave only enough room for two dates and a hyphen. 

And while the hyphen takes up the least amount of space on the marker,
it comprises a whole lifetime.

One day my daughter asked, 
"Mom, why are you so interested in people who are dead?"  

"It's not that I'm interested in the dead," I replied. "I'm interested in how people lived."

About five years ago I came upon a title in the Bargain Books section of Barnes and Noble that caught my attention. By that time I had already been researching our family history for three years. I walked away from the book and continued browsing, but then found myself returning to it. 

It's title, Leaving a Trace: The Art of Transforming Life into Stories, reminded me of that hyphen. I had journaled in college, not because I wanted to, but because it was required of all writing majors. More times than none I would wait until a day or two before the due date and fictionalize the week's entries as fast as I could write . . . missing the whole purpose of daily writing exercises. The end result: a badly cramped hand and a fist-full of scrawled, meaningless pages.  

This book, however, completely transformed my perception of journaling. 

I began to realize that one day, people might wonder about the hyphen between my dates. Being an average American woman, daughter, wife, mother and grandmother, what collection of documents would I leave behind to characterize my lifetime . . . birth, marriage, baptismal and death certificates . . . a few photos . . . a Bible . . . but how would people know my true nature?  likes?  dislikes?  What do I desire my children and grandchildren to know about me?

Since that time I have formed the belief that the role of a genealogist is not confined to preserving the past, but includes recording the present for future generations.