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.

1 comment:

  1. My Goodness Debra! What a Gold Mine! And just think you were born at the right time and right place to receive your Family History!!! I love this type of story and I am excited that you received so much good historical information!

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