Saturday, June 28, 2008


I was having trouble thinking of free spirits and independent
thinkers in my family tree. It's not that there aren't any, it's
just that I really didn't know that any of them have been the
type to stand out.

So I started looking further up the family tree and John
Prescott's name caught my eye. John's already one of my
favorite remote ancestors for reasons I'll talk about later, so
I did a little more Googling on him and found that he fits the
bill for this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

John Prescott was born in Lancashire, England and came to
the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1640 after trying his hand
as a landholder in Barbadoes. He was married to Mary
Gawkrogers Platt with whom he had a total of seven children,
and he initially lived in Watertown close by Boston. But John
soon found himself embroiled in a dispute between the Puritan
leaders of the colonyand a man named Robert Childe.

Robert Childe was a man of learning, a medical doctor as well
as an alchemist, of all things, in Puritan Massachusetts. But it
wasn't his learning that set him in a collision course with the
colony leaders so much as his protests that the only people
allowed to enjoy religious and political rights were members
of the Puritan Congregationalist establishment. If you weren't
admitted as a freemen, you couldn't vote or hold office and if
you were an Anglican it was difficult to be admitted. Childe
and six others (including my ancestor Samuel Maverick)
petitioned about this injustice to the General Court of
Massachusetts and sent a copy of the petition off to England
where his brother published it. The Puritan reaction was
swift. Dr Childe was arrested and exiled back to England.

John Prescott hadn't signed the petition but he was known
to agree with Dr Childe so he wasn't too popular with the
government. He'd been one of three men to purchase land to
the west from the Indians and while the other two men never
settled there, Prescott took his family and some others and
traveled there to start over. Along the way he nearly lost his
family while crossing the Sudbury River but they finally
arrived safely at their new home. Prescott started a farm
and built a mill as well as a blacksmith shop. At one point the
settlement had to be abandoned after an Indian attack but
Prescott returned and rebuilt it.

When it became a town the inhabitants named it Prescott in
his honor but the colonial government forced it to be changed
and after a few more changes it became Lancaster in memory
of the home he'd left in England.

I mentioned that Prescott was one of my favorite ancestors
and the reason is he's the only recorded early settler of New
England with a set of armor. The full story is told here in this
quote from The Military Annals of Lancaster, Massachusetts.
1740-1865 Including Lists of Soldiers Serving in the Colonial
and Revolutionary Wars, for the Lancastrian Towns: Berlin,
Bolton, Harvard, Leominster, and Sterling By Henry Stedman
Nourse: (W. J. Coulter, Lancaster, Ma. 1889 pp360-361)
which is also the source of most of this article:

"It is related that at his first coming he soon won the respect
of the savages not only by his fearlessness and great strength
but by the power of his eye and his dignity of mien. They soon
learned to stand in awe of his long musket and unerring skill
as a marksman. He had no doubt seen some military service
in England for he came of a soldierly race his great grandfather
having been knighted for gallantry in battle. He had brought
with him from England a suit of mail helmet and cuirass
probably such as were worn by the soldiers of Cromwell"

"Clothed with these his stately figure seemed to the sons of
forest something almost superhuman. One day some
Indians having taken away a horse of his he put on his armor,
pursued them alone, and soon overtook them. The chief of the
party seeing him approach unsupported met him menacingly
with uplifted tomahawk. Prescott dared him to strike and was
immediately taken at his word but the rude weapon glanced
harmless from the helmet to the amazement of the red men.
Naturally the Indian desired to try upon his own head so
wonderful a hat and the owner obligingly gratified him
claiming the privilege however of using the tomahawk in
return. The helmet proving a scant fit or its wearer
neglecting to bring it down to its proper bearings Prescott's
vengeful blow not only astounded him but left very little
cuticle on either side of his head and nearly deprived him of
ears. Prescott was permitted to jog home in peace upon his

After hostilities began it is said that at one time the savages
set fire to his barn but fled when he sallied out clad in armor
with his dreaded gun and thus he was enabled to save his
stock though the building was consumed. More than once
attempts were made to destroy the mill but a sight of the
man in mail with the far reaching gun was enough to send
them to a safe distance and rescue the property.

Many stories have been told of Prescott's prowess but some
bear so close a resemblance to those credibly historic in other
places and of other heroes that there attaches to them some
suspicion of adaptation at least Such undoubtedly is the story
that in the assault upon the town he had several muskets but
no one in the house save his wife to assist him. She loaded the
guns and he discharged them with fatal effect. The contest
continued for nearly half an hour Mr Prescott all the while
giving orders as if to soldiers so loud that the Indians could
hear him to load their muskets though he had no soldiers but
his wife. At length they withdrew carrying off several of their
dead and wounded."

I'm not sure how much of all that is true but it is fun to read.

In 1664 the General court opened the way for admission of
non Puritan believers as freedmen and John took the oath
in 1669. John Prescott died in 1681 a well respected man
and among his descendants are William Prescott the historian
and Col. William Prescott of Bunker Hill fame. I'm decended
from John's son Jonas Prescott, who himself is the subject
of another story, this one of a romantic nature, and which I'll
share in a future post.

This post is written for the 51st edition of the Carnival of


Okay, so you are visiting New England on a hot summer day
and stop at a Brigham's or Friendly's for an ice cream cone and
the person at the take out window asks you "Do you want
jimmies on that?"

No, he's not asking you if he can put someone else's ice cream
on your cone. You probably know "jimmies" as "sprinkles", the
brightly colored bits of sugar sprinkled on ice cream, cookies,
and cupcakes.

No, I've no idea why they are called that up here. I suspect they
were first invented or served to diners by someone named
James or or Jimmy. At any rate, an ice cream cone with some
"jimmies'' on top sure sounds good on a hot day, doesn't it?

They're best on traditional "hard' ice cream but you can get
them at the DQ, too. If you want to be really decadent, have
the cone "dipped" in chocolate with "jimmies"

It's wicked good!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Before I move on to Jesse and Benjamin Barker, I thought
I'd briefly list my Barker Line. I decided to just list my
direct ancestors because of the number siblings in some
generations. At some point in the future I might do a more
detailed generation by generation posting.

The only siblings listed here are Amos Hastings Barker
and Nathaniel S. (for Swan, I wonder?) Barker since
their children married each other in the next generation.

1. Richard Barker was born about 1618 in Holme-on-Spalding
-Moor, Yorkshire, England and died 18 Mar 1693 in Andover,
Essex, Ma.

He married Joanna UNK About 1644 in Methuen, Essex, Ma.
She was born 1632 in ? and died 11 Apr 1687 in Andover,
Essex, Ma.

2. Benjamin Barker was born 28 Feb 1663 in Andover, Essex,
Ma. and died 11 Oct 1750

He married Hannah Marston 2 Jan 1688 in Andover, Essex,
Ma. She was born 16 Feb 1667 in Andover, Essex, Ma and
died 14 Jan 1733 in Andover, Essex, Ma, daughter of John
Marston and Martha Fuller

3. Jonathan Barker was born 14 Jul 1706 in Andover, Essex,
Ma and died 20 Jan 1737 in Methuen, Essex, Ma.

He married Mary Abbott 26 Jan 1728 in Andover, Essex,
Ma. She was born 24 Apr 1709 in Marblehead, Essex, Ma ,
daughter of Joseph Abbott and Sarah Devereaux

4. Jonathan Barker was born 23 Oct 1728 in Andover, Essex,
Ma and died 29 Apr 1794 in Methuen, Essex, Ma.

He married Abigail Mitchell 13 Oct 1750 in Methuen, Essex,
Ma. She was born 23 May 1730 in Haverhill, Essex, Ma,
daughter of Andrew Mitchell and Hannah Ayer, and died 15
Feb 1806 in Methuen, Essex, Ma.

5. Jonathan Barker was born 26 May 1754 in Methuen,
Essex, Ma and died 11 Jul 1824 in Newry, Oxford, Me.

He married Nancy Swan 14 Jun 1788 in Fryeburg, Oxford,
Me., daughter of James Swan and Mary Smith She was born
22 Sep 1765 in Methuen, Essex, Ma .

6. Nathaniel Barker was born 31 Jan 1794 in Newry, Oxford,
Me ( or 31 Jan 1794 in Ma)

He married Hulda Hastings 31 Jan 1819 in Bethel, Oxford,
Me. She was born 17 Mar 1798 in Bethel, Oxford, Me. ( or 17
Apr 1798 ), daughter of Amos Hastings and Elizabeth Wiley.

Children of Nathaniel Barker and Hulda Hastings:

7. Amos Hastings Barker was born 19 Nov 1828 in Rumford,
Oxford, Me and died 5 Nov 1907.

He married Betsy J Moore . She was born 16 Aug 1842 in
Waterford, Oxford, Me and died 12 Mar 1924 in Newry,
Oxford, Me.

7 Nathaniel S. Barker was born 13 Mar 1830 in Newry,
Oxford, Me and died 20 Mar 1884.

He married Elizabeth Coburn . She was born 10 Aug 1842
and died 15 Nov 1904, daughter of Westley Coburn and Lucy
Stowe. (Stow?)

8. Frank W. Barker was born 20 Apr 1865 in Albany, Oxford,
Me and died 21 May 1905 in Bethel, Oxford, Me.

He married Charlot Lovenia Barker . She was born 3 Aug
1879 in Albany, Oxford, Me. daughter of Amos Hastings
Barker and Betsy J. Moore, and died 1944 in Bangor, Oxford,

9. Cora Berthella Barker (aka "Cora Bertha Barker") was
born 27 Oct 1899 in Bethel, Oxford, Me and died Jun 1987.

She married Floyd Earl West Sr. 24 Mar 1919 in Errol, Coos,
Nh. He was born 14 Apr 1893 in So.Paris, Oxford, Me and
died 28 Jan 1970 in Dumaway, Me., son of Philip Jonathan
West and Clara Ford Ellingwood.

The last are my grandparents.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I've previously mentioned reading the story of Barney
McGinniskin in Peter F. Stevens' Hidden History of the
Boston Irish
. I skimmed through the book on my first reading
but today I took my copy and a glass of lemonade outside to
the patio and spent the afternoon there rereading the book
more closely. It was a pleasant and informative few hours.

If you are of Irish descent and live in Boston or your ancestors
did this book will give you a better picture of the obstacles
Irish-Americans faced in 19th century America and will make
you better appreciate how they overcame them with talent
and determination. Mr. Stevens writes about people and
incidents that I've either only heard briefly mentioned or that
I had never heard of at all and makes learning about them

Reading the book I was struck by how some of this "hidden"
history has touched my life. I lived in Dorchester as a child, for
example, not far from Gallivan Boulevard, and never knew
about the man in whose honor it's named. I attended Cathedral
High School as a freshman and saw the Cathedral of the Holy
Cross every day and didn't know about the architect, Patrick
Keely, who designed and built it. I know that John L. Sullivan
retired to and died at a farm right here in Abington, but didn't
know that one of his greatest opponents, Jake Kilrain, quietly
lived out his last years in nearby Quincy.

As I read about the Broad St. Riot of 1837 where Boston
"Yankee" firemen fought with Irish workmen I was struck with
the irony of how a little over a century later my three McCue
cousins and other Irish Americans would be proud members of
the Fire Dept. I read about Patrick Collins, the first Irish
American mayor of Boston in the 20th century and wondered
if that opened the way for my mother's grandfathers to find
jobs working for the city.

Hidden History of the Boston Irish is a $19.99 paperback and
is available from your local bookstore and online. My store
sold out of the original ten copies that were shipped to us fairly
quickly so you may need to have it ordered in but it's worth
the effort. (I reordered more for our store, of course!)

And, in the interests of full disclosure, I had the pleasure of
meeting Mr. Stevens a week or so ago and we're planning to
host a signing at the store in August.(details to follow.)

Monday, June 23, 2008


I'm on vacation this week and slept in today. I do have plans
for this week involving some genealogy research but I need a
haircut badly. The problem is my barber who I've gone to for
years is closed on Monday, so I'll get the haircut tomorrow
and take the train into Boston Wednesday and/or Thursday
depending on how much I find out at the three places I want
to visit.

I need the haircut so I will not be mistaken for one of the
homeless people who hang around inside the Library when I
visit the main branch at Copley Square. There's been some
unfortunate incidents involving muggings and fights there,
which is a sad statement both on the state of the library and
the state of a society where people need to use it for shelter.

So for today I've been catching up on reading other folks'
geneablog posts and doing some writing while keeping an ear
out for the approach of thunderstorms which are forecast for
all day. I've parked Ping under some trees in the parking lot
in the hopes it will keep most of the rain off since Ping does
not do well with damp wires.

And Happy Birthday to my late great-great grandmother,
Louisa Almata Richardson who was born 171 years ago on
this date, 23Jun 1837.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I think I may have posted this photo once before. It's from
when my Dad was training for the Air Corps during World
War II before he washed out due to inner ear problems.

On the back is a partial list of names of his fellow trainees,
and I'm posting that image now and my attempt at
transcribing it here in the hopes that the children and
grandchildren of these men might find it someday and see
how they looked in their uniforms before they went off to

Because of the way the men are grouped it's hard for me to
assign names to specific faces. The only two I can are Michael
D. Piper Jr. and Lonnie (or Lennie?) L. Parker (?) standing to
either side of my father Floyd E. West Jr. at the far right end
of the back row. I think the first name is actually Lee Mill
Sanders and that he just signed the list "last name first."

I also noticed that Daniel M. Jeffrey's name appears twice.
The first entry is crossed over so I've assumed that either
someone else had posted the name in the wrong place or he
had done so himself and then corrected his mistake. I've
changed the first entry to "unknown".

So here they are. I wonder how many of them made it
home after the war, and I thank them for their service
to our country.

Sanders Lee Mill Artesia N.M.

Palmer E. Severson Wanooka (?) Minn,

Jerald L. Swan Beatrice, Nebraska

Helmut Paul Zimmerman, Buffalo, N.Y.

Robert L. Rugg Pueblo, Colorado


Charles H. Parman, Skidmore, Mo.



Bill C. Hays San Angelo, Texas


Ward L. Warnock, Camden, Ark.

Michael C. Sanborn (?) Port Arthur, Tex.

Bob Moffet St. Joseph, Mo.


Ross Powill, Ellisville Miss

Daniel M. Jeffrey, Jeanette, La.

Allen D. Bailey Mpls Minnesota





Jack Sessions Colton, California

Jack Wendt -Pecos, Texas


Burton L. Steele, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Bob E Wick - Denver, Colorado

James H. Trask, Kansas City, Kansas

William E. Green - Eden, Texas



Michael D. Piper Jr. Queen City, Mo.

Floyd E. West

Lonnie (or Lennie?) L. Parker (?) Roswell, New Mex.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It finally dawned on me that I forgot to include some pictures
with my Carnival of Genealogy post about pets. So here are
three. The first is of Saddles, the very first family dog, and
the photo was taken sometime in the late 1940's or early

The one above it (I can never get these pictures to load right
on Blogger!) is of my Mom, her nephew Vincent White, and the
dog is Flipper. It was taken on Evans St in Dorchester, Ma. in
the early 1960's. In the background you can barely see the
triple decker apartment building we lived in. It's on the far
right of the shot.

Finally, the one on top and the last chronologically is of
our cousin "Ree"(Marie) McFarland, my Sister Cheryl,
and a friend with Brownie on Bicknell Hill Rd in Abington
Ma. It's the only picture we have of Brownie

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Welcome to the 50th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy!
This edition we're sharing stories and pictures of the beloved
pets that have become part of our families. We have 29
authors and 30 stories, and I think when you read them
you'll find as I did that some of our pets shared characteristics,
such as the uncanny ability to find their way home across long
distances or the fear of thunderstorms.

All of them claimed a place in our hearts.

First, David Bowles over at Writing the Westward Sagas
tells us about his friend and companion Lulubelle with "Whos'
Training Who?"
David's post confirms my suspicions that
we're the ones being trained!

Then visit Robert Lord's "Pets in Our Family History" at
Lord and Lady for a poignant story about an incident
during the Depression that shows how people helped each
other out in those hard times and how Robert got the only
pet he had during his childhood.

Chery Kinnick's mom grew up on a farm in Minnesota and
Chery shares family photos of pets and farm animals in
"Animal Friends on the Johnson Farm." She also tells us
about how one of the farmhands taught her mother and
some cousins manners by using their pet dog. I don't know if
I like how he did it very much, though! See for yourself over
at Chery's Nordic Blue blog.

Our first story about feline friends comes from Donna
Pointkouski of What's Past is Prologue who tells about
Lou C., Tigger and Stanley in "Cats Ruled This Family".
Some of the things they did made me grin and reminded me
of the cats we had in our family!

For many of us our dogs and cats are more than just friends.
Wendy Littrell at All My Branches Genealogy writes of her
"Furry and Feathered Family Members-Carnival of
Her stories show just how much a part of our
family our pets become, a tradition carried on in her family
now by Oreo.

CoG founder Jasia tells us about her friend Penela Pooh Pooh
Penela Cougar Poober Penn Noonie Poop, aka "Pennie the
Wonder Dog"
over at Creative Gene. Jasia had to overcome
her Mom's dislike of pets to get her dream dog but it was
definitely worth it. I related to this story because like Jasia
I wanted a collie when I was a kid. Check out that great
photo tribute to Pennie, too. Jasia also contributes a story
about a family's pet crow in "A Most Unusual Pet".

One of the other things I've enjoyed about the entries for
this edition of the CoG is the names of the pets. Susan J.
Edminster writ"es about her family's dog, "Beans", at her
Echo Hill Ancestors Weblog and tells us about his favorite
game: tug-of-war !

Janice Brown has some great photos of pets from various
generations of her family in her post "Pets in My Family Tree"
at Cow Hampshire. Her present dog, "Ladie Di" is a real cutie.

Sharon Klein at her Genealogy has some stories of family
dogs as well in "Our Four-Legged Family Members". She
mentions that one of her dogs, Whiskers, was afraid of
thunderstorms, which as I've mentioned seems to be a fear
some other geneablogger's pets shared.

We head north to Canada next for M. Diane Rogers'
CanadaGenealogy, or Jane's Your Aunt. She writes in
"Carnival of Genealogy-Family Pets" of how her family
preferred cats to dogs and a reason why her Dad wouldn't
eat chickens!

Janet Iles doesn't own any pets of her own but her parents
did as children as her pictures in "Pets-Carnival of Genealogy"
show at Janet the Researcher.

Jewelgirl of Searching for Family Branches is another cat
lover and doesn't believe that superstition about black cats as
the pictures prove in "Beloved Pets-50th CoG".

Laura at The Virtual Dime Museum has a unique entry
about her granduncle Charlie and a cat in "Charlie Doctors
The Cat".

Becky Wiseman talks about "Buster, Rover, and Bootsie" at
Kinnexions. I think her Bootsie wins the prize for the most
unusual "trophy"brought home to show the humans!

Ken Spangler's "Rocky the Hound Dog" was another dog afraid
of thunder and that fear led to a remarkable feat. Read about
Rocky at Beyond Fiction.

Next up is Terry Thornton at Hill Country of Monroe County,
Mississippi. Terry's a cat person as he attests in "One little,
two little, three little kittens... "
and his present companion is
the well named Hattie La Rue Thornton!

Terry also sent along a "guest column" by Johnie Sugg West
about "Bo Diddle", who was a feist, a breed of small hunting
dogs. The story of how Bo protected his family is a moving one.
Thanks for sending it in, Terry!

Jessica Oswalt of Jessica's Genejournal recently posted
about her two dogs Ben and Casey who are Schnauzer/Terrier
mixes and tells us more in "They May Look Cute...". Are they
named after the tv character, I wonder?

John Newmark of Transylvania Dutch had six pets: three
dogs and three...well, read his post "Pet Sounds" to find out
what they were and their names.

Then swing by Thomas MacEntee's Destination: Austin
Family to read "Minyo and Princess: A Clown and A Doll".
Like myself, Thomas doesn't have any pets in his life right
now but he has great memories of two unique dogs.

The footnoteMaven posed for a photograph as a child on
her noble steed and tell us more about the horse in "Daughter
of Lone Ranger-Make That Little Abner!"
That was one pet
I always wanted, but I couldn't quite figure out how we could
get it up the stairs to our third floor apartment! I'm envious,

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings is in the cat lover's column
and his recollection of the cats he's known and loved shows
why in the post "Rootie Toot Toot, Lickety Split, Softie and
. Great names, Randy, for some great cats!

Amanda Erikson over at Random Ramblings contributes the
story of her pet rabbit in "My Little Munchkin" . Munchkin
certainly sounds much smarter than any of the rabbits I've
owned or cared for when I was younger.

Most families choose what pet they will take into their hearts
but sometimes the animal makes the choice for us. Steve
Danko at Steve's Genealogy Blog tells about how Smoky the
black cat became "The Family Cat" for the Dankos.

At Looking4Ancestors Kathryn Lake Hogan remembers
Specs, "The Dog Who Could Tell Time" and who also had
quite a bit of skill in dealing with locks.

Elizabeth O' Neal is allergic to cats but that hasn't stopped her
from always having some other sort of pet around! See some
pictures of the furry members of her family in "Creatures
Great and Small(Mostly Small)"
at Little Bytes of Life.

Lori Thornton's home now from her visit to the Boston area,
including "Qwin-zee", just in time to tell us about the cats
and dogs in her life and includes a picture of her cat Brumley.
I imagine he's very glad to see Lori is back home. See the
picture of him in "Pets" at Lori's Smokey Mountain Family

Lori's story prompted Chris Dunham of The Genealogue to
post "When Pets get Political." He didn't enter it for the CoG
but it's short and unique, so I'm including it!

Craig Manson's mother was no fan of cats, but gradually was
won over by the cat that was named "Top Cat" after the
television cartoon character. TC more than lived up to the
name and you can read how over at Craig's GeneaBlogie

Finally, some guy named Bill West of West in New England
tells stories about the canine characters his family owned,
especially the dog named Brownie in "The Family Pets1:

Thanks to all our contributors for sharing their pets with us!

And now it's time for the call for submissions to the 51st Edition
of the Carnival of Genealogy from Jasia:

"The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Independent Spirit. With the upcoming July 4th holiday, there is no more perfect time to honor someone from your family whose life can be summed up in one word – INDEPENDENT! Do you have a relative who was feisty, spoke their own mind, was a bit of a free spirit? Anyone who most people might consider a “nut” on the family tree but you know they really just followed a “different tune?” We all have at least one person whose character and habits may have made them seem “ahead of their time” and now is the chance to tell us their story. The host for the next edition of the COG will be the very free spirited, Thomas MacEntee. Thanks T!

The deadline for submissions will be July 1st."

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of
Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and
future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

I hope you've all enjoyed this 50th Edition of the
Carnival of Genealogy.

Monday, June 16, 2008


It's been one of those days. Ping didn't start this morning,
which was probably for the best since I wasn't feeling too well
and it's better to be here at home when I feel lousy than to
be stuck somewhere in a stalled out car. If Ping doesn't start
up tomorrow I'll take the train into work and have the car
repaired next week when I'm on vacation.

This was on top of a near disaster, blog-wise. I had been
visiting each entry for the Carnival of Genealogy and
bookmarking them into a Blog Carnival folder. Around 6pm
Sunday night as I was writing up the final version of the
introductions, there was some sort of very brief power failure.
The lights flickered and the computer shut down but
everything was back on immediately. The computer seemed
ok and I shut it off while I watched the Celtics-Lakers game.

When I turned it back on after the game ended, I went back
to working on the CoG and found that not only were most of
my bookmarks for genealogy gone, so was the "Blog Carnival"
folder. Luckily I had saved all the email entries and hadn't
lost the intro, so I was able to finish it today. The 50th CoG
is stored on Blogger and I tried setting a timer on the post.
We'll see if I did it right come tomorrow night!

Putting together this CoG edition has given me a greater
appreciation of the hard work Jasia has put in it month
after month!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


As I mentioned in my post on family cars, the history of our
family pets is an epic in itself. Most of our dogs and cats
were "characters" and I still remember most of them with
a grin and a shake of my head. The dogs are the most
memorable for me.

"Saddles" was the first family pet and I barely remember him
but for many years he was the benchmark the family dogs
were compared against. He was a small fox terrier type and
died after a fight with a larger dog, a boxer that lived across
the street from us. My Dad and Uncle Ed drove from Malden
to the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital hoping they could help
the dog there but it was no use. Mom told me when I was older
that I was outside and they thought perhaps the dogfight
started because Saddles was "protecting" me.

Saddles was followed by some rather er...unique....successors.

There was the Irish Setter a coworker gave my Dad. The dog
was beautiful, but the previous owner was Polish American
and the dog only obeyed commands given in Polish. Since
neither of my folks spoke Polish, the setter was eventually
returned to the original owner.

When we moved to the first apartment in Dorchester the
landlord didn't allow pets so there was a period of three years
or so without them. But when we moved to the second
apartment and were on the first floor, we had pets once more.

There was Flipper, a small mongrel dog that Dad said was a
"Sooner": the dog would sooner go to the bathroom inside
than outside. One day Flipper ran out into the street and
was struck by a car.

Our next dog was another that a coworker of Dad's gave us.
Peppy was a full grown part Alsatian but seemed to have...
issues. One day one of the neighbor kids teased him and
Peppy grabbed hold of the sleeve of the girl's winter jacket
and wouldn't let go until he'd pulled the entire sleeve off!
Luckily for Peppy, he hadn't bitten the girl. He was exiled to
our cousins in Hanover where he amused himself by chasing
cars and running headlong into their side doors.

At that point, my folks decided we were done with dogs.
Other relatives had nice, normal dogs: Aunt Peggy had Lady,
Uncle Tommy had Mr. Chips, Uncle Ed and Aunt Emily had
their Boxer, Missy. We seemed to have no luck with dogs and
about this time we got our first cat, Mittens, so there would
be no more dogs, or so we thought.

Then we moved out to Abington. One of our former neighbors
in Boston had already moved out to the country and a relative
had some puppies needing a home. They were part Boxer,
part Spaniel and the hope, I think, was that the puppy we
took would be as good a dog as Uncle Ed's dog Missy.

We got lucky. Brownie was the best of all our family dogs.
She had a great disposition and was smart. She was one of
those dogs who look like they understand what you are saying
and then make little noises like they are trying to answer you.

Brownie was Dad's favorite dog, I think. When we moved to
Abington our house was built near a large field and we could
see Brownie chasing rabbits around it. Another time she very
nearly caught a wild pheasant that wandered across the front
lawn, and actually had a tail feather in her mouth before the
bird pulled loose and got away. She brought it inside and
showed it off to Dad.

Somehow or another my folks miscalculated and one day we
there was a small pack of male dogs outside our back door. A
few months later Brownie had a litter of eight puppies. the
first of which was born on the foot of my bed. We kept one of
the puppies and named it Saddles and found homes for the
others, one of whom ended up with one of our neighbors and
was named Bella. Saddles the Second was a good dog but was
what Dad called a "dumb mutt" and eventually we gave
him to another family friend. And Bella barked....a lot. Mom
said it must have been their fathers because they certainly
didn't take after Brownie.

We had Brownie for 5 or 6 years. One day a neighbor's kid
banged on the door to tell me our dog was lying at the end of
the driveway bleeding. When I went outside it was obvious
Brownie was very badly hurt. She'd been up at the golf course
at Rte 18 and ran out into traffic chasing something. The
driver who struck her stopped and tried to help her, but
Brownie made it the quarter of a mile back to the house
before she fell and did not get up. The driver had followed her
home and was very upset.

I was in my late teens at the time and the only one home that
day. I asked a neighbor to call the police, but Brownie died
before the Dog Officer arrived.

Eventually we would have other dogs, and they were good
pets and we loved them.

But to my mind, at least, Brownie was the best of all our pets.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Just a reminder that this Sunday June 15th is the deadline
for your submissions to the 50th Carnival of Genealogy! Do
you have some memorable pets that belong to your family
or have stories about pets that belonged to your ancestors?

Submit your entries here to the CoG submissions page by
midnight Sunday night, then read all the submissions here
on June 18th!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I've been talking with my coworkers about my "Speak Like a
Native New Englander" series and one of them told me how
when she was a child and her family was on vacation in Florida
she ordered a "tonic" and was teased by the waitress about
drinking hair tonic. I was going to do a post on the soda/pop/
tonic terms for soft drinks but I wisely checked Janice
Brown's Cow Hampshire first and sure enough, she did a
post on it two years ago on it, and there's a reference to
hair tonic. Go check that out here!

I will note, however, that while we in the Boston area call it
tonic, my cousins from Milan N.H. were calling it "soda pop"
or at least were some fifty years ago when I first noticed the

And the other night one of the ABC commentators referred to
the Celtic's training facilities in Waltham and pronounced it

Tsk, tsk. It's Walth-ham! Obviously, he's not a native New


Back in the 1960's Mr. Peabody was the Governor of

No, his boy Sherman was not Lt. Governor, nor did he own
a "Wayback Machine"

This Mr. Peabody was Gov. Endicott "Chub" Peabody . Gov.
Peabody came from old New England stock and was a
descendant of John Endecott, who was governor of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th century.

There is another difference from the other Mr. Peabody

The time traveling hound's name is pronounced "Pea-body",
while Gov. Peabody's name is said the same way the North
Shore town of Peabody is pronounced: "Pea-ba-dee", although
the "ba-dee" is said quickly: "Pea-b'dee".

So to get to "Pea-b'dee" from "Baw-ston", don't warm up the
Wayback Machine.

Take your "cah"!

Friday, June 06, 2008


In honor of Lori Thornton of Smoky Mountain Family
who's up this way attending a conference and doing
some genealogy research as well, we will discuss the correct
pronunciation of the city of Quincy, where Lori's conference
is being held.

I'm told some folks in other parts of the country pronounce it
"Kwin-see"(perhaps in Quincy, Illinois?). But around here,
it's commonly spoken as "Kwin-zee".

Lori's been enjoying the restaurants and cuisine of New
England. Hopefully she'll have a chance to sample some
"steamahs" or "chowdah" on her visit to "Kwin-zee"!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


We got a new book in at Borders last week for my "All
Things Local" section and the minute I saw it I knew I'd be
buying a copy. It's Peter F. Stevens' "Hidden History of the
Boston Irish" (trade paperback, $19.99 from History Press)
and a quick scan of the back made me grin. There was a
reference to Barney McGinniskin, who in 1851 became the
first Irishman on the Boston Police force. Barney announced
his arrival with: "Barney McGinniskin from the bogs of

I could picture him roaring that out, an "in your face"
declaration of his presence despite the opposition to his hiring
that Stevens details. Many of the objections against him were
all too familiar to the Irish immigrants of the early 19th
century: he was taking work away from native born
Americans, American culture was threatened by the influx
of low born, poorly educated foreigners, and worst of all,
they were Catholic!

Barney lost his place on the force three years later during the
era of the aptly named "Know Nothing" Party's reign of anti-
Catholic terrorism, but the Irish kept coming, carving out
lives for themselves and their families in New England.

"No Irish Need Apply?' Fine, some of them started their own
businesses while others took on menial jobs that put roofs
over their heads and money in the bank. If they had to work
as maids or ditch diggers, they did; their children would have
the chance for better jobs as clerks or teachers. Bit by bit
they worked their way to their dreams. Among them were
my Mom's grandparents.

One of her grandfathers, John McFarland, started out as a
laborer in 1880 and was working for the Boston City Street
department by the 1910 census and as a gardener for the
City in 1920. At the time of his death he owned two houses.
By 1940, his sons were employed by shoe factories, a bottler,
and a diamond cutting company and each of them owned
their own homes. His grandchildren include three Boston
firemen. It's an American success story that's repeated in
many other families whose ancestors arrived here with very
little and achieved so very much through hard work and

I recently heard a conservative declare we make too much
of being "hyphenated" Americans, of being Irish-American,
or Italian-American or Polish-American. If he had his way,
there'd be no celebration of Columbus Day or St. Patrick's
Day or any other ethnic group festivities.

I was astonished as a historian, as a genealogist, as well as,
yes, an Irish-American. We should be proud of being
Americans but we should also be proud of where our
families came from and the contributions their cultures have
made to American culture as a whole. When I hear the debate
raging over immigration today I hear some of the same
arguments used against the immigrants of other times,
including my Irish ancestors. If those arguments had
prevailed then, what a much poorer country America would
be today!

And as a historian I am proud of the contribution Ireland itself
has made to music and literature, and in its role the Irish
monasteries played in preserving much of the Greek and
Roman literature duringthe Middle Ages.

So that's what I feel about being Irish and Irish-American:
pride in my ancestors for what they overcame, and grateful
to them for what they have given back to America in return!

Written for the 6th edition of The Carnival of Irish Heritage
and Culture at the Small-Leaved Shamrock.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The 49th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, the Swimsuit
Edition is up over at Jasia's Creative Gene and is full of posts
on beaches, bathing suits, and memories of summer fun.
There's some great reads, so take a look and enjoy!

I'll be hosting the next CoG and the topic will be Family Pets:

"And now it's time for a call for submissions! The topic for
next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: family
Bring out those old photos of Snoopy, Garfield, Rex
and Bob!
Tell us the funny, charming, and cute stories about
the pets
you remember or remember hearing about.
Introduce us to
the furry, feathered, and scaly members who
have a place on
your family tree! The deadline for the next
edition is
June 15, 2008..."

I'm looking forward to a lot of well written memories!

Sunday, June 01, 2008


With this entry we widen the scope of how to speak New
Englandese to include the words and terms peculiar to the
area. So let's start with food, and in this case, the milk shake.

According to the Wikipedia, the classic milk shake is made by
handmixing any flavor ice cream and additional flavors,
although it's more commonly done with a machine. The
"shakes" served at the fast food restaurants for the most
part are made from a frozen premade mix without ice
cream (although some chains still serve ice cream based

Of course, this being New England, we have our own spin on
the drink. It's often called a "frappe" (rhymes with ''lap")
and Janice Brown at Cow Hampshire has previously written
about the term. (Go read it here for extra credit!)

Some forty years ago when I was a camp counselor on Cape
Cod, several of us went to a local restaurant and ordered
hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes. But one of us came from
Rhode Island and when he stepped up to the window he asked
for a "cabinet" which was a frappe...which was a milkshake.
The rest of us had no idea what Jerry was talking about but
the restaurant worker did and served up a "cabinet" in a

Basically, in New England, if you want ice cream in your
milk shake, order a frappe. Personally, the best I ever
tasted are served at the Brigham's Restaurants. Get
one with a grilled cheese sandwich and a side order of fries
or onion rings!

Hmm. I'm suddenly hungry....