Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My cousin Yvonne (she's descended from my 2x great granduncle Leonidas West) out in Washington State was going through some family papers the other night and found this letter mixed in with them. She sent it along to me with the comment that she and her husband thought it had to be a joke but wanted my opinion. I read the transcript she sent and then looked at the image of the letter and knew what I thought.

How about you?

The text:

Dear Son, Your paw has a good job now for the first time in 48 years We are a grate deal better off than we war. Your paw gets $14.95 every Thursday so we thought we would do a little fixin up. We wint to the catalog house fer one of them thar new fangled things they call bathrooms we ad heard tell about. It has to be put in shape by a man called a plummer. One side of the room is a big long white thing like the critters drink outter only you git in it when you want to wash all over. On the other side is a little white thing they call a sink. This is far light washin such as your face and hand. but in the corner now son I'll tell you we've got somethin thar. This little contraption you put your foot in and wash it clean and then you pull a little chain and you git clean water for the other foot. Two lids come with the thing and we ain't got no use fer them in the bathroom so I'm usin one fer a bread board and the other that had a round hole in it, we took and framed grandpaw's pitcher. Those catalog folks was awfully nice to deal with. They sent us free a big roll of written papers. Take kur of yourself your loving mom

So what do you think? Fact or Fiction?


((Note-I've since found the missing page and added it to the post. The new material is
in red.))

By 1870 there had been drastic changes on John Cutter West's farm. In 1860 there had been ten people living on the farm, nine of whom were old enough to help out around the farm with the chores. Then came the Civil War and sons Hiram and Leonidas joined the Union Army. More devastating was the epidemic of 1862 in which three of the younger children had died, follwed by the death of John Cutter West himself later that Spring. Asa Atwood West, the oldest son, was already married with a farm of his own, so my great-great grandfather Jonathan Phelps West inherited the farm.

So by 1870 there were four residents of the farm listed on the Federal Census: J.P, his wife Louisa, and two sons, three year old John C. and nine month old George P. With that much of a reduction of people able to work the farm, a change in how the farm was run would have had to occur. Unfortunately, is missing the second page of the 1870 Federal Agricultural Schedule for Upton, Oxford County, Me. but there's enough information from the first page to show that indeed there had been changes:

Acres of Land:
other un-improved-0

Present Cash Value:
Of farm-650 (dollars)
Of farming implements and machinery-25 (dollars)

Livestock June 1, 1870:
Mules and asses-0
Milch cows-2
Working Oxen-2
Other cattle-2
Value of all livestock-475 (dollars)

Produce during the year ending on June 1, 1870:
Indian Corn
Peas and Beans-
Potatoes: Irish-100(bushels)
Orchard Products-
Produce of Market Gardens-
Dairy Products: Butter-300(lbs)
Milk Sold-
Seed: Clover-
Sugar: Maple-
Bees: Wax-
Forest Products-
Value of Home Manufactures-
Value of Animals Slaughtered or Sold For Slaughter-60(dollars)
Total Value:Estimated Value of All Farm Production Including Betterments and Additions to Livestock- 873(dollars)

The first change I noticed from 1860 is that the total value of the farm is down to $1150 from the $1600 dollars of ten years before with less equipment and it is ten acres smaller with the loss being in the "wood-land." Could it have been sold off to pay a debt or to raise cash for some other purpose? There is also less livestock: only two working oxen, two "milch-cows" and two "other cattle". J.P.'s brother Hiram Ferdinand West's farm is listed a few lines below on the same page and there are two oxen and seven "other cattle" on his farm so there might have been a division of livestock between the two brothers after their father's death. But there is one addition to the West farm: there are now eleven sheep!

Since the second page is missing I don't know if J.P. had a potato crop or not but from the first page there is one difference with what his father chose to plant and grow as J.P grew spring wheat instead of rye. And with eleven sheep I think it's a safe assumption that there would
have been more than the 30 lbs of wool listed on the 1860 schedule.

Without seeing the second page of the Schedule I can't be absolutely sure but I'm guessing the changes reflect a farm that would be a little less labor intensive and more manageable for just two adults.

Since I haven't found an 1880 Agricultural Schedule yet for J.P.West, I'll turn next to his brothers Asa Atwood and Hiram Ferdinand West.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


When I finally got back online after a week-long absence I made it a
point to check out what my favorite geneabloggers had been up to while
I was gone. One of the blogs I visited was Randy Seaver's always
informative Genea-Musings and one post caught my attention,
Devier J. Smith in 1880 Agricultural Census. Looking at the wealth
of information the Agricultural Schedule had given Randy, I wondered if
a search for some of my ancestors in Maine might do the same for me.
So following Randy's tip, I searched Selected U.S. Federal Census 
Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 at After all,
Maine was one of the states covered.

Well, I hit the jackpot! I found quite a bit about my West, Barker, and
other ancestral lines there and I'll be sharing what I found here on my
blog over the course of time. Tonight I'm starting with my 3x great-
grandfather John Cutter West on the 19Jun 1860 Agricultural
Schedule for Upton, Oxford County Me, pp11-12. There are 48
questions on the Schedule and they give a good picture of what seems
to me to have been a moderately successful farm:

Acres of land: Developed-40 acres
Undeveloped-160 acres

Cash value of Farm- 1000 (dollars)
Value of farming Implements and Machinery- 100 (dollars)
Mules and Asses-0
Milch Cows-3
Working Oxen-4
Other cattle-12
Value of Livestock-500 (dollars)

Wheat, bushels of -0
Rye, bushels of- 40
Indian Corn, bushels of -0
Oats, bushels of-150
Rice, lbs of-0
Tobacco, lbs of-0
Ginned Cotton, bales of 400lbs ea-0
Wool,lbs of-30
Peas and Beans, bushels of-5
Irish Potatoes, bushels of-300
Sweet Potatoes, bushels of-0
Barley, bushels of-0
Buckwheat, bushels of-40
Value of Orchard Products, in dolls.-0
Butter, lbs. of-0
Cheese, lbs of-0
Hay, tons of-80
Clover Seed, bushels of-0
Grass seeds, bushels of-0
Hops, lbs. of-0
Dew Rotted, tons of-0
Water Rotted, tons of-0
Other prepared Hemp-0ItalicFlax, lbs of-0
Flaxseed, bush. of-0
Silk Cocoons, lbs, of-0
Maple Sugar, lbs of-100
Cane Sugar,hhds of 1000 lbs,-0
Molasses, gallons of and from what made-0
Beeswax, lbs. of-0
Honey, lbs.of-0
Value of Homemade Manufacture-10 (dollars)
Value of Slaughtered Animals-125 (dollars)

So John Cutter West owned a 200 acre farm the value of which (not
counting the money earned from any crops sold) was $1600. His main
crop was "Irish Potatoes" followed by hay, oats, buckwheat and rye,
and he produced 100 lbs of maple sugar, probably from trees on that
160 "undeveloped" part of his property. I was puzzled how he could
have produced 30 lbs. of wool with no sheep until I saw that last
column. Perhaps the sheep were slaughtered? Or to be more optimistic
for them, perhaps they were sold off for some reason. And the presence
of "4 working oxen" confirms for me the story I posted in 2008 about
John Cutter West and two companions using a team of oxen to find
shelter in a snowstorm (See "The Value of an Ox")

I hope John Cutter West was happy with his life on that day in Jun
1860 because a year and a half later disease would strike his family
and change it forever.

We'll be looking at the same farm on the 1870 Schedule next.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Well it took awhile but the Gods of Verizon have been appeased
and I'm once more back online. Hopefully this will the last extended
absence for the forseeable future. The move is nearly over thanks
to all the work my sister Cheryl and her husband Peter did, along
with my niece Sarah and her husband Steve and my nephew Mike.
I'm grateful for they have done.

Healthwise, I'm following the doctors' orders because two week
long hospital stays were way too much and I'd like to avoid
another visit for a good long while!

I'll try to catch up on reading my fellow geneabloggers' posts of the
past week, although it may be hard if they are as rewarding as
Randy Seaver's recent post about the 1880 Agricultural Census.
I checked it out and found a mother-lode of information on my
West and other family lines which I'll be blogging about here.

So I'm back, and raring to get some research and blogging done!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I'll be going offline for a bit after tonight because of The Move
but I wanted to acknowledge being awarded the Ancestor Approved
Award from the following six people:

Mary Warren
Lisa Swanson Ellam
Terri O' Connell
Mary from "Me and My Ancestors"
Heather Rojo
Tim Abbott

Thank you all so much for thinking so highly of my blog. I hope
you'll forgive me for putting off presenting my list until after
I've settled into my new place!

See you all in 10 days!

Monday, April 12, 2010


The second important April birthday is today and belongs to my
sister Cheryl. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have had been able to
take the road trip out to Ohio to visit our Aunt Dot or to go to the
Ellingwood Family reunion up in Maine last year. (She drives, I repeat
the GPS directions.) She is also currently my interior designer for my
new apartment.

Happy Birthday,Cheryl, and thank you!

Sunday, April 04, 2010


April has some birthdays of significance to me and the first of these is
today! My Aunt Dorothy, my Dad's younger sister, is celebrating hers
today. Longtime readers of my blog will recall that it was Aunt Dot who
got me started on genealogy by sending us copies of her research years
ago. They helped me when I began my own research online.

She also wrote out a thirteen page memoir of growing up with my Dad
up in Oxford County Maine during the Depression. And two years ago
she gave me the West Family Bible.

I won't say which birthday this is (a gentleman never discusses a lady's
age!) but it isn't relevant in Aunt Dot's case because she's very active
and often cares for a very energetic group of great grandchildren.

So thank you, Aunt Dorothy, and may you have many many more
Happy Birthdays!

Saturday, April 03, 2010


It’s time for Randy Seaver’s “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.” at his
Genea-Musings blog . This week it’s “Six Degrees of Separation”.:

1) Find an ancestral line that atretches back to the time of the US Revolutionary War (1775-1783), about 230 years. Define your person-to-person connection (the person actually met the next person on the list) back to a historical figure from that time.

2) Tell us about it on your blog, in a note or comment on Facebook, or in a comment on this post.

This one has me gobsmacked!

1. I knew my grandfather Floyd E. West, Sr (1893-1970)

2.He had to know his great-grandmother Arvilla Ames (1810)-(1907)
since he was 14 years old when she died.

3. And her grandfather was Private John Ames Jr .(1756-1833).
I can’t imagine him not visiting his grandchildren or missing Arvilla’s
wedding to John Cutter West in 1827!

John was a Revolutionary War veteran who in his pension request
affidavit told of seeing Generals George Washington and Israel Putnam
in Cambridge, Ma. during the siege of Boston.

So I have three degrees of separation from somebody who saw
George Washington at the start of the American Revolution!


So I'd been doing alright since coming home from the hospital back in
Feb.,sticking to the diet, losing over 20lbs and all. Then about a week
and a half ago I began to feel queasy in the morning which I chalked up
to one of the effects of my meds. And the
backache that I'd had since my hospital stay got worse. Then Monday
at work I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. My boss called the
fire dept and it turned out my blood pressure was very low. So I got my
first ambulance ride and back to the hospital I went. This was especially
galling since I'd just signed the lease and picked up my keys to the new
apartment that very morning,

That wasn't all that was galling me. Turned out the back pain is from gall
stones which the surgeon who consulted on my case doesn't feel can be
removed surgically due to my heart condition. So I'm just going to have
to learn to live with the occasional flareups. They've adjusted my meds
which hopefully will prevent anymore ambulance rides for awhile and
I'm still following the diet.And I plan to make the move to the new place
by the end of this month instead of by the 15th which had been my
original plan.

Obviously I haven't been researching or blogging much lately and with
the move I can't predict how much time I can do either until after I'm
settled into the new place. I think I might have to start sitting in the chair
in the parlor while I'm online for longer periods so my back doesn't
bother me. But I'll be around!

My thanks to everyone who sent prayers and good wishes to me!