Saturday, December 31, 2011


I'm not sure where our Mom came up with it, whether it was an old Irish
tradition or if she heard it from a friend, but on New Year's Eve,  she'd
put the broom outside by the back door along with a paper bag that had
a dollar bill inside it. The idea was that you swept out the bad luck of the
past year and the dollar bill was supposed to bring wealth in the coming

Sad to say, it never seemed to work as advertised. On the other hand, for
all I know, things might have been worse if we hadn't done it!

How about you? Does your family have a New Year's tradition that is
meant to bring you luck and wealth?

Happy NewYear to all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Last December I posted my genealogy plans for 2011 so it's time
to look back and see how I did. My results are posted in red.

1 Continue researching my maternal White, McFarland, Offinger,
and Luick lines.

 Plan: I need to make trips into Boston and find what resources might be
available from the Boston municipal records, and the Boston Public
Library. I also want to search the National Archives records for any
other documentation.

I might take out a World membership from Ancestry for a month or
two to seach for records from Ireland and Germany.

Results: While I haven't made much progress on the other lines, I did
with the White family,with the help of some of my geneablogging friends,
including tracking down the grave of my grandfather and contacting one
of my two uncles by his second marriage.

2. Continue researching my paternal West, Barker, Ellingwood, 
Dunham and other family lines.

Plan: I need to visit the local FHC more oftren than I have in the
past to search for records. Visits are also in order for the NEHGS
and the Massachusetts State Archives. I also need to start making
more use of court records (wills, deeds, etc) in my research.

Continued exploration of the local cemeteries and of the distant cousins
buried there is also on my to do list.

I'd also like to attend the Ellingwood Family Reunion again in August.

Results: While I haven't made it to any of the places I wanted to 
go for research, I did make it into the NEHGS and met Barbara
Poole, and thanks to sister Cheryl  I attended the Ellingwood 
Reunion. I also spent and enjoyed visiting cemeteries in the area
where I found more graves of distant cousins.
3. Break down that John  Cutter West brick wall.

Plan: A series of visits to the town halls and historical societies of towns
here in Plymouth County seems to be the only approach possible to
this mystery. The cemetery visits might also prove useful in this.

Results: Still no luck. Drat, as Randy Seaver would say!

4. Join a local genealogy or history society

Plan: I'm going to join the Historical Society of Old Abington. "Old
Abington" included the present town plus the districts which eventually
became  the towns of Whitman and Rockland, areas in which collateral
branches of my paternal lines lived and also where my brother in law's
family lived. The meetings are four times a year on Sunday which I
should be able to make.

The South Shore Genealogical Society might be doable but they meet
on Saturdays when I am working and the membership link on their
website is not working.  Still, I'll try to join and get to some meetings.

I also want to attend some of the regional genealogy conferences and
perhaps meet some of my genealogy blogger friends.

Results: I still have to follow through on this. Now that I'm a
"gentleman of leisure" time is no longer an issue.

5.Write more.

Plan: Continue blogging and sharing what I find. Maybe publish it in
book or ebook form.

Results: This one I had better results with. My blogging in 2010 was 
down because of heath er...adventures but this year I've done better.
My best year was 2009 with 254 posts and I'm very close to matching
that this year.


Plan: Just do it!!
Results: Working on it!

7. Scan, SCAN SCAN!!

Plan: See Plan #6

Results: See Results #6

All of these are dependent on my health. I planned to get out and do
more this year but my health prevented it for much of the year. So
Priority #1 is to stay healthy this winter so that once the weather
improves I can hit the ground running...well...sort of running....   

Well, I've been lucky and did get out and about a lot this past year!

And above all else, I plan to HAVE FUN doing all of it!

I sure did have fun, and still am! Now on to 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Besides the picture of Mariah K Flint Ellingwood that Iposted here yesterday,
Ellingwood cousin Bonnie Grant also has sent me the following article with
family memories of John Wesley Ellingwood and Mariah:

As Remembered by Their Granddaughter MARGARETT PAULINE REED ELLIOTT
                      and Compiled by her daughter Juanita Elliott Hampton

    After searching extensively for two adjoining homesteads, Almar Reed, his son-in-law, and John Wesley Ellingwood located at Mina in the Northern part of Mendocino County, California, about 1892.  At that time the land was fairly good and about the best they could find.  Homesteads were getting scarce by then and Grandmother Reed (Lecta Maria) had promised her mother (Mariah) she would always stay near her.

    Before they moved to the mountains from Humboldt County, Grandfather Ellingwood built a home for his wife and himself so she had a home to move into.  It was a comfortable one room cabin with an upstairs, with real stairs leading up to one room.  Water was carried by trough about ¼ mile to the back door.

    Grandfather split pickets and fenced his property.  He was a painstaking and hard working man and did a tremendous amount of work.  The lower part of his house was of small logs probably 3 or 4 high, and lumber formed the upper part.  The lumber was hauled from a mill at Hulls Valley.  (With a team and wagon)

    Their Granddaughter Margarett used to help Grandfather with his planting and with what else she could.  He called her his boy and didn’t want the other kids around when they were working, saying “One kid was good – more than one was no kid at all.”  Margarett said she can remember her Grandmother later when she became sick and confined to bed just peeking over the covers at her.  Margarett was only 8 when Grandmother Ellingwood was taken to Humboldt County to stay with her daughter Adell.  She was thought to have had T.B.  She did in Humboldt County.

    Both Grandmother and Grandfather Ellingwood were small people.  Margarett said she thinks they both had pretty fiery dispositions.

    Grandfather’s mother and father died when he was small and he was bound out to an Uncle who wasn’t too good to him.  Lura (Margarett’s sister) remembers his telling about helping with the sugaring and making syrup and only being allowed 2 little spoonfuls of syrup and of driving cows barefoot through the stickers and setting the dogs on the cows to make them run ahead so he could circle around the sticker patch.

    After Grandmother died Grandfather married again.   Lura said a friend of Grandfather’s was courting and he just decided to beat his time, which he did.  He said they were as happy as two kittens. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


 After my previous post about Mariah K Flint Ellingwood, I received an
email and photo from Ellingwood cousin Bonnie Grant, who is descended
from John Wesley Ellingwood and Mariah.  She has given me to post both
of them here, along with the document that will be in the next post:

Hi Bill,

I've been enjoying your post to your blog as well as FB.  Your blog today is
most interesting and I agree Mariah K. Flint Ellingwood had to be one tough
pioneer woman!  The attached picture shows a lot.  She appears to be very
thin, and very tired.  Notice that she is covering her dress with a blanket. 
Was she ashamed of the wear and tear of her dress?  Look at her eyes and
her hands.  Bennie, her youngest and last child, looks to be 2 or 3 and he
was born Dec. 28, 1867 so this would be about 1870.  She would be about
43 years old.

Had the family just moved to New York or had they just moved to Hereford,
Compton Co. Province of Quebec or was this before their moves and they
were still in Milan, Coos Co., NH?  Wherever they were she had already
lost  her first born, and cared for many during the black diphtheria epidemic.
She cared for her son Enoch Merrill with is terribly infected leg, and all the
while keeping the children fed and clothed.   By this time she had given
birth to 10 children and lost one.

She lost 3 children in less than 3 months: starting on 25 Oct 1872 she lost
daughter Martha, on 8 Jan 1873 daughter Rachel and on 13 Jan 1873 daughter
Adna, all in Hereford, Compton, Quebec.

Beside giving birth and dealing with the deaths of loved ones, life in general
had to have been hard.  The primitive conditions and accommodations are
hard to imagine.

Out of her 10 children, she lost 4 in New England and 2 at a young age in
Ferndale California plus she left 2 adult sons in New England and most likely
never saw them again also they did survive her as did 2 daughters in California.

I thought about adding these comments to the blog, but I wanted to send the
picture, so thought I'd just send it all via email.I'm not as good with words as

you are, so if you want to add to or change anything and post it it's fine with me. 
Keep up the good work and thanks so much.


It may not snow every Christmas but there is one thing of which we can be
 certain:  the 24 hour "A Christmas Story" marathon on cable tv. Now some
folks might be tired of seeing the movie but to me it is like looking back at
my own childhood. No, Dad didn't win a Leg Lamp(and no way our Mom
would have let him put it in her living room if he had) but there are certain
things in the film that bring back memories for me:

1. Ovaltine- Yes, I drank Ovaltine when I was a kid, but by the time I came
along in 1948 Little Orphan Annie was no longer the big radio hit it once was.
In fact, when I was Ralphie's age it was Captain Midnight who was telling us
to drink our Ovaltine in the secret decoder messages.

2. The cars- There were still many of the older model cars around well into
the mid 1950's with cool things like running boards and rumble seats. The
nursery school I went to in Malden, the ABC Nursery School, used to pick up
students in a big old car with a rumble seat and I dimly remember riding in it.

3. The clothes- Here's a picture of me with Santa. As I've said before, stick a
pair of glasses on it and I could be Ralphie. And in the picture of the car above,
that's me and my cousin Winnie (Winifred).  While I can't recall if it was hard
for me to get around in a snowsuit, I do remember it seemed to take HOURS to
get in and out of them. And Randy looks a lot like one of my younger White
cousins trying to walk around in it once he was bundled up.

4. The school- The first elementary school I went to was the Linden School in
Malden, Ma which was a new building and very modern for the times. But when
I was eight years old we moved to Boston and I went to the Frank V. Thompson
Elementary School, an older building, and the classrooms looked very much like
Ralphie's: the blackboards, the shelves of books, the desks, even the windows!

5. The Lifebuoy- I told fibs when I was a kid. Several times I got the Lifebuoy in
the mouth punishment.  It tasted soap.  Blecch. No, I didn't go blind.

6.The BB Rifle- I don't recall hearing Red Ryder on the radio when I was a kid and
I don't remember ever seeing the tv series. It may have been on at the same time
as one of the other shows I would watch, like the Lone Ranger or the Cisco Kid.
But I do remember seeing the ads in the back of the comic books for a Red Ryder
BB Rifle from Daisy. I wanted one badly. Hey, with a last name like West, a guy just
had to dream about being a cowboy! And just like Ralphie, I heard the same
warnings from my Mom about shooting myself(or someone else) in the eye. Now
my Dad had grown up around guns and was a bit more sympathetic. After all,
he hadn't lost an eye (although he did shoot himself once in the foot with a .22).
So eventually my parents reached some sort of compromise and I got a bb rifle
either for Christmas or my birthday but my Dad was the keeper of the BB
pellets. Eventually the novelty of shooting a rifle that didn't actually have
ammunition wore off and the rifle ended up in the closet. It and the pellets
did, however, make a reappearance a few years later when we were living
in Abington and Dad used it to drive off the more persistent male dogs who
were uh....paying our female dog Brownie.

So that's why I like watching "A Christmas Story" every Christmas!
At least once, anyway.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I've been reading the Leonard Ellinwood book The Ellinwood Family and I
found these two accounts about John Wesley Ellingwood's wife. The first occurs
in the entry for John Wesley himself, who Leonard refers to as "Wesley":

"His wife was brave and strong-willed. When the "black-diptheria" was sweeping
Milan, she took her oldest boy(then eight years old) to help another family where
everyone was sick; during the day she had to lay out three bodies, one of which 
was a small child who had been playing on the floor when they arrived"

Now John Wesley Ellingwood's first wife and mother of his children was Mariah
K.Flint. Their first son, also named John Wesley, died in 1851 at age six so the
son in this story would have to be their second oldest Oscar who was born in
in 1848. If the information in the story is corrrct and Oscar was eight years old,
that would place the incident in 1856.

The other anecdote is in the entry for son Enoch Merrill Ellingwood(Leonard
uses the name "Merrill") 

"As a boy his leg was so badly infected the doctor wanted to amputate to save
his life.His mother would not permit it, saying that it was hard enough getting
through life with two legs and that if God was going to spare his life he would
spare him whole.She called on an Indian woman who went into a swamp and
gathered roots, etc. with which she made a poultice and cured the infection."


Leonard Ellinwood was given both stories in a letter from Cecil Ellingwood, who
was Enoch Merrill Ellingwood's grandson. Since it's anecdotal it's possible the
boy in the first story was six year old John Wesley Ellingwood Jr. and Hannah
made a mistake in bringing him with her, but I think if that had been the case
such a tragic story would have been something Cecil would have heard about as

I think some of us forget that Northern New England was just as much a frontier
as other parts of the country long after Southern New England was settled. And
Mariah K Flint Ellingwood was one tough pionerr woman!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Merry Christmas!

I hope all my friends have had a great hoiliday. In celebration 
of Christmas, here's a poem by perhaps the greatest poet 
of New England, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

The Three Kings

Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

The star was so beautiful, large and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.

And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of the night, over hill and dell,
And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast,
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
With the people they met at some wayside well.

"Of the child that is born," said Baltasar,
"Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews."

And the people answered, "You ask in vain;
We know of no King but Herod the Great!"
They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
As they spurred their horses across the plain,
Like riders in haste, who cannot wait.

And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, "Go down unto Bethlehem,
And bring me tidings of this new king."

So they rode away; and the star stood still,
The only one in the grey of morn;
Yes, it stopped --it stood still of its own free will,
Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
The city of David, where Christ was born.

And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
Through the silent street, till their horses turned
And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;
But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
And only a light in the stable burned.

And cradled there in the scented hay,
In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
Of a kingdom not human, but divine.

His mother Mary of Nazareth
Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death
Were mingled together in her breast.

They laid their offerings at his feet:
The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body's burying.

And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
And sat as still as a statue of stone,
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
Of an endless reign and of David's throne.

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
And returned to their homes by another way.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


This was originally posted back on 25Jul 2007. I thought I'd repost
 it today because of Christmas:

This the first in a series of posts which are my transcriptions
of 13 handwritten pages. They were written by my Aunt Dot
 (Dorothy West Bargar) and given to me yesterday when we attended
my nephew Paul's wedding.

Some explanations of the names mentioned: Phillip was
Phllip Jonathan West, Dot's grandfather and my great
grandfather. Hazel was her older sister and Flossie(Florence)
the youngest.

"Dingle" is a new term to me and sounds like a shed.

"Our family lived on Back Street in Upton from about 1830 to
1927. I have a picture of Bud and Hazel, taken Aug., 1926 that
was given me by Pop’s cousin Louie West (his dad was great
uncle Paul -Philip’s brother). This was the first I heard that I
ever lived in Upton. My birthday was in April of that year.

From conversations, I think I remember we probably moved
to Magalloway for a short time, then to Wilsons Mills. Phillip
stayed in Magalloway.

The first place I remember living was in a little square cabin on
the shore of Azichoos lake back a trail from the dam house.
There was a wagon trail past an old stone quarry and a foot
path along the lake shore. The quarry was home of the bear
that we always looked out for. The cabin was partitioned off in
one corner-a room big enough for a white iron double bed and a
built in double bed with a bunk (half size) up under the eaves.
There was a path between the beds wide enough for a dresser.
The remainder of the cabin was one L shaped room (except the
L was upside down & backwards) (end p.1)

The back door opened to a covered walk that led to a dingle

where we kept outdoor tools and dry wood for the fire. The
space from the door to the dingle was about the width of a
standard sidewalk. I have always remembered the dingle
because that is where the bag of toys that Santa brought was
kept. I only remember one Christmas that we received presents
and must have been when I was three because Flossie was not
yet in the family.

Don’t remember what Hazel& amp Mother got. Pop got a necktie,
Bud got pocket knife. (he would have been 5 years old) and I got
a pull toy -it was a green platform with red wheels & a red pull
string and had a white celluloid lamb on the platform. We also
got a tiddle wink game, which at my age was a great failure at,
but liked it anyway. That was probably 1929.

In years later we always decorated the house and had fun
making our decorations from newspapers and magazines. For
many years we had carefully saved the few fold out paper
Christmas bells and a few pieces of red & green rope that had
come with the family before any time that I recall."(end p 2)


Christmas Eve was sometimes hectic in our family, especially
those years when we lived in Dorchester, because Mom and Dad
would drive around to Mom’s cousins’ houses to drop off gifts for
the kids. Sometimes my sister and I went along but as we got
older and more responsible we’d stay home while the gifts run
was made.

Then there where Christmas Eves where we were all home
and spent the night wrapping presents for each other or other
relatives. I think I liked those quieter nights best.

The past two decades or so Christmas Eve is spent at my sister
and brother-in-law’s house. Gifts are given out and opened and
my sister’s youngest son Mike(now in his twenties) often ends
up with the handing out the gifts duties since he’s the youngest
family member. Then there’s food served buffet style. At that
point, I am just trying to stay awake because I’ve been dealing
with the last minute shoppers at the store all day and a good
meal on top of that makes me want to take a nap. And next
day I go back over for dinner.

All in all Christmas Eves over the years have been good ones,
sometimes saddened by losses of loved ones but we all enjoy
being together and relaxing after the end of the Christmas rush.

2009 Update: A new tradition began last year with the Christmas
Eve festivities moving to the home of my niece Sarah and her
husband Steve. And this year I am actually having a day off on
Christmas Eve, so I won't be so tired and sleepy!

2010 Update: Christmas Eve will be at my sister's this year and I'm
looking forward to some lasagna. I expect that Michael will be helped
with giving out gifts this year by my 2 year old grandnephew Noah!

2011 Update: Christmas Eve will again be at  my sister's house and
there will be lasagna! One change this year: since the bookstore closed
I haven't been working the Christmas shopping rush so I may not fall
asleep as early as I have in past years!

((Originally posted in 2007))

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I've mentioned my cousin Florence O'Connor's book The Ancestors and
Descendants of Asa Freeman Ellingwood and Florilla (Dunham)Ellingwood

(West Paris, Maine, 1979) many times on this blog. It's been the source
of information and a guidepost for much of my family research and I really
appreciatehaving it, thanks to the generosity of Florence and the work of
cousin Jerry Ellingwood. The book was originally published as a hardcover
and I had one of that edition but lost it somewhere along the way during
moving from place to place. So I was happy to find a new edition was
available from the Ellingwood Family Reunion. This one is inexpensive
compared to the prices of many genealogy books today, and it's by
design. As Jerry notes in his introduction it was Florence O'Connor's
condition for having her book reprinted:

"Just before her death she gave her permission for her work to be 
copied and re-sold to the family so long as no one made a profit off 
of all her work."

Jerry photographed the original book and in this edition there are two
pages of the original on every page . It's printed to fit into a three ring
binder which makes it very convenient to use along side a computer,
but it also makes adding pages to the orginal very easy.

The Ellingwood Family Reunion is held every year on the second Saturday
in August in Norway, Maine and Jerry encourages the family members
to send him news about their family: births, deaths, achievements. He
also asks us to list the page number in the original book the update should
be placed near. For example, the Wests are descended from Clara Ellingwood
and appear on pages 116-117 so we would mark any updates to be placed
after those pages. Jerry prints all those updates and makes them available
to those who attend the Reunion and sends them out by mail to those who
are unable to attend. Then we just add the new pages to our books. This
means that even though the original book was published 1979 it's being
constantly updated and improved.

But as they say on tv, ah, wait, there's more!

Along with the book and Jerry's updates there is the Ellingwood Family
Newsletter from cousin Loria A. Barnes-Grippo. It;s been available at
the reunions every year since 2002 and contains family stories, recipes,
genealogy tips and family news. Like the updates, it's available by mail
for those who can't attend the reunion. There's also the Ellingwood Family
Reunion Cookbook published in 2005 with recipes from different family

And finally, cousin Bonnie Atkinson started the Ellingwood Reunions!
page on Facebook where reunion and family pictures are shared along
with information for those tracing their Ellingwood ancestry.

So if you have Ellingwood ancestors, email  me and I'll gladly put you in
touch with Jerry and Lori, or if you are a Facebook member, drop in at
the Ellingwood Reunions! page and introduce yourself.

And thanks to Jerry, Lori, and Bonnie for all the hard work they've done
for the Ellingwood family!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


((originally posted in 2007))

Every Christmas Mom would break out the Andy Williams
Christmas Album to play on the stereo. There was also a Nat
King Cole album and a Mitch Miller “Sing Along With Mitch”
Christmas edition. But for me, even rock and roll dinosaur
that I am, it’s the Andy Williams album that “feels” like
Christmas to me. I need to hear that "It's the Most
Wonderful Time of the Year."

As I’ve gotten older and my musical tastes expanded, I find
myself listening to New Age and Celtic Christmas music. And
Josh Groban just put out a holiday album that we’ve played at
the bookstore since Thanksgiving and it’s easy on the ears.

As for caroling, well, there are some things that one should
never do in public and in my case, singing is one of them!

2010 Update: I splurged this year for the "Now That;s What
I Call Christmas Essentials Collection." It has the Andy Williams
song and Nat King Cole's version of "Christmas Song" on it,
and I plan to play it Thursday afternoon on my day off!

2011 Update Now that Borders has gone out of business and
I avoid the radio stations doing the "All Christmas, All the Time"
since mid-November, I haven't burned out on Christmas music
as early as previous years. But unfortunately, I am now tired of
"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Staples use of it
in the back to school ads was funny. But this year, the song has
been overused by retail stores and car dealerships so much
that it's like beating a dead reindeer! Bah, humbug!

Monday, December 19, 2011


In the interests of fairplay, some of the weird names and notations I've
found for my ancestors are not always because of errors by transcibers
and indexers at FamilySearch or Sometimes it's someone
else's fault.

Take, for example, the case of my 4x great grandmother Polly Griffith.

I was filling in some gaps on the Ames side of my family and was working
on the siblings of my 3x great grandmother Arvilla Ames over on
I discovered I had mixed up the death dates of her two brothers Ephraim
and Ezekiel. I went over to FamilySearch and found the death record listed
 for Ezekiel in the Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915 collection. The
spelling of the names made me shake my head. Ezekel for Ezekiel, 
Johnathan ? Ames for his father Jonathan P Ames, and Collie Griffen 
for his mother Polly Griffith.

Now I'm used to seeing variations on the Griffth name, such as Griffeth and
Griffin so the Griffen isn't all that bad. But the Collie really got me ticked off
at whoever had indexed this record. I clicked through to view the image:

And there they all were, exactly as listed in the index,. I can't believe that
Ezekiel's daughter Julia Smith wouldn't have known her grandmother's first
name was Polly, so I think what we had here was a failure to communicate with
Dr. Pearl. Either that or he was the legendary old country doctor whose own
hearing was beginning to fade.

So now I have to figure out how to contact FamilySearch to let them my
ancestor wasn't a Collie.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


((Originally posted in 2007))
As far as I can recall, none of the family ever attended a
professional entertainment event during the holidays.

I’m sure there were school events for my sister and brother but
the only one I recall that I was involved in was in the first or
second grade. It was some sort of Christmas lights event at the
Linden Elementary School in Malden that was held outside the
main entrance at night. We sang carols and yes, played some on
our flutaphones.

The next year we had moved to Dorchester and I was at the
Frank V. Thompson School. I don’t remember any holiday shows
there and I certainly didn’t go around playing a flutaphone in
that neighborhood!


 ((First posted in 2007. I've added a bit to this that is in italics))

It’s been a long time since the last time my Christmas stocking
was hung up for Santa.

When I was small we didn’t have a fireplace so I’m not sure
where we hung them. Perhaps stuck to a doorframe with
thumbtacks? Although one year we had a cardboard red brick
light-up fireplace that I hadn’t thought about in years until just
now. And on Capen St. in Dorchester I think we hung them on
the “windowsill” of the wall mural my Dad made. Mom picked
out some large picture of Cypress Gardens and it was hung on
the wall, framed by a wooden  picture window frame so it
looked as if you were looking out at all those flowers! ((Dad
even wired it with a lightbulb inside the frame to light it up
at night. This worked well until the plastic model of a bird
I'd placed on the sill fell in and melted against the lightbulb.))

The house in Abington had a real fireplace (and a real picture
window) so the stockings were hung by the chimney, etc. and a
new one was added for my kid brother. A year or so after that
we hung one for the pets as well. But over the years as we
moved one place or another there would be Christmases where
no stockings were hung at all because we couldn’t figure out which
box they’d been packed away in during the last move. 

As for what was inside, as I mentioned once before there was
one year I got a lump of coal, but for the most part it would be
candy canes and an orange or apple. One year there was the new
wristwatch my folks bought me.

I’m not sure where those stockings are these days. My best guess
is that they are downstairs in my storage bin packed away with
the few Christmas tree ornaments that have survived!

Update 2010: The Christmas stockings and those few old
Christmas ornaments have gone to the great storage bin in the sky
during my latest move.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Awhile back while researching my Barker family lines, I found my
granduncle in the 1910 U.S. Census living with his Uncle and
Aunt Owen and Lucy Demerritt in Newry, Oxford, Me.

Now I know that it was a hard to read page so I can understand
how Henry L Barker might be incorrectly read as Henry R. Berker.
But whoever indexed it listed his relationship to the head of household
as ...Hefben.


So, I sent a comment to on November 29th:

"Relationship to household is Nephew"

I got an email back today:
"Thank you for taking time to submit alternate data to 
Your data has been added to our indexes so other Ancestry members 
can easily find the information you shared....
...We appreciate your efforts to help us improve the quality of our 
\genealogical records."

But when I clicked on the link, I found poor Henry is still listed as a Hefben.




((originally posted in 2007))

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once worked several years
for a New England based toy store chain. At the end of the
Christmas Party my first year there(this would be the year before
the incident with the car and the tractor trailer box)I was called
into the warehouse office and told that they didn’t need me there
after the holiday but they could use me at the Dedham
warehouse where they stored all the returned damaged toys.

So the week after Christmas I found myself in a small warehouse
amidst stacks of Chatty Kathy’s and See and Say’s and Barbie
dolls. Sleds that just needed to have a screw or bolt replaced
were broken up with sledge hammers.

It seemed like such a waste when I found out the other toys
would be returned to the toy company for credit. Couldn’t the
sleds be repaired and given to kids?

No, I was told. I won’t tell you the reason I was given because it’s
pretty disgusting but given the nature of retail it’s not surprising.

So I went from being a Santa’s helper to being the Grinch’s

Eventually I was sent back to the main warehouse. A year later I
left the company and found another job.

And the toy store chain? It went out of business a year or so

I like to think of that as a cosmic lump of coal in their corporate

2011 Update: That reason that the company person gave was
that if people got the repaired sleds free they wouldn't be spending
their money at our stores to buy new ones. When I pointed out that
a lot pf people couldn't afford to buy a lot of gifts I was told that
parents would find a way to spend money on their kids so they'd
have a good Christmas.

The only good thing I can say about that whole conversation was that
it took place long after the Christmas holidays so it didn't ruin the
Christmas spirit for me that year.(That came years later when I
started working in retail.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Ok, if you haven't seen the episode yet, it's titled "Genetic Disorder"
and you can view it here at So go watch it first so you
can form your own opinion, then came back here to read mine.


Alrighty then. I'll try not to give too much away of the plot and
just stick to observations about the genealogy angle.

The wife of coroner Doc Robbins reports finding a man dead
in her bed. The murder scene appears as though she and the
dead man were having an affair. It turns out that the dead man
was a professional genealogist hired by the wife. She wanted
to surprise Doc with his family tree. Eventually the investigation
turns to the dead man's recent clients and his partner, Donna
Hoppe, lends a hand.

I liked how Donna Hoppe was bright and enthusiastic
about genealogy.(The dead partner is as well,. She says that "Genealogy
was his life"),She comes on a little strong at first, instantly deducing
that Greg Sanders' last name was changed from it's Norwegian
original, but I think the writer was trying to establish a rapport between
she and Greg. This is television after all, and they do have less than an
hour to tell the story.(Too bad this wasn't a two part episode!).

Eventually the trail turns to one specific client of the dead man and when
the CSI team comes to a brick wall of sorts in their scientific pursuit, Greg
turns to Donna Hoppe for help. She takes him to a records room and with
paper county records and a newspaper article on a microfilm reader they
discover that, as in some cases, this hunt for ancestors has turned up a
painful family mystery.

I thought this episode did a good job on the genealogy related elements.
Besides avoiding some of the old cliches about genealogists, I liked how
Donna told her students to ask permission first before doing gravestone
rubbings.(Since I've never done any myself, perhaps someone who has
can comment on the method she was demonstrating).

Yes, it did seem as though she found the information for Greg lickity-split,
but they did have those little pauses between scenes to denote there was a
passage of time. And she took him to an archive to look through actual
records, and then used a microfilm reader to find the news article. Not a
computer in sight! (and this from me, who uses a computer all the time!)

There were some elements like the fancy chart which might not ring true
to life but overall it was a job well done. And that last line from Doc Robbins
is something all of us have said at one time or another when we've made
some exciting discovery in our research.

All in all, I really enjoyed this episode.

For further insight on the writing on the episode, you can read how Elizabeth
Devine was inspired by her own and co-workers' genealogy research here
at the CSI Insider Blog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Fellow geneablogger and Facebook friend Susan Petersen posted a
link tonight over on Facebook that got my attention. It led to this on
the blog:

CBS Show to Air Genealogy Episode on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Posted by Nick Cifuentes on December 14, 2011 in Social Media

The Las Vegas crime lab is called into to process a victim where you 

would least expect.

When a man is found mysteriously murdered in the home of one of their 

own, the Las Vegas crime lab scrambles to solve the case. When the 
victim turns out to be a genealogist, the case will reveal a dark family secret.

Meanwhile, Greg Sanders’ (Eric Szmanda) interest in his own family

history is renewed when he interviews a renowned genealogist, Donna 
Hope (Pamela Reed), accurately tracks Greg’s family name to some
well known historical figures.

Hmm. My first thought was "Well at least we know they'll be wearing gloves."

My second was "Somebody must have angered The Gedfather"

My third was: "Genealogy must now really be mainstream when it figures
into the plot of a tv crime drama."

I'll be watching tonight anywayh because I'm a CSI fan but I'll be
interested in seeing if they know their sources and citations as well
as they know their femurs from their ulnas.

I'll let you know what I think after the show.


((originally posted in December 2007))

Ah, fruitcake! The Food. The Myth. The Legend.

We’ve never had any of the perpetual fruitcakes hanging about
for weeks or months in our family. We’re a practical bunch. If it
tastes good, we eat it. If it doesn’t, well, out it goes!

I have, however, invented a mythical fruitcake named Margaret.

Like distant cousin Tim Abbot over at Walking the Berkshires I
have been a role-player for years although mine has been online
instead of tabletop Dungeons and Dragons. One of my characters
is an eccentric Scotsman and last Christmas he gave Margaret
the Fruitcake to another character as a Christmas gift.

It seems it was baked by a female relative who passed away
while doing so and the Scotsman believes (he says) that her spirit
inhabits her final fruitcake. Margaret has been exchanged
between family members each Christmas but last year it was
given to a young squire. Various adventures ensued including a
jailbreak where Margaret was used as a weapon and then the
disappearance of the haunted fruitcake sometime around

Yeah, I know.

I’m nutty as a fruitcake

2009 Update-Margaret's location is unknown at present, although
rumors persist that she is being used as a curling stone by a team
of dwarves.

2010 Update: Margaret's present location is still unknown. The
most prevalent rumor is that she was recently employed as a 
battering ram at the Gates of Mordor. 

2011 Update: Margaret's whereabouts still remain a mystery. Rumor
has it she is presently being used as a doorstop by a giant at
a certain school for yound wizards.


Enoch Merril Ellingwood's second wife, Margaret Kermeen had been a widow
when they'd married. She'd immigrated to Canada from England with her
first husband  and their son, John Evans.  When they were living in Attleboro,
Ma. in 1900, John was listed as being 15 years old and as being Enoch's

I said earlier that when Enoch and the rest of the family returned to Canada
in 1901 I wasn't sure if Margaret and their daughter Bessie returned with him.
This is because at sometime between 1900 and 1905 the marriage came to an
end. This is based on three pieces of evidence, one found on
and two on FamilySearch.

The first is the passenger list of the S.S. Ivernia from Liverpool, England that
arrived at Boston on 29Sep 1904 that includes Margaret Ellingwood and her 10
year old daughter Bessie.( Perhaps she took Bessie to England to meet her
grandparents?). What's interesting about this  is that it says they were returning
to Enoch who was residing in Harrisonville, Rhiode Island. But while they might
have legally still be married they may have already been separated.

The second document is one from FamilySearch: the Rhode Island State
Census of 1905. On the form for Bessie, she's listed as having been a resident
of  Rhode Island for 4 years and as being a stepdaughter.

When I saw that I checked for and found a record of  Margaret's third marriage on the Rhode Island Marriages 1724-1916  collection. According to
that, Margaret Ellingwood married John Lacourse on 29Apr 1905. That's not a lot
of time after Margaret and Bessie had returned from England in the previous
September so the divorce may already have been in the works.

Bessie kept her father's name and is listed as Bessie Ellingwood on the 1910
Federal Census. The Lacourse family was living on Mineral Springs ave in
Providence, RI. Bessie married Thomas P.Wall on 18Nov 1914 and their son
Thomas Jr. was born on  9May 1915. By 1930, Margaret was once more a widow
and living with the Wall Family.

I don't know much else about this branch of the family except that Bessie's
son Thomas P Wall Jr ran for governor of Tennessee as the Republican candidate
and lost the election. Whether Bessie kept in touch with her father Enoch or
visited him in Canada I cannot say at present.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Like his older brother Oscar, Enoch Merrill Ellingwood stayed behind in Canada
when their parents returned to the United States. He was fourteen years old
when the family arrived in Canada so he'd have been in his late teens at the
family's departure.  And again like Oscar, he married a girl from Hereford,
Quebec, Lucy Anne Howe, in a ceremony across the American border in
New Canaan, Vermont.

Enoch & Lucy's Marriage Record from FamilySearch

Enoch and Lucy were married on 24Oct 1874 and were married for seventeen
years until Lucy's death in 1892. They had six children:
Edwin  B.  (1876-1947)
Fred Willis (1879-1961)
Elsie M(1883-?)
Effie (1885-1961)
Lucy (1888-?)
Archie John (1891-1985)

Effie & Lucy Ellingwood Baptism Records w/ Birthdates from

A year after Lucy's death, Enoch married a widow, Margaret (Kermeen)Evans
on 9Sep 1893 (Again in Canaan, Vt.) They had one child:
Bessie M.(1894-?)

Enoch & Margaret's Marriage Record from FamilySearch.

I found  Enoch on various Canadian and American Census Records between 1850
and his death in 1935. He lived most of his life in Hereford, Compton, Quebec
but is counted twice on U.S. Federal Censuses as an adult. One was near the end
of his life when he was enumerated on the 1930 Census living with his daughter
Elsie (Ellingwood) Gager in Croydon, Sullivan, New Hampshire. The other instances
was thirty years earlier when in 1900 Enoch and his family for some reason were
living on Sixth Street in Attleborough, Bristol, Ma and he was employed as a
carpenter. Whatever the reason, it seems they returned to Canada soon after
becaise he is listed on the 1901 Canadian Immigrant Records, Part 1,

But when he returned to Canada, his wife Margaret and daughter Bessie may not
have been with him.

To be continued

Saturday, December 10, 2011


((originally published in Dec 2007))

It’s funny how some Christmas memories fade and some endure,
especially when it comes to gifts.

We weren’t poor but we weren’t exactly well off either when I
was young. Santa’s gifts were often determined by budget
concerns but he always managed to leave us clothes and some
toys. (although one year I got a note with the other gifts:
“Dear Bill, I owe you one telescope. Santa Claus”)

Ads for a forthcoming movie brought back more memories. One
Christmas Eve my sister and I could hear Alvin and the
Chipmunks “Christmas Song” play over and over while our
parents laughed. When we asked why the song kept playing we
were told it was the radio and to get to sleep before Santa came.
(of course by now I already knew the Awful Truth). It turned
out Santa had left us a portable record player along with a copy
of the record!

I still have the gift my sister gave me one year: a wooden chess
set, the kind that doubles as a box to hold the chessmen. It’s
over thirty years old now.

As I grew older I learned that giving gifts was as much fun as
getting them. We didn’t have a color tv so one year when I was
working at the toy warehouse I put a portable Magnavox color
tv on layaway and gave it to my folks for Christmas. That tv lasted
for years, even after my folks got a larger console set. It migrated
from bedroom to bedroom passing from my kid brother to my
sister’s kids back to my brother’s kids until it finally gave up the

And then last year, I got a gift from a group of great friends, the
computer that I’m using right now to preserve these memories.

Oh, yeah! I eventually got the telescope!

2010 Update: When I moved here from my old apartment I had
to give up my desktop computer from my friends due to space
limitations. But my family had given me Sheldon the laptop
computer for Christmas last year, so I'm able to sit here in
the living room and do my blogging and research in my
comfortable chair. And the year before they gave me the
digital camera that lets me chronicle my road trips in pictures.
I'm very grateful for these and other gifts from them.

So Genea-Santa has been very good to me over the years!


Fellow geneablogger Heather Wilkinson Rojo and I have discovered many
cousin connections between our families, so I suppose I shouldn't have been
surprised when I discovered another one in her post today at her Nutfield
blog. It's sort of an indirect one, and it involves someone who
isn't a direct ancestor. Still, this person is involved in one of my favorite stories
about my ancestors.

Heather's post today was about her ancestor the Reverend Joseph Hull. In the
list of his children was  "3. Tristram, born about 1623, married Blanche Unknown".
"Blanche Unknown" is our connection. 

My ancestor William Hedge of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, married the widow
Blanche Hull. It was his second marriage as well, and I am descended from his
unnamed first wife. It may have been a marriage of convenience but for whom
it's hard to say: all the accounts I've found of the pair say that William was a much
older man than Blanche. On the other hand, Blanche was a widow and remarriage
offered her some stability and protection.  Whatever the case, things did not go
well for the couple and Blanche left William sometime before he died in 1670.

Blanche was involved in a case of impropriety during her marriage to Tristram Hull.
In Volume Three of "Records of the colony of New Plymouth, in New England"
there is this entry for the Court Session of 5Mar 1655:

"Wee prsent John Gorum for unseamly carriage towards Blanch Hull att 
unreasonable time, being in the night,

Wee prsent Blanch Hull for not crying out when shee was assaulted by John Gorum
in unseamly carriage towards her upon her own relation." (p97)

John Gorum was fined forty shillings; Blanche was fined fifty! Keep in mind that
"unseamly carriage" could have been something as simple as a kiss or a hug but
Blanche got the higher fine. Now at this time she was still married to her first
husband Tristram Hull and since their marriage continued until his death perhaps
he forgave the incident. In fact, he left her one hundred fifty pounds in his will.
Tristram Hull died in 1666.

When I first started researching my family many sources had Blanche as the mother
of my ancestor Elizabeth Hedge, but since Elizabeth was supposedly born in 1647
and Blanche was still married to Tristram Hull at that time that's obviously incorrect.

So sometime after the death of Tristram in 1666 Blanche married William
Hedge. Although legally the marriage lasted four years, it was actually shorter.
In his will of 30Jun 1670, at the very end is this final bequest:

" And whereas Blanche my Wife
hath dealt falcly with mee in the
Covenant of Marriage in departing
from mee, therefore I doe in this
my Last Will and Testament give
her twelve pence, and alsoe what
I have Received of hers my will
is shal be Returned to her againe. "

 (Hawes, James W.   No.44 Library of Cape Cod History & Genealogy: Captain
William Hedge of Yarmouth
  C.W. Swift, Publisher, Yarmouthport, Ma, 1914)

I hope that included her one hundred fifty pounds!

Time and history have been less kind to Blanche. Amos Otis in his Genealogical
notes of Barnstable families, Volume 2
(F.B. &  F.P. Goss, Publishers & Printers,
Barnstable, Ma, 1890) had this to say about her, followed by a footnote:

"Tristram Hull was a prominent man in Barnstable. He was of the board of
Selectmen, and held other offices of trust. His wife was named Blanch, and
is frequently named on the records as a woman whose reputation was not
creditable to herself, her family or her friends. In 1655 she married for her
second husband Capt. William Hedge of Yarmouth, but the change in her
residence did not improve her manners. Capt. Hedge cut her off with a shilling
 in his will, full eleven pence more than she deserved.*

•A question may arise whether it is right to publish such passages as thls. Some
squeamish persons object. I think It not only dearly right; but unjust to suppress
them. Is it right that the reputations of such persons as Martha Foxwall, Capt.
John Gotham, and Capt. William Hedge, should suffer because they unavoidably
came in contact with a bad woman? I think not. History is of no value when the
exact truth is suppressed. No line of distinction can be drawn between not telling
the whole truth and the wilful misstatement of facts"  (p.28)

But if (as Otis claims) Blanche was such a bad woman, why didn't her first husband
deal with her in his will as her second husband did in his?

As I said, this is one of my favorite stories about my ancestors. And since I'd
never noticed that footnote by Amos Otis before I saw it todat, I'm left with
another tantalizing mystery:

Just what did Blanche Hull do that would tarnish the reputation of a lady
named Martha Foxwall?  

Thursday, December 08, 2011


My Mom was a working mother for much of her life so she wasn’t
one for major cooking projects except on weekends. Most times
cookies were created with the help of the Pillsbury Dough Boy
although I do recall some forays into Christmas tree shaped sugar

Cookies at Christmas time usually meant the Italian cookies
served at my Aunt Emily’s with that light frosting and the red and
green sprinkles. As an adult I buy them at the supermarket only
around this time of year.

But while my mom wasn’t really into cookie baking, she did like to
make coffee cake and sponge cakes. And when we were living in
Dorchester she learned how to bake mundel bread from our
Jewish neighbors. She also made cupcakes and cornbread.

There was one other dessert dish Mom made and I’m not sure
if it was something that her mom Aggie had done during the
Depression. Mom would send me down the street to the store
on Milton Ave to buy a box of Jiffy Bake Mix and she’d make
biscuits, then would top them with strawberries and whipped
cream. I didn’t care for the taste of the biscuit so I’d make sure
the strawberries had really soaked it before I ate it!

2010 Update: Due to my medical needs I don't eat cookies
much anymore. However, I may cheat  a little if there are any
served over the holidays!
2011 Update:I forgot to mention last year that my favorite
holiday cookies are the ones with the big "Hershey's Kiss" in
the middle. Yes, I know you can get them year round but the
only time I usually ate them was at the holidays. I might cheat
with one or two if any are around this year!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


It's become a Geneabloggers tradition to join our friend
footnoteMaven in the annual Blog Caroling Event, and as in
the previous editions, I'm warbling my favorite, "I Saw Three Ships".
fM will post the list of bloggers joining us in song on December 14th
and you can take a tour of their blogs.

So, without further adieu ....a one and a two...and....

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day in the morning.


I don’t recall many holiday parties from my earlier childhood. In
our family folks were too busy working or shopping at Christmas
time. And when we lived in Dorchester the apartments weren’t
really big enough to hold large parties in, although there might
have been one or two. If so, they would have followed the rules of
other adult parties my folks had: after saying hello to the adults,
my sister and I would be sent off to our beds to eventually fall
asleep while listening to the adults in the other room laughing
at Rusty Warren records. We wondered what "roll me over
in the clover" meant.

As an adult, most of my Christmas party experience has been at
work, including one at a now defunct toy chain warehouse(more
on that job later) when I was in my early twenties. It snowed
when I left for home, my car at the time was an Olds 98 and
being in a hurry to get home, I didn’t completely clean the rear
windshield. I backed up, turning the car around….

….and smashed my rear windshield by backing the car up under
a tractor trailer box front end as if it were a big rig hooking up.

The good news was, my Dad worked in the auto glass repair

The bad news was I had to call him and tell him what I’d done.

It was an …umm…interesting conversation.

((First published in December, 2007))

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


As you can see, I had a very formal relationship with Santa
No laps for me. A simple solemn pose would do, thank you,
for the photo-op.

Formal attire was also worn when visiting Santa’s Village up in
New Hampshire. A sports jacket was de rigeur for the feeding of
reindeer but one was allowed to be more casual when posing with
the sled and full team. The girls are my cousin Terry and my
sister Cheryl.

Actually, I think we might have been there on a Sunday. We’d
have attended Mass in Berlin and probably continued on home
with a stop to visit the Village.

But by the time those pictures were taken, I’d fallen from grace.

Yes, I no longer believed in Santa Claus.

I’m not sure how I figured it out but I do know I must have been around
six or seven years old because we were still living in Malden in the two
family house that my folks and my aunt and uncle co-owned. I know this
because when I found out there was no Santa Claus, I shared my
knowledge and heard about it for years afterward.

Yes, I told my cousins who lived downstairs. I think that was the
year I got a lump of coal in my stocking (but there were still
presents under the tree).

I’m not sure if I told my sister the awful truth later or if she
found out some other way. I do know I didn’t tell my kid brother.
After all, I was an adult of 17 by then and I had a greater appreciation
for what Santa meant to little kids!

But there it is.

I squealed on Santa.

Originally published in Dec. 2007. I've added the picture with Santa
to this update.

Monday, December 05, 2011


My family was fortunate in that we never lived in the sort of place
where Christmas outdoor decorations becomes a blood sport.
Yes, people strung lights in their shrubbery or along their house
gutters but there was never anyone determined to turn their
front yard into the North Pole’s Southern Branch Office.

Now for light shows back then you went to someplace religious,
like Our Lady of La Sallette Shrine in North Attleboro or the local
cemetery with it’s entrance lit up, or even just cruised a stretch
of highway to look at the neighborhood lights that might be seen
from a distance as you drove by.

We didn’t really have outside lights ourselves until we left Boston
for Abington. Up until then the only lights other than on our
Christmas tree were the electric candles we put on windowsills.
But at the house Dad did the obligatory shrubbery and gutter
displays as well as one other spot: the apple tree in the front yard.

Dad had experience both with wiring and tree climbing so putting
a string of lights up in a small apple tree was a piece of cake. It
was the taking down part that didn’t seem to work at least for
the tree. One year, long after the other outside lights were down
and packed away, the lights still were hanging in the apple tree.
I’m not sure exactly when he took them down but I do know it
was well after Spring had sprung. I think they were even plugged
in one or two nights. I don’t know the reasons why they were
still there: my Dad’s sense of humor, perhaps? Or maybe an
instance where Dad’s Maine stubbornness and the Irish
stubbornness of my Mom brought about some impasse on the issue?

On my way home the other night from work I noticed at least
three of those large hot air snow globe scenes on front lawns.

Those families must have big electricity bills!

(originally published in Dec. 2007)

2010 Update: As I discovered in 2008, the apple tree  in
the front yard of the house is long gone. But a news report
the other night made me think of Dad. The holiday
lighting ceremony at Braintree has been postponed a week
because squirrels had eaten through the wires,

The lights had been left up all year since last Christmas!

2011 Update: The big snowstorms last winter had one
interesting effect. Some of the homes with heavily
decorated outside yards remained that way until
the snow melted. One home in particular had an inflatable
Santa and other decorations buried under snow drifts
and you could  just see the tops of them as you drove by
the house. I think they were there until mid-March!

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Dear Genea-Santa,
I've had a pretty good genealogy year and thought It would be nice to share
some of that good luck with my fellow genealogists, So I've got some ideas
for genealogy gifts that you and the elves might be able to whip up in the

1, The Brick Wall DeSTRUCTomatic:  You plug this little gadget into your USB
port on your computer, open your genealogy program, and BAM, it seeks out
and destroys those brick walls and provides you with the information you've
hunted for years on some elusive ancestor. Oh, by the way, you say the name
with emphasis on the "Struct" part. Trust me, it will sound good in the tv

2. The Flying Sourcer: This works like a combination GPS and Roomba Robot.
Before you visit a repository, library, or  cemetery, you plug it into the USB of your
computer and feed it the list of what record or grave you are looking for at your
destination. When  you get there, you turn it on and it flies right to the item you
want  and then calls you tio the location.  I'd recommend a Borg's voice: "Records
found! They WILL be assimiliated!"

3, Super Re-Citer: A computer app that automatically writes correct citations for
your online discoveries and then recites them. I think if you get James Earl Jones
or Sean Connery's voice it would be a winner. But definitely include a Gilbert
Gottfried option for laughs.

So there they are. I think we have a hit on our hands. I'd recommend once you
have the bugs worked out, you outsource them to Ronco....or Whammo. And we
should list them in the Acme Genealogy Answers Catalogue!

I don't want any monetary compensation , but when you get them ready for gift
giving, I'd like one of each! After all, I still have some brickwalls of my own to
break down and I think that the Ronco Brickwall DeSTRUCTOmatic would help!

Thanks, Santa!


I don’t get a lot of Christmas cards, mostly because I don’t send
out a lot myself to begin with. I get some from the family and a
few from friends but since I’m not much of a social animal there’s
no more than perhaps a half dozen each year sitting atop my tv.

In years past the amount of umm…cardage…fluctuated. When I
was a kid there were a lot of cards, usually taped to the
doorframes much the same way that Terry’s Mom did at their
house or sitting atop tables.

When we moved to Abington they were displayed across the
mantel piece or taped around the edges of the mirror above it.
The years when my folks were actively involved in the VFW
brought the highest number of season’s greetings. Mom would
spend a few hours herself signing and addressing cards to be
sent out. But as she and her generation of family and friends
grew older the flood of Christmas cards dwindled. Several years
Mom even had some unused cards left over when she finished.

I tend not to like sending “mushy” cards so I usually try to find
something funny. Although this year I may be giving people a
look at a certain dancing elf via e-mail!

2010 Update: I'm going to see what sort of selection we have at
the store tomorrow and hopefully find something funny, although
last year I sent out cards that were more... umm ...
"New England-y"

 2011 Update Since Borders has closed I'm going to have to take
a long walk over to Target soon to get some boxed cards!

((Originally posted in 2007))

Friday, December 02, 2011


One of the nice things about researching 2x great granduncle John Wesley
Ellingwood and his family is that it has put me in touch with another Ellingwood
cousin. Bonnie is the owner of the Find A Grave memorial to John Wesley and
is his grear great grandaughter. We've been sharing pictures and documents
the past few days and she's kindly given me permission to post some family
pictures here. Thanks, Bonnie!

 Some of their children:
Enoch Merrill Ellingwood

Finally, I've written before about how oxen were common in Northern
New England on farms and in the logging industry. We think these may be
John Wesley Ellingwood's team of oxen:
Thanks again Bonnie for sharing these!


When I was a kid the holiday dinners rotated between our place
and my Uncle Ed’s and Aunt Emily’s. If Thanksgiving was at our
house, then Christmas would be at theirs. Since Emily is Italian
the holiday had an extra element for the dinner. We’d eat all the
traditional food: turkey, stuffing, veggies, and then after that was
cleared, Aunt Emily’s mom Nonnie Cappadano would bring out
the Italian food: lasagna, meatballs, stuffed sausages, and other
great dishes. To this day at Thanksgiving there is usually lasagna
served along with the turkey and I had leftovers of both sent
home with me here afterward.

Since we now usually gather at my sister’s for Christmas Eve to
open gifts and eat, the food is a bit less formal, sometimes buffet
style with meatballs, cold cuts, and salad. Then Christmas Day
comes another big meal.

And that’s how an Irish Catholic family eats a lot of Italian at
holiday time.

2010 Update: I've had some health...umm...adventures this past
year which required I change my diet habits. On the good side,
I've lost 100 lbs. But boy, do I miss Italian food. So I'm
looking forward to Christmas Eve  at my sister's or niece's
house when I can have some lasagna (albeit in smaller
portions than in the past) and maybe one or two of those
cookies with the chocolate kisses! 

2011 Update:  Christmas was at my sister's house last year and
the food as usual was great. But then again it always is on Christmas
wherever it may be!

((first published in 2007)

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Since my last post on John Wesley Ellingwood's family I've found a
possible date for the arrival of him and his family in Canada. While researching
his son Oscar P Ellingwood on I found the Canadian Immigrant
Records Part One on which Oscar gives the date of his immigration to
Canada as 1864. He would have been 16 years old at the time. As I said
in that previous post, neither Oscar nor his brother Enoch Merill Ellingwood
are with the rest of the family on the 1870 U.S. Census for Moeers, N.Y.
Oscar had the best reason in the world to striker out on hs own: he'd
gotten married.

Oscar married Sarah Major on 20Oct 1867 in Canaan, Vt. Canaan is
just across the border from Canada and not far from Hereford Quebec
where Oscar and Sarah would spend most of the rest of their lives. It
would play a large part in the lives of both Ellingwood brothers because,
I think, it was the closest town or city that had s justice of the peace
or minister. And even though Oscar is found on the Canadian Census
for 1871 through 1911, he might have moved back and forth over the
border between the U.S.and Canada as his financial situation dictated.
In 1881, for example, he is on the Canadian census for Hereford as a
farmer, but just a year before, he and Sarah and the children are on the
1880 U.S. Census for Millsfield N.H. where Oscar is listed as a laborer.

Oscar and Sarah had four children that I've found records for:

Caroline Maria Ellingwood (1873-1947)
Wesley Thomas Ellingwood (1875-1932)
Martha Ellingwood(1882-1963)
John Merrill Ellingwood (1883-1943)

Oscar died in 1912 at age 64 having outlived Sarah by eight years.

I'll discuss his brother Enoch Merrill Ellingwood next.


You know that part of the movie A Christmas Story where
the family goes out to buy the tree and the parents have a little
argument over it? Well, I laugh every time I see it because
like so much in that film it echoes my childhood.

Every Christmas when I was younger either we’d go shopping
for a tree or Dad would buy one on his way home from work.
Now as regular readers of this blog know by now, my dad was
from Maine. But even more than that, he had experience in trees.
He’d helped his father cutting down trees, and he’d worked for a
landscaper in the Boston area when he’d first come home from
the war. Mom would remind Dad of his experience every year
when the tree was fixed into the tree stand, the rope cut from
the branches and the inevitable big empty space was discovered.
Usually the problem was solved by rotating the tree so the empty
spot was in the back facing the wall. The lights were strung(and
here we differed from the film. We never blew out the fuses.),
then the garlands, the ornaments, and the icicles. Finally the
angel went up on top of the tree and we were all set. With
judicious watering the tree would last us until around “Little
Christmas” at which time it would be undecorated and deposited
curbside to await the dump truck.

Of course our tree paled in comparison to the giant my Mom’s
Uncle Tommy and Aunt Francis had in their home down in
Milton. It was so big they cut the top off and the branches didn’t
taper at the top. They were all the same size: large. I could
never believe they'd gotten that big a tree into the house in the
first place!

Then the first artificial Christmas trees hit the market and Mom
began vowing she was going to get one as she vacuumed up pine
needles from the rug. Eventually we did but that provided us
with new challenges, such as assembling the tree.

As we all grew older the prospect of trying to get the tree
together became less enchanting and so it too was replaced, this
time by a small ceramic musical tree that was lit from within by
a light bulb. I used that tree myself for several years after Mom
died although I felt no great urge to wind it up for the music. It
lasted until a few years back when I dropped it and the base
cracked. It sits now in a box in a shelf in my living room closet.

Its replacement is a small artificial tree that I bought at work with
my employee discount along with a garland. Last year some
friends sent me some snowmen ornaments for it. I haven’t put it
up yet but think I will this weekend. It fits on top of the tv.

And at some point over the holidays I’ll see that scene from A
Christmas Story again and grin.

2009 update: I bought a small string of battery powered lights
to add to my tree last week!

2010 update: I lost my Christmas stuff in my move last April so
I'll be picking it up another one at work soon.

2011 update
I bought another teeny Christmas tree with lights and ornaments
at Borders. Since the company closed, it will remind me of my
store when I set it out each year.

Originally posted in 2007.