Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Well, it’s that time of year when folks make New Year’s r
esolutions and we genealogy bloggers are busy making our lists.

So here’s mine.

One, to break that John Cutter West brick wall.

Two, to spend more time on my maternal line. I’ve found so
much lately about Dad’s side of the family that I feel like I’ve
neglected the Whites and McFarlands. So I’ll research more and
blog more about them and try to break down those brick walls
as well.

Three, to get my files better organized and correctly cite my

Four, try to make it out to Ohio some time next year to visit
with my Aunt Dorothy and my cousins, including Diana and

Five, try to get OUT to do research at the BPL main branch, the
NEGHS, the Massachusetts State Archives and the Hingham
Family Search Center.

Six, get all the pictures scanned. I am considering rearranging
my work station. At present, the printer is on the top shelf and
getting up and down to place or remove pictures may be good for
my health but it sure slows down the process. I may swap the
printer/scanner with the cpu.

Seven, come up with more genealogy related uses for flutaphones!

So, we’ll see how well I’ve done by next New Years!


I’m getting spoiled! Another day of sleeping in late.

So as I usually do on days off, I started the day with breakfast at
the computer and browsed the genealogy blogs, but I think many
are taking the holidays off or have been rendered hors d’ combat
aftertheir Christmas celebrations!

The weekly NEGHS enews email had a link to a story in the
Boston Globe concerning the naming of the John Alden House
Historic Site as a national historic landmark.

Then I tried googling a few family members and found a few
bits of information at two sites others with Maine relatives might
not know about.

First, at the Andover, Maine website I found the obituary of 2x
great granduncle Asa Atwood West and then a transcription of
his family gravestone at the Old Woodlawn Cemetery in Andover.

Then I found a site with an 1840 Census of Pensioners
Revolutionary or Military Services and found among others
Benjamin Barker, the brother of my ancestor Jonathan Barker,
was living with Moses Coburn, Jr, the son of my ancestor
Moses Coburn, another war veteran. The younger Moses
Coburn was married to a Hannah Barker but I’m not sure as yet
if she was a daughter of Benjamin or a niece.

So it was a productive cup of coffee, at least genealogy wise!


Well, Christmas is over and calm settles upon the land.

Or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. More like exhaustion?

I worked at the bookstore from 9 to 6 Christmas Eve and then
went to my sister’s house after a quick stop here at the hobbit
hole to pick up the gifts. The adults all got gift cards and my two
youngest nephews got radio controlled cars and a transformer
type toy each, but my two older nephews had so much fun
assembling them I might have to get them some too next year!

My sister and my brother in law Pete gave me a digital camera
and once I get the controls figured out there’ll be more pictures

Dinner was the traditional lasagna, meatballs, and salad with
pastries for dessert and enough other munchies to fill us up and
make me sleepy. So I left at 10:30 for the drive home and
eventually found my way to bed.

Today…well… I think I was more tired than I thought. I slept
into the mid afternoon and woke with a stuffed up nose. There’s
been a cold going around at work, so I decided to just stay in
here today and relax. I have the next two days off from work as
well as part of my usual work schedule so hopefully by Friday
I’ll have licked this. I surfed the web a little to see what I might
buy with the gift cards I got as presents and then did a little
genealogy work, copying some files from my PAF5 file to the
Family Tree Legends file and doing some editing in the process.

Anyway, I hope everyone reading this has had a quiet, peaceful
and wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


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.

This post was written for Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar
of Christmas Memories over at destination:Austin Family. Be
sure to go over there and check out the links to other posts
from my fellow genealogy bloggers!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Janice over at Cow Hampshire has up funny videos starring some
of the genealogy blogging community. I’m in the middle of a
snowball fight with Janice, Terry from Hill Country of Monroe
County Mississippi
, and fM of Footnote Maven. Three other
videos feature more geneabloggers, so go on over and check
them out and have a good laugh!


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.

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!

This post was written for Thomas MacEntee's Advent
Calendar of Christmas Memories over at destination:Austin
Family on the topic of Christmas Music.

Be sure to go over there and check out the links to other posts
from my fellow genealogy bloggers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The 38th Carnival of Genealogy is up over at Jasia’s Creative
Gene blog and the topic is Y2k. Between the Cog and Tom
MacEntee’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories at
Destination: Austin Family there’s a lot of good reading out
there from my fellow genealogy bloggers. I’m falling behind on
reading all the ACCM posts but luckily the Christmas season in
my family when I was a kid lasted through January, so I can
catch up with it all!

I’ve been made part of footnoteMaven’s Choir of GeneaAngels
over on her blog. I’m amazed by the things we can do with
computers these days and I’m honored to be included
with such an interesting group of people.

Meanwhile, back in the genealogy forest of family trees, I’m doing
a bit of research for a follow up about Camp Devens and the
influenza outbreak. I’ve been backing up my PAF file and
other documents to that flash drive I purchased and I brought it
to work the other day where it’s now stored in my locker. I also
share whatever I find with relatives and here in my blog
since it’s not just my genealogy, it’s theirs as well!


My earlier post was on the Enlistment document of my
grandfather Floyd Earl West Sr. Thanks to my Aunt Dot I have
a copy of it and also his Discharge. The second line with his rank
is smudged but by holding the paper up before a light I could
make out most of the writing. Also, I’m not sure if the
commandant’s last name is correct but it is the best guess I
could come up with in trying to read it.

I’m grateful my to Aunt Dot for giving me these copies and for
all the other items she’s sent along! I don’t know how difficult it
might be to obtain these elsewhere, but the information on them
is invaluable to someone researching their family history and

In my grandfather’s case, I googled the “Camp Devens” (which
eventually became Fort Devens) and then looked at the dates
on Pop’s papers. That along with the email that Pop had
contracted double pneumonia during his enlistment, told me
that he’d been at Camp Devens during an outbreak of the
Spanish Influenza in the fall of 1918. Quite probably he became
ill because of his duties as a hospital orderly during that time.

I’ll have more on that later.

“Honorable Discharge from the United States Army
This is to certify that Floyd E. West
Private First Class Hospital Detachment

DISCHARGED from the military service of the United States by
reason of Pursuant to W. D. Cir.I77 A.G. O. Nov.21/1918.

Said Floyd E. West was born in South Paris, in the State of
Maine. When enlisted he was 25 years of age and by occupation
a Farmer. He had Blue eyes, Brown hair, Medium complexion,
and was 5 feet 5 1/2 inches in height.

Given under my hand at Camp Devens Mass. this twelfth day of
March, one thousand nine hundred and nineteen.
A. O. Davis(?)
Lt. Col. M.C. U.S.A.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I mentioned back in July that Aunt Dot and I exchanged some
family research at my nephew Paul’s wedding. One of the items
she gave me was her childhood memories of my Dad. Another
item was a photocopy of my Grandfather West’s WW1 discharge
and his enlistment record as shown above.

I think the two papers were folded together which would explain
the dark lines across the pages. In the transcription below, I’ve
put a question mark after any entry I’m not certain about. I’ve
also italicized the handwritten information.

I received an email from my cousin Diana tonight as I was typing
this and in it she passed along information from Aunt Dot that
Pop was an orderly at the Camp Devens base hospital, that he
was only in for a short period before contracting double
pneumonia and that he was shipped home after his recovery.

I’ll have more to say on that after I’ve posted the transcription
of his discharge form.

In my reply to Diana, I remarked that today I realized that
between the service records and the memoir that Aunt Dot
gave me earlier this year I have learned more about Pop than
I ever knew before, and much more than I know about my
other grandfather!

Name: West, Floyd E. #2722093 Grade: Private First Class

Enlisted, or Inducted, Apr.29, 1918 , at So. Paris, Me.

Serving in First enlistment period at date of discharge.

Prior service:* none

Noncommissioned officer: none(?)

Marksmanship, gunner qualification or rating: not armed

Horsemanship: not mounted(?)

Battles, engagements, skirmishes, expeditions: (left blank)

Knowledge of any vocation: Farmer

Wounds received in service: none

Physical condition when discharged: Good

Typhoid prophylaxis completed: ---------------

Paratyphoid prophylaxis completed: June 27/18

Married or single : Single

Character: Excellent

Remarks: No A.W.O.L. or absences under G.O. 45/1914.
This soldier entitled to travel pay.

Signature of soldier: Floyd E. West

John Burnette (?)
1st St. M.C. U.S.A.
Commanding Detachment


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 fake picture window frame so it
looked as if you were looking out at all those flowers!

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 when we couldn’t figure out which
box they’d been packed away in.

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!

This post was written for Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar
of Christmas Memories over at destination:Austin Family
Be sure to go over there and check out the links to other posts
from my fellow genealogy bloggers!


Here’s the other two parts of my grandfather Floyd E. West Sr.’s
WW1 furlough papers for Nov.30th-Dec 10th, 1918 to visit his
family back up in Upton, Maine. Pop was a good soldier. He was
back in Camp Devens by Dec. 8th!

This document confirms what I’d been told by my folks about
Pop serving in some sort of capacity in a military base hospital.
If I’m reading it correctly, it says he held the rank of Private
First Class detached at the Medical Department at the Fort
Devens Base Hospital.

Never having been in the military myself, I don’t know if the
forms have changed much over the years but I’ve never seen a
reference to furlough papers in genealogy books and certainly not
of any from WW1.

Of course, I don’t imagine many would have survived. After all,
it was just paperwork. It was the furlough itself, the time away
from camp that was spent in relaxation or in visiting your loved
ones that was the most important thing to a soldier!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


These are images of the WWI furlough papers issued to my
grandfather, Floyd E. West Sr. that were sent to me from my
Aunt (Dot)Dorothy and Cousin Diana. I'll have more to say
about them after I post the second part tomorrow night.

Thursday, December 13, 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 they
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


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 another
character Margaret the Fruitcake 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 the
disappearance of the haunted fruitcake sometime around

Yeah, I know.

I’m nutty as a fruitcake

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at Thomas MacEntee's Destination:Austin Family.Visit it for
links to the Christmas memories of other genealogy bloggers!


Randy Seaver’s post about the databases at the LDS Family
Search Record Search site prompted me to make a return trip
over there. I ran searches on the names of a few relatives and
came up with images from the 1900 census for Asa Ellingwood,
Frank Barker, Amos Hastings Barker and John Phelps West and
their families.

I also came up with two errors, one correctable, the other not.

The first one is the correctable one. I originally searched for my
great grandfather Philip Jonathan West and when I found the
index entry for him it listed his father as a “Jonathan D. West”.
Looking at the image of the census page I can understand how
that “P” could be mistaken for a “D”. So I clicked on the Feedback
tab and sent an email to the FamilySearch Lab to point at the
mistake and explain how I knew it should read “Jonathan P.
West”. I also thanked them for making it possible for me to even
see that image!

The other error…well, this is something that can’t be fixed and
it certainly isn’t the fault of Family Search. I think it instead
might be my ancestor Asa Freeman(or Freeland) Ellingwood
playing some some sort of prank.

You see, on the 1900 Census he gives his father’s birthplace as
England. Since it’s pretty well documented that John Ellingwood
Jr. was born in Maine I can only guess as to how or why “England”
would be entered.Perhaps Asa was tired of answering questions
and made that answer up to see if the census taker would accept

At any rate, it’s there on the census to confound his descendants
and creat a genealogy mystery!


footnoteMaven started a round of blog caroling so I thought
I'd be the first genealogy blogger (I hope) to take up the

Here's one of my favorites:

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.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Back in the 1980’s I began thinking about the approaching
millennium. It was cool that barring the unforeseen I was going
to enter a new century with my family. I wondered what it would
feel like, what we’d all be doing when 1999 left and 2000 began.

By the end of 1999, all I wanted was for that year and century to
be done and gone. 1999 has to have been the worst year of my
life so far.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer and was gone by mid-year.

The bookstore chain I worked went out of business and the
store I managed closed within a few weeks of my mother’s death.
I can’t recall if it was before or after because compared to Mom
the store was insignificant.

I had to find a new job and move to a new apartment. I took a
position with a video store chain and between working and
moving managed to put myself in the hospital for 2 days. By the
end of the year it was becoming clear the job had been a mistake
and I would leave it by the following February.

The apartment hunting turned out better than the job hunting
and I’ve been here for 8 years now.

As New Years Eve drew closer I worried over whether my
computer was going to survive. My online friend Diana was also
my computer guru and helped me find and install a patch that
was supposed to help.

I’ve had to work on New Years Day for many years so I spent
the night before the usual way. I stayed home and counted down
the clock with the tv on and chatting online with friends. Midnight
came, the century turned and both civilization and my computer
continued to function. Either I called my sister or she called me,
we exchanged “Happy New Years!” and after I waited up to see
in the Millennium with Diana(she lived in Missouri at the time) I
went to bed and then got up for work the next day. This
will be the first New Year in ten years without that vigil with

So, the worst year of my life ended and I did what millions of
people all around the world do when faced with hard times.

I got on with my life.


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!

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at Thomas MacEntee's Destination:Austin Family.Visit it for
links to the Christmas memories of other genealogy bloggers!


Alright, as promised, here's the article about my 3x great grandfather
John Cutter West and two friends being lost in the woods. Double
click on the image to enlarge it to read.


I had to take a break from the Advent Calendar of Christmas
Memories Carnival because to be completely honest, I didn’t
have anything to post. Our family didn’t have the wherewithal to
take Christmas vacations or trips. In later years my folks
were active in the VFW and often visited the vets at the Brockton
V.A. Hospital but my younger brother Phil was the only one of us
kids who ever went along with them. My entry for the next topic
will be short but there will be others after that which hopefully
will have a bit more substance to them.

Meanwhile, I found a nice surprise in my mailbox tonight when I
got home from work, a large manila envelope from my cousin
Diana out in Ohio. She and her Mom, my Aunt Dorothy (or Dot),
sent along some copies of things I haven’t seen before:

Copies of the Family Births, Death, and Marriages recorded in the
bible of my ancestress, Louisa Almata(Richardson) West.

Copies of WW1 furlough papers issued to my grandfather, Floyd
E. West, Sr.

A copy of a document granting my grandfather “permission to
hunt and trap fur-bearing animals” on land owned by David
Pingree and the estate of David Upham Coe. It is dated October
8, 1925 .

A copy of a newspaper clipping of an article from the Oxford
County Advertiser dated Friday February 8,1905 entitled “The
Value of A Compass”. It tells the story of how Enoch Abbott,
Joseph Chase, and John West(my 3x great grandfather John
Cutter West) became lost in the woods and how John West used
his head to find shelter in 1845.

I’ll be scanning (and making back up copies of all of these) and sharing
them here soon!

Saturday, December 08, 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 bring back more memories. One
Christmas eve my sister and I could hear the 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 got the telescope!

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at Thomas MacEntee's Destination:Austin Family.Visit it for
links to the Christmas memories of other genealogy bloggers!


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.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at Thomas MacEntee's Destination:Austin Family. Visit it for
links to the Christmas memories of other genealogy bloggers!

Friday, December 07, 2007


This post is for the Christmas Advent Calendar of Memories at
Tom's Destination:Austin Family and it's about Christmas cookies.

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

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!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


As you can see from the picture I posted earlier, 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 afterwards.

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 by then and I had a greater appreciation
for what Santa meant to little kids by then!

But there it is.

I squealed on Santa.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at Thomas MacEntee's Destination:Austin Family. Visit it for
links to the Christmas memories of other genealogy bloggers!


...these are the rules I'd make.

Christmas sales and advertising would be banned until the day
before Thanksgiving.

BlackFriday would start at 9am local time sharp. No midnight
madness. No lines at store doors at dawn. People would instead
spend more time at home with their families and store personnel
would not have to leave Thanksgiving gatherings early because
they need to go prep the store for opening.

Shoppers would behave in a mature, civilized and orderly fashion.
If the store has run out of some item the shoppers would not
treat the salespeople as if they have suddenly become the spawn
of Satan but instead would move on to the next items on their
shopping list.

No national chain stores open on Christmas Day. Christmas is
Christmas, period. Forget about sales for one day and let your
employees enjoy the day with their families. Mom & Pop stores
can open but half the day only so that folks who run out of milk or
butter can get some quickly and easily.

People would hold doors open for other shoppers and give up
their bus seats to senior citizens. Young children would not throw
temper tantrums and older children would not curse at their

Everyone would have someplace to go to and someone to be with
on Christmas Day. No one would be alone and no one would be
cold or hungry.

Drunk drivers would be unable to start their cars and so have to
take cabs or other means of transportation.

All our Armed Forces would be home to safely celebrate the
holidays with their loved ones.

There’s much more that could be added, I’m sure. But I’d be
happy with these for starters.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


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 Norh 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 once 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!

Sunday, December 02, 2007


The astute reader will have noted that the previous two posts
deal with Christmas memories and this post will as well. That’s
because I’m one of many genealogy bloggers taking part in
Thomas MacEntee’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at his Destination: Austin Family blog.
There’s a lot of great posts so take a look and enjoy!

Today’s topic is Christmas cards.

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 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!


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 afterwards.

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.

In Nonnie’s words…“Manga!”

Friday, November 30, 2007


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.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


It’s been a long time since we last talked.

But it’s that holiday season and visions of gedcoms are dancing in
the heads of my fellow genealogy bloggers. In fact, wish lists are
being put together for the next Carnival of Genealogy and I’ve
put one together myself so I’m sending it along to you, too:

1. A break in the brick wall that is the Elusive John Cutter West.
See my previous posts here and here about that. Randy, Apple,
and Janice have given me some solid suggestions on how to go
about it but I could use a little Santa magic there, I think, as well.

2. A break in the wall that is my maternal grandfather Edward F.
White Sr. Where did he go? What about his new family?

Again, I know what might help me there.

3.More time and energy. Some folks have this rather romantic
view of bookstores as being well…almost library like. Perhaps it
is in some idyllic place, but bookstores are businesses and that
means customers must be waited on and sales rung up. Most
now go with the “lean” approach to staffing (except at Christmas)
and most nights when I get home I’m pooped. So a little energy
would be a big help, Santa!

Or maybe you can make me 35 years old again? I’m not greedy.

And time. Lots of time to research and record stuff and to get
into Boston to do it!

4. Perhaps a trip back “uphome” to visit some of the places our
family lived and knew. I visited them when I was much younger
but that was before I’d gained more knowledge of the family

5. More records and information available online. That would
help a lot with the time and energy part, too! And I promise if I
find anything about my brick walls I’ll post it here so others can
find it.

6. Last but not least…more genealogical uses for a flutaphone!
Where am I ever going to come up with the 20 or so more I need
to make that 49??

PS. I didn't shoot my eye out!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Alright, it's been a slow few days out there in genealogy blog
country and here as well.

This has given me the chance to ponder the 49 Genealogical Uses
for a Flutaphone list and to update and make corrections.

So here is the new, updated, expanded, and revised list so
far, with new entries in honor of Dick Eastman's recent
post comparing the various genealogy cruises. If I missed
any contributions from other bloggers please let me know
and I'll re-revise!

1. Doorstop- It’s more humane than using dead cats or dead
Wesley Crushers. And it smells better.

2. Windchimes

3. A Habitat trail for Earthworms-All those finger holes.
“The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out…”

4. Tank decoration for guppies- All those finger holes.“
The fish swim in, the fish swim out…”

5. A defensive weapon-For when that librarian finally
snaps when you ask her to find another dusty volume in
the stacks. Mouthpieces on flutaphones are pointy!!!

6. A diversion: used to exit an overly proprietary historical
society. Make some noise behind the bookshelf with it, and
while the volunteer is investigating the noise, grab your
first born child (the one being held hostage to make sure
you don't steal anything) and run like hell. (Janice)

7. Learn a snake charmers tune and play it when you need
to hypnotize a records clerk to get them to check the books
one more time for that record you KNOW is there.

8. A pry-bar, to break into old file drawers that have been
holding your genealogical notes from 20 years ago. You've
moved a few times, and lost the key. (Janice)

9. Flower holder- for when you visit the ancestral grave.
Stick sharp pointy mouthpiece into the ground and your
flowers into the other end of the flutaphone.

10. Bookmark-When you have to leave your chair for a
moment to ask the librarian to find you another genealogy
book in the stacks.NOTE- DO NOT LET THE LIBRARIAN

11. Bookfetcher- That particular tome on a shelf you can’t
quite reach? Using the pointy mouthpiece end, gently rock
the book loose and down.

12. Bookcatcher- See above. Quickly reverse the
flutaphone to catch the falling book on the wide-ended
mouth. If the librarian notices, tell her you are practicing
balancing the books.

13. Eartrumpet- For when a librarian starts yelling. Insert
narrow end in ear after REMOVING the pointy mouthpiece.
Remember, catch any books before they hit the floor if you
were performing uses numbers 11 and/or 12 when the
librarian started yelling. Turn wide end towards librarian
and say “Eh?”

14.Backpatter - to pat your own back when you have
solved a particularly difficult family genealogical mystery.
Caution: do not run while performing this action, or you
may put your eye out. (Janice)

15. Temporary flag pole. Tape a patriots napkin
(preferably one with a patriots logo). Wave wildly when
the Patriots score. (Janice)

16. Distress Signal. IF you become lost in the stacks of a
major genealogical library, DO NOT PANIC! Use your
flutaphone to summon help by blowing as hard as you can
on through the mouthpiece. A series of the highest and
most shrill notes will be most efficacious and a friendly
librarian will arrive to escort you safely back to your chair.

17. Use for a Flutaphone--Car Buddy: it easily slips over
your car antenna (you ARE still driving the vehicle you
bought in 1960 right?) and helps you to locate your vintage
auto in the research library parking lot (when you leave the
library all bleary-eyed). (Janice)

18. Hidden Message DeCoder. It is a long held deep dark
secret that when a flutaphone is held lengthwise under a
bright light over a line of text that certain words in the text
are illuminated to reveal hidden messages only you can see.
It is recommended you only employ this method when there
is no one else present nearby who might steal the secret
message. Send the librarian back into the stacks first for
another obscure text to ensure they will not see you!

19. Treasure Finder- Another little known fact is that when
a flutaphone is held in a certain way outside on a bright
sunshiny day while the holder nonchalantly hums “I Can
See Clearly Now” the reflection of the flutaphone will
reveal the spot where buried treasure is hidden. There have
been recent reports of genealogy bloggers wandering about
Northern New England employing this technique while
searching for the legendary Money Pit. No one has found it
yet but there have been complaints from angry hunters who
claim “the damn humming scared all the deer away!”

20.Social Icebreaker- Use your flutaphone to socially break
the ice on your first Genealogy Cruise. Amaze and delight
your fellow genealogists with your musical prowess and
your unique knowledge of the more arcane uses of the
legendary musical instrument.

21. Nautical Distress Signal- If you should be accidentally
bumped overboard from the Genealogy Cruise ship or
set adrift in a lifeboat during the lifeboat drill. Keep the
flutaphone dry and periodically blow a series of high shrill
notes to help rescuers locate you.

22. Dolphin Repeller- To ward off overly friendly dolphins
who mistake your distress signal for the an invitation
to socialize

23. Icebreaker- Use the sharp flutaphone mouthpiece to chip
away at the ice forming around your lifeboat. Reciting your
pedigree while chipping might make the time go faster.

24.Paddle- Use the flutaphone to help propel your lifeboat after
the Genealogy Cruise ship. Note- If you were accidentally
bumped overboard, forget paddling. Grasp the flutaphone firmly
in your teeth so you don’t lose it and swim after the ship instead!

25. Safety Device- Once you’ve been rescued, use the flutaphone
to ensure you remain safely aboard afterwards by keeping your
fellow genealogists at least one flutaphone length away from you
on deck. Hold the sharp mouthpiece end outwards towards them
at all times!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

MAKE BOOK ON THIS launched its new Kindle ebook reader with much
noise and fanfare this week. Among other things, there was a
long article in Newsweek which declared that it reinvented the


Okay, in the interests of truthiness, let me remind everyone I
am a bookseller by profession and a booklover at heart. That
being said, I am not a Luddite. I love my computer. Even as I
type this, I’m waiting for my mp3 player/fm radio to finish
recharging from my computer usb port. As an avid lifelong sf
reader I am excited and astounded by most new technology. I
say most. I don’t include e-readers among the things that excite

Amazon’s Kindle is nothing new. Sony released the Bookman
Reader in the 1990’s and it failed. Two years ago they revamped
it and already have gone through one remodel. It still hasn’t taken
off. One reason is the price, I believe. The new version is $299, as
is the Kindle’s price. That right there is the main problem. Most
people do not have that sort of money to spend on a gadget that
is redundant. They can buy a paperback book for $7.99 much
more easily.

Another reason is peace of mind. You can haul a Kindle around as
easily as a book, yes. But if you drop a book in a puddle, you’ve
only lost the cost of one book. You can bring a book to the beach
and leave it on your chair while you swim and not be too upset if
some sand gets stuck in it or if it’s gone when you get back from
your swim. Try doing that with a $299 Kindle.

And then there’s the kids. Sad to say, most kids only read a book
when they have to, such as summer reading for school. Will the
average parent let their kids read their book on their Kindle or
instead just buy the traditional paper copy which can be dropped,
kicked, torn, and even lost on the way to school and then easily
and cheaply replaced?

Could an electronic book reader take the place of a big picture
book at bedtime with pictures that a child stares at before
pointing at it and asking their mom or dad what it is?

Would millions of kids gather in bookstores worldwide for a Harry
Potter new release download? Or would they just sit at home and
wait quietly for it, not experiencing the fun of being with other
fans to talk about their favorite characters while they wait for the
stroke of midnight?

As a genealogist I believe there is a productive use for ebooks,
specifically the preservation of older out of print books such as
what Google is doing. But for me devices such as Kindle or the
Sony Reader cannot replace the feel of a real book in my hands,
or the memories of who gave me the book or of when and where
I purchased and read it for the very first time.

So good luck to Jeff Bezos and Amazon with the Kindle. I’m sure
there are many “first adopters” and technofiles out there that will
be ready to try it.

As for me, I’ll just stick to real books, thank you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving. I did! It was a
quieter day than past years because it was an all adult gathering
at my sister and brother-in law’s house. Lots of good food, and I
have a pan of leftovers in my refrigerator to prove it. It was a
nice day all in all.

I checked for online news stories on Thanksgiving and genealogy
and found some interesting ones here, and here, and here. Some
of the interviewed people made some very good comments about
how enjoyable their genealogy research is and how its given them
a greater appreciation for their family’s history.

For myself, I’m thankful for my family, present and past, the
Mayflower passengers and the Irish immigrants, the Minutemen
and the veterans of World War II and Iraq. I’m thankful to live
in this country because whatever issues we may disagree on, we
all still havethe right to express our views and beliefs.

It’s a great country.

And lastly, I’m thankful for the help and encouragement I’ve been
given by other members of the genealogy community.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Yesterday I received a comment on my earlier post FROM
from David J. O’Connor. He
writes that his mother Florence Evelyn Ellingwood O’Connor
had passed away at the age of 97 back in 2001. In the original
post I described how she had kindly answered my questions
some 30 years ago and even sent along several pages of
information, including the transcription from a family bible.
I’m grateful today that she took the time back then and
I wish I’d taken the time to tell her so.

Coincidentally, I’d mentioned her in my reply to Randy Seaver
who has been kind enough to look into the Elusive John C. for
me. He’s given me some good advice and help in trying to break
down that brick wall.

And today I received an email from a lady with a question
concerning my post on JOHN AMES’ HEIRS. Jade wondered
if the child of Sally Ames and Isaac Fuller I’d found might be her
ancestress. It wasn’t, but after some quick googling it turns out
her ancestress was another of their children.

Although I wasn’t of much help to Jade I was glad to try to do
what I could. How could I not be considering all the help I’ve
been given along the way from other members of the
genealogy community?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

MEME 161

Dang! I’ve been tagged with the 161 meme by Becky over
at kinnexions. The way it works is you open some book you
are currently reading and open it to page 161, then look at
line six, and post it as a reply to the person who tagged you
and as a post in your blog. Then you tag five more bloggers.

I usually have several books going at once. Unfortunately, the
light reading one yielded a one word sentence. But the serious
reading book yielded this:

“Arius, that evil man, the founder of that evil sect, lost
his entrails in the lavatory and so was hurried off to
hell-fire; Saint Hilary, on the other hand, who
defended the undivided Trinity and was sent into
exile for having done so, was restored to his own
country and went at last to heaven.”
- The History of the Franks, Gregory of Tours,
(Penguin, London, England, 1974).

Trouble is, most of the other genealogy bloggers have
already been tagged. So if I repeat tag someone, my
apologies and consider yourselves excused.

My five:
Tim Abbot at Walking the Berkshires
Chris Dunham at The Genealogue
Lisa at A Light That Shines Again
Colleen at The Oracle of OMcHodoy
Craig Manson At The Geneablogie

Friday, November 16, 2007


“Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!'
-Sir Walter Scott
"The Lay of the Last Minstrel" (1805)

When I took these pictures of the North River in Hanover and
Pembroke I didn’t realize that my ancestors had lived in the
area. I did know that there was something about the Herring
Run and the view of that bridge over Rte 53 that made me
want to stop for awhile. Back then I’d take my Canon AE-1 and
drive around the South Shore taking pictures of the foliage and

I actually used to ride my bike down to the Herring Run when
I was living in Hanover and take a book to sit in the sun for a bit.
A few times I walked the paths on either side of the river above
the falls and once I was actually there when the herring were
but I didn’t have a camera with me.

There is something about New England that makes me sure I
wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And I’m sure my fellow
genealogy bloggers must feel the same about the areas where
they live.


While looking through the old photos for something that might fit
Terry’s photo challenge, I keep running into pictures I haven’t
seen in years or I just don’t recall ever seeing before. There’s one
of each here.

One is of Dad and my brother Phil at event at the Brockton
VA Hospital. Both my parents were active in the Abington VFW
and Phil spent a lot of time down at the post as well. This looks
like some carnival perhaps? I’m not sure why they are holding
cucumbers but that hat on Dad’s head made me grin. I don’t
think I ever saw him wearing one like that.
I wish his part of the photo were less scratched but my folks
never were ones to put their pictures in albums. We had two
but usually pictures ended up in some drawer somewhere.
I have a large plastic bin of pictures that I’m chipping away at

The second is a picture I took years ago and is probably my
alltime favorite. That’s my niece Sarah in her Oshkosh overalls
holding out a marigold to my mom who’s off camera. It was taken
at the apartment on Walnut St, in Abington and I’d planted those
But the prettiest flower there was Sara.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I’ve written before about my 3x great grandfather, John Cutter
West, who I refer to as The Elusive John C. and gave a
brief rundown of some of the problems in trying to find any
record of him here in Massachusetts. In many ways it's like
working on one huge genealogy jigsaw puzzle. I'm still
working at it.

John supposedly was born in Plymouth, Ma. 8 Oct 1802, yet
none of us who’ve researched that have been able to find
any records in the town of Plymouth. So perhaps it was
meant as Plymouth County? There are at present 28 towns
or cities in it, but there were fewer back at the time of
John’s birth since some of the present towns split off from
others. For example, I live in Abington. The neighboring
towns of Rockland and Whitman split off in the late 19th
century. The town of Norwell once was part of Scituate
and the towns of Marion, Mattapoisset and a section of
Eastham were originally part of the town of Rochester.

About 15 or 20 years ago in the pre computer days I did some
driving around to some of the various towns in hopes of turning
something up. I began in Plymouth and then moved to towns
that bordered it, then expanded the search to towns where my
other ancestors had been born. My Packard ancestors were from
Bridgewater and most recently North Bridgewater (which is now
the city of Brockton). The Barrows family came from Plympton
and Carver as did the Dunhams and Bensons. and the Griffiths
(Griffiths) were from the town of Rochester.

I didn’t have much luck with the search. I then tried searching
some of the older local cemeteries but without knowing the names
of John’s parents it was a longshot which didn’t yield any answers.
Neither did several trips to the NEGHS, but to be honest I had no
idea what records I should be searching so I plan to return there
soon better prepared.

Vacation ended and I put the search aside for the moment, telling
myself that I’d go back to it another time.

That time came last year when I started surfing the internet.
Searching for John Cutter West certainly was easier but was just
as frustrating as doing it the old fashioned way. Apparently
there is an adult movie star who has the same name. But online
access to fresh material (to me) gave me a few new ideas on
where to look.

On the 1850 Census for Township Letter B(later Upton), Oxford
County, Me. there are three West families, one being John C.
West’s family, the other two being of an Eli West and another man
named John West. On the 1860 Census, Eli West’s family is gone
but there is now also a Cyrus West and his family listed. Could
there be any connection between thses families and mine? So far
I’ve found none although it seems that the second John West
moved to Errol N.H. where members of my family later lived.

I’ve googled on the name “John Cutter” on the theory that maybe
John C. was named after his grandfather but with no success. I
also googled names of various West siblings and here I thought I
found something. One of John Cutter’s granddaughters was
named Diantha West. I found a Dianthe West, daughter of a John
West and his wife Relief Kingman and with an older brother named
John. The major problem here is that a search on WorldConnect
indicated the family was from the town of Randolph in Norfolk
County, not Plymouth, and the date of birth for Dianthe’s brother
John was the wrong month and year (2 Sep 1801) for him to be
John Cutter West.

Last night I gave another try on Eli West on WorldConnect and
found several entries for that name listing place of birth as being
Rochester, Ma. Looking further I found that his family was also
known as “Wast” or “Waste”, and that he was descended from
Francis Wast(or West) and his wife Susannah Soule. There were
members of the Soule family in Oxford county as well. So could
John Cutter West have been a member of this family and born as
John Cutter Wast?

I’ll keep looking. Hope springs eternal.

After all, if the Red Sox could finally win the World Series twice,
then someday the mystery of John Cutter West will be solved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There’s been some interesting posts lately on other genealogy
blogs using topics suggested from writing prompts or memes.
I’ve been meaning to respond to them myself but haven’t until
now. This one is about “What was your first job?”. I’ve thrown
in other jobs I’ve held over the years.

My first paying job was delivering flyers for the Talbot Ave.
Laundry in the Dorchester section of Boston. I was 8 or 9 years
old at the time, I think, and I got ½ cent for every flyer that I
delivered. I had family help landing the job since a cousin of my
mom’s, Bobby Ramsey, worked there. I got a brown paper
wrapped bundle of a few hundred single sheet flyers and went
about the neighborhood stuffing them into the mailboxes. Since
there were quite a few triple-deckers(three family apartment
houses) in the area it was pretty easy to do, and I would
then quickly spend the money on baseball cards which were only
5 cents a pack back then.

When we moved a few blocks up the street to Evans St. I got my
first paper route. It was for the old Boston Daily Record, a
Hearst tabloid. I rode a huge old clunker of a bike up to the
projects over Blue Hill Ave. for that one. The Boston Strangler
was at large then and collecting money from customers was
interesting to say the least as many women were afraid to
open their doors, even to a paperboy. I also delivered the old
Boston Herald for a bit then too, back when there were 6
newspapers in Boston. By the way, you’d be amazed how many
packs of baseball cards or comic books could fit into a newsboy’s

We left Boston and moved to Abington before my sophomore
year in high school, and once again I delivered newspapers, first
for the Quincy Patriot Ledger and then the Brockton Enterprise
and was usually accompanied by the family dog and once or twice
the family cat who rode along in the ever useful bag. I have
sometimes wondered over the years if any of my customers were
allergic to cats.

My first REAL job was as a busboy at the Teel’s Cabin Restaurant
in Abington. I actually witnessed one of those visits by a Pepsi
Cola representative who posed as a customer to see if the waitress
said “We serve Pepsi.” when someone ordered a Coca Cola.

The Summer after I graduated from high school I worked at a
machine shop in the neighboring town of Whitman.(part of our
backyard actually was in Whitman.) I’m ashamed to say I can’t
recall the name of the company anymore(and that worries me,
too, btw.) and I’m not even sure just what the heck they were
making. I do recall the machines that I hauled long rods of metal
to turned out little round plug shaped objects and that I cleaned
out the shavings using a pitch fork and wheelbarrow. Then I’d
take the scraps out back, walk up a 2x4 plank and empty the
wheelbarrow off onto the pile. I’d walk home at night and take a
bath and the grease would float on top of the water.

What I most recall about that job was the heat and there were
salt tablets next to the water cooler and that I didn’t get the
reason why they were there until I passed out one day from the
heat. I was lucky I didn’t get a concussion when I whacked my
head on something. I never forgot to take an occasional salt tablet
again there and I made sure I drank plenty of water after that.

And the next summer I worked as a camp counselor instead.

That’s a good place to stop for tonight.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Alright, Randy, here goes...

To the tune of "Weekend in New England"
performed by Barry Manilow

Note-background musicians include the
National Genealogical Fluteaphone Orchestra

Last night when I found it
It all seemed so clear,
That long standing brick wall
It’s end was so near.
But now in the light of day,
The gedcom’s not here!
So tell me
How will I find it?
Where did that link go?
I swear I will bookmark it then!
Tell me where is that website again?

Wests in New England
Go on and on
To find a lost ancestor

Can take all night long.
I finally found it,

my quest's at an end.
Now tell me
How do I find it?
Where did that link go?
I swear I will bookmark it then!
Tell me where is that website again?

I feel a change coming,
Somehow I know
When I finally find it,
The answers I’ll know!
With it
I can close out
All the mysteries I had,
Alright, maybe just one or two
But that ain’t so bad!

And tell me
How will I find it?
Where did that link go?
I swear I will bookmark it then!
Tell me where is that website again?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


..aka brainfreeze.

Okay. I goofed.
The Last post was Blogging Brunch12, not 11.

The previous Blogging Brunch10 post is really
Blogging Brunch 11.

And the first Blogging Brunch10 post is still
Blogging Brunch10.

All have been retitled, so please
adjust your scorecards.

Thank you.


Well, I guess Autumn is finally here. It certainly is chilly enough
around here to bundle up a bit and huddle around the computer
for warmth.

Okay, it’s not quite that bad. But I do have my hooded sweatshirt
on and a hot cup of coffee at hand as I browse the genealogy blogs
and news.

First off I read the new CoG that Blaine Bettinger hosted over
on his Genetic Genealogist. Of course it’s been out a few days and
I’d already gone through it once but it was late at night at the end
of a long day of work so I went back and reread all the posts again.
The theme was genealogical mysteries and brick walls and how
DNA testing might help solve them and Blaine made comments
on how each blogger might go about doing it. A great Carnival of
Genealogy all around!

And as usual, I found more genealogy blogs to add to my
bookmarks. I’ve added Lisa’s A Light That Shines Again,
100 Years in America and Small-Leaved Shamrock ,
Colleen’s The Oracle of OMcHodoy, Lee Anders’ I Seek Dead
People Blog, and other folks who made their first appearance in
this edition.

I didn’t contribute this time around. I’d already posted about the
Elusive John C. before and really couldn’t come up with another
problem that DNA testing would break down for me. The next
edition is going to be a Carousel edition on any topic so I’ll have
something ready for that one. The submissions deadline is
November 15th, so if you’ve never contributed to it before, now’s
your chance!

Then I made my usual rounds of my favorite blogs. Randy Seaver
at Genea-Musings has a couple of posts of what I would call
Genealogy Rock…adaptations of old rock songs with lyrics about
genealogy. Hmmm. I’m going to have to see if I can come up with
one myself. And there’s also an interesting post about the Mother
of All GenealogyDatabases. Randy gives a few examples of how it
does or doesn’t work based on some recent experiences.

I'd seen a news report about it last night on tv but information
at Chris Dunham’s The Genealogue made me do some googling
about the grave robbery at Bible Hill Cemetery in Hillsborough,
N.H.. Some of my family such as the Ellingwoods lived there so
I looked up Sarah Symonds and found her name on a Kimball
Family website. I learned there that her mother was Lucy
Kimball and that she was descended from Henry Kimball, son
of Richard Kimball and Ursula Scott. I’m also a descendent
through Thomas Kimball, another of Richard’s sons.

Irregardless of the connection, I’d still be disgusted by whoever
desecrated Sarah Symond’s grave. I cannot understand what
reason anyone would have to do such a thing.

Finally, a note of Tropical Storm Noel. I mentioned that my
sister likes to go out in storms. (I tend to huddle down in my
hobbit hole and wait them out.) Well, technology has brought a
change of habit for her. The last time she went out in something
this big the waves were flooding Ocean St. in Marshfield and she
decided that salt water was not a good thing for her car.

This time around, she found a website showing the surf from
the storm and watched the waves by webcam!

Saturday, November 03, 2007


A dark and stormy Saturday afternoon as the remnants of
Hurricane Noel, now only a tropical storm, alas, roar outside.
At the moment the wind seems to be from the south which
means the apartments on my side of the building are sheltered
from the worst since we face north. We’ll feel it more when the
storm moves past and the wind shifts later this afternoon and

Meanwhile, I made myself a cup of that cocoa mix and watched
the storm for a few minutes through my screen door. A lot of
leaves on the ground now out there! A minute or two of that was
enough since as my Dad used to say I’m not heating the outside.
So I came in to finish my cocoa while fiddling at my keyboard
until the power goes.

But I already charged up my mp3 player so I’ll have some Celtic
music to listen to, and my cell phone is on the charger already so
my sister will be able to call me later (or vice versa) to see how
we have weathered the storm. Knowing my sister, she’s probably
sitting in her car in the parking lot at a beach at Plymouth or
Marshfield watching the waves. I have a flashlight to read a book
by and a can of tunafish to make dinner with, so if I do lose power
here, I’m all set until it comes back, provided it’s within a few

After that, I go into computer withdrawal. Gulp.

I was looking over the other Revolutionary War Pension Files I
have to decide which one to transcribe and post here next. I’ve
decided to go with the smaller ones first, so the humongous
Benjamin Barker file will be last, and might not even be posted
until after the first of the year.

Going through the images I noticed a few things. Benjamin Barker
shows up in other ancestor’s files to testify as to their service
records. Of course two of them are his brothers: Jonathan(my
direct ancestor) in 1818 and Jesse in 1832. He’s also in the file for
Amos Hastings in 1839, but there is a personal connection there as
well since Benjamin’s nephew Nathaniel was married to Huldah
Hastings, Amos’ daughter.

I also noticed that some ancestors gave their “declarations” on
the same day: Asa Barrows and Amos Upton on August 20th,
1832, and John Ames and Jesse Barker a later on September
27th. Perhaps the Judge rode a circuit and was only in the area
for a short time each month? I wonder what stories they and the
other old veterans swapped about their war years as they sat and
waited their turn to file their claim? Would they be delighted or
dismayed to learn that their grandchildren and great grandchildren
would someday wed?

Think I’ll go do some quick housecleaning and then come back to
scan some old photos.


One of the few complaints I have about the Revolutionary War
Pension Files that I’ve downloaded from is that
while each image is numbered, they aren’t sorted in chronological
order. Such is the case with Asa Barrow’s file. Rather than to
continue to post them numerically, I'll post them chronologically
and give the image number in parentheses at the end of each
image description.

In my last post, Asa Barrows said in his statement he knew of
no living witness that might verify his service record.

On August 21, one stepped forward:

“I, Francis Sturtevant, of Paris in the county of Oxford in the
State of Maine, a pensioner of the United States, on oath declare,
that to my certain knowledge, Asa Barrows, of Hamlin’s Gore in
said county, inlisted into the army of the United States, in the
revolutionary war, on the continental establishment at Plymton,
in the county of Plymouth, State of Massachusetts, for the term
of eight months, in April 1775. The company in which he served
was commanded by Capt. Joshua Benson and the regiment was
commanded by Col. Cotton in the Massachusetts line-and was
stationed at Roxbury near Boston under the command of Gen.
Thomas-and I am satisfied that he faithfully served the term of
eight months.
Francis Sturtevant”

The signature, like Asa Barrows’, is larger, and a bit shaky
looking in contrast to the excellent penmanship of the statement.
Below his signature is the following:

"State of Maine
County of Oxford s.s. August 21,1832. The above named
Francis Sturtevant, to me known as a man of truth, personally
appeared and made oath to the truth of the above affidavit by
him subscribed-Before me-
Thomas Clark, Justice of the Peace."

A seal is affixed to the bottom left hand corner of the image
(Image 13)

The next image is of the same page, but a smaller scrap of paper
lies across the blank area under Thomas Clark’s signature:

Oxford County, ss.
I, Rufus King Goodenow, Clerk of the Judicial Courts

in and for said County of Oxford, here by certify, that
Thomas Clark Esq. whose genuine signature is annexed
to the foregoing Deposition of Francis Sturtevant
is a Justice of the Peace in and for said county of

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and
affixed my seal of office, this 28th day of August in the
year A.D. 1832.

R.K. Goodenow Clerk of Oxford
County Courts.

(image 12)
There follows another document. Most of it is preprinted but there
is part of one sentenced crossed over:

“And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion,
after the investigation of the matter, ((start of crossed out
portion))and after putting the interrogatories
prescribed by the War Department, ((end of crossed out
portion)), that the above applicant was a revolutionary
soldier, and served as he states.
said applicant having
adduced the deposition of Francis Sturtevant, under oath,
duly administered, in corraboration of his own declaration.
Stephen Emery, Judge”

At the bottom of the page is another preprinted form.:
I, Joseph G. Cole, Register(written over the crossed out word
“clerk”)of the Court of Probate do hereby certify that
the foregoing contains the original proceedings of
the said Court in the matter of the application of Asa
Barrows for a pension.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand
and seal of office this 28th day of August A.D. 1832.
Joseph G. Cole Register.” (Image 7)

The following spring Asa made another appearance before
Thomas Clark to claim his pension:

“Personally appeared before me, the undersigned, a Justice of the
Peace and Notary Public, in and for the county of Oxford, Asa
Barrows, who being first duly sworn, deposeth and saith, that by
reason of old age, and the consequent loss of memory, he cannot
swear positively as to the precise length of his service, but
according to the best of his recollection he served not less than
the period mentioned below and all as a private soldier: viz: For
ten months: and for such service I claim a pension.
Asa Barrows

(Under Asa’s still shaky signature the document continues):

State of Maine, Oxford, ss, April 27, 1833. Then the above
named Asa Barrows made oath to the truth of the above affidavit
and subscribed the same in my presence, and I hereby certify
that he is a man of truth and veracity. In testimony where of I
have here unto subscribed my name and affixed my notarial
seal the day and year afore said.

Thomas Clark, Justice of the Peace and Notary Public
in and for the County of Oxford in the State of Maine.”

Justice Clark’s seal is to the right hand bottom corner of the
(Image 8)

Next is a view of two pages. The left hand side is mostly blank
except for the small handwritten notation running along the
right hand edge next to the spine:

“Sept-18-1923- Hist to Jessie H. Tuttle awf."

The right hand side is a preprinted page with blank areas
filled in hand.
“P 16038
File No. 16.0.38
Asa Barrows
Pri. Rev. War
Act: June 7’’ 32
Index:- Vol. 1, Page 432
[Arrangement of 1870]
(Image 10)

The next two images are ones I’ve printed here before,
correspondence between Jessie H. Tuttle and the Commissioner
of Pensions. First her inquiry:

"3730 Grand Ave, Minneapolis, Minn. Aug.1,1923
Commissioner of Pensions,
Dear Sir: -

Will you please send me record
of pension claim of Asa Barrows.
born July 28 (1750?) in Plymouth Co, Mass.
married Feb 12, 1781 Content Benson,
died Oxford Co. Maine about May 1834
placed on pension roll (Maine) July 23
1833 aged 83. Pension began May 4, 1831.
Served in Massachusetts.
Thanking you in advance
I am yours very truly
Mrs Jessie H. Tuttle”
(Image 11)

A round stamp to the bottom left of Jessie’s signature
shows that her request was received at the Pension
Office on Aug 3 1923.

The reply is the next and final image:
“Rev. War Section
September 18, 1923.
Jessie H. Tuttle,
3730 Grand Ave.
Minneapolis, Minn.
I have to advise you that from the papers in
the Revolutionary War pension claim, S. 16038,it
appears that Asa Barrows, while living in Plymton,
Plymouth County, Massachusetts, enlisted April 1775,
and served as a private eight months in Captain
Joshua Benson’s company, Colonel Cotton’s regiment,
Massachusetts troops.
He enlisted December 1776 and served six weeks
under Lieutenant Joshua Perkins. The last of July
1780, he enlisted and serve two weeks under Captain
Perez Churchill He was allowed pension on his application exe-
cuted August 28, 1832, while a resident of Hamlin’s
Grove, Oxford County, Maine, aged eighty one years.
There is no data on file as to his family.


There is a space above the word Commissioner for a signature
but there is none.

Some notes on inconsistencies:
There seems to be a few variances in the reply. “Peleg Churchill”
becomes “Perez Churchill” although having seen the original
statement I can see how that might occur given the writing.
“Hamlin’s Grove” might have been a result of the handwriting
plus perhaps some editing by a War Dept. clerk seeing “Gorge”
and feeling it was a mistake and correcting it to "Grove".

It’s possible Asa ’s memory had it wrong as well. I found a
Captain Stephen Churchill in Col. Cotton’s regiment. There was
a Peleg Churchill residing in Plympton at the time and Asa may
have confused them.

Plymton has become Plympton. The “ajoining town” of
“Middlebury” is Middleborough.

Asa Barrows was my 4x great grandfather.