Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Randy Seaver posted over on Genea-Musings about his gathering
of family memories and how relatives might have different views
of events than you might. It sort of ties in with my own thoughts
lately as to how important it is to set memories down somehow
and somewhere so that future relatives will have the chance to
read or hear them.

I suppose it's a touch of middle aged "intimations of mortality"
that has brought this issue to mind. I'm going to be 59 years old
and I while I’d like to think I’d be around to see my grandnieces
and grandnephews I know I might not. Then I think about all of
my older relatives who were gone before I was born or who died
when I was a child as well as those who’ve passed since. I never
had the chance or took it to sit down and talk with them about
memories of their childhood and lives. Genealogy was the charts
of royal dynasties I saw in history books.

I had a customer at the bookstore the other day who was looking
for Image of America books on Somerville and Charlestown, two
cities in the Greater Boston area. They were gifts for a relative
celebrating her 100th birthday who had lived in those cities as a
child. We talked a bit and she told me that another relative had
taped conversations with the centenarian some years earlier so
they had her recollections of her life to give her great-great-

Of course most of us don’t think of these things when we are
young and concerned with the here and now. When I began
climbing up my family tree I came realize how much I don’t know
about both sides of my family. I wish I’d pressed my mother a bit
more for any recollection of her father or of what it was like for her
growing up during the Great Depression and World War II. I wish
I’d talked more with my father and gotten to know more what it
was like for him up in Maine in the same period but in what was
nearly a whole different world from Mom’s down here in Boston.

So, I’m setting down my own memories. My first few entries in
this blog were of the family trips "up home". I have been making
notes on other subjects for future entries and will do my best to
get them done, including what I recall of the older relatives I knew
in my childhood. And there’s still some people I can talk to and get
their versions of past events.

I wish I’d started doing it all sooner!


Recently I took advantage of the month’s free membership
at and posted my family tree there. This led
to my First Adventure in Creating a GED file and it didn’t
turn out too well.

As I’ve mentioned in my initial post to this blog, my finances
are rather limited so I have used the free Personal Ancestry
File as my genealogy program and it’s worked quite well for
me. But the GED file creation and I didn’t click and instead
of sending the partial tree with ancestors from the Mayflower
on down to the A*******.com site I somehow managed to send
the whole dang PAF. Now this is not a total disaster but it is
a tad embarrassing since there’s a lot of people from before
the Mayflower who just might not be ancestors at all.

Like Odin.

Simply put, when I first began online research I could find
that was possibly even remotely related to my family. As
might be seen from the time of this post, I do a lot of my
online stuff very late at night after work and there’s a
tendency to just grab as much as possible with intentions
to sort it out when I have time on a day off or on vacation.
So there were a lot of things on the tree I would rather not
have posted online.

On the other hand…

It’s up. I’ll try to trim it as opportunity permits. So if you
run across it, pay no attention to anything pre-17th century.

You don’t seriously believe I’m related to Odin, do you?

But if you do, I have this Rainbow Bridge to Valhalla for sale.


Sunday, February 25, 2007


I'm currently scanning some of the older pics in two albums.

Back some twenty years ago we bought the type with the clear
plastic sheet that covers the photos thinking this would protect
them. Instead they recently began to discolor and fade. So at least
by scanning them and making several copies the chances of saving
them for the future are better.

This is my mom and dad on their wedding day. I know the look
on Dad's face as the one where he's about reached the end of his
patience but he's being polite. It's their wedding day and they're
posing for another dang picture instead of getting started on the

I had to crop the left hand side some where the top left hand
corner was sort sort of eaten away. But on the other hand, I
never noticed the chalk writing on the wall behind them, or the
boarded up window or the open door before.

Oh, and this was taken in June, 1947.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Maybe it's me? Could I just be too old because I
wonder what the heck these folks were thinking when
they used one of this country's oldest cemetaries for a
treasure hunt?

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I've done some writing elsewhere on my
tree climbing in the past and this is part of

A little background: I was still fairly new at
genealogy and when I stumbled across an
ancestor with the unlikely name of Joanna Unk,
I thought perhaps she was from some other
nationality and this was how the name was recorded
in the town records by someone who didn't know
how it was spelled properly. But the name amused
me and I wrote this poem.

Two weeks later I discovered that Unk is an abrreviated
version of Unknown, used when the maiden name of a
person is unavailable.

Ah, well!

When I started climbing my family tree
I didn't realize what a chore it might be.
I really had nothing much else on my mind
Then to see what else I could possibly find.

I already knew of a number of names
I knew Barker and Dunham and Abbott and Ames.
But never, no never, did I possibly thunk
I would find I'd a relative, Joanna Unk.

It must not have been easy to grow up an Unk.
It's not a name beaus want to carve in tree trunks.
But her story's not tragic, it isn't you see,
Because if it were there would not be a me.

She lived out a typical Puritan life,
Met someone who loved her and became his wife.
And somewhere in heaven she's drinking some hooch
With my distant relative, Mistress Ruth Gooch.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


As I mentioned in a previous entry, the very kind Gayle
Nee found this information for me several years ago.

The information on great grandfather Edward J.White
and his family is all I know of them. One of the things
I noticed right off was the change in the birthplace of
his father from Ireland on the 1900 and 1910 census
to Massachusetts on the 1920. I'm not sure why but I
can think of two possibilities. One might be with a name
like White it would be easy to hide an Irish background
in an era when being Irish was a drawback in some circles.

The other might be because of World War One where the
Irish seemed sympathetic to Germany over the British
and hence to America.

I'm also fascinated by his progression of jobs from a
teamster for Wholesale Flour (and is that a company or
a job description?) to "head teamster" for the City of
Boston. When time, money and car repairs allow I
plan a trip to Boston City Hall to see if I can obtain
any records of his employ.

As I've mentioned before Edward F. White Sr. left
the family and was seldom if ever spoken about by my
mother or my uncle Edward F. White Jr. But when
Gayle sent me this information it explained something
from my childhood. Whenever we were driving across
the Mystic River Bridge and stopped at the toll booth,
Mom would look at the tolltakers and occasionally would
yell "Hey Fitzy!" and wave to one of them before we drove
off. When we'd ask who Fitzy was, all she'd say was that he
was a cousin on her father's side.

So, I suspect it might have been Albert Fitzgerald since as
I recall he was a middle aged man with glasses.

It's another one of those family mysteries waiting to be

1930 census - ‘Boston, Suffolk Co., Mass. ED # 333,
page IA
#939 Parker Street
Agnes D., White, 31, b. Mass., married at age 21,
father b. Northern Ireland, mother b. Scotland,
no occupation.
Edward F. White, son, 4, b. Mass., both parents b. Mass.
Anna M. White, daughter, 2, b. Mass.

#133 Washington Street, Roslindale
Edward J. White 56yrs. married/head teamster/City of

Pauline M. White 56 yrs. married/wife

Esther l6yrs. daughter
Ruth B. (White)Fitzgerald age 21 daughter of Edward
Alfred S. Fitzgerald age 25 (son in law)
Ruth J. Fitzgerald age 9 mos.

1920 Federal Census for Boston, Suffolk County, Ma.
January 2, 1920
41 Philbrick Street
White, Edward J age 47 b.MA Father b. MA Mother b. Canada
Occ: Stage builder Government

wife, Pauline M. age 47 b. MA Parents b. Germany

son, Charles age 22 b. MA Clerk RR
son, Edward F. age 21 b.MA Steam fitter RR
son, Frederick C. age IS b.MA Laborer Government
dtr., Pauline M. age 16 b. MA Salesgirl Dry goods store
dtr., Ruth age 12 b. MA
dtr,. Esther age 5 b.MA

1910 Federal Census for ‘Boston Suffolk County, Ward 23
Precinct 5 Enumeration District 1615 Sheet lA
April 15, 1910

White, Edward J. age 35 married 14 years b. MA
Father b Ireland Mother b.Canada teamster Wholesale Flour

wife, Pauline M. age 35 married 14 years 8 children 8 living
b. Ma Parents b . Germany

dtr., Marcella M. age 13 b. MA
son, Charles W age 12 b. MA
son Edward F. age 10 b. MA
son Frederick E age 8 b. MA
dtr, Pauline M. Jr age 6 b. MA
dtr., Elizabeth H age 5 b. MA
dtr., Ruth V. Age 2 b. MA
son, James A age 9 months

1900 Federal Census for South Boston Suffolk County MA
Liberty Street Enumeration District 1387 Sheet 9 Ward 16
June 6, 1900

White, Edward J. b. May 1873 in MA age 27 married 5 years
Father b. Ireland Mother b. Canada 0cc: Teamster

wife, Pauline b. Dec 1873 in MA age 26 married 5 years
3 children 3 living Parents b. Germany

dtr., Marsella b. June 1896 in MA age 3
son, Charles W. b.March 1895 in MA age 2
son, Edward F. b. July 1899 in MA age 10 months


I haven’t mentioned it before but I work as a bookseller which has
led me to some books that I’ve found interesting and helpful in my
genealogy pursuits. I’ll mention some of those in the future but
even though it’s a day late I thought I’d talk about the one that fits
in with St Valentine’s Day.

I was waiting on a customer who was looking for a book for her 70
year old aunt. The woman picked up a book from the new release
large size paperback table and asked me if I knew anything about
it. The title was "If Ever Two Were One: A Diary of Love Eternal "
by Brian Sullivan, the story of the romance between Francis
Ellingwood Abbot and Katharine Loring told from Abbot’s journal
and letters.

This piqued my curiosity. I have ancestors named Ellingwood and
Abbot and a quick glance at the back cover told me this Abbot
was from Beverly where my ancestors lived. So I googled him and
while he's not a direct ancestor he is in fact a cousin. Our common
ancestor was Ralph Ellingwood of early Salem, Ma. but where my
line descends from Ralph Jr., Frank E. Abbot's descends from
another son.

The same is true of our Abbot ancestries descending from siblings
although there are several other incidents of relationship through
marriages of brothers or sisters into both lines.

Seems Frank was a Harvard man, a Unitarian minister, and knew
Emerson and others. He was one of the early American supporters
of Darwinism which led to his break from Unitarianism and a very
controversial reputation for most of the latter part of his life. In
his days as a Harvard divinity student he roomed at the home of
Henry David Thoreau’s mother and he spoke with Ralph Waldo
Emerson on several occasions.

Mr Sullivan’s book details Abbot's romance and marriage of over
forty years with Katharine Loring and the subsequent ten years
after her death, ending with his suicide on her grave in 1903.

It’s fascinating to see the Victorian romantic ideal mindset in the
flowery style of writing popular in those times. But I must confess
that Frank seems to me a bit overly intense in his devotion to his
Katharine.I suspect that when they married their respective
families felt some relief that the two young people were “settled”.

Harvard Magazine of July-August 2002 has a few examples of
entries from Francis Ellingwood Abbot’s journal here.

Monday, February 05, 2007


These are my maternal ancestors.
As I said in the previous entry, Agnes McFarland
and Edward F. White were mom's parents.


John McFarland (28 Nov 1852-03 Aug 1924)
m. Ann A. Kelly (01 Oct 1859-02 Feb 1945)

Michael b Aug 1882-d?
Annie b Mar 1885-d.Jun 1887
Francis J. b Nov 1886-d Sept 1968
John b Mar 1888-d?
Robert b Dec 1889-d?
Edward J. b Oct 1891-d Sept 1892
Thomas b Jun 1893-d 1978
Annie b Mar 1895-d?
Sarah b Nov 1896-d Jul 1900
Agnes b Oct 1898-d Deb 1957
Winifred b1900-d Jan 1940
Margaret b1902-d?
George b Jan 1918-d Jan 1918


Edward J. White b May 1873-d?
m Pauline M. Offinger b, Dec 1873

Marcella b Jun 1896-d?
Charles b Mar 1898-d?
Edward F. b Jul 1899-d?
Frederick b 1902-d?
Pauline b 1904-d?
Elizabeth b 1905-d?
Ruth b 1908-d?
James b 1909-d?
Esther b 1915-d?

The McFarland information came from my 2nd cousin
John McFarland who was the son of Francis.

A very nice lady named Gayle Nee on the
White Family Forum gave me the White information from
the 1900,1910, 1920 and 1930 Federal censuses.

Thanks again, Gayle, if you ever read this!

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I've seen a few things about Barack Obama's genealogy
online and noted that there were Dunham's in his
ancestry.Having Dunham ancestors myself I was of
course curious if there was a connection but hadn't
found any information for comparison until tonight.

Randy Seaver also is of Dunham descent and posted
information on his Genea-Musings site. Turns out
he and Sen. Obama are related but from a different
Dunham family (the Dunham/Singletary line, I believe)
than mine.

But it was fun to speculate about it!

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I’m a child of mixed heritage. On one side I’m
descended from a long line of Yankee settlers.
On the other, I’m descended from Irish Catholic
immigrants who came to Boston in the late
19th century.

Meet my maternal grandmother, Agnes McFarland.
In the family she’s known as Aggie. I believe the
picture is for her Confirmation.

She was born in 1898, eighth child and third daughter
out of the ten children that would survive infancy. She
grew up in a Irish Catholic family, her father a laborer
on the Boston Elevated Railway.

She had rheumatic fever as a child in a time when it
was a deadly disease and although she'd survived it left
Aggie with a weak heart. In 1924 she married Edward F.
White Sr. They had two children before a third died, then
Edward walked out in the middle of the Great Depression
leaving Aggie to raise the children on her own.

Aggie divorced him in 1935.

It was hard for her; in those times the label "divorced"
was somewhat shameful for an Irish Catholic woman.

Work was hard to come by for a woman with children
so she scrimped and saved. Some nights dinner was
bread soaked in milk. My Mom and uncle were sent to
a nearby dental school to have their teeth worked on by
students. When Mom came down with what was known
as St. Vitus’ Dance in those days, Aggie somehow came
up with the money for the doctors and to buy liver to
serve at dinner to get Mom’s iron content up. I suspect
Aggie’s parents must have helped her out here and there
financially. My Mom once claimed that the legendary
Boston Mayor James Michael Curley helped out with
some problem as well.

But Aggie was no cream puff, either. One story my
Mom told was of the time she and Uncle Ed skipped
school to hang out at the cottage out on Houghs’ Neck
with their cousins. The place was owned by Aggie’s
younger sister Peggy and her husband Leo McCue and
was quite a distance away from the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood of Boston Aggie and her children lived

Yet suddenly my grandmother was walking down the
beach towards them. She’d taken the trolley and two
different buses to get there. She stayed long enough
to let Mom and Ed get their things and then took
them home by the same route she’d used to get there.

Somehow she did it. She raised her children to adulthood
even though it meant sometimes ducking her rebellious
son's head in the sink when he used swears or nursing her
daughter through a case of scarlet fever. She survived
watching her son join the Navy at 18 to fight in WW2.
All this while living life as a divorced Catholic woman
whose husband had left her for another woman.

She never remarried.

I knew her as Nanny, my grandmother, and she lived
with us when I was a kid. My Dad and Uncle Ed had
bought a two family home after the war in Malden on
a GI loan and so Aggie saw all five of her grandchildren
everyday. But she spent most of the time with my sister
and I because my parents both worked fulltime.

I have memories of her.

She was a quiet woman, black haired with grey streaks
and usually wore those one piece housedresses. She’d eat
peas by rolling them down the blade of her knife into her
mouth and looking back I think she did it to amuse me
and tease my mom. She never yelled but I remember
her breaking up a knockdown fight between two Italian
ladies who lived in the houses to either side of ours and
doing it with a slightly louder than usual voice and a
disgusted tone at their behavior in front of children.

I remember her being upset when the goldfish got sucked
down the drain of the kitchen sink when she pulled the
sink plug by accident after cleaning the goldfish bowl. And
I recall how she kept me from looking out the window after
a worker fell off the roof when it was being reshingled.
(He survived by the way; he broke his back and narrowly
missed landing atop the picket fence that ran between our
house and our next door neighbor’s.)

As time went by her rheumatic heart got worse and she
needed an oxygen tank in her bedroom for when breathing
was hard.

Aggie died at age 58 on February 12th, 1957.

She lived a tough life but she always carried herself like
a lady.