Thursday, May 31, 2007


In the interests of fair play I present the following link
which proves that some folks in Plymouth are as guilty of
historical inaccuracies and huckstership as some folks in
Jamestown are. It's from today's Quincy Patriot-Ledger

"Plymouth promises to show Jamestown how to party:
America’s Hometown has big plans for celebrating its
400th birthday."

The comments from the Plymouth selectman at the end
of the article about "setting the record straight"are
particularly incredible.

I'm waiting to see if any readers point out the obvious
to him and the newspaper.

And we have thirteen more years of this nonsense to
look forwards to unless some responsible historians
step in to restore sanity.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Dick Eastman mentioned a new website from Tufts University,
Boston Streets and I checked it out. It has historical maps and
city directories from a number of years and I searched the
directories for my Mom’s family.

The McFarland’s didn’t arrive in Boston until sometime around
1880 so I began with a look at the Sampson and Murdock
Boston Directory of 1885. I had no success with McFarlands or
with the Whites or Offingers from Mom’s paternal grandparents
but they were born in 1873 and would still have been children in

I had a bit more luck with the 1905 edition. Great Grandfather
John McFarland and his eldest son Mike are listed:

McFarland John laborer h 950 Parker Rox

McFarland Michael E plumber bds 950 Parker Rox

I found only two Offingers listed:

Offinger Albert C upholsterer 338 Boylston bds 23 Metropolitan
av Ros

Offinger Joanna C widow h 23 Metropolitan av Ros

And I found my great grandfather White:

White Edward J teamster h 33 Ridge Ros

The 1925 edition had more. John McFarland had died the
year before and the death is noted by two entries:

McFarland Annie widow John h 950 Parker Rox

McFarland John (950 Parker Rox) died Aug 3 1924

There are entries for three of their sons:

McFarland Michael E shoe cutter h 946 Parker Rox

McFarland Robert J shoeworker h 946 Parker Rox

McFarland Thomas diamond cutter h 7 Dunlap Dor

This might be Uncle Leo who married Peggy McFarland:

McCue Leo motorman h 28 Worcester sq

One of the Offingers remained. Perhaps Albert was a brother
to Great Grandmother Pauline?

Offinger Albert mgr of work room 30 Winter h 23 Metropolitan av Ros

And finally Great Grandfather White and two of his other

sons other than my grandfather:

White Edward J electrician h 41 Philbrick Ros

White Charles W clerk 395 South sta h 31 Philbrick Ros

White Fred E checker res 41 Philbrick Ros

An interesting site that I definitely will spend more time exploring.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Hmm. My earlier post about Jamestown and Plymouth got
this response from Michael Norton at the Jamestown Site

“While wrapping up my coverage of the Quadracentenial, I
ran across this blog post. The author doesn't seem to
appreciate that from Virginia's perspective it is a historical
spitting contest. The North, victorious in the Civil War,
stole the nation's founding myth from its rightful owners.
Virginians want it back.

Notice how the author cleverly skirts the salient fact that
Jamestown was the first English settlement by observing
(correctly) that neither Jamestown nor Plymouth was the
first European settlement. I couldn't help but notice
he didn't write his post in Spanish.

Of course his ancestor mutinied at Jamestown only to land
in Plymouth, an interesting twist to the tale. So consider
the source:…”

and then he goes on to quote my post.

At this late hour, approximately 12:47am, I’m sort of bemused
by this. I’ve never been accused of “cleverly skirting” something
before and it certainly wasn’t my intention in the original post. It
was just a quick thought I had and that I wanted to get posted
on the blog before I went off to the laundromat and forgot about

I’m a bit taken aback.

But ok, then. Jamestown still isn’t the oldest English settlement
in North America. That honor would appear to belong to the
town of St. John’s in Newfoundland founded around 1528 by
English fishermen. I might have to doublecheck that, it is as I
said, late.

It would seem to me that there’s plenty of historical treasures
in beautiful Virginia such as the homes of many of the founding
Fathers as well as places associated in many Americans’ minds
with the Revolutionary and Civil War. And it’s wonderful to
celebrate Jamestown’s 400 years but this obsession with the
idea that Plymouth stole it's rightful place demeans it.

Can’t we all just get along and be proud of each area's

Friday, May 25, 2007


I mentioned in a post awhile back that I’d found a website with
an account of Acadian exiles who were sent to Andover, Ma. after
their expulsion from their Canadian homes. Some of them ended
up living for a time in a house owned by Jonathan Abbott, one of
my ancestors.

Twenty-six Acadian men women and children were sent to
Andover in February 1756 and the families of Germaine Landry
and his two sons-in-law Jacques Hebert and Charles Hebert were
placed in a vacant house owned by Jonathan:

“It was, however, a great annoyance to the Puritan farmer to
have these tenants,-- foreigners and Roman Catholics, quartered
near his own residence. But, as his descendants relate, the
Acadians completely conquered the prejudices of this family and
of the community and gained the good-will of all acquaintances.
They were industrious and frugal. The women worked in the
fields pulling flax and harvesting. They practised the rites of their
religion in an inoffensive manner and commended it by their
Sarah Loring Bailey, 1880

Going by the dates I believe this Jonathan was the one born in
Andover 1Sept 1687 and who was married to Zerviah Holt.
According to Ms. Bailey the Acadians and the Abbotts parted on
friendly terms. The Landry and Hebert families eventually were
able to move to Quebec but apparently still had good feelings for
Jonathan Abbott for they sent him a token of their esteem in 1770:

“Two of them sent a souvenir to Mr. Abbot, which the family still
keep, a beautifully carved and polished powder-horn, made by
their own hands. It is inscribed:

His horn made in Alenstown
April Ye 5 1770
I powder with my brother ball
Most hero-like doth conquer all."

It is embellished with figures of animals,-- a turtle, a deer, a fox,
dolphins, etc., and also with representations of armies fighting,
soldiers in uniform with muskets, sabre bayonet, (all the soldiers
with hair tied in queues hanging down behind), also artillery
men and field pieces.” (ibid)

There is an ironic twist to the tale of the powder horn. Germaine
Landry passed away two weeks after the date of the inscription on
18 Apr 1770.

In trying to research more for this post I found a website on the
history of Andover which has selections from a historical series
run by the Andover Townsman newspaper. One entry, entitled
“Deserted Farms” notes that:

“(3) Jonathan died just a month before the date on the powder
horn sent by the French Arcadias who had known the old man
and his son (4) Jonathan to be real friends”- Andover Townsman
13 Nov 1896

It’s an interesting tale but I don’t think it was all that warm
and fuzzy as the later accounts would make it. The
people of Andover had lost men in the Canadian
campaign to wounds or illness. The Acadians are
referred to in the records as “Jacky Bear”, “Charles
Bear”, and “Germaine Laundry” which could be
simple ignorance of French pronunciation or nicknames
given the refugees and since there were probably no
priests available nearby to perform Roman Catholic
Mass there were ceremonies to arouse the old anger at
Papists among the townsfolk.

Still, it’s nice to know that those distant Abbott relatives
were able to see past their differences and deal humanely
with the Acadians.

I had never heard that there had been French Canadian
prisoners in Massachusetts, let alone that one of my
distant ancestors had a more than casual acquaintance
with some. Lucie LeBlanc Consentino whose website
is where I first read about Jonathan Abbott and the
Acadians tells me that there were 2,000 deportees to
Massachusetts and others were sent to other of the
English colonies along the Atlantic coastline. Outside of
the poem “Evangeline” by Longfellow, I was taught
nothing about this episode in American history and I’m
not certain that the poem is even read by today’s kids.

My thanks to Lucie LeBlanc Consentino for letting me
make use of her research from her website and my
apologies for the delay in getting this done. By the
way, she is a distant relative of Germaine Landry and
his wife Cecile Forest as well as of Charles Hebert.
If you haven’t visited her website Acadian & French-Canadian
Ancestral Home I highly recommend that you do so.

I’m a bit rusty on writing long pieces and I hope I’ve
cited everything correctly. It’s taken me longer than
I wanted to finally write this, actually.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


While eating breakfast and then sorting my laundry I did my
occasional Google search on the words `Massachusetts’ and
'history’ and came across a newspaper article about the
recent festivities down at Jamestown with the President and
Queen Elizabeth in attendance. The article was entitled
“Take That, Plymouth!” and I was somewhat amazed at how
some of the Virginia and Jamestown authorities seem to have
some inferiority complex regarding how Plymouth gets more
attention then they do: the historians over how Plymouth’s
story is better known and the state officials over tourists who
visit Plymouth and spend their dollars there.

Yes, Jamestown is older. Yes, the Plymouth Rock story is
most likely 99% myth. But neither Jamestown nor Plymouth
is the oldest European settlement in North America. That
should be St Augustine in Florida, I believe. And there were
the Spanish missions and towns of the Southwest, and the
French colonists of Canada and the Mississippi Valley. They
are far older than the English colonies and get very little
of the attention they deserve in our history.

I am proud of my New England roots, some of which I’ve only
recently discovered. But I am also well aware of how rich
a past other regions possess. So, congratulations to Jamestown
on their anniversary, but let’s not turn it into some historical
spitting contest.

Oh, and what colonist was the only man to be accused of
mutiny in Jamestown and then later a colonist in Plymouth?
My ancestor, Stephen Hopkins!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I mentioned last week that I’d discovered some information
concerning my Abbot(t) ancestors and Acadians in Andover
Massachusetts but that I wanted to obtain permission from
the person whose website I’d found it on before I used any
of their research.

I’ve since received Lucie LeBlanc Consentino’s gracious
permission to quote from her website and originally intended
to write a post on the subject but time and events have delayed
it. Sunday I went to see Blue Man Group with my sister Cheryl,
my brother Phil and his son PJ, A good time was had by all and
I didn’t get much serious thinking done afterwards.

I’d thought I would be able to work on it and have it done by
Monday and then realized I hadn’t written anything for the
Carnival of Genealogy yet, so I did that first. And tonight, I’m
too tired from work to write in such a way as to do the subject
justice. So it will have to wait until tomorrow night

My thanks to Lucie and my apologies for the delay.

Also, my congratulations to Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings and
Jasia of Creative Gene on being quoted in an article in Family
Tree Magazine about the decline of memberships in genealogical
societies. One of the perks of working in a bookstore: I read the
genealogy magazines at my lunch hour. I have a few thoughts on
it but I’ll wait on that also for an earlier hour of the night before
posting them as well as a few about the impact of the Family
Search announcements of the past few days.

But right now sleep sounds really nice.

Monday, May 14, 2007


There is a legend in my family. When my sister Cheryl read
my posts about our family trips up home she asked me if I
was going to post something about it.

It was shortly after we’d moved into the Capen St. triple decker
apartment in Dorchester and kids in the neighborhood noticied
that I still had one training wheel on my bike. Now confession here
: I’d seen an older kid thrown over the handlebars of his bike right
outside our house in Malden. I was in no hurry to have something
like that happen to me.

Ok, I was a chicken.

Dad was of course was working so it was Mom who ran me up and down
the street trying to get me to keep my balance while the other kids
watched and called out advice or laughed. Finally I just wouldn’t
get on the bike.

I should have known better.

A few weeks later we went uphome for vacation with the bike
strapped upright atop the car roof. How Dad did it, I don’t know.
This was pre-bikerack days. I do recall it involved a lot of rope and
open car windows. We got to Aunt Flossie’s house which was at
the end of a long downhill driveway at the bottom of which was a
garage or small barn. And the next day the lessons began.

Mom would start me off at the top of the driveway and push the
bike and down I’d go to either fall over or keep my balance until I
hit the garage door At some point they opened the door and put
something in there softer for me to hit. I’m not sure. I was busy
yelling like McCauley Culkin in “Home Alone” as I wobbled down
the hill. I just knew I’d fall and each time Mom would get me back
up and tell me to try it again.

Eventually I learned to stay on the bike. Hitting the brakes and
steering came a little later. When my kid brother Phil came along
and my sister’s kids after him, they heard about how I was taught
to ride a bike.

Mom was a tough cookie. She had to be, growing up when she did
and how she did. She had a temper you’d expect from a redhead
and she made us toe the line but she was ready to step in to defend
one of us if she felt we needed it.

She loved to sing and while untrained had a good voice. She used
to sing a duet of “God Bless America” to close the Saturday Night
Dances at the Abington VFW.

Mom liked parties and threw two Halloween Costume Parties I
vividly remember. For one she dressed up as the Underwood
Ham Red Devil and greeted guests on the front lawn, pitchfork in
hand. For another she went with her resemblance to Carol Burnett
and dressed up as The Washerwoman character.

She liked to watch the Boston sports teams, especially the Celtics
of the Larry Bird era and would often yell at the referees on the
tv. She also rooted for the Red Sox. When Pudge Fisk hit that home
run to win the game in the 1975 World Series everyone else but
had gone to bed and we woke them up with all the cheering we did.

She adored her grandchildren and I wish she’d had more time to
spend with them all..

When Dad died she was heartbroken. Luckily some friends from
the Post took her in hand and eventually she met Joe with whom
she found laughter again. I think if they hadn’t met we’d have lost
Mom sooner than we did.

Mom died of cancer in 1999 and it’s hard to believe she’s been
gone for eight years now. As with Dad’s passing there’s a lot of
things about those final days that are difficult to think about. But
there’s a lot of good things from the years before for us to remember
and laugh.

Like how Mom taught me to ride my bike.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


No, it's not an anomaly.

The Sam Adams Brewing Company has provided the Mayflower II
with a beer that is based on the sort brewed in the days of the
first Mayflower. It's part of the celebration of the 50th
anniversary of the Mayflower II's voyage.

The full aricle is here:


Bedtime genealogy is pretty much as the term sounds. I
work on the sales floor of a large bookstore five days a week
and my longer sessions on internet genealogy searching
usually take place on my days off. Other times, after I’ve
eaten dinner and dozed for an hour or two I’ll come online
for a bit before heading to bed and randomly pick out some
ancestors for a quick random googling.

Hence, “bedtime genealogy.”

A few nights back I googled “Abbott+Andover” hoping to fill
in some of the history of that line and on the very first page
of hits saw this link: “ACADIANS ANDOVER MA;ACADIAN
”. Given my previous discovery of the
role of Essex county cousins in Canada after the expulsion of
the Acadians by the British, this link piqued my curiosity. It
led to a page at the Acadian and French-Canadian Ancestral
Website which is owned and created by Lucie LeBlanc

I want to obtain Lucie’s permission before I cite her research
here, so for now, check out her webpage.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I read with interest Randy Seavers’ account of’s
recent dealings with Michael John Neill at over
his use of images from Ancestry of WW1 draft registration cards
and other records on his web site.

Seems parent company The Generations Network threatened
legal action over the material even though Ancestry was properly
credited as the source and the usage was in a free advertising for
the usefulness of an Ancestry subscription.

I’d done a post awhile back about the information I’d found on the
draft registrations of my grandfathers and granduncles and I
couldn’t recall if I’d posted an image, so I checked. I hadn’t; I’d
only posted what information I found.

I’m not sure what to make of all this. I have one of Ancestry’s free
memberships which basically is just to keep my family tree posted
there but I’m not a fan of hardball corporate tactics. I’m thinking
of finding another home for that and then changing any reference
to Ancestry in this blog to “A Subscription Genealogy Service That
Shall Remain Nameless”.

Hey, it’s late and I’m grumpy!

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Sundays are days when I get to spend a bit more
time on the genealogy hunt.

I’ve been backtracking a bit and adding names of siblings
of my direct ancestors to family sheets. Up until now I’d
had much of the information on paper but not in the
computer but there are also some lines where I had none
entered at all, such as the Ellingwood and Abbott siblings.
I’m hoping that by filling in those blanks it might help in
the search for the parents of my brick wall, John Cutter

One of the things I’ve discovered is how many men in
my family have worked as blacksmiths or wheelwrights.
For example, John Cutter West listed his occupation on
the 1850 Oxford County Maine Federal Census as being
a blacksmith. His wife Arvilla Ames was a granddaughter
of John Ames, also a blacksmith. Could John and Arvilla
have met through that occupational connection?

On another subject I found some information which shows
the other side of events mentioned in my recent posts about
Essex County settlers in Canada and it involves one of my
Abbot(t) ancestors. I’ll be posting more on that later.

Back to the family sheets.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I’ve been trying to come up with a post for this month’s Carnival
of Genealogy and realized that there are stretches of my school
life I’ve very few memories left to review. It may be because
I switched schools four or five times over the years.

For instance, I can recall some of my days at the ABC Nursery
School: the big yard, a cocker spaniel who belonged to the school
owner, and the little girl who I had a crush on and whose name I
gave my sister. Of course the memories are helped along by a
class picture I will post here at some point.

Elementary school was split between three school as I spent the
first two grades at Linden Elementary School in Malden, then
grades 3 to 6 at the Frank V. Thompson and grades 7 and 8 at
St. Matthew’s Parochial School, both in the Dorchester section
of Boston.

I can’t recall who was my first grade teacher…but ah…second
grade! Miss Murphy, my first and only teacher crush. That was
where I learned to play the flute-a-phone and was part of a big
Christmas Chorus where they lit a tree. Those sort of events
are long gone now at public schools.

When we moved to Dorchester I ended up in Miss May’s 3rd
grade class. It was there I got my first rattan on the hand and I
realized school in the city was a whole lot different from the
suburbs. It was also the first time I had to go from the style of
handwriting I’d been taught in one school to the one my new
school was using. 4th and 5th grade seem to be unmemorable but
the 6th grade…well, the fights between the male teacher and one
of the students that were a near daily occurrence I recall clearly,
as I do the two unfortunate brothers whose Swiss immigrant
parents sent them to school in leiderhosen one memorable Show
and Tell Day.

The 7th and 8th grades I spent at St Matthew’s under the eagle-
eyed watch of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Sister Mary Roque felt
a tug on the ear was a great stimulant to solving math problems at
the chalkboard, but Sister Mary Steven was a sweet elderly nun
who was patient.

I spent the 9th grade at Cathedral High School in the South End
of Boston, a building so close to the elevated railroad tracks that
from our classroom window it looked like the trains were headed
right at us when they came round a bend on the tracks. Another
change of writing styles (no wonder my writing is horrid) and a
disastrous encounter with the new math taught in the Archdiocese
schools which totally confused me. The Left Distributive Principle
of Multiplication over Addition, for example

And finally my last three years of high school I spent at Abington
High School where while I wasn’t a whiz I did have teachers whose
names and faces I still recall in good memories: Mrs. Trask, Mr.
Smith, and Mr. Divoll.

I googled my old schools just now. The Linden School still is there,
but the Frank V. Thompson is closed and being developed as
apartments while the nuns left St. Matthew’s years ago and the
school was closed last June and the students sent to the nearby
school at St. Gregory’s parish at the Lower Mills.

I wish I knew why certain years seem to have vanished into a haze.

Maybe I will dig out the old report cards Mom saved and see if
they jog any more memories.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I got an email from Chris Dunham (with whom I share
Dunham ancestry) about a news story concerning an
interesting discovery up in Maine. The clipping is from a
weekly named the Advertiser Democrat which I believe
is a paper from Norway, Maine but the farm in question
is in North Paris, which is in Oxford County.

Chris tells me Dunham Road is likely not named after our
Dunham line but for another family in the area with the same
name. The name and death date of Sally Dunham plus the
name of the husband, James, matches up with my ancestress
Sally Houghton who was married to James Dunham. She’s
buried in West Paris and there’s a headstone on her grave

So, why another gravestone? James and Sally’s family moved
about a bit after her death and it’s not improbable that her
grave was moved as well and the stone left behind.

As to why it ended up under the barn I suppose the next owners
of the farm found it and in an example of true Yankee frugality
perhaps might have decided it might come in handy one day!