Saturday, January 26, 2008


Today is the 280th anniversary of my 6x great grandparents
Jonathan Barker and Mary Abbott. Mary is from a different
line than the rest of my Abbott relatives, being the daughter
of Joseph Abbott and Sarah Devereaux and granddaughter of
Thomas Abbott of Marblehead.

I’ll have much more to say about Jonathan at a later date,
thanks to the information I’ve received first from N. and then
from H. (They’ll just be initials here until and unless I get
their permission to use their full names.) At one time I knew
less about my Barker line than any others on my Dad’s side
of the family and now thanks to what I’ve learned I know
more about them than any of my ancestors except the
Abbotts and Ellingwoods. In fact today I received in the mail
a cd from H. with even more Barker history. It’s going to take
a few days to digest all this!

I’ve been on vacation this week and I hate cold weather so
I’ve had time to spend on printing and organizing family
sheets, do some digging online and redo the labels here on
the blog.

And since Janice asked a few days ago where we were on the
49 Genealogy Uses for a Flutaphone, I present:

#28 Measuring Instrument
“... as a measuring instrument in genealogy cemetery
searches during the summer: Just how long was that snake
among the headstones? How many flutaphones long?” -Terry

#29 Decoration- as a holder for broccoli sprouts on
Schelly’s float in the Genealogists Parade.

#30 Prybar- To help remove your backside from the chair
you’ve been sitting in for hours as you stare at the screen of
the computer tracking an elusive ancestor.

#31 Physical therapy- When your hands and wrists begin to
ache from hours of typing, do the following exercise: hold the
flutaphone with both hands at either end and extend your
arms straight out, hands palm side down and flex your wrists
downward. after three repetitions, turn your hands palms
side up and still grasping the flutaphone, flex your wrists
back towards your chest. Repeat three times Then still
grasping the flutaphone bend your arms up and down over
head and then thrust them out and in vigorously in front of
MONITOR!!) Not only is this therapeutic but it is good
practice for...

#32 Stage Prop -in a “Syncopated Genealogist” dance
routine for Talent Night on your next genealogy cruise.
Combine the moves from the physical therapy exercise with a
nifty soft shoe dance!(see Janice, our Music Director for more

Man, 17 more to go.


Friday, January 25, 2008


I have some ancestors' birthdays and anniversaries coming
up over the next few days, starting with today, which is the
198th birthday of my 3x great grandmother Arvilla Ames

Arvilla was born in 1810 in Oxford County, Me. and died
25 Apr 1907 in Hermon, Oxford, Me. and was 97 year old
when she passed. In her life, she lived through some
very interesting times:Maine becoming a state, the
Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the diptheria
epeidemic that claimed children and grandchildren,
the Industrial Revolution, and the Spanish-American War
to name just the ones I can think of as I type this, plus the
unions of the West family with the Richardson and
Ellingwood in my line and other s through the marriages of
her other children and grandchildren. That's why she was
one of my choices for the "dinner with four ancestors"
post for the CoG.

Boy, I wish I knew if she'd kept a journal or wrote letters.
Can you imagine what a treasure trove of family history
and genealogy information that would be?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Okay, for some reason Elizabeth's addy for her entry in the
Genealogist's Parade has been chopped up a bit in my
comments section.

So here's the link . Go read and grin and enjoy!

UPDATE-Another reason to check it out. Look at the
comments to Elizabeth's post to see how an Apple a day
keeps the aliens away and another example of why genealogy
blogging is fun.


You’ve probably noticed that wild skirling Irish music that the
networks play during the opening videos of the Patriots’
football games. It’s the same song Red Sox pitcher Jonathan
Papelbon did his famous jig to after victories in the AL
playoffs and World Series: “Shipping Up to Boston” by the
local Irish punk band the Dropkick Murphys. To me, the song
represents how much the Irish culture has blended into the
fabric of New England and especially Massachusetts.

The lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie, the quintessential
American folksinger, in the stlye of a Yankee sea chantey.

A few facts here from the U.S. Census Bureau. A press release
dated March 10th ,2006 in observance of St. Patrick’s Day
included the following facts:

Percentage of Massachusetts residents of Irish ancestry —
about double the national percentage. (The estimate of
of Irish ancestry excludes people living in group
(Source: American FactFinder)

Number of Middlesex County, Mass., residents who are of
Irish ancestry. Among the 54 counties where Irish is the
largest observed ancestry group, Middlesex had the highest
population of Irish-Americans, with Norfolk County, Mass.,
second, with 203,285. (Source: unpublished data)

Percentage of the population of Plymouth County, Mass.,
Norfolk County, Mass., that is of Irish ancestry. Among
54 counties where Irish is the largest observed ancestry
group, these two counties had the highest rate.
(Source: unpublished data)

The store I work in is in Norfolk County. Not a day goes by
where I don’t hear at least three customers speak to me with
an Irish accent. Celtic music is the leading category of world
music cds that we sell. The New England Irish Cultural Center
is a few miles away in Canton, Ma.

I live in Plymouth County in the town of Abington where 33%
of the residents claim Irish ancestry. The town government
reflects that with18 out of the 53 elected officials having Irish
names and many more serving on boards and commissions.
John L. Sullivan of bareknuckle boxing fame retired to a farm
in West Abington where he ended his days and the St.
Brigitte’s Catholic church is one of the oldest on the South
Shore. The high school sports teams are known as "The
Green Wave" and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade(one of the
largest in the Boston area) will be on March 16th this year.
I’ve written before a bit about the history of the parade here.

And of course, there’s Boston itself, with the neighborhoods of
SouthBoston, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury
where the Irish immigrants first settled and many of their
descendants still live. There may be other cities with larger
Irish American populations but I doubt that there was as
much impact in those cities as there was and is in Boston. Nor
do I think the transformation was as dramatic anywhere else
than here. New York and Chicago were largely cities of
immigrants of many nationalities. Here there were fewer and
the Irish endured years of anti-Catholicism and “No Irish
Need Apply”. But they persevered and in the 20th century a
sea change began in the politics and culture of all of New
England. I’d like to say that Irish charm won over those
conservative Yankee hearts but it was really the result of
years of hard work and struggle.

In my own case, I have four hundred years of New England
ancestors on my Dad’s side. On my Mom’s side, three of her
four grandparents were Irish immigrants, possibly all from
Roscommon. (Mom’s paternal grandmother was German). So
our family is an example of that melding of two cultures, and
why “Shipping Up to Boston” seems to symbolize that so well.

I’ll probably never go to Ireland. But every day, in the people
I talk with, the music I hear, the towns I live and work in,
Ireland touches me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So I’m celebrating my blog’s first anniversary by adding some
more genealogy blog links from the latest CoG and revamping
my labels list so it’s alphabetical by last name instead of the
first. As an aside I find myself irritated by not being able to
use the comma, as in “Ames, John”.

So far Janet, Lori, Schelly and Colleen have entered in the
Genealogist’s Parade. I’m going to put a Feb 3 deadline on the
entries and the parade will march on Feb 6, so there’s still
plenty of time before then to get your float into the parade!

It’s been a good day for browsing genealogy blogs. There are
some thoughtful posts from Jasia and Terry on the “Big Bang”
article post by Denise that are well worth a read as are the
comments to each.

And I want to mention the Sandusky History website which is
a service of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.
Sandra Paul of the staff emailed me after they posted an article
about a Marcia Coburn of Southbridge Ma. and I assume a
search for her relations led here because of my posts on my
own Coburn ancestry. While I don’t haveany relation to Marcia
Coburn I found the whole site informative and well done and
recommend it under our “Blog Spotlight” topic.

Alright, back to label editing!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Choosing who to invite to dinner was the hardest part, well,
at least on my father’s side of my family. My mother’s side
was easier:I invited my two great grandfathers John
McFarland and Edward J.White. I wasn’t too sure how
friendly they might be with each other but I needed to speak
with both of them about their families’ histories in Ireland.
Great Grandfather White might also be able to provide me
with information on his wife’s German family as well, so
inviting the two of them was a no-brainer.

Dad’s side had some tempting choices: witches, Minutemen,
Puritans and Pilgrims, even that possible Plantagenet
connection. So many temptations for someone with a love of
history! But in the end I settled on two logical choices: John
Cutter West and his wife Arvilla Ames West. I could find out
who his parents were and perhaps more family history, while
Arvilla had lived for 97 years and would have to know a lot of
anecdotes about the family. Besides, having a woman present
might help keep the two Irishmen on their best behavior
when I broughtup the subject of the end of their children’s

Next, the menu.

I don’t cook much myself so I hired a caterer who’d delivered
the food a short while ago. Reasoning that it was best to keep
it simple, I settled on steak, potatoes and various side dishes
of vegetables for the main meal. But there is also a small
buffet table with some dishes that might seem exotic: a
Chinese food pu-pu platter, spaghetti, and other ethnic food.
There is also a Ham and Pineapple pizza. Why? Because I
like any excuse to eat Ham and Pineapple pizza. Also, French
fries. I figured if there was one thing two Irishmen and
two people from Maine would had to have in common, it was
potatoes and they might enjoy a differnt way to eat them.

The beverages are red wine to accompany the meal, coffee,
tea, and beer. If Arvilla is anti-alcohol there are bottles of
lemonade in the refrigerator. No need for her to know it is
hard lemonade. Who knows? She might like it.

With the food all set, there's time before their arrival to run
down the list of things I want to ask them about besides
family history. My ancestors might notice that they have
much in common there, too.What was it like for them to
leave the places they were born to start new lives in a new
place? What had their childhood been like? What was it like
for Edward’s and John’s parents to live through the Great
Potato Famine and for John and Arvilla to live through the
epidemic that had claimed many of their children? What was
life like on a Maine farm and in a bustling city in the 19th
century? What had they thought about the great world
events of their times?

If they could, would they change anything in their lives?

After that, I’ll show them some of the things in my apartment.
The telephone and electricity would be familiar to my Irish
relatives and perhaps explaining the tv and radio might be
easier if they have seen some silent movies. Arvilla might also
have had some experience with them and could help explain
them to her husband.

Then I’ll show them my bookshelves and tell about my job at
the bookstore. I’ll talk about my brother and sister and their
families and answer any questions my ancestors might have
on their own children.

I expect the awkward part between my great grandfathers
White and McFarland might occur about then so I plan to
move them along out to the car to drive them over to my
sister’s house to meet Cheryl, Peter, Phil and the kids.

Along the way we’ll stop at the Dairy Queen drive-up window
and I’ll see what astonishes them more: banana splits or girls
in halter-tops and shorts.

Alright. It’s nearly time. I hope that man with the Acme
Temporal Transportation knows where….and when he’s

Ah wait! Here they come now!

((written for the 41st Carnival of Genealogy))

Monday, January 21, 2008


After Lisa’s meme asking where our ancestors were in 1908,
Donna over at What’s Past is Prologue has taken it a step
further back and asks her fellow genealogy bloggers where
their ancestors were a century earlier in 1808!

Well, on my Mom’s side my brick walls are high. All I can say
with some certainty is that the McFarlands and Whites were
in Ireland and the Offlingers were in Germany.

On my father’s side the veterans of the Revolutionary War
had moved from Essex, Middlesex, and Plymouth counties
mostly to what would eventually become Oxford County in
northwestern Maine.

Jonathan Barker and his wife Nancy Swan were in Newry,
Maine along with at least three of Jonathan’s brothers:
Benjamin, Jesse and Symonds Epes Barker. Jonathan and
Nancy's son Nathaniel Barker would be turning 14 years old
that year.

Moses Coburn, his wife Esther Spaulding and their son
Westley Coburn (Wesley) were also in Newry

Nathaniel Barker’s future bride Hulda Hastings and her
parents Amos Hastings and Elizabeth Wiley were living in
Bethel, Me.

John Ellingwood and Zerviah Abbott and son John
Ellingwood Jr. likewise resided in Bethel.

Amos Upton and son Francis had settled in Norway, Me.
with their wives and families.

Moses Houghton and Martha Haskell had moved from
Western Massachusetts with Martha’s parents Mark Haskell
and Ruth Safford. Moses' father Elisha Houghton remained
behind in the town of Adams in Berkshire Co., Ma. Sally
Houghton was not born yet, but hermarriage would be one of
those that brought the families from northern Massachusetts
together with those from southern Massachusetts.

Philip Peirce Richardson and Lydia Dow were living in Bow,
Hillsboro, Nh where their youngest son was born in August
1808. Middle son Philip Richardson (Jr?) was around 9 years
old. His future wife’s parents John Laughton and Amata
Greenleaf were still teenagers living in Mercer, Me.

John Ames and Lydia Phelps had been in Canton, Oxford
Co., Me. for sometime now and their son Jonathan Phelps
Ames had married Mary “Polly” Griffith the year before.
Polly was the daughter of John Griffith and Mary Boyden
who’d moved to Oxford County from Windham County Vt,
but John was originally from Rochester, Plymouth County,

James Dunham and his wife Cynthia Packard were also from
southern Massachusetts and were living in Hebron, Oxford
County, Me. Their son James Thomas Dunham was born
there in 1805 and he would marry Sally Houghton.

Asa Barrows and Content Benson had been among the
early settlers of Oxford County and daughter Rachel
had been born there in 1795. Her marriage to John
Ellingwood Jr
. was the other meeting of my northern and
southern Massachusetts ancestors.

As to my ancestor, the Elusive John Cutter West, he was 6
years old and ….well… somewhere in Plymouth County…

…being elusive.

Friday, January 18, 2008


This is the 40th Carnival of Genealogy and the topic is living-
relative connections we’ve made through our genealogy
research and there’s 21 posts to peruse. Lucky for me I have
vacation next week so I can go back for a second helping of
each next week!

Along with her usual great job of putting the CoG together,
Jasia (thanks, Jasia!)has issued a call for submission for the
41st Edition:

“The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy
will be: If you could have dinner with four of your ancestors
who would they be and why? Here's a chance to exercise
your imagination... Would you have dinner in the present day
or in one of their eras? Would you dine out or opt for a home
cooked meal? What would you discuss at the dinner table?
What would you most like to share with them about your
life? This topic was suggested by footnoteMaven who I'm
sure you've heard is feeling poorly. Let's cheer her up with
some interesting reading while she's convalescing! The
deadline for submitting articles is February 1st.”

Hmmm…gotta think on that one.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading the Carnival of
Genealogy before, start now! Even better, write an article
and submit it !

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I intended to do a post on the Great Molasses Flood but the
MassMoments website beat me to it and did a much better job
of it than I would have. I will say, though, that I’ve met Stephen
Puleo, the author of the book Dark Tide: The Great Molasses
Flood of 1919. My bookstore hosted one of the first signings for
the book and I highly recommend the book. My mother was
born eight years after the Molasses Flood and lived in a different
district of Boston, but often said that on a hot day you could smell
molasses if you were anywhere near the North End.

Today, January 16th, is the 174th birthday of my great-great
grandfather Jonathan Phelps West who I’ve written about before
in the story of his first marriage to Orpha. I was thinking about
this earlier tonight and realized that Pop, Grandpa West, would
have known his great grandmother Arvilla Ames West, Jonathan
P.’s mother, who lived from 1810 until 1907. I wonder if she ever
told him about her parents and grandparents who were born in
the century before!

Last but not least, congratulations to Randy, Chris, Jasia, Blaine,
Sally, and J.D. for making Kimberly Powell’s “Top Ten Blog List”
and to Terry, Craig, Miriam, Tim, Tim, Denise and Shelly for
being also mentioned by Kimberly as among her favorites. All
of them are terrific writers and if you haven’t read their blogs
yet, follow the links above to catch up with them now!


Denise Olsen over at Family Matters has issued a
challenge to genealogy bloggers to write a post
spotlighting local or family history blogs to help
widen the genealogy online community and
broaden our collective knowledge.

Many folks don’t know that along with
The Genealogue, Chris Dunham has several
several other blogs that focus on Maine. The one I
look at most often is The Oxford County Genealogy
since most of my West family lines come
from that part of Maine and there are excerpts of
diaries and records posted there that are useful to
me. Chris also has the Maine Genealogy site, and
All Things Maine, and is a contributor to
Strange Maine.

And Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire has her
New Hampshire Genealogy & History site with
loads of great links and resources.

Two newer blogs are ones I discovered the other
night on Chris’ Blogfinder: The Maine Genealogical
Society blog and Pennycook: A New England Family
History. Daniel Wing is the owner of Pennycook and
it focuses on the Rumford, Maine area that was
familiar to my family.

I haven’t any new Massachusetts blogs to post
about because the ones I have found haven’t
posted anything for awhile now so I’m nit sure they
are still active. As for on a more local level I’ve yet
to find anything for my area of Plymouth County.
Nor have I seen any blogs on any of my surnames.
(West, Barker, McFarland, White, Coburn, Ames,
Ellingwood, etc.)

But I’m still looking!


#29 - Baton- What could be more appropriate to use when you're
leading the Genealogist’s Parade in the immortal musical
“The Genealogy Man?

Come on, sing it with me:

“76 Laptops lead the big parade
With 110 PDAs close at hand
They were followed by rows and rows
Of folks who wisely know
To keep their gedcoms close at hand!”

So. A challenge to my fellow genealogy bloggers. It’s the
Genealogist’s Parade and you have a float in it. It can
be on anything or anyone in your family tree or it can reflect
your heritage. It can be serious or humorous.

What’s on your float? Post it here or on your blog but let me
know so we can run them here past the Review Stand!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


#27 Measuring instrument: To measure the amount of snowfall
when you visit the grave of 3x great uncle Oswald, as in,

"I had difficulty in finding Oswald's headstone as the grave was
buried in snow over two flutaphones deep!"

Monday, January 14, 2008


So I write a post about Winter and snow and guess what? There’s
a big storm heading this way!

Genealogy wise, it’s been a productive week with email with two
newfound Barker relatives, an exchange with Apple about our
Towne and Barker lines, and the discovery of, I think, my
grandmother Barker’s brother who died in infancy and who is
buried next to their father, Frank W. Barker. The boy’s name
was Earl and one of grandmother Cora’s uncles was named Earl
Blanchard Barker. I’d wondered why my grandfather and father
were named Floyd Earl West but unless Earl Barker knew my
great grandfather I can’t see how he might be the reason for the
Earl part of their names.

I did pretty well with the list of things I needed to get written
here that I posted last Tuesday, getting 5 ½ out of 9 done so far.
That half is because while I was able to email Lisa about the
possible McCue connections we might have, I wasn't able to the
same with Colleen. Colleen, contact me at the email at the top of
the page please and I'll send you what I know about the McCues
in my family as well.

I'll see if I can get some more done from that list before this
coming Tuesday!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Winter….ah, talk about how time changes the way you look at

When I was a kid and we were living in the Dorchester section of
Boston, Winter was fun! We lived near the corner of Capen and
Selden Sts. and after a good snowfall most of the neighborhood
kids broke out their sleds to coast down Selden St. Somehow or
another the snowplows never seemed to get many of the streets
down to bare ground right away so we might have a whole
afternoon if school was out to enjoy it.

Another activity that I took part in occasionally was street
hockey. No, not the type they play on playgrounds nowadays
with plastic balls and roller blades. This was played out in the
street with your regular shoes because the street was slippery
enough already for you to “skate” on it. Real wooden hockey
sticks were used as well and either half a “pinky” or “pimple” ball
or a real puck, depending on who might want to risk hitting a
neighbor’s car with a puck. I didn’t play this one often because
the adults in the neighborhood weren’t too thrilled with the idea.

I never learned how to iceskate because it seemed I spent more
time falling down than standing up. My sister Cheryl was better
at it and her daughter Sara even competed on a statewide level in
later years.

Then we moved out of the city to the suburbs in Abington and
Winter and snow became …gulp…work!! It’s amazing how
quickly snow loses it’s charm when you have been shoveling
out the length of the driveway. I was content to go back inside
and read a book afterward!

Adulthood brought on the new challenge of driving to work and
back in snowstorms. The two most memorable instances were in
the Blizzard of `78 and the April Fool’s Day Storm of 1997. I’ll talk
about the Blizzard in a later post to mark the 30th anniversary
next month.

On the night of the April Fool’s storm, I was at work at the Silver
City Galleria Mall in Taunton, Ma. which was about twenty miles
south of South Weymouth where we were living at the time. The
mall decided to close early at around 8pm but by the time we got
the bookstore closed and the cash drawers counted it was 8:30
when I started for home. I drove up an unplowed Rte24 that had
very few other cars on it and then took my usual exit off at the
smaller Rte106 through West Bridgewater, then turned off onto a
shortcut that comes out at Rte 18 in East Bridgewater Square.
When I reached that point I saw that there were no traffic lights.
In fact, there were no lights anywhere.

I turned north on Rte 18 and by now I was driving into the snow
so there wasn’t much to see ahead of me beyond the headlights.
There were no streetlights either so I drove slower and kept as
close to the center of the road as I could since without streetlights
or houselights to either side there was the possibility I could drift
off the road to my right. In fact, the power was off all the way up
18 through the towns of Whitman and Abington. A drive that
normally takes about 15 minutes took nearly an hour.

South Weymouth hadn’t lost electricity so I thought the worst
was over. Then I reached the parking lot of the apartment
building and found that not only had it not been plowed out yet,
the entrance was also blocked from the snow bank left by the
street plows. I wasn’t sure parking out on the street would be a
good idea, so I backed my car (a Pontiac…nothing better than a
good sized car in a snowstorm!) and gunned it forwards. I made
it through the snow bank into the parking lot and off the street
and then the car stopped about 5 feet in.

After a few more tries to move it further in, I did the sensible
thing. I left it there for the night and went inside to warm up.
Next morning when the contractors finally arrived to plow out
the lot I went and shoveled my car out and moved it to my usual
parking place.

I will admit that in my family I’m one of the few who doesn’t like
the Winter season all that much. My folks had a camper trailer
that they kept in a trailer park up at Holderness N.H. and Dad
owned a snowmobile. By that time I was already an adult and
didn’t care to drive up there so I only took a ride once or twice.
My younger brother Phil had much more experience with it
than I did.

But with all that said, I can’t imagine living someplace without the
change of seasons that we have here in New England. After all, it’s
getting through all that cold and snow that makes us appreciate
the coming of Spring so much!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


When I started this blog my main objectives were to record as
much of our family’s history that I knew and remembered and
to talk about the discoveries I’ve made while researching our
genealogy. There was the hope that by putting that information
on line I might find other relatives from either the West or White
sides of the family.

It’s been nearly a year now(my first posts were on 23 Jan 2007)
and while I’ve yet to hear from or discover any White relations,
I’ve found or been contacted by some very interesting folks on
my Dad’s side including fellow genealogy bloggers. A link on
Boston 1775 led me to Walking the Berkshires and Tim Abbott.
Besides the pleasure of reading his blog, I also discovered in an
exchange of comments with Tim that we’re related through
several of our family lines, some of which Tim detailed on a
comment to my post here. I’ve learned much from Tim’s posts
about the Abbotts and the Barkers at WtB and I’ve had fun
with his family photo caption contests.

I’ve also learned much from Janice Brown at Cow Hampshire,
another Abbott descendant, who among other things set me off
on the quest for The 49 Genealogical Uses of the Flutaphone and
has given me some sound advice and suggestions in my research.

Another connection I discovered is with Chris Dunham of The
who is my 6th cousin through my Dunham line and
with whom I’ve traded some images and discussed the tangle of
the different Dunham and Donham lines.

Recently I think I’ve found some connections with Randy Seaver
through his Hildreth line but I haven’t finished running down all
of them as yet.

And as anyone who has read their blogs knows, all four have
great senses of humor!

I mention Tim, Janice and Chris first because they were the first
connections I discovered since starting my blog and surfing those
of others. I’ve also had two significant genealogy finds by
searching on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect sites. The first was at
Larry Overmire’s site which led to my learning that ancestress
Lydia Phelps had been married to Larry’s ancestor Sampson
Read but was a widow when she married my ancestor John
Ames, and that the pedigree I had for Lydia was wrong.
Some pruning of the family tree had to be done.

Another was N.’s site. I sent an email with a question about the
spelling of a surname and the ensuing correspondence led to
more information on the Barkers and Coburn/Colburns in our
family trees.

Some research on my Ellingwood/Ellinwood/Ellenwood lines
brought me to D.Balcro’s website. D. and I are related also
through the Ballard and Stone families.

The two most recent contacts include one from J. about a family
related to my Ames line. I didn’t have much that was of help I’m
afraid but she filled in some information about Sally Ames’ family
for me.

Lastly, I heard recently from H., another Barker relative who has
given me a lot of information about our ancestor Jonathan Barker
and his brothers Jesse and Benjamin. You’ll be seeing that in
upcoming posts I’ll be doing on the Barker Brothers. H. has also
given me the means to contact two other Barker relatives.

Before my blog, I had made a contact with a West descended
relative through Family Forums who shared some files on the
family of Louisa Almata Richardson, Jonathan Phelps West’s wife.
I am ashamed to admit that I can’t recall his name; it and his
email address was on the computer I used at the time which has
long since gone to Computer Heaven and I hadn’t yet added his
name to my printed backup list of email addresses beforehand.
So if that person ever reads this, thank you again and please get
in touch with me again using the comments link so I can share
some of what I’ve found with you!

So far all my contact with these newfound relatives has been
through the email, which I think is the least intrusive. I’ve
learned a lot I hadn’t known before and I am more than glad to
share anything I know in return with them or anyone else,
related or not, because I believe that knowledge should be

There are some folks who I have alluded to with just an initial
because for privacy issues I won’t give full names unless I have
the person’s permission.

It’ll be a year on January 23rd since I started this blog and given
how many relatives I’ve found met in the first year, I look
forward to meeting many more in the years to come. I may
never become rich or famous through my blog but that wasn't
the reason I started blogging, and the knowledge and contacts
I've gained have made it well worth the effort, relatively

UPDATE 1/17: I've just made another connection, this time with
someone who is descended from my Griffith and Boyden lines!

((This post was written for the Carnival of Genealogy. Check it
out for links to other genealogy bloggers and great reading.))

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The image above is of the Deaths page from the Family Records
section of the Arvilla Ames West bible. I’m posting this page
because it’s the most easily readable one of the four records
pages and because it also shows the change of handwriting in
the entries.

So I have these images with important family genealogy
information on them from a family bible. How do I cite this

In her “Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family
Historian” (1) , Elizabeth Shown Mills gives some criteria to
establish the credibility of information recorded in a family bible.
Paraphrasing her, they include:

What is the bible’s publication date, and does it match the date
of the first event recorded, or has someone entered events that
occurred before the bible was published?

The bible was published in 1859, and while there are earlier
events recorded, they are the birth dates of the owner, Arvilla
Ames West and her husband, John Cutter West and their
children. This would be logical for a wife to make in
recording her family’s history in a newly aquired bible.

Are the ink and handwriting for entries the same throughout,
which would indicate that they were all entered at the same
time, or are the entries made with different style or quality of
handwriting (which would mean they might have been written
by several writers or by one over the course of their lifetime)?

As the image above shows, entries were made by more than one
person, starting about 1900. Arvilla Ames West was 90 years old
then and the entry for Clarinda B.(ritton)Goodwin’s death in
1900 is in a different hand than the previous entries.

Since I haven’t seen the actual pages I can’t comment on the ink
used on the entries. But I had no doubt as to the authenticity of
the bible to begin with. I wanted to show how it can be proven
to someone else.

So, how to cite the source?
Back to Evidence! The example given is for a Family Bible
with provenance (p65) but while I know it was Arvilla’s
in 1859 and I know who had it before they passed it on to
Aunt Dot, there is still a question on who had it in between
the two. I think it was Arvilla’s eldest daughter, Ann Matilda
West Marston, but I need to confirm that. So, without
provenance, my citation for the above image would be (I think):

Image File “Arvilla Ames West Bible Deaths" scanned
1/10/2008 by William West from a photoimage provided by
Dorothy____ in December 2007 of the Arvilla Ames West
Bible, “The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ” (New York: American Bible Society, 1859) original
owned in 2007 by Dorothy ___. Image has been retouched by
West but he attests that no information has been altered.”

Phew! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? I left my Aunt’s last name
blank here for reasons of her privacy. And when I have the exact
provenance established I’ll post an update.

Of course, since it’s a bible it would have to be divine provenance!

Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the
Family Historian
, 17th printing (Baltimore: Genealogical
Publishing Company, 2007) p.54


One of the items my Aunt Dorothy sent me recently is a set of
photocopied pages from the bible that belonged to Arvilla Ames,
our ancestress and the wife of John Cutter West. It previously
belonged to another of their descendants who gave it to my
Aunt and the images she gave me are of the “Family Record”
section of the book.

The first two images above seem to be the inside front and back
covers of the bible. On the front inner cover is written
“Arvilla Ames West, Upton, Me Oxford Co. 1859”

On the inside back cover, the name Arvilla West is written in
two different styles with the second version being the better of
the pair. The first seems closer to the inscription in the front. Perhaps
someone else wrote the sample on the right for Arvilla to copy in
her own hand on the left?

The third image is of the title page of the bible and gives the
date of publication as 1859, which would confirm the date
given in the inscription.

When I first read the recorded family information I noticed that
it has the same entries as the transcription of another family
bible but there are additional entries to the Births and Deaths
pages for members of the family of the relative who had the bible
before my Aunt. I also noticed that the handwriting seems to be of
two or perhaps as many as four different people and may indicate
when the bible had a new owner.

Next post I’ll discuss how I should cite this.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


When journalists talk about the possible “bird flu” epidemic, the
historical event they draw parallels to is the Great Influenza
outbreak of 1918. But by the fall of that year there had not been
any large number of cases since the spring.

Then on 8 Sept. 1918 the first case was reported at Camp Devens
in Ayer, Massachusetts. By the end of the month there were
14,000 cases of the illness and over 700 deaths attributed to it.
Camp Devens was placed under quarantine but the whole state
of Massachusetts was already swept by the disease as the
figures on this site shows.

Camp Devens’ hospital surely was not meant to deal with such a
catastrophic event and the accounts I’ve read while horrific must
pale in comparison to what my grandfather must have seen and
experienced. I wonder what he must have thought as he went
about his duties at the hospital. Growing up he must have heard
about the diptheria outbreak that had caused the deaths of six
relatives forty years before. Now he was in the midst of
something much worse where hundreds could die in a single night.
Did he wonder when he himself might begin to show symptoms
and end up a patient himself?

And yet he survived and was given a furlough at the end of
November. From what I’ve read, the epidemic began and
expanded quickly but subsided within a month and a half. By the
end of October it was over for the most part and by November
the authorities must have felt it was safe enough to allow Private
West a furlough to visit home in early December.

I can’t imagine they would have allowed it if he’d been stricken
with the pneumonia during the height of the epidemic, so my
guess is that he came down with it sometime after he returned to
Camp Devens. The Army doctors must have felt the damage to his
lungs was sufficient to keep him from his duty as a hospital
orderly and so my grandfather was given an honorable discharge
on 12Mar 1919.

Some soldiers in World War I saw hell on a battlefield.

Others, such as my grandfather, saw another sort of hell in
hospital wards full of comrades racked with the Spanish Influenza.

I used a variety of sources researching this post. One of them is
“Fever of War: The Influenza Epidemic in the U.S. Army During
World War I” by Carol R. Byerly, (NYU Press, 2005) which you
can preview at GoogleBooks.


I think it was Lisa who threw out the question to other
genealogy bloggers as to where their ancestors were 100 years

So, here’s my list as it now stands to the best of my knowledge:

In 1908 my mother’s future parents would each have been 9
years old.

Aggie McFarland no doubt was living at 950 Parker St with her
parents John and Anna (Kelly)McFarland. Edward F. White was
living with his parents Edward J. White and Pauline Offlincher,
possibly still at 33 Ridge St which the 1905 Boston Street
Directory gives as Edward J.’s residence. As to the whereabouts
of their grandparents I do not as yet know or if they were even
alive back in Ireland.

According to Aunt Dot, the Wests were living in Upton, Oxford,
Me. That would have included my 15 year old grandfather Floyd
Earl West Sr., his 13 year old brother Clarence Philip West, their
father, 40 year old Philip Jonathan West, their stepmother, 30
year old Alphonsene Turgeon, their grandfather, 74 year old
Jonathan Phelps West and 71 year old grandmother Louisa
Almata Richardson West.

Great-grandmother Arvilla Ames West had passed away at the
age of 97 the year before while staying with one of her
daughters in Hebron, Oxford, Me.

And my future grandmother Cora Berthella Barker was 9 years
old and probably still living at Vernon St in Bethel, Oxford. Me.
with her father Frank W. Barker and mother Charlott Lovenia
Barker, 43 and 28 years old respectively.

There. One down on my list from last night!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Things I need to write:

A post about Grandpa West stationed at Camp Devens during
the Spanish Influenza Outbreak DONE

A post about the family bible images Aunt Dorothy sent me.
A post on where my ancestors were in 1908. DONE

A post on my memories of Winter. DONE

A post for the next CoG on contacts with hitherto unknown
relatives resulting from my genealogy research. DONE

Multiple posts of transcriptions of the Revolutionary War
pension files that I haven’t done as yet, especially those of the
three Barker brothers.

Posts about my McFarland and White relatives.

Letters to Lisa and Colleen about a possible McCue connection.
HALF DONE(emailed Lisa)

More flutaphone genealogy uses.DONE

I know there’s more. Just can’t think of them this late at night
just before bedtime.

And to think I was worried I’d run out of things to blog about!

Sunday, January 06, 2008


The 39th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is out and once
again Jasia has a collection of great genealogy blog reading. This
edition dealt with the New Year’s resolutions of genealogists and
includes my own earlier post on the subject. Usually there are
some posts I’ve already read but there are also usually some new
ones from blogs that I end up adding to my links list, and this
time is no exception. All in all, 22 participants and all good

Ironically, the call for submissions for the 40th edition concerns:
“…Living-relative connections made during your research
processes and/or blog. Who found you or how did you find

them? Were they helpful or did they send you on a wild goose
chase for further information? How much and what kind of
information did they share with you? What did you share with
them? What kinds of contacts have you had... in person, via
phone, online chat, email, snail mail, web casts? (If you're not
comfortable using their real names you might want to consider
using pseudonyms.)”

I say ironically because the same night the CoG came out I
received an email from another descendant of my ancestor
Jonathan Barker who gave me information on how to contact
two other Barker cousins. And later the same night, I emailed
someone who shares my ancestors John Cutter West and Arvilla
Ames concerning the family tree. While I haven't heard anything
back from the latter as yet, the exchange with my Barker
relative has been interesting and fun!

So that CoG topic is timely indeed!

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I’ve been reading some of the other genealogy blogger’s picks for
their favorite things they’ve posted this year so I thought I’d
mention mine.

The first is something I didn’t even write. That would be my
Aunt Dot’s Memories that I posted back in August. My Dad
never talked with us much about his childhood so getting this
memoir from my Aunt is easily my favorite thing on my blog
this past year.

From my own stuff, I enjoyed writing the posts on Orpha
and on my maternal grandmother, Agnes “Aggie”
. I also enjoyed researching the Ames Murder
although I don’t think I did a very good job writing it up.

The one thing I can say with surety is that I can do better and
I have plenty of good examples to follow among other genealogy
bloggers to follow!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Craig Manson over at Geneablogie has posted about his greatest
genealogy find ever and asked other genealogy bloggers what
theirs might be.

Without a doubt, it would have to be the genealogy research my
Aunt Dorothy sent to us years ago. Without that work that she
and her daughters Diana and Louise had already done I would
have been starting from scratch. They did it the old fashioned
way, driving from Ohio to New England to visit the family
uphome and making stops to find records at various towns.

But in the strictest sense of Craig’s question, then the greatest
find I’ve ever made so far are the Revolutionary War Pension
files I found over at of seven direct ancestors and
three siblings of ancestors. I knew one, John Ames, was a
veteran and by checking the names of other ancestors who lived
in the same period I was able to find the others. It’s been a
cornucopia of information about their lives and made those
names come alive for me.

You’ll notice that I italicized “so far” in the above paragraph.

That’s because I like to think the my greatest genealogy find ever
is going to be found and will break down the John Cutter West
brick wall!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


So a new January and a New Year has begun.

I checked to see if there were any New Year’s Day babies in the
family tree and found several, but the one that caught my eye
was Moses Coburn(Colburn, Colborn, Colbourne, etc.) who was
born 1 Jan 1702 in Dracut, Middlesex County, Ma. I wrote before
about his son Moses who emigrated to New Brunswick with other
New Englanders after the French and Indian Wars. His grandson
Moses was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and I’ll be blogging
a transcription of his Pension Request File sometime this year.

I hadn’t googled the name and variations on Coburn for a bit and
when I did it last night I came up with yet another Moses
Coburn, this one Moses B. (Bradstreet) Coburn, a Revolutionary
War veteran and probably a first or second cousin to my Moses
…er…Moseses…Mosi…er…my ancestors.

I found a letter describing the sad condition of his final resting
place, one which is all too common now in many cases. Even
sadder is the inexplicable fact that the newspaper the letter was
sent to, the Lowell Sun, chose not to publish it.

Moses B. Coburn’s grave lies in an forgotten cemetery in Lowell,
Claypit Cemetery in Lowell, Ma. You can find Rebecca Duda’s
letter about Moses B. Coburn and more information about
Claypit Cemetery, Dracut, and Lowell at this page. It's part of
an educational website, PrimarySearch, and the whole site is
well worth your attention.

How many other of our veteran and other ancestors now lie in
unknown graves here in our country? It’s shameful.

They should not be forgotten.