Sunday, March 30, 2008


It’s ironic that the topic for the next Carnival of Genealogy
should be about the cars in our families’ histories. I’ve just
had my present car, a 1992 Ford Taurus, repaired and boy,
did it put a dent in my wallet. It’s not that I’m attached to
the thing or that I’m an aficionado of the old Ford Taurus
cars, mind you. It’s more a case of not finding a dependable
used car with an affordable price that I could buy to replace
it, so the money went into repairing the Taurus instead.

My family has always had a love/hate relationship with cars.
My Dad was the only one of us who understood the mechanics
of how a car runs and what needed to be done to keep them
running. He learned to drive while still in his teens in an old
Model A or Model T on the dirt roads up home in Maine.
Over the years we went through a succession of used cars
because of family finances such as when Mom and Dad
bought the house in Abington. The one car that they bought
brand new was a 1956 red and black colored Oldsmobile `98
which lasted us until just before my brother was born.

The first memory I have of one of our cars was watching Dad
drive a late 1940’s model Pontiac in the wake of a motorboat
down the flooded Beach Street in Malden. It was after one of
the hurricanes of the mid 1950’s and Dad was working at
Atlas Engineering in Roxbury but made it home anyway.
The Pontiac was one of those big old time cars with a high
engine block and by following along behind the boat he made
it right into the driveway. One of the neighbor kids pointed at
it and called it “Mr. West’s submarine!”

When we moved out of the city to the “suburbs” (as Dad
called them) and there was no public transportation handy it
became necessary to become a two (and eventually four) car
family and with house payments and then a new baby, buying
a new car was not affordable. Dad liked GM cars so most of
the cars would be Oldsmobiles, Buicks, or Chevys, and some
of those cars were characters in themselves. There were the
two mid 1950’s Chevy Bel-Airs. One of them was green and
white and supposedly had been owned by a nurse but had a
tiger decal and a skull with eyes that lit up in the rear window.
The other was the one I called the “Butterscotch Bomber”
because its color was sort of a butterscotch pudding yellowish
orange. That was the car Dad was driving the day my kid
brother was born. Dad threw Mom’s bag into the car but
nearly drove off without her as she stood yelling at him from
the back door.

I’m not sure which of the two was the car Dad was driving
when he and I drove up to Maine to see his father. I do recall
the drive home where the brakes weren’t working very well
as we came down through the Notch and Dad used the road’s
shoulder to help keep the speed down.

Then there was the Buick some years later that we were in
during a vacation trip. We were on the way to a White House
tour when the right front wheel well started smoking and
we spent a few hours in a garage while wheel bearings were
replaced. We missed the tour.

When I finally got my driving license I followed the family
tradition. My first car was a used Olds `98, and when I
replaced that it was with a Pontiac Bonneville with twin
mufflers. I’ve never forgotten that second car, because it
seemed liked those mufflers took turns falling off. I think
those are illegal now. If they had been back then it would
have been much easier on my bank account!

Then there was my Chevy pickup truck. This was back in the
mid to late 1970’s and when I needed a new car Dad went
along with me to check out the choices. I’ve always suspected
his pointing out the truck had ulterior motives since soon
after I bought it I was hauling seaweed and chicken manure
in it for the garden compost pile!

I was driving that truck during the Blizzard of `78 when a
normal10 minute drive became an adventure. Our dogs Sam
and Gigi (Don’t ask. West Family pets are an epic in and of
themselves.) liked to ride in it although in Sam’s case it was
sometimes a case of running along behind it. But my most
vivid memory of that truck was how the left side panel of the
truck bed rusted away and when I took left hand turns it
would sway out. Or the truck gate fell off.

And once, the tire fell out. Luckily it was on the long access
road from Route 37 down to the warehouse where I was
working at the time. It flew out and rolled back down the
whole length of that road in a straight line. One of my
coworkers was leaving work with his wife and family at the
time when the tire came rolling by his car. He told me his
three year old applauded and wanted the tire to do it

For all the clunkers and all the adventures we’ve had with
cars, we’ve been extremely fortunate as a family that any
accidents we’ve had were not serious ones.

But I’ve oftimes thought that maybe our ancestors had it
better with their horses than we do today with our cars.
After all, for all their advances in technology, cars today can’t
produce a new model for their owners every few years or so
like a horse could!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Thomas McEntee over at Destination: Austin Family took
this accent test so I gave it a shot.

Hmm. No surprise here:
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

The Midland

The Northeast


The West

The Inland North

The South

North Central

What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

For some reason the red bars won't show but
on the results page the red bar for the Boston
accent is about 2/3 of the way across over the
black line.

I might comment more on this later but it's wicked late
and I'm gonna pahk my cahcass in bed before it's

Monday, March 24, 2008


I’ve blogged before about cemetery vandalism and expressed
how angry such idiocy makes me. Lori Thornton over at
Smoky Mountain Family Historian recently discovered that
cretins had vandalized a cemetery where some of her
ancestors are buried and is justifiably upset.

I hope somebody catches whoever was responsible for it!

Then a little while ago I ran across this article on the website
of the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus newspaper in Vermont
concerning a different sort of danger to a small family
cemetery. It has some interesting facts about cemetery laws
in the Northeastern states.

This case bears watching in light of the importance that such
graveyards have to those of us interested in genealogy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


A common term for a married woman in the 17th century
was “goodwife” which oftentimes was shortened to “goody”.

One of my ancestors, William Marston was married to a
Sarah Goody.

Which meant she would have been the daughter of…yes…

“Goody” Goody.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


45. Family Reunion Picnic Bug Repellent- Use
flutaphones as citronella candle holders. Stick the sharp
end in the ground and balance the candles on the wide
mouth end.

46. Family Reunion Game Part Replacement- If for
some reason the goalstick thingy from the croquet set
should be missing, the flutaphone can be used as a
substitute! Again, sharp end into the ground!

47. Family Reunion Etiquette Instruction Device-
When two or more of your younger relatives reach for
the last piece of cornbread for themselves, rap their
wrists gently and firmly while commenting on the lack of
manners in their generation. Then, reverse the flutaphone
for the next step…

48. Family Reunion Food Fetcher- Use the flutaphone
to pull the plate with the last piece of cornbread closer to
you. If someone else tries to take the last piece, spear it
with the mouthpiece.(NOTE-Be sure you have cleaned
off the mouthpiece end if you have used it as a citronella
candle holder or as part of the croquet game.))


49. Family Reunion Picnic Fanfare Instrument-to
announce the end of the picnic, and to let everyone know
that you have at last finished the list of 49 Genealogical
Uses for a Flutaphone!!

Friday, March 21, 2008


I meant to post these comments yesterday but sleep won out.

The blacksmith P.C. Ripley that Clarence mentions was Percy
C. Ripley who apparently is a local legend. He ran away to sea
as a boy for three years and then on his return spent four
years living with the Indians and learning how to trap and
live in the woods. He settled in the Magalloway area where
he worked as a guide and blacksmith and had quite an
illustrious career befuddling the local game wardens who
sought to catch him hunting and fishing out of season.

The mention of the Brown Paper company brings memories to
me of our own visits “up home”. We’d pass through
Berlin, N.H.where the paper mill was on the Androscoggin
River and there was the faint smell of rotten eggs in the air,
caused by whatever process was used to make paper.

Reading Clarence’s stories of his time at the Azicohos Dam
made me go back and read my Aunt Dorothy’s memories of
her childhood there. The quarry “up back of the barracks”
must be the one Dot mentions as being home to a bear.
The log sluice that Clarence thought was the “slickest piece
of work I ever saw” may the one at whose end my Dad
liked to fly fish.

And Clarence’s final comment about rarely using his boats to
visit the “head of the lake” only ten times in fifty one years
brought to mind Dot telling how she napped in the boat
“Kiko” while her father was still building it, and of its state
when she saw it years later as an adult.

I’m fortunate to have their accounts of their lives in Maine.
How I wish some of my other ancestors had left behind some
of their own accounts as well!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The 44th Carnival of Genealogy is up at Jasia’s Creative Gene
and in celebration of National Women’s Month the theme was
the remarkable women in our ancestry or women we have
known who have had an effect on our lives. There are 32
writers with a great selection of 34 articles and that means
plenty of good reading. Go over and follow the links
to meet some remarkable ladies.

And the topic for the next CoG is on the Great American
Love Affair:

" The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy
will be:
Cars as stars! Next to purchasing a house, a "new
set of wheels" was
the next most significant purchase for
many families. What car played
a starring roll in your
family history and what roll did it play? Did
your family
build cars or tinker with them? Did they take "Sunday

drives"? What was your first car? Was there a hangout
that you f
requented in your car? How far back can you
document your
family's automotive genealogy? Tell us
your car stories... front seat
or back! ;-) Vroom, Vroom!
The deadline for submissions is April 1st."

How about it? Do you have a car story? Submit it here.

And once again, a fantastic job by Jasia in assembling the CoG!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This is the last part of my Granduncle Clarence West’s
memories as taken from “The History of Wilsons Mills-and-
the- Magalloway -Settlements” . The subjects range from
“squirrel whiskey” to grist mills and the cost of food. I ’ll
have some comments on all of this in a following post:

“P.C. Ripley worked at the dam when they were building it.
He was the top blacksmith. He could make most anything.
He made wrenches and tools of all kinds for the crews.
used to say that Brown Company kept all the
ingredients to
make `squirrel ’whiskey. You just mix up a
batch, then bury
it in the ground to season it. When you dig
it up it’s pretty
stout, but good. Just one drink of it will make
a squirrel go
up a tree tail first!

That grist stone they took out of the river this spring was
the top stone. If you look at it you can see the holes in it.
There’s a thing goes through the hole in the middle to pick it
up by. Too bad they couldn’t find the other stone. It used to
take days to sharpen those stones. It was all done by hand
and they all had to be the same. They had a nice grist mill at
Errol Dam. They had two stones, one special for buckwheat
and one for flour. The top stone sets still and the bottom one
goes around. You had to be awful careful to keep the grain
running all the time.

If you heard the click of the stones hitting together you
knew you were going to get something hard on your teeth.
The grain went down the cellar to a hopper, onto a
through a machine they called the `smut’ mill,
then back
upstairs and into a rig they called a bolt. This
was a cylinder
screen about 10 feet long and about three
feet around.
It had different sized screens and it kept turning
over and
over and the grain fell into a row of boxes under it.
When it
was done you pulled out a drawer and filled your

“There’s sure some difference in the price of flour and meat
and everything nowadays. I can remember when Joe and
Martha Brooks had a little store over in Upton. Joe would
a cow and go and peddle it around for three cents a
Milk was five cents a quart; butter was high,
cents a pound. Eggs were one cent apiece.
When I was going
to school, anytime I needed pencils or
paper or anything for
school, I’d go out to the barn and get
a few eggs to trade
for what I needed.

You know, I was thinking about it the other day, I’ve had
boats all the time I’ve been here, and that’s going on
fifty-one years, and I’ve only been to the head of the lake
ten times.”

Source: The Town of Wilsons Mills Maine, “The History of
Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-Settlements”
(Wilsons Mills, Me. 1975.) pp.96-97


I hope everyone had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and that you
aren’t celebrating the day after with a green tinge to your face
due to making one too many toasts to Ireland and her blessed

And a good way to keep your Irish spirits up is a reading of
the St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Posts edition of the
Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture over at the Small-Leaved
. Lisa’s done a great job as usual and there’s a lot of
good writing to enjoy, so go on over and check it out.

While your at it, you might consider submitting an article to the
next CIH&C. :

The 5th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture
honor the beauty of the Irish language with a focus on
Irish Gaelic
names and words.

Has the charm of the name of a place in Ireland always
called t
o you to visit someday?

As a child did you secretly wish you had the Irish name of
a great-grandparent instead of the name you were born with?

Do you have a story to tell about someone with an Irish surname?

Is there an Irish proverb that you have always loved to let
slide off of your tongue in its original language?

Join us for the 5th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage
& Culture. The only prerequisite is that your post must tie
in with our focus on the Irish Gaelic language.
Posts for this edition of the carnival are due April 27.
Submit your entries here. The carnival will be posted at
A light that shines again on St. Ciarán's Day, April 30.
(Well, one of the St. Ciarán's days - there are actually 14
in the calendar of Irish saints. Now there's one popular
Irish Gaelic name!)

So dust up your Gaelic and send in a post to the Carnival!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Here’s part two of my Granduncle Clarence’s memories
of the construction of the Azicohos Dam as it appeared in
“The History of Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-
Settlements” including a wandering cow and Clarence taking
a shortcut across the top of the dam:

“Roberge cut the flowage. They used to bring the water
up to the
works to keep the frost out of the north side of
the dam. When the
water is low you can still see where
the steam pipes cooked the
cement. Roberge finished the
flowage by cutting off the trees right
at the top of the ice.
Brown Company’s tow-boats had quite a time
at first.
Sometimes they’d make a mistake and end up in the woods,

or wind the tow-line up in the propeller, or knock a blade
off the
propeller in the dri-ki(driftwood). Stan Wentzell was
the one who
finally corralled the dri-ki by booming it in the
coves. Stan was a
good man. When he told you something
you could believe it.

There used to be a quarry up in back of the barracks.
Clarence Gray logged in there a few years ago he
cut trees out of it.
That concrete pit up back was the water
pit. Water lines ran down
to the houses, storehouses, cook
camps, etc. On one of the cottages
the front porch was way
up high. When I had a cow, every time
she didn’t come
when I called, I always knew where to find her.
that porch!

They used to have a telephone line run up from the top of
the dam
to the foot of the sluice. You remember Pat
Crowley. It was his job
to stay on the top of the dam and
stop the wood if anything went
wrong. It took six feet of
water to sluice and the wood went
nine-tenths of a mile in
three minutes. That sluice was the slickest
piece of work I
ever saw. It sure took some figuring. George
designed it. He went to school with Paul Bean. He came

from Gorham, Me. After he left here he went to Chicago
to work
on a hotel that was tipping over. Then he helped
build a railroad
through the Rocky Mountains. After that
he went out to San
Francisco and worked on the Golden
Gate bridge.

Bean and Harris came up one day to see about doing
to the sluice gates. We drove around to the other
side of the dam
and then Bean discovered he need the
blueprints that had been left
over at the house. He was
going to send his driver over after them
but I told him I
could do it quicker. There was about an inch of
running over the splashboards but I went across and got
papers. When I got back, Bean stood there with his
hands in his
pockets watching me. He said `I didn’t like to
see you do that,
Clarence!’ It wasn’t long after that they
put in the bridge above
the splashboards.”

Source: The Town of Wilsons Mills Maine, “The History of
Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-Settlements”
(Wilsons Mills, Me. 1975.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008


My granduncle Clarence P(hilip) West was the caretaker of
the Azicoos Dam in Wilsons Mills, Oxford, Maine for
fifty years. He was born in Cambridge, New Hampshire on
17 March, 1895 to Philip J. West and Clara (Ellingwood)West
and died on 5 June 1983. The SSDI gives his place of
residence as Errol, Coos Co., New Hampshire at the time
of his death.

Clarence married Mabel Jane Ilsley on 25 Jun 1919 and
together they had three children: their son Lee and their
daughters Leita and Ruth.

When Wilsons Mills celebrated its sesquicentennial in 1975
they decided to mark the occasion by publishing a book:
“The History of Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-
It includes an interview with Clarence about
his memories of his time at the Azicoos Dam and it makes an
interesting companion to the memories my Aunt Dorothy
sent me about her and my Dad’s time there as children,
which I posted here.

Tomorrow is the 113th anniversary of Clarence’s birth, so in
honor of him, here’s part one of the interview from the book:

“Clarence P. West, at eighty still caretaker at Aziscoos
is an interesting man to talk with. He was here
recently to look at some
old pictures that had been brought
into the book committee on the
building of the Azizcoos
Dam and we got him talking of the old days.
He came here
as caretaker in 1924 and has been here ever since. We
asked him how he happened to come here. These are some
his comments.

“When we were first married I went to Pontook to work on
a survey
with Walter Sawyer. Mabel and I lived in a tent
that summer. Sawyer
would have had a nice dam there if
they had let him. He had one
planned that was near four
thousand feet across with penstocks clear
to Twitchell’s
for power. From that job I went to Lisbon to work in a

sawmill for West Bros. Later I went to see Mr. Bean about
a job and
he told me to send in my application. There were
about a hundred
other applications but when they got
narrowed down to five I was still
one of them. After
Vashaw died, Lewis Chadwick was transferred to
Errol and
I came up here. That was in 1924.

When the new Dam was built the gate house on the old dam
removed and set up for a blacksmith shop. It still stands
there to-day
just in back of the parking area. You know, the
timbers in that old
shop were hewed by hand.

One of the big towers to hold the cable was up back of the
the other one was almost over to where the road to
Rangeley is now.
There was a double track from the end of
the dam to the quarry up
back on the hill. The cars worked
from a cable, when one went down,
the other came back
up. There was a track with a whole string of cars
that they
loaded with a steam shovel. The tops of the cars turned
around to dump. That shovel was on wheels and they had
to keep
planks under the wheels all the time. It was set up
in a pit to load dirt
for fill on the south side of the cam. The
cars were hauled along the
tracks by a big black horse. And
when the whistle blew at quitting
time that horse stopped
right in his tracks and there he stood till
someone unhitched
him and headed him for the stables.

When they were building the dam it was nothing to meet
a string
of horses a half mile long from Colebrook to

(to be continued)

Source: The Town of Wilsons Mills Maine, “The History of
Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-Settlements”
(Wilsons Mills, Me. 1975.) pp.94-95

Friday, March 14, 2008


When I found the copy of the Abhis (the literary magazine
of Abington High School ) with the infamous Margaret Chase
Smith poem, a folded piece of thin stationary paper fell out. I
picked it up, unfolded it, and saw that it was a thank you
letter from one of my favorite high school teachers, Mrs.

June 26, 1966

Dear Will:
Thank you for your visit, this beautiful stationary, and
the card,
all of which I deeply appreciate. Because I have
missed you “kids”
since you graduated, I was especially
pleased, as well as surprised,
to see you.

It pleases me that you seem to look forward to BrH2O. I
do hope
you will enjoy it there, and find it a challenging
and pleasant

Alice Trask.”

("BrH2O" was the popular nickname for Bridgewater State

I was a sophomore when I transferred into Abington High
School from Cathedral High School in Boston. Mrs. Trask
was my English teacher that year as well as being head of
the English Department.

For some reason, she never quite got my first name right.
There had been a Wesley Whiting in her class the year
before and for a time she kept calling me “Wesley“. That
eventually became “Will” and my classmates changed that
into “Willy”. (To this day if someone walks up and calls me
“Willy” I know it has to be one of the kids from my high
school days. I’ve never been called that by anyone else
since except by one of them. When the clerk at the Town
Hall called me “Willy” two weeks ago, we had a nice chat
about the good old days.)

Despite the name thing, Mrs. Trask was one of my favorite
teachers. One of the units she taught was on poetry and
someplace around here I still have the assignment I turned
in to her with my first attempts at writing poems. She made
some encouraging comments and some suggestions and for
awhile I considered majoring in English and becoming a writer.
I can recall several of us visiting her after we graduated but
I’d forgotten about the stationary, and I’m not sure if it was
given because she may have retired that year.

As an aside, I believe her husband was the JP who presided
over the marriage of my sister and brother in law!

I had several other women teachers who I recall with a smile
when I think of them: Sister St. Paulinus who was the first
person I can recall making the “Go West, young man!” joke.
Miss Murphy, the second grade teacher who was my only
teacher crush and who was the person who introduced me to
the flutaphone. Dr. Noel, my Ancient History Professor in

And yes, there are some that even across the space of 50
or 60 years whose names can bring back a bad memory or

But the thing these women all have in common is that they
were my teachers. The things they taught, the words of
encouragement they said, these things made an impression
on me and my classmates and helped shape us into the people
we are today. And those women like my sister who are
teachers today carry on that mission, sometimes in conditions
that are less than ideal.

What teachers left a lasting impression on you?

((written for the 44th Carnival of Genealogy))


Recently some of the genealogy bloggers such as Randy and
ftM have been listing three regrets they might have from
their genealogy research. Here are mine and I think you’ll
notice that mine match most of the others:

1. I wish I’d started researching my family earlier. If I had,
I’d have perhaps had the foresight and chance to talk
with older relatives about their memories of the family.

2. I’d wish I’d been a bit more organized when I did start.
I’m still trying to get citations and sources right for the
information I already had while dealing with the large
amount of new information I’ve gotten recently.

3. I wish I’d thought to take more interest in American
History when I was in college. A better knowledge of
the events of the time would be a help in understanding
my ancestors’ lives.

Hmm. A genealogist’s triad of regrets?

Three regrets of a genealogist: lack of foresight,
lack of organization, and lack of knowledge.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


We’re coming up on St. Patrick’s Day and in observance of
that our store booked a local Irish band, Rud Eile to perform
tonight. First of all let me say they’re excellent and you
should go buy their self-titled album. If you live near Boston
you can get a copy at Borders Books in Braintree. I expect to
be hearing a lot more about the group in the future.

But my trying to make announcements about the event over
the store PA system brought to light my woeful inadequacy
in Gaelic. First off, I took a stab at pronouncing it based on the
spelling and came up with saying it “Rude Isle”. Luckily one
of the band members came by earlier today and I was able to
ask what the correct pronunciation was, and it was “Rud(as in
“rudder”) Ella”. I thanked him, and in the course of the next
few hours managed to get it right most of the time, but as it
got later in the day and my tired brain began to turn to Swiss
cheese I started to mangle it several times into “Rud Aylla”
or “Rud Aylee”.

The band member who’d helped me earlier happened by
during one of those missteps and jokingly said he’d have to
keep walking by to make sure I got it right.

Now, here I am, a Boston Roman Catholic Irish American boy
…ok.. middle aged man…whose mother helped to get the
Abington St. Patrick’s Day parade going, and I can’t speak or
understand Gaelic, for pity’s sake! I’m a big fan of Celtic music
but unless the artists include the English translations of the
song lyrics in the liner notes, I don’t know what they are
singing about.

I have always maintained that English must be the “official”
language of America, one language that has made a polyglot
nation into a united one. But one should be proud of one’s
heritage as well, and it saddens me to think that within two
generations of leaving Ireland my family lost the ability to
speak Gaelic.(I know my mother couldn’t, and I never heard
my grandmother or her surviving brothers and sister
speak it either.)

Of course that’s assuming they knew how to speak it at all
given the efforts of the British to ban its use.

At any rate, not understanding what’s being sung will not
keep me from enjoying the music.

Check out “Rud Eile”!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Some geneabloggers have been posting their three genealogical
"Bucket" destinations(named after the Jack Nicholson/Morgan
Freeman movie) so I thought I'd weigh in with mine:

1 Ireland-specifically Roscommon or where ever else my
McFarland family ancestors are from!

2 Edinburgh- where my ancestor John McFarland married Annie

3 Scrooby, England-Home of my "Scrooby Do" Pilgrim ancestors.

BTW, I'm writing this on Google Documents as sort of a test run of the

UPDATE:Very cool. I like being able to export the text directly to the
blog. The font size seems to be a bit different though.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Unit of Measurement- Use your flutaphone to measure the
depth of the water in your basement caused by the Rain
Storms of `08. Confound future generations of family
historians by writing an entry in your daily journal:

"The neighborhood flooded and there was water 8
flutaphones deep downstairs.”

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I’ve been downloading census images from the
past few weeks after signing up for a monthly subscription
which I can now afford and have run across some errors
transcribers had made indexing them. I’ve cited one already
that was probably a result of unfamiliarity with a style of
penmanship, but last night I found one that is IMHO the
result of a sloppy census enumerator.

I’d found every census record for my great great grandfather
Jonathan Phelps West except for the one from 1910. When
I searched Ancestry, I got a listing for a “Johnathan P. Yuet”
with a marker for a possible alternate of “Johnathan P.
West” and when I looked at the image, I could understand
why the transcriber would have problems.

The page is a mess. But I'll stick to that part which concerns
my family.

To begin with, it looks like the ink faded on the line with the
family name so that the “West” is barely visible. The first
member of the family listed is “West, Louisa” which the
beleaguered transcriber translated into “Yuet, Paulina” but
the whole entry is faded and if I didn’t know anything about
Jonathan P.’s family I might not have been able to read that
line correctly myself.

Next comes “_______ Johnathan P.” and things really get
messy. The enumerator realized that he’d put the wife first
as Head of Household and sought to rectify the situation by
using a two-headed arrow to connect from “Husband” next
to Jonathan to the “Head” next to Louisa’s name, and a
smaller “wife” written in the upper corner of the box.

The third name in the household is my granduncle Clarence
who is correctly identified as “grandson”.

So that is why my great great grandfather is indexed as
“Johnathan P. Yuert” on the 1910 Federal Census for Upton,
Oxford County, Maine.

I’ve developed some sympathy for transcribers.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


So by shameless reference to how several of my fellow
geneabloggers made use of flutaphones in the Genealogists'
Parade and by thinking of the approach of warmer weather,
I've some more Genealogical Uses of the Flutaphone
to add to the list:

34. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Musical Accompaniment
-to the song “15 Miles on the Erie canal” on Apple’s float.

35. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Musical Accompaniment
- to the song “Amazing Grace” on Becky’s kinnexions float.

36. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Musical Accompaniment
-to the polka dancers on Jasia’s Polish American float.

37. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Agricultural- A corn stalk
whacker on Randy’s Genea-Musings flat.

38. Moose Defense- As the snow melts and old cemeteries
in more remote northern regions become accessible, use
caution when approaching those sites that might be in areas
where brush and trees are thick. Give several loud notes on
your flutaphone to warn off any mooses (or its that meece?)
in the area of your approach and hopefully you will scare
them away. If on the other hand you see a large moose
approaching with an amorous glint in its eye, use a different
sequence of notes. Quickly. If that fails, run.

39. Goose Defense- Use the flutaphone to ward off flocks of
Canadian geese that might be attracted by your attempts at
warding off the moose.

40. Bear Defense- If as you retreat from the cemetery
back to the safety of your car you should encounter a black
bear, try using the pointed mouthpiece end of your flutaphone
to tickle the bear while saying “kitchy kitch koo.” Then run.
(Warning: Should this be successful, remember to thoroughly
wash the mouthpiece before playing the flutaphone again. You
don’t know what sort of germs may lurk in a bear’s armpit.)

41. Surrender Flag- If there are hunters in the vicinity who
mistake your flutaphone notes for the mating calls of Canadian
geese and they start shooting in your direction, quickly tie
some length of cloth to the end of your flutaphone and wave
the flag vigorously while screaming: “I am a human being!
I am NOT a goose!” (Warning: Do not do this if you are
already being chased by an amorous moose and a non-ticklish
bear. In that instance, the smart thing to do is to just keep

42. Genealogy Record Retrieval- When you are certain that
the moose, bear, geese and hunters are gone, return to the
cemetery and use the pointed end of the flutaphone to
hygienically pick up whatever is left of the paperwork you
might have dropped and upon which the moose, bear,
geese, and hunters might have left signs of their extreme
displeasure in the encounter.

Only 7 more to go to 49!!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Hmm. Jasia has posted the 43rd Carnival of Genealogy within
the last hour or so and it’s a big one! 32 participants this time
and I can’t read it right now because I need to get to bed.


I’ll have to wait until I get home from work Tuesday night to
read all the entries but hopefully most of the rest of you will
have a chance to sample the posts from some great
geneabloggers before then.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Ah, what can I say in my defense?

I was young, only 15 years old.

It was 1964 and American culture was
still in need of some enlightenment.

And ok, I was dumb.

I do not think this way today about
presidential politics. Really.

But here, as it appeared in the June 1964
ABHIS, the literary magazine of Abington
High School, is my first published poem.

— OR —
O’ Margaret Chase Smith, I admire your

But as president, do you think you can
carry the ball?

Do you think that the Senate will pass all
your bills

As they fight and holler up on Capitol Hill?

I admit, as a senator, they say you’re swell,

But as a president, only time will tell.

And Mrs. Smith, before you go,

There are a few things I’d like to know.

At the Geneva Conference, what about

Would you keep “Nikki” waiting while you
set your hair?

But there’s one big question that troubles
me a lot!

Mrs. Smith, for a running mate, just who
have you got?

William West ‘66

As bad as that is, it's downright liberal next to the other
piece entitled "To Arms!" which warned the men of Abington
High School of the threat of women taking over the world.

I don't think I'll print that on here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


As I mentioned earlier, I have some German ancestry but it
lies on my Mom’s side of the family where brick walls abound.
Her father left when she was a child and her mother, my
grandmother Agnes(Aggie)White later divorced him. Edward
F. White’s parents were Edward J. White and Pauline
Offincher (or Offlincher/Offlinger/Offinger) and Pauline’s
parents were born in Germany according to the information
on the U.S. Census.

I was looking through those census images again today and
decided to try searching Ancestry. Pauline gave her own place
of birth as Cambridge, Ma. so I did a soundex search on some
variations of Offincher in Cambridge and came up with a hit for
a Charles Offingen and family on the 1880 census. He was a 32
year old cabinetmaker from Wurtemburg, Germany; his wife
Johanna was four years older at age 36 and kept house at their
home at 11 Vine Street in Cambridge.

Their children were:
Imelia(Amelia?) F age 12 born in Wurtemburg
Albert M age 10 born in Cambridge
Frederic M age 7 “ “ “
Lena F age 5 “
William M age 4 "
Julia F age2 "

So, since Albert was the first child born in Cambridge, that
would put the arrival of Charles and Johanna probably
around 1860.

I then searched the 1870 Census for Offingen and found
Charles under the name Offinger on it as a cabinetmaker
living in Cambridge, Ma. There is no mention of Johanna or
Imelia. Perhaps they were back in Germany waiting for
Charles to send for them? (The change from Offingen to
Offinger appears on close examination of the 1880 Census
image to be a result of a transcriber misreading the “r” at
the end of the name for an “n”)

Now, could their daughter Lena be my great grandmother
Pauline? The age is certainly correct. And two of Pauline’s
children were named Fredrick and Charles, perhaps after her
brother and father if she was indeed Lena. Nor can I find
any other entries for people or families living in Cambridge
named Offincer or Offinger.

So at the moment I’m cautiously optimistic that Lena Offinger
and Pauline Offincher are one and the same, but only further
research will tell me for sure.


Another Sunday morning with a cup of coffee, some toast,
and interesting genealogy blogs to browse. Usually I perform
this routine twice a week on my days off but I had things to
attend to on Thursday this week so I’m catching up today.

Jasia has an article on matrinames, the practice of including
your maternal ancestors last name as part of your own. Her
thoughts were a result of a passage from Bryan Sykes’
Seven Daughters of Eve which discusses the benefit of use
of matrinames would have for genealogical research.

Thomas MacEntee commented on this at Jasia’s blog and
then with some thoughts on family name schematics at his
own Destination: Austin Family. He includes explanations of
Spanish and Irish names and examples of how his own name
would be in two different formats of matrinaming.

(By the way, Word autocorrect changes matrinaming
to marinating. Strange are the ways of Microsoft!)

Using Thomas’ examples with my own name, I’d be William
White West or William West White. If I use the name of the
female ancestor furthest back in my direct line, I’d be William
Ames West after my 3x great grandmother Arvilla Ames,
wife of the Elusive John Cutter West.

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings and Kimberly Powell at
Kimberly’s Genealogy Blog have posts telling how genealogist
Sharon Sergeant helped prove that a bestselling memoir by a
holocaust survivor was a hoax by a Belgian Catholic. Randy
includes a link to the story that appeared in the Boston Globe
and to Sharon’s own website, and I agree with him that
genealogy research shines brighter because of Sharon’s

Finally, Chris Dunham over at The Genealogue has “Innocent
Until Proven German” which tells the story of an FBI visit to
a German immigrant’s farm in upstate New York during the
World War 1 years. Apparently this and other cases are part
of what are known as the “Old German Files” which can be
viewed at . Follow the link in Chris’ article to the
original news article by Sharon Tate Moody in the Tampa

I am going to check out that site. I have a
German great grandmother on my mother’s side of the