Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It's that time of year (No, not THAT "that time of year", that's over;
this is THIS "that time of year"! Got that?)again,when people make
resolutions they hope to keep in the upcoming year. And since
geneabloggers are people, too(I have it on very good authority), the
87th Carnival of Genealogy is all about our plans and research
objectives in 2010. I've had some mixed sucess over the past
two years, but like Don Quixote I'm ready to go out tilting against
some genealogical "windmills" once more.

So here are my goals for 2010:

Organize! Organize! ORGANIZE! Cite those sources and trim the tree of
duplicate entries!

Scan! Scan! SCAN! Get that Rubbermaid tub of pictures done!

Research! Research! RESEARCH!

Share what I've found with anyone who needs help tilting at their own
genealogy "windmills".

Get out of the apartment more and visit the NEGHS, the Family
History Center and some of the places my ancestors lived and where
they are buried.

Do more work on my maternal lines, the Whites, Offingers, McFarlands
and Kelleys.

Keep chipping away at that John Cutter West brickwall.

And most of all to keep having fun doing all of the above!

Written for the 87th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.


Before I post my 2010 genealogical resolutions, I thought
I'd show how I've fared with the 2009 edition. As you can see,
I've had some mixed results. The resolutions are italicized
and the results are not.

"One, keep chipping away at the John Cutter West brick wall.

Well, it took nearly all year but as I recently blogged, I have a new
lead I'm exploring.

Two, do more research on my White and McFarland ancestry
and blog more
on them.
I've fallen woefully short on this one.I found so much Good Stuff
on my Dad's side of the family it pretty much has taken precedence.

Three, well, exact same as last year, work on organizing my files
source citations.
Still working at it but it seems to be a constant process, no?

Four, stay in touch with Aunt Dot and the rest of my Ohio relatives
and share
what I find about our family history with them.
Probably my best kept resolution with the highlight being the trip to
the Ellingwood Family reunion up in Maine, with Aunt Dot, Diana, Gary.
Gary's Mom and my sister. And we keep in touch with Facebook!

Five, get out to the Hingham FHS, the NEGHS, the Boston Public Library,
the Mass State Archives. I'm also adding the Boston Archdiocese Archives
when it reopens sometime next year.
Mobility problems put the kibosh on this one.

Six, work on getting all the pictures scanned.

Still working on this one,

Seven, try to keep from getting bogged down on Facebook with application
requests. To that end, I'm not accepting any new apps. I hope this doesn't
offend anyone whose invitations I decline but when the requests get up into
the 70 and 80 request range, it cuts into the research time."
I've been successful with this one. No new apps joined.

So that's 2009. I bet you can guess which ones will carry over to 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


While I was putting together the previous post on the descendants
of Jonathan Phelps West, I was struck by a few thoughts.

One was about the number of instances where West siblings married
siblings from other families:

Asa Atwood West married Matilda Barker Marston, sister of Abel Gage
Marston who had married Ann Matilda West.

Brothers John Cuvier West and Paul Leroy West married the Enman
sisters, Emily and Josephine.

Sisters Vienna Ames West and Clarinda Britton West married brothers
Willliam Russell Goodwin and Charles Henry Goodwin.

I'm not sure yet about the reason. A lack of more possible choices due
to the diptheria epidemics of the 1860's and the Civil War, perhaps?

Another line of thought started with the discovery of the World War 1
draft registration card for Paul Leroy West. He was 42 years old at the
time he registered, considerably older than his cousins Floyd E.West Sr.
(my grandfather) and David Richards. Was this because of the Spanish
Influenza outbreak among the American troops made it necessary to draft
older men?

Finally, while putting the list of descendants together I had occasion to look
at a letter I'd always attributed to Florence O'Conner.I posted the image of
it here back in 2007. As I read it again, I spotted something I'd manage
to miss before. The notation "my mother" appears twice next to the name
of Josephine Matilda Goodwin (Hanscom). So the typewritten pages weren't
from Florence O'Conner, who was not a West descendant. She comes from my
Ellingwood and Dunham line and I have a letter from her that was handwritten,
not typed. Whoever sent this information to us some thirty to forty years ago
was one of the Hanscom children.

I wonder if I can find out which one?

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This is the third in a series of posts that hopefully will eventually be
seen by other descendants of John Cutter West and Arvilla Ames
who might want to contact me. Their second son John Cutter
West Jr died at the age of 18 in 1850 without any issue. The third son,
Jonathan Phelps West, however did have children and many
descendants, including myself.

I have a few observations about some of the information here but
since this is so large I'll save them for the next post.

1. Jonathan Phelps West (b.16 Jan 1834-Letter B Plantation (now Upton),Me.;
d.8 Jul1917-Upton,Oxford,Me.)
sp: Orpha Viette Reynolds (b.30 Jun 1840;m.20 Oct 1861;d.31 Dec 1861)
sp: Louisa Almata RICHARDSON (b.23 Jun 1837-Wilton,Me;m.31 Jan 1865;
d.4 Oct1925-Upton,Oxford,Me)
2. John Cuvier WEST (b.10 Dec 1867-Letter "b" Township, Upton, Me;
d.8 Jul 1917-Upton,Me)
sp: Emily Enman (b.25 Jun 1872-Pownal, Queens, PEI, Can; m.28 Jul 1893
(Div);d.15 Nov 1939-Morris Plains, Morris, NJ)
3. Velma Susan WEST (b.21 Nov 1894-Berlin,Coos, Nh;d.24 Mar 1936-
sp: Lindsey Arthur Ferren (m.5 Sep 1917)
3. Pearl Louisa WEST (b.22 Oct 1896-Berlin, Coos, Nh;d.14 Feb 1981)
3. Nellie Ardelle Emily WEST (b.7 Mar 1899-Berlin, Coos, Nh;d.27 Jan 1997)
sp: John Rogerson (m.29 Sep 1917)
3. Florence Elizabeth WEST (b.4 Oct 1902-Berlin, Coos, Nh;d.1984)
3. John Enman WEST (b.27 Jul 1907-Berlin, Coos, Nh;d.21 Feb 1941)
2. Philip Jonathan WEST (b.23 Sep 1868-Upton, Oxford, Me;d.5 Nov 1954-
Wilsons Mills, Oxford, Me.)
sp: Clara Ford Ellingwood (b.6 Mar 1865-Dummer, Coos,Nh.;d.10 Apr 1901-
3. Floyd Earl West Sr. (b.14 Apr 1893-So.Paris, Oxford, Me.;d.28 Jan 1970-
Dumaway Me.)
sp: Cora Bertha Barker (b.27 Oct 1899-Bethel, Oxford, Me;m.24 Mar 1919;
d.Jun 1987)
4. Stanley Rayfield West (b.23 Feb 1920-Bethel, Oxford, Me.;d.26 Feb
4. Hazel Linnie West (b.2 Jun 1921-Bethel, Oxford, Me.;d.4 Aug 1973)
sp: G. Malcom Harvey
5. Stanley Ray West
5. Katherine Mabel Harvey
5. Margo Lea Harvey
4. Floyd Earl West Jr. (b.17 Jul 1924-Bethel, Oxford, Me.; d.22 Nov
sp: Anne M. White (b.7 Jul 1927-Boston, Suffolk, Ma; m.29 Jun 1947;
d.28 Jul 1999-So. Weymouth, Plymouth, Ma.)
5. William West
5. Cheryl Anne West
5. Philip John West
sp: Wendy McGonigle (div)
6. Philip West
6. Matthew West
4. Dorothy Leona West (b.4 Apr 1926-Bethel, Oxford, Me)
sp: Charles Watkins Bargar (b.23 Jul 1924-Gnadenhutten, Tuscarawas, Oh;
m.24 Apr 1946)
5. Charles Bargar
5. Gary Dean Bargar
5. Diana Sue Bargar
5. Sara Louise Bargar
5. John Bargar
5. Bette Jayne Bargar
4. Florence Irma West
sp: J. Herbert Balsar
5. Robert Scott Balsar
5. Terry Ann Balsar
5. Marion Louise Balsar
3. Clarence Philip West (b.17 Mar 1895-So.Paris, Oxford, Me.; d.5 Jun 1983)
sp: Mabel Jane Illsley (b.31 Oct 1891;m.25 Jun 1919)
4. Lee West (b.6 Mar 1923)
sp: Anne Lee
4. Leita Edna West (b.21 Jul 1925)
sp: Henry LePage
4. Ruth Alma West (b.17 Nov 1927)
sp: Arthur Emerson
sp: Alphonsene Turgeon (b.3 Jun 1878-Placeville, Quebec, Canada ; m.1905;
d.16 Aug 1941-Magalloway,Oxford. Me.)
2. Paul Leroy WEST (b.20 Jul 1876-Upton, Oxford, Me; d.26 Aug
sp: Josephine Enman (b.7 Feb 1877-Mt.Pleasant,Prince,Prince Edward Island, Can;
m.Abt 1899;d.1975-East Sumner, Nh)
2. Mark WEST (b.Abt 1878-;d.DIED IN INFANCY)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Well, I certainly was the recipient of some awesome Christmas
gifts this year that will be very helpful in researching the family

First off, my cousin Diana surprised me with a membership to I had to drop it back in September due to financial
reasons intending to rejoin maybe sometime in 2010. Now thanks
to Diana I'm back on and chasing down the new lead on John Cutter
West! Thanks, Diana!

Then on Christmas Eve, my sister Cheryl,her husband Peter and my
niece and nephews gave me another surprise: a new Toshiba laptop
computer. It came with the new Windows 7 and as soon as I get a
router and figure out this wireless stuff I'll be switching over to that
computer. This will be something new for me; I've used dialup for
most of the time I've been online but downloading images and
documents will be much quicker now! Thanks Cheryl,Peter, Sarah,
Steve, Paul, Jen and Mike!

As I told my Facebook friends yesterday, I have a tradition of naming
my computers, and up until now their names were from "Seinfeld". But
I've switched to another show for this laptop, and named it Sheldon!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Christmas Eve was sometimes hectic in our family, especially
those years when we lived in Dorchester, because Mom and Dad
would drive around to Mom’s cousins’ houses to drop off gifts for
the kids. Sometimes my sister and I went along but as we got
older and more responsible we’d stay home while the gifts run
was made.

Then there where Christmas Eves where we were all home
and spent the night wrapping presents for each other or other
relatives. I think I liked those quieter nights best.

The past two decades or so Christmas Eve is spent at my sister
and brother-in-law’s house. Gifts are given out and opened and
my sister’s youngest son Mike(now in his twenties) often ends
up with the handing out the gifts duties since he’s the youngest
family member. Then there’s food served buffet style. At that
point, I am just trying to stay awake because I’ve been dealing
with the last minute shoppers at the store all day and a good
meal on top of that makes me want to take a nap. And next
day I go back over for dinner.

All in all Christmas Eves over the years have been good ones,
sometimes saddened by losses of loved ones but we all enjoy
being together and relaxing after the end of the Christmas rush.

2009 Update: A new tradition began last year with the Christmas
Eve festivities moving to the home of my niece Sarah and her
husband Steve. And this year I am actually having a day off on
Christmas Eve, so I won't be so tired and sleepy!

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

Monday, December 21, 2009


Every Christmas Mom would break out the Andy Williams
Christmas Album to play on the stereo. There was also a Nat
King Cole album and a Mitch Miller “Sing Along With Mitch”
Christmas edition. But for me, even rock and roll dinosaur
that I am, it’s the Andy Williams album that “feels” like
Christmas to me.

As I’ve gotten older and my musical tastes expanded, I find
myself listening to New Age and Celtic Christmas music. And
Josh Groban just put out a holiday album that we’ve played at
the bookstore since Thanksgiving and it’s easy on the ears.

As for caroling, well, there are some things that one should
never do in public and in my case, singing is one of them!

Originally posted in 2007.

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

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


Ah, fruitcake! The Food. The Myth. The Legend.

We’ve never had any of the perpetual fruitcakes hanging about
for weeks or months in our family. We’re a practical bunch. If it
tastes good, we eat it. If it doesn’t, well, out it goes!

I have, however, invented a mythical fruitcake named Margaret.

Like distant cousin Tim Abbot over at Walking the Berkshires I
have been a role-player for years although mine has been online
instead of tabletop Dungeons and Dragons. One of my characters
is an eccentric Scotsman and last Christmas he gave another
character Margaret the Fruitcake as a Christmas gift.

It seems it was baked by a female relative who passed away
while doing so and the Scotsman believes (he says) that her spirit
inhabits her final fruitcake. Margaret has been exchanged
between family members each Christmas but last year it was
given to a young squire. Various adventures ensued including a
jailbreak where Margaret was used as a weapon and then the
disappearance of the haunted fruitcake sometime around

Yeah, I know.

I’m nutty as a fruitcake

Originally published in 2007.

2009 Update-Margaret's location is unknown at present, although
rumors persist that she is being used as a curling stone by a team
of dwarves.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at the Geneabloggers website. Visit it for more links to the Christmas
memories of other genealogy bloggers!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


This is my second post in search of other descendants of John Cutter West and
Arvilla Ames.

Asa Atwood West was their eldest son. He was married three times, his first wife
being Matilda Barker Marston, the sister of his brother in law Abel Gage Marston.
Asa and Matilda's first three children were daughters who all died young. One
died in infancy, the other two died in the diptheria outbreak of the winter of
1861-1862. Their two youngest were born after the epidemic and both lived
to adulthood and married, but only their daughter Lizzie seems to have had

Asa remarried after Matilda's death in 1877 but his second wife Maggie Hoyt
died after only three years of marriage without having a child. His third
marriage, with Alda Bryant, took place twenty years later and likewise was
without issue.

Typing this I was struck by the fact that while my grandfather Floyd Earl West
Sr was facing the Spanish Influenza outbreak at Camp Ayers , Ma., his cousin
David Richards, Lizzie's son, was succumbing to it at Camp Green in North

1. Asa Atwood West (b.11 Mar 1830-Canton,Oxford,Maine;
d.31 Jan 1909-Ridlonville,Me.)
sp: Matilda Barker Marston (b.3 Feb 1829-Andover,Oxford,Me.;m.18 Mar 1854;
d.20 Apr 1877)
2. Arvilla West (b.18 Jun 1854;d.18 Feb 1862-Andover,Oxford,Me.)
2. Diantha West (b.20 Aug 1859-Andover,Oxford,Me.;d.1859)
2. Anna Pearl West (b.12 Aug 1860-Andover,Oxford,Me.;d.20 Feb 1862-Andover,Oxford,Me.)
2. Lizzie F. West (b.5 Nov 1863-Andover,Oxford,Me.;d.15 Sep 1907-Andover,Oxford,Me.)
sp: David Parsons Richards (b.22 Sep 1858-Upton,Oxford,Me.;m.23 Apr 1882;d.1 Feb
3. Bertha May Richards (b.9 Feb 1883-Andover,Oxford,Me.;d.3 Mar 1933-Andover,Oxford,Me.)
sp: Hervey E. Hall (b.25 Oct 1880-Andover,Oxford,Me.;m.13 Feb 1904;
d.23 Apr 1924-Andover,Oxford,Me.)
4. Richard N. Hall (b.29 Apr 1909-Andover,Oxford,Me.)
4. Herbert Hall (b.16 Jul 1914-Andover,Oxford,Me.;d.May 1970)
3. Harold West Richards (b.7 Sep 1887-Andover,Oxford,Me.;d.27 Nov 1938)
3. David Alton Richards (b.26 Apr 1890-Andover,Oxford,Me.;d.22 Jan 1918-Camp
Green,Charlotte,Mecklenburg,No. Car.)
2. C. Scott West (b.21 Sep 1865-Andover,Oxford,Me.)
sp: Maud Blaisdell
sp: Maggie Hoyt (b.1851;m.25 Dec 1878;d.8 May 1882)
sp: Alda Bryant (m.3 Jun 1906)


Last week my sister Cheryl sent me three links she found googling
"John Cutter West" and asked me if I'd seen them before,which I had.
But it had been some time since the last time I'd checked them so I
took a look again. The first two were posts on forums from several
years back that have not had any recent responses. The third is
a Griffith family genealogy website created by Richard Griffith.

Now John Cutter West's wife Arvilla Ames was the daughter of
Jonathan Phelps Ames and Polly Griffith/Griffeth.When I'd visited
Richard's site before I was primarily interested in my direct ancestors
and hadn't as yet widened my research to include their siblings and
cousins. This time I looked at the Index of Names, and there under West
I saw "Josiah (b.10 May 1734, d.16Feb 1803)". I clicked on it and found
that Josiah West had married Elizabeth Griffith in Plymouth, Plymouth
Co., Ma, on 28Nov 1755. Elizabeth was the daughter of Jesse Griffith
and Elizabeth Bent and a third or fourth cousin of Polly Griffith.

A while back when I'd discussed my John Cutter West brickwall here,
Randy Seaver did some searching and came up with Josiah West as
possibly being of the right generation to be JC's grandfather. I hadn't
been able to find much about him and somehow or another I'd missed
the fact his wife was a Griffith. The biggest question is did any of his
children migrate to Maine? So far I've found his son Josiah Jr. moving
to N.Y. But there seems to be more evidence that Josiah West MIGHT
be John Cutter West's grandfather, or that he MIGHT have had a
relative who was.

At least it's a lead!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Well, it's late in the evening,
And I sit here and stare
Instead of researching
I surf here and there.

All day I've been working
To earn my daily bread.
So tired I'm shirking
All ambition has fled.

I got the geneablogger blues,
I'm as tired as can be
Lord I'm so tired.
I can't climb up my family tree!

((I'd write another few verses, but I'm too tired!))

Thursday, December 17, 2009


We're in the midst of the Christmas shopping rush at the bookstore
and let me tell you folks, it can get pretty hectic at times, as it was today.

I was at the information desk looking up a book for a customer when
an older lady who was waiting nearby asked me if I could just point
out where she might find the new book about the Baker Chocolate Factory.
I told her it was on a display next to the local history section, that it
was a great book, and that if she couldn't find it I'd be glad to help her
after I finished helping the other customer. She thanked me and moved
off to find the book.

About twenty minutes later I was on my way up to help at the registers
when the same lady stopped me to tell me I'd helped make her day. I
thought she was referring to finding the Baker Chocolate Factory book,
but it turned out it was something else.She'd found the book alright, but
afterward she browsed my local history section and found the Images
of America book about the history of the Milton, Ma. fire department.

And in that book, she found a picture of her great-grandfather.

Now, she already had a copy of the picture in the book, but it was
a group photo and uncaptioned,so she hadn't know which firefighter
was him. But the copy in the book was captioned, and now she
could point directly to the man on the page who was her ancestor.
She teared up a bit but smiled when I told her how great that was
and that I knew how she felt because I'd had similiar moments
researching my own family history. She thanked me again, we
wished each other a Merry Christmas and then both of us moved
on to the cash registers, me to ring sales and she to purchase her books.

It was a long, hard, tiring day. I was very tired by the time my shift
was up, and my legs were aching and stiff.

But when I started to write about this encounter I found myself smiling.

I might have made that lady's day, but she made mine as well!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


footnoteMaven's invited us to join her in geneablog Christmas
caroling, so I'm going to contribute once again my favorite

I saw three ships come sailing in

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day in the morning.


Most of the births and anniversaries during the holiday season in my family belong
to siblings of my direct ancestors.But there are a pair of marriages that especially
stand out to me and as it happens, they are in my Abbott line.

The first is the marriage of George Abbott and Hannah Chandler on 12Dec 1646
in Roxbury, Suffolk, Ma.They were among the first settlers of Andover, Essex, Ma
and were prominent in town affairs, as also was Hannah's brother Thomas Chandler.
The Abbots had twelve children and were married for 35 years until George Abbot
died on 24Dec 1681.

Some 150 years later their 3x great grandaughter Zerviah Abbot married John Ellingwood
on 29Dec 1789 in Andover. The Ellingwoods started off their married life in Lyndborough
New Hampshire but eventually settled in Bethel, Oxford, Me, where John held several town
offices over the course of his life. Together they had seven children and many descendants,
including myself.

And as I've mentioned several times, it's through these lines that I'm related to Tim Abbott,
Chris Dunham, Janice Brown and others!

The list of December births and anniversaries that RootsMagic generated for me runs over
six pages long, so I won't reproduce it here. But I'll try to get it into a more manageable
form and add it here with an update.

Written for the 86th Carnival of Genealogy

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I've written before about how I've been contacted by distant cousins
as a result of my blog or because of Facebook. Last week I mentioned
my distant cousin Michael who shares my descent from Minuteman
John Ames had found me through West in New England. A few days
after I posted that, I heard from my cousin Betty. She's the great
granddaughter of Hiram West, brother of my great great grandfather
Jonathan Phelps West. And earlier this year through Facebook I connected
with Zac and Farell who are descended from Jonathan's brother Leonidas

I was sitting here trying to come up with something to blog about today
and a thought struck me: there were other children of John Cutter West
and Arvilla Ames and perhaps their descendants might someday come
looking for their ancestry. So I'm going to post what I know about my
West ancestors' siblings in hopes that one day another cousin will find this

First up, Anne Matilda West, the oldest daughter. She married Abel Gage
Marston and here's pretty much all I know about their family so far:

1-Ann Matilda West (4 June 1828-23 March 1913)
+Abel Gage Marston (19 April 1817-27 October 1883)
. . . . 2-Leander A. Marston (19 October 1847-)
. . . . 2-John W. Marston (5 May 1849-29 April 1910)
. . . . +Susie Duran Bigelow (-)
. . . . 2-Celinda G. Marston (1 August 1851-12 March 1912)
. . . . +Llwellyn Hall (-)
. . . . 2-Francene F. Marston (24 July 1853-)
. . . . +B.L. Akers (-)
. . . . 2-Nora Matilda Marston (4 January 1855-8 April 1943)
. . . . +Joel L. Merrill (-)
. . . . 2-Arvilla W. Marston (-)
. . . . 2-Walter E. Marston (4 December 1860-)
. . . . +Esther Austin (-)
. . . . 2-Laura C. Marston (21 March 1862-)
. . . . 2-Martha A. Marston (25 July 1864-)
. . . . 2-Ellen I. Marston (21 January 1867-)

I'll post one of these "Cousin Quest" articles every Sunday for the next
month or so,and maybe move on to the West great granduncles next.

Friday, December 11, 2009


It’s funny how some Christmas memories fade and some endure,
especially when it comes to gifts.

We weren’t poor but we weren’t exactly well off either when I
was young. Santa’s gifts were often determined by budget
concerns but he always managed to leave us clothes and some
toys. (although one year I got a note with the other gifts:
“Dear Bill, I owe you one telescope. Santa Claus”)

Ads for a forthcoming movie bring back more memories. One
Christmas eve my sister and I could hear Alvin and the
Chipmunks “Christmas Song” play over and over while our
parents laughed. When we asked why the song kept playing we
were told it was the radio and to get to sleep before Santa came.
(of course by now I already knew the Awful Truth). It turned
out Santa had left us a portable record player along with a copy
of the record!

I still have the gift my sister gave me one year: a wooden chess
set, the kind that doubles as a box to hold the chessmen. It’s
over thirty years old now.

As I grew older I learned that giving gifts was as much fun as
getting them. We didn’t have a color tv so one year when I was
working at the toy warehouse I put a portable Magnavox color
tv on layaway and gave it to my folks for Christmas. That tv lasted
for years, even after my folks got a larger console set. It migrated
from bedroom to bedroom passing from my kid brother to my
sister’s kids back to my brother’s kids until it finally gave up the

And then last year, I got a gift from a group of great friends, the
computer that I’m using right now to preserve these memories.

Oh, yeah! I eventually got the telescope!

Originally published in Dec 2007
This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
at the Geneabloggers website. Visit it for links to the Christmas
memories of other genealogy bloggers!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Dear Genea-Santa,
Yeah, it's me again. I know I already wrote you this year concerning
helping me out with the John Cutter West search but it occurred to
me that you're a busy guy and it might be more time out of your busy
schedule than you can spare to track down old John C.'s parents. I've
given it some thought and I've come up with alternative choices for
genea-gifts this year to make it easier on you.

So here they are:

1. A lead that will help me track down my Mom's White family relatives.
While her Dad Edward Francis White Sr. is long since gone, he had
brothers and sisters and even children from his second marriage. So
anything concerning descendants of Edward J. White and Pauline Offincer
/Offlincher/Offinger would be great!

2. As long as we're talking about Mom's side of the family, there's plenty
of blanks on her maternal line the McFarlands. A big blinking neon arrow
on a map of Ireland right over where my great grandparents came from
would be extremely helpful!

3. Turning to Dad's side of the family, there's several other problems I
could use a hand with besides the Elusive John Cutter West. For example,
there's Lucinda Stow/Stowe, my 3X great grandmother who married my
3x great grandfather Wesley/Westley Coburn. I still have no idea who her
parents were. Maybe you could have Rudolph shine some light on that?

4.Speaking of the Coburn line, I don't even have a name for the wife of
Caleb Coburn, Wesley's grandfather.I know Caleb was born in Dracut, Ma
12Dec 1738 and that his son Moses was born in Tyngsboro Ma.on 24Nov
1765 before they moved up to Oxford County, Maine. Maybe you could
have one of the older elves check that one out!

5.Finally,there's my Richardson line.My great great grandmother Louisa
Almata Richardson married my great great grandfather Jonathan Phelps
West. I can only go back as far as her grandfather Philip Peirce/Pierce
Richardson who married Lydia Dow in Pembroke NH on 15Nov 1794. I
have no birth records or names for parents for him, but maybe you could
check your archives of "Naughty or Nice" lists to get that info for me?

I hope that helps make fulfilling my genea-gift wish easier, Genea-Santa.
I have some more but I'll save for next year.

After all, I don't want you to think I'm genea-greedy!

Written for the 86th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy

Sunday, December 06, 2009


As you can see from the picture I posted earlier, I had a very
formal relationship with Santa. No laps for me. A simple solemn
pose would do, thank you, for the photo-op.

Formal attire was also worn when visiting Santa’s Village up in
New Hampshire. A sports jacket was de rigeur for the feeding of
reindeer but one was allowed to be more casual when posing with
the sled and full team. The girls are my cousin Terry and my
sister Cheryl.

Actually, I think we might have been there on a Sunday. We’d
have attended Mass in Berlin and probably continued on home
with a stop to visit the Village.

But by the time those pictures were taken, I’d fallen from grace.
Yes, I no longer believed in Santa Claus. I’m not sure how I
figured it out but I do know I must have been around six or seven
years old because we were still living in Malden in the two family
house that my folks and my aunt and uncle co-owned. I know this
because when I found out there was no Santa Claus, I shared my
knowledge and heard about it for years afterwards.

Yes, I told my cousins who lived downstairs. I think that was the
year I got a lump of coal in my stocking (but there were still
presents under the tree.)

I’m not sure if I told my sister the awful truth later or if she
found out some other way. I do know I didn’t tell my kid brother.
After all, I was an adult by then and I had a greater appreciation
for what Santa meant to little kids by then!

But there it is.

I squealed on Santa.

Originally published in Dec. 2007.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


It's Saturday Night, and time for another of Randy Seaver's Saturday
Night Genealogy Fun

"Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:
music), is to write a nice letter to Genea-Santa Here
are the directions:

1) Write a letter to Genea-Santa and ask for only ONE thing. It
could be hardware, software, a missing family Bible, a record that
you desperately want, etc.

2) Tell Genea-Santa what a good genea-girl or genea-boy you've
been this past year and give examples.

3) Exhibit your letter on your own blog, in a Facebook post commenting
on this note, or in a Comment to this blog post.

So - go forth and write your letter!"

And here I go:

Dear Genea-Santa,
Well, it's that time of year again! I've tried to be a good genea-boy this
year and while I didn't do anything especially spectacular I think I did ok.
I hosted the Local Poem Genealogy Challenge and guest-hosted an
edition of the CoG. I found and shared some fascinating stories about my
colonial ancestors. And I shared information with some new distant cousins
who found me through my blog.

As for what I'd like, well, it's the same as every year: some way to break
down the brick wall that is my ancestor John Cutter West. I'm not greedy,
Santa. I'll take even the tiniest clue if I can work with it somehow to
find out exactly where John was born or who his parents were!

So how about it, Genea-Santa! Work with me here,will ya?

Yours in Gedcom



My family was fortunate in that we never lived in the sort of place
where Christmas outdoor decorations becomes a blood sport.
Yes, people strung lights in their shrubbery or along their house
gutters but there was never anyone determined to turn their
front yard into the North Pole’s Southern Branch Office.

Now for light shows back then you went to someplace religious,
like Our Lady of La Sallette Shrine in North Attleboro or the local
cemetery with it’s entrance lit up, or even just cruised a stretch
of highway to look at the neighborhood lights that might be seen
from a distance as you drove by.

We didn’t really have outside lights ourselves until we left Boston
for Abington. Up until then the only lights other than on our
Christmas tree were the electric candles we put on windowsills.
But at the house Dad did the obligatory shrubbery and gutter
displays as well as one other spot: the apple tree in the front yard.

Dad had experience both with wiring and tree climbing so putting
a string of lights up in a small apple tree was a piece of cake. It
was the taking down part that didn’t seem to work at least for
the tree. One year, long after the other outside lights were down
and packed away, the lights still were hanging in the apple tree.
I’m not sure exactly when he took them down but I do know it
was well after Spring had sprung. I think they were even plugged
in once or two nights. I don’t know the reasons why they were
still there: my Dad’s sense of humor, perhaps? Or maybe an
instance where Dad’s Maine stubbornness and the Irish
stubbornness of my Mom brought about some impasse on the issue?

On my way home the other night from work I noticed at least
three of those large hot air snow globe scenes on front lawns.

Those families must have big electricity bills!

(originally published in Dec. 2007)

Friday, December 04, 2009


I've been fighting a head-cold this week and so have gotten nothing
that I'd planned to do accomplished as far as research and writing are
concerned . But before I head off to bed in abject failure for tonight,
a few notes:

*Sheri Bush, author of the Twig Talk blog took a bad fall and broke
her left arm and her left ankle. She'll be away from her keyboard
while she heals. Please send Sheri some words of encouragement
by posting them to her blog comments and her daughter will see
that she gets them!

*I was contacted by Michael, who is a distant cousin through
our common descent from Revolutionary War veteran John
Ames. It turns out John is buried in Canton, Me., not Upton
as I had written previously. Michael sent me a link to a picture of
the gravestone that is posted here on the Find A Grave site. I'm
always happy when I'm contacted by unknown cousins who have
found this blog!

*Finally, Cheri Hopkins, aka You Go Girl#2, has awarded me
another Kreativ Blogger Award over at her Those Old Memories
blog (you should check it out folks if you haven't already!). Thank
you for the honor,Cheri, and once more to the others who've
presented me with the Award recently. I really appreciate that
you all think so well of my blog!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


You know that part of the movie A Christmas Story where
the family goes out to buy the tree and the parents have a little
argument over it? Well, I laugh every time I see it because
like so much in that film it echoes my childhood.

Every Christmas when I was younger either we’d go shopping
for a tree or Dad would buy one on his way home from work.
Now as regular readers of this blog know by now, my dad was
from Maine. But even more than that, he had experience in trees.
He’d helped his father cutting down trees, and he’d worked for a
landscaper in the Boston area when he’d first come home from
the war. Mom would remind Dad of his experience every year
when the tree was fixed into the tree stand, the rope cut from
the branches and the inevitable big empty space was discovered.
Usually the problem was solved by rotating the tree so the empty
spot was in the back facing the wall. The lights were strung(and
here we differed from the film. We never blew out the fuses.),
then the garlands, the ornaments, and the icicles. Finally the
angel went up on top of the tree and we were all set. With
judicious watering the tree would last us until around “Little
Christmas” at which time it would be undecorated and deposited
curbside to await the dump truck.

Of course our tree paled in comparison to the giant my Mom’s
Uncle Tommy and Aunt Francis had in their home down in
Milton. It was so big they cut the top off and the branches didn’t
taper at the top. They were all the same size: large. I could
never believe they'd gotten that big a tree into the house in the
first place!

Then the first artificial Christmas trees hit the market and Mom
began vowing she was going to get one as she vacuumed up pine
needles from the rug. Eventually we did but that provided us
with new challenges, such as assembling the tree.

As we all grew older the prospect of trying to get the tree
together became less enchanting and so it too was replaced, this
time by a small ceramic musical tree that was lit from within by
a light bulb. I used that tree myself for several years after Mom
died although I felt no great urge to wind it up for the music. It
lasted until a few years back when I dropped it and the base
cracked. It sits now in a box in a shelf in my living room closet.

Its replacement is a small artificial tree that I bought at work with
my employee discount along with a garland. Last year some
friends sent me some snowmen ornaments for it. I haven’t put it
up yet but think I will this weekend. It fits on top of the tv.

And at some point over the holidays I’ll see that scene from A
Christmas Story again and grin.

2009 update: I bought a small string of battery powered lights
to add to my tree last week!

Originally posted in 2007.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I inadvertently left out the name of Heather Rojo's blog, Nutfield
, in the Poetry Challenge post. I've since corrected
that oversight, and my apologies to Heather for not catching that

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino of Acadian Ancestral Home blog
has honored me with a Kreativ Blog Award, my third this year.
I'm honored, Lucie, and I hope you won't mind if I consolidate this
one with the two earlier ones as far as the seven personal facts and
seven blog picks go. And if you haven't read Lucie's blog as of yet,
follow the link and enjoy!

Now that the Poetry Challenge is over amd Black Friday weekend
as well, I'll try to get back into posting here more freqently.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Earlier this year I made a discovery that made me think about
the connection between poetry and history. For centuries poems
have been written about historical events and figures, and about
places our ancestors may have lived or visited. It occurred to me
that poetry was a great resource to help us understand even more
the times they in which they lived.

Last month I issued my "Great American Local Poem Genealogy
Challenge" to my fellow geneabloggers:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region one
of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a legend,
a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local animal.

2. Post the poem to your blog (remembering to cite the source where
you found it.)

3. Did it inspire you to research the subject of the poem and how it
relates to your ancestor?

4. Submit your post's link here to me by November 22nd and I'll publish
all the entries on Thanksgiving Day!

The responses I got deal with poems ranging from Europe to
California and written from the 17th century up to the present.
I think you'll enjoy reading what these geneabloggers found!

Leading off, Dorene Paul of
Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay
presents The Poem "Erie" by Rev. L..B. Gurley. Dorene tells us
some things about Rev. Gurley's life and of how the poem reminds
her of time she has spent herself by Lake Erie

John Newmark of
Transylvanian Dutch contributes three poems
that remind him of his European ancestors:

Poetry: The Forest--Emilius Buczi is a Hungarian poem about
a forest, the description of which could be the same as one
close to a village where John's Hungarian ancestors lived.

Poetry: TS Eliot- The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock represents
John's relatives who lived in St.Louis and London, since Elliot came
from the first and spent much of his life in the second city.

Poetry: Julian Ursin Niemcewicz- America and General Washington
commemorates John's Polish ancestry with a work by an 18th century
expatriate describing his visit with George Washington!

Heather Rojo who writes Nutfield Genealogy chose The Ballad of
Cassandra Southwick
as her poem. It's based on an actual event
and was written by the great New England poet, John Greenleaf

Vickie Everhart from
BeNotForgot' sends us a great discussion of
Longfellow and Cleeves and Peaks Island. It was orginally written
for the August 2009 Carnival of Postcards and it includes a beautiful

From Tina Sansone over at
Gtownma's Genealogy we have Southern
by Southern poet Patricia Neeley-Dorsey. Both Tina and the poet
were born in Mississippi and there's some great imagery of the
Southern lifestyle.

Next, Leah introduces us to Joaquin Miller's "California Christmas"
in her post White Storm of Roses at
The Internet Genealogist. Very
lyrical and very appropriate as we enter the holiday season.

Over at her blog
Herstoryan entertains us with a poem about a
most unusual battle in which an ancestor took part. Read all about it
in Poem: Col.Elderkin and the Battle of the Frogs.

T.K. of
Before My Time shares her analysis of a poem written
in the year 1640 concerning the founding of the town of
Woburn, Ma. The post is entitled
A Rude Copy of Verses on
the History of Woburne Towne and it's a fascinating look at the
meaning behind the words!

From the 17th and 18th centuries we return to more recent times.
Elizabeth Swanay O'Neal's uncle John Swanay was a poet and she
presents an excerpt from his semi-autobiographical work Bascomb
Falls:A Family Portrait at Little Bytes of Life.

footnoteMaven's family has strong connections with New York City
and so her poem is Mannahatta By Walt Whitman. She also provides
us with a link to a site with an audio reading of the poem. Thanks, fM!

Next, from Jasia of Carnival of Genealogy fame, comes "St. Joseph's"
by Doug Tanoury. It's accompanied by a slide show of the church
that inspired the poem, and you can find it at Ode to a Detroit Landmark
at Jasia's Creative Gene blog.

My friend and co-worker Laura Vona is transcribing letters and journals
of her late grandfather Roy M Pearson Jr and has written a poem about
the night after his death:

"He was killed in a car accident near his New London, NH home before
I had much opportunity to get to know him as an adult. The night after
the accident, I stayed up late in his study, examining his books and helping
myself to the second half of a bottle of wine that he had every expectation
of coming home to finish."

Read the poem (and others) at her website here. She's a talented writer
and I'm going to keep working on Laura to start a genealogy blog!

Finally, the poem that started me thinking about poetry and genealogy
was written by the Honorable Mr. Lilley Eaton in 1844 to mark the
Bicentennial of the three towns that made up "Old Reading" in
Massachusetts. It contained quite a bit about my ancestor Jeremiah
Swain and it was the start of quite a few discoveries for me. You can read

And that concludes "The Great American Local Poem Genealogy
Challenge". I hope you've enjoyed it and that it makes you look for
poems with connections to your own family history.

Thank you to all my contributors. I'll be doing another one of
these so keep looking for more poems!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The deadline for entries in The Great American Local Poet Genealogy
Challenge is tonight, (Sunday) midnight PST. It's the challenge's "last
stanza", so don't delay!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I mentioned my ancestor Elisha Houghton the other day and
that he was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. I found this
story about him in History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts
1732-1893 by Henry Steadman Nourse (p323):

"Coliney of the Massachusetts Bay.

To the Honnorabel General Coart seting at Watertown the Petion
of Elisha Houghton a Solder under Comand of Captan Hastings in Cona
Whitcomb's Rigement in the year 1775 and I was in the fight on bunkers
Hill So Called in Charlston on the 17 of June in the year 1775 as above
sd and on my Return I and others Lited on one Jacob Davis who was
wounded who requested our help and in tacking Care of the sd Davis
Caused me your Petinor to take Mistick Road to convey the sd Davis to
where he thought he could be tacken Care of and in so Doing 1 came
acros by Winter hill to go to head Quater at Cambridge and in Coming
by the Gard of Connal Starks which was set on sd hill they took away
my Gun which I and others that Knew sd Gun Judged to be worth teen
Dolers. I Endevuered to Recover my Gun again but was Denied the
Same which may be made Evident to this Coart by Reading the Paper
acompining this Petition. 1 also Sertify this Coart that I have Never
Reseved my Gun since Nor any Consideration for the same. I therefore
your Poor Petitioner Humbly Pray that this Coart would be Pleased to
take my Case into your Consideration and alow me Pay for my Gun
and your Petitioner as in Duty bound Shall Ever Pray. Bolton Jan. the —
1776 Elisha Houghton

This may Certify that Elisha Houghton of Col Whitcomb's Regiment
in Capt. Hasting's Company was in the Action on Bunker's hill and
helping bringing the wounded men off to Cambridge went mistick Road over
Winter hill and the Guard that was set on winter hill took away the Guns,
and this sd Houghton's Gun was among the Rest, the next Day with [a]
number of others sd Houghton went in order to Get his Gun with an officer
with him, but could not find it and have Never heard of it since—as I know of.

Josiah Whitney, Lt. Col. of sd Rgmt.
Dorchester Camp Febury 29th. 1776"

I don't know if Elisha ever got recompensed for his lost gun, but I suspect he
waa the one of the earliest victims of "requisitioning" in the American
military tradition.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ELISHA HOUGHTON: 20 JUL 1746-18 NOV 1826

Yesterday, November 18th, was the 183 anniversary of my
5x great grandfather Elisha Houghton's death. He was born on
20 Jul 1746 in Lancaster, Worcester, Ma. and died on
18 Nov 1826(in perhaps Vt.)

Elisha is one of my Revolutionary War ancestors. He
enlisted at Harvard Ma as a Private in May of 1777 in the
Massachusetts militia and was at the Battles of Bunker Hill
and Stillwater. He then enlisted for three years in the infantry
company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown in Colonel
Timothy Bigelow's 15th Regiment of the Massachusetts line.
and took part in the Battles of Monmouth and Newport and
was at Valley Forge. He twice was promoted to Sergeant and
twice was busted back down to the ranks. I have a copy of
his pension request file and hope to eventually transcribe
and post it here.

On 30 Nov 1768 he married Meriah Peirce in Harvard, Worcester
Ma and they had four children. One of their grandaughters ,
Sally Houghton, married James Thomas Dunham, Jr., and that's how
I came to be related to Chris Dunham!


The 84th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is out and up over at
Jasia's Creative Gene blog. The topic this time was "what the CoG
means to me and there's quite a selection of entries that I am going
to enjoy reading!

There's also the call for submissions to the next edition which will be
the 85th CoG!

Call for Submissions! The topic for the next edition of the COG is:
“Orphans and Orphans.” The first type of orphan refers to those ancestors
or relatives who lost their parents when they were young. The second type
of orphan would be those siblings or cousins of our ancestors whom we think
of as “reverse orphans.” They are the relatives who, for whatever reason –
death at a young age, never having married or had children, or having
children who did not survive to provide descendants – have no direct
descendants of their own, so it falls to us, their collateral relatives, to learn
and write their story. Greta will be the host this time around (thank you
Greta!). The deadline for submissions is December 1st.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy
using our carnival submission form. Please use a descriptive phrase in the
title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/
introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blog carnival
submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written
about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Past posts
and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

If you haven't taken part in the Carnival of Genealogy yet, give it a try!
It's a great way to introduce yourself to the geneablogger community!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Regina over at Kinfolk News has presented me with a Kreativ Blogger Award! Thanks for the honor, Regina!

The rules say I have to list seven things about myself and then choose seven other award winners. So here it goes:

I hate snow. A horrible thing for a native New Englander to say, I know.

I miss having a dog or cat but since I rent it’s cheaper not to have pets and less messy. And it wouldn’t be fair to a pet to leave them locked up here alone while I’m at work.

I enjoy the younger kids I meet at the bookstore. I’m talking the toddlers who are just starting to explore their world. I also get a kick out of calling the kids “sir” or “ma’am” just to see the expressions on their faces when they are addressed as an adult.

I don’t read as much as I used to read. I blame the internet.

I drink tea more than coffee now. Go figure.

I have only driven in Boston twice in my life. God had men invent subway systems for a reason and who am I not to make use of them ?

And now to pass on the award:

Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy

Polly Fitzgerald Kimmit at Pollyblog

Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots

Amy Coffin at We Tree

Carol at Reflections From The Fence

Herstoryan at Herstoryan

T.K. Sand at Before My Time

Thanks again, Regina!

UPDATE-Katie O. over at You Are Where You Came From has honored me
as well withthe Kreativ Blogger Award! Thank you, Katie!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I just wanted to remind everyone that there's only a week left to get
your posts written for The Great American Local Poet Genealogy
Challenge. In case you missed them, these are the rules

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region one of
your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a legend, a
person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local animal.

2. Post the poem to your blog (remembering to cite the source where you
found it.)

3. Did it inspire you to research the subject of the poem and how it relates to

4.Submit your post's link here to me by November 22nd and I'll publish all
the entries on Thanksgiving Day!

Several of you have already sent submissions but more would be welcome.
So pick a poem and let us know about it for better or verse!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I started West in New England on 1/23/2007 after having discovered the
geneablogs of Chris Dunham, Tim Abbot, J.J. Bell and Randy Seavers. But it
was a link on Randy’s Genea-musings blog to Jasia’s Carnival of Genealogy
that led me to what turned out to be the biggest step in becoming a better
blog writer.

My first COG contribution was “AGGIE” in the 03/17/07 20th edition of the
Carnival. I’d written it back in February but it wasn’t until it appeared as part
of the Carnival that I had comments on it. (That’s been the best thing about
the COG for me, the feedback. Statscounters can tell you if anyone’s looked
at your site but comments tell you if they actually read what you wrote.)
I was hooked. I’ve tried to contribute to as many editions as I can ever since,
only missing three for the rest of 2007 ( #30,#32 and #35) and one in 2008
(#60). Because of computer problems I’ve already missed three this year
(#72, #74 and #77) but I’m hoping not to miss any more! Along the way I ’ve
had the honor of hosting two editions, #50 on Family Pets and #69 What If?:
Rewriting History. That gave me a greater appreciation for the amount of
wor k that Jasia has put into the CoG!

My Top Five Favorite Posts for the CoG(in chronological order):
ORPHA in CoG #33

The other great thing about the CoG has been all the connections that have
been made among geneabloggers that began through it. Most of the blogs in
the links column on the right side of this page are I first encountered through
the Carnival of Genealogy and I’m sure many other of my fellow geneabloggers
can make similar statements. This why in my opinion the importance of the
CoG cannot be overstated, because I firmly believe that the greater Geneablogger
Community as it is today would not exist if not for the connections that Jasia
and the CoG had already fostered.

Thank you, Jasia!

I’ve taken part in 55 Carnival of Genealogy editions. This is my number 56, and
I hope there will be many, many more CoG’s for me to take part in!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Some of you might have noticed I'd been absent from the internet for the
past week. This was because Elaine the Computer seems to have finally
gone belly up last early Wednesday morning. Her predecessor, a laptop
named Kramer (aka Sparky due an incident involving his power cord),
balked at going online so it's taken me awhile to get back here.

So what did I do to keep myself occupied while offline? Well I read some
books(non-genealogy related) and watched some tv. But I did get a lot
done on that database of ancestral death dates, and on the timeline of
my family's involvement in the New England Indian Wars.

And I worked on putting hole reinforcements on the family group sheets
in three 3-ring loose leaf notebooks. All three books now suffer from
unsightly "reinforcements bulge" but those sheets won't rip and fall out!

It'll take me a day to get back into my blogging routine and recall what it
was I wanted to blog about next before Elaine crashed, but at least I'm
back online!

Thursday, November 05, 2009


The anniversaries of two of my direct ancestors fall on November 5th:

Amos Hastings Barker (my great great grandfather) died on 5Nov 1907.
He was 79 years old.

Philip Jonathan West
(my great grandfather) died on 5Nov 1954.
He was 86 years old.

I've posted pictures of both men in previous posts and you can see them by
clicking on their names in the labels below this post.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


One morning in March,1668, Thomas Chandler went to court once more about
Job Tyler. It was probably late in the month given the date of Job Tyler’s reply.
But this time Chandler was not there to press his case against his foe.

This time, apparently tired of Tyler’s verbal attacks, Thomas Chandler had
come to throw in the towel. I’ve boldfaced the last two words:

“Thomas Chandler of Andover came into court and offered Job Tyler 20li to settle
and also to remit his son's bond of 100li. Otherwise that the court might allow him
what they thought meet provided he might be quiet

Job might have been warned off his previous scurrilous attacks on Chandler
but the incident involving the cattle seems to have inspired him to new
heights of rhetoric:

“Job Tiler's complaint to the grand jury, dated Mar. 31, 1668, that John Stevens and
Thomas Chandeler, both of Andover, about Aug. 20, 1667, by violence and force "
and in a Ryotous mannor and against the peace of our Souerigne Lord the Kinge, his
Crowne & Dignity and the peace & Lawes of this Country," took away from Richard
Post of Oborne, the marshal general's deputy, in the common highway leading from
Andover to Oborne about six miles from Andover, two oxen and two cows which Post
was to deliver to Tiler, upon execution against said Chandler. Tiler prayed that
"such practises and violence offered to yt supreme Authority may not goe unpunished
for if this be suffered farr well Lawes Libertys and the rights of the People but you
are the persons yt god giues power to prevent these abuses, you beinge now thee eyes
and eares of this County & called Together to present offences and breach of Lawes."

-(Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts
Vol 4 Mar 1668 p14-15)

((Note Oborne seems to have been a transcription error for the town of Woburn ))
Given some of Tyler’s own actions in the whole affair, it seems a bit hypocritical to
me, but he seems to have been satisfied with this last outburst since so far I’ve found
no further court records of cases between him and my ancestor Thomas Chandler.
Perhaps he and his son Moses were too busy pursuing their feud with John Godfrey.
I had a thought the other day about all the court cases I’ve found about my ancestors:
if there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I wouldn’t be surprised if many Puritans came
back as crows and starlings so they could sit on a telephone wire and argue raucously at
each other much as they did in their human lives!

Monday, November 02, 2009


Alright. John from TransylvanianDutch has submitted a guess on the
Welsh phrase in "Easy For You To Say" and you can check it out in
the comments on that post.

The actual meaning is "Excuse me, do you know where the books on
family trees are?" (from the books "Beginner's Welsh") I'd have let it
go longer but if my computer goes completely I didn't want to leave you
folks waiting for an answer!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


So, you're a genealogist abroad. What language is this and what are
you asking?

"Esgusodwch fi,ydych chi'n gwybodble mae llyfrau ar achau'r tealu?"

UPDATE: Jessica and then Karen Packard Rhodes correctly identified
the language as Welsh. So now, what are you asking someone to help
you find?

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I don’t play any musical instruments and I can’t carry a tune in a
gedcom file. When I lamented on Facebook about the fact that I
had no post for the next Carnival of Genealogy, some of my geneablogger
friends suggested I post about the “49 Genealogical Uses for a Flutaphone.”

This series started as a humorous challenge from Janice Brown of
“Cow Hampshire.” She posted her dream genealogy blog complete with
sessions hosted by her fellow geneabloggers on topics she assigned. We in
turn were supposed to post something for those “sessions” on our own blogs.

Finding 49 Genealogical Uses for a Flutaphones is not an easy assignment and as
you can see I got off to a way off topic start. But eventually, with the help of
Janice, Apple, Terry Thornton, and Schelly Talalay Dardashti, I completed the list
six months later. In fact, you’ll notice it’s actually fifty uses, since there’s two #29’s!

So here it is, for the first time, the collected, complete 49 Genealogical Uses for a

Hmm. They may take votes away from me on the FamilyTree magazine Top 40
Genealogy Blogs poll for subjecting the genealogy community to this once again!

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

2. Windchimes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Bookmark-When you have to leave your chair for a
moment to ask the librarian to find you another genealogy
book in the stacks use the flutaphone to mark your place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 Snake charmer - play it when you see scary snakes in the cemetery,
where you happen to be browsing for your ancestor's stones. Heck,
it works in the movies! (Janice)

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!"

28. Measuring instrument(summer)- in genealogy cemetery searches
during the summer: Just how long was that snake among the
headstones? How many flutaphones long? (Terry)

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

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

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

#33 Genealogy CD holder- Crazy glue a flutaphone firmly
to the top of your computer desk (vertically so the mouth
piece is at the top). The open center of your genealogy CDs
should fit over the mouthpiece, with some room to spare).

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.

43.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.”

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!!

((revised for the 83rd Carnival of Genealogy))


I was offline for a bit in August when Terry Thornton launched his
new blog site at "Terry Thornton's Hill Country H.O.G.S. Webpress"
which is the only explanation I can come up with as to why I haven't
mentioned the event here previously.

Terry is a familiar figure to many of us in the geneablogging community
from his "Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi" blog. It
had some great writing and articles about Terry's part of the
country and his memories of a lifetime there. I'm glad to see he's
back with new articles, and urge you to check it out if you haven't
done so already!

Written for Geneablogger's "Follow Friday"


Back when I was in high school and college I had this habit of keeping
3X5 index card files in little metal boxes. One was for mythology and
folklore, and the other was for history. Back then I was enthralled
by ancient, classical, and medieval history. I even copied the
dynastic family trees from history books onto blank graph paper.
I'm afraid many of the cards had little more than names and dates
on the top line because I'd create a card for historical figures or
battles to be filled in later and it was a slow process. I only made it
halfway through the alphabet so while I didn't have much information
recorded for Xenophon, if you wanted to know all about Artaxerxes, I was
your man.

Time went on, and it took me away from academia after college graduation.
The card files sat unused in a closet, and when this amazing machine called
a home computer eventually came along, the files were thrown out.

A few months back I gave up trying to figure out how to create a calendar or
a list of the date of death of my ancestors on PAF and then RTM4. And I also
wanted to do a timeline of all the events in the lives of my ancestors who
lived during the Indian wars in New England. So I went out and bought two
packs of 3x5 index cards.

They sat here on my desk for a few months.

Then the other day Elaine the computer was being fickle about starting
up. While I was waiting, I saw the packs of cards and decided it was a good
way to work on genealogy while waiting on Elaine. First I did the timeline,
using the printed copies of blogposts I've done for the past year. There's
still more to add to it from posts from earlier years but quite a bit of it is
already done.

Then I took out the binders with printouts of family groups and started
making cards for the death dates of my direct ancestors. As I went through
each one, I'd take a card, write the month and day on the top, then skip
a line, then write the year and the ancestor's name. If I came across another
ancestor who'd died in a different year with the same month and day, I
skipped a line, wrote down the year and then the name. So in other words,
if one person died on Jan 1 1800 and another died on Jan 1 1917, they are
both on the card with the header, "Jan 1". I've gotten pretty far along on
this now, too.

Not rocket science I know, but it passed the time and I enjoyed it. It gave me
time to consider some of the family relationships and to make note of family
groups that need fleshing out.

I asked this question already over on Facebook but I'll do it again here:
any other geneabloggers using old fashioned 3x5 cards in their research?

Friday, October 30, 2009


before voting closes for Family Tree Magazine's "Top 40 Genealogy
Blogs". You can cast your vote for the genealogy blogs you feel
deserve the honor here. footnoteMaven has thoughtfully provided
a list of links to each of the nominees and you can use that to help
make a decision if need be.

And if you should decide to vote for "West in New England" in
the Personal/Family category, I thank you.

And thanks once more to those whose votes got me into this next
stage of the competition!