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.