Saturday, March 31, 2012


Before I conclude this series, I wanted to use GoogleMaps to see if I
could get some pictures of the places the McFarland Family lived in the
late 19th-early 20th century. But that area of Boston has undergone
extensive reclamation over the last 100 years. Berlin Street no longer

Coventry Street is still there but number 37 is gone:

171 Vernon St is now an empty stretch of grass across the street from the
Madison Park Technical High School  Tremont St where the McFarlands
lived for about a year still exists but is gentrified:

Most of the McFarland children were born on Albert St. That area has been
torn down and replaced by a housing development and a recreation park:

Finally, Parker Avenue was where the family finally settled down and owned
several houses. It's been replaced by the Bromley Heath Housing Complex:

So the houses where my great grandparents lived and raised their family are gone.
But it's not the buildings that are important in a family's history.

It's the people who lived inside them.

To be continued.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


It's been years, decades actually, since the last time I'd been to the McFarland
grave at Mt Benedict. I couldn't remember exactly how many names there
were on the gravestone. I knew my great grandparents' names were on it, along
with my grandaunt Winnie who'd never married and my grandmother Agnes
under her married name Agnes White. Other than that, I didn't know if the
names of the children who'd died in infancy were on the stone nor if they
were even buried there. As you could see from the my cousin Chris Markunas
sent, it was only the four names I remembered.

The Interment Record showed that some but not all of the children were
indeed buried there:

Great Grandfather John McFarland purchased the plot on 23 Aug 1886. At
that time the bodies of children Catherine and John must have been brought
from wherever they'd been previously buried since they had died before the
purchase of the plot. Over the years children Annie, Edward, Sarah and George
joined them in grave #1120. Great grandfather John died in 1923 and great
grandmother Annie in 1945. They are buried in grave 1122. Adult daughters
Winifred and Agnes(my grandmother) lie in grave 1123.

But there are two other adults named on the Interment Record, and while
names themselves were family names, I had no idea who these two men
were. The first was Frank McFarland who was interred on the date the
lot was purchased, 23Aug 1886 at age 31. The second was another John
McFarland  age 26, interred on 24May 1888. Obviously they were related
to my great grandfather but the question was how?

Using the ages and interment dates I searched both Ancestry and FamilySearch
and found the death records for both. These images are from FamilySearch's
Massachusetts Deaths 1841-1915 Collection:

Frank's parents' names are listed as Michael and Dorothy, the same as my great
grandfather. More importantly, his place of residence is given as 37 Coventry
St.. That is where my great grandparents were living when their children Catharine
and John died. I think it's safe to believe that this Frank McFarland was my great
grandfather's brother.

John's parents are Michael and Mary. He was nearly ten years younger than my
great grandfather and not living with him, but he is buried in the family plot, so
I'm guessing he's a nephew or cousin.

Both men died suddenly. John died at Boston City Hospital as the result of an
accident. Frank was killed by the "caving in of an embankment " on Western Ave.
in Boston. I'll have to see if I can find a newspaper account of their deaths.

To be continued....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I've had a public family tree on for eight years now.(I just
looked up when I started there. I can't believe it's been that long!) It's still
very much  a work in progress. There are some folks who don't believe
in sharing their research with others online either on Ancestry or in a
blog. But as I've said many times before here, I'm a big believer in sharing.
After all, what good does it do me to keep all that I've found to myself?
Better to put it out there and share it! By doing it, I've been more than
repaid by the information distant cousins have shared with me after
they've discovered my Ancestry tree or this blog. It's happened
again in the case of my McFarland research.

I was recently contacted on Ancestry by Chris Markunas. Chris is
descended from John and Annie(Kelley)McFarland and is their
great great grandson, His great grandfather was their oldest son
Michael Edward McFarland so we're 2nd cousins 1x removed.
As it happened we finally made contact by phone on Sunday and
talked for over an hour as we discussed what we knew about the
family. Afterward we exchanged documents and pictures via
email and what Chris sent me answered some questions and
raised a few more. Chris has given me permission to post the
 images here.

First, there were copies of the death certificates of John McFarland
and Annie (Kelley) McFarland:

John McFarland's Death Certificate

There is also a picture of the headstone at at their grave at Mt Benedict Cemetery
in Boston:

Finally(and here's where the new questions came from) the McFarland Internment
Record card from Mt Benedict Cemetery:

Can you see the items in that last image that raised the new questions?


As I said, I'd discovered names of children I hadn't known about
in the family of my maternal great grandparents John and Annie (Kelley)
McFarland. Let's look again at the birth or death records I found at
FamilySearch. The new discoveries are in red:

2Aug 1882 Michael McFarland 44 Berlin St
7May 1884 Mary McFarland 44 Berlin St
Nov 1885 Catharine McFarland 37 Coventry St 
10Dec 1885 Catharine McFarland 37 Coventry St (d. meningitis)
30Jul 1886 John McFarland 37 Coventry St (d Indigestion w/Convulsions)
24Nov 1886 Francis McFarland 171 Vernon St
 6Mar 1888 John McFarland  171 Vernon St
19dec 1889 Robert McFarland 171 Vernon St
17Oct 1891 Joseph McFarland 6 Tremont St
8Sep 1892 Joseph McFarland 5 Albert St (d. marasmus  )
12Jun 1893 Thomas McFarland 5 Albert St
24Mar 1895 Annie McFarland 9 Albert St
18Oct 1896  Annie McFarland 9 Albert St
7Oct 1898   Agnes McFarland 9 Albert St
5Jul 1900 Sara McFarland (no address) (d  diphteria)
20Oct 1900 Winnie McFarland 9 Albert St
8Jun 1903 Margaret McFarland  9 Albert St

But there were other children I knew of that I couldn't find
records for on FamilySearch and I had learned about from 
my cousin John V McFarland.:
Annie McFarland  Mar 1885-7Jun 1887
George McFarland 1Jan 1919-13Jan 1919

Looking over the new list I was struck by how close the  births
were to each other(except for George) and by the recurrence
of some names like John (twice) and Annie(three times). I also
realized that all the new births and dates had fallen between
the U.S.Censuses. The only reason I knew about the first Annie
and George was because of the information my cousin John had
provided to us in a letter years ago.

I'd found birth and death records for some but for others there
were only one or the other. Given the sad condition of the page
with Catherine McFarland's birth record on it, those missing
records may no longer exist:


As I said, I was working on this last week. On Saturday I went to the New England
Family History Conference where I heard Michael Brophy's talk on "Genealogical
Materials at the Boston Catholic Diocese". Inspired by that, and by what I had
found at FamilySearch, Saturday night I decided I'd visit the Archdiocese Record
Center. I would also finally send away for the birth certificates of my great
grandparents .

Then Sunday I made contact with another McFarland descendent who would
help provide some answers.

  (to be continued)    

Monday, March 26, 2012


I didn't have much luck finding records in the new Massachusetts Vital Record
database at But that did prompt me to revisit FamilySearch
once more to check there for births, deaths, and marriages specifically for the
family of my maternal grandmother Agnes McFarland. I'd found names and dates
before in the Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915 database there
but no images. This time, I found them in the Massachusetts  Births, Deaths,
and Marriages 1841-1915 Databases, and in doing so discovered several new
siblings of my grandmother who I hadn't been aware of before.  They'd died
in infancy of various diseases.

As I went along I came to the realization that the images of the birth and in
some cases death registers for Boston could give me a record of where my
great grandparents lived because all their children were born at home, not in
a hospital. They moved around, I believe, as their family grew and it was
necessary for my great grandparents to move to bigger quarters. Eventually
they ended up owning two houses on Parker St in the Roxbury section of
Boston but by that time all but one of their children had been born.

John McFarland and Annie Kelly arrived in the United States in 1880 and since
I haven't been able to find them on the 1880 Federal Census I think they
arrived after the Census was finished in Boston. I had some information
already provided some years ago by my cousin John V.McFarland so I used
that to doublecheck against the dates on the images.

Here are the names of John and Annie McFarland's children and where they
were born or died, and cause of death where available:

2Aug 1882 Michael McFarland 44 Berlin St
7May 1884 Mary McFarland 44 Berlin St
Nov 1885 Catharine McFarland 37 Coventry St 
10Dec 1885 Catharine McFarland 37 Coventry St (d. meningitis)
30Jul 1886 John McFarland 37 Coventry St (d Indigestion w/Convulsions)
24Nov 1886 Francis McFarland 171 Vernon St
 6Mar 1888 John McFarland  171 Vernon St
19dec 1889 Robert McFarland 171 Vernon St
17Oct 1891 Joseph McFarland 6 Tremont St
8Sep 1892 Joseph McFarland 5 Albert St (d. marasmus  )
12Jun 1893 Thomas McFarland 5 Albert St
24Mar 1895 Annie McFarland 9 Albert St
18Oct 1896  Annie Mcfarland 9 Albert St
7Oct 1898    Agnes McFarland 9 Albert St
5Jul 1900 Sara McFarland (no address) (d  diphteria)
20Oct 1900 Winnie McFarland 9 Albert St
8Jun 1903 Margaret McFarland  9 Albert St

There was one more child, George McFarland born on 1 Jan 1918 who died
twelve days later on 13Jan 1918. That fifteen year gap between children
makes me wonder if there are other children in that period that died in infancy.

To be continued.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Well, it finally happened! I made it to my first genealogy conference, the
2012 New England Family History Conference! When I saw the announcement
for it posted on Facebook a few months back, I was excited. Not only was it
closeby(about an hours drive by back roads in Ping the Wonder Car) but it was
FREE but for $8.00 you could get a brown bag lunch that would help support a
good group.  This was definitely doable!

So yesterday morning Ping and I headed off to the LDS Chapel in Franklin, Ma
via a series of backroads and actually arrived on time for the start of the day.
The conference was divided up into 4 one hour sessions each with 7 classes
to choose. There was quite a variety of subjects and I chose the following:

Ist hour:Websites and Blogs: Difference?  with Lucie LeBlanc Consentino

2nd hour: Genealogical Materials at the Boston Catholic Diocese with
Michael Brophy

       (Then came the one hour lunch break.)

3rd hour: Finding Obscure Revolutionary War Patriots with Michael Potaski

4th hour:Brick Walls:Cracking the Case/Nathan Brown's Parents with Marian

Then there was an hour to socialize with refreshments during which I had the
chance to talk some more with Marian and Alice Kane.

All the talks were informative and enjoyable. Lucie and Marian surprised me by
recognizing me on sight and are as fun to talk to in person as you might expect
from their online personas!   And I introduced myself to Michael Brophy who is
the only other genealogist I know of from Abington.

Although the Conference was over at 4pm I left earlier and after driving home
I found my copy of the 5th edition of the Genealogist's Handbook for New
edited by Michael Leclerc had arrived in the mail!

All in all, a great genealogical day and I really enjoyed hearing the presenters
and meeting my fellow geneabloggers.  My thanks to the folks at the
Franklin LDS Chapel who did a great job making everything run so smoothly.

Now I'm looking for another conference I can attend!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Back in February I read a story about a 100 year old time capsule being 
opened here in Abington and it inspired me to make this challenge:

"This got me thinking:if I were going to leave a time capsule for someone 
to open a century from now, what would I leave in  it? What things from 
my every day life, what family memories would I want to pass on to future 

What would you put in YOUR time capsule?

 I'm interested in seeing what you would save. So, here's the Genealogist's
Time Capsule Challenge:

1 Make a list of what you would put in a time capsule and why you'd choose
each item.

2, What would you use for the time capsule? Where would you have it kept?"

I received some very interesting replies. Some folks approached the question
logically, others with a mixture of whimsy and practicality. It was fun seeing
what favorite personal items would be included along with the genealogical
records, and as a former bookseller I especially liked seeing what books
were chosen to be passed on to future generations.

So here are the responses to the Genealogists' Time Capsule Challenge: 

Carol A Bowens Stevens in My Genie Time Capsule at her blog, Reflections 
From The Fence has a rather unique solution as to where her time
capsule would be kept. 

Dorene  of Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay in her Time Capsule Challenge
includes on her list more than one item with fizz. Well, I'm not sure one 
would still be fizzy but it's a neat idea!

At A.M.H.'s Blog, Anthony has three posts answering the Challenge.In 
My Time Capsule(s) --Part 1, he discusses what he wants to accomplish
with the contents of his capsule. In Part 2 he reveals what sort of vessel
he would use for the Capsule (s). And then in Part 3, he tell us about his 

Cousin Pam Carter has started a new blog, My Maine Ancestry and 
answers the Challenge with My Genealogy Time Capsule.
Not only is Pam including things of personal significance, she has
chosen a place with personal significance for where she would
bury her capsule.

Apple gives some thought to how she can ensure her time capsule
will be opened with Do Not Open Until 15 Mar 2112 over on
Apple's Tree

John Newmark ponders whether or not future generations would be 
able to read the information left on today's devices. His solution is
presented in Creating A Time Capsule at his TransylvanianDutch 

At Anglers Rest, the author considers the Challenge in light of the
fact that there is a time capsule being created to commemorate the
Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Read about that, and 
another time capsule that the author created in her blogpost
What would you put in a Time Capsule?

Randy Seaver made the Challenge a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
Challenge and then gave his own answer at Genea-Musings. The post 
is Saturday Night Genealogy Fun-The Genealogy Time Capsule Challenge.
Randy's selection of items is a unique review of some technology
that used to part of our lives not so long ago.

Jo Graham of Our Scots Blog learned about the Challenge from Randy's 
Saturday Night Genealogy Fun and came up with a distinctly Scottish
group of items at SNGF-the Time Capsule Challenge. Not only that, Jo
recounts stories of some time capsules of sorts that her family have
either discovered or created! 

Finally, there's my own My Genealogy Time Capsule here on West in
New England . I've included some books and cds and a few things to
make my future relatives scratch their heads in puzzlement. On the
other hand, they'll probably do that with the cds. Remember Rod 
Talor spinning those audio discs in The Time Machine!

I want to thank everyone who participated. I hope you all had as much
fun writing about your time capsules as I did reading about them!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


As I mentioned in the previous post, Isaac Dunham was the first keeper of the
Minot Ledge Lighthouse near the site of the St. John. I knew that he was originally
from Plymouth from some online accounts of his life, which made it more than
liely that he, like myself, was a descendant of John Dunham. The only question
was, how were exactly were Isaac and I related?
 I Googled "Isaac Dunham"+ Plymouth and eventually found the following

"(VII) Isaac Dunham, son of Capt. Cornelius, was born Oct. 11, 1787, in Plymouth,
Mass., and in early life followed the sea, serving on coasters and schooners,
during which time he visited many of the foreign ports. During the war of 1812 he
served on a privateer. Soon after his marriage he settled in Hartford, Maine, where
he was engaged in farming, later removing to Belfast, Maine, where he also followed 

farming. In 1827, when the Pemaquid lighthouse at Bristol, Maine, was built, he
became the first keeper of that light, in which capacity he acted for about nine
years. In 1836 he came to North Bridgewater, where he took up farming for about
three years, when he became the first keeper of the Nausett lighthouse at Eastham,
Mass., in 1839, remaining as keeper of that light for a period of about four years,
when he resigned, and for the next four or five years was engaged at the Lowell
railroad depot in Boston; during this time he resided at East Cambridge, Mass.
Returning to North Bridgewater he again took up farming, at which vocation he was
occupied until the Minot's Ledge Light, at Cohasset, Mass., was completed, when he
became the first keeper of this lighthouse, which he lighted first Jan. 1, 1850. This
lighthouse was off shore some distance and was constructed of iron piping, and from
the first Mr. Dunham did not consider it safe, so he resigned his position in the fall
of that year, and the following April 16, 1851, during a storm, the lighthouse was
completely demolished, the two keepers being lost and their bodies never recovered.
Mr. Dunham then returned to North Bridgewater, where he spent the remainder of
his days, and where he passed away March 25, 1856. Mr. Dunham was musically

inclined, and during the time he lived at Eastham, Mass., was a singer in and leader 
of the choir of the church, which he attended regularly.

On Oct. 7, 1811, Mr. Dunham married Abigail Cary, who was born in North 

Bridgewater, the daughter of Jonathan and Abigail (Perkins) Cary, and a direct 
descendant of John Cary, who was the first of the name in this country, coming 
from England and settling in Duxbury, Mass., in 1639, later becoming one of the
first settlers of Bridgewater, of which he was the first town clerk. Mrs. Dunham 
died in her native town Dec. 25, 1873, aged eighty-three years, the mother of 
eight children, two of whom died young, the others being as follows: Henry 
Cornelius, born May 25, 1814, in Hartford, Maine, came in 1839 to North 
Bridgewater, where he married Lucia Brett; he was a shoe manufacturer in 
North Bridgewater, where he died. Abigail, born Aug. 31, 1819,  married 
Sidney Eaton, of Chelsea, Mass., and died in North Bridgewater Isabella, 
born April 13, 1822, is the widow of Barnabas Snow, formerly of Eastham, 
Mass., and later of North Bridgewater, where he was extensively engaged 
as a builder and where she now resides. Mary Aurelia, born July 11, 1824, 
married Isaac Brett, of  North Bridgewater, where she died. Isaac Atwood, 
born March 6, 1827, married Augusta L. Packard, of North Bridgewater, 
where he was a shoe toolmaker and inventor, being the first maker of a 
shoe edge plane; he died in Brockton Oct. 22,  1896. Benjamin Franklin 
is mentioned below."

J.H. Beers Representative men and old families of southeastern 
Massachusetts ...,  Volume 3 J.H. Beers & Co  Chicago, Illinois 1912 (p1692-1693)

(My Maine cousin Norman Mitchell had also found the line of descent for Isaac.)

And once again, after I'd read all this, gobsmackery ensued.

The key here is Isaac's father, Cornelius Dunham. Regular readers of this blog
might remember my series of posts about the Dunham cousins I found buried here
not far from my parents' grave in Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Abington. They were all
descended from Ezra Dunham, who like Isaac was also the son of Capain Cornelius
Dunham,  and Polly Cary, cousin of Isaac Dunham's wife, Abigail Cary!

So there you have it. Isaac Dunham, lighthouse keeper, is my 5th cousin 5x removed.
and the uncle and brother of the Dunhams I'd been researching here in my home

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I've written before about the way some work of chance leads me to
encounters with places related to my family's history. Last month
I took some pictures in a local cemetery that I thought might make a
good St Patrick's Day post, a reminder of the perils our Irish ancestors
braved to come to America. But when I researched the story behind
a stone monument, I didn't realize that while I was not related to the
deadf it commemorated, I was connected to it in another way.

A tall Celtic cross sits atop a small hill in the midst of the Central Cemetery in
Cohasset, Ma, overlooking a tidal pond. On the landward side is the
following inscription:

This Cross Was Erected And Dedicated
May 30th 1914 By The A.O.H. And The L.A.A.O.H.
Of Massachusetts To Mark The Final
Resting Place Of About Forty Five
Irish Emigrants From A Total Company
Of Ninety Nine Who Lost Their Lives
On Grampus Ledge Off  Cohasset
October 7, 1849 In The Wreck Of The
Brig St.John From Galway Ireland

Edwin Victor Bigelow gives the details of the wreck of the St.John in
his A Narrative History of the Town of Cohasset, Massachusetts, published
by the Cohasset Town Historical Commission in 1898:

On Sunday morning at seven o'clock, October 7, 1849, under a heavy northeast
storm, the British brig St. John, loaded with immigrants brought from Galway,
Ireland, was driven upon Grampus Ledge near Minot, and ninetynine lives
were lost. Another brig, the Kathleen, had managed to creep into the mouth
of our harbor and to anchor; but the St. John was farther out where the gale
struck furiously and made her drag anchors.

The masts were cut away, but still she dragged on. After the first heavy thump
on the Grampus Rock the old hulk rapidly tumbled to bits. Previous to the
breaking up, the jolly-boat was hanging by the tackles alongside when the
stern ringbolt broke and she fell into the waves. Captain Oliver, the second
mate, and two boys jumped into her to clear her, when about twenty-five
passengers poured into her and swamped her so that all perished but the
captain. The first mate hauled in the captain, who caught the end of a rope.

Then the longboat was loosed and the captain with the first mate and eight
of the crew and two passengers scrambled into her, reaching shore at the
Glades. Many more passengers were drowned in their desperate endeavors
to get into the longboat which saved the captain and crew. Ten others, upon
a piece of the deck which was wrenched off by the waves, were floated
safely to shore, seven men and three women.

The St. John was only an hour in tumbling to pieces under the incessant banging
of the waves upon her. Ninety-nine lives were lost and twenty-two were saved.
One of the survivors was a young woman who afterwards settled in Cohasset,
marrying a man whose name was by strange coincidence St. John. (pp463-464)

You can also read about the aftermath of the wreck by no less an author than
Henry David Thoreau who happened upon the scene the day after the storm
as bodies were being recovered and buried by the townspeople of
Cohasset. His account of the incident can be found in his book On Cape Cod.

Now we come to the coincidence:

The wreck of the St John took place while construction was being completed
of a lighthouse at nearby Minot Rock. On page 463 of Bigelow's book, just
before his recounting of the tragedy, there is this on the lighthouse:

"It was finished in the fall of 1849, and Isaac A. Dunham took charge of it,
lighting the lamp for the first time on December 13, 1849."

Isaac Dunham was the first Keeper of Minot Light. Even though it was not
in service at the time of the storm that sank the St John, he was present in
Cohasset and part of the group dealing with the aftermath. He stayed 
at Minot Light only ten months, resigning in 1850 because he felt the
structure was unsafe. A year later the first Minot Lighthouse was destroyed
by a terrible storm, taking the lives of two men stationed there.

My great great grandmother was Florilla Dunham, and while I haven't figured
out how we're related just yet, in all probability Isaac Dunham is my distant

And I wouldn't have known about him except for taking these pictures in
the cemetery in Cohasset, and then using two of them for a St Patrick's
Day post!


((First published in 2007 and updated for this year))

I mentioned the Abington St. Patrick’s Day Parade
last night and that my Mom helped in the start of it.

Some background information first: Massachusetts is
reportedly the most Irish out of all the states, with
roughly 24% claiming Irish ancestry on the last census.
Abington is in Plymouth County where 31% of the
population is of Irish descent a tie with neighboring
Norfolk County for the highest percent among the 54
counties where Irish Americans are “the largest observed
ethnic group”. Abington itself is 33% Irish American
according to the 2000 Federal census. (The 2010 Census
now puts it at 44.5 per cent)

John L. Sullivan, the Boston Irishman bareknuckle boxing
legend, retired to a farm here in West Abington where he
died in 1918.

With all this Irish heritage it seemed strange that there was
not a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in town.

Then 28 years ago Jack Bailey, a local garage owner was
at the VFW and took a $10 bet from another Post member
that he couldn’t start a parade in Abington. He enlisted the
help of some of the other members and wives, among whom
were my mother and some friends. Of course Mom would
have had to help! What else could a red-haired green-eyed
Irish lady do?

That first parade was on the spur of the moment. Luckily Mr.
Bailey had a tow truck and a flatbed as well, so those were
decorated with green streamers and signs. I brought a cassette
boom box with a tape of traditional Irish music that Mom and
others of the ladies sang along to as they rode on the back of
the flatbed truck. There may have been more cars involved but
I only saw the trucks as I was going to work when I dropped
off the music and so didn’t actually see that first parade myself.

 28 years later it’s one of the biggest in the state. They held on
this past Sunday the 11th this year to avoid conflict with the
bigger celebrations in South Boston over this coming weekend.
The parade’s gone from a cassette boom box to 10 marching
bands this year and hundreds of marchers and spectators.

And Jack Bailey won that $10 bet.

((2012 Update: As I noted above, 44.5 % of Abington's citizens
are of Irish descent, but nearby Scituate tops all of Massachusetts
with 47%. Parades are all being held on Sunday this year, with the 
South Boston parade the biggest. Abington and Scituate's parades 
will both step off at 1pm, The spectators will number in the thousands))

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Back in February I read about a century old time capsule being opened
here in Abington and it gave me an idea for a Genealogists' Time Capsule
Challenge. The rules I set were these:

1 Make a list of what you would put in a time capsule and why you'd choose
each item.

2, What would you use for the time capsule? Where would you have it kept?

3. Write a blogpost with the above information. If you don't have a blog, why.
not??? Ok, if you don't send your time capsule idea to me as a comment to
this post or email it to me. If you do have a blog, make sure to send me
the link to your time capsule post.

So, here's my Time Capsule. Besides the genealogy material I included
some items of personal value:

My genealogy research and my other writings printed on acid free archival
paper. Each page would be in polypropylene archive safe page

A book (or several) of my "West in New England" blogposts published
with one of the programs that convert blogs to books. 

A copy of the book "Morte'D Arthur" by Sir Thomas Malory-(The book that
started my love of history and mythology.)

The cd album "1" by The Beatles which is a collection of all their #1 songs.
(because the Beatles shaped so much of the popular music of my time)

The cassette album "Days of Future Passed" by The Moody Blues
(my favorite rock group)

Cds of a Chieftains' album and a Clannad album (I need to decide on which one.
Included because of our family's Irish heritage)

A collection of scanned family photos packed in polypropylene arhive safe
protectors. Each photo will have names and dates of the people and places
in them.

A cd containing the same photos all properly labeled, my genealogy research
and my other writings

A flash drive with the same photos all properly labeled, my genealogy research
and my other writings.(I'm paranoid. If one doesn't work, maybe the other will!)

 My windup dinosaur skeleton (because there should always be some family

A letter from me (written on my computer and printed out because at the rate
things are going, my relatives probably won't be able to read cursive) explaining
everything in my time capsule except the windup dinosaur and one other item.

 All of the above would be put in a waterproof plastic container inside a waterproof
metal box. I'd leave it with my niece and nephews with instructions that it be
opened in 2112.

Oh, and that one other item? This picture with "I must use these powers wisely"
written on the back.

My future relatives might not understand it, but the folks reading this who are
frequent visitors to the Geneabloggers Radio Chat Room will know what it means!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The Genealogists in Second Life group has been taking a course Tuesday nights
with "LadyClaire Ashbourne" on England Beginning Research.  There are video
lessons from FamilySearch to view and assignments to do before each class.
This week we'll be discussing the English Census and Civil Registrations, and
part of the assignment was

"Pick an English family and follow then through 2 or 3 census records on a
different site for each year."

All  of my English ancestors came over long before the English census began
in 1841, but my great grandmother's first husband, Charles Tidswell, had immigrated
to America in the late 1800's. I knew Charles'  parents were John C Tidswell
and Elizabeth Mary Sharpe(I'd found their names on FamilySearch in the record
of Charles' second marriage.) I tried FamilySearch first but the few hits I got
led to pay sites, so I turned to where I have a World membership
and had better luck. First I found Charles and his parents on the 1861 Census in
the Clerkenwell St James Civil Parish, Middlesex County. Their Registration
District was Clerkenwell in the Goswell St  sub-registration district in Enumeration

 District 12. The family is listed as follows:

From this I found out that Charles' father John was a plumber by trade, was born
in Middlesex St Lukes Parish, and was 39 in 1861. Wife Elizabeth was a year
younger and  had been born in Shoreditch, as had four of the six children. The
oldest, John, had been born in St Andrews Parish and was employed in something
 having to do with with art and photography.(I can't read the last word). The
youngest, Robert, was one year old and had been born in St James parish.
Charles was the next youngest and four years old at the time of the census. 
The next household after John and Elizabeth's is headed by a Benjamin Tidswell,
a widower with two sons both in their early 20's.

I can't find the family yet on the 1871 Census. Since Charles had immigrated by 1880
it's possible the family had left England already by 1871. So I went back to the 1851
Census and found the family was living in Shoreditch Middlesex England. There were
three children at this time, one of whom, the one year old Elizabeth, does not appear
in the 1861 Census so she had probably died before then.  John worked as a plumber,
and Elizabeth as a Seamstress. The family lived at 22 Wellington St. I didn't find any
other Tidswells on this page, the preceding page nor the following page.

Finally I went back to the 1841 Census where I found the 19year old unmarried
plumber John C Tidswell in the St Leonard Shoreditch Civil Parish of Middlesex
County. I couldn't find any other Tidswells on nearby pages, nor did I find any Sharpes.

It was an interesting exercise, and if you'd like to learn more about English genealogy
research, join us on Tuesday nights in Second Life, or check out the online classes at:

1. Getting Started
2. Understanding Census Records

Sunday, March 11, 2012


More and more records are coming online that are of use to genealogists and
family historians. The other night cousin Chris Dunham sent me an email to let
me know about the Oxford County Eastern District Registry of Deeds website.
Oxford County Maine is where my West and associated families moved to from
Massachusetts back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Chris also included the following image. 

As Chris wrote:
"I'm not sure how deeply you've delved into Oxford County deeds, but I found
a record showing that John C. West lived in Boston before coming to Canton
and marrying Arvilla Ames.

I've attached the deed from book 36, page 540, by which Elisha Turner of Peru
sold to "John West of Boston City, State of Massachusetts, Blacksmith," and Elisha
W. Thomas of Minot, blacksmith, land in Canton with a blacksmith shop on it on
16 Jan. 1827.

In book 35, page 474, Elisha W. Turner of Canton quitclaims his share of this 

property to "John West of Canton in the County of Oxford aforesaid Blacksmith" 
on 17 May 1827.

This shows that John settled in Canton in the late winter or spring of 1827—at least
four months before marrying Arvilla. Just to establish that this was the same John
West (the records don't always give his middle initial), a deed on page 542 of book
36 has John C. West of Canton, blacksmith, selling to John B. Douglas of Letter B
the same land and blacksmith shop in Canton. This was on 9 Dec. 1831. The deed 

has his wife Arvilla relinquishing her right of dower in the property."

Now this is the first time I've seen any document that has John Cutter West living
anywhere in Massachusetts other than Plymouth.  I don't know yet if John was related
somehow to either Turner or Thomas but how else would he know two blacksmiths
from Maine when he was living in Boston? The only other answer I can think of is
that perhaps they were apprentices together with another blacksmith and they decided
to set themselves up in business together in Maine.  Perhaps if I find an answer I can
break down the John Cutter West brick wall.

I went to the website and found quite a few records concerning my West family. Most
of them involve my 2x great granduncles Hiram F and Asa A West, but there are others
with transactions made by my 2x great grandmother Louisa A Richardson West and 3x
great grandmother Arvilla Ames West.  I checked this afternoon and there are also
many records involving my Ellingwood family, and I've still Richardson, Coburn, Ames,
and Barker lines to search for as well. It costs .50 cents to download a record but I plan
to go through them before I select what I want. I've already got 7 records for the sum
of $3.50!

Thanks, Chris for help and the heads up!

BTW,if you have Maine roots, be sure to visit Chris' Maine Genealogy Network page!

Thursday, March 01, 2012


This edition of  the Carnival of Genealogy was inspired by the flash fiction
style of writing;  As Jasia put it over on her CreativeGene blog:
“The basic idea is to write a story that's shorter than a short story.
what better month to do this than in February, our shortest month?
For our purposes we're going to apply this "flash" concept to our
family history, instead of writing fiction, and we'll limit it to 300
words (roughly a little over 1 typed page) per family line. So if
you choose to write about each of your 4 grandparent's family lines,
that would top out at 1200 words total or 300 words per each of the
4 grandparent's family lines.”

So, sadomasochist that I am, I went for all four family lines.,

Counting this introduction (including this very sentence) the word total is 1354:

The West Line

My West line goes back to my 3x great grandfather John Cutter West, or as I
like to think of him, the Elusive John C. Try as we might, I and other researchers
in the family can't get back that brickwall. John 's birthdate is given as Oct.2
1802 on the record of his marriage to Arvilla Ames and his place of  birth as
Plymouth Ma. It's possible there is a connection to Dr Francis West of
Duxbury, Ma. who settled there in the 1600's. Duxbury is right next to
Plymouth. I've taken a step to get some answers and perhaps make a
connection with Francis or other West Lines in New England. John Cutter
West was from Plymouth County south of Boston. At this point in time, I
don’t know if he moved north to Maine while it was still part of Massachusetts
with his parents or if he arrived after it became a separate state in 1820. Whatever
The case, the West men took up occupations that most of my Maine ancestors
did: farming, blacksmithing, milling and the lumber business. John had settled
at Letter B Plantation  in Oxford County which later became the town of Upton. 
Only  one, 2x  great granduncle Leonidas West left New England to move west to
Minnesota and then Washington state.

But if my West line is brick walled, there is plenty to research in the families
of the women who married the West men. Through the Ames, Richardson
and Ellingwood lines  I’m descended from two Salem witches, several veterans
of the Revolutionary War, and five Mayflower passengers. Recently I’ve been
adding the collateral lines from the Ellingwoods to my tree and finding that many
of them were part of the westward migration while my direct ancestors remained here
back in New England.

The Barker Line
My Barker line traces back to Richard Barker who was the earliest known settler in
the area of what would become the town of Andover, Ma. and  was among the
original citizens when  the town was formed. The Barker family was prominent
in Essex County, not only in Andover but in Methuen and Haverhill as well. Three
Barkers were accused and acquitted  of witchcraft in the hysteria that swept the area
In 1692,and several Barkers were among those accusing others of being witches.
Through the marriages made in the century the Barkers lived in Essex County I’m
related to  the Holt, Osgood, Ingalls, and Abbott families.

Like many Essex County men the Barkers became familiar with Maine while
campaigning there during the Indian wars. Jonathan Barker II and his sons had
begun exploring a move there before the start of the American Revolution. Afterward
they too moved to Oxford County Maine. My 4x great grandfather Jonathan Barker III
is said to have founded Newry Maine along with his two brothers Benjamin and Jesse
and their friend Ithiel Smith., Benjamin and Jesse went on to become leading citizens of
Bethel Maine. Sadly, Jonathan lost his family due to his drinking and was buried in a
unmarked grave.  Collateral lines from the time the Barkers moved to Maine include the
Hastings, Upton, and Coburn families.

The West and Barker lines joined when my grandfather Floyd Earl West Sr married my
grandmother Cora Berthella Barker.. They had four children, three girls and one boy,
our Dad, Floyd West Jr.  Dad served in the Pacific theater during World War II but after
the war instead of returning to Maine he came to Boston where he met and married a
red haired Irish Catholic girl, Anne Marie White and stayed in Massachusetts.

Maternal Lines:

The White Line
This is the side of the family that was largely a mystery until recently. Our Mom
barely knew her father, Edward F White, Sr. Je had married my grandmother Agnes
McFarland on 19Oct 1924 in Boston, Ma.  They had two children,  Edward Jr. and
Anne M.(our Mom) who survived to adulthood and a third child who died in childbirth. 
Around that  time my grandparents separated and eventually my grandmother was
granted a divorce on 22Nov 1935.My mother was around five years old at the time
that  her parents separated and never reestablished contact with her father and barely
spoke of him at all. When she did, it was rarely complimentary. It’s only been within
the past few years that I’ve been able to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge
of my White ancestry.

I knew from my grandparents’ marriage  certificate that  Edward’s parents were
Edward J.White from Massachusetts and Pauline Offinger whose parents, Charles
Offinger and Johanna Luick, were German immigrants.. I’ve found Edward J.’s
birth record and it says that his parents were Patrick J White, born in Ireland and
his wife Mary who was born in Nova Scotia. Patrick’s occupation is given as a
gilder, a craft that probably put him contact with Charles Offinger and his family,
since Charles was a cabinet maker. But since there has been no contact with
that side of my family, there is no way to know for sure, no one who might
know family stories and tell them to me.

Last year, thanks to some help from fellow genealogies, I was able to  track down my
grandfather’s burial place and make contact with an uncle from a second marriage. 
Like my paternal ancestor Jonathan Barker, Edward F White is buried in an unmarked

The McFarland Line
Grandmother Agnes Dorothea McFarland was born on 11Oct 1898, the daughter of
Irish immigrants John McFarland amd Annie Kelley. John and Annie’s route to
America was a bit roundabout: even though both had been born in Ireland, they
met and married in Edinburgh, Scotland where Annie’s father. Patrick and John
were laborers during a period of urban renewal and construction. After the marriage
in 1879 they returned to Ireland for a short time, perhaps to visit  John’s parents, 
before moving on to America and Boston, Massachusetts.

John and Annie between 1882 and 1900 had ten children, seven boys and five
girls. Four of them (two boys and two girls) died in infancy, and Winifred, the
last born girl, died unmarried at age forty. The remaining seven survived to
adulthood and had large families with the exception of my grandmother who
never remarried after the divorce and her brother Thomas who had no children.
(I only really knew three of my grandmother’s siblings, Tommy, Frank and
Peggy. I probably met Michael and Bobby when I was a kid but I don’t remember
them very well.)  Somehow John was able to make enough money to purchase
two houses.

Like my White line I knew very little about the McFarland family before they
came to America but last year made contact with a descendant of Annie Kelley’s
sister.  My cousin lives in New Zealand on the other side of the world.

I’m planning to send away for the death certificates of John McFarland and Annie
Kelley and I want to find their obituaries or death notices, perhaps at the Boston
Public Library. Annie came from Kiltrustan in Ireland but I haven’t  nailed down
John’s place of birth yet and I hope that I’ll find that information on his death

And that’s my family history in a flash!