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.
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
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!
Wow just in from sewing for play and read this from you. Love the concept and thanks for sharing.
Bill, I love this idea. Very interesting reading. Also, it makes me feel better to see other people with tough problems. Ancestors can be very elusive!
You did a splendid job, Bill! The time you put into writing up your flash family histories was well spent. They each give a nice overview of your New England ancestry and your "brick walls". Wonderful!
A great job of history in a flash. I really liked that I could follow the connection of your grandparents to get a feel for you and your background. As I said, great job.
Great job representing your four family lines, and sharing some of the story of your research at the same time.
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