Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking For Lenora - Part 3

In Part 2 of my search for Lenora I said I intended to forge ahead in my search for documentation about Lenora (Webber) Lebroke.  I've done just that, forged ahead. But I may have gotten a little ahead of myself, perhaps even taken a wrong turn or two. I started eagerly and with the best of intentions but reliable documentation has proven to be a scarce commodity in this search.

My documentation base as described in Parts 1 and 2 is, I believe, pretty strong, including my grandmother's memoirs, a 1925 newspaper clipping, and the 1930 and 1940 Federal Census reports providing me a good start on building a profile of Lenora. But further searches on revealed very little more to build on. So I moved on to outside sources to see what info could be developed.  Using both Lenora's and her husband Ezra's names I plugged into different websites in search of clues. was employed first to see if there were newspaper articles about either of them that might be helpful. I struck out.  Next I went into New England Historic Genealogical Society website and searched both names again. I found zip. Both are subscription websites just like and have frequently been very helpful in other searches in the past.  But on this search there was to be no return on my subscription investments. Last I went to which is a free website with burial info provided by volunteers and found nothing on Lenora.  But this time I came up with a hit on Ezra. He is buried in Oxford County, Maine in Bisbeetown Cemetery. I also searched Findagrave to see if any Webbers were buried there but found none. If Lenora is buried near Ezra she certainly is not in the same plot and if she's in the same cemetery she might be there under a different surname.

Findagrave entry for Ezra H LeBroke

Every other document I've seen on Ezra spelled Lebroke with no capitalization on the "B" but on his headstone his surname is engraved with the upper case as "LeBROKE." Not sure what difference it makes but will keep that in mind on future computer searches. The stone is also engraved as follows:
"His wife, Abbie Cummings, 1851 - 1882" which supports my suspicions from the 1930 census category of "age at first marriage" that both Ezra and Lenora might have been married previously to other spouses. There was no Webber listed on the Findagrave list of interments in Bisbeetown Cemetery so it appears Lenora is buried elsewhere. So at this point I've sort of run into a dead end on Lenora. But dead ends in genealogy research can sometimes be opened up for access by side stepping to connecting avenues. In this case, I hope to find more information on Lenora by exploring deeper into the profile of Ezra H Lebroke who I now believe is buried in Bisbeetown Cemetery in Oxford County Maine with a previous wife named Abbie Cummings.

Back on I try to find out more information on Mr. Lebroke who, according to his gravestone, was born in 1854 and died in 1950. There are sources of information to be sifted through, some acceptable as probable and others doubtful. One source that attracts my attention right away is's hints linking to other member family trees. There were some linked to Lenora too but they were exact duplicates of my profile on her. That leads me to suspect that the other family trees listing Lenora probably just copied off mine, a procedure available on the website as long as the tree your pulling info from is set up as public as opposed to private. Public trees share their info with anyone who wants it. The family trees linked to Ezra were fairly extensive listing his date and place of birth, parental and sibling names, and of most interest to me, spouse information and marriage dates. One precaution important to me is to take info from other family trees with a grain of salt. The website lets you see the profile of the tree owner and their sources of documentation for the profiles they construct in their tree. The owners' frequency of logging on, the longevity of membership, and their self described proficiency, beginner, intermediate, or expert, all together can give you a good idea of how reliable the information may be. It can be a big guessing game sometimes, especially when another tree owner is working from family history files instead of official source documents like census records and certificates. Nevertheless, there are times when you just have to make an educated guess on the info you find and do the best you can to back up "borrowed" info with certifiable documentation.

A family tree on Ezra "Hicks" LeBroke (only had the middle initial "H" up until now) indicated he had three wives, the first of which was Abbie M Hamlin Cummings which should be the same Abbie listed as Ezra's wife on his gravestone. The tree listed a marriage date of 1881 but sadly, per the gravestone Abbie passed away in 1882. The same tree lists a second marriage to Marilla Jane Paige in 1884, and a third to a Nora E Abbott on April 7, 1923. Only the third marriage is backed up by a source, Maine Marriage Records, 1892 - 1996.  The computer matched the 1923 marriage to Egra H Lebroke, replacing the "z" with a "g" apparently a transcription error. When I pulled up the name Egra Lebroke on Lenora's profile page the Maine records again listed the 7 April marriage date but listed the bride as Nora E Webber. So it looks to me like I'm closing in on some good info here. Unfortunately, the website offered transcripted info on this marriage but if I wanted a copy of the marriage certificate itself I would have to pay a fee to a third party to get me a copy from state of Maine Records Dept. Even though I knew better, I went ahead and applied for the copy of the marriage certificate. I knew they would require documentation of my relationship to Lenora but I was hoping the fact that both were born nearly 150 years ago and the marriage was 85 + years ago would exempt me from showing proof of relationship. I was wrong. There's another investment down the drain but I figure sometimes you just got to give it your best shot. Some win, some lose, and some get rained out. So below is what I've got on the 1923 marriage:

From this I will try to pursue a record of Lenora as named above, Nora E Abbott. I hope to build a profile with documentation of her with the married name of Abbott and see where that investigation takes me. So my search for more info on Lenora goes on.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Looking For Lenora - Part 2

There's not a lot of info on my grandmother's sister, Lenora Webber, but I feel like I've got some solid info to establish she existed and hope to build a profile of her through my website. My Part I blog included a photo of Lenora's profile page on the website that included two sources of documentation that I already had added to her profile page.  Both were Federal Census reports, one from 1870 when she was 7 years old and the other from 1930 when she was 67.  The 1870 census record from the town of Oxford, Maine included my one year old grandmother and her older sister born in 1863.  Records separated by sixty years leaves a lot of room for information to fill in if I'm to succeed in constructing a more complete picture of Lenora's life but you've got to start somewhere.  Two other sources available to me were my grandmother's memoirs wherein she listed the names of her siblings in the household she was born to in Oxford, Maine and a newspaper clipping from 1930 describing my grandmother's silver wedding anniversary and a listing of the friends and relatives attending that celebration. The article identified a "Lenore Lebroke, (of) North Waterford, Maine."  Despite the newspaper spelling Lenore with the last letter "e" and my grandmother's memoirs ending her name with an "a"  I'm pretty sure we are talking one and the same person. Not proven without a doubt but I'm comfortable it is a fairly reliable educated guess. So my plan is to accept both sources as documentation of Lenora and proceed with my search.

With the married name of Lebroke established by the newspaper clipping my search started with census records sorted by surname alphabetically in The 1930 Federal Census report lists a "Nora" Lebroke, wife of "Ezra H. Lebroke" residing together in Waterford, Maine. Waterford is located in Oxford County and not too far from the town of Oxford where my grandmother was born.   Ezra is listed as 76 years old while "Nora" is recorded as 67 which would make her birth year around 1863.  Their ages and the first name of "Nora's" spouse from this 1930 record are the source data I used to update Lenora's profile page on (as pictured on the first blog). If any data is subsequently found to be different I can always update it later.  Before I accepted this census info to be accurate, however, I wanted to make sure there was no separate census report for North Waterford, Maine as the newspaper article described her residence. Waterford Town is posted on the census report I found and there was no separate record for a town called North Waterford. I also scrolled through all fifteen pages recorded for Waterford Town just to make sure there was no other Lebroke recorded with a different given name that could possibly be Lenora's husband instead of Ezra. I did find one Lebroke named Samuel L Lebroke residing with a wife named Ella. Samuel was recorded as 75 years old and Ella 74 so Ella would have been born around 1856. Both Lebroke couples were recorded with Maine as place of birth for themselves and their parents. So other than ages the only other descriptive data to differentiate them from each other on the 1930 census was the category, "Age at first marriage." Ezra and Nora were recorded as 28 and 17 respectively, approximately 11 years different. Samuel and Ella's first marriage ages were 24 and 23, one year difference, just like their ages in 1930. Ezra and Nora's first marriage ages with an eleven year gap don't quite reconcile with their stated ages on the census differing by nine years. None of these age categories proves anything toward the identity of Lenora but at this point I believe multiple marriages for either Ezra and/or Nora are quite possible.  For the time being I'm going to stay with the link to Ezra as her husband but keep Samuel on the back burner as an alternative data source. And at this point I want to go back to the other ancestry hints provided by the website to see what else we might find out about Lenora.

The two historical record hints are Federal census reports, one for 1940 in Waterford again and the other from 1900 in Lisbon, Maine in Androscoggin County. For no other reason than hoping the later census record might be more informative than the earlier one, I reviewed the 1940 record first. On this one the wife of Ezra is recorded as "Elnora." Elnora sure seems to me to semi-match the 1930 "Nora" tag and a lot closer to Lenora than Ella. Moreover Ezra and Elnora are still in Waterford Town and even though "Nora" and "Elnora" are not exact matches they are similar enough to each other to make me think Lenora is the subject of  both records and quite possibly used the nickname of Nora. There is no record of Samuel and Ella Lebroke on any 1940 census records I could find so it may be that they did not survive to their mid eighties in age. If they did, apparently they no longer resided in Waterford. So at this point I have added the 1940 Federal Census report for Waterford Town with Ezra and Elnora to my profile page. And moving on, the 1900 census was next up for review. This record of the inhabitants of Lisbon, Maine listed a "Fred W. Webber" and his wife, "Elmira."  Born in 1862 and 1863 respectively, Fred and Elmira resided with a fourteen year old son and a twelve year old daughter. Both parents and in turn, their parents were born in Maine. So there's no information on this record so far to disqualify it from being a legitimate source of documentation for Lenora. But keeping in mind that the accuracy of all census reports depends in large part to the accuracy and proficiency of the enumerator that recorded the information, including their spelling ability as well as strength of attention to detail, sometimes such records are not all they seem. The computer obviously picked up on a possible match to Lenora on this 1900 record with source data of state (Maine), surname (Webber), birth year (1863), and given name Elmira which is sort of close to Lenora. hints are offered with no guarantees. They are just hints. It's up to the researcher to determine if the hint information actually applies. In this case, I think not. And my main reason for setting this hint aside is my doubt that Lenora would be married to a husband with a surname the same as her maiden name. Not impossible, just not likely. So setting this record aside along with the 1930 record of Samuel and Ella just means I'm not committing myself to accepting them as source documents detailing the life of Lenora Webber. I can always go back to them to reconsider if I run into stone walls in my research going forward.

If indeed there are stone walls looming in future research, there's no better way to run into them than to forge ahead with my research. And to that end, my search goes on.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Looking For Lenora - Part I

My maternal grandmother, Florence Huldah (Webber) Currier, was a daughter of Samuel Ames Webber and Delora Adella (Haskell) Webber.  Florence, born in 1869 was one of nine offspring of Samuel and Delora and also had two older half brothers and a half sister born to Samuel and another wife. Old Sam was a propagating fellow to say the least, but that was not unusual for nineteenth century families to have many children. Especially farm families where every hand was welcome, if not necessary, to keep the farm running.  Sometimes I like to surf on my tree to see if there are new hints that have developed that might reveal new facts on my ancestors. In particular I wanted to see if there was any new info that might help me determine the date of death for Delora. Up to this time I have never been able to locate any documentation that would confirm when she passed away. I knew from my grandmother's memoirs that her father Samuel died in 1880 but her mother was in too poor health to care for seven children ranging in age from 4 months to 15 years old (two of the nine had already left home).  Most of the children were relocated with relatives or friends, including my grandmother who was sent to live with a family in New Hampshire. But so far I have struck out finding any traces of Delora after her husband died and her children scattered into different homes.

One of the nice features of membership is that it computer searches for possible links pertaining to all members in your tree. These searches are called "hints" and identified by little green fluttering leaves to catch your attention. There were two fluttering leaves on Delora that I immediately pursued when I saw them. Both hints turned out to be dead ends but if you don't look into them you could pass by some important info.  There are other avenues of search that I have tried and probably haven't even thought to try to determine Delora's fate but for now, the timing of the end of her life remains a mystery. But with nine children and three more sired by Samuel with another wife, there's plenty of other mysteries to search. One of those is Delora's oldest child, a daughter called Lenora born in 1863. There were leaves fluttering on Lenora's profile page too and since I don't know her date of death either, I decided to take a look at the hints and see what I could find. There were two historical record hints and one family tree hint (trees belonging to other members that match the name of my ancestor).  Up to this point I had documented Lenora's birth year and residence on Federal Census reports in 1870 and 1930. In addition I had two newspaper clippings from my grandmother's files that supported Lenora's existence, one by listing her married name in 1930 and the other possibly referring to her residence in North Waterford, Maine in 1926. So I had already documented some information on her and I hoped the new hints might add more information on my grandmother's older sister. Lenora and my grandmother, by the way, were older sisters to Rollin Farquhar Webber, the same gentleman I have written about in some previous postings.

So now I have some hints to pursue on Lenora and hope I'll have more success on documenting information on her life than I did on her mother. The website profile page is pictured above with the hints circled at the top right and the newspaper clippings noted in the media gallery section to the left and below the hints. Looking for Lenora will continue as my search goes on.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Uncle Rollin's Headstone

On our return home from New England this past July we made a scheduled stop at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC to visit the grave of my grand uncle, Rollin Farquhar Webber. Back around April 2011 I started posting the results of my research on Uncle Rollin. I found him a pretty interesting character, perhaps because I was able to document a sizable amount of information on his life from photographs, newspaper articles, census reports, and more. Starting with the first record I uncovered on him, the 1880 Federal Census Record for Oxford, Maine where he was listed at the age of "4/12" (four months) and ending with the Allentown, Pa newspaper obituary notice I found in the public library in Allentown. After serving as a fusilier (counterpart to today's Marines) in the Spanish American War, he distinguished himself as a machinist at the Boston Navy Yard, the Washington (DC) Navy Yard, and finished his career with the Navy serving as an inspector with the Navy's Bureau of Ordinance in Bethlehem, Pa. He married his first wife in 1910 but sadly, she died from complications from childbirth a year and a half later. The unnamed infant son also died. He married his second wife in 1913 and in 1915 they had a son who was named after Rollin. I found one reference to the son in 1930 when he accompanied Rollin to New Hampshire to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Rollin's sister, Florence (my grandmother), but I've uncovered very little else on both the son and the second wife. Apparently the second marriage was not a happy union despite their having a child together as documented by wife #2 listed on the 1930 Washington, DC Federal Census with marital status "D" for divorced while Uncle Rollin shows up in Philadelphia that same year with wife number three. The newspaper article on the silver wedding anniversary lists Rollin in attendance "from Philadelphia with his wife and son" but I can't tell for sure which wife he was with, number 2 or number 3! Probably 3 but just my guess. Rollin also managed to be issued a patent in 1915 for a "motor vehicle starting device."  From this and his varied assignments with the Navy yard and the Ordinance Bureau, I'm pretty sure Rollin wasn't just your average everyday journeyman machinist but a very skilled machinist to say the least.

I'm familiar with Rollin's third wife, Lois. But before I started researching I didn't know anything about the previous wives or a Rollin, Jr. Nor did my sister who as a few years older than me, is my only living source to verify family genealogy. The truth of the matter is I recognize Uncle Rollin and Aunt Lois in photos but I don't know if their images are actually in my memory from firsthand exposure or if I'm just associating their faces with photographs where they have been identified. There could be a memory link inside my degenerating brain cells because I know for a fact we were all in the same place in 1955. The occasion was my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. I was recently fortunate enough to locate the guestbook for their golden wedding anniversary. And listed on the guest pages at the top of one page were "Bro (brother) Rollin F Webber & Lois" and my distinguished signature as a ten year old guest on the opposite page squeezed in between my sister and my brother.  I don't remember the celebration. Even though, there's strong evidence we were in the same place at the same time. But at ten years old I probably was paying more attention to other things besides people's faces. Especially, older people's faces!

Rollin F Webber

Lois Webber

These two photos were probably taken around 1940 when Rollin and Lois were in their late fifties.  So if there are some facial recognition memories lurking inside my brain they would be of Rollin and Lois when they were in their seventies. So you could say I've got photographic memory but it has nothing to do with retention. I'm just fortunate enough to have inherited a lot of photographs to go along with my family history research. 

Guestbook for 50th wedding anniversary
Guestbook signatures

In the summer of 2011 I completed most of my research on the lives of Rollin and Lois. Rollin's obituary indicated his funeral in 1960 was being handled by a Washington, DC funeral home. And from them I was able to pinpoint his burial in Congressional Cemetery. He is buried with his first wife, Cora, and the unnamed infant son who was interred with her in 1912. I had a photograph of the headstone I found online through the FindaGrave website but it was blurry and couldn't see the engraving. So our July trip to Congressional Cemetery was to see where he rests and to get better photos of the headstone. Congressional is a beautifully maintained cemetery located on the southern edge of DC. It's old and worn and sits inside an urban setting but the area is not drab and dreary like we feared we might find. The cemetery gets some Federal financial assistance for historical preservation and we were surprised to find that a lot of revenue for maintaining the grounds comes from dog walkers. Dog walkers pay an annual fee for the privilege of walking their dogs on the grounds. We saw plenty of them and got to meet a few. Sounded like a perfect solution for dog owners to have a place to walk their dogs in the middle of a city and for the cemetery to earn revenue. A win-win story if I've ever seen one and did not see any evidence that the dog owners were not cleaning up after their pets. 

This brick path leads to where Rollin is buried

Rollin's headstone is the 3-tiered monument left of center
The base of the headstone on one side is engraved with Rollin's first wife's maiden name, TREWOLLA. Gertrude L. Trewolla, was Cora (Trewolla) Webber's sister and she is buried with her sister and brother in law in the same plot. 

Gertrude L. (Trewolla) 1868 - 1933 
On another side of the same headstone the base is engraved with the name WEBBER where Rollin dedicated with engraving to "my beloved wife, Cora L. and infant son" and lists their birth and death dates as well as his own. Rollin died in 1960.

Rollin, Cora, and infant son

I found out from the funeral home that arranged for moving Rollin's body from Allentown to Washington that Aunt Lois accompanied his remains on a train and was met by the DC funeral home to coordinate burial. Lois was married to Rollin for thirty years and she showed her love and loyalty to her husband by honoring his wishes to be buried with the young wife and infant he lost fifty years previous. Lois passed away in 1973. She had remained in the same home she and Rollin shared in Allentown since 1936. The same funeral home that helped her move Rollin to DC coordinated moving her remains back to Indiana where she is buried in a family plot with her parents.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Heritage Trail Road Trip

At the beginning of July we searched some family cemeteries in Kentucky as described in my post, "Gone But Not Forgotten." From Kentucky we drove to New Englend where my ongoing search took us to Shelburne, Massachusetts and Langdon, New Hampshire. I had never seen the burial place of my mother's sister, my Aunt Alice.  Alice W Currier was born in Langdon, NH in 1909, three years after my mother, and is buried in Shelburne, Ma with her husband,  Donald R. Morrissey. They rest together in Arms Cemetery in Shelburne.

The entrance to Arms Cemetery and the view as we entered makes it clear that it is a well maintained and finely manicured graveyard. Like everywhere in the Northeast these days the grass is somewhat burnt up and yellowing due to drought but the large number of trees providing shade throughout the grounds allows for plenty of green grass.

The cemetery is cradled between forested hills (people from Massachusetts would call them mountains!) with a winding river on the West, a pond on the East, and the Mohawk trail running East/West on the South. It is a beautiful setting for an attractive and peaceful resting place for my Aunt Alice and Uncle Don. We visited on a hot and humid Wednesday morning and only saw two other cars visiting during the hour and a half we spent there. The cemetery has two central circles around which the headstones are arranged in semi-circular rows. 

The photo on the right shows the entrance road leading to the first circle which contains a fountain and what's called, the Arms Monument.  We drove around this circle and proceeded to the Northwest side of the cemetery where we knew the Morrissey's were buried. I had obtained the plot numbers and a map from communication with members of the Shelburne Historical Society. My search coincided with the society's efforts to catalogue and photograph all Arms Cemetery headstones for the FindaGrave website. 

Donald Morrissey and Alice Currier Morrissey rest beneath a headstone engraved with their names and years of birth and death.  The stone is in good shape as you would expect it to be after only fifteen years but did have some moss growing on the face which we cleaned with a soft sponge and water. 

This stone is placed about ten feet or so forward of another Morrissey headstone marking the burial site for Donald's parents and two sisters (one of whom died in infancy at 15 days of age) and his maternal grandmother.   Both stones share some shade from a tree next to the larger stone and since they are on the Western perimeter of the cemetery it appears they are in the sun for just a few hours in the morning followed by a longer period of shade in the afternoon and evening. That's my conclusion, anyway, and seems a valid theory to explain why the stones are surrounded by mostly green grass. 

There are other Morrissey's buried in Arms Cemetery that I have not fully researched yet. I believe they might be uncles or cousins of my Uncle Don. My uncle's grandfather, Thomas Morrissey, apparently was born in Ireland around 1846 and resided in Buckland, Ma per the 1900 Federal Census. Buckland is in the Shelburne area and is where Uncle Don was born. I have no record of where or when Thomas Morrissey died so that's more research that I will have to pursue.

Satisfied that my Aunt Alice and Uncle Don were resting in a beautiful and nicely maintained setting we departed Arms Cemetery late in the morning to look around the area a bit and grab some lunch. We had seen signs for the Bridge Of Flowers in Shelburne Falls and that sounded interesting so we made a brief tourist stop to check it out. It was very nice but hard not to notice that most of our fellow tourists were our generation or older! Guess that's what happens when we age...we have plenty of time on our hands and nothing better to do than check out tourist traps so just like sheep, we join the herd (or flock) and walk around viewing and smelling flowers.

After lunch we hopped back onto I-91 North into Vermont and then jumped East over the Connecticut River and into New Hampshire on NH-12 and NH-123. Our destination was Langdon, New Hampshire. My mother was born in Langdon and although I'm not sure, her sister (my Aunt Alice) may have been born there as well. Their father, Marshall Currier had inherited a home in Langdon when his father passed away in 1902. Langdon is only about 60 miles from Shelburne so it only took a little over an hour to reach our intended destination. Our GPS, (who we call Penelope) decided to crap out on us and went totally brain dead once we got inside New Hampshire. Fortunately, I had already printed up Google Map directions so we weren't entirely lost when Penelope suffered her dementia. Our intent was to locate the house my great grandfather, Austin Currier (1838 - 1902) had built and passed on to his son Marshall. We last saw the house in 1977 on a road trip with my mother who wanted to show us the house she was born in. She had no problem finding it despite the fact she had not seen it in several decades. I tried finding it a few years ago utilizing my world famous dead reckoning technique and found nothing. But in my own defense I had two passengers in the car with me who got nervous whenever I started to drive on unpaved roads and protested going any further into uncharted territories. My wife and sister don't have the same faith in my internal GPS that I do.

Anyway, a few months ago in anticipation of this trip to Langdon I found some old maps online depicting the town in 1892 and 1860. Although not official plat maps, the maps I found identified land owners by name in general locations. By viewing these I was able to approximate the general location of the farms owned by my great grandfather, Austin Currier and his father, John Currier. Moreover I have a copy of a letter my Aunt Alice had written to my mother in 1977 (same letter mentioned in my June post about letters) describing the approximate locations of John Currier's homestead as well as the land owned by his father, Joseph Currier.  All in Langdon and adjacent to each other. Aunt Alice's letter stated that the two oldest homesteads (John and Joseph) were "cellar holes" and she referred to the Austin Currier home as "Hillside Farm." Armed with her contributions to our search and trying to recall details of the 1977 trip with my mother we unplugged Penelope and suggested she take a nap while we forged ahead with pre-printed Google Map directions and satellite images of our objectives.

Langdon 1892 - The "A. Currier" notation is one and the same  "Hillside Farm"

Langdon 1860 - The "J Currier" notation is John Currier (Joseph died in 1854)

Thanks to the advance research we found Hillside Farm quite easily. It has been modified and improvements made both to the structure and the grounds since 1977 and the result is a beautiful home. It is located at the far reaches of a dead end dirt road which provides plenty of privacy. I introduced myself to the owners and explained the purpose of my unannounced visit was simply to see the house where my mother was born and asked for their permission to take photographs. They graciously approved and granted my wife and I permission to look around and take pictures as much as we wanted.

Hillside Farm

Sandi admires the views looking South from the house

A reflection pool with waterfall behind the home make a peaceful setting

Hard to see but in distant pasture was a herd of bison!

From Hillside Farm we resumed our search to see if we could locate the cellar holes of the homesteads of John Currier and Joseph Currier. Long story could find. Even Aunt Alice's 1977 letter indicated their locations were largely overgrown "when we were last there" which didn't generate much optimism we'd find anything. We didn't but we gave it a good shot at least. Aunt Alice had indicated that one of the cellar holes was near "the Bascom farm."  The Bascom name is mentioned on both the 1892 and 1860 maps as located towards the north of the Curriers so we roamed around a bit in that direction when we left Hillside. Nothing jumped out at us even though some of the turns of the road looked familiar to our 1977 visit when we found and photographed what my mother thought was the cellar hole of John Currier's home.

1977 photo of a Langdon cellar hole

In the vicinity of where I thought I recalled this photo being taken we saw an attractive home with what appeared to be a good sized vegetable garden off to the side. A woman was working in the garden  so we stopped to see if she might be aware of any cellar holes in the area. We showed her some of our maps and info citing the neighboring Bascoms and Curriers and were surprised to hear that she was part of the Bascom family that has continuing farming operations in Langdon. She was familiar with the Currier name (there is a Currier Road in Langdon) but was not familiar with any cellar hole locations. She volunteered to call a relative (father, I think) and was given some suggestions of possible places to look that sounded like they were pretty far off the beaten path. Of course, most things in Langdon are far off the beaten path but while I'm not too bashful about driving around on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere for the sake of ancestry searches, I have some reservations about walking around in people's back yards which is what it sounded like our new found Bascom family friend might have been suggesting. It was very generous of her to allow us to interrupt her gardening and even make calls to assist our search. We were grateful for her attempts to help us but it was getting late in the afternoon by this time and we still had to drive back to Connecticut for the night so we thanked her and departed. She volunteered to call if she or her family came up with any more ideas of cellar hole locations so I left her my cell phone number. 

I have found in the course of researching family history that most people try to be very helpful if you ask for their assistance.  Our visit to Langdon is proof of this both from the Hillside residents and the Bascom family descendants. And while my communication with Shelburne Historical Society members was either on the phone or online, they too were willing to bend over backwards to help us with our ancestry search. If any of them read this post, please accept my gratitude for your contributions to my search. And because of people like you, my search goes on. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten

Back in October 2009, on Halloween as a matter of fact, my wife Sandi and I searched through a cemetery in the middle of massive cornfields in Herndon, Kentucky. We were assisted by my nephew Neil and his friend Richard, both of whom supplied the muscle required to cut through tree branches, wait-a-minute vines, and thick underbrush that had flourished and essentially saturated the entire graveyard where my fraternal great grandparents are buried. We found the headstones of both George King and Mary "Polly" King after extensive cutting through the vegetation. In all we identified about eleven grave markers, mostly Kings and a few other neighbors buried there. 

The local historical society named this cemetery as "McKnight Cemetery # 2" and listed all burials of record, including my grandparents and some of their children. One name listed but not found was my great grandmother's mother, Mary "Polly" Wills. (Polly was a popular nickname frequently used for females with the given name of Mary in the 1800's). So recently the four of us returned to McKnight Cemetery # 2 to see if we could find Polly's mother, Polly Wills.

The cemetery is situated among cornfields and in the center of a copse of trees. 

We never found the other Polly. According to the historical society she's there but we could not locate a stone with her name. With the temperatures rising over 100 degrees and the real threat of ticks we called the search off after an hour and a half. We did find some McKnight family headstones that are pictured below.

The McKnight stones are newer than the Kings' and, therefore, in much better shape and easier to identify. As the last family buried it appears last buried, first named is the rule for naming the graveyard. One of my Kentucky cousins tells me they've always thought of this cemetery as the King-McKnight Cemetery. But unfortunately, any King descendants in the area are too elderly to maintain the cemetery grounds. Hence, the dense foliage we found almost three years ago has returned in spades (no pun intended) and the stones we uncovered in 2009 have been reclaimed by vegetation. I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye to my great grandparents so with Neil and Richard's help clearing a path for me I was able to revisit their markers for a brief farewell prayer. 

My Kentucky cousins helped me find another family cemetery located about three miles west of McKnight #2.  One drew me a map and the other gave me more detailed directions over the phone. Both are in their late eighties, one in a nursing home, and despite their age have strong interests in genealogy and clear minds and memories. This second cemetery was referred to as "The Old Moss Cemetery." But as the photo below proves, the Kings have a claim to this burial ground right along with the Moss family.

Moderately overgrown with field grass and weeds, the Moss-King Cemetery, established 1851, is a lot easier to inventory than the McKnight. I took photos of all Moss and King stones and others as long as I could decipher the names and dates. I will try to catalogue all the interned in order to update my files on and, as much as I can on the FindaGrave website.  

My grand uncle, Jacob Love King and his wife are buried here. As far as I know their marriage is where the Moss-King connection started.  Also here is the headstone for Jacob's son, George William King and his wife. George would be my 1st cousin, 1 x removed.

These stones are in pretty good shape. Partly because, like the McKnights, relatively new. George William & wife in the 1930's and Jacob & wife in 1907 (wife, Martha). Both are so similar in appearance of aging I wouldn't be surprised if both stones were engraved and mounted at the same time. I'll have to ask my cousins if they know (one of them has a stone there ready for when he passes on). The county historical society has no published record of this cemetery as there are numerous "family" cemeteries unlisted. But along with being fresher stones it appears some maintenance was performed at this site. Maybe not in recent years but only the one large tree in the center as opposed to the out of control tree growth in McKnight. I think both started around the same time period and more than likely in the middle of cornfields. 

One stone grabbed my attention with the lament engraved at the bottom of a child's grave marker. Gone But Not Forgotten. It's always sad when a child dies. In these older cemeteries I've seen a lot of children's markers, often easily identified by carvings or engravings of a lamb. If the cemeteries are untended, who is going to make sure those gone are not forgotten? Maybe genealogy nuts like me have a higher purpose than just satiating our curiosity in old graveyards. Hopefully we can help ensure those babies are not forgotten. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Old Letters In My Genealogy Boat

I've accumulated a few letters in the course of my family history research. Each makes it obvious I'm not the first in my family to acquire the genealogy "bug." It makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only genealogy nut in the family. Moreover, just having some of the letters has added info and hints that have made my research that much easier. The first that comes to mind is a letter my Aunt Nellie wrote to me in 1973. Aunt Nellie was 79 years old when she "felt the urge to compile information concerning our...ancestors." 

The unfortunate truth is that I don't recall receiving this letter. And while I'm in the mood to confess, I probably wouldn't have done anything with the info she compiled because I was too busy living my life with my wife and kids and working at my illustrious career, all of which were much too time consuming to allow me paying much attention to stuff about old people long dead and gone. I  discovered the letter in 1997 after my mother passed away. She had saved it and other letters and documents pertaining to the history of her side of the family. Nellie was my father's sister so my mother's compilation created an all encompassing grouping of family histories. And although I didn't start focusing on genealogy full time until I retired in 2008, my mother's apparent interest and Nellie's gathering of information are what sparked my interest in genealogy when I finally had the time to sit down and study the lives of my ancestors.

The only time I recall my mother saying anything that sounded like an interest in genealogy was in 1977 when she asked me to drive her from Massachusetts up through the area of New Hampshire where she was born and raised. She wanted to show us the house she was born in and the foundations of the farm houses that had belonged to her grandfather and great grandfather. I don't recall her mentioning the fact that she had gotten some coaching on the whereabouts of our ancestor's cellar holes but this letter from my mother's sister Alice makes it pretty clear she had some help.

Alice was definitely into genealogy.  Her letter states she was "going through the Currier history box." She also mentions her interest in knowing what condition "Hillside Farm" is in. I believe she's referring to the farm house my mother was born in. I'm not sure if Alice was born there too but the fact that she was interested in the home's condition leads me to think that's a good possibility. In any case the 1977 search was successful in finding both the farmhouse and at least one of the cellar holes. When we arrived at the house it was in beautiful condition situated in a clearing at the end of a winding dirt road and surrounded by huge trees. It appeared to be freshly painted, white with black shutters. We met the owners who had turned it into a summer home and who graciously allowed us to tour inside. My mother showed us the room designated as her nursery, having no problem locating it on the second floor over 70 years after she lived there. For some reason I never took a photo of the house. Dumb but true. I did take photos of one cellar hole. I don't recall if we found two cellar holes or just the one. I'm hoping I can go back to New Hampshire and take another look. I'm fairly certain I can find the farm house. Whether or not I'll have the same success with the cellar hole(s) is another story but I hope to give it a shot in the near future.

I treasure both of these letters. They were written by aunts that I knew and loved. I interacted with them in my life and their lives and they knew me.  Each time I read them I can hear their voices and picture them clearly. The letters are fairly "recent" documents when compared to most genealogy records my research focuses on. Often the first question I hear after confessing my interest in family research is, "how far back have you been able to trace your ancestors?" While that's an interesting issue it's not what excites me about genealogy. Admittedly it's easier to find documentation of ancestors' lives within the last 150 years or so than it is trying to go back further in history to the 18th or 17th centuries and beyond. From what research I've been able to find, record keeping virtually flourished in the 19th century, both public records and private. So  the "fishing" is better in the 19th and 20th centuries, sometimes with "fish" (clues) jumping into my boat without me having to even bait the hook! (I'm not a fisherman but the analogy seems appropriate). And to answer the standard inquiry of how far back?....James Currier (1590 - 1616) on my mother's side and Robert King (1639 - 1680) on my father's side. And that's just the Currier and King surnames. I've been able to trace my grandmothers' families back to similar time periods. My grandmother Currier was apparently bitten by the genealogy bug as evidenced by the next letter from a gentleman named Ballard Crockett in 1926. Both Ballard and my grandmother shared connection to the Webber family tree. Reading the letter reveals Mr. Crockett to be a fastidious researcher and lacking no confidence in his genealogy abilities. I have no clue what my grandmother's "letter and contents noted" he refers to in his reply letter but he obviously felt obligated to set the record straight!

Ballard was my second cousin 1 x removed. That's how calculates it. And he died in 1975 at the age of 82. But our physical paths never crossed so his letter does not have the same personal connection as those of my Aunt Nellie and Aunt Alice. Nevertheless, we are obviously fellow comrades in research and the letter itself serves as testimony that my grandmother may well have belonged to the same club...genealogy nuts! I've only recently come across this letter and haven't really dug into the facts Cousin Ballard cites. But I will, in time. He may be my cousin but that doesn't mean I have to buy into the names and dates he listed without trying to corroborate with other records. 

Ballard Crockett was already in my family tree base I've constructed on the website. While doing some research on the site pertaining to the Webbers I became connected with a descendant of Ballard and we have shared notes and records data for the last couple of years. But the next letter in my collection of old letters was from someone in the Currier family called Edwin Martin Currier. I had no such name in my website base. In reading the clues Edwin included in his letter to identify himself, I was able to "branch out" on my tree and find the connection. 

The date of this letter, November 2nd in what I now believe was the year 1871, was the first of two I have in the collection my mother left me.  I also believe the "Dear Sir" he addresses was my great great grandfather, John Currier. I base that on Edwin's reference to "your cousin, James H. Currier...I am his younger son." (Thank you Edwin for that statement which serves as another fish leaping out of the water into my genealogy boat)! James Hale Currier (1808 - 1893) was the son of Jonathan Currier (1787 - 1863). Johnathan was a brother, one of six, of Joseph Currier (1773 - 1854). Joseph was the father of my great great grandfather, John Currier of Langdon, NH. Joseph and his son John had homes in Langdon, remnants of which are the cellar holes my Aunt Alice described. So there's the connection. Edwin Martin Currier is another cousin!  This time, my second cousin, 3 x removed. ( did the math, not me). But aside from all that and the wealth of information I've been able to add to my tree is the fact that Edwin states, "I have formed the plan of writing a genealogical record of the Curriers."  TA-DAHHH !! Another genealogy nut in the family! And this guy wasn't messin' around, either! His request is the full Monty of genealogical data..."Will you be at the trouble to collect and send to me, all needful information that you can get respecting the members of your fathers family, names of all his descendants, births, deaths, marriages, etc, giving dates as much as you can, places of residence and whatever else you may think best."  

I wish I knew what my great great grandfather's response to this was. He did reply as evidenced by another letter from Edwin dated November 10th, giving thanks for the interest "you take in my contemplated work." Apparently John asked a few questions of his own that Edwin attempts to answer. And more clues swim on board with that letter, too, citing relocation of part of the Curriers to Ohio. 

The letters are interesting and informative to work with, not to mention enjoyable to work alongside my cousin of so many years ago. Edwin and his family migrated from New Hampshire to Lowell, Massachusetts where, thanks to City Directory listings I was able to trace his life and work up to 1920 where he was listed on the Federal Census as an "inmate" at a home for aged men. Born in 1844, Edwin was 76 at the time. His occupations according the the city directories show him progressing from at first, a wire worker, briefly an insurance agent, then for many years a clerk. A brief stint as a packer was followed by many years with the job title of shipping clerk. What intrigued me most was a 1916 listing of occupation as a writer. And sure enough, I discovered that Edwin M. Currier was indeed a writer, and a published writer at that! The January 1913 edition of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register lists under "Recent Books" a publication by Edwin M. Currier of an "Address or historical sketch delivered at a Currier Family Reunion, Toledo, Ohio, October 31, 1910."  In 1913 the 19 page, 8 chart publication was selling for $1.00. There is a copy of this work at the library of the New England Historical Society in Boston but nothing available on line. As soon as I can I will be visiting the library to utilize my membership benefits to photocopy Edwin's work. 

I'm in awe of the volume of work it would take for my ancestors to compile information on their family history. Johnathan and Joseph Currier, the brothers who formed the link between the Curriers in my family and those in Edwin's were two of the eleven children of Nathaniel Currier (1741 - 1826). Edwin's "contemplated work" was a gigantic endeavor. I wonder how much and the quality of responses he was able to generate from letters to all the branches. I've also seen record of his notices in the NEH &G Register citing findings as well as inquiries over the late 1800's as he compiled his work. And all I have to do is plug in to the Internet websites that deal with genealogy. My hat's off to Edwin. I may have landed more fish in a short period of time than he could have hoped to compile in a lifetime. But you know what? He was probably a better "fisherman" than I'll ever be. Way to go, Edwin!! With your work along with Ballard's and my mother and both my Aunts Nellie and Alice, I feel inspired to keep my search goes on. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Grandfather's (Sort Of) Secret Past - Epilogue

I finally received my father's high school transcripts from Lakeland High School confirming his enrollment there for four full years. This information, combined with his cousin Elgie's description of Yalaha's one room school house for grades 1 through 8 leads me to believe he attended just the two schools leading to his graduation from high school. While this doesn't prove or disprove the reason(s) Charles G King might have left Yalaha to attend high school in Lakeland, it more or less fits a pattern already established in the Yalaha home of George Johnson King and Agnes King, my paternal grandparents. Both George and Agnes indicated they could read and write according to Federal Census Records. Both of Charles' older sisters left Yalaha in 1910 to attend Massey Business College in Jacksonville, FL; Nellie was 16 years old and Carol was 19 when they left. So it appears to me that education was of some importance to the King family. Therefore, I'm standing with my original conclusion that my father's departure from his Yalaha home into his sister Nellie's Lakeland home was a move designed to continue his education that was further encouraged by the economic situation in the two homes. My grandfather appears to have struggled to keep his Yalaha citrus grove enterprise above water. He might have been hard pressed to keep his 15 year old son at home and support the expense and logistics of his attendance at Leesburg High School at least ten miles distant from Yalaha. Nellie's husband on the other hand was an up and coming businessman in his Lakeland grocery store and in a better position financially to accommodate his young brother-in-law into his home. My lingering doubts about why my father left home so early in life have been put to rest. I don't think he was running away from anything and I don't think his father, my grandfather, had any secret past that would have induced my father to leave. So, My Grandfather's (Sort Of) Secret Past is no secret at all. Just a family decision like we all have to face from time to time and, in my father's case, one that worked out well in the long run as his continued education through college and divinity school allowed him to serve his calling into the clergy.

The sort of secret past door has been closed and no skeletons were observed. But sometimes when one door is closed, another door opens. I've found this to be especially true in genealogy. A descendant of my great grandfather, William Sweet, discovered My Search Goes On blog posting about my grandfather's (sort of) secret past and contacted me. We have never communicated before and didn't know we were "cousins" until he identified himself as the great grandson of my great aunt, Elizabeth (Sweet) Henry. If you want to try to figure out what our relationship is, go right ahead, but I'm satisfied to leave it as "cousin." The photo below is from my files depicting from left to right: George Johnson King, Agnes (Sweet) King, William Sweet, Charles G King (boy standing in front), and Elizabeth (Sweet) Henry, and two more gentlemen I assume are family friends.

My new found cousin has graciously provided me with histories, anecdotes, family tree charts, and photos of the Henry family ancestors, many of whom I never knew existed, and others on which I had   some paper trails I had constructed on I've said it before and I stand by my words, when you add photographs, especially IDENTIFIED photographs to family history files it just brings those ancestors back to life. And when you add anecdotes and histories and family testimony to it all, it's like reconstructing a documentary for Frontline on PBS. Not as serious and tragic (we hope) but intriguing nevertheless.

For example, William Sweet's home in Yalaha is something I've searched for on numerous trips to Yalaha. Per my Aunt Nellie in her 1973 autobiography, "the house still stands but is not livable." I've failed to find any trace of it. It was reported (by Nellie) to have been a very impressive structure. My cousin shared a  photograph of the house taken in1946.

Please forgive the bluish hue. My copier ink is running low and I'm waiting for resupply. So now I know what it looks like. Up until now all I knew was where it was located.

Another photo posted below is a formal portrait of Elizabeth Henry's son, William Francis Henry. He was Elgie's brother so that would have made him my father's cousin. He was born in Michigan when Elizabeth Henry was married to John Levi Henry. He and Elgie were graduates of Albion College in Michigan. William later moved to Chicago where he owned and operated a "photo art studio."

There are other photos my cousin has shared with me that are now integrated into my files. And there are anecdotes that I need to incorporate into the files as well. But a few delicious examples follow:

"Elizabeth Sweet was all set to marry James Henry but he died, so she settled for second best, his brother (John Levi Henry). I don't know if this caused problems with their marriage, but they eventually divorced and John Levi married 23 year old Margaret Clark when he was 49." 

"My maternal grandmother died in the 1918 flu epidemic in Chicago. So my grandfather, William Francis Henry all of a sudden had four small children, 3 boys and a girl, and no wife. He sent my aunt  and my father to Yalaha to live with their grandmother (Elizabeth by now divorced and moved to Yalaha with Elgie) and aunt Elgie. My father begged his father to be taken back to Chicago after a short stay and he relented. My aunt, however, remained there for several years. She said Elgie treated her like hired help while Elgie's daughter laid around and did nothing. My aunt Dorothy just recently died a couple of weeks shy of her 99th birthday and remained bitter her whole like about her stay in Yalaha."

"Elgie, my grandfather (William Francis Henry), father, and great grandmother were spiritualists and my great grandmother was a trance medium and used to give readings at the home in Chicago. Supposedly the spirit of William Sweet showed up at one of these meetings and all he'd say was 'Oh the wasted acres." (I'm wondering if the "wasted acres" might be the citrus grove he and my grandfather farmed in Yalaha...if the business went downhill after William Sweet passed away his spirit might have been upset about it)!

Great stuff!! Thank you cousin!!!!

So one search ends and more go on. To that end, my search goes on.