Learning from the past, living in the moment, and leaving footprints for the future. Stories of lov

Friday, July 29, 2011

Epitaph: "Nevermore"

In the early 1970's I worked for an Insurance Company.  We put out a monthly newsletter for our dozen or so salesmen to keep them abreast of product changes, personal employee announcements and to inspire and rally sales.

Our ancestors didn't have life insurance. Once widowed, women remarried to have a man provide for them by whatever means, and the men remarried to have someone cook, clean, sew and raise their children.  It was called survival.

 This was the very first poem I ever wrote.  Obviously I was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe.

Epitaph:  "Nevermore"
by Kathryn Smith Lockhard

I went tapping on your door
to protect your wife and son.
"I save my pennies one by one,"
quote the young man, nevermore.

I went tapping on your door
all for your financial cure.
"Can't afford it to be sure,"
quote the young man, nevermore.

I went tapping on your door
security worries love ones fear.
"Maybe one day end next year,"
quote the young man, nevermore.

I went tapping on your door
once again to make my plea.
Widow cried out, "Don't you see"
man to answer nevermore.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Suffer The Little Children

It was very difficult so many years ago to bring healthy babies into the world.  Childbirth  was a dangerous risk for women and many lost their lives.  We are so blessed and fortunate today that we have the medical resources and equipment to monitor the health of our unborn children and to ensure the safe delivery for baby and mother.

Florence E. Smith was born in 1875 and was the daughter of my 2nd great grandparents. She died on December 7, 1881 when she fell off the Bradbury Bridge, in Biddeford, Maine and drowned at the age of seven. She is buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery in Hollis, Maine. She was found there resting beside her parents, William G. Smith and Druzillah J. Gray.

My great grandparents, William Russell Roesch and Ada Louise Houston had six children.  Their first child, Mary, was born December 22, 1885 and died May 2, 1887.  Their second child, a newborn son, born on April 2, 1887, died the very next day.  On January 15, 1888 a daughter was stillborn, and then on August 22, 1889 they suffered through yet another loss of a stillborn daughter.

Their fifth baby, a son brought joy for he survived, they called him Willy.  He became my grandfather.  One last child, a son they named Leroy, born on October 7, 1895 left this earth on October 25, 1895. 

All five babies are buried in the Pioneer Houston Family Cemetery in Eau Gallie, Florida.  I find it difficult to comprehend the pain that parents suffered when they lost their children. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rainbows and Flowers, vs. Black Clouds and Weeds

Rainbows and flowers are what we all expect to find in our family trees. What happens when we find black clouds and weeds?  A friend reminded me that they are the ones who lend a bit of color to our trees.

My great grandfather, Carl Zachariah Pierce was born into a family of social and financial status on the 7th of January 1872 in Middleboro, Massachusetts. He worked as a clerk in the Pierce Hardware store owned and operated by his father, Thomas Warren Pierce. Out of six children, Carl was the only son.  I can only surmise that the business would have be left to him one day.  His sisters all became well-known multi-talented musicians, singers and actors.  (See story: A Star Is Born )

Carl is in the top row, 2nd from left
In 1893 Carl played second baseman on the Middleboro baseball town league. You can see the big M on the players shirts. Carl, at least to me, was indeed a handsome, strong, eligible bachelor in his era.  It is the only picture I have of him for all other pictures were lost in the house fire of his daughter.  (See story: Heartbreaking Misfortunes

On December 29, 1897, at the age of 27, he married Mary Catherine Wilber, age 16.   Six weeks later, their first child, a daughter was born.

Carl went out drinking socially with his best friend, his wife's uncle.  But it went terribly wrong. About a year and a half into his marriage he had become a full-fledged alcoholic.  Carl's life spiraled out of control as the disease consumed him.

Twelve years and four children later, his marriage ended in divorce and he was disowned by his parents.  He was in and out of trouble with the law due to assaulting his wife's step-father and uncle.  The legal system forced his hospitilzation numerous times in state institutions without any permanent success. 

Carl Z. Pierce, died on July 29, 1927 at the age of 55 of a root canal pharysurgical abscess, at the Bridgewater State Hospital. Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of the heart muscle, (myocardium) caused by an infection, namely his abcessed tooth.

His two daughters gave him a proper burial and laid him to rest at Hillside Cemetery in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  They had no money to give him marker.

I have located the spot where he rests, next to his daughters and beside his twin grandchildren.  Alcoholism is such a tragic disease, not only for the inflicted, but also for the family members who love them.   And even  though I never knew him, I can forgive him.  I hope to give him a gravestone one day to say yes, he did exist, and contributed to life.  After all, I wouldn't be here today if not for him.  So this black cloud and weeds gave me rainbows and flowers.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mappy Wednesday - Searching for Bahia

William Russell Roesch, the son of a Union soldier married Ada Louise Houston, the daughter of a Confederate sympathizer.  The marriage took place in Bahia, Florida on January 16, 1885.  They are my great grandparents.

According to their marriage certificate, witnesses were all family members:  Eugene Alexander Stewart a dairy farmer, and Ada's sister, Isabel Margaret Houston Stewart known as Belle.   Belle's husband, Bethal J. Stewart, performed the marriage ceremony and signed the certificate as Notary Public. 

I had documented the marriage information, but had no idea where Bahia was located.  I did find a Bahia located further south near Miami, but, my great grandparents were from Eau Gallie, located half-way between Miami and Jacksonville. It just didn't make sense that the family would travel that far for a wedding in 1885.  

I stopped into the town hall of Palm Shores located just north of Eau Gallie and asked the Town Clerk if their town was ever known as Bahia, or if they had ever heard of this town and the reason for my inquiry.  Unfortunately, the answer was no to my suspicions.  But she also informed me that Palm Shores was a relatively new town.

Encouraged with that piece of information, I continued my search discovering there once was a post office in the town of Bahia.  Finally, my detective work paid off when I came across an old map of Brevard County dated 1895 that pin-pointed Bahia as the town just north of Eau Gallie.  There it was, sitting  right where Palm Shores sits today.  I made a copy of the map and gave it to the Town Clerk.  She was delighted to have this new piece of information and filed it away with the history of Palm Shores.

I was delighted to have unraveled my great grandparents Bahia wedding mystery. Now the town of Eau Gallie is no longer as it has more recently merged into the town of Melbourne.   These towns, especially the name of Eau Gallie have meaning to our family and it saddens me to see them dissappear. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Family Tree - Photograph

The Family Tree
 I went on an outing with two of my teenage grandchildren yesterday.  I came across young children playing and challenging themselves to climb this beautiful tree as their parents looked on ensuring their safety.  I just had to take this picture for I felt it truly represented The Family Tree.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Talented Tuesday - A Child Prodigy

Photo provided by
Diana Burgin
 Ruth Pierce Posselt was born on September 5, 1911 to a musical family.  Her mother, Ida Pierce was an accomplished pianist and her German born father, Emil Posselt, was a conductor of the Boston Symphony.  Three of her sisters, Gladys, Mollie and Marjorie used to sing under the name of Posselt Trio.  They also played the piano, cello and violin respectively.  Ruth was the youngest sister playing the violin at age three with a violin that was specially made for her. 

Ruth became an outstanding American violinist whose career spanned over half a century.   She was invited to perform at The White House by President and Mrs. Roosevelt in 1937.  Posselt toured frequently as a recitalist, and formed a duo with pianist Luise Vosgerchian in 1958. A favorite of Koussevitzky and Munch, she appeared more than sixty times with the Boston Symphony, playing both the classics and 20th century composers like Bloch, Khachaturian, Hindemith, Copland, Barber, and Vernon Duke (Dukelsky). Married to Richard Burgin, long-time concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she appeared often under his baton.  Posselt toured frequently as a recitalist, and formed a duo with pianist Luise Vosgerchian in 1958. 

My 1st cousin
2x removed
Photo provided by
Diana Burgin

 Ruth Posselt performed several world premieres in her career, including Walter Piston's First Violin Concerto, a piece which was written for her, in 1940. (Violin Concerto No. 1) She also premiered a violin concerto by Vladimir Dukelsky, a.k.a. Vernon Duke, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Serge Koussevitsky in March 1943. Also with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Posselt premiered violin concertos by composers Edward Burlingame Hill (Concerto for Violin, Opus 38), in 1939, and Samuel Barber (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra), in 1942, and played the New York premiere of Paul Hindemith's Violin Concerto in 1941. In 1944, Posselt premiered Aaron Copland's Violin Sonata with the composer at the piano.

Later in life, she and her husband moved to the state of Florida.  Posselt taught and performed at Florida State University from 1963 to 1978, coming to the school as a visiting artist, continuing her stay as an artist in residence and member of the Florestan String Quartet, with her husband. Posselt eventually became a professor at the University. She also taught privately at Wellesley College and New England Conservatory.

Ruth and her husband, Emil during rehearsal
Photo provided by
Diana Burgin

Ruth was ahead of her time, becoming a virtuoso in a predominately male world.  She died February 19, 2007. 

Although I don't have any of Ruth's recordings as of this date, I hope to before long.  Recently I met Ruth's daughter through ancestry.com.  We have been enjoying and sharing family stories and information. She lives not too far from me.  We plan to meet this September.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Hero's Cry Is Heard

Uncle Howard

Private Howard Leroy Smith was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts on April 1, 1925 to Malcolm Leroy and Mary Ann Smith.  He enlisted at Fort Devens in Massachusetts on March 29, 1943, two days before his 18th birthday, and entered into active service on April 21, 1943.  He joined Company L 134th Infantry APO #35, as a Rifleman 746, an M-1 Rifle Marksman.  He is described as 5'6", blue eyes, blonde hair weight 135 lbs. 

He was engaged in the battle of Normady, France where on July 30, 1944 he was shot in the leg with an MG-42 German machine gun, the most powerful and fastest gun in existence, its' nickname was zipper.  Howard lay there in pain, his leg shattered, with dead soldiers all around him as bullets threatened to strike him again.  He cried out, Ma, for he thought he was about to die.

His mother, Mary Ann, was in Florida visiting her other son Robert who was in the navy and stationed in Cocoa Beach, Florida. She went there to visit him and his wife Elsie, who was expecting their first child in September. Mary Ann felt she was going crazy for she could hear her son Howard calling out to her. She was compelled to go for a walk by herself, haunted by his call. She later learned that her son had been seriously injured and she really was hearing his voice crying out to her.

Howard was rescued that night after dark.  He was transported to Staten Island, New York and admitted to the Halloran General Hospital. The surgeon recommended amputation, but Howard and his mother both said no.  Here he stayed until his discharge twenty-six months later on November 8, 1946 along with a certificate of disability that discharged him from the military. He returned to Massachusetts and entered the Veterans Hospital in Framingham.  Here is where he met his future wife, Pasqualina Virginia Fazzari, known as Pat.  Howard was hospitalized for a period of three years and underwent a total of twenty surgeries. He wore a metal brace for the rest of his life. He died of cancer on Jan 2 1961, at the age of 36 leaving a wife and five small children.  The cancer began in this injured leg. 

Howard was awarded the Purple Heart, WWII Victory Ribbon, American Theatre Campaign Ribbon, and the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon with 1 Battle star. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Dream Lives On

Mathias, my
3rd gr grandfather
Mathias Eugene Rösch was born on February 17, 1812 in Baden, Germany.  He grew to be a strong yet gentle and soft-spoken man, a Rösch trait that would continue for the next two centuries.  He had dark blonde hair, blue eyes and stood six feet tall.  He was a "sacklermeiter", a master craftsman of leather clothing. He married Magdalena Jehle and together they had eleven children.

Mathias was a member of what was known as the Republican Party, working underground to overthrow the monarchy and to establish a republic in Germany.  He was willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to advance the cause of unity, justice and freedom.

In 1853, he sent his sixteen-year-old son Josef to America so he would not be forced to join the German army.  In 1854 history repeats as he sends his second son, Franz.  Finally, in May of 1857 he brings his entire family across the ocean in the US ship, "William Nelson".  Their name was anglicized to Roesch upon arrival in the U.S.  Being well-off in a financial way, they were able to purchase a farm in Potosi, Wisconsin.  His grandson wrote in a letter , "Finally, the German government gained a knowledge of the Republican Party and my grandfather got out of Germany just ahead of them."

On January 28, 1887 Mathias Eugene Roesch died of pneumonia at the age of 74 years, 11 months and 10 days.  He was laid to rest in Boice Creek Cemetery in Potosi, Wisconsin near his farmhouse.  His life on earth had come to an end, but his dream lives on through future generations because he brought his family to America for a better life.

The "William Nelson" sailed its last voyage on June 1, 1865.  On the 25th of June the ship caught fire, burned and sank with 426 German and Swiss immigrants aboard. The captain and his crew were the first off the ship leaving the rest to die in fiery misery and confusion.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hidden Deep Within

The more I research family history the more I realize that people don't change, only time does.

Family remains the foundation that keeps us strong.  We need each other to give us strength, confidence that we can succeed, knowing we are loved for who we are, someone to turn to in our time of need and for every other reason imaginable.  When we give up on those that make mistakes, when we don't teach kindness, forgiveness and respect, the family breaks down.  We are only human after-all and we are prone to make the same mistakes of  all those that came before. 

We can try to teach our children the lessons that we have learned, but they never take the more experienced advice and therefore go forth and make the same mistakes we made.  All we can do is to be there to catch them when they fall.  Just think, if we had the ability to generically pass on the lessons of the past as animals do. 

Times have changed, yes.  We have more wonder drugs keeping us living longer and healthier.  The world has gotten smaller for we have better roads so we can drive further and planes fly around the globe faster than ever before.  Housework is done more quickly today with all the modern conveniences, and we don't have to grow our food, we just go buy what we want. No need to make our cloth or spin the yarn.  We have more time to do things that we enjoy.

We all inherit from our parents our skin color, hair color, the shape of our nose and the color of our eyes. But, do we also genetically receive memories from our ancestors on particular interests such as politics, music, a writer of poems or books; perhaps also passing on their experience for us to continue and build upon past talents.

Are we born to be leaders or followers, lambs or warriors? Is this where, what we call, our destiny derives from? Are we being guided by forces within ourselves that push or lead us to a place whether we want to go there or not?  Perhaps we just might be a happier and more contented human being by not fighting those hidden forces that rest sometimes too deeply and quietly within us. Perhaps we have forgotten to listen.

Animals are born with the instincts and knowledge needed for survival. Why not us? Have we come so far in a modern society that we have lost the ability to read the messages passed on to us? Perhaps we are too busy to feel and listen to what is embedded in our genes.

The answer to my question became apparent to me when I completed and published my book, Forever Laced. The connection from one generation to another led me to believe that yes, we have a genetic memory. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Lost Art of Communication

We have lost the art of communicating with romantic and flowery words, whether it be through a love letter or an obituary. Technology has made it so much more convenient to pick up a phone, type a text message or send off a quick e-mail.  Sad don't you think that we now find it difficult to express our true emotions on paper?  These words, our ancestors knew.

A Love Story-March 8, 1823
Jack wrote a love letter to his wife Florence, known as Billy. He had no idea at this point-in-time that he would never see her again.

Dearest Wife:

Florence Eloise Sterling
my grandmother
 Billy dear, now that you've gone I realize how much I really love you.  Dear girl, I'll never forgive myself for letting you go.  Dearest, this room doesn't seem the same.  I used to think it was so cozy and cheerful but now it seems so cold and bleak and dreary.  Our kitchenette room is too full of memories of you.  I see you at the gas range, I imagine I see you by the dresser curling your hair.  The only thing that consoles me is the realization that you will soon return to me.  And when you do, God knows how I'll stand it until then, you can gamble your last dollar that you won't leave me again.

Dearest, I want you to rest and enjoy yourself while you are there.  I won't ask if you had a safe journey as God couldn't be so cruel as to make it otherwise.

Well, dearest one, will close now hoping that you miss me as I do you.  A wealth of love and a fortune of kisses from
Your lonely husband, Jack

Obituary April 5, 1988
Cherished Companion Died

On the 21st of March death entered the home of Russel Cardy in the town of Potosi, and claimed his cherished companion as its victim.  Mercy Ann Hampton was born of Christian parents in the state of New Jersey in 1813.  Her parents moved from New Jersey to Erie county, N.Y. while she was young, where they lived at the time of her marriage.  Her early life was spent among the friends-"Quakers"-and from them she learned the true lesson of virtue.  In 1842 she was married to Russel Cardy on the 25th of August.  They came to Potosi the same year.  She taught school in their own home their first winter in Wisconsin, besides attending to her household duties.  She lived a quiet life, never yielding to wrong.  They will see her no more here, for she has joined a brighter band.  Though the weather was cold she was born to her resting place followed by her numerous friends.  The procession walked to the grave.  They have the sympathy of all who know them.

Mercy Ann Hampton and Russel Cardy
my 3rd great grandparents

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I wrote this poem during a period of writers block or what I call a brain freeze.  I hope you find it fun.

by kathryn smith lockhard

Front to back I read the dictionary,
only to surmise it was fictionary.

Truly it is a book of profusion,
for all it creates is complete confusion.

It takes a person with great fortitude,
to enjoy it with any magnitude.

For me to use again perchance,
lies strictly upon the circumstance.

My advise to you I do implore,
half the edition, please ignore.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wedding Day Heartbreak

Merl G.  Eldridge, age 21, worked in the National Powder Company plant, a dynamite factory, located in Eldred, PA, just over the New York border. An explosion took place at about 8:50 a.m. on Thursday, October 18, 1939, in a stone building used as a mixing plant where nitroglycerin was made.

He was the son of Everett Eldridge publisher of the Eagle Tribune, and Beatrice Hatch, nephew of my great grandmother, Elsie Eldridge Sterling.

The Monday morning before he was to be married he didn't want to go to work.  His mother, Bea, told him you might as well go to work - you're getting married soon - so he went to work.
The explosion that killed five blew the men to bits. Only a lock of Merles' hair was found. 

Merl was to be married to Clarice Preston of Syracuse, NY. the following Sunday.  His funeral took place in the church and on the day on that his wedding was to take place. His fiance showed up for the funeral wearing her wedding dress.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Star Is Born

Maude Franklin Pierce
Maude Franklin Pierce, my great grand aunt, was born on November 30, 1879 in Middleboro, Massachusetts. She was the fourth of five daughters born to Mary Ann Besse and Thomas Warren Pierce.  Growing up in a well-to-do family, she and her four sisters were afforded every opportunity. They all became refined ladies, college educated and proficient in the art of music. The Pierce girls were well-known within the music circuit. Maude became a classical pianist, sang opera, performed in concerts and was an actress. She performed at The Boston Symphony Hall and other grand halls around the world.   

       On September 6, 1918 Maude applied for a passport as an entertainer for the Soldiers with the America's Over There Theater League under the YMCA.   With the approval of the United States War Department, Maude departed from New York to entertain the soldiers serving in WWI. 

       Army orders allowed soldiers a week's leave every four months of active duty.  During this week of vacation, soldiers could enjoy the cinema, play athletic sports such as baseball, volleyball and soccer. There was swimming and  boat excursions on the lake.  The soldiers enjoyed with great enthusiasm, the entertainment shows provided by Maude and others in the YMCA league.

       When the time came for the men to go back to their posts of service, there was unanimous appreciation and praise for the good times enjoyed and regret that they were so soon ended.  The primary purpose of the leave was to restore their spirits and heighten morale.

       Maude married Joseph Allen, a gentlemen from South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.  From Middleboro they moved to Fairfield, Connecticut where their first child, a son, was born in 1903.  A second son arrived in 1912.  During these years, Maude continued to give concerts in New York City. 

           The family moved to Los Angeles, California.  Maude was born and raised in the Methodist Church, but while living here, she and her husband became Christian Scientists. Sometime later, the marriage ended in divorce.  Maude began her career as an actress under the name Maude Pierce Allen.  She had roles in films such as, The Big Pond, The Cowboy Millionaire, Danger Ahead and many others.  She was best known for her role in the Adventures of Red Ryder.  She played the role of Duchess, Red's mother.  It indicated on the movie posters that this was an action packed western cliffhangers seen in 12 exciting episodes.  The film was shown in movie theaters and always ended in some pending tragedy.  To see what happened, you had to return the following week.  I was able I was able to obtain the video with all 12 episodes.  It was great seeing her perform.  It brought her back to life.

       In Maude's later years, she returned home to Middleboro.  She entered the Hannah B. G. Shaw Home for the Aged.  Every day she would play the piano and sing to all the residents and staff.  My father, Robert Franklin Smith would go and visit her there.
     Maude passed away on April 24, 1960.  She is buried in the family Pierce plot the Central Cemetery, Middleboro, MA. This medallion sits on her gravestone.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Heartbreaking Misfortunes

House and Contents Destroyed by FIRE
Middleboro Gazette, September 4, 1931

A fire that started from an overheated chimney destroyed the home and furnishings of Malcolm Smith, Plymouth Street in the North Middleboro section Sunday night while Mr. and Mrs. Smith were only a quarter of a mile away with their children watching traffic roll by on the new state highway.  It is the climax of a series of misfortunes that have visited the Smith family in a short time.  About two weeks ago Mr. Smith who had been employed in a tea room near his home, was put on part-time and then followed the death of Richard, their 10 month old son last week. (pneumonia)

Sunday night after supper the family went for a walk to the new road to see the automobiles and when they left their home everything seemed to be all right.  It seemed but a short time after when a neighbor discovered heavy smoke coming from the house.   He sent a telephone call to the central fire station and tried to get in to save some of the furniture but was driven back by the flames which spread with great rapidity from around the chimney to all parts of the house.

When Engine 1 with Deputy Chief Owens and crew arrived after the five mile run, the house was enveloped in flames and it was readily seen that nothing could be done to save it.  The water supply from a well near the house was soon exhausted and the Chief directed the attention of the firemen to prevent the spreading of the fire to other nearby property.  The furniture in a nearby home was removed but later as the danger subsided was replaced in the house by neighbors.  Sparks from this fire communicated to the roof of another house but it was quckly extinguished by a formed bucket brigade from a nearby well.

All the belongings of the Smith family and furniture stored in the house were destroyed and it is understood that the property was not fully insured.  The Smiths are now living with the family of Walter Savard.

Autoists driving on the new state highway (route 18) were attracted by the fire and many left their cars on that road and walked to the fire creating one of the worst traffic jams ever seen on this new highway.
Mary Ann Pierce and Malcolm Leroy Smith
My Grandparents

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gentle Hands

My great-grandmother, Elsie Lovina Eldridge Sterling, I called her Gram, lived in a cottage on the hill in Bonaventure, Florida that sat just on the outskirts of Cocoa. She was born on August 22, 1870.  She would always bake cookies for me. When I was three, I would press my little nose on her screen door and ask, "Can I have a tookie, please"?  Of course she always gave me one.  She loved me, I knew that, and I loved her too.  Today I realize how blessed I was to have known her.  

On the back side of her cottage was a very small, screened-in porch.  I would sit in one of the chairs on the porch with her and she would play Chinese checkers with me for hours as she told me stories of her and gramp when they dated in the horse and buggy days. She had long chestnut hair that even when it turned gray, she would braid every morning and wrap them up and over her head.  Her laugh was somewhat of a giggle. Gram was a gentle soul. 

Today, I have a necklace made from her chestnut hair, three strands, each braided in its own unique design.  In the middle hanging from a gold clasp is a polished chestnut sea bean.  The beans are found on the Florida beaches when they wash up from some Caribbean island.  I feel close to her whenever I wear it.

Elsie Eldridge and Emond Sterling
Gram, Gramp and Me

I remember her washing my hands in her kitchen sink when I was a very little girl.  She would wrap her hands around mine and gently wash them.  Her hands felt as soft as a newborn baby blanket. They were wrinkled with blue veins and gnarled with arthritis, yet they made me feel safe.  These beautiful hands trembled with age,  but, despite this she taught me how to crochet. Later, I crocheted the edge of a white hankie in mint green and gave it to her.  After she passed, I discovered that hankie, worn so very thin from use, but still in tack.  Hands such as hers represent grace, beauty and love.

Gram loved birds and they loved her too.  She would go out on her front stoop to feed them.  They would actually eat from the palm of her hand.  They waited for her each and every day.  While sitting in the screened porch, as we did quite often, the birds flew around to the back of the cottage and they began to call out to her quite loudly.  "Okey" she said, "I'm coming".  She was late going out to feed them.  As she stood up, they flew back to the front of the cottage to wait for her. She would call the blue jays little pigs, because they would try to eat all the food as they attempted to chase the smaller birds away. But, she wouldn't let any bird no matter how small get away without their fair share.

She passed away in 1961, living to the age of 91. She and gramp were cremated and laid to rest beneath the Mulberry tree located in the front yard of the cottage that sat on the hill.  Years later, they were reverently moved and laid to rest at the foot of the casket of their daughter Florence and her husband Scott.  No marker makes known that they are there.

Up until a few years before she passed she could still touch her toes without bending her knees. Because of her, I learned to appreciate and understand that just because you're growing older, doesn't mean you can't be young at heart and live a full life. I aspire to be as gracious as she. 

She was wise enough to leave behind in her handwriting genealogy notes that proved to be invaluable to me in reseaching and building our family tree.  One name she wrote down as follows:  "Ann, as in history".  She was referring to Anne Marbary Hutchinson (my 9th great grandmoter and her daughter Susanna who married Lieutenant Thomas Eldred, my 8th great grandparents.

Thank you Gram.  It is wonderful to have this history written in your handwriting, listing your parents, grandparents,  your great grandparents, but also your 2nd, 3rd and 4th great grandparents as well.  This information informed me when the name went from Eldred to Eldridge.


Saturday, July 2, 2011


This poem, Reflections, is close to my heart and my blog is named for it.  It speaks of my feelings of the Indian River in Cocoa, Florida and of my emotions as I found my maternal Roesch family history.  The poem is listed at the end of my book, "Forever Laced".  I hope you enjoy it.

By Kathryn Smith Lockhard

Quiet moments by the riverside reflect
to me my being.  Awoke did I this spring
aware of this existance within me.
Could I have been on that branch
wrapped in silk as if a cocoon?

Why have I slept so many a spring when
I find life so alive within me.
This day the sun was too warm,
too bright and rose up ever so gently
that I found myself aroused,
so stired that I burst into being.

All around the riverside nature
is alive and we are one.
My blood rushes as the river,
my heart beats to the song of the birds,
my hair blows as the limbs of the trees do sway
and my touch is gentle as a petal on a rose.

Nature cares for itself and it will care for me.
and I have no fear for whats to be.
Quiet moments by the riverside reflect
to me my being.  Awoke did I this spring,
aware of this existance within me.

Little Girl Lost

I was doing some research on Mary Ann Besse, my 2nd great grandmother.  She was born in Wareham, Massachusetts on the 19 day of May 1845.  She married Thomas Warren Pierce of Middleboro, Massachusetts on May 27, 1865.  Her husband owned a successful business in town named for him, "Pierce Hardware Store". 

They had five daughters, Cora, Dora, Ida, Maude, and Grace, and one son, Carl.  More about the lives of these children another day.   

I was preparing to join the Mayflower Society as a descendant of Myles Standish.  I needed the birth, death and marriage certificates for a number of generations to prove lineage.  It was the marriage certificate of Mary Ann Besse and Thomas Warren Pierce, that took me by surprise.  It stated that this was a second marriage for Mary.

I researched further to discover that her first husband was Andrew E. Thomas.  Rev. George H. Winchester married them in the town of Middleboro on September 29, 1859.  It appears they had a child together, a daughter, born on August 25, 1860.  They named her Joanna, after Andrew's deceased mother. 

At the onset of the Civil War, Andrew joined the ranks of the 4th Massachusetts Infantry as a Union soldier for a period of nine months on September 19, 1862.  It was in the battle at BRASHEAR CITY, LA, June 23, 1863 where Andrew was severely wounded, captured, and taken prisoner on June 23, 1893.  Two days later the confederates released him, for they knew he would not survive. Two days later on June 27, 1863 he died from his injuries.  He was only two days shy from completing his nine months of service and returning home to his family.

The mystery that I am left with is what happened to the little girl named Joanna.  There seems to be no further trace of her.  I will continue my search to find this little girl lost.

Robert Franklin Smith, Military and Family - My Dad's Story

Robert Franklin Smith

Robert Franklin Smith was born in Bridgewater, MA, July 10, 1923, the son of Malcolm Leroy Smith and Mary Ann Pierce.  On December 7, 1941 about 7:55 AM, the Japanese attacked Peal Harbor in Hawaii.  It was sometime after the United States declared war on December 8, 1941, that Bob, like so many other young men, left school to enlist in the military.  At the age of 18, Robert was described as having brown hair, hazel eyes and light complexion.  He tried to enlist in the Navy; but did not meet the height requirements, so Bob joined the Massachusetts State Guard, 78th Company.  As the war progressed more men were needed. At the age of 19, Private Robert F. Smith, on September 17, 1942, was discharged from the Guard and was enlisted for active duty in the U.S. Navy. 

He was stationed at the new Banana River Naval Air Station in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  In 1948 this base became Patrick Air Force Base.  Shortly after Bob's arrival he met his future wife, Elsie Louise Roesch, at a local dance hall where her mother was one of the chaperones for the evening. They married on April 22, 1943 after dating for six months.

Their first child, a daughter, was born September 7, 1944. In February of 1945 the Navy sent Bob, known as Smitty to his buddies, to Oak Harbor, Washington.  His wife and daughter traveled with him. Six months later they were off to Seaside, Oregon. Several months later, he was assigned to National City, California.

His next port was China. The military advised Elsie that it would not be a safe place for them so they returned home to Florida to wait. Bob was on the U.S.S. LST 9 (Landing Ship Tank), which is an amphibious vessel designed to unload tanks, troops and supplies. Robert F. Smith held the rank of Damage Controlman First Class (Carpenter).  

While passing by Okinawa on its way to China, some Japanese, who didn't know the war was over, fired upon the ship. In January 1946, the ship pulled into port at the Whangpoo River in Shanghai, China, which flows into the Yangtze River. Bob was assigned to build stables on the American ship for Chiang Kai-shek so he could transport his horses. This was during the pre-communist era when the U.S. supported General Chiang against the Communist's People's Liberation Army led by Mao Zedong in the civil war for control of China. The communist party did assume control after two decades of war and the People's Republic of China was established on October 1, 1949.

 Bob sadly recalled, "Baby girls in China during this period were not valued, and were thrown into the Yangtze River to drown. It was horrible seeing dead babies floating the water." Bob called his wife and told her what was happening and that there was this baby girl he wanted to adopt. Elsie agreed, but the military wouldn't allow it.   

In 1947, Bob was sent to England for a year. His wife and daughter joined him there in Plymouth, England. Bob was discharged in 1948 after five years 11 months and 26 days of service. He and his family moved to his hometown in Massachusetts. He obtained a job working nights at George O. Jenkins Co., a leather mill, and he joined the Reserves.

On December 19, 1950, Bob was called back into active service and assisigned to the ship, USS Proserpine, ARL 21, for one final tour of active duty during the Korean War. He was discharged on December 18, 1954 as Damage Controlman First Class/Carpenter.  He had now completed 8 honorable years of service in the Navy.   

 Bob and Elsie had four daughters: Kathryn Marie, Sharon Eloise, Janine Lovina and Robin Doreen. Bob retired from the leather mill holding the position of General Manager.  He quietly passed away on the first day of spring, March 20, 2008 with his wife and family by his side.  
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