Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - In Heaven We Will Meet Again

My third great grandparents.  Abbie A Borden born 1832 in Freetown, Massachusetts and died there on April 1, 1910 and Joseph B Wilbur born in Raynham, Massachusetts on March 2, 1832 and died in Freetown on June 23, 1895.  Together they had 10 children and are buried in Chase Cemetery, Freetown, Massachusetts.  
The inscription on the stone reads, In Heaven We Will Meet Again.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - How Traditions Change

As long as I can remember, and that's longer than I care to admit, Christmas Eve was always celebrated with family.  When I was a child, it was with my parents at my dad's sister's house.  His other siblings along with their children, my cousins, around 20 people would arrive with gifts in tow.  The presents would pile so high they were half way up the tree and just as big around it.

Tradition, we all understood, was that the youngest in the family got to open their gifts first, with mother's help of course.  We all watched with excitement as we heard who the gift was from and to see what was inside the bright Christmas wrappings.  Not I nor my cousins could sit still as we anxiously waited for our turn.

When the evening was over and we were driving home, I and my three sisters would look out the widow and up towards the sky watching for Santa and his sleigh. 

As the family grows larger, young children grow and have children of their own, out of necessity and lack of space, splits occur, but the traditions continue with each branch.  

Now let's fast forward, now married with four small children, ages four months to seven years, of my own and because of a new job my husband took, we lived 2-1/2 hours away from my parents and sisters.  My sisters at this point in time were still single living at home with mom and dad. 

Being the close family that we are, distance was not about to let our traditions die.  My parents and sisters drove the 2-1/2 hours to my home for Christmas Eve.  Out of necessity, I always prepared a spaghetti supper, garlic bread, tossed salad and cheese cake for all upon their arrival.


My granddaughters waiting to pass out the gifts
  Some years later we moved back home to be near the family.  At this point in time my sisters were married and had children so we took turns holding our Christmas Eve, and always the spaghetti dinner, garlic bread, tossed salad and cheese cake.

When my first daughter married and had her first child, I decided to begin my own branch.  Always again the spaghetti dinner. One year I decided to do something different and put out a buffet.  My children weren't too happy with that and asked why did I change the family tradition.  So out of necessity a new tradition had begun and I didn't even know it. 

Happy 21st Birthday
 Our first grandchild was born on Christmas Eve.  I always tell her that she was the best Christmas gift I ever received.  So now we start with our spaghetti dinner, garlic bread and tossed salad, then we have a birthday party before we do our tree and open gifts.  Guess what she wanted for her birthday cake.  You got it, cheese cake, candles and all.

My sisters still continue to all get together with their children and their grandchildren who have started to arrive, they have decided not to start their own branches as of yet.  So in order to make sure the family still gets together for the Christmas Holiday, a new tradition sprang some 23 years ago, an idea of one of my sisters.  We now have a Family Ornament Exchange Party.  Everyone brings an ornament, a favorite dish, and games to play.  Guess where I am headed to at noon today.  Merry Christmas everyone.


Guess who won this game
hint, the one who is smiling
the other one can't see, LOL
  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yesterday's Gifts of Love

It is now official, Thanksgiving Day is behind us and we start the Christmas season.  We will be busy shopping for just the right gift in very busy shopping malls; listening to holiday songs and wishing for a white Christmas. 


Florence
1904-1971
 We want to recognize our friends and extended family during this blessed time so we carefully choose the just the right cards to send a holiday message.  Once upon a time many gifts were handmade.   My grandmother, Florence Sterling Roesch Hilligoss, was one who crocheted doily's and other items and also designed her own cards.   This was a time when you could feel the love radiate from the gift for the time it took to make them.  I still have towels safely stored that she crocheted around the edges.

What I fancy most I think are the hand designed and hand written Christmas postcards.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Matrilineal Monday - Poor Aunt Lena


Great Aunt Lena

 Eva Lena Houston, known as Lena, was born on May 19, 1876 sharing her mother's birthday.  We first see her on an 1880 census listed as the daughter of John Houston III and his wife Mary Virginia Hall, sister to Ada, a pioneer family that many historians followed.  The question everyone had was, "What happened to Eva Lena Houston," she just seemed to disappear never to be seen again in any census, death, marriage record or any other record for that matter.

But I knew the truth, for she became part of my family, she was my great Aunt Lena.  It took me about five years to inform the genealogy community and to convince them of the facts and what I knew was so.

Now I will share it with you.

According to Aunt Lena's death certificate, she was the natural born daughter of my great grandmother, Ada Louise Houston, not her sister, father unknown.   Lena was eight-years-old when her mother married William Russell Roesch in January of 1885. He unofficially adopted Lena and her surname was changed to his.

Lena was active in church, attending Sunday School and then Bible classes.  She belonged to the Epworth League, known today as the MYF, Methodist Youth Fellowship.  She also belonged to and was an active member of the Order of Eastern Star and the Eau Gallie Woman's Club.

She was a very kind, sweet and loving person and would do anything for anyone, especially family.  During most of her lifetime she worked as a private housekeeper.

In December of 1885 Lena got a baby sister named Mary. Mary died at the tender age of 17 months.  She would lose three more siblings in their infancy or were stillborn.  Lena loved her mother and did everything she could to help her. Finally a brother arrived when  Lena was seventeen-years-old. His name was William Russell Roesch, my grandfather.  Her brother grew up, married Nellie Edith Osborne and they had a son, Phillip Osborne Roesch.

Lena, Ada and Nellie
Lena was devastated when she lost her mother on September 10, 1924, a much loved woman of Eau Gallie.  Ada was 67 at the time of her passing.  Tragedy struck again when her sister-in-law Nellie, the wife of her only brother, died just fourteen days later at the age of 32 leaving her six-year-old son.

Lena was in pain but so was her brother.  It was difficult being a single father raising his young son, so Lena took care of her nephew while her brother worked at the newspaper his father started back in 1916 as it's writer and editor. She did this up until the time he remarried  in 1826.

A year later, on June 22, 1927 Lena married for the first time at the age of 51 to Clarence Egbert Dean, a widower.  Sadly Lena's happiness was short-lived for he died a year later.  Lena moved back home with her father and step-mother, Lizzie.  Lizzie was mean to Lena, made up stories about her, accused her of lying and stealing.  Lena cried most of the time.  Matrilineal Monday - Cinderella and The Evil Step-Mother


Lena eventually moved in with her brother and his wife Florence, and their two children, Philip and Elsie.  Lena would rub Elsie's back at night until she fell asleep.  Lena would always give Elsie a quarter when she received payment for her private housekeeping services.

Lena's husband Clarence had given her a gift of a beautiful ring.  In the center was an emerald, for a May birthday, with six round opal stones encircling it.  At the tip and centered between each opal was a seed pearl.  Lena felt wearing the opals brought her bad luck whereas it was not her birthstone.  She gave the ring to her now 14 year old niece, Elsie whose birthstone is the opal for she was born in October .  Elsie loved the ring and wore it for the next 65 years before passing it on to me.  I treasure this ring.

Eva Lena Houston Roesch Dean
My mother, Elsie, when reminiscing about Aunt Lena would cry saying, " Aunt Lena led a very sad life."  Lena's death certificate states that she was admitted into the Brevard County Farm in Titusville, Florida on May 6, 1942, apparently due to illness.  Elsie's mother, Florence, upon learning she was there, tried to bring her home to live with her to no avail.  Three months and six days later, Lena passed away on August 12, 1942 at the age of 67 years, 2 months and 24 days.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Matrilineal Monday - Cinderella and The Evil Step-Mother

Elizabeth Meakin Carpenter Gwyne Roesch, known as Lizzie, a trained nurse, was born in British Columbia, Canada on November 5, 1864 and was Governor Gleason's niece by marriage.  When her husband, George Carpenter, died she married J. Gwyne.  When he died, she married my great grandfather, William Russell Roesch, husband number three, who was now widowed.

Lizzie was certainly not the most sociable person to family.  In fact family stories tell me she was down-right mean, selfish and a snob.  She loved being the center of attention. 

Lizzie enjoyed being the mayor's wife and the privileges that came with it.  She was always impeccably dressed in her finest every day. She loved to entertain as often as she could, it could be friends or organizations, it really didn't matter.  Her guests included the American Legion Axillary that she would delight with an afternoon tea, and of course the ladies from the Eau Gallie Women's club of which she eventually became its' President.

Promptly at 12 noon Lizzie would ring the bell that was attached to the house just outside the kitchen door signaling her husband William, known as Judge, that it was time to come in from the field for lunch.  She also called him Judge.  If there just happened to be a few  friends in the house at the time, it was their hint to leave.

Lizzie didn't like her daughter-in-law, Eva Lena, very much at all.  Why I'll never understand for she was like the sweetest Cinderella.  Lizzie always said mean things to her, accused her of stealing, wrote mean letters to her step-son, William Phillip and daughter-in-law Florence, threatening eviction from the cottage they rented from William's father, the Judge. I have a copy of one of those letters, not nice. 

Eva Lena was always crying. and she was eventually forced out of the house.  Her father at this point in time was very ill and sick and bed.  Eva Lena, known as Aunt Lena, moved in with her brother and sister-in-law.  Here she was very happy and loved by all.  She was loving to her sweet little niece gently rubbing her back until she was asleep, giving her a quarter every week when she was paid from her housekeeping job.  She also cared for and loved her nephew.

When Lizzie's husband William died,  she took all the belongings and sold the house much to the chagrin of her step-son William Phillip. The only item she left William that belonged to his mothers Ada Louise Houston Roesch, was a hurricane lamp without the shade.  Six weeks later she moved from Florida and went to go live with her son in Washington.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Lessons In Genealogy

Thanksgiving day was and is traditionally held at my home, but in 2009 my daughter decided to hold the celebration at her new home in Plymouth.  Fitting she said that we as Myles Standish descendants should gather together where the Pilgrims held their first feast.

It was this day that I told my nine-year-old grandson, Brendan, that Captain Myles Standish was his 12th great grandfather.  You never saw eyes grow so big. I then proceeded to tell him that he was also a descendant of John Alden, William Brewster, George Soule, John Howland, James Chilton, Francis Cooke, Joseph Doty and Francis Cooke who all came over on the Mayflower.  "Really," he exclaimed, "those people are famous you know, really!"  All day long he would run to me with questions with pencil and paper in hand.  "Wait till I tell the kids at school."
 

Plimoth Plantation
 That summer, my husband and I took him and his sister to visit Plimoth Plantation.  He was so excited to try on John Alden's hat.

It made me happy to see him interested in his family history at such a young age as his curiosity has continued to grow.  I'm still trying to decide who will be the one to inherit my volumes of research with stories and pictures.

Today, in celebration of November 11, 1620 when the Mayflower Compact was signed, we took our now eleven-year-old grandson to a Mayflower Society dinner this day, whereas I am a member, held at the Stoneforge Tavern.  He got to stand up ten times as his Pilgrim ancestor’s names were called.  He has one more than me for he gained Stephen Hopkins from his grandfather, my husband. Brendan even kept count as to the number of cousins he had in the room.  Only an A+ student in math would think to do that.  He can even solve the rubics cube puzzle in 48 seconds. He told me if you know math equations you can do it.  Me, I've never been able to even come close.
We were told of the terrible news that the Francis Cook house had a chimney fire this very morning that ignited the thatched roof.  Workers quickly tore it off but there was significant damage to the structure. There will be 3000 people eating their Thanksgiving dinner at Plimoth Plantation this year.
http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/11/19/fire-destroys-building-at-plimoth-plantation/#.TsgE9THaVTQ.facebook

Then Brendan watched the guest speaker dressed in and speaking Pilgrim portraying Thomas Williams, one of the signers of The Mayflower Compact, educating us all as to who he was and about his family.

I am so thankful that he is interested in family history and couldn't think of better way to create a new Thanksgiving day memory than to share this experience with him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ancestry and Religious Tolerance

There have always been two topics that I shy away from discussing with anyone.  I'm a peaceful person by nature and I don't wish to engage in any kind of confrontation, not ever.  I find it to be most unpleasant and I tend to get nervous and fidgety when others around me get on their high horse of indignation and righteousness. Especially when voices tend to reach an ever increasingly louder pitch trying to get their point-of-view heard and accepted over their, shall I say, opponent.  Quickly I search for the fastest great escape route to remove myself from what I consider to be a very uncomfortable situation.

So here I am, sticking my neck out and writing about one of the two subjects that I find to be most uncomfortable.  Call me very brave indeed.

It struck me last night as I watched three television shows on TLC that I find fascinating.  The first is Sister Wives, then 19 and Counting, and the new show that premiered, All American Muslim.  It is always interesting to me to learn about the faith of others, how it impacts their lives, perhaps the persecution they suffer because of it, and at times the misunderstanding or complete ignorance of others.

Last night the Sister Wives, who all now live in Las Vegas, traveled to Boston, only a 30 minute ride north of my home.  Now they are in my neck of the woods; how about that, I thought, somewhat amused. They visited Harvard University where they gave an audience to students who asked very interesting and intelligent questions.  Smart kids go to Harvard.

Then the family visited Plimouth Plantation, only a 30 minute ride south of my home.  They were introduced to John Howland's (my 9th great grandfather) wife and a mention was made about a connection to Joseph Smith, Jr. of Vermont, the founder of the Latter Day Saints movement.  That comment is what spurred me on to write about Religious Tolerance.

Interestingly enough, my maiden name was Smith.  I had a great grandfather by that very same name, Joseph Smith, from Maine, but definitely not that Joseph Smith.

What does all this have to do with genealogy you wonder?  How could that promote religious tolerance you ask?  In researching my family tree I found the following faithful all praying to God under the following denominations:  Methodists, Baptist, Quaker, Puritan, Catholic and now possibly LDS.  More research is needed on the latter.  Who knows what other faiths could pop up on my tree.

If one finds fault the way others pray to their God, then perhaps it would be best if one researched the history in their own family trees.  One just might discover that they have been ridiculing their own ancestors and therefore ultimately themselves. I feel safe to say that just about everyone will find more than one denomination on their genealogy chart. Isn't it worth noting that what is important is that they have a good heart, are kind to their neighbors, intend no harm to others, and live by the golden rule.

What right do we have to condemn others for the way they choose to pray and live their faith.  After all, religious freedom is what this country was founded on lest we not forget. Diversity is the faith of life, peace to all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday - V-Letter

Veterans, I honor them all.  They have kept us safe so we can enjoy the freedoms our country was founded on so many years ago. We all have veterans in our family whether it be today, or in the far off past, there have been way too many wars.  Every American knows a veteran in their family, more than one I am sure.

I have honored my father, Robert, my uncle Howard, Philip, my great grandfather, my great uncles Herman and Joseph and others in blogs dedicated to them, their lives and military service.  Today I will tell you a little about my uncle Phil, my mother's  half brother, mostly through photographs and letters.  You may remember him, I have done other posts about him. Perhaps you might like to read these if you missed them. Inconsolable   Shopping Saturday - Radio Sales & Repair   NASA and Phillip Osborne Roesch

Phillip O. Roesch WWII
Phil's birth mother, Nellie, died when he was only eight years old.  His father, William Phillip Roesch remarried to Florence Sterling and it didn't take long before Phil was calling her mom.  Phil was more like a son, rather than a stepson to Florence; after all, she raised him.  So even after his father and mother divorced and she remarried, he continued to call her mom.


 He joined the Army and he would write her V-mail letters addressed to"Dear Mom".  Sometimes he drew cartoons on his letters.  The v-cartoon became highly popular and used very creatively by the servicemen.

Soldiers wrote their letters on a form the military provided.  It was then photographed, placed on 16 mm motion picture film and transported in a mail sack that carried approximately 136,000 letters.  The film was next enlarged to 4 X 5 wet prints that were dried and sliced into individual letters.  There were a total of 19 military v-mail stations across the United States that provided this service.  This saved storage space for the transport of other necessary items during the war.

These letters are treasured by our family.  They are part of him and history.




Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Who are We?


I believe these girls are ancestors of mine. It is the only unknown picture I have. It was found among other pictures belonging to the Roesch family.  Wish I could read what hangs in the window.  Was this photo taken in Germany or Wisconsin?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - More Than Just A Cemetery

For the last 30 years I have taken a walk down my street and back again.  I would walk as far as Jennings Hill Cemetery, turn around and walk home.  Round trip was only a mile.  Never paid much attention, never really strolled in to look around.  Just dead people, no one I knew, no one I left flowers for on Memorial Day. 

That all changed a wee bit when I started researching my family tree.  I found my attitude changing from just dead people, to these people had a history, they at one time walked the earth.  Then it changed dramatically when I discovered that the oldest section of this cemetery had not only my 3rd great grandparents, Erastus Hayward and Mary Perry Torry, but also my 4th great grandparents, Elijah Hayward and Mary Tompson.  There were also many Hayward aunts and uncles and cousins,  Polly, Edward, Hannah, Ziba and so many more.

This led to my finding my 5th great grandparents, Hezekiah Hayward born 1707 and Huldah Edson born in 1713, and my 6th great grandparents, Benjamin Hayward born 1677 and Sarah Aldrich born 1672 and Josiah Edson born 1682 and Sarah Packard born 1682.  They are buried in the, simply called, Old Cemetery on Summer Street.

I never looked at another cemetery in the same way.  Flowers now adorn their graves, most likely not seen there in over 250 years.


Elijah Hayward 1741 - 1815

Mary Tomson Hayward 1757 - 1846

Erastus 1790 - 1844 and Mary 1757 - 1879

Here lies Polly daughter of Elijah Hayward age 13 1781 - 1894

Old Cemetery, Bridgewater, MA


Monday, November 7, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Workday Wednesday - Hats


Ellen Sullivan Wilber, known as Nellie, worked in the Bay State Straw Works Company
located in Middleboro, MA, a hat company.
My great great grandmother, Nellie is in the front row, 9th from the left.

(Information quoted from:  Recollecting Nemasket, Writing about the History of Middleboro and Lakeville, MA)  

"At the start of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Bay State Straw Works was producing half a million hats and bonnets annually, or over 1,300 a day. To produce these goods, the plant employed nearly two hundred and seventy operatives, divided equally between men and young women, as well as some 1,200 women and girls as outworkers “who are engaged sewing hats and bonnets at their homes,” the company’s braid cart delivering straw to these women and collecting straw braid in return.

"One of the few comments upon nineteenth century female labor history in Middleborough concerns the lot of women in the Bay State Straw Works, the firm which was located on Courtland Street and was once the world’s largest manufacturer of straw hats and bonnets. Of their work there, it was written of the firm’s female operatives: 'The work was easy and pleasant; the girls’ tongues flew as fast as their fingers, and they said of their work. It is just like going to a party.’

"There are reasons to doubt, however, the characterization that work in Middleborough’s straw industry for women always was either “easy” or “pleasant” as some have maintained.  

"The Bay State Straw Works employed 150 females and 8 men.  Like other industries, straw manufacturing preferred the use of female help wherever possible, largely due to the wage differential between men and women, as well as the presumed greater docility of female workers, though this latter view carried little import at this stage in Middleborough as labor remained disorganized and would remain so for some time. Men, however, were engaged by the straw works for the physically more demanding tasks at the manufactory, working as bleachers, dyers, blockers, printers, packers, teamsters, machinists, carpenters and firemen, among other occupations, and as the firm’s business increased, so too did the number of men on the payroll to support these functions.

"The treatment of its female operatives would be a frequent source of potential conflict for the Bay State Straw Works, as it frequently was for other employers. In February, 1876, female employees’ wages were docked twenty-five percent, prompting sympathy from at least one journalist who opined that the reduction was 'a heavy cut when they didn’t get too much before.' In December, 1885, shortly before Christmas, wages of sewing machine girls were similarly docked.

"Nonetheless, women of talent were recognized by the firm and promoted to positions of authority as overseers and forewomen, supervising other women in areas such as the trimming department.

"While characterization of employment during the latter half of the nineteenth century for women in the local straw industry as “a party” is highly suspect, unquestionable was the role of these women, many whose names have long been forgotten, in helping build and sustain one of Middleborough’s historically most important industries."
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