Monday, July 21, 2014

Immortality (July 21, 2014) -- Ruth Ann Carpenter

"Immortality Lies in Being Remembered by Family and Friends." -- John D. Tew 


Ruth Ann Carpenter (1889 - 1920)


Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of my grand aunt, Ruth Ann Carpenter.  Ruth Ann was the older sister of my maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter.  I never met Ruth because she died almost thirty-two years before I was born.

Ruth was born on July 21st, 1889 in Providence, Rhode Island.  She was the first child of Samuel Eber Carpenter (1853 - 1929) and his wife Sarah Etta Carpenter nee Freeman (1858 - 1945).  Sam and Sarah named their daughter after Sam's mother, Ruth Ann Carpenter nee Miller (1828 -1893).

Ruth and my grandfather were apparently very close.  I never heard my grandfather ever mention having a sister, but then again I was only about ten years old when my grandfather died and the lapse might be more of my memory than his.  I did not become aware of Ruth Ann and her story until I was well into my adulthood and did not see photographs of her until perhaps a decade or more ago.

As shown in a post here on July 9th, even though Ruth Ann was almost two years older than her brother Everett, she and he graduated from Cumberland High School on the same day in June 1907. Evidence from surviving report cards indicates that Ruth was not the student that her younger brother was and he graduated as co-valedictorian of their small class. Ruth Ann did not go on to college, but Everett went to Brown and graduated with a degree in Engineering. Ruth and Everett obviously remained close even as young adults for my grandfather carried small photos of his sister in his Brown pocket calendar; perhaps it was because he missed her, but it might also have been because he was proud of his sister and wanted to show her off to his friends and classmates.  I think Ruth was a very attractive young woman.

Photos of Ruth Ann Carpenter in her brother's Brown University calendar date book (September 1907)


Ruth Ann Carpenter circa 1917 (perhaps her wedding portrait?)

  
As it happened, Ruth did end up marrying one of Everett's classmates at Brown, Ira W. Knight. Ira and Ruth Ann were married at Christ Church in Lonsdale, Rhode Island on May 21, 1917. They had one son, Richard Carpenter Knight, who was born on September 12, 1920 when Ruth Ann was not quite two months past her 31st birthday.

Ira W. Knight circa mid-1950s

Richard Carpenter Knight (September 12, 1920 - December 13, 1975)

Sadly, Ruth Ann never really knew her son for she died twelve days after his birth due to complications and infection from the delivery. Richard's birth was in the years just prior to the discovery and development of penicillin by Sir Alex Fleming in 1928.  Had the birth taken place a few years later, or if this first of the miracle drug antibiotics had been developed and made available a decade or so earlier, then Ruth Ann might well have survived a compromised birthing -- and I might have come to know her many years later.  

Today, from Iceland, I raise a glass in memory of my grand aunt Ruth Ann Carpenter Knight who remains forever young in the thoughts and renewed memories of the family members she never knew!

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Photographs from the personal collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (July 12, 2014)



Here are a few recommendations for possible inclusion on your reading list this weekend:  

1.  Dawn Westfall at Wisteria blog posted a truly awesome and beautiful four -generation matrilineal family portrait this past Mother's Day.  If you have not seen it previously, it is definitely worth viewing.  It is very creative and actually involves five generations.  To see the portrait and learn about how the fifth generation participated, go here.
   
2.  Have you ever heard that an ancestor or relative of yours was a "Breaker Boy?"  To find out who Breaker Boys were and what they did, have a look at the amazing photographs and explanation here.  

3.  Now there is a hugely valuable and useful tool for those who simply love maps and for genealogists who want a resource to locate historic layouts of cities.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS linked to this news item that the entire catalog of USGS topographical surveys dating back to 1884 is now available in one place on line -- more than 178,000 maps that are searchable by city! You can go directly to the USGS "Historical Topographic Map Explorer" here.   Enjoy!

4.  Here is a wonderful story of family history involving WWI, loss, discovery and the amazing return
of a family relic 95 years after the fact. It is well worth the read for the story itself and for the tantalizing tidbits of family history and coincidence woven into the tale.  [This is another Story of Interest found and posted in The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS, so if you have thought about joining NEHGS these finds are another reason to do so and to regularly read The Weekly Genealogist!]

5.  UpFront With NGS has an interesting post about obsolete technology and the problem of preserving or losing the data that is stored on old media via old technology.  Check it out here.

6.  And on the other side of the technology coin is the rise and continued refinement of automated research techniques and technologies in genealogy -- robotic genealogy if you will. Harold Henderson of Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog muses thoughtfully on the subject here.

7.  The website/blog Wait But Why has just turned 1 year old -- and it sure is precocious for a pre-toddler! It is not devoted to genealogy, but it has had posts that relate to genealogy and provide food for thought to genealogists.  I find it a very creative and stimulating, often cheekily irreverent, but always entertaining and informative.  Happy Birthday Wait But Why


8.  One of the most used databases by American genealogists is the the U.S. Census.  Ever wonder how the Census was done in earlier decades?  Well, the National Archives has a set of photographs depicting the taking and processing of the 1940 Census and The Vault has provided a selection of some and links to others here.  Have a look.             
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Fotos (July 11, 2014) -- Cumberland High School Class of 1944 Forty-fifth Reunion Photograph


My mother was unable to attend the 45th Reunion of her graduating class from Cumberland High School, Cumberland Rhode Island, so she is not pictured in this Class Reunion photograph.  She was given a copy of the photograph, but unfortunately there is no identification key for the members of the class who are shown.  Perhaps someone out there can identify some or all of the members of the Cumberland High School Class of 1944 shown above?
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Scan of Shirley Carpenter Tew's personal copy of the 45th Class Reunion photograph for the Class of 1944, Cumberland High School, Cumberland, Rhode Island from the collection of the author.  Photographer unknown.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Another Genealogy Tool -- And A Proposed Project Idea To "Pay It Forward" (July 10, 2014)


Recently the United States Geological Survey (USGS) made over 178,000 of its survey maps available in a searchable on-line database called the "Historical Topographic Map Explorer." This tool makes available survey maps that go back as far as 1884 and they are searchable by city and town!  [See an item in this week's forthcoming "Saturday Serendipity" for more information and links.

This post is about my visit to the Historical Topographic Map Explorer to see how it works.  In doing so, I fell into a little memory game that strikes me as a potential basis for targeted neighborhood map projects that could become ways for those of us here today to "pay it forward" by providing useful information that might otherwise be easily lost to future generations and future genealogists.  I describe the memory game and project idea below -- with an example.

The screen shot shown above is a portion of a 1967 survey map for the town of Salem Depot, New Hampshire taken from a search for Salem Depot in the Historical Topographic Map Explorer.  I chose Salem Depot out of curiosity because it was a small developing community on the border of Lawrence, Massachusetts in the early 60s and it was not a large city that one would expect to definitely be covered in this database.  I also chose it because my family lived in Salem Depot for about three years (1960-1962).

As a glance at the map section above indicates,  Salem Depot was a residential community in the early 1960s that was expanding with new home developments.  One of the principal home builders at the time was a family-owned construction company that named the streets in its development by using the first names of children and other family members.  We lived in that development at 18 Joseph Road, Salem Depot, NH pictured here.

18 Joseph Rd., Salem, NH (March 2010)

In looking at the 1967 survey map of Salem Depot, I found myself tracing the streets to our development and to the little square that represented our home in 1960 - 1962.  I then found myself digging deep to recall the names of some, but far from all, of the other families that lived in our neighborhood.  I pointed to the squares of their homes and suddenly struck on the idea that probably none of those families are still there and that few if any people in that neighborhood today could say who lived in those houses some 50 or more years ago -- but isn't that information that could be of interest and of use to people researching family histories?  And so the idea for a neighborhood map project took hold and I produced for myself the map shown immediately below.



The annotated map above color codes my identification of our home on Joseph Road and the homes of the Sullivan, Patten, Conner, Grimes and Perrant families who also lived in the neighborhood in the early 1960s.  

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Screen shot of a portion of the 1967 USGS survey map for Salem Depot, NH obtained using the USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer.

Photograph of 18 Joseph Rd., Salem, NH by the author (March 2010).

Annotated USGS map identifying family homes circa 1960 - 1962 by the author. 

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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday (July 9, 2014) -- My Grandfather's Graduation from Cumberland H.S., Cumberland, Rhode Island June 27, 1907




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Program for the Graduating Exercises of Cumberland High School, Cumberland, Rhode Island on June 27, 1907.  Original in the collection of the author, grandson of Everett Shearman Carpenter one of the two valedictorians for the Class of 1907.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (July 5, 2014)



Here are a few recommendations for possible inclusion on your reading list this weekend:  

1.  Cemeteries always provide a wealth of genealogical data. For those with an interest in family history, cemeteries are a research destination and far from creepy places to visit.  Midge Frazel's series on visits to Rhode Island cemeteries at Granite in My Blood blog has been mentioned here previously.  Diane Boumenot of One Rhode Island Family blog has a recent post that covers her visits to cemeteries in Cumberland, Rhode Island -- including Cumberland Cemetery on Dexter Street where many of my Carpenter family members are buried. Of this cemetery Diane said, "The neighborhood and the other graves had a familiar feel, like I was related to most of the people there."  [If so, then Diane and I have a family relationship yet to be discovered.] And, continuing a cemeteries theme, Jana Last of Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog, reminds us that many cemeteries now have websites that provide search engines that can be a fertile source for genealogical information.
   
2.  Speaking of cemeteries and research data, NEHGS's Vita Brevis blog provides a useful reminder that before the coming of internet cemetery databases such as Find-A-Grave, compilations of cemetery inscriptions/transcriptions in libraries and genealogical collections were the research method of choice. Read the Vita Brevis post to learn how the extensive NEHGS inscription/transcription collection was started back in 1899 with the formation of a Committee on Epitaphs.    

3.  Here is an interesting article about dealing with what the article calls the "stuff"  held by and eventually left behind by elderly parents. As a genealogy enthusiast, I prefer a more formal and dignified designation of these materials as "artifact treasures," but the article raises an important question about dealing with a lifetime of accumulated treasures. You can read the piece here.  

4. I live west of Washington, DC tucked up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, but I work in DC and once lived on Capitol Hill while pursuing a degree at a university in the city. While living in the DC area since the summer of 1978, I have seen many changes to the environs of the nation's capital and so it was a special treat to be able to see the amazing 1975 black and white photos of DC taken from the top of the Washington Monument by Barbara Poole of Life From the Roots blog. Have a look 
here!        

5.  UpFront With NGS posted a piece on a truly ambitious project that will be of huge benefit to genealogists and family historians.  BillionGraves and The Federation of Genealogical Societies have partnered to image ALL the cemetery markers for those who served in the War of 1812! If you have images of such markers, you can be a part of this project.    


6.  Considering starting a blog to organize and share your family history? Nancy of My Ancestors and Me blog offers some tips for making the leap.  Read her tips here.

7.  Perhaps one of the most ephemeral of family history items is the occasion card (birthday, anniversary, get well, etc., etc.).  It is true that there are many examples of occasion cards that have been saved and preserved for decades and even a century or more, but I suspect that these examples are mere fractions of those that could have been saved. How many of us receive and hold such cards for a day or two or maybe weeks before disposing of them?  In case we need a reminder of how precious occasion cards can be if preserved for decades and more, Donna Catterick of This I Leave blog gives us a good example with a post of a Get Well card the children of her neighborhood gave to her mother when she was ill.  See the card and the story here.  
        
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (June 21, 2014)



Here are a few recommendations for possible inclusion on your reading list this weekend:  

1.  Two selections from our Legal Genealogist are definitely worthy of a read.  Judy Russell walks us through searching for possible copyright-free images on Google and Bing here.  And then, from last week, there is the short-sighted foolishness of Ancestry.com and the 27 comments it engendered in Judy's post, Ancestry responds.  
   
2.  Have you ever heard of Boston's Saturday Evening Girls? [And NO the term is not yet another euphemism akin to "ladies of the night."]  The sobriquet was adopted by a group of Italian and Jewish immigrant girls in Boston's North End who were initially formed into a reading club in the 1890s. Their story included the founding of a pottery company, a newsletter and more.  Perhaps your family has some connection to this group of enterprising young women.  To learn more, read the piece in The Weekly Genealogist ,Vol. 17, No. 25 Whole 692, from NEHGS.    

3.  If you are reading this, then you are a reader of genealogy-related blogs and you should know about a poll being conducted by NGS's UpFront With NGS blog.   NGS would like to know what type of blog posts you read and that interest you the most.  Read the poll post here and then you can respond by posting a comment there or on Face Book or Google+.

4.  Thank you to Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood blog for calling to our attention the new web site presenting the Rhode Island cemetery transcription database with resources about locating, photographing and recording gravestones!  As noted here in previous entries, if you have ancestors and relatives from Rhode Island, you should visit Midge's blog and her series on Rhode Island cemeteries.

5.  Here is a wonderfully readable explanation about a "Eureka Moment" experienced by Elizabeth Handler, author of the From Maine to Kentucky blog.  Elizabeth explains what a "non-paternity event" means and how the existence of one was discovered in her tree through the use of a Y-DNA test.  


6.  Genealogy is, of course, the study of one's line of descent through numerous ancestors.  But it is not merely a collection of names and dates placed into a continuous chain of interconnected links. It is about history at its most personal level -- and, as an echo of the title of the popular genealogy show,  Who Do You Think You Are?, it is about the more complete discovery of Who Am I?  With this in mind, I highly recommend a fascinating discovery piece in the NYT on June 10th about a Prince of the Catholic church who (apparently unbeknownst to him) was the grandson of a rabbi.  The story of discovery began with a Mother's Day gift of a subscription to Ancestry.com.  

7.  Since the highs and lows of Ancestry.com seem to be an unintended theme in this week's Saturday Serendipity,  there is another post about the retrenchment taking place at Ancestry.  In addition to the demise of Y-DNA and mtDNA testing through Ancestry, say goodbye (as of September 5, 2014) to services such as MyFamily, My Canvas, Mundia, and Genealogy.com.  Read about it here.    

8.  And finally, without any comment on the right or the wrong of it -- but with the observation that maybe we should all look at where we now live and where our ancestors lived -- I suggest a quick visit to THIS interactive map of the expansion of the United States of America.     
    
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Fotos (June 20, 2014) -- Happy Birthday Susan!


Today, June 20th, is my younger sister's birthday.  Happy Happy Birthday!

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Original photograph in the personal collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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