Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (October 21, 2017)

After a two week absence due to family matters, Saturday Serendipity returns this week with a few recommendations for reading this weekend  .  .  .

1.  Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog recently posted a very nice photo travelogue series about a trip along the Pilgrim Trail in Europe. You can see Part 6 here and get links for the previous postings.

     And as a reminder, Heather will once again be publishing contributions to her Honor Roll Project this Veterans Day.  If you are not familiar with this wonderful project, you can read more about it here. In a nutshell, Heather conceived the idea of having bloggers post photos of war memorials with transcriptions of all the names inscribed on them. Once included in the Honor Roll database, this creates a searchable database for researchers to locate ancestors and relatives that served in various wars and conflicts. I encourage you to visit the Honor Roll website to see if a memorial near you (or one you have visited and photographed) has been transcribed and contributed; if not I encourage you to consider participating next month.           

2.  As readers of this blog know, I am a user of Family Tree Maker (FTM) in conjunction with my trees on Ancestry. I am particularly drawn to the use of FTM because its sync feature allows me to keep all my work from Ancestry on my computer to function as a back-up and against the possibility (however remote) of some momentary or even more prolonged problem with my trees that otherwise exist in the Ancestry cloud.  I have periodically checked in at the blog of H.R. "Russ" Worthington, Family Tree Maker User. Russ is what might be called an FTM "power user" and if I recall correctly he was set up at last April's NERGC vendors hall frequently presenting about the new FTM 2017 by MacKiev Software and answering questions about the software.  If you are an FTM user -- or considering becoming one -- I recommend you bookmark Russ's blog and check in regularly. His most recent post (which is accessed directly at the link above until he adds a new post) is about sync times using FTM 2017.    

3.  Diane Boumenot of One Rhode Island Family blog has a post that involves the homes of some of her Ballou ancestors and relatives in Rhode Island, but it is really about the exhibit by Lori Melucci at the Blackstone Valley Historical Society that combines newly obtained historic photographs with published works containing drawings and etchings of Ballou properties, with historic maps to present a wonderful visual preservation project of times, places, and people long departed.  It is worth the read and a trip to the link to the exhibit show online even if you have no connection to Rhode Island or the Ballou family! You can access the post here and get the link to the exhibit.            
4.  Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History blog has an interesting piece about her methods of "going paperless" with her genealogy documents.  You can read her most recent post on the subject here and get a link to her previous discussion of her approach last March.    

5.  Ever heard of "dostadning?" Neither had I until NEHGS mentioned it this week in The Weekly Genealogist.  Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I am a self-confessed Pack Rat (see and especially see and so I found this subject of particular interest due to my pack rat proclivities AND because I have a good, long-time friend who is Swedish (the latter reference being a clue to the word "dostadning"). I am not going to explain "dostadning," but I suggest you have a look here to learn about it and see what you think. 😀

6.  And finally, UpFront With NGS blog posted an interesting piece on copyright law allowing LIBRARIES to legally scan and make available materials published from 1923 - 1941. You can read the piece here and get links to further reading.     
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Poem by Florence Leonette [Flagg] Cooke for the Ninth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge of Bill West (October 4, 2017)

Florence Leonette "Nettie" [Flagg] Cooke (1870 - 1904)

Next month is the "Ninth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge" conceived and hosted by Bill West of West in New England blog. Under the Challenge rules, a poem submitted for inclusion in the Challenge can "be a poem you or one of your ancestors have written." This post is my submission for the Ninth Annual Challenge and it publishes a poem written by my great grandmother, Florence Leonette Flagg (pictured above as a young adult). "Nettie," as she was always called, is the mother of my maternal grandmother, Ruth Eaton [Cooke] Carpenter.

Nettie had a short life that in many ways was tragic and I believe she turned to poetry to try to express her pain, her hope, and her discovery of respite and beauty when and where she could find it. She wrote numerous poems that are mostly sad, but they must have been cathartic for her given her experiences. I am very lucky and privileged to have several originals of her poetic writings and a few others that were transcribed by her eldest child (my grand aunt, Helen R. [Cooke] Roberts) from now lost originals. The poem in this post is one of the original poems in her handwriting that I now have in my collection.

To possibly understand where Nettie's poem originates, it is necessary to provide some brief context and background about Nettie.

Nettie was born in 1870 to George W. Flagg and his wife, Mary J. ("Jennie") Eaton.  When Nettie was just two and half years old, her mother died at age 26. And then Nettie's father died at age 35 of "phthisis" (an archaic name for tuberculosis) when Nettie was barely nine years old.

By the time of the 1880 federal census, ten-year-old Nettie Flagg was living as a "boarder" in the home of Susannah Stanley (age 69) and her daughter Frances Stanley (age 30) in Attleborough, Massachusetts. She apparently lived with the Stanleys until she married Walter W. Cooke in August 1891 in North Attleborough. She and Walter had known one another since they were children. They were both 21 years old when they married.

Nettie's original handwritten poem is shown below. Precisely when Nettie wrote the poem is unknown, but since she died in July 1904 at age 34, the poem is at least 113 years old. So far as is known, it was never published anywhere before appearing here and being submitted as part of Bill West's Ninth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge.  

When I Have Time
    By Florence Leonette "Nettie" Cooke 

 When I have time
So many things I'll do
To make life happier and more fair
For those whose lives are clouded with care
I'll help to lift them from their low despair
                                     When I have time

When I have time
Kind words and loving smiles
I'll give to those whose pathway runs thro' tears
Who see no joy in the coming years
In many ways their weary lives I'll cheer
                                        When I have time

When I have time
The one I love so well
Shall know no more these weary toilsome days
I'll lead her feet in pleasant paths always
And cheer her heart with words of sweetest praise
                                       When I have time

When you have time
The one you hold so dear
May be beyond the reach of thy sweet intent
May never know that you so kindly meant
To fill her weary life with such content
                                When you had time

Now is the time
Ah, friend No longer wait
To scatter loving smiles and words of cheer
To those around whose lives are now drear
They may not need you in the coming years
                                 Now is the time

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The photograph and handwritten original of the poem are from the personal collection of the author.
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (September 30, 2017)

Here are a few recommendations for reading this weekend  .  .  .

1.  Marian Wood of Climbing My Family Tree blog had a short but interesting Tuesday Tip this week about using maps to plot visually the residence locations of ancestors and relatives. Read her tip and example here. Marian's tip reminded me of a post I did back in July 2014 about using maps to "pay it forward" by preserving neighborhood resident information that (in our highly mobile modern society) could otherwise be easily lost in just a matter of a few years. See here a resource for over 178,000 USGS maps going back to 1884 and a suggestion of how they could be used in our genealogy research to preserve information for future genealogists.         

2.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog has a nice thumb-mail post about the concept of dower that makes for interesting and useful reading. You can read it here

3.  While I am admittedly a notoriously infrequent Facebook user (and often contemplated just deleting my account altogether), a post this week by Nancy Messier of My Ancestors and Me blog discusses the use of Facebook Groups for assistance with genealogy research. Have a look at Nancy's post here and see the various examples she illustrates of helpful groups for genealogy research.          
4.  At one point or another if you use, you are going to suddenly notice the "Suggested Records" that are often provided to the right of the window when you have clicked on a hint to view it. This week Amy Johnson Crow posted a piece on her blog explaining what those suggested records are and whether you should use the suggestions. You can read her explanation and advice here.   

5.  Have you ever heard of a Genealogy Library or Society Lock-In?  I have to admit I had not until I read a post this week on UpFront With NGS blog. You can read about these events here and see more information about some that could be going on in your area at this link. I am now going to have to keep my eye out for such events in my area.        

6.  The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, has yet another blog post on the right and wrong of using material obtained online. This is a must-read post that you can access here (and be sure to read the comments and responses too).

7.  Have you ever heard of the "King's Daughters" or filles du roi who emigrated to New France beginning in 1663 in order to marry male colonists, have lots of children, and secure a French empire in the New World? Neither had I until I read a suggested article mentioned in The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS this past week. Read this DNA story and about the "Mother's Curse" of Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy that was brought to French Canada.     

8.  And finally for this week -- just for fun -- maybe you should not talk like a pirate this week, but rather try talking like some of our great, or great great, or maybe great great great grandparents used to. If this sentence embrangles you, and you are put off by the daily rise of snollygosters in your news to the point that it all becomes background skirr, then perhaps you need to skedaddle onto an agrestic vacation where you can exuviate the everyday recrement of modern, high-tech, industrialized living!  Reader's Digest  provides us here with ten words that will soon be extinct (unless we all mount a campaign to bring back some "ancestor-speak"). 
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Doreen Elizabeth [Jeffs] O'Kane

Doreen Elizabeth Jeffs -- college graduation portrait (circa 1942)

I have never understood the jokes about mothers-in-law. 

Doreen O'Kane is my wife Molly's mother.  I have known her since I was in high school.  For more than 41 years she has been my mother-in-law and the relationship has always been like having a second mother. If choosing one's mother-in-law were an option, Doreen is just the kind of woman I  would have chosen. I have never in all the years I have known her had cause to think otherwise. 

In the pre-dawn hours this morning, Molly received a phone call that woke us up while we were visiting my sister and her husband in New Hope, PA.  Doreen's 97th birthday was coming up on November 10th, but early this morning she passed away peacefully in her sleep at the retirement community near our home in Virginia where she has lived since 2002. Being in her mid-nineties, we knew that this day was probably not far off, but when the actuality of the loss registered during our long trip home it still did not seem real. 

I have always thought and often voiced the opinion that dying peacefully while sleeping was a reward for a life well led -- and so I was happy for Doreen to have passed without pain, or fear, or loss of dignity. Just a few short weeks ago, Doreen was surrounded by the "girls" in her life when visited by her two daughters and her two great granddaughters.  Her two grandsons and granddaughter-in-law were also there for a nice visit, a leisurely walk outside on a beautifully warm, sunny day, and an al fresco balcony lunch.  Life was all around and she enjoyed the day with her family.

Doreen with all her "girls" (August 2017)

Doreen with her daughters, grandsons, great granddaughters, granddaughter-in-law, and son-in-law (August 2017) 

Doreen was born in November 1920 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and later attended graduate school at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where she studied biology. She met a fellow graduate student there named Daniel J. O'Kane, Jr. and they were married in Toronto on December 28, 1946. Dan and Doreen had three children: Patrick, Kathy, and Molly. She was the grandmother of two grandsons -- Jonathan and Christopher -- and two great granddaughters, Nora who will be three in November (one week to the day before Doreen's birthday) and Marigold who just turned four months old two days ago. 

Immortality lies in being remembered by family and friends and so it is true that Doreen is not really gone, she is still with us -- and that will not end. Today we choose to celebrate and recall moments in a long and successful life well led .  .  . Doreen as as loved daughter, an independent woman, a loved and loving wife, a mother of three, a grandmother of two grandsons, and a great grandmother of two little girls.

Doreen circa 1921

Doreen as a toddler

Doreen in high school

Doreen in Canadian uniform (circa 1943)

Doreen and Daniel O'Kane as newlyweds (Dec. 28, 1946)

Doreen's children -- Kathy, Patrick & Molly (1950s)

Doreen with her parents, Doug and Eulalie Jeffs (August 21, 1976)

Doreen's grandsons -- Jonathan & Christopher (1980s)

Doreen's great granddaughters, Nora & Marigold (May 2017)

Doreen (circa 2009)

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All photos in the collection of the author
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (September 23, 2017)

Here are a few recommendations for reading this weekend  .  .  .

1.  Do you, other members of your family, or any of your ancestors and relatives have blue eyes?  Well, genetic analysis has a probable answer to why that is.  AND, all us with blue eyes likely have  a single common ancestor from a particular area of the globe! Of course, as always, the trick is to identify him or her (good luck going that far back!)  Read here about the origin of blue eyes and what geneticists now think about its development.        

2.  Every family probably has examples of embarassing spitefulness in ancestors or relatives, but The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS referenced this week a spite story for the ages.  Read here about the "Spite Fence" in San Francisco and the Yung/Crocker feud that went on for almost 30 years. 

3.  Here is a very interesting article link (again from The Weekly Genealogist) that is also more than a bit eerie on some level. Wouldn't it be exciting if we could reconstruct what pre-DNA discovery, pre-photography, long-deceased ancestors looked like? Well if you somehow have a DNA sample of a long-deceased ancestor or relative hanging around, artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg presaged as far back as 2012 the coming of DNA technology to do just that. Ms Dewey-Hagborg was concerned about how we were unknowingly and inadvertently leaving behind our DNA in so many places that we were unintentionally creating real issues of biological surveillance. As a demonstration of what she meant, she collected DNA from discarded items such as gum, cigarette butts, and shed or discarded hair strands and then created images of what the anonymous strangers might look like from their cast-off DNA samples. Now a tech firm named Human Longevity has announced that it can create a fairly accurate rendition of what a stranger looks like from a DNA sample!  Read more about this development and the controversy developing around it here.            
4.  As we are at the century mark following the "war to end all wars" (also incongruously known as World War I), the last remnants of living Civil War memory must be long gone, right? Well, not so fast. It seems that there is one person age 87 who is still receiving a pension from the Veterans Administration 152 years after the end of that war. How, and why, and how much you might ask .  .  .  especially when you learn that the last person who had a pension based on service in the Civil war died at 109 years old in 1956, and the last Civil War widow died in 2008 at the age of 93. Read here to find out the answers.  

5.  Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History blog has a post this week that cautions about taking newspaper articles at face value when using them as genealogy sources. She is still a newspaper enthusiast as a genealogy resource, but she has tempered her position for the reason explained here.     

6.  Life From The Roots blog by Barbara Poole became a different kind of blog over the last year or so. Barbara is a good photographer and she has made her New England-based blog into a kind of photo essay/travelogue for various towns and historical locations in New England. It is especially useful for those with New England roots who are not able to easily visit places their ancestors and relatives might have lived. This week Barbara serves up a photo smorgasbord of St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  Have a look and read here.

7.  And finally for this week, Laura Mattingly of The Old Trunk in the Attic blog has posted another orphan photograph in the hope it might find a home with a descendant or relative. The portrait is of what could be a newlywed couple from circa 1910 in or around Clay, Hamilton, or York County, Nebraska. It was created by a photographer named Soderberg who lived in Sutton, Nebraska in 1910.  If you have family that lived in these areas of Nebraska, have a look here, maybe you can help someone get a a never-before-seen portrait of some ancestors or relatives!  
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Friday, September 22, 2017

Then and Now: A Mayflower Pilgrimage -- Friday Fotos (September 22, 2017)

L to R: Peter A. Tew, Susan E. Tew, and John D. Tew
at the Pilgrim Memorial bas-relief in Provincetown, Massachusetts (June 1959)

A post today by Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog featured a photo essay of her recent visit to Plymouth Plantation. This got me thinking back to a visit Molly and I made to Provincetown, Massachusetts this past March (Molly's first trip to Cape Cod). During the visit we went to the Pilgrim Memorial bas-relief in the park below the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum (which unfortunately was closed the day we were there). 

The above photo was taken while the family was spending a few weeks on Cape Cod during the summer of 1959 when my father was helping to open the new Hyannis Sears Roebuck store. Either that same summer, or about that time, we also visited Plymouth Rock and Plymouth Plantation. At the time, none of us knew that we children and our mother were actually descendants of Richard Warren, a Mayflower passenger and signer of the Compact. My mother's mother said we were related to the Warrens of Plymouth, but it was not until almost 50 years later that I was able to prove our  descent from Richard Warren through two of his five daughters (and obtain  membership in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants [GSMD] for my mother, my sons and myself).

Fast forward to this past March and Molly kindly took the "Now" photo shown below to bookend the "Then" photo of me and my siblings from 1959. 

 John D. Tew at the Pilgrim Memorial bas-relief in Provincetown, Massachusetts (March 2017)
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Photos from the personal collection of the author.
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (September 16, 2017)

Here are a few recommendations for this weekend (reading and viewing) .  .  .

1.  Like most genealogy bloggers, I try to avoid blogging about current political polemics, but this particular post on The Vault caught my attention because it shows again how old things are apparently always new again -- including some of our history and national make-up that many (if not most) of us wish would disappear into the "dustbin of history." Without giving anything away, have a read here and see how much today's headlines can echo the sad headlines of just about a century ago!        

2.  This past Monday was the 16th anniversary of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. In the past I have posted about my personal experience and memories of that day working within walking distance of the Pentagon. The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS brought to our attention this year a poignant personal remembrance of the "Ground Zero" site. Read here "The day I decided not to collect: A curator's view of Ground Zero." It is the recollections and photographs by Jane Rogers, a curator for the Smithsonian. 

3.  The Weekly Genealogist also brings to our attention this week an important collection of American portraits dating back to 1897 - 1917. During those years, photographer William Bullard captured images of members of the Worcester, Massachusetts community. The portraits are of members of the African American community in Worcester .  .  . and most importantly, Mr. Bullard kept a log of all the people who sat for their portraits and thus folks can identify images of ancestors and relatives they might have had in Worcester about a century ago! Read here more about this collection -- see a couple of the portraits, and learn how the entire collection can be viewed.      
4.  UpFront With NGS, the blog of the National Genealogical Society, had two posts that I recommend reading this week.  If you are not already a member of NGS, the first recommended post might convince you to join. In announcing the latest issue of NGS Magazine, the Table of Contents is presented with a list of the featured articles and the departments, but it is the Editor's Note presented in full that is of most interest as it discusses the "power of storyingtelling" and  the magazine issue that is devoted to "methods of developing and telling ancestral stories in appealing ways." The second recommend read is a short post by the Editor of UpFront, Diane L. Richard titled, "Just as speaking/writing satisfies a "hidden" teacher, genealogy research satisfies my "inner" sleuth."   Like many genealogists, I find myself frequently describing the lure of genealogy research as the seduction of being able to do real "detective work."  And I could not agree more with Diane's observation that genealogy sleuthing "[I]sn’t just the records you look at . . .  it’s the critical thinking that you pair with it so that you research strategically.  It’s also keeping track of all the places you’ve looked and noting what you’ve found and not found in those pursuits."

5.  The past two days, James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog posted two interesting and useful pieces titled, Common Law Marriage and Genealogy, and What about missing marriage records? Both posts are worth reading and you can access each of them directly at the links provided.    

6.  The Legal Genealogist tells a family story that merges with immigrant history in the United States and women's rights. It is definitely worth the read to see how our immigration laws and treatment of women have changed in the last century -- or have they? Read Judy's post titled "Becoming unAmerican" here.  

7.  What do you think of when you hear the words "the pound" (uncapitalized and in reference to a building and not a monetary currency)? I think most of us have the image of an animal shelter for lost or abandoned pets and perhaps other animals come to mind. Well, "the pound" is not a new term or a modern creation. The pound existed in colonial times and since. This week Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog shows us a somewhat haunting image of what is left of the old Derryfield Pound in Manchester, NH.  See her post here.

8.  And finally, a recommended viewing for this week rather than a read. Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History blog, has diligently searched out and obtained a video of LeVar Burton's RootsTech 2017 keynote address. See Janine's post here and get a link to view the talk.        
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Discovering Grandparents and Remembering Them on Grandparents Day 2017 (september 10, 2017)

National Grandparents Day is a secular holiday that has been celebrated in the United States and the United Kingdom since 1978. It is scheduled in the U.S. for the first Sunday after Labor Day in the month of September and it is proclaimed annually by the President of the United States.  In 2017, National Grandparents Day is today!

The establishment of Grandparents Day was an act of determination and persistence by a woman from Oak Hill, West Virginia named Marian McQuade.  At the urging of Ms McQuade, Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia authored a resolution in the U.S. Senate to make grandparents Day a national holiday, but it died in committee. Ms McQuade would not let the defeat stop her and after the Governor of West Virginia proclaimed an annual Grandparents Day for his state, Marian and her supporters went on a campaign to get the governors and other elected officials in all fifty states to follow the lead of West Virginia and proclaim their own Grandparents Day.  By 1977 Ms McQuade and her supporters had obtained proclamations from forty-three of the fifty states.  She saw to it that Senator Randolph got a copy of each proclamation. The Senator then re-introduced his resolution with support from many of his colleagues and on August 3, 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed legislation forwarded from Congress to establish the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The stated purpose of the holiday is to "honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer."  

In the spirit of honoring my grandparents today, I am adopting a prompt from Marian Wood's recent adaptation of Dianne Nolin's 2017 Grandparents Day Challenge. I too am going to remember my grandparents today by recounting some things I only learned about each of them from my genealogy research in the years since they passed away.

I am lucky to have known each of my grandparents. Being the eldest of my generation, I have actual first-hand memories of all of them that run deeper than a couple of my three siblings and my twelve first cousins. Indeed, since my paternal grandfather died when I was not quite six years old, five of my Tew cousins and my youngest brother were not even born when my Grandpa Tew died. My maternal grandfather died when I was three months shy of turning ten years old. Of my six Carpenter cousins, three were born after my Grandpa Everett died and one was only eight months old. Moreover, my youngest brother was only nine months old when our mother's father died.

Therefore, based on the above facts, it is safe to say that of my twelve first cousins and my three siblings, only my sister, the older of my two brothers, and two cousins (5 of 16 grandchildren when I am included) have any real memories of our common grandfathers; the others were either not born or under three years old when the common grandfather died. And it is due to my interest in family history and genealogy that certain facts about my grandparents are now known and accessible to me and to my siblings and first cousins. This has made it possible for all of us to come to know our grandparents in ways that go beyond any individual, first-hand memories that survive in the few of us lucky enough to have known our grandparents.

Ruth Eaton [Cooke] Carpenter circa 1926.
Ruth Eaton [Cooke] Carpenter, my "Grandma Ruth" was born on September 8, 1897.  Two days ago was the 120th anniversary of her birth in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She died in March 1979 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island at age 81when I was married and less than a month from turning 27 years old. I knew her well and visited with her at least annually almost my entire life. She was an expert gardener and knew by sight and call every bird species that inhabited her area of Rhode Island. She was Salutatorian of her high school graduating class and had a definite interest in family history leaving many notes and letters about her Cooke and Carpenter families. But in all the time I knew her, I never ever heard her mention any siblings other that her two older sisters, Helen and Lois (who I also knew). At least two decades after Grandma Ruth died, I discovered in the records at least two facts that were previously completely unknown to me.

First, my grandmother had three other siblings who died as young children; one brother named Russell, who was born four years before her, died at 13 months old of cholera infantum; a sister named Dorothy, born two years after her, died at age six of typhoid fever and purulent otitis media (severe ear infection) at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; and another brother (also named Russell) was born in 1902 and died at 26 months of tuberculous meningitis. I later learned my grandmother always said if she ever had a son she would never name him Russell. Her only son was named David Otis Carpenter.

Second, my grandmother's mother died at age 34 almost exactly two months after her second son named Russell died. My grandmother was not yet 7 years old. In 1926, my great grandfather, Walter W. Cooke (my grandmother's father) remarried at age 56 a woman who was 38 years old. My grandmother was 29 years old and the next year my mother was born less than two weeks before my grandmother's new half-sister (technically my mother's aunt) was born to her father and his second wife.

Everett Shearman Carpenter
Everett Shearman Carpenter, my "Grandpa Everett" was born on February 22, 1891 in Albion, Rhode Island.  He died in Providence, Rhode Island on January 6, 1962 at age 70. He was Valedictorian of his high school graduating class and graduated from Brown University with a degree in engineering. There were at least two facts I learned about my grandfather from my genealogy endeavors as an adult.

First, my grandfather had an older sister, Ruth Ann Carpenter, who he was very close to and who married one of his Brown classmates, Ira Knight. Ruth Ann died of birthing complications at age 31 just twelve days after giving birth to her one and only child, Richard Carpenter Knight. I never heard my grandfather mention his sister and since she died before my mother was born, my mother never knew her.

Second, during World War I my grandfather enlisted in the Army and was posted at Watervliet Arsenal in upstate New York. He was at Watervliet in March - April 1918 and suffered what was called "the grippe." He was hospitalized as the 56th man out of 360 to succumb to the high fever and aching of the illness. On April 1, 1918 he wrote a postcard to his mother to explain the situation and assured her that he was again marked as fit for duty after a fever of 103, a "stomach out of order," and a nice rest. What he and his mother did not know is the he and most of the men at Watervliet were lucky ones who had just survived the first wave of what would prove to be the deadliest pandemic in world history (then and now). What was not recognized at the time, is that the 1918 so-called "Spanish Flu" arrived and spread in two distinct waves. The first wave took place in early spring of 1918 and it caused severe illness with high fevers, aches, and gastrointestinal distress. It was the second wave that began in August 1918 that became horrifically lethal and was capable of suddenly infecting and killing a young, healthy man or woman within 24 - 36 hours. Modern estimates are that the lethal 1918 influenza pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people world-wide including about 675,000 in the United States.  My Grandpa Everett was one of the early survivors who subsequently developed some degree of protection against the lethal second wave of the disease that arrived just a few months later.

Arnold George Tew, Sr.
Arnold G. Tew, Sr., my Grandpa Tew, was born on October 15, 1896 in Central Falls, Rhode Island. He attended Phillips Andover prep school and studied at the University of Virginia before transferring to and graduating from Dartmouth College with a degree in chemistry. He died suddenly on February 28, 1958 while on a business trip in Berlin, Connecticut.

There are at least two facts I learned about my grandfather from my adult genealogy pursuits.

First, and very similar to my maternal grandparents, I learned from my genealogy research as an adult that my Grandpa Tew was one of five children -- four boys and one girl. He and his older sister Edna were the only children to survive beyond two years of age. Edna was eleven years older than my grandfather and in effect was like a second mother to him when their father was hit by a train and died in 1903 when she was 19 years old and my grandfather was only 6 years old. I never heard my grandfather or my Grand Aunt Edna ever refer to their deceased siblings Charlie, Henry, and John. Their deaths were in the era before the so-called "miracle drugs," the antibiotics that made so many childhood diseases and other infections survivable.

Second, I knew as a child that my Grandpa Tew was lame because I never saw him without a cane to assist him with walking. When I was a teenager and young adult I was told by my father that his father's lameness was caused by a knee injury suffered during sports when he was in prep school. The  truth turned out to be that he had a knee malformation that was congenital.

From the time he was a young teenager at Phillips Academy, my grandfather was a prodigious writer. He often wrote several letters a day and expected prompt return correspondence.  He suffered disappointment and even resentment when he failed to receive mail and he commented on whether or not he got mail almost every day.  [I think he would have been an avid user of email, Twitter and social media had he lived in this technology rich age!] In addition to letter writing, my grandfather kept a Line-A-Day diary while he was at Phillips Andover and several years ago I was gifted his diaries. I read the the diaries meticulously and painstakingly transcribed all the entries. One striking aspect of his diary prior to June 1913, was the very sporadic and always casual references to his mother and older sister.  He was wrapped up in school activities, his social life, being a sports fan, and the rush to become an adult, so he showed little day-to-day time for or interest in his immediate family.

Beginning with his June 11, 1913 diary entry, my grandfather began referencing a Dr. Abbott in Portland, Maine who had agreed to see him for a consultation two weeks later. [The full story of my grandfather's solo trip to Portland for consultation and eventual surgery is provided in a post dated July 11, 2013; it can be read here.]  Through my grandfather's diary entries I learned the true nature of his disability and the very poignant and heart wrenching story of his lonely attempts to have his congenital knee defect corrected by painful surgery. His writing was also instructive and served as a reminder that teenage boys are teenage boys no matter what era they live in.  They are caught between the yearnings of and for manhood, yet they are still vulnerable to the loneliness and angst of immaturity.

One diary entry provided here will capture some of what my grandfather was enduring alone in a hospital in Portland, Maine in 1913 for what proved to be unsuccessful surgery .  .  .

July 6 :            Pain, torture & homesickness  Oh but I’m in awful suffering!  Can’t sleep, can’t sit down, can’t stand up!  It’s enough to drive me crazy!  I telephoned to mother to have her come up to-morrow or I’d leave here.  I’m all alone in pain!  I’m in Hellish agony!  I took some dope pills to quiet me, and finally they injected some cocaine in my arm.  Frank Hammond and Dick Richards came in for a few minutes in the evening to see me.  I am glad now I’ve undergone the operation but I would never do it again!  I sat out on the piazza for a few hours in the evening.

Huldah Antonia Hasselbaum
Huldah Antonia Hasselbaum, my Grandma Tew, was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 16, 1898. She died on January 3, 1983 at age 84. She and her siblings were first generation American.  Both of their parents were from Germany and yet none of the children could speak German as it was forbidden in the house in order for the family to assimilate as soon as possible. My grandmother's father, Anton Hasselbaum (1857 - 1916) became as successful businessman in Providence, Rhode Island with a wholesale liquor business and bottling plant. He died before Prohibition passed and his business would have been devastated.

The most surprising fact I learned about my grandmother from my genealogy research involved her siblings. My grandmother had five siblings -- one brother and four sisters (including her twin sister Josephine). The eldest of the five daughters, Mary, married Dr. James E.F. Henry on September 19, 1910 and their one and only child, Dorothy Henry, was born almost exactly three years later on September 20, 1913. Mary died less than a year after Dorothy's birth. I never heard my grandmother refer to her older sister Mary or her niece Dorothy. I also never heard her refer to her sister Olga and I never met Olga (who died in 1970). While I heard my grandmother mention her only brother, Oscar (who died in 1974), I never met Oscar either. I only met my grandmother's twin sister once and I have no memory of her at all.

While all of the discovered facts about my grandparents could appear to be negative aspects of their lives, eventually knowing about them made my grandparents more human to me. It makes sense that grandparents would not discuss with grandchildren matters that caused them pain during their lives, but knowing that their lives involved hurt, disappointment, alienation, and loss made them less remote and fallible .  .  . and therefore more human and understandable from two generations away. I miss them all and wish I had known them all better when they were with us.
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All photographs are from the personal collection of the author.

The Grandparents Day word heart is from Valley Falls USD #338, Valley Falls, KS at

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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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