Monday, July 28, 2014

Military Monday (July 28, 2014) -- Two Scituate, Rhode Island WWII Honor Roll Memorials?

Arnold G. Tew, Jr. circa 1945 in Navy Reserve uniform as LTJG.

As I have mentioned elsewhere on The Prism, my father was a 1944 graduate of Kings Point, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Great Neck, New York. The site of the Academy is the former 12-acre estate of Walter Chrysler named "Forker House." 

Kings Point was dedicated on September 30, 1943 by FDR, who stated, "the Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy."  From 1942 - 1945, Kings Point graduated 6,895 officers.  During World War II, 1 in 26 merchant mariners were killed while implementing the greatest sealift in history.  This made the percentage of war-related deaths for merchant mariners higher than the percentage in all the other U.S. services -- but the mariner death rate was kept secret during the war so that the enemy would not know what success they were having in targeting supply ships AND so that the nation could continue to attract mariners into service.  

Merchant Marine midshipmen have served in every major conflict in which the U.S. has been involved since WWII and as a result the Kings Point regiment is entitled and privileged to display a regimental battle standard; the USMMA is the only Federal Service Academy granted the right to do so. 

This past weekend while visiting my parents, I obtained some wartime photographs I had never seen before -- including the one of my father shown above in his uniform. Among the other photos was the following snap shot of a World War II Honor Roll memorial erected in Scituate, Rhode Island.

The Scituate Honor Roll for World War II shown immediately above has a somewhat temporary look dominated as it is by white picket fencing. I do not know the date of the photograph or the precise location in Scituate where it was (and perhaps still is?) located, so I would welcome further information from anyone who might know more about the picket fenced Honor Roll. 

Some web research did disclose that the Rhode Island Reading Room page at shows photographs of the war memorial and honor rolls for the Civil War, WWI and WWII erected by Scituate, Rhode Island.  A photograph of the bronze WWII Honor Roll with an enlarged section showing many names on the Honor Roll follows.

Unless someone can shed more light on the white picket fence WWII Honor Roll erected by Scituate, it appears that the picket fenced Honor Roll might very well have have been temporary and that it was replaced by the more common stone and bronze plaque design shown at the Rhode Island Reading Room.  In the close-up of the plaque depicted immediately above, my father's name -- Arnold G. Tew, Jr. -- can be seen listed among those being honored. "John A. Tew" listed two lines below my father is his younger brother, who served in the U.S. Navy toward the end of WWII. 

Edward Tew listed between my father and his brother is Edward N. Tew, the 3rd cousin of my father and his brother.  Edward was the son of Frederick Browning Tew, Jr. (1890 - 1983), a long-time reporter for the Providence Journal, and his wife, Jessie E. Brewster (1894 -    ). Edward enlisted in the Army in Providence on September 9, 1943.  He died in Vermont on February 15, 1985.

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Photographs of Arnold G. Tew, Jr. and the picket fenced Scituate, R.I. WWII Honor Roll in the personal collection of the author.

Photograph of the Scituate, R.I. WWII Honor Roll plaque by Beth Hurd (2004) as posted at . Close-up of the plaque cropped from Beth Hurd's photography by the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (July 26, 2014)

Following a hiatus of one week for a trip to Iceland, Saturday Serendipity returns this week with just a handful of mostly photograph-related recommendations for possible inclusion on your reading list this weekend:  

1.  UpFront With NGS provided an interesting link this week as part of its Mini Bytes post.  The first consumer camera -- the Kodak No. 1 -- was introduced in 1888.  Go here to see 14 examples of what early amateur camera bugs shot with their new cameras.
2.  Are you a bibliophile? If so, have a laugh reading this week's Friday Funny at My Ancestors and Me blog.

3.  If early photographs fascinate you, then you will be interested in seeing the tintype of the Irish housekeeper to the Confederate First Lady, Varina Davis.  Mary O'Melia served at the White House of the Confederacy and was a young widow with three children when she arrived in America.  See the tintype image and read the story here.

4.  Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots blog continues her wonderful library photo tour series this week with images of the Bolton Public Library in Bolton, Massachusetts. She also provides an extensive list with links to all the prior posts she has done on New England libraries that have genealogy departments.  You will want to see the photos and bookmark this post for the library photo post links Barbara provides!

5.  And speaking of old photographs . . . have a look at this 1903 photo of Miss Jessie Tucker at This I Leave blog.   Maybe you can help Donna find a Tucker family member who would just love to have this vintage photo of an ancestor or relative!
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Fotos (July 25, 2014) -- Nancy Mason (Carpenter) Garlin

Nancy Mason (Carpenter) Garlin

Nancy Mason Carpenter was born on June 14, 1818 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.  She was the third child and first daughter of Joseph Carpenter (1789 - 1880) and his wife, Nancy Mason (Bullock) Carpenter (1783 - 1880).  Joseph and Nancy had 14 children -- nine boys and five girls. 

Nancy Mason Carpenter was the older sister of my 2x great grandfather, Samuel Carpenter (1828 - 1904).  On May 15, 1844 she married Francis Warren Garlin (1817 - 1870) and together they had four children:  Lucy Hale Garlin; Edgar Warren Garlin; Ella Carpenter Garlin; and Anna Carpenter Garlin.  Nancy Mason (Carpenter) Garlin died on August 21, 1901.
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The original photograph is among the Anna Garlin Spencer papers in the Peace Collection of the Swarthmore College Library, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.  Photograph scanned by the author with permission of the library. 
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Travel Thursday (July 24, 2014) -- Genealogy Heaven?

Molly, her sister Kathy, and I just returned from a wonderful trip to a land where everyone is said to be related and where they claim to have records on the families of about 720,000 individuals to "prove it."  And this in a country with only 320,000 citizens (about one half the population of the city of Washington, DC).

The Íslendingabók is the genealogical database for this country containing information on the inhabitants going back 1,200 years or more.  Its creation is a collaboration between a research company in the field of medical genetics and a software entrepreneur. The project goal is to trace all known family connections from the time of the settlement of the subject country to the present and to place all the genealogical data into an internet database.  Most of the genealogical information comes from record sources such as census documents, church records, inhabitant registers and other public records.

The country of which I am writing is, of course, Iceland.

Iceland not only has what is probably one of the most genealogically aware populations on the planet, it is also an amazingly beautiful, otherworldly country well worth a visit -- and I say this even though it rained all day almost every day we were there!  More photographic evidence of the natural beauty of Iceland is presented below.

Selfjalandfoss waterfall, which drops over 200 feet and is possible to walk behind
as can be seen in the photograph if you look closely.
The system of pipelines that bring hot geothermal water from the mountains outside Reykjavik to the homes in the city -- with a temperature loss of only 1 - 2 degrees Centigrade. 

Þingvellir where the parliament was established in 930 and remained until 1798.
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All photographs by the author, July 2014.

[1]  This title is technically misleading because it could mean the emigration of  of Icelanders to the western part of the island including the greater capital region of Reykjavik, where about 2/3 or more of the Icelandic population currently lives.  The North Atlantic Ridge, where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet, runs through the island of Iceland so that much of the western side of the island is actually already in North America.  The other, eastern, side of the ridge is on the European plate and so is technically in Europe.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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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 

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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