Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (June 25, 2016)

Here are a few recommended items of interest for your reading pleasure . . .

1.  This past week Diane Boumenot of One Rhode Island Family blog posted the 5th in her series of "8 Weeks to Better Rhode Island Genealogy Research." This installment focuses on town records, histories and newspapers. As I have said repeatedly -- if you have Rhode Island roots, Diane's series is a MUST READ and is a "keeper" that you should bookmark for consultation time and time again. You can read installment 5 here.

2.  Bill West of West in New England blog posted two interesting pieces this week about a possible fraudulent New Hampshire deed incident he discovered that involved his 8X great grandfather back in 1708. The posts are instructive too on the usefulness of Google searches to help solve genealogy puzzles. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
3.   This week James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog posted Part 2 of "The Law vs. Procedure and Civil vs. Criminal: What Genealogists Should Know About Court Cases." Together the two posts provide a nice primer on what "case law"is and how it differs from "procedural law." You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here and learn why consulting only courthouse records might miss some valuable genealogical information contained in printed case decisions.  

4.  James Tanner seems to have also coined a new acronym "VLOGW" for "Very Large Online Genealogy Websites." Read here his interesting and useful thoughts on the addition of records to VLOGWs and look at his examples involving three VLOGWs.

5.   If you have any roots in Lowell, Massachusetts and are interested in doing some on-site genealogy research, then you need to read "Doing Genealogy in Lowell, Massachusetts? Here is Help" by Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots blog.  Barbara provides all you need to know -- from parking to available research materials -- with her usual photographic illustrations.

6.   Have you ever felt "cluey?" Since our personal and family histories are probably filled with examples of folks feeling "cluey" about various incidents, you quite likely have had such experiences and feelings yourself. "Cluey" is related to feelings of guilt and regret that stays with you for very long periods of time and perhaps even a lifetime -- and can never be undone. Read the poignant piece about "clueyness" here at Wait But Why blog. [WARNING -- the piece contains a couple of examples of unnecessary profanity that seems to be an increasingly common insertion into with no purpose other than to appear modern and hip. But the poignancy of the piece makes it well worth the read IMHO ("in my humble opinion").]

7.  UpFront With NGS blog provided a link this week to listen to Judy Russell (The Legal Genealogist) and Robert Charles Anderson (of The Great Migration fame) discuss with Jane Wilcox, host of The Forget-Me-Not Hour, the problems of plagiarism and fabrication in genealogy. See the post and get a link to the audio program here. [You can also read about this same program on Judy Russell's blog, The Legal Genealogist.]  UpFront also posted this week about the recent availability of the 1950 Census Enumeration District maps. Read the post and get links here.

8.  And finally, The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of NEHGS highlighted two stories this week that I found particularly interesting. The first is about mailing children via parcel post (direct link to the story here) and the second is about a DNA-based challenge to the British class system and the inheritance of titles, which you can read here.
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Rhode Island Historical Cemetery, Cumberland 3 (June 20, 2016) -- Part III

The date of the above plat, which shows the location of the Cumberland Cemetery, is unknown but probably dates from the late 1890s. It differs from the plat shown in Part I of this series in that the land on the periphery of the cemetery boundary is now subdivided into 18 lots. Note the description along the right border of the cemetery plat that states, "Perpetual Burying Ground." 

The handwritten words in blue ink are interesting to me because it looks like the "peacock blue" ink that was used almost exclusively by my grandmother, Ruth E. [Cooke] Carpenter, in the fountain pens she always favored. I believe -- without any other evidence -- that the peacock blue notations were probably written by my great grandfather, Samuel Eber Carpenter, Ruth's father-in-law. The printed word in peacock blue identifies the street at the bottom of the cemetery as "Dexter" Street.  The cursive writing in peacock blue in the bottom right lot bordering the cemetery [the lot numbered 67] states "Leighton."

Because the Cumberland Cemetery was incorporated by act of the Rhode Island General Assembly in June 1870, it is surmised that the plat in Part I dates from 1870 or earlier and shows the parcels that were owned by James Dexter, Jeremiah Whipple, Timothy Dexter, and Elisha Waterman before being conveyed and eventually amalgamated into the Cumberland Cemetery. The date of the plat shown above is after the properties bounding what became Cumberland Cemetery were subdivided into 18 lots and were numbered (clockwise from the bottom left of the cemetery plat) as Lots 80, 79, 78, 77, 76, 137, 75, 74, 131, 73, 72, 71, 70, 63, 64, 65, 66, and the Leighton lot 67.

As the plat shown in Part I indicates, the location of Cumberland Cemetery was apparently used as a burial ground before the 1870 incorporation as Cumberland Cemetery. In the center of the plat depicted in Part I is the legend "Bounding on Old Burial Ground." For convenience, that plat is reproduced immediately below.

In 1868 -- three years after the end of the Civil War and two years before the incorporation of the Cumberland Cemetery -- 52 people subscribed to a drive to raise money for the building of a fence at what was apparently even then being called Cumberland Cemetery. A list of the 1868 subscribers is among the papers I have inherited from my grandfather, Everett S. Carpenter, who lived his entire life at what was then 551 High Street in Cumberland. Below is a scan of the original list in my possession along with my transcription of the contents of the list.

What will not be readily apparent from the scanned images of the subscriber list to follow is that what appears to be the listing of the 1868 subscribers and their information is in ink, whereas other information is in lead pencil. I believe that the information in pencil was added sometime after 1885 when previous subscribers were contacted for new subscriptions. The original subscription drive amounts are noted in ink after each name on the list. I base my assumption and belief that the penciled information was added to the list after 1885 on the ink entries after the names Baylies Bourne and Daniel Miller that indicate in the "Called" column inked dates in the year 1885. It appears from this document that the funding for the erection (and/or continued maintenance) of a fence around the Cumberland Cemetery occurred over many years and subscription was entirely voluntary. To distinguish between the inked and penciled entries in my transcription, the entries that are in pencil are in non-bold, italicized type.

The heading and the content of the list reads . . . 

Names of Subscribers towards
building fence in 1868.

Name                            Residence                    Called           Result

June Whipple      $25.              Emulien Whipple
                                                   Central Falls
J.C. Dexter             20.              Cumberland                                                         Subscribed
A. Kinsman            10.                         Do [1]                                                                    Do
Ezra Kent               10.                         Do                                                               Deceased
John J. Carpenter    5.               Lonsdale                                                                        "
Baylies Bourne       10.                       Do                            June 15, 1885   Subscribed  3.--
Eber Miller [2]           5.               Cumberland                                                        Deceased
John Thurber[?]      5.               Attleboro
Simon Whipple        5.               Central Falls
Daniel Miller            5.               Valley Falls                               11, /'85      Will not subscribe
Sarah Angell          25.                Lonsdale                                                             Deceased
Mary Taft               10.                 See James Taft
S. Metcalf                  1.                 At Fenton  "
Julia Roger                1.                 Try Stafford Roger                                             Deceased
John Dexter               5.               Valley Falls                                                         Deceased
Frederick Pearce     25.               New York                                                   Subscribed 100.--
Thos. A. Jenckes      25.               Cumberland                                                       Deceased
Mrs. Geo. Kilburn   10.               Lonsdale                                                     Subscribed 10.--
Martha Whipple        2.               Central Falls (at S.W.) Ashland
Maria Allen                2.               Sam Allen, Scituate                                             Deceased
George Earle            10.                                                                                                     "  
Mrs. Mumford         15.
Emily Waterman     10.               Providence
Betsey Waterman     10.                         Do
Rufus Waterman      10.                         Do
Mrs. Keene                 4.
Silena Pike                  5.                                                                                          Deceased
Henry Goodwin         5.                Central Falls
Matilda Haskell         5.                See Mrs. Tayler                                                 Deceased
Barton Chase             5.                                                                                                     "
Eliza Hardy                5.                Woonsocket (Ed Miller)
Caroline Miller          5.                                                                                          Deceased
Lucretia Pearce        10.                                                                                                    "
Pardon Newell          10.                                                                                                    "
Sarah Clark                5.                                                                                                    "
James Miller               5.                See Sarah Miller                                                         "
Abby Kinsley              2.                  "   Joseph Fiske                                              D        "
Caroline Lee               5.                 Cumberland
Wm. Dexter                5.                          Do
John S. Dexter            5.                 Providence
Saml. Dexter               5.                          Do
George Carpenter      5.                 Cumberland
Ann Welden              10.--                 ----------                                                        Deceased
J.W. Miller                   2.                   ----------                                                                   "
Squire French           10.                 Pawt.                                                                          "
Mary Sibley                5.                                                                                                     "
Edwin King                5.                  East Prov.
Daniel Wilkinson       5.                     ----------                                                        Deceased
Nehemiah Lee            5.                  Cumberland
Lewis Carpenter        2.                  Attleboro
Squire Fisk                 2.                  See Abby wife of Geo. A. Sweet                       Deceased
Wm. Carpenter          2.                  Attleboro

Also among the Cumberland Cemetery papers I inherited is a two-sided document authored by my great grandfather, S.E. (Samuel Eber) Carpenter. The document is undated, but shows income via subscriptions and from Cumberland Cemetery funds.  On the reverse side of the document, sums paid out on behalf of the Cemetery for various services are also listed. 

My guess is that this document, titled "Committee in Account Cumberland Cemetery," was created  after 1885 and most likely around the turn of the last century. I base this guess on the fact that Samuel Eber Carpenter (my great grandfather) lived from 1853 to 1929. He was for a long time employed as a cashier with North American National Bank in Providence. In 1885 he would have been 32 years old and not yet married.  By 1891 has was married and the father of two children: one age 2 and the other a newborn. I think it unlikely he would have taken on an active position with the Cumberland Cemetery during this time of his life. His mother and father were both still alive and he and his family were residing in their home at 551 High Street.

More persuasive for possibly dating the accounting document are the notes from the Cumberland Cemetery trustees (see Part II) that indicate the trustees were engaged from 1890 through 1895 with trying to obtain a survey and plat of the cemetery property as well as the repair of the cemetery fence. It was not until 1901 that the funds of the Cumberland Cemetery Corporation were placed in the hands of the trustees and thus corporation funds could be used by direction of the trustees alone. As the accounting document shows, $150 of corporation funds were contributed for what appears to be the construction and maintenance of a building on the cemetery grounds -- and this is probably the 12' X 16' building that was sold on February 19, 1946 per Bill of Sale signed by the Cemetery trustees: N.D. Brown, Pres.; my grandfather E.S. Carpenter, Sec.Treas.; and John S. Angell (my grandfather's 1st cousin). The building was sold for $60.00 and was probably not in very good shape at the time given the plans, freight, and construction alone of the building cost about $276 according to the accounting document below. I surmise the building was constructed after the surveying and fencing of the cemetery in the 1890s and after the trustees were given control of the corporation funds -- meaning sometime in the early part of the first decade of the last century. When the building was sold in 1946 it would have then been about 40+ years old.

S.E. Carpenter [3]  Committee in Account
Cumberland Cemetery

     Received by Subscription

                                           A. F. Pearse                                               100. ----
                                           A. Kinsman                                                   5.
                                           G.A. Kent                                                      5.
                                           B. Bourne                                                      3.
                                           S.E. Carpenter                                              5.
                                           Jas. C. Dexter                                                5.
                                           Mrs. M.E. Kilburn                                      10.
                                           Benj. Chapman                                             1.
                                           Curtis Dexter                                                1.
     From Cemetery Funds  J.C. Dexter Treas.                                  150.
                                         Balance Due                                                  25.39

     Paid                      Gerald Angell for Plan & Squarefoots [?]         5. ----
                                   P.&W.R.R. Co. "      Freight                                  .75
                                   W.F. Wright      "      Building                          270. ----
                                   S.E. Carpenter Agt. " Insurance                         5. ----
                                   S.A.W. Arnold  "    Labor (Painting)                11.75
                                   H. Howard     "   Blinds & Green Paint             8.64
                                   S.A.W. Arnold  "   Labor (Painting 2 coat)       6.25
                                   J.A. Angell     "  Hanging & Painting Blinds     3. ----

The Bill of Sale dated February 19, 1946 for a building on Cumberland Cemetery property 

*     *     *     *

Part IV of this series will discuss miscellaneous documents and events related to Cumberland Cemetery from 1939 through the early 1940s during the period immediately after my maternal grandfather, Everett S. Carpenter, was elected to be Secretary/Treasurer of Cumberland Cemetery. 

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All images are scanned from original documents in the collection of the author.

[1]  "Do" is an accounting and listing abbreviation for "ditto" and means that the previous item or entry is repeated where the mark appears. What looks like a double quotation mark ( " ) is also used as a ditto marker and is the more common and modern mark for a repeated item.

[2]  Eber Miller is my 3X great grandfather.  He was born April 24, 1805 and died March 21, 1877, so he was a subscriber (for $5.00) to the original 1868 drive for building a fence, but by the recall in 1885 he had been dead for about eight years.

[3]  Samuel Eber (S.E.) Carpenter is my great grandfather and he was the grandson of Eber Miller. Samuel was born on September 25, 1853 and died on January 18, 1929 at age 75. He lived his entire life at 551 High Street in Cumberland. 

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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (June 11, 2016)

Here are just a few recommended items of interest for your reading pleasure . . .

1.  As readers of Saturday Serendipity have no doubt noticed, I often recommend reading items mentioned in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter from NEHGS. If you are not a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, you should certainly consider joining --especially if you have New England roots. But don't rule out membership if you are not aware of any New England connections. NEHGS is the oldest and largest genealogical society in the United States having been founded in 1845. Its collections, databases, and publications are not restricted to New England and it's magazine and website are titled "AmericanAncestors" in recognition of this fact!        

2.  Speaking of The Weekly Genealogist, two interesting articles were mentioned this week that certainly illustrate how NEHGS provides more than just research and insight into New England roots. A short piece on digitizing genealogical records here provides a look into the benefits and the process of digitizing genealogical materials. Another article mentioned is a BBC News piece dealing with the "unsettling art of death photography."  Taking photographs of dead family members is not a usual or accepted practice these days and is rare outside of criminal investigations, but in Victorian England before the advent of inexpensive snapshots allowing cheap and easy live portraits of family members it was a way of preserving images of the dead and commemorating the fact of their lives -- even to the extent of propping up the dead to pose in family portraits.  Have a read, learn what "trinkets of memento mori" are, and view some poignant examples of death photography at the link provided.    
3.  Heather Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy blog posted a nice reminder of how librarians can be of great assistance to genealogy research.  Have a look here at "Ten Ways a Librarian Can Help You with your Genealogy Research."     

4.  I am always amazed at the constantly growing number and variety of online resources available to inform and assist our interest in genealogy and history. Many of you no doubt are WAY ahead of me in discovering some of these resources, but I have to give a tip of the hat to Nancy Messier at My Ancestors and Me blog for introducing me to the Sepia Saturday blog where folks post "historical photographs of any age or kind."  If you too have never seen Sepia Saturday, have a look here -- but be sure you have more than a few minutes to browse since you might find yourself in a viewing jag before you know it.

5.  UpFront With NGS blog posted a useful piece about the genealogy resources available on YouTube. Check out the post and get some sample links to look at here. And also at UpFront was a post about a very intriguing idea for pay-for-view databases -- one day (24 hour) subscription access options!  I think this option is a GREAT idea and more database sites should explore it to attract customers.  UpFront highlights such access to RootsIreland for those of us who want to explore Irish roots.  Read about the one day subscription option here.         

6.  And finally, another good read at New England Folklore blog by Peter Muise. Read here about a  "fairy village" in Middlebury, Connecticut and the gruesome story that goes with it. You can also view a video about the village, but be advised that it is 13.5 minutes long. 
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Photographs from Providence, Rhode Island (circa 1950 - 51)

Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island circa 1950 - 51. 

My mother is a retired R.N. She graduated from the Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing in 1947. While Rhode Island Hospital began its Training School for Nurses in 1882 with 17 students, the Hospital's R.N. program no longer exists. The above photograph of Rhode Island Hospital was recently discovered among my parents' papers and records. The photographer is unknown, but my mother believes the photograph was taken in about 1950 or 1951. 

The photograph above was also taken in 1950 or 1951 and to my mother's recollection it is of a doctors' office building near the Brown University campus. The VW-looking car parked inside the parking lot and beside the wrought iron fence is the Renault 4CV that my parents owned before I was born. The same building taken from a different angle is shown immediately below.

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Photographs are scanned from the originals in the family collection.  Photographer and exact date unknown.
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Thirteen Dollar Baby Boy (June 7, 2016)

To borrow a famous quote from Prissy (actress Thelma "Butterfly" McQueen) in Gone with the Wind, "I [didn't] know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies" in 1955 until I came across the Wesson Maternity Hospital bill shown above . . . and interviewed my mother about it.

I have two younger brothers and one of them was born on October 30, 1955 in Springfield, Massachusetts at the Wesson Maternity Hospital. At the time, my parents, my sister, and I were living in nearby Holyoke, Massachusetts at 4 Glenn Street.  My father was the Assistant Manager at the Holyoke Sears Roebuck store and my mother was an R.N. who worked part time at the Holyoke Hospital.

My mother recently explained that when she went in to the Wesson Maternity Hospital for the birth of my brother, the delivery went so smoothly that by the third day of her "confinement" she was bored  and was up and about making beds, etc. when she was not given time with her newborn baby. She felt she was ready to go home to her husband and her other two children who were 3 1/2 and 2 1/3 years old.  She signed herself out of the hospital and as result was given two days credit at the daily room charge of $15.00. The usual stay at Wesson Maternity Hospital in 1955 was 5 to 6 days. My mother checked in on October 30th and signed herself out on November 3rd.  

As amazing as it seems to those of us who have had to pay for a birth at a hospital in the last few decades, the total bill to my parents for the delivery of my brother in 1955 was $180.18! This covered the room charge, use of the delivery room, anesthesia and the services of an Anesthetist, baby care, lab work, and drugs. From these charges, my parents were given two days of credit (-$30.00) for an unused room and $12.00 credit for unused baby care  -- a total credit of $42.00.  The health insurance that my parents had paid $125.00 and so my parents paid a net total of $13.18 [1] for my brother!

Until the discovery of this documented fact, I never knew getting a brother was so cheap! 

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[1]   The relative value of $180.18 in 1955 dollars would be about $1,590.00 in 2016. The relative value of $13.18 in 1955 dollars would be about $117.00 in 2016. See,

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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (June 4, 2016)

Here are just a few recommended items of interest for your reading pleasure . . .

1.   Just over two weeks ago Nancy Messier, of My Ancestors and Me blog, posted a review of a book published in 2015 . . . The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff. As I read Nancy's book review I had just, days earlier, begun reading the same book myself.  I am much further into the book now and want to enthusiastically join Nancy in recommending this 417-page book!  Who should read this well-written and meticulously researched book? Of course anyone with a general interest in American history and the subject of "witchcraft" should add this book to their reading stack. But, everyone with New England -- and particularly early Massachusetts Bay Colony -- roots must add this book to their genealogy library.  Why? Because of the picture Ms Schiff so vividly paints of day-to-day life in late 17th century Massachusetts Bay Colony and greater New England. The background provided by this book can only serve to add to your understanding of the social and political milieu in which your 17th century Massachusetts and New England ancestors and relatives lived.    

2.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog posted an interesting piece on paper vs. electronic books. He makes some excellent points about ebooks. And, for those of us involved in genealogy research and writing, his list of ebook benefits resonates when he mentions the ease of searching specific terms, clipping portions for use in blog posts and other writing, etc. Check out his thoughts here.   
3.  If you have New York roots, you need to be aware that for the month of June NEHGS (New England Historic Genealogical Society) is making their New York databases available to non-member guests FOR FREE! You can sign up for access here.  You have 26 days left.   

4.  And speaking of FREE access, NEHGS has just added sketches of western Massachusetts families to its online database and made the collection available to non-member guests for one month. The sketches are of families who were enumerated in the 1790 census in Berkshire and Hampshire (now Franklin and Hampden) counties.  Ten sketches are being added to the database each week.  The first ten are for the families of:  Jehiel Baldwin; Caleb Beals; Lemuel Beaman; John Bigelow; Aaron Bowen; Benajah Bowen; Elijah Bowen; Hezekiah Bowen; John Bowen; and Joseph Bowen.  See the collection of sketches here.       

5.  Here is a very interesting piece by David Allen Lambert of the NEHGS staff that appeared in the NEHGS blog Vita Brevis (May 18, 2016).  Mr. Lambert notes that on May 12, 2016, Susannah Mushatt Jones died in Brooklyn, NY at the age of 116 years, 311 days. The amazing thing about Susannah's death is not just that she was, at the time, the oldest living person in the world and thus the oldest living American . . . she was also the last living American to have been born in the 19th century (which includes all people born in America through December 31, 1900)!  There are several other interesting facts in Mr. Lambert's blog post. Have a read!         

6.  How about some vinegar on your rye and rum pancakes?? Peter Muise of New England Folklore blog takes a short detour from his usual stories of witches and the like to explore a delicacy of the brown cuisine of old New England. Read here about some special pancakes you too can make and experience. You will need to rush out and have handy some: rye flour; molasses; New England rum [I, of course, highly recommend Thomas Tew Rum by Newport Distilling Co. in Newport, RI]; sugar; and apple cider vinegar. Bon app├ętit!
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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