Category Archives: United States

The History of a Summer Community    

I spent the past two months working on the history of my summer community in Maine. It is not exactly family history, although my family has been vacationing in this place by the ocean for almost 100 years, so bear with me while I tell you what I learned about writing local history.

Local history is essential to understanding our ancestors. The towns, cities and rural neighbourhoods where they lived were the places where they went to work, to shop, to worship, to play. By researching their communities, we can get hints about their daily activities, their values, their friends and acquaintances and the educational opportunities open to them.

Biddeford Pool, the community where I spend my summers, is on a tiny peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, flanked on one side by a sandy beach and on the other by the rocky shore of Saco Bay. Originally known as Winter Harbor, the peninsula was once home to a thriving fishing village with a herring fleet and shipbuilding industry. In the mid-1800s, several enterprising local residents decided to build hotels and rent out rooms to boarders for the summer.

The big beach, low tide, Biddeford Pool, Maine

Families from big cities such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, Memphis and Montreal have been going there for generations. Eventually, some summer visitors decided to build their own cottages, and they encouraged friends and family members to join them on the coast. Today, many of their descendants are still vacationing at Biddeford Pool, still sailing the same waters, swimming at the same beach and playing on the same golf course that their grandparents and great-grandparents enjoyed.

Many of these families are interrelated, although no one has ever done a big family tree of the summer resident families.

Inspired by my experiences with Genealogy Ensemble, several of us started a blog a few years ago and encouraged people to write their own stories. We invited them to find out how their families first came to Maine, and we asked for childhood memories and other stories. Most people were polite, smiled and nodded, but did not write a word. I can’t say I was totally surprised. People are on holiday there, busy with friends and family, and once they get home, they get into their regular routines. Privacy may have been a concern for some. Also, writing is not easy for everyone.

Even more disappointing was that many people never looked at the blog. Maybe they are just not comfortable with digital media, and perhaps we were too successful in trying to keep it low-key. But it seemed the entire effort was a failure.

This spring I took a fresh look at the two dozen stories that were posted on the blog and enjoyed them. And at a time when most of my parents’ generation have already died or are now well into their 90s, the articles preserve memories of the way things used to be in the community – the bad and the good. So now, a group of about half a dozen of us are again copying what the members of Genealogy Ensemble did: we putting together a collection of short articles in a self-published book. At the very least, it will be on the shelves of the community’s little library, and filed beside the hundreds of old photographs that the Biddeford Pool Historical Society has collected and digitized. Hopefully, future researchers and family members will read it.

Some of us went to the county registry of deeds office to research the histories of our century-old cottages, and we used genealogy sources such as Familysearch.org to find marriage records, census records and city directories, as well as old newspaper databases. Others wrote personal anecdotes.

This project is a bit haphazard. It depends on who volunteered to participate and what he or she chose to write about. It is far from a one-place study or a carefully structured oral history project. And we left out most of the local residents who once lived there year-round, such as the lobster fishermen. That is unfortunate, however, narrowing the focus of the book has made it possible to get the project finished in one season, plus we know clearly who the target audience of the book will be.

I will let you know next summer how it turns out. 

Aime Bruneau- Jewels and Glasses

The Fall River Daily Evening News reported in Our Folks and Other Folks Column, “ He sustained an accident and narrowly escaped serious injury in Brookline on Saturday, by jumping from an electric without signalling for a stop. A sliver in the platform step caught in his shoe heel and threw him, as he jumped, and he was dragged some distance. He sustained severe bruises, his clothes were badly torn and his shoe, one of a new pair, was ripped from his foot.” This is one of the more interesting things written about my two times great uncle, Aimé B. Bruneau.

Aimé was a jeweller and studying to be an optometrist in 1897 when the accident happened. He must have been attending the Klein School of Optics in Boston’s South End. The school, founded three years earlier by ophthalmologist Dr. August Klein, was one of America’s first formal training programs in optics and refraction. After one year of study, Aimé could make glasses as well as jewellery.

He had travelled far from his roots. Aimé Benjamin Bruneau was born in Saint Constant, Quebec to Barnabé Bruneau and Sophie Marie Prud’Homme. He grew up on the family farm but as the seventh of 13 children, he had to find employment elsewhere. He left home as a teenager and went with his brother Dolphis to Adams, South Berkshire, Massachusetts where they were probably attracted by jobs in a mill.

I am not sure where he met Mary Floretta Mann. She lived in Rutland Vermont. Her husband, Steven Mann had died in 1869 and the widow was living with her three children. Four other children had died in early childhood. Mary couldn’t have been looking for financial support as she had real estate worth $16,000 and a personal estate of $5,000. When they married in 1871 Aimé was 26 and Mary 43.

The couple soon moved to Fall River, Massachusetts, which after the Civil War was the leading textile city in America. Aimé didn’t work in a mill but as a clerk in Fred Macomber’s jewellery store and eventually bought him out. It was a prosperous business in the Granite Block, a block-long commercial building in downtown Fall River and one of the leading jewellery stores in the area for almost twenty years.

Aime Bruneau on right in front of his jewellery store, Fall River MA.

Mr. Bruneau was of a very social nature and made many friends here (Fall River). He greatly lived out of door life and was noted as a walker, covering all the country about this city in his tramps. A walk to Newport or Providence, (almost 20 miles away) on a pleasant Sunday was an ordinary thing with him.

Then in 1897, his business fell off, he closed his store, sold his stock at auction and studied to be an optometrist. A year later he re-established in a smaller way as an oculist. In the next few years, he can be found in Leominster, Massachusetts, Dover New Hampshire and finally in Auburn, Maine with Aime’s occupation listed as a jeweller but also as an Insurance Agent working for the Manhattan Company Federal Street, Boston. During this time Mary appeared to be living in Fall River.

Aimé died unexpectedly of an internal hemorrhage in January 1910. He was 65 and still living in Auburn, Maine. His wife continued to live in Fall River, Massachusetts with her daughter Ida. Mary died there, just six months later at the age of 82. I can speculate about why he wasn’t living with his wife but the long and painful illness noted in her obituary might be the story.

Notes:

Aime B. Bruneau Obituary, The Evening Herald, Fall River Massachusetts. Tuesday 18 January 1910 pg 4. Newspapers.com December 25, 2021. The only Bruneau family member mentioned in his obituary was his brother Ismael as a Congregationalist minister in Montreal.

Our Folks and Other Folks column. Fall River Daily Evening News, Fall River Massachusetts. Tuesday, August 24, 1897. Page 1. Newspapers.com Dec 23, 2021. 

Death of Mrs. Mary F. Bruneau: Fall River Daily Evening News, Fall River Massachusetts. Tuesday Aug 23, 1910. Page 8. Newspapers.com Dec 23, 2021. 

The New England College of Optometry, NECO was founded as the Klein School of Optics by Dr. August Klein in 1894. Located at 2 Rutland Street in Boston’s South End, the Klein School offered a one-year program that centred on optics, anatomy, and refraction. As optometry quickly became a more established profession, the school’s name changed in 1901 to the Massachusetts School of Optometry. The school began offering a two-year program in 1909, and that same year the National Board of State Examiners in Optometry was established as other new optometry schools sprang up around the country.

The Mass School of Optometry also began requiring incoming students to have completed four years of high school and to possess “good moral character.”

The Mystery of Lavinia Patterson

Who was Lavinia Patterson? I found a cabinet photograph of her in one of the boxes from my mother’s cousin. Written on the back, her name, the date and place. It wasn’t in one of the albums, just in an envelope with other pictures. She was a good looking girl with what I thought was an unusual haircut. She had very long hair hanging free with bangs and a short boy cut around her ears. Cutting or shaving some of one’s hair is a style seen now but in 1886?

The first clue was the photographer’s name and address. Barnett M. Clinedinst Sr and Jr had a studio in Baltimore from 1880 to at least 1891. Clinedinst Sr. began as an artist and turned to photography after the Civil War. He built up a prosperous business in Staunton, Virginia and later settled with his wife Caroline McFee and children in Baltimore. His son followed him into the business and they opened a studio in Washington DC where they photographed Presidents, military men and societie’s elite. Barnett Jr became the official White House photographer for three administrations. They were also innovators and were some of the first to use flash lighting.

Much information about the photographers exists but what about Lavinia? In an 1887 Erie PA directory, Lavinia B. Patterson, a student, lived at the corner of 7th and Sassafras, the same address as a Revered James G. Patterson of Park Church. Two years later Rev Patterson resigned as pastor of the 2nd Presbyterian Church of Erie. There was also a Lavinia and Anne Patterson going to a school in 1881 but so far no proof that either is this Lavinia.

This picture was with other photographs that had belonged to my great grandmother, Ida Girod Bruneau. Ida taught school in Baltimore before she married Ismael Bruneau in 1886. Was Lavinia one of her pupils saying goodbye to Ida, a favourite teacher?

Notes:

The photograph was taken on June 8th 136 years ago.

Dolphis Bruneau – Life in North Adams

Many French Canadians left the farms of Quebec and migrated to the mills of New England in the mid 1800s. Some worked and then returned home while other like Dolphis Bruneau settled in the United States. 

Dolphis was the eldest son of Barnabé Bruneau (1807-1880) and Sophie Marie Prud’homme (1812-1892) my great great grandparents. One would think he would inherit the family farm in Saint Constant, Quebec but he had moved to North Adams, Massachusetts, long before his father’s death.

North Adams, a mill town in Berkshire County, grew at the convergence of two branches of the Hoosic River, which gave the town excellent water power for the developing industries. Dolphis arrived there 1864, at the end of the Civil War. He first lived in a rooming house and worked as an operative, presumably in a mill. At the same time, his younger brothers, Aimé and possibly Napoleon also lived and worked there.

He married Nellie Saunders the daughter of an Irish immigrant Thomas Saunders. She worked in a shoe factory. They started a family with Maude born in 1871 and another daughter Nellie three years later. Tragically, his wife died during that childbirth so Dolphis was left to raise his two daughters alone. He must have had help from Nellie’s family, as he didn’t move back to Quebec like his brother Napoleon and applied for his United States Naturalization Petition in 1895.

Dolphis’ wife Nellie Saunders

Dolphis continued his quiet life in North Adams. He worked as a carpenter possibly not at a mill but for for a cabinet maker. He kept in contact with his family in Quebec. Some pictures of his growing girls were taken in Montreal so they certainly went north to visit. He didn’t move much as his address, a rental property, is listed as 15 N Holden St for most of his life. His daughters continued to live with him. Maud seems to have kept house and Nellie worked as a bookkeeper.

Dolphis remarried eleven years after his wife died to a widow, Ester Mary Halse Tingue. Information about his second wife is scant and rather confusing. Ester received a Civil War pension from her first husband and so had some income. The census and city directories show them living apart although listed as married. He lived with his daughters and she lived with her daughter Emma Tingue. Dolphis died in 1909 and Ester in 1924. In her obituary she is refered to as Mrs. Ester T. Bruneau, living at 108 Quincey Street and survived only by Emma. “Her death will bring deep sorrow to her many acquaintances,” it said. Dolphis and Ester were buried in different cemeteries.

The year after her father’s death, Nellie married Arthur Henwood. They moved in with her sister Maud at 15 N Holdon Street. Nellie and Arthur never had any children. Arthur kept a steady job working for James Hunter Machinery as a machinist. His draft registration cards for both WWI and WWII showed him working at the same company. Nellie continued to work as a bookkeeper and Maude continued to keep house. Both sisters had a close involvement with the First Baptist Church.

Maude never married and after her sister’s death in 1939, she and her brother-in-law continued to live together for the next twenty plus years, still at 15 N Holden Street. Arthur died in 1960 and Maude then moved to the Sweet Brook Nursing Home in Williamstown, Massachusetts where she died two years later. Maude’s death ended the Bruneau line in North Adams although most of the family are buried in Maple Street Cemetery.

Bruneau Family Tombstone North Adams, MA

Notes:

Dolphis Bruneau Massachusetts, U.S., Death Records, 1841-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data:Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. Accesses March 15, 2022.

Dolphis Bruneau – Massachusetts, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950 [database on-line] NAI Number: 4752894; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: R G 85.  Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed Mar 12, 2022.

Nellie Bruneau Henwood Obituary.The North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) December 27,1939, Page 3. Accessed on Newspapers.com Mar 27, 2022.

Maude L Bruneau Obituary. North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) March 17, 1962, Page 3. Accessed on Newspapers.com Mar 23, 2022.

Mrs Ester T Bruneau Obituary. North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) Dec 19, 1924, page 14. Accessed on Newspapers.com Mar 30, 2022.

1900 Census: North Adams Ward 3, Berkshire, Massachusetts;Roll:632;Page:7;Enumeration District:0051;FHL microfilm:1240632Ancestry.com.1900 United States Federal Census[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls. Accessed Mar 2, 2022.

Arthur Henwood: Draft Card H. Registration State:Massachusetts; Registration County: Berkshire Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.Imaged from Family History Library microfilm M1509, 4,582 rolls. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Accessed April 5, 2022.

Frances McGregor’s Notebook

The old notebook has a scuffed brown cover, but its pages are full of poetry, transcribed in neat handwriting. Clearly, this notebook once belonged to a woman who admired Lord Byron and other early 19th century English poets. Her name was Frances – or Fanny – McGregor, and she may have been my ancestor.

I came across it while searching for the name McGregor in the online catalogue of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The first result to pop up was “Frances McGregor autograph book, 1825.” In response to my query, the society forwarded a digitized copy of the entire notebook.

There’s a note clipped to the front, “Frances McGregor? selections from English poets,” which is a more accurate description of it. The label inside the cover indicates it was given to the historical society by “Miss Mary Forman Day, April 22, 1936,” more than 100 years after the last entry was made in 1829.

the donation plate and first page (page 11) of the notebook

Who was Mary Forman Day? She could have been a friend of one of Fanny’s grandchildren.1 Born in Philadelphia in 1860, and died in 1950 in Washington, D.C., she was probably the person who gave many documents pertaining to her Forman ancestors — early Maryland settlers — to area historical societies.2

As for my three-times great-grandmother Mary Frances McGregor, she was born near Port of Menteith, Perthshire, Scotland around 1792. She usually went by her nickname, Fanny. According to family lore, she finished her education in Edinburgh and then came to America. She married English-born Philadelphia merchant Robert Mitcheson, and the census shows they lived in the Spring Garden district, on the outskirts of Philadelpia. I am descended from her eldest daughter, Catharine, who was born in 1822.

I tried to eliminate the possibility that another Frances McGregor owned this notebook, but that proved difficult. Only the head of the household was named in census records and city directories at that time, making women especially hard to find.

If a title page ever existed, someone tore it out long ago, and the notebook begins on page 11.  Nevertheless, Frances’s name appears three times: she signed “Fanny” on a small botanical painting on the last page, and she wrote “Frances” on the inside back cover.

Her name also appears on page 11, at the bottom of a poem that begins, “When shall we three meet again?” Those words were spoken by the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but this is a different poem, expressing the sadness of friends about to be parted. Perhaps Fanny included this poem because she knew she would be leaving her life in Scotland for a new one in the United States.

Many of the poems Frances included in the notebook were written by Lord Byron. She also included a passage from Milton’s Paradise Lost, a short excerpt from an opera and “A Canadian Boat Song, written on the River St. Lawrence”, written by Irish poet Thomas Moore and first published in 1805. The notebook ends with several poems about England’s Princess Charlotte. In 1817, her baby was stillborn and the princess also died. These tragic events inspired much public sympathy at the time.

Frances seems to have written at least one of the notebook’s entries herself. “A Poem – On Home, written by a Young lady at School in the Year 1814” described memories of a loving mother and a happy childhood, but complained of loneliness and disillusionment as the young author moved toward adulthood.  

Besides poetry, Frances included several “puzzles” such as, “Why are your eyes like coach horses?” and “Why is a washerwoman like a church bell?” and “How is a lady of loquacity like a lady of veracity?” She did not include the answers.

One of the botanical sketches in the notebook.

My other favourite entries are the botanical paintings: simple but colourful images of wild geraniums, wild violets and roses.

Whoever created this notebook, it is clear that she was well educated, probably from the upper middle class, and had a quirky sense of humour. The more I think about it, the more strongly I suspect it belonged to my Frances McGregor, but I can’t prove it.

Photo credits: “Frances McGregor autograph book, 1825,” courtesy the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Notes

1. Grandchildren of Fanny McGregor Mitcheson who could have known Mary Forman:
Joseph McGregor Mitcheson (1870-1926) WW1 navy officer and Philadelphia lawyer;
Mary Frances (Mitcheson) Nunns (1874-1959);
Robert S. J. Mitcheson (1862-1931) Philadelphia physician and art collector;
Helen Patience Mitcheson (1854-1885);
Fanny Mary (Mitcheson) Smith (1851-1937) wife of Philadelphia lawyer and collector of historical documents Uselma Clarke Smith.
Fanny had five other grandchildren in Canada through daughter Catharine Mitcheson Bagg.

2. For example, Mary donated the Forman papers, MS 0403. H. Furlong Baldwin Library., Maryland Center for History and Culture, https://mdhistory.libraryhost.com/repositories/2/resources/49

This article is also posted to https://writinguptheancestors.ca

Born in Biloxi

It is always interesting when my husband shows his American passport as we go through customs. He was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and that always gets comments.

His parents, Arline Raebeck and William Baker were northerners from Belle Harbor, Long Island and Dedham, Massachusetts, so to have their son born in the deep south was unusual but it was wartime and they were both in the US Army.

Arline graduated from Brooklyn Friends School and Centenary College. She decided against a job at the Stock Exchange as typing with a dictaphone jack in her ear wasn’t for her. Wearing her white gloves and hat, as she learned at college, she got a job at the Personnel Finance Company on Long Island, then later at the Head Office of J.P. Penney’s in New York. All the young men around her were joining the military. She was getting restless and none of these jobs, “were the real me,” so one day she went to the recruiting office and signed up. She needed her birth certificate and had to ask her father, for it. William Raebeck thought she wanted to get married but she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).

She traveled down to Daytona, Florida by train to attend basic training and Administration School. The Army wasn’t ready for the women. They had no uniforms, no barracks and so slept eight to a room in little nothing hotels. They were right on the ocean but, “it just wasn’t perfect!”

After their training, Arline and over a hundred other WAACs boarded a train to Keesler Field, an Army Flight Corp base in Biloxi, Mississippi. The base already had some women, nurses and civilian secretaries but the Base Commander sent a letter to all officers saying, “these WAACs were not going to ruin our field’s reputation.” He expected these 100 or so women to lead the 40,000 – 60,000 men down the road to ruin. They initially had guards around them everywhere they went. There was to be no fraternization and special permits were required to meet with individual soldiers.

Arline was posted to the Classification office where the recruits received their postings. Here she had her first contact with William Perry Baker. Bill Baker had graduated from Harvard and worked in several jobs including administering aptitude tests before signing up as a conscientious objector. He refused an officer’s commission and was a Master Sargent. It was only a three-person office and Arline had more in common with the office Sargent than with Bill.

All the squadrons had parties to keep up morale. At one event in a small hotel on the gulf, Arline couldn’t reach the refreshments on the table and asked the man in front of her for a piece of celery. It was Bill. Later, while she was dancing with her date he came and tapped him on the shoulder. He offered Arline stalks of celery and had the salt and pepper shakers in his back pocket. That was the beginning but according to Arline, “It was a little more complicated. It didn’t happen as easily as all that!”

While she dated Bill a few times she also visited two soldiers she knew from home, one in Florida and one in Dallas but, “The whole thing was a mess.” After her Dallas visit, Bill came by and while leaning against a tree outside her barracks said to Arline, “Consider yourself engaged!” She wasn’t sure of this proposal and asked one of her friends, “What kind of a husband do you think Sargent Baker would make?” The answer must have been good as two months later they were married. Only Mildred Raebeck, Arline’s mother came down from Belle Harbor for the wedding. She liked Bill the first moment she saw him. Her husband didn’t come. He didn’t like travel or the hot humid weather in Mississippi so Major Harrison in his white dress uniform, gave Arline away.

They only took a weekend for their honeymoon. They drove a few miles west in a borrowed car to Pass Christian and stayed at a closed golf course. Her mother wanted to get home but most seats were reserved for servicemen. She did manage to board a train and then the soldiers were nice to her and made sure she had a room.

Arline, then a corporal, continued to work after their marriage but had to resign when she became pregnant. William Perry Baker Junior was born September 20, 1945, in Biloxi Mississippi. Bill hadn’t yet been discharged although the war had ended.

The one item my husband wished he got when his mother downsized was her celery dish. His father won the little oval glass dish at a penny arcade.

Notes:

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) began May 15, 1942, as an auxiliary Army unit and on July 1, 1943, became an active unit, Women’s Army Corp (WAC). Everyone had to sign up again. Arline said it was like being asked after six months of camp, do you want to go home or do you want to stay. She took a long time to sign again because she was worried about her parents being home alone and what if something happened.

Arline Baker Wahn interviewed by her son Jonathan W Baker, March 19, 2010, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Video of Arline Wahn at Thanksgiving dinner by William Baker, November 24, 2011, in Sudbury Massachusetts.

Arline Raebeck Baker Wahn 1921- 2016.
William Perry Baker 1914 – 1963.

Talking to Marian about Discovering Family Secrets

I published my interview with Marian this week on my Unapologetically Canadian podcast. Marian describes what it’s like to discover family secrets as she researches and writes stories about her ancestors.

If you want to join Marian in indexing records from around the world, you can do so at the Indexing Page on the Family History website. You can also choose a Canadian project if you prefer.

Some of Marian’s stories that we discuss included:

I’ve also interviewed some of the other Genealogy Ensemble writers. Listen to them here:

Research Help for French Louisiana Sources

There were strong ties between Quebec and Louisiana in the 18th century. Louisiana was then part of New France, having been established by the French to block the British from expanding their influence westward in North America.

Many settlers who went to the southern part of the United States originated from the same regions in France as the French Canadians and the Acadians. But few Quebec historians or genealogists have focused on the links between the families of New France and those who settled in Louisiana.

An example of someone with personal links to both places was Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1698-1778). His father was of noble descent, from the Languedoc region of France, and Pierre was born at Quebec, where his father served as governor-general of New France. Pierre served as governor of Louisiana from 1742 to 1753, and he was the last governor-general of New France, between 1755 and 1760.

Historian Mélanie Lamotte wrote an article about primary sources in North America and France for the early modern history of Louisiana when she was studying at the Cambridge University in the U.K. She currently teaches at Stanford University, and her  Stanford website describes this article, “A Guide to Early Modern French Louisiana Sources” as providing “much-needed guidance on identifying and using French Louisiana sources. It lists the sources available and investigates their nature, details of access, state of preservation, as well as their state of digitization. It also suggests potential uses and interpretations that might be gleaned from such source material.”

You can download Lamotte’s 26-page guide from either of these two sites:

http://stanford.academia.edu/M%C3%A9lanieLamotte

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/260104/Lamotte-2016-Collections_A_Journal_for_Museum_and_Archives_Professionals-VoR.pdf?sequence=1

Timothy Stanley and Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground

The Ancient Burying Ground of Hartford, Connecticut,1 one of America’s oldest cemeteries, is tucked  beside a historic downtown church2 and surrounded by insurance company office towers and state government buildings. This is the final resting place of many of the city’s founding settlers, and a tall monument lists their names.3 Several, including Bull, Bunce and Mygatt, are on my family tree, but it is the name Stanley that interests me most. Hartford settlers Timothy Stanley (c. 1603-1648) and his wife Elizabeth (c 1602-1678) were my direct immigrant ancestors.

Three brothers, John, Thomas, and Timothy Stanley, with their wives and children, set sail for the new world from England in 1634. They were part of a wave of strongly religious Puritan settlers who came to New England because they disagreed with the Church of England.

Their father, Robert Standly (c 1570-1605), was a whitesmith (meaning he made things out of metal) in Tenterden, Kent, in the southeast of England.4 Their mother’s name was probably Ruth. It could not have been an easy voyage for this extended family because John, the eldest of the brothers, died at sea, leaving his young children to be raised by Thomas and Timothy.

The Stanley family spent about two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Timothy was granted six acres of land and was named a freeman and admitted as a member of the Congregational church.5

Timothy Stanley’s grave. (photo by Janice Hamilton)

Some Cambridge residents complained that there wasn’t enough land for all the new settlers. Then, after Pastor Thomas Hooker had a dispute with Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, Hooker and about 100 parishioners followed the old Indian trails south to the spot on the Connecticut River (also known as the Great River) that became Hartford.6

Timothy Stanley quickly established himself as a farmer, and when a land inventory was taken in 1639, he held nine parcels of land of varying sizes. His house lot, including outhouses and gardens, was about two acres, on the west side of Front Street and with a view of the river. Later, he also bought property in Farmington, CT, about 10 miles away.

The Stanley house was described in 1670 as follows: “It is a small, two-storey building, having on the first floor only the hall and “kitchinn”, the latter serving alike for a cook-room, living-room and parlor. Meager enough is the furniture: a deal table with a “form” or bench for sitting upon at meals, and standing in winter before the great open fireplace….. Such a luxury as a carpet is unknown.”7

Timothy and his wife Elizabeth (whose maiden name is unknown) had seven children. The two eldest, Joseph and Timothy, were born in England; both died very young. Elizabeth, Abigail, Caleb (my direct ancestor), Lois and Isaac were all born in Hartford.8 Timothy also raised his niece Ruth.

Timothy was active in the community. He served on several juries, he served as a Hartford selectman (town official) and was on a committee to distribute land.

As Puritans, their religious beliefs were central to their lives. Puritans believed that man was inherently sinful. Even though they were unworthy, God chose to save some people and to send others to hell, and there was nothing anyone could do to change this. They believed everything happened for a reason. Meanwhile, the Puritans believed in hard work, and in the importance of education.9

Timothy died in April, 1648, at age 45. The inventory of his estate, taken on Oct 16, 1648, totalled £332, of which £167 represented the value of his real estate. The inventory counted household goods such as a bedstead and pillows, a hall chest, kettles and dishes, several books, a warming pan and two muskets. The farm animals included six oxen, several cows, a horse, sheep, pigs and bees.10  The court ordered that all his children be awarded something from his estate, while the house and lands in Hartford went to son Caleb.

In 1661, the widowed Elizabeth married Andrew Bacon and she inherited Andrew’s land in Hadley, MA when he died eight years later. By 1671, when she made out her will, she had returned to Hartford to stay with son Caleb’s family. Elizabeth Bacon died in 1678, around age 76.

While many of Hartford’s early settlers moved to other Connecticut towns, my ancestors stayed in Hartford for several generations. Eventually, great-grandson Timothy Stanley moved to Harwinton, CT and then to Wethersfield, and his son, Timothy Jr., settled in Litchfield, CT. Perhaps there are more family graves waiting to be found in Connecticut.

This article is also published on my family history blog Writing Up the Ancestors, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com. 

See also:

“The Elusive Pamela Stanley,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Sept. 28, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-elusive-pamela-stanley.html

“Timothy Stanley Jr., Revolutionary Martyr,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Nov. 15, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2013/11/timothy-stanley-jr-revolutionary-martyr.html

“My Line in the Stanley Family,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 30, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/10/my-line-in-stanley-family.html

Sources:

  1. Ancient Burying Ground http://theancientburyingground.org/
  2. First Church of Christ in Hartford, established 1632 www.centerchurchhartford.org/about.history.asp
  3. Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford, www.foundersofhartford.org
  4. Leslie Mahler, “Re-Examining the English Origin of the Stanley Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut: A Case of Invented Records,” The American Genealogist, vol. 80, July, 2005, p. 218. http://www.Americanancestors.org, accessed July 24, 2013.
  5. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, series 2, vol. VI, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009.  463.
  6. David M. Roth, Connecticut: A History. American Association for State and Local History, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1979, 39.
  7. Israel P. Warren, compiler. The Stanley Families of America as descended from John, Timothy and Thomas Stanley of Hartford, CT, 1636. Portland, Maine: printed by B. Thurston & Co., 1887, 228.
  8. Anderson, 465.
  9. Francis J. Bremer, Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, 43.
  10. Warren, 226.

Hattie’s Story

 

IMG_9139
Hattie, Admiral, Hollis, Norman and Jack Bailey abt. 1904.

In 1918 Hattie Bailey wrote a letter to her niece, Minnie Eagle Sutherland and marked it “private”. What would you do if you found such a letter? I read it!

My dear Minnie, I am sure you wondered what has become of your Aunt Hattie. Well dear it is not because I have forgotten you that I have not written.”

I had never heard of Hattie until I found her letters. Harriet Anne Stuart was born in Canada in 1876. A few years later her family immigrated to North Dakota. There, Hattie met and married William John Bailey. Jack as he was known, was my great grandmother’s brother. He was born in Toronto and also immigrated to the United States where he began his career in the lumber industry.

IMG_9493
Hattie’s “Private” letter

Jack was a successful man. He started with a carpentry business, then operated a small sash and door factory and later opened a lumber yard in Inkster, North Dakota. He was an Inkster councilman on the 1st council and a pioneer retail lumberman in the upper Mississippi Valley. He was much older than Hattie. They had three sons, Norman, Admiral and Hollis. Jack’s business did well, they had a nice house and life was good or was it?

Jack’s sister Isabella “Bella” Bailey came for a visit. While in Inkster she was ill and bedridden for a number of weeks. The minister, Mr Richmond would often come to the house as his visits really cheered up Bella. Hattie also enjoyed the visits as he was a good listener. “Well the sad thing happened that comes into many lives, we became very fond of each other.” She and Jack had already gone through some rough times, mostly to do with Jack’s drinking. Then one day, Jack came home and overheard the minister comforting his wife. He was “wild with jealousy”. He made Hattie write down everything they had said to each other. Although she thought that was to be the end of it, he then forced the minister to leave the church without even saying goodbye to the congregation. Hattie thought she was forgiven but, “The fire of jealousy burned day and night”. “He fancied that I was immoral and accused me of dreadful things. Never during the friendliness with Mr Richmond was there ever a thought of wrongdoing”.

They continued to live together for a couple of years. Jack never gave her even a dollar and she was forced to earn money by sewing, baking and doing fancy work. Finally, her sons encouraged her to leave Jack as everyone was unhappy. “The boys said I must have the home and their father must live elsewhere.”

Then Jack became sick, he moved back home and she nursed him back to health. During that time he was “his dear old self again”, but as soon as he was well and back to his drink and old associates, life for Hattie became unbearable once more.

 It was hard to avoid Jack in a small place like Inkster so Hattie moved away to Larkin, North Dakota, near her sister Cora. In Larkin, she had a number of boarders to help make ends meet. When she left the family house her youngest son was still in school so he stayed with his father. The two older boys were away, serving in the Army and Airforce during WWI and both parents continued to have close relationships with their sons.

Through all the years Hattie continued to love Jack, they just couldn’t live together. He was on route to spend Thanksgiving with his son Norman when he had a heart attack. He was taken off the train and died in hospital. Hattie was devastated as now they would never get back together. She dreamed about them sitting on the porch in their rocking chairs. “As long as he was living I hoped that someday we would sit side by side and forget all our mistakes of the past.”

Notes:

Letter from Hattie Bailey to Minnie Sutherland from Larkin, North Dakota, November 1, 1918. In possession of the author.

Letter from Hattie Bailey to Minnie Sutherland from Walker, Minnesota December 17, 1930. In possession of the author.

Letter from Norman Bailey to Eliza Jane Bailey Eagle, Amy Eagle and Jim Bailey, Duluth, Minnesota, November 23, 1930. In possession of the author.

Harriet Anne Stuart 1874 -1947.

William John Bailey 1854 – 1930.