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I remember my grandfather, Chester Davis West telling stories about delivering groceries. He would tell about how he wasn’t suppose to go inside the pesthouses, but would walk up to the door and straight into the kitchen to place the groceries on the table. The pesthouses were places where people sick with tuberculosis, cholera, smallpox or typhus would go to get well. At one point an old schoolhouse was used as the local Bradford pesthouse. Starting around 1918 Grandpa delivered groceries driving the Spencer Grocery horse and wagon.
By the 1920s the horse and wagon was to be replaced with a 1920s Dodge Screenside Delivery Truck. The pictures of the delivery vehicles turned up in a batch of photos that my mother had never seen. They must have been Grandpa’s private stash of photo memories before he married my Grandmother. A couple of photos of a very young her were tucked in the mix.
My Burgess line goes back predating the arrival of the Pilgrims to Thomas Burgess, born in England in 1601 and died in Massachusetts in 1685. My connection to the Pilgrim’s would come when Joseph Burgess, great grandson of Thomas Burgess, would marry Thankful Snow, great granddaughter of Pilgrim, Nicholas Snow.
Many of the spouses of my Burgess line have been documented with the exception of Benjamin Strong Burgess and his two wives, Laura and Jeannette H. Recently ancestry.com released the Massachusetts Town and Vital records for 1620 – 1988. Included in the digitized documentation is the marriage intent and marriage license for Benjamin S. Burgess and Laura Britton.
According to the documentation Benjamin and Laura were living in Springfield, Massachusetts and married September 14, 1836.
Below the annotation for Benjamin and Laura is the marriage of Martha A. Chapin and Joel K. Bliss for September 19, 1878. Martha is related to me through Levi Chapin, who is my 5th great grandfather. Levi’s daughter Rebecca married Benjamin Shepard Burgess, father of Benjamin Strong Burgess.
Below Martha and Joel is the marriage record for Joseph Chapin and Sophronia Jenks. Joseph was Martha’s brother. He and Sophronia were married September 20, 1839.
Further search revealed records for:
Freeman E. Burgess and Theresa Small, Apr 15, 1831, Harwich, Massachusetts
Reuben Burgess and Anna Brooks, Apr 17, 1831, Harwich, Massachusetts
Eliza Swift Burgess and Nathan B Gibbs, Jul 31 (1843), Springfield, Massachusetts
Elijah Burgess and Betsey Wing, their children’s birth records
Stephen Burgess and Sarah White, their children’s birth records
I have been indexing 1940 Census records as a volunteer on Family Search. Most of the records don’t cause me to pause and look for more information except for this one today. As I keyed in information I noticed something for the first time. The female was listed as Head of the family and her husband was still living. This was the first time I was typing into the index the word Husband.
By this time my curiosity was peaked and I scrolled to the right on the image to see what was the reasoning behind the order of the household listed. There on the occupation line was listed, Judge, County Court. Her full name is Hon. Lois Mary Downs McBride. She was born about 1891 and was 49 years old in 1940 when the Census was taken. She lived just outside of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. She was appointed judge June 5, 1934 of the County Court of Allegheny Countyand on November 4, 1934 she was elected to the same office for a 10 year term.
Ancestry.com has completed posting all of the states for browsing. They are not having volunteers doing indexing, although Family Search is and I have joined that group of volunteers. You can pick a state but the pages you get will be from random counties.
I marvel at families who can remain in tack and close over multiple generations. Everyone is always included in celebrations, petty differences tossed aside and forgotten. I wonder if it is the stern matriarch at the helm, herding her flock together with no excuses that maintains that closeness.
My ancestor’s families were large; my great grandfather Van Houtte coming from a family of eight and his wife Mary Clemence also from a family of eight. My grandfather was one of four children and his wife one of eight. Closeness with the families left in Europe started to deteriorate with the move to the states. The language barrier increased the difficulty and once my great grandmother died the tie was completely broken.
My grandmother wasn’t close with her siblings; she selectively spoke to or ignored family members for one reason or another, effectively breaking any tie the cousins might have to one another. Years later I would find out that people I sat next to in class were actually my second cousins. My grandfather and his siblings had inheritance troubles at the core of their family trouble.
My great grandfather, from all accounts, was as they say “tighter than wallpaper to the wall and meaner than a rattlesnake.” Before his death he told his two sons, George and John, that he had taken care of all of the family, his three sons and daughter. They had nothing to worry about.
I knew both great Uncle George and great Uncle Johnny. My most vivid memory of Uncle George was of him coming to the house to see me when I came home from college. He always had a hundred dollar bill rolled up in his hand that he would shove into mine. “Shh, don’t tell anyone,” he would say to me. I don’t know if he knew just how broke I was, but the money sure was appreciated.
Uncle Johnny was as thrifty as his father. He was never one to pass up a fabulous deal. Story goes that he showed up at my grandfather’s house with a shiny new pair of shoes on. When the shoes were admired he finally confessed that although a great bargain, they were too small and hurting his feet.
I can never remember meeting my Aunt Leah and once I heard this story I began to realize exactly why. Before my great grandfather’s death he had moved from Mt. Alton into town and was living with Leah, who was married to Milford Kenneth Hullihen and living on High Street in Bradford. After his death the brothers went to their sisters house to discuss what had been left them by their father. Leah told them they didn’t have a cut of the money and as far as they were concerned she was dead. She threw them off of the property and shut the door.
Several years later, she reappeared at my grandfather’s door. A stranger to the child, her nephew that opened the door, he watched, puzzled, at this sobbing woman. The money was gone, spent on houses and cars and whatever else came along. My grandfather listened silently and when her tale was done, replied that his sister was dead and closed the door.
My great grandmother’s house was to be sold when all of her children were married and the money divided equally between the siblings. George never married; my grandfather lived in the house with his family until my great Uncle George died in 1980. The stipulation was that the house would always have a room in it that belonged to George. The one thing he was trying to prevent happened anyway; Leah would get her portion of the sale of the house.
Prior to Uncle George’s death, in 1978, at my grandfather’s 50th wedding anniversary, the siblings finally forgave each other when my great Aunt Leah came to the family celebration.
I have a subscription to newspaperarchives.com. I mined the site for information and bled it dry more than a year ago, or so it seemed. Since then I would find random articles on new topics or people that I hadn’t looked up before. It was starting to seem like I had gotten about all I was going to from the site and I was considering taking a break from the subscription. That was until this past weekend.
I can’t remember what name it was that I was looking up but that name and then what I found triggered yet another search and suddenly I noticed papers from years in my hometown that hadn’t been available before. To test it I typed in my maiden name, previously it would come up blank, not this time. There I was in all my youthful glory, egad.
At some point in the past several months, or more, seeing as I wasn’t paying close attention, newspaperarchives.com had filled in some missing page ranges. WOW. This, of course, would lead to massive random uncontrolled searches. I was like a kid on a sugar high. In all the flipping and flopping around I spotted that they had filled in some of the papers from the 1920s. I typed in my grandfather’s name, Chester West. Typing in West alone creates a massive glut to dig through, most having nothing to do with a name and every thing to do with a direction; Chester definitely narrows the field.
Up popped new results including the wedding announcement for my grandparents and this was going to solve yet another photographic mystery. Hanging on my living room wall is a photograph of my grandmother; she appears to be at least 18 years old if not in her twenties. The dress is either white or a very pale color with a matching wide brimmed feather decorated hat. The dress was hemmed just below the knee and grandma had on white stockings and shoes to go with it. A nosegay was tucked into the ribbon sash belt. My mother guessed it was her wedding outfit.
From the write up we would discover that this photo was not her wedding dress. In the announcement it describes a blue dress with fur trim and a matching hat. So the photo wasn’t her wedding dress, although it had to have been, so it seems, some type of special occasion outfit. Now it is the new mystery.
A week ago yesterday “Who Do You Think You Are?”, researched Rosie O’Donnell’s Irish roots. I listened intently to for any clues to finding my Irish ancestors. When they mentioned the Irish potato famine starting in 1846 I went back to my family tree to look for dates.
James Donigan, who I mentioned in my first Brick Wall review, immigrated to the United States in 1847. Bingo! His wife, Mary McCarty immigrated in April 1846. My McKim family that I mentioned in the previous post, seems to have been in the states a lot longer. My final 5th generation brick wall irish ancestors would fall into this category.
Michael Collins was born in Ireland in 1834. I believe he immigrated to the United States August 18, 1849. If I have the correct Michael Collins, he might have immigrated with his sister 26 year old sister Anna and a 16 year old brother Henry. According to the 1870 census, the Collins family had first lived in Massachusetts where their first 2 children were born starting in 1858. Michael Collins in 1861 was in New York State from his veteran’s pension. By 1863 they were living in Marathon, New York, where my great grandmother was born. Michael was wounded in his right leg during the war. He served in Company B of the New York Regiment until June 7, 1865.
Michael lived in Olean, New York and worked as a stone mason. I believe he had a marble shop on Main Street in Allegany, New York in 1887 that was burned down in a fire that destroyed several buildings. From the newspaper clipping he was insured for the value by Abrams and Sons and W. H. Mandeville and Co. The best I can guess on Michael’s death is between 1892 and 1898. The last record I have of his wife Mary was a write up in the newspaper in 1884 when she had a dispute with a neighbor over her chickens.
I would eventually determine that their daughter, my great grandmother, would lie about her real age up to the day she died. Even the birth year on her headstone is not correct.
The trip was long and I was about to find out what jet lag was all about. Somewhere, in mid air, Sunday had slipped into Monday morning and breakfast was being served on the plane. I was anxious to see the country that my great grandparents had left slightly more that 100 years ago.
We gathered our suitcases and grabbed a cab to head into downtown Brussels and the hotel. The hotel that I would stay in was built 4 years after my great grandparents had left Europe. It was a beautiful building within walking distance of the Grand Place, Grote Markt – Market Square, where in the 12th century Brussels had become a commercial crossroads between Bruges (in Flanders), Cologne, and France. English wool, French wines and German beer were sold in the harbor and on the market.
The Grand Place was breathtaking and we would visit it several times during our 6 day stay in Brussels, our strolls seeming to always end in the center of the market place. Stores lined the streets leading up to the market of lace and chocolates of which I purchased several boxes, and tapestry shops, each building connected to the next, many with flower boxes still spilling over with brightly colored flowers even for late October. Cobblestones were everywhere in this part of the city and I was thankful that I was wearing loafers on my feet. People spilled off the sidewalks and into the streets, natives and tourists blending into a moving mass, slowing traffic that was winding its way through the narrow streets. Café tables flowed from inside the bistros and onto the sidewalk under heated awnings, waiters beckoned passersby to come sit down for eats and drinks.
Our first meal would be in a small bistro with a burning fireplace that looked out onto the Grand Place square. Hearty natives sat at the outside bistro tables while we huddled inside near the fireplace. From the temperature of my exposed skin, I knew I was going to have to do something about my lack of winter coat situation before the end of the week. A handsome smiling waiter suggested a Belgian beer and roasted beef steak for lunch and we agreed that is what we would have. This would be the first of many meals in Belgium served with French fries; something that we found was quite common.
As I absorbed my surroundings I realized that this could have been my reality if my grandfather hadn’t moved with the family to the states to live. We ate and drank and headed into the remainder of our week in Brussels.
This evening, after finishing a blog entry that I had started earlier this morning, I logged on to my Windows Live account to post. Much to my surprise, Windows Live was transfering all blogs to WordPress. Although I had until March to press the button and transfer my blog, I decided to go ahead and transfer tonight. It took a few minutes to get use to the new account settings and you may see me change the look of the blog over the next few weeks as I figure out what works best for me, but I think this change will be good.
George W Click has turned into a major block for me. He is on a tree that belongs to a friend of mine that I have been working on. What I know about George is relatively vague.
George was born in Tennessee, his exact location unknown, on May 18, 1840. He would marry Nancy Catherine Yates on October 9, 1872 in yet again another unknown location. What I know about Nancy Catherine Yates is that her family came from Tennessee and she was born there in 1848. Nancy moved from Dickson County, Tennessee after the 1850 Census and ended up in Center Township, Dade County, Missouri. In 1880 she would be found in Hutton Valley Township, Howell County, Missouri.
You would think that the 1870 Census would give me some sort of clue as to where George might be if I could find Nancy in the Census, and I can’t. There are several George Clicks living during that period. One of which I have completely ruled out because he was still living and married after the noted death date I have for George. From what I have been told by a relative with the family bible is that George died September 8, 1877, location unknown.
I sent to the National Archive for information on George’s service record. I sent them everything I knew about his marriage so that they would be sure to send me the correct George. According to the records George served in the Confederate army, in Tennessee. At one point he was wounded. I figured if he died in 1877 that there was a good chance I might find a widows pension for Nancy and her son Albert, who was born July 26, 1873 in Tennessee.
The National Archives wouldn’t take the application because Confederate pensions were handled by the southern state that the soldier was living in. My best guess for Nancy would have been either Tennessee or Missouri. On further investigation I found stated that the Confederate pensions were very few and a person had to be completely incapacitated to receive one. I haven’t found out yet if there were widow and children pensions for them to draw on.
I am not sure how Nancy and George met. She would have had to have come back to Tennessee from Missouri at some point to meet George. Her family either stayed in the Hickman county area of Tennessee or moved into Dade county Missouri. From Census records Albert, her son was born in Tennessee in 1872, placing her back in Tennessee at that point.
I am really at a loss where to go from here to find the correct George.
A friend has been researching her Medley line and I noticed that I have Smedley’s in my line. I decided to do a bit more research and see what I could find out.
Baptiste Smedley was born in 1607 in England. He would immigrate to the new world in 1639 along with his brother John and live in the Massachusetts area. The Native Americans and the English settlers were not always on the best of terms at that point in time. By 1675 relations between the two groups would erupt into a bloody war that would leave huge losses on both sides with 600 colonists and 3,000 Native Americans dead.
King Philip was Metacom, leader of the Pokanokets. Philip was the son of Massasoit, who had helped the Plymouth Pilgrims survive their first winter in the New World. Fifty-five years following the landing of the Pilgrims tension had increased.
On August 2, 1675 Samuel Smedley, son of Baptiste Smedley would die. Samuel was in Captain Wheeler’s army and a group of militia went to meet with the Indians of King Philips tribe to discuss how to resolve issues between the Indians and the settlers. Instead of a peaceful meeting the settlers were attacked. Samuel and 7 others died in the attack. The survivors fled back to Brookfield Massachusetts.
The settlers retreated with the Indians in pursuit. As they arrived back in town they barricaded themselves in the largest, strongest house in the town and fortified themselves as best they could. The fighting continued, bullets flew and 20 of 21 houses were set on fire and burned to the ground. For two days 80 settlers huddled in one house until a large English force arrived on August 4. Baptiste Smedley would die 13 days after his son.
February 12, 1676 Abraham and Isaac Shepard, Baptiste Smedley’s son-in-law were threshing grain in their barn when killed by Indians. Their younger sister Mary was captured and carried off. In the still of the night, Mary slipped away from her captures, seized a horse, crossed the Nashua River and returned to her family.
After a year of war, Philip returned to his tribe on August 12, 1676 and was shot in the heart by one of his own men who had deserted to the English. Twelve or thirteen towns had been destroyed and about 600 houses.