Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 1954

Before my parents bought their first house on Reiners Road in Little Falls, New Jersey, they lived in an apartment in Clifton. The apartment was on the 2nd floor of a house at 75 Gourley Avenue, and I think my father had been living there for several years prior to his marriage to my mom in 1952.

This is my brother in the photo and he was around 11 months old here. It was his first Christmas. By the next Christmas, my parents had moved into the Reiners Road house.

I recognize many of the ornaments on that tree - they were ones that we had throughout my childhood. And when we split up my parents' possessions after they died, I ended up with some of those ornaments. They are hanging on my tree now and I treasure them and the memories of many Christmases past.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Great-Aunt, Marion Grant Wood


I was setting out Christmas decorations yesterday and found these in the bottom of one of my boxes. Both are quite small lacquer metal trays, about 6" on the longest side. They have sepia-toned drawings (cut-outs from Christmas cards?) glued to the tray and painted on decoration. The trays are shellacked. I'm not really sure that they can be used for anything other than decoration. They were made by my great Aunt Marion years ago and were given to my parents at some time in the past.
My great aunt, Marion Mellor Grant,  was born in Central Falls, Rhode Island on the 27th of January 1898 to William Sprague Grant and his wife, Mary Helen Mellor. Marion and her twin brother, Howard Mellor Grant, were the younger siblings of my grandfather, Ralph Westcott Grant.

Aunt Marion was the wife of  George Henry Wood, Jr. They were married in 1920 in Central Falls and lived in the Grant home there until around 1939 when they moved to East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

When I was a kid, we would stop by Uncle George and Aunt Marion's house on our way to Cape Cod. It was from Aunt Marion that I learned alot of our family history but unfortunately I never took notes and was unable to recall much of what she had told me when I started doing genealogy years later. As a kid, it was just a jumble of names of people who I never knew and were no longer living. I remember her showing me many old family photographs, but to me at the time, they all looked the same - lots of  black and white photographs of stiff looking people dressed in what to me were formal and funny-looking clothes. Now I have all those photographs and wished I knew who was who in them. Aunt Marion did mark the names on some of them, but not all. I would give anything now to have ten minutes with her - I bet she could give me the answer to many of my brick walls! And I think she would be very pleased to know that even though alot of the family history didn't soak into me back when I was a kid, she did plant a seed in me. It just took many years to take hold.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 1953

These photos are from before my time - This is my father's side of the family celebrating Thanksgiving dinner in the Skinner family home in Valley Falls, RI. My Aunt Shirley had been married earlier  that year and she and her new husband Malcolm, drove up from Connecticut. Annie Betts Skinner was the matriarch at this table - she was 83 years old here and her husband, J. Frank Skinner had died four years earlier. One of her daughters, F. Hazel Skinner (my grandmother) was also gone but her daughter Myrtle Skinner Blackmar was there, along with at least 3 of her 4 sons. My Mom and Dad drove up from New Jersey - my mom is in the pink sweater. My father took the photo. Aunt Shirley and Cousin Allan - enjoy! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Howard Mellor Grant - Veteran of World War I

I read last night that the last remaining veteran of World War I died just last year. In some respects, it is astounding that any veterans from this war were still alive. However it is sobering that no one alive has a remembrance of this war for which Veteran's Day was originally founded. And in the not too distant future, there will also be no surviving World War II veterans.

Howard Mellor Grant
1898 - 1922
Howard Mellor Grant was my great-uncle. He was born on 27 January 1898 in Central Falls, Rhode Island to William Sprague Grant and Mary Helen Mellor, and had a twin sister, Marion Mellor Grant.

According to family documents, Howard enlisted on 5 June 1917 and served in the 104th Ambulance Company, 26th Division, of the American Expeditionary Forces. Since this Division drew most of its members from New England, it was called the Yankee Division.

According to family papers, Howard was called into service on 25 July 1917 and sailed for France 2 Sept 1917. He landed in England on the 17th of October. He participated in many of the important battles and engagements of World War I in France, including Chemin des Dames on the Toul Sector, Seicheprey, and Chateau Thierry during the spring and early summer of 1917. Howard and the Division also served in the Aisne-Marne Offensive and saw battle near St. Mihiel, and participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on the Trojan and Verdun Sectors.

After the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, Howard's unit sailed from Brest in Brittany, France and arrived in Boston. He was honorably discharged on 29 April 1919 from Camp Devens in Massachusetts.

Howard received shrapnel wounds in the leg during the Aisne-Marne Offensive on 22 June 1918. He rejoined his command and was gassed in the battle of Seicheprey and severely wounded by shrapnel over the left eye.

Howard worked as a clerk before the War and I assume he returned to that occupation upon his discharge. He probably returned to the family home on Jenks Street in Central Falls, but his family was missed being enumerated there during the 1920 census. He was active in the Valley Falls Baptist Church.

Howard died suddenly on the morning of 20 February 1922 probably due to a blood clot breaking loose from the piece of shrapnel still in his head, according to a report from the Medical Examiner in family papers. He had just turned 24 years old less than a month before. He is buried in the Grant Family plot in Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sixty years ago today

Sixty years ago, on 11 October 1952, my parents were married in Harwich Port, Massachusetts. In 2002, my sister and I flew to New Jersey to spend a few days with them and to celebrate their 50th anniversary. They had both decided they did not want a large celebration and instead, just wanted to have dinner at a nice restaurant. We went to the Chart House in Weehawken NJ and had a great time.
Scrapbook page commemorating Warren and Dot Grant's 50th anniversary
Mom and Dad were married for 52 years. My dad, Warren Westcott Grant died in 2005. Mom, Dorothy Veith Grant, died in 2007.

Last year on this day, I created a post that included some of their wedding photos.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Home again

I'm back home again after exactly 2 months away. I put over 10,000 miles on my car, which is about what I usually drive in an entire year! I only got one speeding ticket (41 in a 25 mph zone) and it came on my 2nd to last day of the trip. Who knew that in Montana you could pay your ticket in cash to the policeman right after he finishes writing it... He said I could have given him a check too.

I saw two of my father's cousins, and spent time with a 6th cousin once removed who I met through DNA. We had a good day trying to find a gravestone for one of his ancestors and chatting about genealogy in general. Although I did not get as much genealogy done as I wanted (do we ever?), I did visit cemeteries where I have ancestors in MA, RI, and PA, and made a few finds. I also visited a bunch of courthouses in RI and MA trying to track down some ancestors with only limited luck. But I did find bits and pieces of information that may provide clues once I sort through everything.

I visited a few old friends and drove around my college and old haunts of mine in Vermont. I did not get to visit everyone I had planned to see because of time and routing constraints but there are always more trips to come. I loved having my own car back east and may contemplate driving back again next year. I am truly my father's daughter when it comes to driving. As long as there is a new route and new things to see, I never get tired of driving. And neither did he.

Autumn color near Manchester, Vermont

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ninety years ago

My mom, Dorothy M. "Dottie" Veith was born on this date ninety years ago.
Dorothy M Veith - about 1946
Dot was born on 19 August 1922 in Englewood, New Jersey to Harold Veith and Minna Badendick Veith. She was their 2nd child and only daughter. She died at age 84 on 17 November 2006 in Pompton Plains, New Jersey.

I miss her every day.

Earlier posts about my mom are here and here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

2nd Rhode Island Infantry Monuments at Gettysburg

I spent today touring Gettysburg National Military Park, the site of one of the most famous and important battles of the Civil War.  The battle here took place on 1 July - 3 July 1863 and was a decisive battle for the Union. Interesting, the Union won the battle at Vicksburg Mississippi on the same day, and although the war lasted another 2 years, the tide had turned for both sides. General Robert E Lee retreated from Gettysburg with the remnants of the Confederate Army after this battle and never again invaded a Union state. In the northern newspapers, the victory for the north at both Vicksburg and Gettysburg resulted in the phrase "The Glorious Fourth". I had heard this phrase used in relation to the 4th of July, but did not know it originated in the year 1863. As the Park Ranger mentioned, this term was not used in the South!

One of the reasons I wanted to revisit Gettysburg (I had been here years earlier with my kids) was to see the places my great-great-grandfather, Zophar Skinner and his unit, the Rhode Island 2nd Infantry Regiment, Company C were during the Gettysburg battle, and to trace the role his regiment played at Gettysburg. I knew that most Regiments had monuments here noting their battlefield locations during the 3 days of the battle and I wanted to find the 2nd Infantry's monuments.

One of the Park Rangers  had a loose leaf book that gave the details of the state regiments and the location of Regimental or State monuments. His data page for Rhode Island showed that the 2nd Infantry had 348 men and suffered 7 losses, and that there were two regimental monuments documenting the location of the Regiment during the last two days of the battle. The unit was mostly held in Reserve on the 2nd day of the battle, and moved up to the center of the line late in the afternoon of the last day.
Monument near Little Round Top
Battle plaque near Little Round Top
"Army of the Potomac
Sixth Corps  Third Division
Col. Henry L. Eustis
7th  10th  37th Massachusetts
2d Rhode Island Infantry

July 2  Arrived about 2 P.M. from Manchester MD and late in the day
  moved to the northeast slope of Little Round Top and held in
  reserve bivouacking for the night with First Brigade in the rear

July 3 Moved to the right Centre and reported to Major Gen.                 
  J. Newton and was held in reserve during the battle.
  Not engaged but subject to artillery fire

Casualties  Killed 3 men    Wounded 2 officers    39 men captured
or missing 25 men      Total 69"

Momument near Codori Farm, Emmitsburg Road in the center of the battlefield
Inscription on the monument near Codori Farm

"Skirmish Line
2nd R.I. Volunteers
Col. Horatio Rogers Jr.
2nd Brig. 3rd Div.
6th Corps
July 4, 1863"

I have a copy of Zophar's 1863 diary at home, and the entries for the days surrounding the Gettysburg Battle are in this post.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flight 93 Memorial

I'm in Pennsylvania this week. I start Tom Jones' course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh on Sunday and I arrived a few days early to see my Aunt and to visit Gettysburg. My great-great-grandfather, Zophar Skinner, fought at Gettysburg with the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, and his brother, Joseph, was wounded in a skirmish 10 days later while pursuing the enemy back into Maryland. I hope to visit the part of the battlefield where the 2nd RI fought, and to trace their steps south after the Union Army won the battle at Gettysburg.

However, I flew into Pittsburgh last night and while driving east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike today, I noticed the sign for the Flight 93 Memorial. I found it was about 18 miles north, and that I could continue from there on a 'back-road' to Gettysburg. Thus, I decided to visit the site of the crash of flight 93 on 11 September 2001.

Only part of the memorial is built so far. There are plans for a Visitor's Center,  but work there has not yet begun. A lot of tree planting has taken place in the last few months. A ranger told me that each of the 40 passengers would be memorialized in a grove of 40 trees for a total of 1600 trees in the groves. The crash itself was on a field just on the edge of a grove of mostly hemlock trees. Extending out from there are mostly barren fields, resulting from strip mining that occurred up until around 1995 (from what the park ranger said). In the far distance are giant wind turbines which were oddly beautiful as the blades rotated very slowly in the almost non-existent breeze.

There is a walkway out to the crash site, and a wall with the crew and passenger names engraved on it. The walkway itself defines the edge of what was the official "crash-site", and there is a large boulder placed where the cockpit hit the ground nose first at a speed of almost 600 miles/hour. Apparently the flight recorder was found at a depth of 25 feet, and crash debris extended 40 feet into the ground. I hadn't known that they had found enough remains of all 40 passengers to identify each of them.

Flight 93 Memorial Wall

It was a sunny day today at the memorial site, much like the day in Seattle (where I live) of the 9-11 attacks so far away. I will never forget the blue sky that Seattle day and the eerie knowledge that there were no airplanes in the sky with the exception of the military jets. There is something about the blueness of that sky, and the silence that will stay with me forever.
All in all, it was a moving experience to see the crash site and re-experience some of the emotions I felt that day almost 11 years ago.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July 1962

4th of July parade - Chatham MA

When we were young kids, my family always went to our place in Cape Cod for two weeks centered on the 4th of July. One of the highlights for me was going to watch the parade in Chatham. I remember clowns and all kinds of floats and fire trucks and bands. I'm sure there must have been Veterans from various wars but they don't stand out in my memory. I don't remember parade participants throwing out candy to the watchers which seems to be common in parades now. I think that would have been a highlight for me!

In the evening we would go watch the fireworks in Harwich Center. I remember sitting on the bleachers on the baseball field and being absolutely awed at the fireworks display which seemed to go off right over our heads. I remember my dad taking pictures of the fireworks, trying to capture the perfect exposure - I have all those old slides somewhere. After the show ended, we would drive the mile back home and find our dog frantic and still panic-stricken from the noise even at that distance. Poor Nifty!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Valley Falls, Rhode Island

My Dad's mother, F. Hazel Skinner was born in Valley Falls, RI and her family had lived there for at several generations by the time she was born in 1894. In old family scrapbooks, there are numerous pictures of the area, most taken before 1920 or so, after which time my grandparents moved to New Jersey. Here are a few that were identified.
Valley Falls Station

This station, built in 1883,  was located at the foot of Chapel Avenue in Valley Falls. I found another view of this station at Rhode Island Railroads. This station served the Providence and Worchester Railroad which opened in 1846. According to the Rhode Island Railroads website, there was another station in Valley Falls around 400 feet north of this station on Titus Street. This smaller station served the New York and New England RR.

The two other pictures in this collection show the bridge over the Blackstone River which separates the village of Valley Falls from the city of Central Falls just to the south.  The streetcar used to run across this bridge and continued south to Pawtucket and Providence.
Approach to Valley Falls Bridge

Valley Falls Bridge

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day 2012 - Warren Westcott Grant

Warren W Grant
My father, Warren Westcott Grant was born on 11 January 1922 in Passaic New Jersey and died on 22 January 2005 in Pomptom Plains New Jersey at the age of 83.
I have many old photos of my father and mother taken before I was born and/or before I have my own memories of where the photos were taken and who was in them. This one is probably from the late 1940s. It may have been taken at his friend's 'ranch' in Cedar Grove, NJ. This friend was named Tex and my Dad (and Mom) used to ride there but I don't know anything else about the place except it was long gone before I could remember.

Dad once told me that Tex drove down to Amarillo, Texas to pick him up after he had been discharged from the Army Air Force in late November 1945. They had been planning to make a road trip of it back to New Jersey but Tex apparently started getting very anxious and needed to get back home as quickly as possible. Dad said he drove for as long as he could before he told Tex he couldn't drive any further. Now, I wonder why Tex couldn't drive part of the way back (he clearly drove down to Texas).  In any case, it was not the road trip my dad was expecting!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Moshassuck Cemetery Civil War Memorial

When I was in Rhode Island last summer, I went to Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls. Many of my ancestors on my Dad's side are buried here, including both my Skinner and Grant grandparents and great-grandparents. I noticed there is a monument to the Civil War in Moshassuck Cemetery and thought it made an appropriate post for Memorial Day.

Civil War Memorial - Moshassuck Cemetery
Central Falls, RI

 The inscription on the monument reads:

1861 - 1865

MAY 30, 1888

Many graves of Civil War veterans surround the monument but my family's Civil War veterans are buried in their family plots - Zophar Skinner is buried with his wife, 3 sons, adopted daughter, daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren (including my grandmother, F. Hazel Skinner Grant). Their gravestone is pictured in a previous post here

I don't have any direct Grant Civil War ancestors but 3 grandsons of my g-g-g-grandfather, Sylvester Grant served in the Civil War. These three soldiers were the sons of Sylvester Grant, Jr and his wife, Susan L. Boomer. They are first cousins to me, three times removed. Samuel Grant survived the war and died in 1915. George S. Grant, was discharged for medical reasons and died of consumption a month later in 1863. Ira Whitaker Grant died in battle at Bethesda Church, VA on the 3 June 1864. His body was not recovered but according to family records, both he and his brother George originally had gravestones on the Grant plot at Moshassuck Cemetery. Ira's stone is missing and George's in almost undecipherable. I will write more on brothers Samuel, George, and Ira in a future post.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"An appalling scene"

Right as the clerk's office was closing after a day of research in Valley Falls, Rhode Island, last summer, I found the death certificate for my great-great grandfather, Ernest Lord Mellor (1832 - 1892). I noted that the cause of death was listed as "gun shot" and knew I had to find out more about it. I had hoped to return to Rhode Island by now to conduct research in the Rhode Island Historical Society library in Providence where they have an extensive collection of Rhode Island newspapers but finally out of curiosity, I requested an obituary look-up from the reference librarian. She found a very short death notice and no obituary, but did find a page 1 account of the death.
I received the article a few days ago and it is rather shocking. (Transcription below)

The Providence Evening Bulletin, 18 May 1892, page 1.
Transcription:                              "HORRIBLE SUICIDE
Ernest L Mellor of Valley Falls Cut His Throat and Then Fired a Gun with Fatal Effect.
     Back among the trees at the east of the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad track in Valley Falls, stands the house of Ernest L. Meller, [sic] a life-long resident of the village. For many years Mr. Meller was an overseer in the mills of the Valley Falls Company, but for the past 12 or 13 years he has suffered from dropsy, and within the past year or so complications have arisen in the malady that caused life to become almost unendurable to him. Of late the disease has become more and more painful. At 2:30 o’clock this morning Mr. Meller called to his wife in the next room and asked her to prepare him a lemon so that he might suck the juice. The wife did as requested and that was the last time that she heard her husband’s voice or saw him alive.
     Soon after this Mr. Meller arose and attempted to cut his throat with a jackknife. Although a terrible gash was cut in the fleshy part of the neck, death was not produced, and the unfortunate man went to another room, took down a rusty muzzle loading shot gun from its fastening over the street door, and retraced his steps to his bedroom. Here he stood upright in the centre of the room, placed the muzzle of the weapon upward in line with his chin, and pulled the trigger. Meller fell to the floor with the left side of his head entirely blown off, and it was in that position that his relatives found him. Dr. Haines was immediately summoned and gave it as his opinion that death must have been produced instantly. Medical Examiner Garvin viewed the remains this morning, and said that the death was undoubtedly that of a suicide and deemed an inquest unnecessary. An inspection of the bedroom this morning showed an appalling scene. In one corner of the room, where the suicide fell there was a mass of gore an inch or more in depth, while the bed was covered with blood and pieces of flesh. The ceiling was a covered with spatter of blood and filled with the load of shot that crashed upward through the head of the suicide. Mr. Meller leaves a widow and three married children. He was a member of Good Samaritan Lodge of Pawtucket, and was insured for a considerable amount in the John Hancock Insurance Company of New York."
I read this obituary with growing disbelief and horror and had to put it down and out of my head for a bit before I was able to re-read it. I cannot imagine what pain could have driven my g-g-grandfather to attempt suicide in this fashion. I also cannot imagine what the effect was on his remaining family.  The gruesome description of the scene is more detailed than what one would read in a modern paper!
No surviving member of my family has ever heard of this suicide before, not even my aunt who was born roughly 30 years after her g-grandfather's death. I would imagine that everyone wanted to forget such a tragedy ever happened in the family.
I have some research to do. I have a general idea where the location of the house must have been but need to look up deeds. I also need to check probate records and tax records. I need to do more research to figure out what kind of Lodge the Good Samaritan Lodge was - many of my ancestors were Masons but I don't recognize this name. It may be another group such as the Odd Fellows.  I am also intrigued by the last line... Do suicide victims collect on insurance? Or is it forfeited? I wonder why it was even mentioned in the article. And lastly, what was sucking on a lemon supposed to do??

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One year later

My cousin Jane Veith died one year ago today. It's hard to believe that it's been that long already. I often find myself thinking of something I want to talk about with her and I guess that will continue for quite awhile.

Here's the cover and biography from the booklet created for Jane's Memorial service last June 5th.

Jane at Oak Beach
Jane about age 15
Jane and her Dad, Harold Charles Veith in Florida

Jane and her Mom, Anita Scanlan Veith

Jane about 2010 on cruise with her husband

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Mom - Dorothy M. Veith - Part 2

Dorothy M. Veith 1942 Age 20

My very first blog post a year ago was on Mother's Day and it was about my mom, Dorothy Minna Veith Grant. It seems appropriate to celebrate my mom in another post on this Mother's Day 2012

I've recently started scanning the photos in my mom's old scrapbooks and have found some great photos of her. Here are a few of her, possibly taken by her old boyfriend who was a professional photographer.

Dorothy M Veith 1943  Age 21
Lake Mohawk, New Jersey

My mother was born 19 August 1922 in Englewood, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Harold Theodore Veith and Minna Bertha Badendick. Mom grew up in Englewood and graduated from Dwight Morrow High School in 1940. She then attended Stephens College in Columbia Missouri for 2 years and graduated with an Associate's degree in 1942, when she was 20 years old. She worked as an executive secretary for her father at the furniture store he owned, Franklin Furniture, in Englewood until after she married my father, Warren Westcott Grant in 1952.

Dorothy M Veith 1944  Age 22
Bear Mt, New York
My mom worked part time at Franklin Furniture when we were young kids until my grandfather sold the store. She and my dad lived in their house in Little Falls, New Jersey until 2002 when they moved to a retirement community in Pompton Plains, New Jersey. Mom died just before Thanksgiving on 17 November 2006 while she was napping. She was 84 years old.

Mom was artistic and fun-loving and always looked on the bright side. My sister and I often said that she never remembered anything bad. She hated to cook, yet took on a cooking class with a bunch of girl scouts when I was around 10. I remember the theme was 'international' and we made sukiyaki out of "The Joy of Cooking". I never remember her cooking it another time! She was also a Den Mother for my brother's cub scout troop for several years

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hodges and Skinner and Freeman, oh my!

Norton Common Cemetery, Norton, MA
Over the last month or so, I've been going through all the photos I took last summer at Norton Common Cemetery in Norton, Massachusetts of Hodges, Skinner, and Freeman tombstones. I was not sure how they all linked up at the time I took the photos and since then, I've researched a lot of the names I found.

I have ancestors with all these surnames and I assumed that they were siblings and close cousins of my ancestors. What has surprised me though, is how distant most of these cousins are to each other. It seems that many of these family lines stayed in Norton (and nearby Mansfield) for several hundred years.

Zophar Skinner and Bethiah Freeman Skinner
Norton Common Cemetery,
My 4th great grandparents, the first (of three) Zophar Skinner along with his wife, Bethiah Freeman are buried in this cemetery. However, none of their descendants are buried here, and I did not find gravestones for Zophar's parents, Elijah Skinner and Abigail Hawes. However, I did find other Skinner tombstones. The closest relation to Zophar was a third cousin, once removed. This Skinner, Josephus A Skinner (1821-1853) was the 2nd in the line of three generations of Josephus Skinners. His wife was Ellen D. Hodges (1822-1893) who was at least a third cousin to the Hodges in my line.

Bethiah Hodges Freeman, Norton Common Cemetery

The oldest tombstone I photographed in my direct Hodges line appears to be Zophar's mother-in-law, Bethiah Hodges (1744-1829) - She was married to Nathanial Freeman (1744 -1829). Nathaniel's tombstone was pictured here in a previous post. Bethiah's father, Jonathan Hodge's tombstone is probably also in Norton Common Cemetery, but it is too lichen covered to be sure. It was photographed by a distant cousin and is pictured here at FindaGrave.

It's been interesting trying to see how all these Hodges, Freeman and Skinner tombstones tie into my direct line of ancestors. In most cases, I've had to extend the names I've found both forward and backwards in time to find the common ancestors. My database now contains many more distant relatives with these surnames than it did before I started this project! And it's fun to see how each of these names on tombstones links into my family tree, albeit distantly.  I've used a variety of online sources to find names in vital records. The records at,, and especially have been invaluable.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 1960

My brother, sister and I on Easter Sunday, 17 April 1960 at our family home in Little Falls, New Jersey. We are standing in front of the fireplace in the living room. It was our standard place to stand for special photographs. I am in the center in this photo.

Grant Family children - Easter 1960

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sarah Ann Mellor Shepard

Sarah Ann Shepard was my g-g-aunt on my father's side.I have not yet found her record of birth in England but her tombstone gives her birth date as 16 October 1835. She was probably born in Chadderton, part of the town of Oldham and just outside of Manchester, England since birth records place her family there at the time of her older brother's birth. Sarah was the second of two children born to James Mellor and Mary Ann Lord - the oldest child was my g-g-grandfather, Ernest Lord Mellor.
Marriage record for Hargraves Shepard and Sarah Ann Mellor
29 August 1853 Prestwich, Lancashire, England
see source below

Sarah married Hargraves Shepard on 29 April 1853 in St Mary's Church in Prestwich (about 5 miles from Chadderton).It looks like she did not know how to write her name when she was married since she signed with a mark. She must have learned to write later in life since I have a book she owned (Picturesque Rhode Island, published in 1881) that contains her signature.

Signature of Sarah Ann Shepard after 1881
Hargraves and Sarah immigrated to the US in 1855, two years after their marriage. They were probably joining Sarah's brother, Ernest (my g-g-grandfather) who immigrated in 1853. It is probable that their mother, Mary Ann accompanied them since they were all living in Rhode Island by 1860
Sarah Ann Mellor Shepard
Hargraves and Sarah worked in the cotton mills in both England and in their new home in Rhode Island. My great-aunt Marion Wood (Sarah Ann's great niece) noted on a flyleaf of the Picturesque Rhode Island book that Hargraves was an overseer in the Chase Cotton Mill which used to be located at the Valley Falls bridge which separated Valley Falls from Central Falls (formerly Smithfield), Rhode Island.

Hargraves and Sarah never had children. According to my great-aunt, Sarah died at the Grant family home in Central Falls on 26 March 1922. Her husband predeceased her and died on 19 February 1894. They are both buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Pawtucket, RI, next to the grave of Sarah's brother, sister-in-law, and mother.
Hargraves and Sarah Ann Shepard Tombstone
Oak Grove Cemetery, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Marriage certificate source: "England, Lanchashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603-1910." database and digital images, FamilySearch ( accessed 18 March 2012), Hargraves Shepherd and Sarah Ann Mellor , 29 August 1853 ; citing Parish Registers in Lancashire, marriage record # 326, page 163, Manchester Central Library, Manchester, England.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A January Wedding

My paternal grandparents were Ralph Westcott Grant and Florence Hazel Skinner. I wrote about Ralph here and Hazel here.

Ralph and Hazel probably knew each other from the time they were young children. Although Ralph grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, and Hazel's home was in Valley Falls, their houses were just blocks apart. Their families also attended the same church, Valley Falls Baptist Church and they must have known each other from Sunday School and church outings.

Ralph and Hazel  married on 15 January 1918 in Valley Falls, Rhode Island. Both were 23 years old. If there were any formal photos taken at Ralph's and Hazel's wedding, I don't know what happened to them.
Ralph on his wedding day
Hazel's younger sister, Myrtle, was Hazel's attendent.
Myrtle and Hazel Skinner on Hazel's wedding day

Wedding Announcement
Florence Hazel Skinner & Ralph Westcott Grant

Mr. and Mrs. John F. Skinner
announce the marriage of their daughter
Florence Hazel
Ralph Westcott Grant
on Tuesday, January the fifteenth
one thousand nine hundred and eighteen
Valley Falls, Rhode Island.

At Home
after March 1st
at the Puritan Apartments
Erie, Pennsylvania

"Hazel's going away outfit"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leap Year Day Death - Sarah G. Lawton Carpenter

I was just looking at my 3rd great-grandmother's records when I noticed that she died on Leap Year Day in 1904, exactly 98 years ago today.

I previously wrote a post about Sarah Gardiner Lawton here.  She was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island to Clark Lawton and Sarah A. Gardiner.
Death Certificate for Sarah A. Gardiner Carpenter
Died 29 February 1904

She was married to John L. Carpenter in Valley Falls, Rhode Island on 5 May 1845. She died just over the Rhode Island state line in So Attleboro, Massachusetts on 29 February 1904 of senile debility and thrombosis.

I wonder what the odds are of being born or dying on Leap Year Day.

"Massachusetts Death Records, 1841-1915", index and images, FamilySearch (; from Massachusetts State Archives. "Deaths, 1841-1971". Massachusetts Division of Vital Statistics, State House, Boston, Massachusetts. Record for Sarah A. Gardiner, Volume 3, Certificate # 37. FHL microfilm # 2069265. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Florence Hazel Skinner

My paternal grandmother was Florence Hazel Skinner. She was known as "Hazel" during her life-time. Hazel was the 3rd child and oldest daughter of John Francis (Frank) Skinner and Annie Florence Betts. She was born on 6 September 1894 in Valley Falls, Rhode Island. 
F. Hazel Skinner about 1898
Hazel had 2 older brothers both also born in Valley Falls. Harold Fulton Skinner was born 25 February 1892 and died at the age of 4 months of cholera on 16 July 1892. Second son, Harold Lamert Skinner was born on 23 January 1894.

Despite the 19 month age difference between Harold and Hazel, they were in the Valley Falls School 4th grade together when they received year end report cards on 24 June 1904. Both were good students although it looks like Hazel did better than her brother Harold in all subjects except arithmetic.
Subjects they received grades in were:
Grade 4 report cards for Hazel and Harold Skinner,  June 1904
Hazel's family was living on Carpenter Street in Valley Falls in 1900 as enumerated in the Federal Census. The family moved to 18 Abbot Street by the time of the 1905 RI state census. Hazel lived at this address until her marriage on 15 January 1918 to Ralph Westcott Grant.
Hazel about 1910

Hazel about 1915

Hazel about 1944

Hazel died at age 50 on 12 January 1945 just as she was about to be released from the hospital after a routine surgery. Her obituaries are posted here. My father had just turned 23 and his sister was 19. Hazel's husband, my grandfather Ralph, had predeceased her. She was buried with her parents in Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
Death Certification of Hazel Grant
Department of Health. State of New Jersey, certificate # 330, 12 January 1945

I don't really know much about my grandmother. Her family were Baptists and she was active in the Valley Falls Baptist Church groups growing up. By the time she and Ralph moved to New Jersey and had children, religion was less important. She was an accomplished pianist and she and her husband often enjoyed playing in string quartets with friends. My father told me it was a disappointment to his parents that he and his sister had no musical talents (and neither do I!).