Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

undated vintage postcard
Happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends, and especially to my Aunt Shirley who is a very recent first-time great-grandmother! I wish I had more family at my table tomorrow but it will be filled with friends. I'll remember my mother, grand-mother, great-grandmother and great-aunt Marion as I set the table with pieces from all of them.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rescued Photo #4 - Ann Eliza Turner Hulet Niles

When I was in Vermont last September, I spent an hour or so browsing at the Antique Center at Camelot Village in Bennington, VT. This shop is huge and is composed of many individual 'stalls' where all kinds of antiques are sold. I could have spent days in this place, and hope to go back on my next visit.

I spent most of my time there looking thru old photos and was amazed at how many of them had identification written on the back. If only all my old family photos were identified! I decided to buy a few that caught my eye and see if I could identify the families of the individuals, and possibly to locate a living descendant who would like to have these photos. Please contact me if you are related to these people and would like the original photo.

This photo was found in the same lot of photos (dealer #356) as were the 3 previous photographs in my Rescued Photos series of blog posts and these people are all probably related. I am slowly building a family tree to resolve family relationships.
Ann Eliza Turner photograph
Ann Eliza Turner photograph
back side

This photo is labeled on the back -

" Ann Eliza Turner
daughter of
Dr and Mrs Gideon Turner"

There is no photographer's name or studio, or location of where the photo was taken.

From doing some basic research, it appears that Ann Eliza Turner was the daughter of Dr Gideon S Turner and his wife, Eliza T. Atwood. No birth record has been found for her but the US census records for 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 indicate she was born in 1842 or 1843 in New York. The 1900 US census indicates her birth in October 1842 in NY, and a record on Findagrave and a gravestone image gives her birth date as 25 October 1842. Her second marriage record indicates that she was born in Salem, Washington County, New York. She died 1 April 1911 in Danby, Rutland County, Vermont at age 68. She is listed as a nurse to a private family, and she was probably still living with her daughter as she was when enumerated there in the 1910 US census.This 1910 census record lists her as widowed, with one child.

Ann Eliza was married twice. Her first marriage was to Aaron Hulet. After his death in 1894, she married Joseph Burr Niles in 1896. According to the marriage record for this 2nd marriage,  Ann Eliza was living in White Creek, New York at the time of her marriage. The marriage was registered in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Although the 1910 census shows her as widowed, in actuality Ann Eliza was either separated or divorced from Joseph Niles since he did not die until 1920. 

The 1880 US census for Shaftsbury, VT shows Aaron and Ann E Hulet living with adopted daughter Winnie B Hulet, age 7, born New York. Winnie married Theodore Woodward around 1890, and they were living in White Creek, New York according to the 1900 census along with their 3 children, Winona Woodward, Leon D Woodward, and Clinton Woodward.

In summary, this is what I know about Ann Eliza Turner - 

Ann Eliza Turner, daughter of Gideon S Turner and Eliza T. Atwood, was born on 25 October 1842 in Salem, Washington County, New York. She died on 1 April 1911 in Danby, Rutland County, Vermont (age 68). She married (1) Aaron Hulet. He was born on 27 March 1835. He died on 20 November 1894 (age 59). She married (2) Joseph Burr Niles, son of Jonathan Niles and Mary Slocum, on 23 December 1896 in Shaftsbury, Bennington County, Vermont. He was born on 6 July 1837 In Shaftsbury. He died on 13 Jan 1920 in Shaftsbury (age 82).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

GRANT surname distribution

Randy Seaver over at the blog Genea-Musings has an on-going series, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. I decided to try out tonight's exercise, which is to map out where families with the Grant surname resided In the USA in a few selected census years - 1840, 1880 and 1920. The Surname Distribution Map is located at the link here on Besides the maps, the page also presents some facts about families with the chosen surname.

For my GRANT surname, I learned that -
Grant Name Meaning
English and (especially) Scottish (of Norman origin), and French: nickname from Anglo-Norman French graund, graunt ‘tall’, ‘large’ (Old French grand, grant, from Latin grandis), given either to a person of remarkable size, or else in a relative way to distinguish two bearers of the same personal name, often representatives of different generations within the same family.English and Scottish: from a medieval personal name, probably a survival into Middle English of the Old English byname Granta (see Grantham).Probably a respelling of German Grandt or Grand.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

The Grant surname distribution map for 1840 -
Grant surname distribution in 1840

In 1840, New York and Maine had the highest number of Grant families. My direct descendants were living on both sides of the Rhode Island/Massachusetts border in Bristol County, RI and Bristol County, MA. Some families had moved in the proceeding 20 years to early mill towns in Rhode Island.

The GRANT surname distribution map for 1880 -
Grant surname distribution in 1880
New York and Maine are joined by Massachusetts, and the two southern states of Georgia and South Carolina as having the largest numbers of Grant families in 1880.

The GRANT surname distribution map for 1920 -
Grant surname distribution in 1920
New York, Massachusetts, Georgia and South Carolina have the most Grant families in 1920. Maine has dropped down to the next category size. Notice that the "number of Grant families" color divisions do not stay constant for all three map time periods. There is a large increase in total Grant families in 1880, and a decrease in number in 1920. Randy noticed the same thing in his post for the Seaver surname distribution, and this is counter-intuitive to me. I would think, in general, that the total number of families in a not uncommon surname would increase with time. It is possible, however that both the Seaver and Grant surnames buck that trend. Perhaps the counter does not work the same for both census years??

There are a few other facts about the Grant surname from the same link on Ancestry -

Family origin of the Grant surname in the US -

Ancestry computes the number of Grant families who immigrated to the United States thru New York for the period, 1851 - 1891. These Grant families came after my direct ancestors who were living in Massachusetts and Rhode Island by the mid-17th century.
 Grant immigration information, 1851- 1891
In general, the following chart shows that Grants tended to live as long as the general public for the years tracked by the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), 1940 - 2000. It is interesting how life expectancy slowly increased in the post-war period,  increased steeply after 1960, and leveled off for the next 40 years. Ancestry says "An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family." I think there are too many Grant families to detect any meaning from this chart.
Average Life expectancy for persons with the Grant surname

Family Occupations from the 1880 US census data-
Families with the Grant surname are over-represented with respect to the general public in farming occupations in 1880. This is probably due to the many people of the Grant surname in the mostly rural southern states of Georgia and South Carolina, as well as the mostly rural state of Maine. By 1880, most of my Grant ancestors had moved from farming and were working as spinners in the Rhode Island mill towns. has a large index for Civil War soldiers. From its Civil War Service Records index, there were 2845 men with the Grant surname in the Civil War. Twice as many served in the Union Army as the Confederate Army - the numbers were 1881 for the Union and 964 for the Confederates. All of my known Grant ancestor Civil War soldiers were in the Union Army. This is not surprising since they all came from Rhode Island and Massachusetts!

And lastly, Ancestry maintains the message boards on Rootsweb. There are 34 messages on 2347 threads. Some might have been posted by me way back when I first started looking into my family history about the year 2000. Now social media is used much more for querying about ancestors.

All in all, this was an interesting project. I think I need to do it also soon for my maternal  line of Veith. I suspect there will be far fewer individuals with that surname, and possibly more useful information can be gleamed.

Thanks Randy for a fun project!.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Harwich, MA World War I & World War II Memorial

In honor of Veteran's Day 2013 -

There is a rock with a memorial plaque in Doane Park in Harwich Port, Massachusetts. This small park lies in between Main Street (Route 28) and Lower County Road, and is across the street from the Harwich Port Post Office.

In Memory of the Men of
Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice

                         World War I                                                         World War II

                    Valmer H Bassett                                                    Raymond A Arsenault
                    Clarence L Berry                                                     Donald H Barrett
                    J Wilton Berry                                                         George R Dreher
                    Earle M Chase                                                        Watson B Eldredge, Jr
                    Leslie M Clark                                                         Robert H Megathlin
                    Scott C Nickerson                                                    Robert V Paine
                    Josiah D Nickerson                                                  Clarence C Peters

                                                              Dedicated 1948

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rescued Photo #2 - Eliza Turner Savage

When I was in Vermont last September, I spent an hour or so browsing at the Antique Center at Camelot Village in Bennington, VT. This shop is huge and is composed of many individual 'stalls' where all kinds of antiques are sold. I could have spent days in this place, and hope to go back on my next visit.

I spent most of my time there looking thru old photos and was amazed at how many of them had identification written on the back. If only all my old family photos were identified! I decided to buy a few that caught my eye and see if I could identify the families of the individuals, and possibly to locate a living descendant who would like to have these photos. Please contact me if you are related to these people and would like the original photo.
Eliza Turner Savage
back of Eliza Turner Savage photo
This photo is approximately 4 1/4" by 2 1/2" and is identified as Eliza Turner Savage. The location of the photographer is Waukesha, Wisconsin. I believe I may have found Eliza in the Wisconsin Deaths and Burials index on (citation at bottom of page). According to the transcribed information in the Index, Eliza was born 11 May 1802 in Salem, Washington County, New York. Her father is listed as James Turner. Eliza died in Wisconsin at age 81 on 20 May 1883 and the burial place is noted as Waukesha County, Wisconsin. The original death record should be examined to confirm this information.

The 1860 U.S. Federal census shows John A Savage (age 60) and Eliza Savage (age 54) living in the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Living in the same household are John A. Savage, age 28, Eliza Savage, age 24, Edward Savage, age 18, and William Savage, age 16. All of these people were born in New York. It appears the family was in western New York at the time of the 1850 census - they are enumerated in Oswegatchie, Saint Lawrence County. Two additional probable children are listed with the family that were not there in the 1860 listing: Mary Savage, age 25 and Harriet Savage, age 12.

There is a public family tree on that seems to include this person. Eliza is identified in this tree as Elizabeth Turner born 11 May 1802 in Lisbon, New York to James Turner and Eleanor Hunsdon.. Lisbon is on the other side of New York state, but the date is the same. The husband is identified as John Adams Savage who was born 9 Oct 1800 in Salem, New York and died 13 December 1864 in Wisconsin. His parents were Abraham Savage and Mary Adams.What is pretty exciting is that the owner of the tree has a photo of John Adams Savage already posted but none for wife Elizabeth/Eliza. I have sent an email to the owner of the tree and hope that I can return this photograph to a descendant!

"Wisconsin, Deaths and Burials, 1835-1968," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 03 Mar 2013), Eliza Turner Savage, 11 May 1802.

1860 U.S. Census, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Waukesha city, page # 10, sheet 20, family 76, John A Savage household; digital image, ( accessed 2 March 2012), citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1436.

1850 U.S. Census, Saint Lawrence County, New York, population schedule, Oswegatchie, page 100A, family 293, John A Savage household; digital image, ( accessed 2 March 2012), citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 589.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One thing I learned today at GRIP

I am attending the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) this week and am taking the Military Records: From Cradle to Grave course taught by Craig Scott. I've been learning about the nuances of what one can find out from muster and pension records as well as gaining some much needed basics in military history and military organization. Craig has asked us to bring in photos or records for group examinations and one of the photos we examined today is of my grandfather, Harold Theodore Veith,  in his World War I uniform.
Harold Theodore Veith
1891 - 1978
I had known that Grandpa had served in the Navy during World War I and knew that he never went to sea but was stationed near to where he had been living in Hoboken, New Jersey. However I knew none of the details of his service, not even his rank or rating. 

From the above photo, we were able to identify what the rank and rating were for Harold from the winter uniform he was wearing in this portrait. The insignia on his left arm signifies that his military rating was 'shop-keeper' (confirmed by the keys under the eagle in the patch), and that the three chevrons meant that he was a first class petty officer. Craig mentioned that the troops that embarked for Europe left from the port of Hoboken, and I imagine my grandfather was kept busy in his post there.
detail of insignia
Oh, and I also learned that a hat or cap is called a 'cover' in Navy speak!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Dad - August 1990

In honor of my dad, Warren Westcott Grant, 1922 - 2005, on Father's Day.

Warren W Grant at "Tall Pines"
Miss you, Dad!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What does a mule spinner do?

Many people are familiar with how the New England mill towns got their start due to the Industrial Revolution. The early mills were built where there was water power from rivers and diverted channels  - later mills were powered by steam. The first mill in New England was built in 1793 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island by Samuel Slater, who had learned the mechanized spinning process in England. Mills were quickly added along rivers in much of New England - particularly in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, southern New Hampshire and Maine - and mechanization of yarn manufacture was quickly followed by the production of whole cloth in the mills. Early on in Rhode Island, mill owners built whole villages around the mill and housed entire families who worked together in the mills. In contrast, the mills first formed in Waltham, MA and later in Lowell, MA and along the Merrimack River relied on young women recruited from New England farms as their labor source.
Slater Mill Complex, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
By the 1920s, the heyday of the New England mills was over and textile production went into a decline as textile manufacturing moved out of the region. However, the mechanized production of yarn and cloth had radically changed New England - prior to the textile mills, yarn was spun on individual spinning wheels and cloth was made on small looms, usually within family units. The invention of  mechanized spinning and weaving created an entire new industry which radically transformed a rural mostly farm-based economy into centers of manufacturing and trade.

In my family tree, there are many of my ancestors who moved from farms in both Bristol County RI and Bristol County MA to the early mill towns surrounding the Blackstone River in Rhode Island in the early 1800s. Succeeding generations worked in the mills and related industries until the mill closures in the early 20th century. Their job titles are often machinist or operative, and sometimes 'mule spinner'. A few were even listed as 'overseer' which generally meant they had managerial or supervisory roles in the mills.

The subject of my last blog post, was Ira W Grant. His father, Sylvester Grant, Jr was employed in the mills in Fall River by 1844 when Ira was born and in Smithfield RI where he was enumerated in  the 1850 Federal census. In both documents, Sylvester's occupation was listed as 'mule-spinner'. So what was a mule-spinner?
Mule spinner creating cotton thread. Museum of Work and Culture. Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
 Photograph by George P. Landow, October 2004.
Specifically, mule spinners operate the spinning machinery that create yarn of any kind - in early Rhode Island mills, it was cotton thread. Mule spinners worked a dangerous job and injuries were common, particularly among the young boys who worked in tandem with the adult men. The machinery was heavy and the mules (spinning machinery) moved quickly back and forth on tracks. Repairs to broken threads, and spool changes, were done on moving machinery. Another hazard was a particular type of cancer caused by the lubricating oil used by mule spinners in cotton yarn production.

For an interesting interview of the life of a mule spinner in an 1883 Fall River, MA textile factory see the account at History Matters. It references the testimony of mill-worker Thomas O'Donnell and was originally published in:
 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Education and Labor, Report on the Relations Between Labor and Capital, Vol. 3 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1885), 451–457.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ira Whitaker Grant, 1842 - 1864

For Memorial Day, this post is honoring one of my ancestors who died in battle during the Civil War.Although I have many ancestors who fought in all of this country's wars, I only know of two who died while in service. I wrote about Clifford E. Stalls, who died during World War II here. Clifford was known as "Buddy" and he was my mother's cousin or my first cousin, once removed. In this post, I honor the memory of another first cousin, three times (3 generations) removed, Ira Whitaker Grant, who died during the Civil War.

Ira was the son of Sylvester Grant, Jr and his wife Susan L Boomer. He was born 28 January 1844 possibly in Fall River, Massachusetts. His family moved soon after to Valley Falls, Rhode Island, where his father was a shoe-maker. Ira had nine known brothers and sisters - he was the fifth child as well as fifth son, and had six brothers and three sisters who lived to adulthood. In the 1860 census for Valley Falls, Ira's occupation is that of jeweler, and he is living with his parents, his next older brother George, and five younger siblings.

Ira enlisted for service in Company E, 7th Infantry Regiment of the Rhode Island Volunteers on 11 August 1862 when he was 18 years old. He mustered into service on 6 September, on the same day his older brothers, Samuel and George mustered into service in the same company. Ira died during the battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia on 3 June 1864 - his two brothers had been previously discharged on surgeon's certificates - George in December 1862 and Samuel in March 1863. George died a month after he was discharged, of consumption, and is buried in the Grant family plot at Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Samuel died in 1915 at age 82 of pneumonia and also is buried in Moshassuck Cemetery in a different plot with no headstone.

From "The Seventh Regiment of RI Volunteers in the Civil War, 1862-1865" by William P. Hopkins, Snow & Farmham Printers, Providence, RI, 1903: p 386-387, copy found in Google Books:

 Ira Whitaker Grant, fifth child of Sylvester and Susan Boomer Grant, was born at Valley Falls, Cumberland, April 12, 1842. [ I think this might be the birth-date of brother George, not Ira, and birth location of his younger siblings]. There were three daughters and ten sons in the family of whom only three sons are now living (November, 1902). Ira received a common school education and was employed as a clerk at the time of his enlistment. Two brothers, George S. and Samuel, accompanied him to the field. He was mortally wounded at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864. Joseph Taylor was ordered to assist him to the rear and see him well started toward a field hospital. Now Grant was a small man so his comrade could readily handle him. They had reached the border of the swamp to the rear of the line of battle when he became exhausted from loss of blood. Taylor laid him down and he fainted. Just then a rebel shell knocked a large limb from an overhanging tree which fell and covered them both. Taylor finally succeeded in throwing off the limb, but Grant still remained in his faint. The former had never seen a person in that condition and had not the slightest idea what should be done. None were near to call. Shells and bullets filled the atmosphere above them. He feared his comrade was dead and that he would be obliged to leave him. Just then he noticed Grant's head was settling in the swampy water to his face and lips, and began to move. He then seized him by the shoulders and dragged him through the swamp where in places both sank knee deep in the soft mud. Beyond they found some men with stretchers, on one of which the wounded soldier was placed and hastily borne to the field hospital. A surgeon examined him and found that while one bullet had gone through his left thigh, another had entered his breast just below his heart. The former was supposed to be his only injury until the search revealed the other. He lived but half an hour longer.

According to family papers, Ira had a headstone on the family plot at Moshassuck Cemetery but it is no longer there. In the same family papers, he is listed as "left on battlefield". I called Richmond National Battlefield Park headquarters around 10 years ago and was told by the Park historian that many bodies were lost in temporary graves before they were repatriated back to home cemeteries. There is no record for Ira's body - presumably his is one of those that was never found, or if found was never identified.

The battle at Cold Harbor was a major defeat and disaster for the Union Army. Under the direction of General Grant (no relationship) the Union Army tried a frontal assault on the Confederate Army in the hopes of breaking thru the rebel lines and taking the Confederate capitol at Richmond. Instead, the Union Army lost around 7000 men in less than an hour to the well-entrenched rebel soldiers. It is not clear exactly how the Union Command miscalculated the battle so badly, except that it appears there was conflict between Generals Grant and Meade. And it was the common soldiers, including Ira Grant, who paid the price.
"Grant at City Point  [i.e. Cold Harbor], Va., June 1864
Library of Congress image 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Mom - 1953

In honor of Mother's Day, here is a photo of my mom, Dorothy Veith Grant.
Dorothy Veith Grant
Atlantic City, NJ
August 1953 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Zophar Skinner and the 2nd RI Infantry at Gettysburg

Last summer I wrote in this post about a visit I made to Gettysburg and the Civil War battlefield monuments for the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry.  My 2nd great-grandfather, Zophar Skinner, was in Company C of the 2nd RIV (Rhode Island Volunteers). He enlisted in the unit on 5 June 1861 and mustered out on 17 June 1864. Zophar was not yet 18 when he enlisted. His 20 year old brother, Joseph Godfrey Skinner enlisted on the same day and mustered into Co. H of the 2nd RIV. Youngest brother, Henry Skinner, was only eleven years old and  he might have envied his older brothers marching off to war.
Zophar Skinner
My father's cousin is Zophar's grandson and knew him when he was a young boy. He has the powder horns that Zophar used during the war, and also a small diary that Zophar kept for the year 1863. The diary is a small leather-bound book not much larger than a pack of cards, around 5" x 3".  Each page covers 3 days, with 6 short lines for journaling. The diary is in quite good condition but the ink on many pages has faded too much to be read.
Zophar Skinner's diary for the year 1863
inside cover of diary
"Zophar Skinner
Co. C. 2nd reg. R.I. Vols.
Valley Falls,  Rhode Island
Enlisted June 5th, 1861.
2nd Brigade 3rd Division 6th Corps"
Zophar recorded the weather every day and briefly detailed his activities.  He mentions writing and receiving letters, drawing rations, drills, inspections, dress parades, and marches among the daily occurrences.


The decisive battle at Gettysburg, PA occurred over the 3-day period of July 1-3, 1863. The battle began before Zophar's unit arrived in mid-afternoon on the 2nd day after marching all night with only brief stops for breakfast and dinner. When they arrived at Gettysburg, they were held in reserve near Little Round Top and probably fell asleep in exhaustion. Zophar, in his diary, claimed they had marched 42 miles in the last day and a half, and they marched 140 miles in the six days since they left Centreville, VA on June 26th.

Below is a transcription from the diary for July 1 - July 5. I have tried to retain original spelling, spacing, and punctuation.

Wednesday, July 1
"Showery all day. drawed one days rait-
ons. packed up at six this evening and took
the road to Gettysburg and marched all
night. Gen. Wheaton took command of ou-
e Division this Evening"

Thursday, July 2
"Plesant all day stopt one hour for bre-
akfast and one for dinner. passed tho-
rgh Middletown and arrived at Gettys-
burg at three this afternoon. distance
was 42 miles."

Friday, July 3
"Cloudy all day. got up at two this mo-
rning and got breakfast. Our brigade was
detached to the 12 Armee cops. went to
the right of the line of battle and back
again. sharp shelling by the rebels.Charles
Powers was killed this afternoon by a shell".

Saturday, July 4
"Showery all day. got up this morning at
7 and went to the front reserve for pickets
the rest of our Brigade was digging rif-
le pits. relieved at half past seven th-
evening by the 10 regiment Mass Vols".

Sunday, July 5
"Showerly all day. got up early this m-
orning and joined our Corps. rested a sho-
rt time and started after the rebs they ha-
ving left during the night. halted at d-
ark. Distance five miles. my Company was
detailed as rear guard".

The Union Army, under General Meade's command pursued the Confederate Army as they moved south back into Maryland and then across the Potomac River and into Virginia in the days following. Zophar's unit crossed the Potomac on July 19th. It is hard for me to imagine what this young man saw and experienced during the Gettysburg battle and throughout the War. The diary does not reveal Zophar's emotions or state of mind but is very straightforward. What a time he lived through.... And in the end, I wonder if his little brother Henry was grateful or envious that he was too young to go to war like his older brothers, Zophar and Joseph.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cumberland RI Town Hall visit

Before my grandfather moved to NJ around 1920, most of my paternal ancesors lived in the village of Valley Falls in the town of Cumberland RI for 4 or 5 generations and it is there that I will find most of the records to document my ancestry. I was able to spend part of two days there this last week after attending the New England Regional Genealogy Conference (NEGRC) in Manchester, NH. I explored some of the vital records and deeds, but did not have time to check court records. That is for my next visit.
Cumberland Rhode Island Town Hall
Built 1894
The Town Hall is located on Broad Street just a block over the city line north of Central Falls. Its prominent tower makes it easy to spot from many locations in Valley Falls. There is a parking lot just to the north, and plenty of on-street parking on the two days I was there.

Vital records and land records are kept in the Town Clerk's office on the first floor. There is a large work area to lay out books and good light for photographing records. There is also a copy machine in the office.

Vital Records

For vital records, the Clerk retrieves the volumes from shelves in the office. These are large ledger books and are not the originals but copies of records transcribed into the volumes. The original records are kept in the basement vault and the Town Clerk must retrieve them. They are filed in boxes with some record years bound together, and others are loose. The Clerk asks for the name and date of event, and hands you the loosely bound records opened to the correct record, or hands you the individual record. I wish I was able to go through the originals without involving the Clerk, and limited my requests to direct line ancestors.

Death Record - Sarah A. (Gardner) Lawton
4th Great Grandmother

Among other information found in the original record vs the transcribed volumes for Deaths are:

  • full name of deceased with middle names sometimes spelled out
  • street address of death
  • informant's name
  • burial place
  • birth date
  • full age at death (sometimes only the age in years was found in the record books 
  • physician
  • undertaker

Some of this information was in the bound record books but in a more abbreviated form depending on the transcriber. I found several middle names that I had not known, and that were only initialed in the bound volumes and the online record index at FamilySearch.

Land Records

Grantee - Grantor Index
Modern record indexes are computerized, but I don't know when this started. I was looking at records for the mid-late 1800s and early 1900s and these records are indexed in a card catalog. There are two different sets of records - one for Grantees and one for Grantors. The cards are filed by name, and then by year, making it somewhat easy to trace some transactions as I went through the indexed cards. However, the real details are in the original documents and I found some good name and relationship information in the deeds.

Grantor Index card for Mortgage 1902

I was able to photograph some of these cards in  drawers where the cards were not packed too tightly. The cards were very informative and usually listed:
  • type of transaction (mortgage, quit-claim, warranty, etc)
  • grantor and grantee names
  • year of transaction and book number and page
  • consideration
  • brief description of property
  • location
Deed books - Cumberland RI 

The Deed books are in the same room as the card catalog index and are located on the wall facing the card catalog. There is a double set of shelves with the front set on rollers so the back row can be accessed. The earliest records are handwritten and bound in large ledger books and later deeds are typed and reproduced in smaller white and black volumes. More modern records are in the red volumes

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rescued Photo #3 - Benjamin Crandell

When I was in Vermont last September, I spent an hour or so browsing at the Antique Center at Camelot Village in Bennington, VT. This shop is huge and is composed of many individual 'stalls' where all kinds of antiques are sold. I could have spent days in this place, and hope to go back on my next visit.

I spent most of my time there looking thru old photos and was amazed at how many of them had identification written on the back. If only all my old family photos were identified! I decided to buy a few that caught my eye and see if I could identify the families of the individuals, and possibly to locate a living descendant who would like to have these photos. Please contact me if you are related to these people and would like the original photo.

This photo has an inscription on the back. It says "Benjamin Crandell, Born 21 April 1799, age 93
Benjamin Crandell
born 21 April 1799
age 93
Back of Benjamin Crandell photo

The photographer was W.D. Parsons of Adams, Massachusetts. Adams is in Berkshire County in the northwestern corner of Massachusetts. I found on Google Books, a Gazetteer of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, 1725 - 1885 by Hamilton Child and printed at the Journal Office: Syracuse, NY, January, 1885. It lists a William D. Parsons, photographer, with his business located on Park Street in Adams. If Benjamin's age of 93 on the back of the photo is correct, then the studio was still operating in 1892, when the photo was taken.

 Identity of Benjamin Crandell/Crandall

A birth record index on lists a Benjamin Crandall born on 21 April 1799 in Tiverton, Rhode Island to Abner and Mary Crandall. A record of his 2nd marriage to Almeida Brayton in 1851 also confirms his Tiverton RI birth. His name is given as Benjamin O Crandall on this record. At the time of this marriage, Benjamin was listed as living in So. Adams, Massachusetts and his occupation was that of wagon-maker. I was not able to discover the identity of his first wife and the mother of his child, Arnold H. Crandall, listed in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses in Adams, Massachusetts. Arnold had at least 2 children, Anna I Crandall, born around 1866 in Massachusetts (single and living with her father in North Adams in the 1920 census)  and Arnold B Crandall, born 5 June 1871 in Adams, Massachusetts (birth record on This Arnold might be the Arnold B Crandall living with wife Elizabeth J Crandall in the 1910 (and later) census in Waterbury, Connecticut. Further research would be needed to determine if this is the right person.

Benjamin's son, Arnold H Crandall married Elizabeth L Gardner. On their marriage certificate on, Arnold is listed as being born in Hoosick, Rensselaer County in New York. According to the 1800 and 1810 Federal censuses, Arnold's grandfather, Abner Crandall moved his family from Tiverton, RI to Hoosick, NY in between 1800 and 1810, when Benjamin would have been a young boy. Hoosick is around 30 miles from Adams, MA, where Benjamin was living when he married his 2nd wife, Almeida Brayton.

Benjamin Crandall is listed on page 175 of Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and his Descendants, by John Cortland Crandall, published in New Woodstock, New York in 1949. He is one of 13 children of Abner Crandall (a Revolutionary War soldier) and Mary Wilcox, and grandson of Eber Crandall and Mercy (Mary) Brownell.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Monogram mystery solved!

A few days ago I asked one of the mailing lists I am subscribed to for help in identifying an old monogram found on a pocket-watch and ring that were among items from my parents' safety deposit box. The monogram was so ornate it was hard for me to convince myself what the initials in the monogram are.

It appeared that the ring monogram contained the same initials although the surface is quite worn. 

Mystery solved!
I determined the watch and ring had belonged to my maternal grandfather, Harold Theodore Veith. What clinched the identity for me was finding a photo of my grandfather wearing this ring in 1909. In photos of him in later years, this ring is replaced on his hand by his wedding band and sometimes his masonic ring. Before I found this photo, I was browsing monogram fonts and came across a font entitled 'Monogram kk' in which the letters 'HTV' are pretty similar to the engravings. The letters can be closely traced with the additions of a few extra flourishes.

Harold Theodore Veith 1909

closeup of ring

'Monogram kk' font for initials 'HTV'

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rescued Photo #1 - Ann Brayton Pratt

When I was in Vermont last September, I spent an hour or so browsing at the Antique Center at Camelot Village in Bennington, VT. This shop is huge and is composed of many individual 'stalls' where all kinds of antiques are sold. I could have spent days in this place, and hope to go back on my next visit.

I spent most of my time there looking thru old photos and was amazed at how many of them had identification written on the back. If only all my old family photos were identified! I decided to buy a few that caught my eye and see if I could identify the families of the individuals, and possibly to locate a living descendant who would like to have these photos. Please contact me if you are related to these people and would like the original photo.

Ann Brayton Pratt 
back side of Ann Brayton Pratt photo
The first photo is identified as Ann Brayton Pratt, (Mrs Frank Pratt 2nd), daughter of Mr and Mrs Alanson Brayton. I was able to find her death certificate on .
"Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 03 Mar 2013), Ann Eliza Pratt, 1910.
From the information on the death certificate we know that Ann Eliza Brayton was born 26 January 1833 in White Creek, New York, daughter of Elanson Brayton, birthplace unknown, and Matilda Crandall born in Hoosick, NY. She died at age 77, widow of George F. Pratt on 7 October 1910 at Sloan Road,  Williamstown, Massachusetts of  "senile degeneration complicated with cancer of liver". Ann was buried in Hoosick, New York on 9 October 1910. The informant for the information contained in this certificate was Mrs. Frank Young, of South Williamstown. Her relationship to the deceased is not given.

Ann E. Pratt is found with her husband Frank Pratt in the 1900 Federal census (citation at the end of this article), living in Williamstown, MA in the home of the Frank and Gertrude Young family. Ann and her husband are listed as father-in-law and mother-in-law to the head of the family, Frank Young. Presumably wife Gertrude Young is the daughter of either (or both) of the elder couple. In this census entry, Frank Pratt is listed as born in Oct 1829, age 70 and married for 32 years (1868). He and his father were born in Vermont, and his mother was born in New York. No occupation is listed. Ann E Pratt is recorded as born in Jan 1834, age 66. She is listed as having zero children, with zero children living. Ann and her mother were born in New York, and her father was born in Vermont.

In the 1900 census, children of Frank and Gertrude Young are  listed as Harry Young, age 20, Lulu Young, age 18, Bliss Young, age 16 and Ella Young, age 12.

Since Gertrude Young is age 39 on this record, she was born 7 years before Frank and Ann married and was probably Frank's daughter from a previous marriage. This correlates with the report of zero children and is consistent with the name of Mrs Frank Pratt 2nd on the back of the photo. Ann Brayton was probably Frank Pratt's 2nd wife and Gertrude is most likely Ann's step-daughter.

So it appears that Ann Eliza Brayton Pratt did not have direct descendants but her siblings may have had descendants who would value Ann's photograph. From the 1850 U.S. Federal census (citation below), Ann appears as one of probably nine children of Alanson and Matilda Brayton. The minors in this household are:
Caroline S Brayton, age 18, Ann E Brayton, age 16, Amon O Brayton, age 14, Julia G Brayton, age 12, Franklin B Brayton, age 10, Ardelia C Brayton, age 8, Marcus M Brayton, age 6, Mary J Brayton, age 4 and Charles E Brayton, age 2.

Hopefully, some descendant of the Brayton/Pratt/Young/Crandell family will someday see this post in a google search of names. Contact me if you want the original photo!.

1900 U.S. Census, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Williamstown, Enumeration District (ED) 89, sheet 11-B, family 249, Frank Young household; digital image, ( : accessed 2 March 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 633.

1850 U.S. Census, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Williamstown, sheet 152-A, family 129, Alanson Brayton household, digital image, ( accessed 2 March 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication M 432, roll 305.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jersey City, Then and Now

I was back east earlier in the month and spent part of an afternoon in Jersey City, New Jersey photographing buildings and visiting places my Badendick great-grandparents knew in the early part of the 20th century. According to family history, Carl Badendick came to this country from Barth, a small village on the Baltic Sea in Pomerania (now Germany) around 1880. He married my great-grandmother, Bertha Zerull on 9th September 1883 in Jersey City and they lived there for the rest of their lives. Carl died in 1916, and Bertha in 1931.

Current photo of former Badendick home
Corner of van Reypen Street and Stuyvesant Avenue
Jersey City, NJ
I remember visiting the house they had lived in when I was a very young child when some of my great aunts were still alive. I remember nothing of the inside but I do remember what seemed to me to be really tall front steps! Here is a photo of my great-aunt Edith Badendick on what I think are those same steps around 1900.
Edith Badendick
My great-grandfather operated a small store at the other end of the block from their residence, on the corner of Stuyvesant Avenue and what was then Hudson County Boulevard and is now John F Kennedy Blvd.
Carl Badendick's store on the corner of Stuyvesant and the Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ
around 1900
February 2013
The building is still recognizable with only a few modifications. The door has been moved from the corner to the center of the front facade, and the cupola has been modified. The store is now a coffee shop and 99 cent store. The sign in the window in the old photo says cigars and tobacco on one side, and confectionery on the other. There is a sign out front of the store advertising Reid's ice cream.

I plan to do more research with the deeds I have found for the house and store.  I suspect some of the building numbering has changed over the years which makes it difficult to detrmine which plots of land and buildings are in the deeds I have. Family history as well as some newspaper clippings indicate Carl ran a saloon in the basement of what I assume was his store. More research is needed to determine if this was indeed the same location.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Howard M Grant, Moshassuck Cemetery, and the Saylesville Labor Riot

I wrote about my great-uncle Howard Mellor Grant and his service during World War I in this post a few months ago. Since then, I have come across a few more photos of Howard, and an interesting account written by my great-uncle George H. Wood. George was married to Howard's twin sister, Marion Mellor Grant. In Uncle George's account of Howard's service and burial in Moshassuck Cemetery, he writes:
"Lot is in front row - turn right as you enter the cemetery and it has a large stone with a marble statue of Christ, with arms extended and mounted on the same base as the stone. His grave was marked with the usual granite marker on a base, as used then for veterans. The stone was broken off from the base during a strikers riot at Sayles Bleachery. Several fingers and the head of the statue was broken off at the same time. The statue was repaired by the Taylor Monument Works just across the street from the cemetery and the stone was laid against its base and partly buried. In the years since, the stone has almost completely sunken into the ground."
In his notes (written in 1980), Uncle George talked about his plans to order a new stone marker for his brother-in-law and to see if he could get a new bronze VFW flag holder to denote a veteran's gravestone. I do not know why this work was never completed - Howard's stone is still partially buried. Another veteran gravestone in the same family plot, that of George S Grant who served in the Union Army in the Civil War and died 16 January 1963 from consumption after being discharged, does not appear to have been damaged in the riot, but is almost totally unreadable today. In the photo below, Howard's stone is on the right, and George's Civil War Veteran's stone is just behind and to the right of the statue.
Grant Family Plot
Moshassuck Cemetery, Central Falls, RI
Clematis Avenue, Section A, Lots No. 123 & 124
When I last visited the cemetery, I enquired about getting Howard's gravestone reset. I also placed flags on both graves, indicating their service in two of our country's wars.
Howard M. Grant Gravestone
Moshassuck Cemetery
When I drove through Moshassuck Cemetery last summer, I noticed a monument commemorating the riots of 1934. It is located not too far from the Grant plot, on the same side of the road. I had not previously known of the 1934 Labor Riots or the history of damage both to Howard's gravestone and the family monument statue. From an account of the riots by the Rhode Island Labor History Society :
"On Labor Day, 1934, a national textile strike began in Rhode Island and spread to southern cloth mills in an attempt to raise wages and improve working conditions during the Great Depression.
The event turned ugly when local management ask for protection at the non-union Sayles Finishing Company. National Guardsmen, with fixed bayonets, confronted hundreds of unarmed strikers and chased them into the Moshassuck Cemetery. Ironically, union picketers too cover behind headstones in the graveyard. The bullet holes remain dozens of stones to this day. Strife there lasted almost three weeks resulting in the injury and wounding of hundreds of protesters and the deaths of several others. The strike would erupt in violence in Woonsocket as well."
Saylesville Massacre Monument
Moshassuck Cemetery