Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eugene Harrington Rogers


Eugene Harrington Rogers
No download or reproduction without express permission
This is Eugene Harrington Rogers, son of Cassandria and brother of my great grandfather. I'm not really sure where this was taken, but perhaps this was his studio. I love the large artist's palette and his generous muttonchops. His life is not a great mystery; he was born in Holden, Massachusetts and lived most of his adult life in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. We're not sure when or if he had much formal training, but he married Mary Clark, opened a sign painting and advertising business at 304 1/2 Main Street in Fitchburg and lived on Arlington Street. They never had children and he died of a heart ailment at only 45 years old.

You may have noticed the large painting and recognized the "White Rock fairy". This is actually a very
good copy of a painting called "Psyche" by Paul Thumann.  Thumann's original was exhibited to some great attention at the Chicago World Exhibition and I would assume White Rock bought the rights after that. Being an artist myself, I always wanted to know about Eugene. A small oil still life hung in our house all my childhood and larger pastel of a Newfoundland dog hung in my grandmother's house. These were the only existing works the family knew of. My cousin, an illustrator and art restorer in Manhatten, looked around on the internet from time to time and discovered that some of his work was registered. Tracing backwards she found that it was in the collection of the Fitchburg Historical Society. Sure enough, when I visited I found an enormous charcoal drawing called "Overlook Reservoir and Mt. Wachusett". It was a lovely landscape with which our family was quite familiar as it's a popular hiking spot in Fitchburg. A little more research by my cousin, my aunt and myself found a mural at the local Baptist church and another large charcoal landscape at the Westminster Historical Society. My cousin says they are all quite good. Now all three of us were intrigued....

One of the best sources of small town information for genealogists is digitized newspapers. Luckily the
Fitchburg Sentinel has digitized much of its collection and Eugene showed up regularly between 1870 and 1900. The accounts of his sales are complementary and lively as is the story of his rivalry with another sign painter.  At this time he was doing landscapes, small still-lifes and animal portraits of hunting dogs in oil, pastel and charcoal. The Sentinel described his success this way "The sale increased so rapidly that the demand was far ahead of the supply within 10 days....Mr. Rogers' work went to the shores of the Pacific and throughout the West and South." Queries in the historical society newsletters have turned up no further clues. The signature on the work would be E.H. Rogers.
If you live in the West or South or even in New England and have a work with this signature, the family would love to hear from you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tubbercurry or Tobercurry - the Cooke and Feely clans


Working on the Irish side of my tree was something I'd always hoped I could do while my dad was still alive. Sadly that was not to be. He wasn't able to be very helpful with information about his family-from what he said they could be close-mouthed and secretive. As a young boy in a working-class household where the adults had other worries,  I'm sure he was more interested in swimming at the Boy's Club and playing kick-the-can. I pried as much as I could get from him while he was alive and he surprised me by showing a bit of curiousity about my searches for his extended family.

 I found some American census records and a few death records. Focusing on Boston, there were a few more hints. Dad said there were some Feely cousins he remembered from his childhood. He thought the Feelys had a car dealership in Roslindale. So far, that search hasn't yielded much.  I also found a Maurice Feely living with the family on an early census. If anyone out there thinks this rings a bell, I'd love to hear from you.

Experienced genealogists tell you to "go with what you know" and re-examine every document. Now it was time to try to "jump the pond". So I went back to my grandmother's Irish birth certificate. Sure enough, right across the top was the first piece of the puzzle.

Someone, maybe my dad, had mentioned Roscommon in connection with the family. Clearly I was looking in the wrong county. So now I had county of SligoAclare district, town of Tobercurry. Exceeepppt..well look at the photo and then look at the certificate..yup..is it Tobercurry or Tubbercurry? Apparently, even the Irish don't agree as a Google search will tell you. And the Irish changed and simplified a lot of names at one point.  But I had a place to start.

Irish records are challenging. Many weren't kept, some were burned and some have been destroyed by time. The Catholic church has some parish records and in those the names are often in Latin. Yet another challenge. Luckily both Ancestry and FamilySearch had this record:



Comparing the two, you can see my great grandmother Mary Feehily (Americanized to Feely) and Michael Cooke (Cook) marrying in Tobercurry just before the birth of their oldest child. At some point soon I will go off the the local Family History Center and order this record. Hopefully, it will have a little more information to help me along the way. Further searches in the Irish records have shown me that there are and were a LOT of Cooks, Cookes, Feehilys and Feelys in and around Tobercurry. I'll need a few more clues.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Tapplys of Wittersham

Charles and Ellen Tapply-Whitehorse Beach, Cape Cod abt 1931
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Family myths and family stories are a funny thing. They tend to take on a life of their own. My mother wrote a letter to England during the Blitz of WWII because her grandfather's brother George Tapply
was living in Kent, in the path of the bombers. He wrote back from a little village called Whitstable,
which is right on the coast on the Thames estuary. Apparently it's known for oyster farming. Ever
after that my mother reported to various family members that the Tapplys came from Whitstable. Or
at least by the time she was grown and people became curious that was the family story. When I began
looking into the Tapply family I had this reported to me as absolute fact by various members of the Tapply family. Courtesy of mom as I soon discovered.....

I began by looking for census records for Charles and Ellen somewhere in Kent. When I found them and their various family members a family myth fell to pieces. As it turned out, the family of Charles'
generation and his father James Henry lived in the tiny village of Wittersham near Tenterden. I found them there on multiple census records along with James Henry and various brothers and sisters. Later, when the family was almost grown, they moved to the small city of Maidstone. This is where the story of Charles and Ellen really begins, just before their emmigration to America.

The picture above shows Ellen and Charles on what I am told was a yearly trip to stay at the beach. I love the "driving" duster on Ellen and the bathing costume hanging behind them. To compound the  family story, my mother reported that the Tapply clan made this yearly trip to the area around Hampton Beach and Rye Beach, New Hampshire. When mom finally made it to England and to Whitstable she reported that she now understood why they liked Hampton Beach. Whitstable looked like Hampton Beach and it must have "reminded them of home". Perhaps it did. In it's way... The truth is that Charles' brother George worked for the British postal service for many years and when he retired he lived in Whitstable. For George, this little seaside town was a slice of "home". His job for the postal service had been in Brighton- another somewhat larger and more touristy beach spot. I'm sure he found Whitstable restful.

All of this reminds me to keep in mind the first advice for every amateur genealogist. Use the family stories as clues, but don't become wedded to them as fact. I still like the story of the whole Tapply clan decamping from Fitchburg for a vacation at the shore. I like to think at least that part is true....

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Indexing

Genealogy seems like a "tame" adventure to some who know me. When I talk about my discoveries I have friends who listen avidly, or politely and others who roll their eyes. Yeah, the hobbies of a middle-aged white girl. Right. But this is actually something that interested me from the time I was a young girl hearing about the tangle of aunts, uncles and cousins in my mother's family. Who were these people? What did they do? What were they like? As part of the younger generation moved far away from the small hometown, I drove my parents crazy with questions. My mother was reasonably forthcoming, my dad not so much. So when I started my search 4 years ago I had a number of mysteries to solve. For those of us not lucky enough to travel and do research in person, online resources have become a treasure. I soon discovered FamilySearch, an online repository of records kept by the Mormon Church. Records that are indexed are searchable by name or place or date at the click of a mouse. Many more records have been scanned or photographed and are browsable online. I was delighted to discover a written household inventory and will for a family member from the early 1800's. I knew the approximate date and place, but had to patiently browse through the volume. Time consuming, but rewarding. What a glimpse I got into his life! Last spring I got an email from FamilySearch asking me to volunteer to help them index the 1940 census. This simply means looking at a scanned document and keying data into a large form for a database. Boring right? Actually not. One of the lessons I've learned online is that getting to know the unique characteristics of the forms you discover can make your search much easier. Let's say that your family member shows up living in New York City in 1940, but you are unable to find him before that. Looking at the 1940 Census you discover that there is a field for "Residence in 1935". Voila! Your relative was last living in Albany. That 1940 Census, by the way, was indexed in record time by thousands of volunteers. They knew, as I do, that the faster the records are indexed, the sooner they are out there at TheFold or Ancestry or FamilySearch for all of us to use. FamilySearch is always looking for new volunteers. (BTW, I'm not affiliated in any way-just an enthusiastic volunteer) You download some simple software and work whenever you can. Each project has a deadline, but no one keeps track of how often you work. You can even download projects to work in bits and pieces. They especially need people fluent in other languages. Right now they are indexing manifests for immigrant ships. Does that pique your interest? Imagine finding your ancestor on the very boat that brought him to this country! So, if you have become as ensnared by this hobby as I have, consider volunteering to do a little indexing for FamilySearch.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cassandria

Cassandria Hooper Harrington Rogers
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Through this blog, I'm hoping to connect to family members and widen the research I started almost four years ago on family genealogy. At the heart of the mystery is this lady, Cassandria Hooper Harrington Rogers Kauffman. Here's what I know: She always maintained on census records that she was born in Massachusetts-Worcester to be exact. Now whether that was the City of Worcester or Worcester County I have no idea. She first shows up boarding in a house in Holden on the 1850 census. She and a group of young, teen-aged girls were all boarding with this family and from what I know of Holden she would have been a mill girl. One of my lines of research may be to find the mill closest to the boarding house and see if anything in the way of records exists-doubtful. Stranger things have happened. Being a newbie genealogist I didn't think at once of exploring this couple to see if there was a family connection, but once it occurred to me I did and couldn't find a family link. The next record is a marriage record which records her birth date as 1833 and her parents as Joseph Harrington and Nancy. No last name. This is where the brick wall occurs. Worcester County was full of Harringtons. There was a very old and established Harrington family and several were named Joseph. But in no document or family history can I find one named Joseph married to Nancy (or Anna, Hannah or Agnes-which Nancy was sometimes a nickname for) and sadly, before 1850 the census only listed the male head of household. Cassandria married Winslow Brainard Rogers of Holden in 1851 and had two sons, Eugene and Edward. Edward was my great grandfather. Born during the Civil War, Edward never met or knew his father. Winslow Brainard died of smallpox in Vicksburg just after the siege and capture of the city. When I was a girl, we had letters from him to Cassandria. They were incredibly sad. Cassandria stayed in Holden and lived with various members of the Rogers family until her sons were almost grown. At that point she married William Kauffman. She died in 1904 in Orange, Massachusetts. There are two registries for her death-one in Fitchburg, where she is buried. The other was a card filled out by William Kauffman. On it he lists the birthplace of her parents as Connecticut. This disagrees with the 1880 census but agrees with the 1900 census. I've looked for siblings both male and female in the Worcester County area who have matching data, but with little success. I did find a Joseph Harrington Junior who died in Shrewsbury, and his death card reads Joseph and ? Green. So I pursued Joseph Harrington and Nancy Green which led me to Windham County, Connecticut in the Barbour Collection. There's a marriage record, but no way to know if these are the right people. Oh, and Hooper? A red herring I think. A nice lady at the New England Historic Genealogical Society spent part of one afternoon trying to help me and was as stumped as I am, but for one thing. She found a Cassandra Hooper Bliss who was a popular evangelist in New York and Connecticut and Massachusetts around that time. She suspects this great great grandmother was named in honor of her. The photo is a gem. I love the expression and the large cat on her lap. Recently people have commented that I look like her. I don't see it, but maybe so. She was a strong lady, that's for sure. And sure of herself as well. When I got the pension application from the National Archives her name is signed in a strong hand Cassandria H. H. Rogers. Something in her name was important to her. Maybe someday soon I'll know what that was.