Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rebecca Shelley Chamberlain

Not so very long ago, a woman in her sixties, a woman who seemed overfond of her cat and most certainly a woman alone would have been the subject of local gossip. Rebecca Chamberlain was in her sixties, respectable, married and the mother of 12 living children. She lived in Billerica, Massachusetts with her husband William. How she got caught up the hysteria is not known. In fact, not much is known about Rebecca beyond these basic facts.  She was arrested on the charge of "mischief"and was jailed in Cambridge. Later accounts state that she was accused of witchcraft- "mischief" was the common euphemism for that charge. Rebecca, my ninth great grandmother, died in jail in September 1692 before a trial could be held.  On this day, when modern mischief has an entirely different meaning, it's good to reflect a moment on how far we've come.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Leaf Twig and Stem is a Genealogy Gem!

One of the first things I did when I began working on my family tree was looking around for advice and help from other family genealogists. I read a lot of blogs, I visited a lot of pages and I checked a few books out of the library. It was overwhelming. About the same time I began going to the gym every day and I needed something to fill that time on the cardio equipment. Podcasts became my go-to entertainment. Almost immediately I discovered The Family History Podcast-Genealogy Made Easy. This took me step by step through some of the processes I had found confusing. I worked my way back through all the episodes and then I discovered Lisa Louise Cooke's newer podcast: Genealogy Gems. Lisa has recently really embraced all sorts of technology, so this was a great new find. When Lisa did a three-part series on genealogy bloggers I was interested and intrigued with the idea of carrying my research one step further-but not totally convinced. Blogging is work, right? But as I listened to other bloggers who wrote in to tell her of their blogging success, I began to think about this more seriously. And that is really how this blog was born.

Lisa put out a call to genealogy bloggers and I responded. This month she featured some of those emails and blog links on her latest podcast. Leaf Twig and Stem was included. You can listen to the podcast here. I was thrilled to be included and happy to be able to report to her that one of my blogging goals had already been met; one of the GeneaBloggers is a cousin through two different family lines. So I am reaching those missing family branches!

If you want to check out the original Family History podcast series, Lisa had made it available here.
Thanks for the mention, Lisa.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Another Mappy Monday- Finding the Tapplys in 1915

I enlarged this map as far as Blogger would allow, but this reproduction of the panoramic view of Fitchburg, Massachusetts in 1915 hardly does the full map justice. I found this gem in the map collection site for the Library of Congress. You can go here and see if there is a panoramic view of the place your ancestor lived.  It is a wonderful collection.

I spent a long time zooming in on various parts of this map to see what I could recognize. Of course
I spotted the top of Main Street and the familiar church building right away.
The drawing of the buildings is really charming and it appears that there was a streetcar running up and down Main Street in those days. The little vignettes around the border of the map are of various important buildings and businesses in Fitchburg. Of course the reason I picked the map from 1915 was that Charles Tapply and his family were living in Fitchburg having moved there from Newton. A look at an old city directory gave me a listing for the family.
My aunt Bea was working as a stenographer, my great grandfather was a grocer and Aunt Mabel was living at home. This is the 88 Winter Street house that my grandmother recalled from her girlhood. A quick zoom on the map shows about where that would be.
The red arrow points to the corner of Winter and Boutelle Streets, right about where number 88 would be. Uncle Charlie was working as a teamster and living nearby on Pacific Street.

The area where my grandmother lived when I knew her is on the far left of the big map and is just shown as woods. Fitchburg was still a growing city in 1915.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Now and Then in Holden, Massachusetts

I'm always on the lookout for interesting photos that relate to the family. Today I was noodling around
and ended up on the website of the Holden Historical Society in Holden, Massachusetts. It was
interesting because the photo was taken at the intersection of Main Street and Boyden Road. The Rogers family homestead, where members of the Rogers family lived for over 100 years, is just down the street about half a block.
Courtesy of the Holden Historical Society
You are looking down Main and you can see Boyden just to the right. The small cape style building on
the right was a school building known as Center School. It was built in 1820 to replace an earlier building, but this photo dates from 1880-1900.  I imagine members of the family went to school in that building. Amazing to see how rural Holden was even then!


So of course I had to go to Google street view and see what it looked like today. That little white building in the center of the picture is that same one-room schoolhouse which is now a hair salon. And you can see Boyden Road on the right. Main Street is a busy road these days, but Holden is still a pretty, green little suburb.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sophronia Richardson Smith

Or Genealogical Coincidence....
South Russell Street

Yesterday I was exploring the recently indexed records that have been added to FamilySearch and of course that led down another rabbit hole. Before I knew it I was exploring the unindexed records (which you have to browse) using dates from my tree to narrow the search. I found the death record, or I should say the coroner's report, for my 2X great grandmother Sophronia Richardson Smith. Sophronia came from Litchfield, Maine, married Reuben Lowell Smith and raised their family in the area around Boston. They lived in Waltham, Groton, Concord, and Littleton. What caught my attention was the address on this record:
44 South Russell Street is an area on what's called the "back side" of Beacon Hill. The large houses were broken up into small apartments. So in 1894, at the time of her death, Sophronia was living in an apartment in that neighborhood. Maybe with one of her children. But that address seemed awfully familiar. So I did some poking in my records and found this:
This record is from the City Directory files on Ancestry. This is the 1948 directory from several pages
of Rogers living in Boston. In 1948, my mom Primrose Rogers, had left her hometown of Fitchburg and was a secretary living in Boston at 54 South Russell in a little apartment. As a child I heard many stories about her life in Boston at this time just before she married my dad.

Sophronia's great grandchild ended up living just a block away from her last home. Not a wild coincidence, but considering the size of the city of Boston??  I thought it was interesting.