Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Mysterious Andrew Fitzgerald

I know very little about my father's side of the family. I know even less about his father's side of the family. When I began I knew that someone on that side was possibly named Andrew and he married Catherine. She was a Fitzgerald as well. The census records bore this out. I found Andrew, Catherine, my grandfather John J. and his siblings. I kept working back and back through the records trying to piece that side of the family together. I found what I was sure was an early census, a marriage record and then....a passenger list. But the curious thing was that on every document I found a different birth date for Andrew Senior....different ages. It was all very curious.

My father never knew much about the family. Almost nothing about his father's family. His cousin Catherine knew a little bit, but she was never close to my father. And he said the family was always "secretive" and closed-mouthed. My dad was an only child and his closest cousins were on his mother's side. A dead end.

I decided to try something that was suggested on Ancestry and make a table with all the pertinent information. Maybe my error would reveal itself.

From this I would guess that the passenger I found was the wrong Andrew. I remember seeing an immigration certificate in the family papers that gave 1850 as the year he arrived. But this can't be him.
I suspect that the 1870 census was possibly a mistake by the census-taker or a lie. But why? And the birthdates are all over the place. I looked carefully at each record. In each I found Andrew Fitzgerald and his wife Catherine, an address in Charlestown (in later years Charles River Avenue) and his profession stated as laborer or teamster. My guess is that he worked on the docks as a driver.

If Andrew was born in 1814 or 1815, he would have been 82 when he died. If he were born in 1834 he would be in his 60's. Certainly whoever certified his death would have known the difference. I can understand why an immigrant would make himself older...but almost 20 years older?

So I'm no closer to an answer, but at least I have a timeline for his life. I'm hoping someone out there may have an suggestion. It's all very mysterious....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

my dad-possibly somewhere in England
Today, in honor of Veterans Day, I want to spend a moment on just a few of the veterans in my tree.
As I began my research I knew about my dad and my Civil War ancestor. I found many, many more.
So here's a salute to just a few:
John J Fitzgerald -World War II
Brainard Winslow Rogers- Korean War
William Frederick Smith- Spanish American War
Winslow Brainard Rogers- American Civil War
Isaac E Johnson- American Civil War
Aaron Rogers-Revolutionary War
A nation's gratitude to them all....and mine as well.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Edward Winslow Rogers-The Story of the Railroad Men

On the left you have Eugene Harrington Rogers. At the time this story begins, he had lived in Fitchburg, Massachusetts for some years, was working as a sign and artistic painter and living on Chestnut Street. On the right is my great grandfather Edward Winslow Rogers. I made a surprising discovery, which has lead to what I think is a romantic tale and the merging of two old families.

 I have relished a great resource on Ancestry in the local and city directories. Some of these go back a long way, some list occupation and some will list a death date. That was how I tracked down a date for my grandfather Fitzgerald. But I was looking at the Fitchburg Directory for 1891. Most unexpectedly I found this
So this is the first listing of Edward in Fitchburg, where he had moved from Holden to be near his brother. I knew OCRR meant railroad....but which one? That lead me to the story of the Old Colony railroad. The Old Colony Railroad served lower Massachusetts, the Cape and parts of Rhode Island. They ran large steam trains and I found a good example.
Old Colony did very well for a time, carrying people to the shore at a time when few people might have had an automobile. As the line prospered, they added a northern spur which ran to Fitchburg.
Courtesy of the OCRR museum
Edward became a railroad fireman, boarded on Day Street which was walking distance to the wonderful old Union Depot in downtown Fitchburg.
Sadly that station was torn down in the sixties. Several rail lines ran out of the station including the Fitchburg Railroad. I knew that my great grandfather Smith had worked for the Fitchburg Railroad, but I never knew that "Ned" had been a railroad man as well. So I went back to the directories to be sure.
And there was George F Smith, a railroad engineer for the Fitchburg Railroad, living on Goodrich Street with his grown daughter boarding in his home. My imagination began to work. George had contact with the other engineers and firemen who came through the station. Here is this newcomer to town, Ned Rogers, a lonely boarder and George invites him home to Sunday dinner. At the dinner table are his three lovely daughters, including his eldest, Cora. Now maybe it didn't happen quite that way, but I'd like to think that I've discovered the story of the meeting of Cora Elizabeth Smith  and Edward Winslow Rogers, my great grandparents. They were married in 1893.

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.