Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rascal

No download or reproduction without express permission
This is my grandfather Harry Winslow Rogers pictured during the time he was courting my grandmother Primrose Victoria Tapply.  Sadly I never knew him. But I had heard stories. Here's another, more innocent photo from a slightly younger age.
No reproduction or download without express permission
He had vivid red hair and blue eyes. The family called him "Rusty" to distinguish him from Harry Tapply. He was very musical, he had some artistic talent, he was "handy" and also...just a bit naughty. Well I heard stories anyway.

The first hint that the stories might be true came as more records came online at Ancestry and I found
a marriage record for one Harry W. Tapply marrying a Grace Elizabeth Carroll in Bellows Falls, Vermont. " Ah, a youthful marriage, " I thought. So I turned to the Fitchburg Sentinel to see if I could find anything else. And what I found made me chuckle. We always cluck over the things that young people get themselves into: the alcohol, drugs, partying, bad behavior. We forget that young people have always sown their wild oats. Apparently my grandfather was no exception.
So he went to a house party that seems to have gone on for several days, there was drinking and carousing and girls. Someone made a bet and he ended up in Bellows Falls marrying this girl. Then he went home as if nothing happened and moved back in with his parents...except now the girl was pregnant.  Sadly the records confirm  that the baby was stillborn. And to top things off, Harry expected to straighten himself out by enrolling in the military, but was rejected due to a case of the clap.  I can just imagine how that went over at home. (not to mention being in the Sentinel for all to see) Doesn't this sound like something you could read in the paper today?

"Spoiled" was my mother's pronouncement. I'm sure that came directly from the mouths of the two aunties, Lotta and Clara. They doted on him as well. Luckily, as most kids do, he learned from his mistakes. He got his divorce, moved on. Became a soloist at the Rollstone Congregational Church, met my grandmother and settled down. He struggled a bit during the Great Depression,  but eventually became head of a crew that built and repaired roads around Fitchburg. He also was responsible for a lot of the signage. For those who live in Fitchburg, some of those early orange and black street signs in the slightly script-style font were my grandfather's handywork.

In January of 1952 he went out on a stepladder to clear an ice or snow from the roof. He came back inside, had a heart attack and died. I was born 11 months later....on his birthday, which is today.  I like to believe that was no accident.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another Throwback Thursday

Filene's in Boston-Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library Archives
I can remember standing fascinated in front of the windows of Filene's when we made trips into Boston at Christmas time. They always went all out with the decorations. This particular image dates from 1954. In around 1956 or 1957 my dad and I took a trip into Boston from the suburbs. Most certainly we were Christmas shopping and very likely took a trip through Filene's. But my memory is of walking along Boylston Street past a record store. They had bins of vinyl out front and speakers overhead with whatever they were promoting that day. That particular day it was Mahalia Jackson's new Christmas album. I remember my dad stoppping, his face broke into a wide grin, and before I knew it we were headed home with a copy of the album. For years that was the music we opened gifts to on Christmas morning. Even now, it's not Christmas until I've played Mahalia.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Momento Mori

© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
Even before I got into genealogy, I was fascinated by old graveyards. At first it was the Victorian
era graves with their weeping angels and cherubs. Then I discovered the really old stones in my
native New England. I was hooked. I love the angel of death images, the weeping willows and all
the symbology that goes with these very old stones. Luckily, I'm not the only one.  The Rumsey
map collection has a lovely archive of black and white photos of these old stones which were mostly
taken by David Farber and his wife Jesse. You can browse these images here.  If these images
seem macabre you may want to read about the meanings associated with them in this excellent
pdf written by Jesse Lie Farber.

Of course, I had to start combing the various photo collections looking for family members. The photo above is the stone for Benjamin Shed, my 7th great grandfather. He lived to a ripe old age in Billerica,
Massachusetts. The winged face was a symbol or resurrection and life everlasting.

© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
Here's another ancestor and a similar stone for Joanna Woodbury Herrick, my eighth great grandmother. This stone is a bit more elaborate with lovely vines and flowers around the edge.
© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
This image isn't the stone for a relative, but I love the relief carving of the skull and crossbones.

Of course then there's the whole topic of humorous epitaphs. So far I haven't located any clever
ancestors, but with any luck you might on this site or over at FindaGrave.  There are a number
of epitaphs still up at AVery Grave Matter, but the wonderful bank of photos isn't there and the
site seems not to be kept up. 

Just one more place to find a little glimpse of one of your ancestors. Happy hunting!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Finding Uncle Andrew

Long Island Light-Courtesy Boston Public Library Archives
Growing up, I peppered my father with questions about the Fitzgeralds and the Cooks. He could tell me very little. One thing he did remember was going to visit "Uncle Andrew" at a hospital somewhere in Boston. My mother later confided that this was my grandfather's brother who supposedly was dying at the time of cirrhosis. I can guess why THAT story didn't make it into family lore.

I discovered that there WAS, in fact, an Uncle Andrew. Andrew Fitzgerald grew up in the house on Charles River Avenue and became a teamster like his father. There's no evidence he married and very little about him in the census in his adult years. In the1930 census I came across this:

So the April 1930 Census puts 62-year-old Andrew in the Long Island Almshouse, also known as the Long Island Prison Hospital. This is where 13-year-old John and his dad would have visited Uncle Andrew. Yet again, some facts that fit a family story. I would imagine Andrew died on the island. I'll have to make inquiries with the City of Boston. I haven't found a death record yet, but his grave is either in the small cemetery on the island or unmarked in the family plot at Holy Cross.


Long Island is one of the harbor islands inside Boston Harbor now in the control of the National Parks Service. You can take a ferry ride to several of the islands, but Long Island is still closed to the public. It has an interesting history as I found laid out in a report to Mayor Menino in 2002. It is the largest of all the harbor islands and was inhabited early on by Native Americans. Later it was used as a sort of holding facility for native tribes. The report goes on to talk about its role in the American Revolution:
"Its height and strategic location also allowed it to command both entrances to Boston's inner harbor (Broad Sound and the Narrows). In 1775, 500 Continental soldiers landed on Long Island, stole livestock, and took seventeen British sailors prisoner. The following year, a force of Continental soldiers and militia men occupied the island and built defensive batteries which were used to bombard British vessels entering Boston Harbor during the Revolutionary War."

During the Civil War it was used as a place to drill and train soldiers and was fortified with gun emplacements. Later, in a complete change of use, people began to use it as a recreational spot.
A hotel was built which remained in operation until 1885.
Courtesy of Boston Public Library Archives



In 1887, the city of Boston acquired almost the entire island to house city charities. An almshouse for the poor, a treatment hospital for chronic illness, a nursing school a prison facility and other charity facilities took over the buildings. The hospital treated chronic alcoholism at a time when this was considered more of a "defect of character" than an illness. People whose chronic drunkenness caused a public nuisance would be likely to end up at Long Island. (By 1940 they were calling it an alcohol treatment facility rather than a prison) This, I suspect, is how Andrew ended up there in 1930.


Men's hospital on Long Island-Courtesy BPL archives
Men's ward-Long Island hospital- Courtesy of BPL archives


The island again became a military facility during WWII and later NIKE missiles were housed there. Many buildings have been demolished, but many still remain on the island and are used to house shelters and substance abuse treatment programs.  I would imagine it is a pleasant place to be in the summer, but miserably cold and windy in Boston winters.

I came across one last tidbit of lore concerning the island- a ghost story.
Woman in Scarlet
Boston Harbor’s Long Island is home to one of the most tragic Boston Ghost Stories. At the close of the American Revolution, the British still had several ships lagging in Boston Harbor. On board one of these ships were William and Mary Burton. The newly weds, like so many others, were fleeing the chaos of this besieged city and looking forward to spending their lives together across the Atlantic. 

As their ship attempted to sail out of Boston Harbor, a cannon ball from the Long Island Battery hit Mary in back of the head. Unbelievably, she was not killed instantly, but lingered on for several days in excruciating pain before succumbing to her massive head trauma. As she lay dying, Mary pleaded with her husband not to bury her at sea. She was never fond of the sea and could not bear to have her earthly remains consigned to a watery grave. Eventually mary died of her injuries and William was permitted to venture to Long Island to bury his love. Once ashore, he sewed her body into a soft red blanket that Mary had brought aboard with her to keep warm on the long journey home and laid her to rest in the sandy dunes. He fashioned a headstone out of a piece of driftwood and as he carved her name into it he swore that he would return to Boston and give her a proper marker. He never returned.

But Mary, it seems, refuses to be forgotten. To this day, visitors to the island report seeing a woman with “muddy-gray skin” and wearing a scarlet cloak stumbling over the sandy dunes. Blood is usually seen streaming down her cloak from a gaping hole in the back of her head—the exact spot where the cannon fire had smashed her skull. 

This story sounds like a yarn to me, but I'm sure for some it was effective at keeping people away from the island.  There is a movement afoot to catalog the graveyard, where stones are few and most are undocumented on Find-a-Grave. Perhaps this will turn up one last trace of Uncle Andrew.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Revolutionary Ideas- The Story of Three Sisters

Dunn Cemetery- Bloomington Indiana
On the Indiana side of my mother's family tree, we are related to the Dunns. They settled in Rockingham County, Virginia, removed to Kentucky and my branch ended up in Indiana. There are Dunns all over Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana who descend from this line. This story goes even further back. Samuel Fowler Dunn married Eleanor Brewster, one of many children and one of  three very well-known daughters of James Brewster and Eleanor Williamson. James Brewster and Samuel's father John Dunn were lifelong friends from their childhood in Northern Ireland.

The story of their bravery during the American Revolution has been told and retold in multiple versions all over the genealogical community.  The girls were Eleanor who was 22, Jenette-14 and Agnes-13 at the start of the Revolution. The farm raised sheep and the girls carded the wool, spun it and wove it into cloth to supply the armies who camped on and near their land. They cooked and carried food to the troops. One particular story has them baking bread continually night and day in a particular bread oven brought with the family from Ireland. The oven, it is said, was never allowed to cool. It was handed down in the Dunn family to girls named Jennet or Janet.  Recognition of the bravery of the three girls has been given by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.You can read various things about the family here.

Eleanor, my ancestor, married Samuel Fowler Dunn. He moved out of Virginia and Kentucky and further north into Indiana, because it is said he objected to slavery.  Jenette married Samuel Irvin and Agnes married William Alexander. The three sisters all ended up in Indiana in the area around Bloomington.

George G Dunn deeded a portion of the family farm to be kept in perpetuity as a cemetery for the descendants of the Dunn family. The land around it was later sold to Indiana University, so the cemetery and chapel now sit on the university campus.  There is a monument to the three sisters in one corner of the cemetery.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

James Henry "Harry" Tapply

James Henry "Harry"
No download or reproduction without express permission
When I was doing a bit of research for my last post,  I came across some interesting material about my grandmother's brother "Harry" Tapply. Of course I've told the story of his wife and his child during this World War I period. This photo is courtesy of my cousin Holly Jones, who reports that this is Harry in 1915 atop General Pershing's horse. Well, maybe. You know by now how those family stories go.
Harry did, in fact, serve in the military police of the 26th Division during World War I. What I came across that amazed me was an account, in his own words, of his experience.

On January 18, 1919 as the war had drawn to a close, The Fitchburg Sentinel published an article with war accounts from three soldiers. One was Harry Tapply excerpted from a letter to his sister (named only as 'Miss Tapply') The newspaper scan was in very poor condition, so I will give you an abbreviated version here:

"I am still in Montigny-le-Roi and I hope when we move it will be toward the coast but I read in the paper that all the veteran divisions will remain here until peace is signed. If that is true we will be here for some time yet.
The other day I went hunting wild boar with the town mayor of Montigny. We has no luck though, but the experience was wonderful. In all there were nine dogs. We have had much better food after the signing of the armistice and have had it more regular. For dinner yesterday we had hamburger steak, creamed carrots, mashed potatoes, bread pudding, coffee and bread with butter. We never got such food as that at the front. Very often after marching all day we got nothing but bread and coffee and sometimes we had nothing to eat for two days.
While we were on these marches we slept whenever we stopped. Sometimes in gutters or fields and to make things more pleasant the Boche would send over whiz-bang and black Marias and many other things too numerous to mention. A fellow thinks of home when he sees a chum blown to bits and has to pick him up in a blanket.
At Chateau (unreadable)    I went through a wheat field........in size and counted 36 mothers’ sons who would never return. Some of them mere boys with innocent faces and all were volunteers from our own division.
At Verdun it was even worse. Everywhere a Yankee fell a rifle was placed on end by running the bayonet into the ground. You could look out across most any part and see hundreds of such rifles denoting that many hundred would never return.
I went through Belleu woods and the sights I saw cannot be imagined by any human being. The woods themselves were demolished and men were buried half covered up and with hands and feet sticking out of the ground the and the odor was ...... You can see why the volunteers are  ..... These were ……. of the sights and horrors of war.
I wonder how many of the men back home running things would say ‘ go on ‘ if they had to do the going and ………..
All I can say is we are all thankful it is over and that we are ……..pushing………No Man’s Land."

I don't think any words could make his experience plainer. Harry Tapply came home with this loss and others to join the Fitchburg police force. He remarried, had four more children, and served with honor until his death in 1942.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
                                                       Between the crosses, row on row,  
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
 Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
 In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
 To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
   If ye break faith with us who die
 We shall not sleep, though poppies grow  
               In Flanders fields.
-Colonel John McCrae
It was said that where great battles were waged during World War I, fields of poppies sprung up over the graves of the dead. Thus, the poppy came to symbolize their service. The fields of ceramic poppies places around the Tower of London are in remembrance of British or colonial soldiers who died in " The Great War".   Just a quick search through my tree revealed a few from my tree, both American and British,  who served in this war.
Robert Burns Begg
Harold Clive Miles
George Allan Otto
Frank Webb Tapply
George Samuel Tapply
Harry James Tapply
Hugh Lansdell Tapply
Sidney Lansdell Tapply

For their service....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Setting the Scene - The Archers in 1906

Market Street, San Francisco, April 14, 1906
I love the idea of capturing a small slice of life from the times in which my ancestors lived. The wonderful Lisa Louise Cooke has remastered an earlier podcast where she suggests using silent films as a way of putting the lives of your ancestors in context; looking at life at the time and appreciating early films your ancestors may also have enjoyed. You can listen to the whole podcast and read the show notes here. The still above is from a movie called "A Trip Down Market Street" and it was filmed just four days before the earthquake and fire. As I listened to Lisa describe the film in the podcast I realized, "I had an ancestor living in San Francisco at this time!"

OK...so I need to set the scene for my cousins. This was not a direct ancestor. I've made a little tree that shows how we are related.
So my three times great grandmother, Margaret Archer, had a younger brother Samuel Milton Archer who became a doctor and moved west to the Salinas Valley around Monterrey. He had two wives and a very large family. His eldest son, Aretas Allen Archer, became a San Francisco policeman.
For obvious reasons I couldn't find a 1906 directory, but he shows up in both 1905 and 1907 living with his sister Agnes Archer and her husband Christian Melin, a master mariner.
The Melins moved to Church Street briefly after the earthquake, but by the 1910 census they were back on Fair Oaks Street. This is between Noe Valley and the Mission District near Mission Delores Park. Did they "camp out" in the park after the earthquake?  Who knows? The area south of Market Street shook pretty hard. 
You'll notice that I've captured a still with a policeman in it. It's a little tip of the hat to Aretas Archer.  Go to YouTube and watch this film all the way through. It's just a little bit of light-hearted fun before a very grim chapter in San Francisco history, but it gives you a glimpse of a time gone by.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

No reproduction or downloads without
express permission
In honor of a hot July day, I thought I'd take a trip to the beach. My family liked to go up to the Maine beaches, but the back of the photo doesn't tell us where this was taken. From the back we have:
Lotta Smith, Primrose Rogers Tapply, Clara Smith, and Primrose (Primsy) Rogers. Love those bathing costumes and the bathing shoes. This was about 1930.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Still Another Mappy Monday- the Freeds of Sutton Valence

This charming map is the result of a search online for a neglected branch of my family; the Freeds.
Charles Tapply was married to Ellen Freed Benn. For years, we thought she was born in Kent, but actually she was born in London. However, her mother died in childbirth or shortly thereafter and she went to live with her aunt. Elizabeth Freed Boorman  lived with her husband, who was a wheelwright, in the small village of Sutton Valence. Ellen was christened there, as I discovered in the FamilySearch records.
Ellen Benn
Gender: Female
Christening Date: 22 Mar 1857
Christening Place: Sutton-Valence, Kent, England
Father's Name: John Benn
Mother's Name: Mary Benn
For those not familiar with Kentish geography, here is a modern map showing Sutton Valence.
Personally, I love the first map with the tiny depictions of churches and farmsteads and forests. All the Freeds lived in the immediate area and sorting them out will be yet another challenge!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Small Town Deals with Smallpox

Drawing accompanying text in Book XII of the 16th-century Florentine Codex (compiled 1540–1585), showing Nahuas of conquest-era central Mexico suffering from smallpox.

I love using the FamilySearch records as a resource. I mentioned before that I found that many of the records I thought were original turn out to be 19th Century copies. The originals, I discovered, were still unindexed on FamilySearch.
I've been combing through the Holden, Massachusetts town records for the traces of my Rogers ancestors.  These original records are fascinating because they combine birth records, death records, marriage records and minutes from the town meetings. And it was at one town meeting that I discovered this:

Clearly the people of Holden knew that people with smallpox needed to be isolated and went to the extreme measure of creating a hospital to contain the disease. In the following entry, dated December 13, 1792 I found this:

The phrase that surprised me was "for all those persons that are now Inoculated in this Town and no more". They were inoculating against smallpox in 1792? This was news to me. But a little searching on the internet told me that no less a person than Cotton Mather was advocating inoculation in 1721. You can read about that here.

I also found out that there were a series of epidemics right up until Jenner's discovery of vaccination in 1796. The colonists had a crude form of vaccination and this website provided this information:
"There was, however, a catch: individuals under inoculation did come down with smallpox, and they were therefore fully capable of infecting others with the disease. Unless practised under strict quarantine, the operation was as likely to start an epidemic as to stop one. For this reason, inoculation was highly controversial in the English colonies, where smallpox outbreaks were comparatively rare."
So this explains why a hospital was necessary for the vaccinated. Smallpox runs through a series of stages over a few months, so it would have been imperative to house these people for a while. It was a far more benign solution than the one I found here. North Brookfield is only a few miles west of Holden and this would have been in 1788, a few years before the outbreak in Holden.

The History Today website tells us that there were a series of outbreaks during the American Revolution that affected fighting in both New England and the South and into Canada. From there the disease moved west. Of course we know that the disease devastated the Native American population. I was heartened to find that the town of Holden embraced the idea of inoculation(controversial at the time), did not banish the sick, and did not consider the disease "God's judgment"(another popular idea in Puritan America). Just another window into the lives of my ancestors.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Blogiversary

I noticed about midweek that there were a few more hits on the blog. Then it "hit" me: Monday was my  blogiversary. It was a year ago on June 2, 2013 when I began. Thanks to Geneabloggers for the reminder. And Happy Blogiversary to ME!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day- Remembering Winslow Brainard Rogers

Grove Cemetery, Holden, Massachusetts
Reading up a little this morning, I discovered that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and was established especially to remember those lost in the American Civil War. This Memorial Day I would like to remember the man who piqued my curiousity  about my family. Winslow Brainard Rogers enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. He was a bugler in Company G of the 36th Massachusetts regiment. He died of smallpox after the siege of Vicksburg on July 25, 1863. He was only 38 years old when he died. There is a marker in his name at the town cemetery in Holden, Massachusetts and his name is engraved on a plaque in the town hall. As a child we had a packet of letters written from WB to his wife Cassandria. I no longer have the letters available to me, but I remember how sad they were and how terribly he missed his family and his small hometown. For those who made the ultimate sacrifice, on this day we remember.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Family Scandal-That Wasn't

June Walley-Second row, second from the left
This is both a sad and a happy story. It is the story of family lost and family found. When I began researching my Tapply relatives, I knew there were a few "skeletons" in the family closet. I had heard the stories of divorces, misbehavior and one in particular about a baby born out of wedlock and adopted by another family member. When I filled in the original family tree, I plugged in what I knew and hoped I'd find more.

Before 1920, my grandmother's sister Bess Tapply and her husband Samuel Walley were living in Rutland, Vermont where he worked for A T & T. I found a very sad record of a stillborn child early in my research and I knew that her only other child was adopted, so Bess was unable to have children of her own. Bess was one of the loveliest and most loving people I have known.  I could only imagine how long she and Sam tried for children. It made me very happy to find this in the 1920 census:
There is the child they adopted living with the Walleys at 1 1/2 years old. In a later census she is recorded as Eunice Haskins Walley. The story as I heard it was that Bess's brother Harry has gotten a girl "in the family way" and that Bess and Sam had adopted the baby. They always called her June. So I recorded Harry as the father with mother "unknown" and Bess and Sam as the adopted parents.

Clearly there was some trace of her beginnings in the census. Could the mother's name have been Haskins? I looked in Ancestry and FamilySearch and didn't turn up anything. In the meantime, I was also turning up Tapply cousins who were interested in genealogy. One was Holly Jones, Harry Tapply's granddaughter. Did she know the family story? I hoped so. But one day she emailed me and asked "Who is this June?" This is one of the moments in genealogy you don't look forward to. I told her the story I knew and referred her to the family reunion photo. In the close-up above you see June in the second row, second from the left next to her half-sister. Did they know? Probably not. Holly had never heard this story from her mother Beryl or her aunts Fern and Janice.

Holly felt sure there was more to this story-the 1920 census showed Harry living with his parents and listed as a widower. I began to suspect so as well. I think it was BillionGraves that turned up the record that made us sure. Gertrude L. Tapply showed up in a search, buried in Westminster, Massachusetts in the Haskins family plot.

 Unlikely that she'd be buried as a Tapply if they hadn't married. Next we found the death record:
So we know she died in February of 1918, that she was married at the time, and that June was born in late 1917 or very early 1918. The cause of death doesn't seem like a death in childbirth.
Finally we located the marriage record:
So clearly Gertrude was pregnant when they married and Harry was in the Army fighting in WW I. Was he even around when the baby was born? When his wife died? Perhaps not. Even so, he'd be hard-pressed to care for an infant by himself and there was his sister longing for a child. So June lost her mother and her father early in her life and became the very loved child of Bess and Sam Walley. Bess and Sam had a large house in Newburyport, Massachusetts and went on to raise June's son, Ted as well. Family lost, family found. And another family myth dispelled!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Those Primary Sources

Here is my great grandmother, Ellen Benn Tapply with my grandmother Primrose Tapply on her lap. From the age of my grandmother  in this picture I would guess this was taken about 1900 in Newton, Massachusetts.

When documenting a birth in genealogy records, we are told to get as close to the primary source as possible. So here is what I found for my grandmother. First we have the family Bible:
This is generally a somewhat reliable source, but this depends on who did the recording. I notice that the first four entries are all in the same hand. The later ones are not. Plus in another spot in the Bible it says the Bible was "given to her by her mother". I don't know anyone who refers to themselves in the third person. So my guess is that Ellen made those first entries and the later ones were made by one of her daughters. At the bottom you can see the entry for my grandmother : October 24, 1898.

Next I found the register page for the city of Newton where my grandmother was born:

There at the very bottom, entry 679 was recorded in the register on January 16 of 1899. For a long time, I thought that was it. I'd found my primary source. Then Ancestry made a whole new set of Massachusetts birth records available. You see, what I'd completely forgotten was that my grandmother would have been a home birth. All of Ellen's children were. Attended by a doctor perhaps...or not. That was how it was done back then. And in that new set of records I found this:
Now I know by the date at the bottom that this is the source of the information for the register entry. I also see a physician's name on the right side and the place of birth is Eddy Street. So this was the official physician's record of the birth for the city. I don't know if he made notes and transcribed them later, or just filed a card based on information supplied by the parents when he made a home visit, but I would guess this is about as primary as a source could be.
Always keep looking. Never give up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Foolishness- How Reliable is That Source?

On this April Fools Day, I can't help but think of how wide-eyed and trusting I was when I began this genealogical adventure.  I must confess that although I had had some curiosity for years about the family, it was watching "Who Do You Think You Are?" that inspired me to actually begin this hobby.

I signed up for Ancestry, I began contacting family members and before I knew it I had more information than I could deal with. Totally. Now I did know enough to look closely at the hints on Ancestry that I was getting.  Once I got the tree back far enough for the information to be more obscure I realized why we are cautioned to be so careful. People on Ancestry who have public trees copy and paste and borrow willy-nilly. And mistakes get copied from tree to tree and become someone's version of "fact".  I soon became very wary. (and BTW I consider my online Ancestry tree as more of a "worksheet"- I try to only put things on my computer-based genealogy program that have some documents to back them up)

So let's look at a fairly glaring example of this. My ancestor Joseph Rogers arrived with his father Thomas on the Mayflower. That much we know. We know he lived on the Massachusetts Cape, married, had children and died there. There are records in Barnstable County of his death. His birth, however, is less certain. We know it was probably in England. Here is what I find when I follow the hints on Ancestry.
So first we have this. Right away I'm suspicious because it is from the Family Data Collection. That could be an actual Bible or it could be "family stories" or it could be a written history passed down or it could be "Old Aunt Fanny always said". No knock on family records, I just have learned to be wary.
In this record we have a very confusing birthplace. I'm thinking they meant either Holland or Norhamption, England...but who knows? And the mother's name is different. There has been a lot of chatter online about whether there really was an "Alice Cosford", so this doesn't surprise me.
This one I found for Joseph in someone's tree that was "shared". Now you would think that with four sources that would be pretty solid. But as you follow out those hints, not one of them documents Stratford-on-Avon as his birthplace. They merely confirm his name and a birth in England. In fact, one of the sources was One World Tree. Argh...don't get me started on that topic!

Then you have the Ancestral Files on Family Search. Again, nothing against family research or old family records, but what you see online gives you no idea where this information came from. It was submitted to the records of the Mormon Church, but no citations beyond that appear.

So on this April Fool's Day, don't be foolish or hasty in accepting everything you find-especially online. Do a little digging and a little legwork.  It will pay off in the long run.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's All in the Genes


Tapplys about 1900
No download or reproduction without express permission
As I look at family photos, I'm often struck by little characteristics that are passed from generation to generation.  The Tapplys were in two camps. You can see the dark hair and deep-set eyes on the three
oldest sisters in the back: Annie, Daisy and Nell. Mabel, on the far left, Ethel (next to her) and my grandmother (the baby on Ellen's lap were more fair and had rounder features. But I was taken aback to see two somewhat distant cousins who were more than a bit alike.
Mark Tapply                                                      William G Tapply
A few years ago I began reading the mysteries of the late William G Tapply because I knew as a "double p" Tapply we were somehow related and frankly I was curious. I turned over one book in the series to find this picture.  For the curious cousins reading this, I made a simple tree from my further research.

This makes Mark and William G third cousins. When you compare the jacket photo to my cousin Mark I wouldn't say the resemblance is close, but you can definitely tell they are family.

Sometimes some very distinctive features skip a generation. My brother Mark is most certainly a Fitzgerald, but the resemblance between his son Patrick and his grandfather (both at 16 years) is quite remarkable.
Patrick Fitzgerald                                            John J Fitzgerald
No download or reproduction without express permission
The chin, the ears, the brow...the set of their eyes...Wow! 

I've been told I look a lot like my father as well and my mother and my grandmother Katie (dad's mom) and my two times great grandmother Cassandria. And I do look a bit like all of them. But then I looked more closely at a picture taken in 1927 of my great grandmother Ellen.
The photo is pretty grainy, but look at the chin and the jawline, the smile lines of the nose, the lips......and my mother always said my very thick blonde hair came from Ellen. Maybe I'm more Tapply than I thought.

Family photos are just one more way to reach into the past and make that gene-alogical connection.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

♣ A Little Irish Mappy Monday

Considering how little my mother actually knew about her genealogy, she could be quite a snob about her family...of course some of her attitudes came from small-town upbringing and things she heard at home as a child.  So I was gleeful to discover that there was quite a bit of Irish background in her family.
What I present here are the bare facts I've gleaned from the few online records and family histories....hopefully in the future an ambitious genealogist will find the records to back this up.
James Dunn and Martha Long married some time in the mid-1700's in County Down, Ireland. Down is in Northern Ireland right on the Irish Sea. I found this rather cool map at one of the Irish heritage sites. James and Martha had several children in Ireland, including my ancestor Samuel Fowler Dunn. At some point after his birth around 1750, they emigrated to the Colonies and lived in western Virginia. Samuel married Eleanor Brewster and moved to Mercer County, Kentucky. From there the Dunns spread out all over Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana. My direct ancestor, John Dunn, was one of the first settlers in Owen County, Indiana.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, mom!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Irish Eyes

John J Fitzgerald Jr.
No download or reproduction without express permission
The caption on the back of this picture reads "John J Fitzgerald Jr., Age 7 1/2, June 10, 1925".
Even when I was a girl there was a photographer set up at the edge of the Boston Common taking pictures of children seated on his pony. Judging by the very serious face I would guess that the pony portrait in short pants was wrangled out of my father under duress. But it's a sweet portrait of the most Irish face I know....my dad.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Traces of the Past

Charles River Avenue...possibly about the time my great grandparents lived there
Courtesy Boston Public Library
I have mentioned before that I have very little of the story of my father's family, the Irish immigrants who settled in Boston and Charlestown. One day, noodling through an archive of old Boston photos, I found this (identified as Charles River Avenue). I see a blurry trace of a horse entering the picture on the left, so I know this is pre-1900.  I also see, in the glass above the doorway, a numeral beginning with a "one". This got me very excited because my great grandparents, Andrew and Catherine Fitzgerald lived in this very block for over ten years. I had to dig into old directories and old maps to figure this one out. First I went to the directories
This is the entry for the 1869 Boston City Directory. There is Andrew who at this time would be living with his wife and oldest son at 10 Charles River Avenue. Next came the 1880 Federal Census, just to make sure I had the right Andrew Fitzgerald.
In the left margin you can see where the census taker wrote Charles River Avenue. And there are Andrew, Catherine, Andrew Jr., Robert, Nora and John (my grandfather). Next I looked at the
1886 Directory.
This time it even identifies him as a teamster. The family has moved to 16 Charles River Avenue. I began to be curious about the buildings in the photo, but no amount of PhotoShop made the numbers readable. So I went back to antique maps. And finally I found this with the house numbers along the street.
Numbers 10 and 16 are the two sides of the very large center clapboard building with all the shutters.
The docks and several mill buildings were immediately to the right and out of the picture. They lived right on the waterfront. So even if I don't know much about them personally, I have some small trace of their lives in the geography of Charlestown that has long since disappeared. It is a block that doesn't exist anymore. Once a thriving row of shops and apartments, there is a park and the ramp to a large bridge into Boston and a large hotel complex sitting there now where Route 1 meets Route 93.

Later, Andrew and Catherine moved to Stetson Court, another place long made invisible with parks and freeways and modern backyards replacing the crowded tenements.
All the smaller streets on this old map are long gone from the area around Winthrop Square, but it's still just blocks from St. Mary's Church and a stone's throw from Monument Square where my father grew up. Small discoveries like this can be very satisfying when so little remains of the past.