Picnic for Twelve — A Family Memoir

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I am happy to report that one of my clients has published Picnic for Twelve, a book about his parents and their growing family as they navigated The Great Depression and other events over the last century. If you are interested in the life of Irish-Americans during the 1900s, have Boston-area ancestors, or are just looking to read a cleverly written yarn, I highly recommend that you download the book for your Kindle or purchase a print copy.

I provided genealogical research support on the Driscoll and Sheehan families. This was a fun and challenging project to work on, as various members of the family moved around a lot, originating in or living in locations including New York City, Southern California, here in Maryland, and of course, Massachusetts and Ireland. Along the way, vital records unlocked most of the clues needed to solve a few family mysteries. As part of the project, I read an early version of the manuscript. The author is a former editor of the Boston Globe and a great storyteller — I highly recommend this book!

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 1

It’s the first week of the new genealogy blog prompt series 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, and not only am I barely squeaking in a post, but I’m breaking the rules already. Here’s the prompt:

Week 1 – Blogs: Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?”

I’m simply going to talk about a blog that I love and it’s not even really a genealogy blog. Streets of Salem is a treasure that I follow in Google Reader. I don’t always remember to check it (since it’s not under my Genealogy tab in Google Reader), but I’m always glad when I do.

The blog is written by a history professor in Salem, Mass. (a town that I adore from having visited several times when I lived in New England). Her posts cover just about anything (food, art, home furnishings) that she might see around town. So how does this relate to genealogy?

The blog is very thorough, delving in-depth into each topic. As a genealogist, I can appreciate that. Sometimes, she captures simply a moment in time (holiday decorations around town last month) and in others, she reveals the way a certain topic was portrayed in years gone by (see her recent Calendar Girls post).

These observations add color to the dry data we often conjure up about our ancestors using census and other records. If you have an ancestor from Salem or its surroundings, I highly recommend you check this blog often.

PS — Thank you, Amy Coffin, for this new series!

Tombstone Tuesday: A Beauty, But a Head Scratcher

Check out this ornate tombstone at Copps Hill Burying Ground in Boston, Mass.:

Here is a close-up of the top portion:

What’s confusing is that the top portion claims it belongs to the tomb of Samuel Winslow. The bottom portion states, however, “Here Lyes the Mortal part of William Clark, Esq.” The rest of the lower portion is hard to read in my photo and there appears to be some damage to the text anyhow. The photo on FindaGrave isn’t much better.

I sure would like to know how these two gents were related.

Tombstone Tuesday: William DOWNE, Esq.

Still working through the photos I took in Boston last summer:

Here lies Interred
the Body of
William Downe, Esq.r
Age 40 Years
who departed this Life
May 6, 1759

This grave can be found in the Granary Burial Ground in the heart of Boston. Here is the FindaGrave record for William.

Tombstone Tuesday: Elizur Holyoke

Back to Boston for this week’s Tombstone Tuesday post:

Here is interr’d
the body of Elizur
Holyoke, who
Died (ey) 11th day
of August 1711
Aged about 60
years.

The above photo was taken in Granary Burial Ground. You can view the FindaGrave record here.

I like the elaborate carvings — there’s a winged death’s head at the top, an urn flanked by two angels, many flowers and vines.

Friends Album: Checking in with the Neighbors

A while back, I found a 1920 census listing for Friends Album subject Frederick A. Young and fam and noticed that there was a family by the name of Wilson in the household next door. Is this a coincidence, given that there’s an Ellis Wilson in the Friends Album? Certainly ‘Wilson’ is a very common surname, but I felt I needed to dig deeper to see if I could find a connection to these neighbor Wilsons.

Ellis’ parents were Clarence T. Wilson and his wife, Susan. I haven’t really fleshed out their extended family or previous generations at this point because I was more interested in looking for more recent generations.

The Wilsons living next to the Youngs in 1920 are George R. (age 58), his wife Libby A. (age 60) and George’s mother, Elizabeth A (age 74). George is listed as a farmer.

The Wilsons are living next door to the Youngs in 1910 as well. Daughter Emma M. (age 24) is in the household at that time, as is son George E (age 15).

In 1900, the clan is even bigger. Another daughter, Libbie Belle, is with the family, along with mother-in-law Emily Hirst. Not only that, but there is another Wilson household right next door to them (on the other side from the Youngs): Albert and Annie, along with their son, Charles.

Most of these neighbor Wilsons have roots in New York, Connecticut or England. After looking a bit more into Clarence’s family history, however, he and his siblings were born in Massachusetts. Clarence’s parents hailed from Connecticut though. I’m trying to flesh out his father’s life a bit, but for now, there’s no clear connection between Ellis and his family and the Wilsons who were neighbors to the Youngs.

I suppose that there doesn’t really have to be such a connection between Ellis Wilson and the Youngs pictured in the album. The album is titled “Our Friends” and so it could be a hodge-podge of a acquaintances who are not related to each other in any way.

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1900 U.S. Census, Fairfield County, Connecticut, population schedule, Newton, page 10, dwelling 90, family 94, Albert Wilson and family; Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2011).

1910 U.S. Census, Fairfield County, Connecticut, population schedule, Newton, page 15, dwelling 170, family 174, Geroge R Wilson and family; Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2011).

1920 U.S. Census, Fairfield County, Connecticut, population schedule, Newton, page 14, dwelling 240, family 249, George R. Wilson and family; Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2011).

Tombstone Tuesday: Thomas Webb

Here lies deposited the Remains
of Mr. Thomas Webb
who Died Very suddenly much
lamented y 8th July 1769
Aged 33 Years

He was born in the City of
Gloucester in England.

You can read more about him and the rest of the inscription on his tombstone on FindaGrave. Photo taken last summer at Granary Burial Ground in Boston, Mass.