Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Life is a Series of Moments

Sentimental Sunday: Life is a Series of Moments

Dinner Conversation

Recently in an episode of Inspector Lewis, a PBS series which is ending, a conversation which happened in a car, had a lot of meaning for me. The retired detective says to the newly promoted man, "Life is a Series of Moments". 

Some things that happen in our family history are really memorable for just a few minutes but because times change, can be really memorable later on to next generations. I propose that we blog about them for others to read. Here's my first one.

My mother went to Lasell (Junior) College for two years, then, it was boarding school for young ladies that had completed high school. She hated it. It was too academic and not enough art. The girls around her were, as we call it today, "clueless". The young women were required to dress for dinner and sit at tables and make polite conversation about the food by speaking the foreign language they learned in high school. My mother took Spanish for two years in high school. 

The girl assigned to my mother's table was not prepared for such an environment. In a stage whisper, after looking at the food in bowls on the table and fearing starvation, she said to my mother, "How do you say, Chili Con Carne in Spanish? My mother used this story for decades at our holiday dinners. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Providence City Directory, 1919, p. 1081
located via One Rhode Island Family's blog which led to the Internet Archive

Every genealogist and family historian should watch out for negative evidence and when they find it, they should make sure that it is as well documented for future generations so that it will not become fact later on.

I have been working hard all summer on learning as much as I can about my maternal grandfather's business dealings.  Along the way, over the years, I have enlisted the help of many people who have joined this quest. Recently, I have found many quality new-to-me pieces of evidence but this ad in the Providence City Directory of 1913, makes me see red. 

Title Page

Diane Boumenot's One Rhode Island Family is the first place I should have gone looking when I realized that by looking in Cranston, it was NOT enough. Diane's exceptionally fine work was the first place I should have gone. Cyr. St which corners on Montgomery Ave. is on the edge of Providence. I needed to look for evidence in PROVIDENCE. Diane's list sent me to a downloadable PDF of this 1919 Providence City Directory which had an ad. (I love the old ads, don't you?) By the way, Diane's family lived in this area, too.

This is the present day street sign cropped from the Google "street view" so that I can be sure I am looking at the whole street and not just at the junction of the two streets.

I spent an entire day with Google Maps going up and down present day Cyr. St. in Washington Park on the Providence-Cranston city line making sure that the above artist's drawing is NOT how my family business was laid out. The building in the artist's rendering looks plausible because the business did have a side entrance until 1958. There was a smoke stack. There was a fenced in yard behind the original building (called "the Plant"). But, none of the other buildings shown were there. It was a residential area with houses on both sides on Cyr and Montgomery. At least I could enlarge this ad enough to see that it is hand drawn. 

My grandfather took part of the business to Providence early on. He commuted from Westerly to Providence, picking up laundry and dry cleaning round trip. The very earliest I can find is the first store at 285 Weybossett St. in downtown Providence. 

See what I never noticed, the address on the side of the truck shown below? I know that this must have been between 1907 and 1913. I continue to search the City directories for ads and listings. If only this truck could talk. Be careful of artist's renderings!

Family Photo Collection of Midge Frazel, privately held.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Finding Obituaries

Frazel Family Collection, 2016
The Death of George CRAIG and his wife Yvonne PICARD

This week, I sent my husband downstairs "to the archives" in our house to go through his father's memory box. When my my mother-in law passed away, my husband had the sad task of cleaning out their apartment. His father, already in a nursing home, never asked about their belongings because we think he couldn't hear or understand well enough to accept that his wife passed away before him.

My mother-in-law saved a lot of obituaries and as I scanned and organized them, I noticed that two were missing. She must have put them in with her husband's memory box. As the Providence Journal charges for archived documents, I am glad to have these. 

There isn't anything in these obituaries that I didn't know except for the wife's living siblings. As they were a French Canadian family living in Rhode Island, I have not as yet found out much about this Picard family. I have her parents and possible grandparents.

Find-a-Grave does tell me that they are buried in the cemetery listed. It is a huge cemetery and there is no photograph of their gravestones. The list of requests in the cemetery is quite long. But, from Find-a-Grave, I now have an address and the listing that this cemetery is Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Warren #9.

Their son and his wife went to the same college that I did, and I knew them before I knew my husband. Sadly, they are not techno-literate so we only have their phone number and address. They do not know the exact date when George and Yvonne got married. I really was hoping it was in the obituary of one of them.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Guarding the Coastline

The Highly Caffeinated Genealogist Presents:
A Story of the American Revolution
Picus and Grizzell (Tourjee) Austin

Guarding the Coastline

It looks like the service of Picus Austin that was accepted for the DAR application that I paid to own, is the one listed in the service record as guarding the shoreline of Rhode Island in 1781 at Point Judith on the shoreline of Rhode Island. 

This link shows what Point Judith looks like with the lighthouse on the edge of the land. Point Judith, Rhode Island. It would be great if this was the service provided by my ancestor Picus Austin. So many Revolutionary soldiers only served a few days and many did not fight in a battle but served to protect the coastline, feed those who did fight or provide them shelter.

from the pension record which is where the information in the first line below came from.
Austin genealogy page 616

Photo by Donna Bonning, used with permission, email of 2009

I still have much to learn about this family but it is nice to know they are resting in peace in New York.

Happy Independence Day! Remember those who made our country free. Support those who continue to do so today

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Rejected Pension Application

The Highly Caffeinated Genealogist Presents:
A Story of the American Revolution
Picus and Grizzell (Tourjee) Austin

Rejected Pension Application

From Fold3 Pension Record of Picus Austin
M804 Roll 93, Page 40
Poor Grizzell (Tourjee) Austin had her widow's pension application rejected for not enough proof despite 38 pages of information and affidavits. There is a lot of genealogical information in this pension record to go through.  

Arnold's Vital Records of Rhode Island tell us that she was the daughter of Thomas and spells her names as Grizzell with a birth month of May. So, without the list in the pension file, her exact birth date would not be known. Notice how incomplete the listing is here for the descendants of Peter (Piere) and "Mary".

Crop of Arnold's Records at

The Rhode Island Military Census of 1777, found at NEHGS, lists Picus as Pikas. eligible to serve in the 16-50 age classification. He was 37. This is not proof he served but it does tell us that he was living in Rhode Island at that time. Picus and Grizell lived in both North and South Kingstown during their life in Rhode Island. Rhode Island geography, although small, is full of name and county changes. 

I found Grizzell's Mortuary Notice at GenealogyBank, which was a great find. "At Cowlesville, Wyoming Co. Mrs. Grisel Austin, aged 100. " (Paper: Evening Post (New York, New York, Vol. XLIII, page 3, Monday, December 22, 1845)

Grizzell Austin is buried, with her husband, son Thomas and his wife Hannah (Sweet) Austin in the County Line Rd./Seventh Day Adventist Cemetery in Genesee County, NY

Son John W. Austin may have been the first one to move to NY in 1816. This need further proof but it is based on the birth of his first child. As John W. Austin was the last child born to this couple, he may have wanted to get established and then bring his aging parents and single siblings to New York.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Story of Picus and Grizzell Austin

The Highly Caffeinated Genealogist Presents:
A Story of the American Revolution

Picus and Grizzell (Tourjee) Austin
Image on Left from Fold3 Pension Record of Picus Austin
M804 Roll 93, Page 40, Image on Right from
(Larger document of the one from Fold3 linked here in case you want to look at it)

Picus Austin (John4, John3, Edward2, Robert1) and his wife Grizzell Tourgee (Thomas2, Piere1) were both born and married in the area of Rhode Island, known as South County. That area name is not a county at all but it is a nickname given to it to separate it from the upper part of Rhode Island. You wouldn't think the smallest state in the union needed to keep areas "apart" but since each village had its own colorful people and traditions, people living in one area wanted to make sure everyone knew who they were talking about. Even to today, Rhode Islanders are known for their conversations.

Early Rhode Island vital records can be hard to come by and when researching, you must turn to John Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island as a place to start and then check Arnold's Vital Records and hope, not only do they appear listed but reflect the same names and dates. Records of marriage are more common than birth or death.

That's why this small page in  the pension file of Picus Austin is so special. George G. Morgan states in his book, How to Do Everything Genealogy, 4th ed., 2015 McGraw Hill Education, on page 240, "When the veteran died, his widow could apply for a continuation of her husband's pension for herself. She had to provide evidence of her marriage...submitted proof in the form of the actual Bible pages for births, marriages and deaths. These pages were REMOVED from the Bible and they are among the contents of the pension file held at NARA."  

I think this small piece of evidence shown here, written by Picus Austin himself was part of this family's personal records. I can't imagine ripping out records and giving them away, can you?

Picus did not apply for his own pension and it wasn't until his widow was 94 years old, did she apply for it. All nine of this couple's children were born in Rhode Island and not all of them were listed on this small paper in the pension record as you can see. Since Sarah was born in 1776, this document must have been written before that date.

Austin gives us the first four generations of this Austin family. (The first two generations I share with Thomas MacEntee.) The rest of the Austin's are listed in Edith Austin Moore's book, The Genealogy of the Descendants of Robert Austin of Kingstown, Rhode Island, published in 1951. 

Edith's numbering system is non-standard by today's style so it can be a challenge to get the right descendants in the right order. She took the first four generations from the Genealogical Dictionary  of Rhode Island. The interesting thing about her book (available here at is the section called Part IV, Austins in the Revolution (page 604). Edith's reason for creating this genealogy, as she states on page 3 and 4 of the Preface, is not only to find her own family but also to record those who served in the Revolutionary War. That's why I waited to research his service until now.

Since I thought that Picus served in the Revolution, I am on a quest to identify my Revolutionary War ancestors in Rhode Island. I went to that section of her book and found more information than I remembered when I worked on this line some years ago. I set out to find evidence of his service.

The kicker is that I already had a line to the Tourgee/Tourjee/Targee family of French Huguenots which did not include Grizzel. Oops. back track and find her ancestors.

Genealogy work often takes surprising twists and means more research, doesn't it? Picus and Grizell were my 5th great grandparents. She signed her name for the pension record, so both of them could write as evidenced by that small piece of paper with his birth date first.

Between the 1800 and 1820 census, this family moved from Rhode Island to New York. In 1810, they stopped in the Berkshire county of Massachusetts, in a town called Tyringham, Massachusetts. Son Elnathan married a woman and had children in 1810 but who she was and who her children were, I don't know. But, he is listed in that census with a woman and two young females, separate from his parents (but on the next line) only to reappear in 1850 without them.  I do think they stayed in Massachusetts for a few years before moving to Genesee county in New York in time for the census of 1820. From another researcher, I found that one son may have moved before them to New York. This is why you have to try to research all of the children.

I can't imagine what a journey away from Rhode Island must have been like for them.

In 1820, Picus was 80 years old and Grizzell was six years younger. They were married in Rhode Island 17 Feb 1764 as it is recorded in the pension papers.

Del's Week: Del's Lives On

The Highly Caffeinated Genealogist Presents:
 Del's Week
A Story of Home that Lives On...

Del's Lives On at World Headquarters

Photos by Midge Frazel, 2014
I hope you have enjoyed my Del's Week postings and will make memories this summer and forever with your family and friends.

Remembering Mr. Angelo DeLucia. You will not be forgotten.