Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Little Gloria Josephine Bliven

Gloria Josephine Bliven, privately held by Midge Frazel, 2017
First Cousin, Once Removed
1923-1933
10 years, 1 month and 24 Days

This is the only known photo of Gloria, who died before I was born. Her mother, Dorothy Palmer, Bliven, was her mother. Dorothy was my maternal grandmother's sister and someone I knew quite well and loved.  I altered the photo to look more carefully at her face and her clothes. It is undated, but I would say she is between two and three years old.

Gloria's middle name was Josephine which was my grandmother's middle name. Everyone called my grandmother, Jo or Josephine and not Hannah, which was her first name. My mother was named Dorothy after little Gloria's mother. 

Gloria's father was Harry Manuel Bliven. He was handsome, dark haired and loved to drive fast cars. My mother was scared or him but my uncle thought he was cool. At the time of their marriage, my aunt worked for her father who was in the automotive business and smooth talking Harry sold automotive parts. My Mother destroyed the photo of him in a boat with her and her brother but not before I looked at it. Little Gloria's mother was petite, blonde and blue eyed. 

My mother told me that Harry and Dorothy divorced. I don't know for sure if that was before Gloria died, but I do know after years of research, that he married again, to a woman from New York named Mildred Britton and they had 4 sons. The first one was born in 1929.

My mother was 17 when Gloria died, at home at 160 West Broad St. in Pawcatuck, CT of bronchial pneumonia and myocarditis.  

Fancy Goods: Mrs. Young's Gift Shop

Missing Puzzle Pieces

Fancy Goods

In genealogy, we try to make sure that we have every piece of evidence researched to the best of our ability. When my late mother gave me this pamphlet (1908-1958) on the family business, I was very surprised. How had I not seen this before? I read it out loud to her hoping to get her reaction on what was said. She just kept saying. "That's right!". I tucked in into my bag so she wouldn't discard it as she was prone to do.

I am still not sure who wrote this or if my mother did the vehicle drawings. They do look like her "style" of drawing. 

I assumed that the Mrs. Young mentioned was the woman who was my grandmother's friend so I went looking for that woman's granddaughter whose name I knew. I found her and she said that her grandmother never had a gift shop. So that puzzle piece went unsolved until this month. Using Providence City Directories, I found this gift "store" in Providence. At least I had now had a name to research.


Working backwards in time, I found that this gift store was once at another location. This clip that says Thayer is an earlier date of 1931. She must have done well in business to move from Thayer to Angell St. 


Women of this time who lived in that area, near Brown University,  frequented gift shops (like we go to HomeGoods today) to buy items to decorate their homes. They also sold toys and candy and I remember visiting some of them with my grandmother when I stayed with her.  

What my grandfather did was pick up items to be drycleaned, take them to the main plant in Pawcatuck/Westerly and then take them back to Mrs. Young for the ladies to pick them up. It must have been a terrible commute in the winter. That's why the cleaning and laundry business had drivers who did that in the 1940 and 1950s. 

Not long after they married, my grandparents (and great grandparents, too) moved from Westerly to the Providence/Cranston area. 

The Terrible Year 1944

Westerly City Directory 1944, Ancestry.com
Photo at Flickr
The Terrible Year, 1944

In my project I call "Close to Home", I am trying to do things to be ready for the 1950 Federal Census release. I am looking for evidence of death of as many family members as I can so that I can eliminate them from the list I have been building since the release of the 1940 Federal census. My search, limited to two areas, Westerly, RI and Stonington/Pawcatuck, CT sounds like it should be easy, right?

City directories and Newspaper articles are the key to success for getting exact locations of my family members on my maternal line.  But, as I gather the names, dates of death and burial locations, I discovered that one year stands out all too clearly. You can see by the orange highlighting, that this directory gives me the exact dates of death on two pages. My mother, described this year as the terrible year, and it certainly was correct.


29 May 1944
16 Jun 1944
10 July 1944


James Frederick Barber, my maternal grandfather, lives at 160 West Broad St. Pawcatuck, CT in 1945 and his wife Ellen ("Nellie") died 16 June 1944. 

Ellen ("Nellie") widowed mother lived with them at 160 West Broad St. Pawcatuck, CT died 29 May 1944.

Harold S. Barber, my great uncle, died 10 July 1944 and his wife Martha Blanchard was living at 12 Elm St. Westerly. 

Soon, two more family members would die. My maternal great grandfather, James Frederick Barber in 1949 and my uncle Evans Stewart, Jr. in 1951.

I have been with the help of Barbara Fallon, gathering causes of death. Trust me, you don't want to know about that.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Attack of Tonsillitis

Attack of Tonsillitis

No matter how trivial, when you find a date of an event, you must add it to your timeline, your genealogy records and analyze it.

When I was about 6, I had my tonsils out at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. This was common for us baby boomers and most everyone I knew had their tonsils out. I was horrified because they put me in a crib with no way to get out and no adult supervision. After the surgery, I woke up in the dark and couldn't talk. I banged on the metal hospital crib until I started to wake up other kids who started to cry. It is still an effective was to get attention in a hospital. I threw blood up on the nurse who came to see what all the noise was about. I'll bet she was sorry she went out for a "smoke."  

When I was allowed to go home, I wondered why my grandfather was so worried. He was very sick from kidney disease and was on dialysis. My mother kept me in bed at home. I got presents and a lot of ice cream.  Now, I know why Grandpa was worried. I'd bet he thought that this attack of his might have been the cause of his kidney problems. He might have been right.

This newspaper article confirms the date and location he was living in 1913. He was living in Westerly, RI on 8 Narragansett Ave. with his parents and his younger brother. He was commuting to Providence to start up the family business of dry cleaning as he had been doing since 1907.  Sometime in 1912, he and his family moved from nearby Pawcatuck, CT to Westerly, RI. He joined a Masonic Lodge around then too.

I wonder if his girlfriend, my grandmother, bought him ice cream for his sore throat?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Mystery of the Chinese Box

The Chinese Box, 2017, photo by Midge Frazel
The Mystery of the Chinese Box
Who doesn't love a good mystery?

This family heirloom, given to me by my grandmother, was a favorite thing of mine to play with whenever I visited my grandparent's home.The top has a storage area not easily shown in this photo. A locked drawer (with a key) and two storage drawer make it a useful and fun heirloom.

Before she died, my mother wanted me to write down whatever I could remember about things that my grandmother or grandfather owned. Fortunately for me, I knew my mother had an ulterior motive, she wanted me to appreciate and keep all of the family antiques. As this is a common problem of all genealogists, I pulled out the notes I took those days I interviewed her. 

Most all of that furniture I sold when my mother died because it would never have fit in my small house. My grandmother, not a sentimental person would have understood. My mother would have been very angry.

I enjoyed talking to Grandma about some of the things and when I got to this box, she told me to put it out in our car. My mother saw me do that and interrupted me when I asked my grandmother about it. She thought it ugly so why would I want that? The answer was simple, I used to play with it when I stayed at my grandparents house. My parents went to parties and I stayed with my grandmother.  I never asked where they went and never mentioned what I did. 

What I wrote down that day was that this box was "owned by Mrs. Morgan of Westerly". Until this week, I have not know who that might have been. While researching houses that my maternal family lived in, I found out that my great uncle Harold's wife, Martha Blanchard was a housekeeper for Mrs. Charles A. Morgan and his wife Clara. 

When Uncle Harold (my grandmother's oldest sibling) married Martha, Harold moved in and they lived with this Morgan family. Clara died in 1912. The Chinese box may have been a wedding gift for my grandparents who married in 1914. The Morgans had no children and neither did Harold and his wife Martha. It takes time to find women's maiden names but between Martha's family and my Westerly contacts, I started to piece it together.


Norwich bulletin. (Norwich, Conn.),
27 Dec. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1912-12-27/ed-1/seq-6/>
This box must have been given to my grandparents in 1914 by my grandmother's brother, Harold Schofield Barber and his wife Martha Blanchard.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Planning to Write

EC Planner, photo by Midge Frazel, 2017
Planning to Write
with a 5x8 size
Erin Condren Life Planner (7-2017 to 12-2018)

When Erin Condren announced that they were going to offer a hardbound planner, I was a bit skeptical. I love the versatility of my Coiled Planner with its myriad of accessories but wondered whether I was going to have to eventually switch to a hardbound type planner. So, I went to my nearby Staples that carries EC products and took a look. They only carried the huge and heavy 8x10 size and I was immediately disappointed. I left the store without buying one.

At home, I turned to Amazon to see what was offered there and was pleasantly surprised to see a smaller version that was lighter weight. To be fair, Amazon also carried the 8x10 for a more reasonable price than at Staples.

The paper is not the new high-grade paper but since this is going to be a planner just for the family history book I am working on and not my regular planner, I looked at the price and decided it was worth it. 

 As I didn't need it personalized and I like the mid-century circles design, I bought it from Amazon instead of ordering it from the EC Web site. When it arrived two days later, I was pleased with the size and weight. I proceeded to break it in as I learned from my librarian friends. I doesn't lie completely flat as I had hoped but that is fine for my current project as it may flatten out as I use it. The silver foil edge is very pretty and as I wouldn't have added that to a planner at the EC Web site, I think I got a bargain.

My first EC planner was a Monthly Planner and it was this colorful style, which I didn't really like so when I switched to a EC Life Planner, I chose the neutral (black/white/gray) version, but again, for planning a book, it doesn't really matter.  

I took this photo to show where the weekly layout changes from one month to the next to show that the colors are not traditional. I put an EC sticker on the left page to show the size of the space.

Right away I noticed that the dividing line on the right of the layout is gone. That gives me more room to write. (I have been decorating that area with my EC Life Planner with DEK Design stickers, which is my favorite company for stickers.) For the purpose of this blog post, I have chosen to show a week that I have not written on as yet.

Does this make me want to switch to a hardbound EC LifePlanner? Probably not. Time will tell.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fined for Speeding

Photo of Great Uncle Harold, undated, held privately by Midge Frazel, 2017
Great Uncle Harold(1890-1944)

Fined for Speeding
Norwich bulletin. (Norwich, Conn.), 23 Sept. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
 Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1913-09-23/ed-1/seq-6/>


My maternal grandmother's oldest sibling Harold Schofield Barber, was her playmate and someone I heard about growing up in Rhode Island. Grandmother was three years younger and quite the tomboy and loved her big brother immensely. 

I love finding out that people in my family were not perfect and while researching Harold, I discovered that he got caught speeding at the age of 22. Harold loved automobiles and worked for his father in the car repair business after leaving school in the 8th grade. 

He was lucky that he didn't lose his license for this offense as driving was part of his job at J. Fred & Son in downtown Westerly. My grandmother told me that her father allowed her to drive at an early age because there were no driver's licenses in those days so perhaps this is why losing his license was not an option for this speeding offense. 

I am on the hunt to find out exactly when Great Uncle Harold married and I have not found out as yet, but I have found out a lot more about his life than was told to me as a young genealogist. Family stories make genealogy fun, don't they?