Friday, November 9, 2018

Prickly Fall: Edward Stewart's House

Prickly Fall: Edward Stewart's House

House on Stewart Hill, North Stonington, CT abt. 1900
At the time of this photo, house belonged to George P. Stewart
shared with me by the North Stonington, CT Historical Society and the Westerly, RI Library

Ever since the summer of 2004, when I went in search of information on my Stewart family who lived in North Stonington, Connecticut,  I have been in love with the story of Edward and Rebecca (Noyes) Stewart. They were my 3rd great grandparents and my great grandfather, Charles Edward Stewart's grandparents. 

The History of Stonington by Richard Anson Wheeler (the second compiled genealogy I owned), tells me that "all that knew him loved him." 

What could be more important than that?

From the History of Stonington (CT) page 607 Stewart
Family found in an  out of copyright Google Book and my copy in print.
We had to move fast. The house was set to be torn down. We got there in time to take photos and look at the cemetery. My friend, Gladys Chase directed us to the next cemetery where Edward's parents are buried. It is still my most amazing genealogy adventure.

They tore down the house and then the cemetery was endangered. But, we found who held the deed and they restored the cemetery. Today, the place where the house stood is a new housing development but The Stewart Hill Cemetery is safe.

What did Charles Edward Stewart inherit though his father, Dudley Wheeler Stewart from the house of Edward and Rebecca? It took two probate records to be sure.

Think about it: the desk in my own parent's living room came from this house!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Pricky Fall: Whose Desk is it?

Probate Record of Charles Edward Stewart, 1937, Cranston, RI
(as gathered for me by Diane Boumenot, 2018)

Pricky Fall: Whose Desk is it?
My maternal uncle, Evans Stewart, Jr. (1917-1951) inherited from his grandfather, cash, shares of stock in the family business and an antique desk that belonged to Charles E. Stewart's grandfather. In an instant, I knew that this must be the desk in the small photo that I wrote about previously. 

It was the "belonged to my GRANDFATHER", that made me sit up and take notice. Charles's grandfather was Edward Stewart (1774-1837) of North Stonington, CT. So, this desk was older than I thought. It must have been in the house on Stewart Hill when Edward's son Dudley W. Stewart took it to his home after his mother Rebecca Noyes Stewart died in 1842. Dudley was her youngest child. More on this in the next blog post.

Notice, that my mother, Dorothy was given more money than her brother and NO shares in the family business. Clearly a patriarchal situation. But, my mother was charged with inheriting and distributing 1/2 the contents of the house. She was a college student at this time.

My uncle was not yet 21 when he was supposed to inherit the desk and the shares. The plot thickens.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Prickly Fall: The Case of the Disappearing Desk

Photos in the family collection of Midge Frazel, 2018
Prickly Fall: The Case of the Disappearing Desk
Part 1

As you can see in the right hand photo, I was quite small when my mother had this desk in our living room in Cranston, RI. (photo dated January 1952) I still don't know where this desk went but I do know that furniture in my maternal family was always moving around from house to house. 

The Victor Cleaning Co. truck made frequent trips from my grandparents home to ours over the years. I even have a photo taken of the truck in our driveway and I know they weren't delivering clean clothes to our home. We had a station wagon for just such purposes.

As I have been getting some scanning done of my own childhood photos, I have been discovering that our photos and the few taken from previous generations begin to line up because of the items in the background of the photos. I am lucky, my ancestors wrote things down and talked to me about the past.

The photo of me with mom is one of several taken on the same night in 1952. Mom's clothes and mine are the same and two of the photos have the developing date on them.

But, I have no idea where this desk went. The drop down top tells me this is a desk and not a chest of drawers.

This week, I solved the mystery of who originally owned this desk.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Prickly Fall: Fear of Jumping Off

Prickly Fall: Fear of Jumping Off
From the Family Collection of Midge Frazel, circa 1948-1949
60 Hilltop Dr. Cranston, RI
This is the only photo I can find that shows the concrete steps and section that connects the house to the garage at my childhood home. It was a favorite picture spot but photos usually were taken closer to the back door with someone coming or going out of the kitchen.

When I was in the first grade, my mother got the idea that I should be encouraged to jump off to the driveway by not using the stairs. I looked down and then over to the stairs and wondered why it would be better to jump than use the stairs. What was the purpose of the stairs? 

My mother obviously wanted me to be more aggressive and be like other kids. What happened was that I waited until I was taller and heavier to do things like that. She wanted it now, so she could catch me since I tended to move away from people if they came near me. I didn't like the way people smelled or touched me without warning. 

There was a neighbor man who wanted me to sit on his lap. I refused. My father told me I should be kind to the man who didn't have children. When my father went into the garage to get more chairs, I told him that he couldn't make me and that I would tell my grandmother. 

His face changed. My grandmother owned the business. I learned that that was something my father was afraid of...losing his job. In 1971, she did just that, sold the business out from under him. 

While in college I was frequently told, that I should try to "get along" and be "more fun". Instead I observed people and made my own mind up that I didn't like people who jumped without using the stairs, so to speak. People found out the hard way that I was aggressive when they weren't paying attention. It is a prickly way to live but it works for me.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Rose Gold: Grandmother's Bracelet

Rose Gold: Grandmother's Bracelet
Bracelet given to my grandmother by my grandfather, date unknown but post 1914
Close-up of rings in the bracelet

I love my grandmother's (or should I say grandfather's), taste in jewelry. I have inherited and kept most of my maternal grandmother's jewelry because it is simple and sturdy. 

For a couple of weeks, I have been thinking about the focus of my family history book and realized that the name of my project should be called the Rose Gold Project because Rose Gold is so different. I have searched my jewelry collection for the pieces that match my grandmother's wedding band. My grandfather gave my mother a rose gold Movado watch. The band, which is fabric, broke and it sits in the box, unworn. I can't read the watch face anymore but I keep it anyway.

But, wait! The watch is evidence that my GRANDFATHER bought that watch, my grandmother's ring and this bracelet. It wasn't that my grandmother liked it, HE did. Family history at its best.

The Project name will be a subtitle and it fits well with the title I have chosen.

The bracelet is rose gold and yellow gold and I have decided to start wearing it. It is comfortable and sits well on my wrist. The ovals are rose gold and the squares are yellow good.

It will keep me company while I write. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Rose Gold: Gathering the Right Materials

Rose Gold: Gathering the Right Materials
Preparing to Write a Family History

Photo by Midge Frazel 26 Sept. 2018, materials by Erin
In 2016, I began thinking about planning and writing about my family business and what to include. I started writing last year in sections in a spiral bound EC notebook with removable pages. That was a good idea because it let me pre-write without fear of forgetting where I left off. 

Now, I need to make a better writing plan and add in the people from my family that made the story happen. It needs to be in a small book because it will need to look like it is meant to be kept or cherished. I named this project, "Rose Gold" because my grandmother's wedding ring is rose gold and it had endured as well as is in fashion today.

I pulled together two small bound notebooks with non removable pages to look like a set because the story won't fit in just one book. I also picked a blank journal to use so that it will look like a scrapbook of evidence. You'll see. Then I started buying stickers to be used a section or chapter dividers. I have written headings to fit the text and I am going first to write in the productivity book so that I can build my timeline without feeling that this story needs to be written sequentially or in chronicle-date order. That technique build suspense and make the research look inviting to read about.

I won't be writing matching blogs posts very often but instead writing about the process as I write in the books you see here. People are more interested in how to do it for themselves than they are reading about my family.

I am going to call it "Away at My Dreams" because it was something my daughter said to me when she was really little and thought she actually went somewhere while she was sleeping. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Prickly Fall: Being a Widow

Prickly Fall: Being a Widow

This summer, I lost a friend, very suddenly and then another and then another. Then, my husband's cousin, Eleanor, who was a recent widow when we moved here, passed away. She was in her late nineties. 

There's nothing more prickly than death whenever it happens. It is disturbing and makes you question your own age and existence. Who leaves this world and who gets left behind can make you fearful of what tomorrow can bring. 

People who aren't on social media are getting hard to keep in touch with. I found out about one death by using the online newspaper for that location just because I had a funny feeling. I sent a card to the widow followed by an email. She felt comfortable enough to call me. I was glad to hear her voice and she shared details with me. I hope everyone is so brave. My daughter wanted me to scan some photos for her to keep of these friends. 

I found one this morning that I cropped down to share. It was a 25th anniversary photo I took more that 25 years ago. They look so young in the wedding photo and since I didn't know them when they married, I should have taken a close-up after the cake was cut.

Photo taken by the author and privately held.
I begin to think about how many women in my family were widowed.

My paternal grandmother died a bit before her husband but my maternal grandmother became a widow at age 62 and lived to be 98. I learned from her that you just have to take life a day at a time. I went through my print photographs until I found the last photo I took of her and scanned it. She was living with my parents but died in a nursing home. She told me she was wondering why she was still alive. I didn't have an answer for that question.