Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: Watch Hill Bracelet

Sentimental Sunday: Watch Hill Bracelet
The Coral Watch Hill Bracelet, circa 1927, photo by Midge Frazel
Scanned with Flip-Pal
This little girls bracelet belonged to my mother. She bought it in a shop at historic (my video) Watch Hill which is in Westerly, Rhode Island. Her grandfather, Charles Edward Stewart, was her favorite grandpa because he was always giving her money to spend. She gave it to me and I have worn it. Because my wrists are so small, it still fits me. The clasp is not secure and I was sure I'd lost it.

I must have put it in my writing desk. I did look everywhere, even there. But, because of the space under the pen and inkwell area, it easily slipped out of sight. I went looking for something in the desk and that's when it moved just enough to me to tilt the desk and safely get it out. (I put this orange envelope under it just enough so you can see how it happened. See the blue arrow). I cleaned the bracelet and then took everything out of the desk and put the items either in the orange envelope or in small plastic bags.

Space under the pen and inkwell, photo by Midge Frazel, 2015

Important items  in bags ready to be labeled and not lost
 photo by Midge Frazel, 2015

Our family history is not just about names and dates. Photographs help tell stories but there is nothing like holding a small object that belonged to an ancestor. It is a lot of responsibility to pass these items on to another generation. You may have heard the story but it is important to write them down. 

I feel so much better having found the bracelet. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Genealogists LOVE Office Supplies

Photo by Midge Frazel 28 May 2015
Why Do Genealogists Love Office Supplies?

It is scary how much my genea-friends love office supply stores. All of us even the #iamnextgen people. The Organized Genealogist Facebook page is one of the most popular. 

I have always loved anything paper and next to going to bookstores, I would say that when places like Staples and Office Max started to appear like pop-up cards in small malls, I couldn't get there fast enough. I even love that section in Walmart and Target. Of course, then they decided to sell electronics. Yum. This is MY kind of shopping. Online is good too but not a much fun as walking around one of these places and then getting a highly caffeinated drink. 

My favorite time of year is back to school because I can go inside one of these air conditioned stores and start my Christmas shopping. After this horrible winter, I was looking forward to sales before they start the school supplies madness. So, today, I went to Office Max. Wheeeeeeeeee!

I really got some great bargains. The big black box is so I can organize the files I need handy for medical and banking. When I moved here and had to find new banks and medical people, it really cut into my genealogy time. It is almost five years later and I am still trying to solve this problem without buying a real filing cabinet. Believe it or not The Container Store did not have anything I liked. 

The rest of the stuff you see in this photo is now put away for my birthday and Christmas bags. Hubs replenished his they-aren't-permanent hooks and velcro. Hey, we all have our needs.

My worry was that this store looked quite empty of stock. I hope they are just getting ready for fall. 

The Tablet Lift was on sale! Wasn't I lucky?

Why do genealogists love this kind of shopping?

I started a Pinterest board

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Being NextGen

Moving Forward to the Next Generation of Genealogy
 photos by Midge Frazel, 25 May 2015

Descendants R #IAMNEXTGEN
It is important to recognize that genealogy is changing with the next generations. I clearly remember that I was, at one time, one of those young genealogists. My love and knowledge of technology used to set me apart from the genealogists and family historians around me. People actually asked me what the Internet had to do with genealogy. I smiled sweetly and explained. People thought I was younger than I really am. #iamnextgen

In my own family past, there were genealogists and historians leaving me clues to uncover. I am grateful to them. Now, I must recognize how things have changed for my daughter and grandsons. 

My daughter inherited her creative interests from my mother and grandmother. My daughter was seventeen when her great grandmother died and remembers her well. As a young teenager, she started scrapbooking her future. She took a high school course in family and scrapbooked a wedding and then used what she learned to plan her own wedding. Her teaching portfolio was a timeline scrapbook and was passed around and well received by the women at the oral comprehensive she had to pass to receive her M.Ed.  

Then, an amazing thing happened. She married a man whose sisters scrapbooked their children's lives. These women work on these scrapbooks like a quilting bee of the past. How did I get so lucky? She is #iamnextgen

My grandsons like to watch their mother make these scrapbooks. They know that grandma is recording the ancestors for them using tools they will grow up with and use everyday. They can use the digital camera and the iPad with ease. How did get so lucky? They are #iamnextgen

We use the tools of tomorrow to discover the past in present day life, we are #iamnextgen

NextGen Genealogy Network

Monday, May 25, 2015

Taken Prisoner from the Schooner Nimble

Service Pension War of 1812 Widow's Brief Found!
Clip of Pension Packet from Fold3, War of 1812
Dated 15 July 1878, this widow's pension, states that Isaac Denison, Jr. served, in Stonington, at the waterfront on patrol, one battle, 2 days, 10th and 11th August 1814. The pension packet is 10 pages. This pension was admitted 21 January 1879 for $8 per month (about $110 today) to Levina Fish Denison, widow. She was 85 years old. She lived until 1890 to age 95.

This service was named "Defence of Stonington" and it much written about. (free source: ebook p. 49)

In the books about the War of 1812 and this pension record, I can find no mention of the capture of the schooner Nimble and the sloop Revenue that is told in the booklet I inherited about Isaac Denison, Jr. service at the age of 23 in March 1813. This is probably why Rev. Frederic Denison wanted his father's story told.

He tells of the capture, by Admiral Warren, and the months of imprisonment in Bermuda and the release on Sunday, fourth of July 1813. Many names and ships are mentioned.  It has a patriotic feeling to its tone.

I still have much to read about this War.

Stonington by the Sea Henry Robinson Palmer, 1913

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: The Purple Heart

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2015
The Purple Heart

There's no question that my dad was a brave soldier of World War II. This shadow box of his medals and ribbons hung on the wall near his armchair in his home. I did notice that he would look up at them, like other people look out the window. My dad died in that chair with his shadow box looking on. They hung silently there while my mom continued to live there and fall deeper and deeper into the world of dementia.

When my mother passed away, I decided that I should make sure that all the important items were removed from the house in case of a break-in or fire. Like all genealogists, I suppose, the family photos, the Bible and my father's medals were thought of first and went in our car to our home. They hang in my office and my Dad's burial flag is in a flag holder in our living room. 

My husband, a veteran himself who went to War, decorates our house on both Memorial Day and the 4th of July with flags and bunting. He puts out our flag everyday he can.

 He didn't wonder when I bought this single serve sized Frosted Flakes cereal today. He's outside now putting out a small flag under our only tree in memory of my father.

Like me, my Dad loved the quiet of the morning with his favorite cereal and coffee. I guess he was highly caffeinated too. In his final years, suffering in silence of cancer, he may have thought of the men with whom he served. Those who came home and those who didn't are on our minds each Memorial Day. 

Freedom is essential. Never take it for granted.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Penned From the Lips of my Father

To find out when this narrative was written down, I simply did a Google search for "Isaac Denison and the War of 1812" and this magazine article magically appeared. Most of it is word for word of the booklet I own.

The first paragraph on the lower left bottom gave me the answer I was seeking, which was the summer of 1846. This part is not in my booklet.

 I think Rev. Frederic Denison was frustrated that no one had mentioned his father or this adventure in any published form. (published in 1858 after Isaac Denison, Jr. had died) 

The phrase "penned from the lips of my father" is definitely the words of a minister.

Historical Magazine at Google Books
I also found another reference to it, but it did not include a date the oral history was written down. It  says "to be concluded next week" and was published in 1860. 

So, we now have a date to answer the first question, but how old was everyone involved in the making of this narrative?

In 1846:
Isaac Denison, Jr. was 56
Rev. Frederic Denison was 27 (and just graduated from Brown University)
Frances Levina Denison (youngest daughter of Isaac) was 11

I can safely conclude that my copy was typewritten by Frances sometime before her death in 1922. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What Can Be Proved?

"It was a bright day and the wind blew freshly from the land."
Photos by Midge Frazel and Brian Zoldak
Strange things happen when you try to transcribe and prove family documents that you inherit. Well, it was already transcribed, printed in a magazine and it is for sale in a family society gift shop. 

It is a small, typewritten book placed in my family Bible for me to find. Since the transcriber was a minister, Civil War chaplain, genealogist, cemetery transcriber and graduate of Brown University plus he authored many books of his own, who am I to nit-pick the content in this booklet?

However, the booklet and the magazine article do differ in one very big way. It is big to me anyway since in my copy, there is no date of when Rev. Frederic Denison (1819-1901) wrote down the story from the "lips of his father", Isaac Denison, Jr. (1790-1855)

I know where the "long hand" original of the document is archived. Have I ever seen it? No, I have not. Here's a collage of the frontispiece, the end paper and the first page of the booklet. My maternal grandfather, Evans Stewart (1886-1955) donated it to the Denison Society of Mystic, CT. That was the correct thing to do. No complaints from me.

Collage by Midge Frazel, 2015
But, when did Rev. Frederic Denison gather this oral history?
Who was Frances L. Denison?
Did Isaac's wife collect his pension?

These are ordinary questions that every family historian or genealogist needs answers to. Sometimes, it is an adventure, so stay tuned while I try to find out....

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: Blogging History

History of My Blogging Adventure

I started the blogs that you can visit today in April and June of 2006. I am happy to say that they are still going strong. I had a blog before these blogs  but it was created for an assignment while I was in graduate school. It was such a mess with experimenting with the interface, so I erased it. It was quite a learning experience for me. 

At that time, I was planning to stay in the field of education but that soon changed, as you know. I used to host a Web site for teachers that was very popular and it was great for my teaching workshops and to sell the books I have authored or coauthored. It was a lot of work and upkeep. 

Don't bother to look for it. I took all of it down in 2012. It was started in 1996. (Do I look young?)

Midge Frazel's Home Page (this clip from The Wayback Machine)

Beyond the Horizon is my blog that is now mostly about technology. There is some family history in it because I really felt that my next blog should contain only information about gravestones and cemeteries, I put some information about my ancestors and their photographs. 

Beyond the Horizon Blog, started 23 April, 2006

My most popular blog is Granite in MY Blood, and it was started so I could showcase my gravestone photography for my professional genealogist portfolio. Much to my amazement, I began to get awards for my blogging. It is still my favorite genealogy thing to do.

Granite in my Blood Blog, started 6 June 2006
My most popular posts for my blogs to date:

Granite in my Blood: Wedding Banns (938)  and Headstone & Footstone (768)

Beyond the Horizon:  Using the Ancestry app (2603) and Cell phone Gallery (2141)

I find it amazing what people are interested in for both my blogs. Note that these highest numbers are not really all that serious research topics.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reading, Writing and Caffeine

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2015
Reading, Writing and Caffeine

Like the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic), reading, writing and caffeine seem to go together, especially in the summer. 

I spent some of last Sunday on Mother's Day doing just that. I am calling this a "flip-flop-selfie" photo.

I have been working with this book all week, having read the previous version some time ago. I highlight and write in my books and it helps me remember or gather my ideas before I write a blog post. As this is a more casual blog, I just scribble down ideas, keywords, and find a photo to match. This is not really a research driven blog but I can change that at anytime.

That's what I love about writing blog-style, the lack of hard and fast rules and it has made me a better writer. I used to write scientifically and it was soooooo boring. (It's not like I was going to get that published. Right.)

I found in the text of this book, a sketch example of one of my own ancestors. I suppose it must be published in the NEHGS Register so I am going to have to go look for it. 

Hubs is back with the coffee. Must get highly caffeinated so I can take notes on what I read. I found something I was looking for in this book and I want to make sure I understand it. Did I miss it in an earlier edition?

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Lesson of the Baked Potato

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2015
The Lesson of the Baked Potato

Yes, I know that this photo is not a baked potato! It is a ceramic server for butter or sour cream for putting on baked potatoes. My daughter made it in ceramic classes she took in upper elementary school. It survived the move from Bridgewater to Stow. I can't seem to throw it out. I do like sour cream on my baked potato.

I was telling hubs what it is like to be a pre-teen girl since he doesn't have sisters he doesn't know how girls don't have the freedom that boys have enjoyed since they were old enough to ride a bike out of the driveway and out of sight of their mother. Girls are expected to be accounted for when their mother is a stay at home mom or even if she works out of the home. For obvious reasons, girls are watched.

When I was old enough to be home alone after school, I would say when I was in 7th grade, my non working mother with a bachelor's degree often went with my grandmother (or by public transit) for shopping trips. The best excuse she had for going out was to get her hair done. She was not only obsessed with her hair, her BFF was often her hair stylist. It was a life-long problem for my mother since she gave up driving when she married. My dad took her car to work and he sold his car to his brother. We had a one car garage.

Frequently, I would find a hand written note in the kitchen telling me (over and over) the directions for putting the baked potatoes in the oven for supper. My mother was not good at remembering her cooking responsibilities even if she was home. So, this job of the daily potato cooking defaulted to me.

I am a much more structured and responsible person than my mother. She did not like cooking and the amount of time it took out of her day. If my dad went to play golf or visit his sister my mother was thrilled. No supper!

Each day, when I turn on the stove to make supper, I think of this simple lesson of responsibility. Structuring my "genealogy" day is not a struggle for me unless I get interrupted by shopping or appointments. I tease hubs that I have always had dinner ready or a plan to get takeout or dinner out in all the years we have been married.

It is about responsibility and time management. I have always worked. My mother told me I would "get over that working stuff". Didn't she listen to her own lesson?  You have to wonder. I think that's a generation gap between the women of the '40s and '50s and the women of the '60s and beyond. 

What do you think about this? Can you remember to bake the potatoes?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rolling Around

New Floor Mat, May 2015, photo by Midge
Rolling Around My Office

When we moved to our new condo more than four years ago, hubs bought me a new mat to go under my office chair. The carpeting in our upstairs is horrible and we think that we may have to undergo the torture of moving everything and having new carpet put down. 
But, I couldn't stand the plastic mat anymore.

It cracked and pieces of plastic were popping off like dangerous popcorn. I couldn't walk barefoot anymore. It was getting stuck in the vacuum cleaner. I got crabby. That's not a good thing.

So, off to Staples, hubs went one day and came home with what I am afraid is the same mat as the last one. This time, I am keeping my eye on it everyday. 

Hopefully, my foot rest will anchor me down somewhat and I won't roll around. It could be my fault.

Staying focused is important to genealogy and I think it is the biggest obstacle to our work. How do you stay focused? Do you need a special place to work away from distractions?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Photo by Midge Frazel, 10 May 2015
Can you tell that I am a genealogist?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Baffled by Military Records?

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2004, Elm Grove Cemetery
At the recent NERGC conference, I was once again reminded that I had not looked at the War of 1812 pension files for my maternal third great grandparents whose names were Issac Denison, Jr. and Levina Fish. She very much out-lived her husband and so I knew there must be a pension file. So, I decided that I'd best get to work finding out. 

Military records are not my thing. I find them hard to decipher and feel that that there is just another thing for controversy. Every time I read one, there is some mention of names not being in the record of the commanding officer. I think, did they serve or not? What is family lore and what is not? 

Isaac and his wife were colorful members of society. I would not have expected to find out so much about them. But, in the lush and beautiful plot at Elem Grove Cemetery in Mystic, CT, there are no flag markers or even flags. There is one war monument for the War of 1812 for a young Denison man killed in battle but it is separated from the plot by an grassy island.

I set aside time to look for the window's pension and found it easily. Now, I must struggle to analyze it.

Do you struggle with military records?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Song on the Beach

Family Photo Collection of Midge Frazel
When I was about the age in this photo, my grandparents had a cabana at the Bonnet Shores Beach Club. (Facebook page).

There was a Musical Theater in Warwick known as the Tent, where many celebrities appeared for a few days to a week. 

One day, while we were sitting on the beach, a man approached up from the side of the beach where there was a few Quonset huts that were for rent. The man asked my mother if I could come play with his little girl about my age. When my mother shaded her eyes, she realized she was looking at Gordon MacRae (1921-1986). She was so awestruck, all she could do was nod in the affirmative.

The man asked if I could bring my sand toys and I put them in my wicker basket and he carried them for me. When we arrived, he introduced me to his little girl and his wife. 

We played in the sand while they watched. I didn't have any idea how famous he and his wife were or that they had other children. Since it got to be noon, the father walked back to make sure it was ok if I ate peanut butter sandwiches and lemonade with them. So we had lunch and played down near the water after that. My mother walked down to where we were playing and took the big basket back. As we sat in the wet sand near the water and then an amazing thing happened. The man threw his head back, put his arms up in the air and began to sing.

I think the ocean stopped. No one on the beach moved. All there was was the sunshine and his voice. It was an incredible few moments I will never forget.

He was starring in Oklahoma and that is what he sang. (YouTube Clip) He was singing to the ocean. It was so powerful that my whole body vibrated. Music was never quite the same. 

I wish you'd been there. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Private School in Rhode Island

School Days

My maternal great grandfather, Charles Edward Stewart (1859-1937) was fairly easy to trace since my mother talked about him as he and his wife, Adah were her favorite grandparents. The reason for this popularity? He slipped her money from time to time. 

Charlie's obituary from my family Bible states he went to Suffield Academy in Suffield, CT. Since it exists today, that was pretty easy to find and "accept" but not to prove. One day, while looking for a different person in my chart, I discovered a biography for my Stewart family in  a volume known as Hurd's History [Hurd, D. Hamilton.  "History of New London Connecticut with Biographical Sketches of many of  its Pioneers and Prominent Men." J. W Lewis & Co. 1882. p. 948 (] Since my great grandfather is the topic of the biography sketch and he was 23 at publication, I feel comfortable that he gave the information, I was very excited.

It lists his education as "attended a private school in East Greenwich, R.I. and Suffield, Conn.", I knew to keep looking for books in which these two schools were located.

This week, while researching John Douglass Gallup, I discovered a JD Gallup in a catalogue of the "Connecticut literary institution at Suffield" for 1850, I finally have the correct name of that school and a history of the school at the time.  Noting that I moved on to finish my goal for the day. 

With that finished, I decided to look for something about the private schools in Rhode Island in the East Greenwich area and I found the same type of catalogue for Greenwich Academy that you can see in the screenshot dated 1877-1878. His name is in it! I can't be positive but he probably went to Rhode Island first, then back to Connecticut.

Further reading tells me, that at the time period, both schools were considered high schools. Knowing this for sure now, then my mother was the first in our family to have a college education.

The kicker is that East Greenwich is very close to where I grew up and is one place that the Quaker ancestors of Charles wife, Adah, lived. 

With that in progress I can resume what I was doing....

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Compilers of Family Genealogies

John Douglas Gallup, compiler of the earliest Gallup genealogy, 1893

Who are the Compilers?

At NERGC 2015, D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, presented a thought provoking session titled, "Printed Legends and Missing Footnotes". I was looking forward to this session and it was wonderful. Many of my friends were in the audience.

Some years ago, I started reading about my ancestors that lived in Connecticut because so many of them were of the family of Capt. George Denison. As those people are recorded in my family Bible. I figured it was a good place to start with entering them into my first genealogy database from the paper records I have kept for years.

I never thought much about the compiled genealogies and history books I was using. The authors or compilers were listed as educated men with professional jobs like judge, physician, or ministers. When I had access to vital records, the information compiled matched the actual records. 

But, where did the information come from and how did they put it together to make a book? Did they have access to vital records? Did they walk in the same cemeteries I have visited? I got a chill just thinking about it. That's high energy genealogy for sure!

Later versions of these compiled genealogies did give credit to previous compilers and offered a biography of them. But, who were these "compliers" and how are they related to me? Can I use the information given by Mr. Taylor to verify information I can't be sure of? That is my project-based genealogy for this month.

As I have been researching Gallup family members in a gated cemetery on private land, I began to take a good look at the four compiled genealogies I am using with new eyes. As shown under the photo of the compiler, here is a crop of the section about him from his own book (on page 132). Does his biography in later versions give us more to learn about him? It will take me a lot of coffee to find out. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Being Accomplished

Photo of notepad in hotel room by Midge Frazel

Being Accomplished

This week, I felt accomplished. From Monday to Friday, I completed the tasks that I assigned to myself, except for finishing reading the iPad 8.3 manual. I stepped out of my comfort zone for two items and I am proud of that.

I'm good at being organized and finishing items on a to-do list. Not everyone is. I understand that. I have learned to narrow down tasks to manageable or do-able goals. This was I am not so pressured to finish things. I can still be high energy and challenge that into my life.

I am looking forward to working with the research needed for the gravestones and to read and work with the books that I have bought. I put away the Scot-Do over under the summer is over.

I purchased a subscription to Find My Past because I think it will help me with my English ancestors. I have one line that went well but I have a few more that are only based on information in compiled genealogies.

Josh Taylor talk about compiled genealogies and using them effectively was one of my fav sessions at NERGC 2015. I own a lot of that type of resource and I am amazed how different they are. 

Do you use compiled genealogies as a starting point?