Friday, January 29, 2016

Close to Home: Family Bibles

Wills & Probate Record of Denison N. Stewart

Close to Home: Family Bible
Mention of Bible in Denison N. Stewart's Inventory

If you have inherited a family Bible as I have, you probably have used the births, marriages and deaths recorded on pages in the center of the book, as a starting point for your family history of whatever ancestors was written in it. 

My grandmother told me that our family Bible belonged to my grandfather, Evans Stewart's, grandparents, Dudley Wheeler Stewart and his wife Eliza Fish Denison and that it was always called "the Stewart Family Bible". It is a huge book with a title page date of 1859.

It moved with my grandmother to my parent's home when she turned eighty and one day, I went over the pages with her and encouraged her to write locations of birth, marriage and deaths (in her own hand). It had helped me a great deal with places to look for information.

After my father died, my mother who had dementia, wrote in it, over and over in an attempt to remember. I should have taken it away from her but it is hard to make decisions for elderly people.

I have now found out that Dudley Wheeler Stewart's oldest brother, Denison N. Stewart may also have had a family Bible but I have no idea where it went. Denison N. Stewart died in 1867 and his birth, marriage and death are recorded in our Bible. He had living family and his son Edward D. Stewart may have taken the one listed herein the probate files. Denison's sons went after their father died. I have tracked down descendants of Edward and notified them that these documents exist. Denison's little girl, Ella, died as a child, and William, the son who went to Kansas died and we can't find out where he died or when. 

In 1859, Dudley and Eliza had a son, Charles, who was my great grandfather. I have long thought that this Bible was purchased at the time of his birth and Eliza is the person who recorded all the information in it. This is what Wheeler's History of Stonington says about Denison and his family.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Close to Home: Checking Census Records

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2016

As part of my Genealogy "Do-Over", I decided to go-over five generations from me on my maternal side.

I entered names into the type-on-the-form charts I bought from the shop at Family Tree Magazine and clicked in the box to put a checkmark so that I could make sure that I have the corresponding census record correctly attached to my tree at

As you can imagine, things went well through my parents and grandparents. I circled each one that I went over. Then, I got to my maternal great grandparents. That went fine and I have a good amount of city directory records to go over. There's a form for that too!

But, my second great grandparents, where their earliest census records are 1840 and earlier, I had them identified but I had not attached the records from my third great grandparents to the second. 

So, I went back and redid the form adding Edward Stewart and Rebecca Noyes to the list so I could examine them more closely.  

Edward Stewart (my 3rd great grandfather) died in 1837 and left his wife to manage the farm. She turned Edward's estate over to her son-in-law William R. Wheeler. Edward's probate file was at Ancestry and so I downloaded each page to work on. 

In 1840, Rebecca's oldest son, Denison N. Stewart is listed as Denison Stuart and he instead of she is head of household. Denison did not marry until 1844. My ancestor, Denison's brother Dudley, has no birth record. His gravestone says he was born in 1822 but several compiled genealogies list him as being born in 1820, probably because Rebecca was over 40 when he was born. 

I can now say he was born in 1822 from the tick mark on the 1840 census. Two more unmarried children live in the household and died before they were ever married. I think they may have either been unwell or were "pressed into farm and household management" by Rebecca. Rebecca died in 1843 and so did those two children Nancy and Edward F. This left Denison and Dudley alone together. By 1850, my ancestor is living in Norwich as an apprentice clerk. Denison marries and continues to live in the homestead. In 1850 he is married and has two children. By 1860 he has three children. He dies in 1867.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Close to Home: Creating a Firm Foundation

Firm Foundation, 2016 photo by Midge Frazel, outside my garage

Close to Home: Creating a Firm Foundation

For a few months now, I have been gathering documents and photos together without mentioning this process in any of my blogs. My birth, baptismal and marriage records are scanned, backed up and the originals put away. I am not going to write anymore about that step-by-step process except to report when I "go-over" the ones I have found are of interest to my readers. Just this step for a few generations is a lot of work. Do your own first.

Archived personal documents before they are put away, 2015

I purchased two CDs of Essential Forms from Family Tree Magazine's online shop and I have been looking them over and deciding which ones to use. Volume 2 contains PDFs of forms that you type directly in, save them with another name and archive them.  As the generations go back, I have less and less information but I knew that because when you apply to societies like DAR and Mayflower you need to submit this information to prove your lines. Of course, you know I have been taking gravestone photos since about 2001 and that adds to the vital records I submitted.

I did send for vital records that I didn't need at the time (like my 4th great grandmother's birth record and her marriage record). They are certified records but they are not camera copies of the town books. It was disappointing not to see real originals. If you have originals guard them well. As time goes on they will be hard to get and when you do it will be very expensive.

I will be typing information into this form as it is the easiest one to leave behind in a master book. I hope this will help me organize documents and see what I am missing.

Clip of Ancestor Timeline form, Family Tree Magazine, 2016.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Close to Home: How Many Children?

Close to Home: How Many Children?

Number of Children, chart by author. 2016
Sometimes it is best to work out a project using paper. I know you can't see this clearly so, here is the scan of this at Flickr

You can easily see that my paternal ancestors that came here or lived in Scotland had many more children than my maternal New England ancestors, but only within these five generations. Except for one maternal ancestor (my Civil War 2nd great grandfather who was awarded the Medal of Honor who had seven sons), my family is pretty small.

 All are dead except for me and my descendants and my two first cousins on my paternal side and their families. My last aunt died last year. She was not only my paternal uncle's wife, she was a cousin to me on my maternal side and very interested in family history and knew a lot about where she lived. 

So many of the second generation of these people did not have families that I can follow down. My DNA reflects this in that most of the "hits" I get are very distant. On my paternal side, I have one second cousin that recently has done an Ancestry DNA test and it correctly matches him to me as our research had shown. 

 My mtDNA tells me almost nothing because the line back runs smack dab into my French Huguenot family who are not well recorded.  I do know some names and that's about it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Close to Home: Five Generation Chart

Chart of Five Generation Ancestors, 2016 by Midge Frazel

Who are the People to "Go-Over"?

I started this project by defining the people I was to review, record and write about.  Here is this same chart I posted at Flickr in case you want to look at it more closely.

Just to make it easier on me, I gave each generation a number for my notebook. This is how I used to teach a course in beginner genealogy. I started with paper so that each person in the class learned the terminology and how to fill in a chart. I wanted them to see how much they knew and who to call and interview. Getting the "grandparent math" and finding out how many they had total. (2 parents, 4 grandparents, 16 great grandparents, etc. Most people could name a great grandparent or two and that was it. Of course, they wanted to know how far back I could go and how long that took. I told they that before they went out on this adventure, they had to stick "close to home" before packing their bags.

Last year, I worked on my paternal ancestors so this year I plan to review my maternal ancestors starting with my mother (#2). Yesterday, was the anniversary of her birth one hundred years ago. I spent a little while reviewing photographs stored in the back of my office closet. Since last summer, I have found my mother's high school yearbook and recorded the schools she attended. It is surprising that I had not done that before.

My maternal grandparents only had two children. When interviewing my maternal grandmother, I learned her first baby was stillborn. She carried that pregnancy to 5 months and then gave birth to a dead baby. My grandmother was in her late eighties when I learned this. My mother did not know that she could have been a middle child. 

After making this chart, I gave each person a number and typed them out grouping them by generation. I am lucky. I know the names of all thirty people, when they were born and when they died. For some I only have a year to work with and that is something I need to work on.

Ancestor #24, my 2nd great grandfather, Dudley Wheeler Stewart is a good example. I sent queries for his birth record to North Stonington, Stonington and Groton, CT with no results. I have compiled histories and genealogies with different dates. I need to make a list of them and where I found them and keep digging.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Talented At An Easel

Talented At An Easel
100 Year Birthday Remembrance
Dorothy Frances Stewart, BFA

Sterling Silver Pin designed by my mother between 1937 and 1940 (inscribed RISD)
collection of the author, scanned with Flip-Pal scanner
1937 "Outside the Sculpture Class" wearing smocks
with two friends, collection of the autho

(1935)The Cranstonian,  Cranston High School (East) p. 78 School Yearbook Collection (blog post)

If she were alive today, my mother, Dorothy Frances (Stewart) Broadfoot would be one hundred years old. (7 January 1916-3 Jun 2002). It is plausible that she could have lived to be 100 since her mother lived to be 98 and her great grandmother lived to be 99 but Mom's health was not good near the end of her days.

She knew all four of her grandparents and the previously mentioned 99 year old great grandmother.
(Below: 1916 portrait of my mom with my grandmother in 1916)

Telling the story of my mother's life would be remiss without mentioning that she was a talented artist. Her high school yearbook (see screen shot above), states she was, "Very talented at an easel and before long we shall be reviewing her works of art".

It was finding that yearbook quote that made think that I had not learned about her education beyond the 8th grade. In those days, small neighborhood grammar schools that went to the 8th grade were the rule but children went to a parochial school for the same period of time. My mother went to a grammar school on nearby Norwood Ave. until she graduated from the 8th grade. This is why the 1940 census was so popular, it showed that many children went to work after the 8th grade. Many of our ancestors considered themselves lucky to go to school until 14 and only a select group went to high school. My mother went to Cranston High School (East) while her brother went to a private boarding school.
After high school, my mother attended a junior college called Lasell in Massachusetts (Lasell College) probably for two years. According to the article on Wikipedia, they offered a specialty in fashion. It was a boarding school and she hated it. I had a hard time getting her to talk about it.

After that, she attended the nearby Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island and majored in Fashion Design and Photography. At that time, "certificates of completion" were given when your course of study was finished. I don't know why. But, in 1990, the college told her (by mail) that she was eligible for a degree. All of us were surprised. When it came in the mail we found out she earned a "Bachelor of Fine Arts".  It is quite a big document and I must remember to re-scan it better with my Flip-Pal.

I know that my mother worked for Bachrach, a portrait studio and society photographer, covering events in Hartford, Connecticut after college. When men began to enlist in WWII she returned home to help out by working in her father's business. (This 1940s era photo of my mother was probably taken at that studio) Photo by Artistic  Photo Co. 103 Westminster St. Providence RI,

She always encouraged me to be creative and for that, I am grateful every day.

Happy Birthday, Mom! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Close to Home: a Genealogy "Go Over"

Winter Sunshine colored by by Midge Frazel, 2015-2016
Close to Home: a Genealogy "Go Over"

As I participated in the genealogy-do-over last year (in the pioneer group) to help me manage my Scottish records, photographs and gravestones, I have anxiously awaited the production of the new workbook ($3.99) that Thomas MacEntee has produced. (Kindle edition) (PDF edition) Further information can be found here. Thomas has taken a year's work of feedback and lengthened the time for each part of the do-over and produced videos in a YouTube channel for us to learn from. A very good deal for $3.99. I purchased the PDF format (so I could print pages as needed) and moved the PDF into Kindle format for easy reading on my iPad.

I was not idle while I waited, as I purchased recommended (type in the fields) genealogy forms and organizing sheets to be ready. Last summer, I returned home to take some more photographs of places in my childhood. I firmly believe that photos both heritage and contemporary are needed to tell a story. 

This past month, I reviewed a previous blog post and re-wrote it to fit my purpose. I will be writing about my experiences in this blog and in my other blog, Granite in My Blood. You will have to read them both to get the full picture.

I will be researching, writing and gathering artifacts in Evernote and Pinterest but I will not be reporting on them daily. 

My project will be called Close to Home and fits into the second classification of Thomas's book which is a "Go-Over". 

Close to Home Project Description
Researching the first five generations from me has taken the most time in my life as a genealogist. It is my firm foundation and should be as organized as as it can be before I am no longer living. 

The first time I learned a what genealogy was I was shown my maternal grandfather's family Bible. From there, I was shown photographs of past generations and heirloom artifacts that I would someday inherit. 

There was no one but me left to inherit. This was my New England family and there were a lot of surnames for me to investigate. From that point on, I began to learn about my maternal grandmother's family from the photographs she inherited. 

Some years later, I asked my father about his family and he and I quickly discovered that my paternal grandparents information was not held with just one generation like my maternal family had done. My father's oldest sister had a few photographs and much to my surprise I had older members of his family that were living that I didn't know. 

It has been a sixty year journey of discovery for me. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Ordinary Days in the Family

Family Photo Collection of Midge Frazel
Funny Family Stories

It is funny how history repeats itself, isn't it? On 25 March 2011, I wrote a blog post about this photo, which I took with my camera, of my father coming into the house on a cold and snowy winter night. I discovered today that the post, written in my other blog, Granite in My Blood, is missing the photo because Blogger used to let me post photos directly from Flickr to Blogger. I think as time goes on this will be a big problem for me and other long term blogger who have a lot of blog posts.

The condo that I live in now is the first place I have lived since marriage that there is a garage. During bad weather, our car isn't covered with ice or snow in the harsh Massachusetts weather. The temperature in the garage is warmer than outdoors (but still cold). 

My father was very picky about putting his car in the garage every single night. It occurs to me that now that I don't own a car, my husband feels the same way about putting the car in at night. I didn't think much about keeping the car warm so it will start until today when my daughter's car wouldn't start because it was left outside and not put in the garage overnight. 

Family stories with photos will be what future generations will not have if the story and the photo are not kept together. They will have the photo and not the story.

I must think about that as I work on my revised do-over. But, for now, you can laugh at this funny photo of my dad in his pjs and bathrobe with his coat and hat on. I am so glad I took this photo. It is in an archival bag and it is scanned and backup-ed in two places. However, it is not dated and the story is not with it.

By the way, this photo has a name. It is called the "Oh, sh*t!" photo because that's what Dad said when he noticed the car was not "put away". 

Miss you Daddy.