Saturday, April 22, 2017

A New Wrinkle: 2 Year Blogiversary


A New Wrinkle
Two Year Blogiversary 

Keeping an Eye on my Readers, 22 April 2017


My mother used to tell me that she didn't get any wrinkles until she turned 70. Of course, that wasn't really true because we all get wrinkles before that. Exposure to sun, stress and smoking gives everyone wrinkles. As I recall, she had cataract surgery around then and because of that she could see more clearly, so she could see her face better.  She was a sun lover and she did smoke. She thought that I should do those things too because it was thought smoking could dull your appetite so you wouldn't gain unsightly fat and being a sun lover gave you a lovely tan and she thought that made her look younger. As a artist, it was all about how everything looked and since I was her creation, she should have influence over me and how I looked. 

Coincidentally, I have a new wrinkle near my eye. It hurts and I am hoping it is caused by the excessive pollen that I am allergic to. I'm keeping an eye on it by applying dry eye tears and eye cream. I will be 70 in December. 

The Wrinkle Age.

Also this week, my friend who is a recent widow came to visit. She doing OK but she is experiencing the stress of being alone. She will throw herself into her work. She is ten years younger than I am and she mentioned my age twice. It's the shock of grief. 

Genealogists are talking about how blogging is over. It's NOT. It is just that it takes a lot of time to do research, make blog posts interesting and find the time to write. I admit that this got under my skin. Maybe that is what's causing my wrinkle?

I am planning to write more this year; not less. Maybe my readers won't see it all because some of the work I do is not exciting enough to publish but that doesn't mean I'm not doing it.

When I started this blog, I had been writing my other two blogs for many years. I have "stick-to-it-iveness", says Family Tree Magazine. The day I started this blog, I did so to separate my genealogy research from my gravestone work. I am not going to tell you how many hits I have because that is not my motivation to continue writing. Posting my blog posts to Facebook and Twitter is part of my job and increases my traffic because not all blog post are read via RSS in a aggregate blog reader like Feedly.

I write because I have something to say, something to share, something to keep me connected to life.  

I celebrate this blogiversary even more because of my planning method and my journaling, which is working for me. I'm keeping an eye on what people say but I am not focusing on the wrinkles.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blogging in the Past, Present and Future

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2017

Blogging in the Past, Present and Future 

With an iced coffee in hand, I thought today about my past, present and future as a genealogy blogger. I decided to begin by creating a new logo for this blog, by using some stickers I have been using to motivate me in my Erin Condren Planner. As I am forgoing attendance at the 2017 NERGC conference, held next week, I reviewed my commitment to blogging about the work I have been doing in genealogy research. In the past, I wrote about my adventures in gravestone hunting in Granite-in-My-Blood, in the present, I am writing about planning and bullet journaling, and in the future, I strive to write about my personal family research and the ancestor profiles I am working on. 

I hope you have been enjoying my writing and my photographs. Some blogs have returned to being just text narratives and links for easy mobile blogging but I feel that the photos and screenshots are important too. Hoping that you stick with me as I continue to research and write, please visit my blogs and share your thoughts with me.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Marched on the Alarm of the Revolution

Statue to the Men of Sudbury, photo by Midge Frazel, 11 April, 2011

My husband's ancestors lived in this part of Massachusetts, so when we moved here I went in search of the gravestones of his family. This statue overlooks a churchyard and church in Sudbury Center. The churchyard is called the Revolutionary Cemetery. It looks squashed together by the roadway and the paved parking lot. I imagine many of the graves are unmarked but it is filled with gravestones you can see.

Up on the hill where this statue was erected, there is another cemetery and only some of the gravestones are of the old style.

In nearby Southborough, there is a very old graveyard with many unmarked graves, but I was able to find Nathan Fay and his wife Lucy Beamas Fay.  Nathan was a Revolutionary soldier. Their gravestones are set close together for eternity. I have thought about this man and his wife more than my own because we are so near to where this War began.

Hubs with his ancestors, Nathan and Lucy Fay
Nathan Fay, marched on the alarm
Corporal Nathan Fay served 15 days in Capt. Elijah Bellows's Co.   and marched in the Lexington Alarm. Nathan and Lucy had a dozen children.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Working On: Robert Williams of Roxbury

Ancestry.com, Tree of Midge Frazel, 2017
(larger view)

Working On: Robert Williams of Roxbury, MA

I find it a daunting task to work on my earliest New England Ancestors. I decided that I would spend some time working on Robert Williams (1607-1694) of Roxbury, MA to see if I could do a better job than 10 years ago with finding sources instead of relying on Wheeler's History of Stonington, CT for information.

Because this is NOT a Williams family which includes Roger Williams of Rhode Island (not my ancestor), I decided to see what the brief (4 generations) genealogy of Robert Williams of Roxbury, Massachusetts, had to say, because I think that this genealogy is the source of Wheeler's chapter on the Robert Williams family. I found the right genealogy easily at the Internet Archive and downloaded it as a PDF and compared it to the information in Wheeler's History. 

As the gravestone of Col. John Williams is one that I want to write about in my Granite-in-MY-Blood blog, I wondered if it was possible to find out where Robert Williams came from in England now that some parish records have been digitized. 

I found a baptismal record at Ancestry.com. I was very surprised and pleased. Facebook friends may also be descended from him so I thought it worth my time to look into this before I write about Col. John Williams and his wife Desire Denison who are one set of my 6th great grandparents. They are buried at Whitehall Cemetery in Mystic, CT. Their daughter, Thankful Williams, wife of Avery Denison, china is on display at the Denison Homestead. 

https://archive.org/details/robertwilliamsof00will
In addition to this resource, I have Martin Hollick's expanded version of his book, New Englanders in the 1600s to use as a reference. Martin's book gives me hope that I will be able to understand my earliest ancestors who came to America. His books and his emails have been a big help to me thorough the years.

I would never have thought that I could research immigrant (New England) ancestors with any luck when I started looking for gravestones. 

Finding the baptismal record with a date of 11 Dec 1608 in St. Nicholas Parish Church in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England presented a new challenge of big able to actually read it and see that it matches the transcription provided by Ancestry. It worked!

In another one of those "not so rare genealogy date events", that is the day and month in which my only child was born in 1975.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Funny Friday: Roman Numerals

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2 Mar 2017

Photo by Midge Frazel, 1 Mar 2017
Funny Friday: Roman Numerals

My husband's ancestors came from several nearby towns in Massachusetts. One day, a few years ago, we drove past this building that looks like a castle. Since he was driving, and it is in downtown Hudson, he didn't get a clear look at the building that only I could see at the passenger window.

I noticed that the building had a M V M over the door. I thought it was a year, so I used my iPhone to try to figure out what the Roman Numerals meant. After a few minutes, and it wasn't working out, I searched for those letters and the name of the town. That worked and I laughed at us not realizing that the building was an ARMORY. 

At that time, I came home and pulled the little local history book we found in the box of his father's belongings and easily found the photo in it. Here's the book. It is out of copyright and I searched for it and found it (link).

Photo by Midge Frazel, 3 Mar 2017
Yesterday, we went to the new McDonald's to get a Shamrock Shake and we stopped at the light in front of the "Castle". I quickly took the two photos at the top of this post and we laughed again at not knowing that MVM meant Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.

State Armory, Company M. Fifth Regiment, Washington and Park Street, Hudson, MA
Built in 1910, the present day area doesn't have anywhere the same amount of land around it as shown in this photo scanned from the book. Wikipedia entry of present day.

It will always make us laugh as we drive by, remembering that when we moved here in 2010, we had no idea of where we were going.  Just a few years later, as businesses move out of the downtown areas, no one will even drive by historic buildings anymore. That's not funny, is it?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Lawn Chair Genealogy

Photo from the family collection of Hannah & William Broadfoot, held privately by Midge Frazel, 2016
Lawn Chair Genealogy

In my paternal family, we practice a not-so-unusual-family-activity that I am now calling lawn chair genealogy. Well, it isn't all about genealogy, it is about families getting together a couple times a year and having fun together and just talking to each other while sitting in lawn chairs.

 I can tell you that we did not spend enough time doing this as people aged and died. My father's brother Bill's wife, Hannah
was the family photographer and storyteller. I could always count on her to pay attention around these events and report back to me when I asked.

Hannah married into my paternal family BUT, as it turns out, she was a distant cousin to me on my maternal side. I don't think she knew this before she died but once I figured that out, I worked on it until I was sure.

Hannah was a great family historian. She and my uncle doted on us because they did not have kids of their own. We really appreciated her. Everyone knew Hannah in her town. Smart and talented with a needle, she also labeled her photos better that most of us that are left behind. That's why I scanned the front and back of this photo.

Even when I wasn't there, my paternal family went on vacation together. As I have inherited some of those photos, they tell me what I wanted to know. This is indeed a treasure.

When I was old enough, I began to ask questions of my aunts and uncles as to what they liked to do, what jobs they had and who were the non family members that we invited to these events. 

As the aunt pictured here, with my mother, worked for my maternal grandfather, my families came together at that point. My parents were born in the same town. It is a lucky coincidence for me.

There is just two of us left now, since one of us three cousins recently died. I realize that I have made a "rookie mistake". We planned to get together last summer and we didn't settle on a date. I am the little cousin. Being younger, I thought there was more time. As a genealogist, I should have known better.

 I am in a state of "genealogy mourning". I have done the only thing I can and that is to gather my 1st cousins, once removed together, via Facebook and I've started asking questions. It is the only way to see what we know and what we don't. They are mourning too. This is hard. I feel stupid for my rookie mistake of procrastination. I have made first contact with spouses and cousins on their "other" sides and I am starting a plan. I'll take any help that I can get.

First cousins, once removed (a long time ago)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Common New England Surname: Brown

Shades of Brown Mandala, Midge Frazel, Colorist, 2017
Common New England Surname: Brown
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Whenever New England genealogists encounter the surname Brown, Smith or Jones, they groan and throw up their hands in the air! I am one of those people that has all those names in my charts. 

Proving just one line can take years of work. As I roamed the cemeteries in my local Massachusetts areas, in my native Rhode Island or my ancestral areas of Connecticut, I see many family plots that have at least one of these surnames. 

It seems people with the surname Brown are all around me! My grandparents lived next door to a Brown family, whose son was my childhood dentist.

The History of Stonington, Connecticut by Judge Wheeler, which is arranged by family surname has three sections of Brown families. They are: The "Lynn Brown Family" meaning they came from Lynn, Massachusetts, the "Rev. Chad Brown" family and the "Edward Brown" family. 

Is it any wonder that the children's rhyming picture book keeps running through my head?

The Browns buried in the Denison plot at Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, CT are part of the "Lynn Brown Family". Judge Wheeler's book and the vital records and Hale Cemetery records agree. Phew. But, wait, there are two Brown plots nearby. Are they the same family? I decided to find out.

If you see any Brown, Smith or Jones gravestones, you should photograph them and put them online. That's what I am doing. Hopefully none of them are bears.

Posts about this project will be in The Granite in MY Blood blog

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Facebook and Friends

On this Day, 10 years ago, I joined Facebook
Coloring by Midge Frazel, 2016

I am not a person who makes friends easily. As an only child, I enjoy solitary activities and find it hard to work in a group. Facebook has changed me a lot. Facebook may not be so wonderful when people disagree (and there has been plenty of that lately) but most will agree that it helps us keep in touch with friends and family. 

In 2007, at an ed tech conference in the Florida sunshine, my friend Kathy Schrock told me that Facebook was now open to all, so when we returned to our room in the hotel, she showed me how to join and what she had been using it for. 

The day before, I took this photo of the January Florida sunshine and wondered what ten years ahead would look like. It does seem like a long time ago. Now, we must try to stay in the sunshine. I'd like to gather my friends (I have over a thousand) and say, "Let's stay friends."  It is the most precious.

Ten years ago, 28 January, 2007

Friday, January 27, 2017

Using a Planner

February 2017 Planner pages, Erin Condren Planner, 2017
Using the Planner


I really like my new planner and the "bullet-journal" productivity books that I have bought from Erin Condren. Next year (2018), I will probably get the larger Life Planner horizontal style. I examined one at Staples and I think that will work for me. I will order it direct from the Erin Condren Web site since I do need it a few months ahead to plan.

This is the start to February that I finished this week while I watch TV. I have the stickers on the whole year. That's the easy and fun part. As you can see from the collage at the top of this post, there are three spreads in one month. I am planning a quick summary of what blog posts were for each month and if it is about an ancestor, which ancestor it involves.

The round (currently pink) stickers are removable and I am color coding them as I plan them. I put a checkmark when they are finished as set to post. I write three blogs so I will have to use three colors. 

Hubs birthday is Valentine's Day so it is a big holiday around here. I am ready except for the meal. I buy the food and the Italian bread that morning and if it looks like snow, I will buy it ahead.

I have been lucky to be able to buy the planner and notebook supplies on sale ahead of time. It is fun. You can get sticker madness. I am happy to say that I will not fill mine up with stickers. I have seen some planners online that have so many stickers that they can't be shut. Wow. People need a lot to motivate them. I get that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Noun Project: Person, Place or Thing?

Photo of our hardcover Dictionary, privately held, Midge Frazel, 2017
The Noun Project: Person, Place or Thing?
A Bullet Journaling Project for 2017

I wouldn't be surprised if, as you read the word noun, you parroted back, "A noun is a person place or thing." because if you are of a certain age, you were taught by your elementary school teacher to recite the definitions of sentence structure. However, the real definition is a whole lot more complicated. Read the real definition here in the online version of this print dictionary. Evidently, we learned the child's version of noun. Unless you majored in English, you probably didn't give it another thought.

There is so much that doesn't fit into your favorite online or offline genealogy application.

Here's the THING...
Sure, the person and the dates and sometimes the places fit neatly but the things of like don't
  • organizations, clubs and organizations people belonged to
  • neighborhoods, addresses and houses lived in 
  • family businesses and the other people who worked for them
  • military history (and the places they served)
  • sources of information on a surname (compiled genealogies)
  • groups of people buried together in a plot (some of who are not related to the family)

I ran into this when I tried to keep track of the research I did for my family businesses. No matter how I tried, I couldn't find a way to record, cite and analyze information past the basics. For a long time, I used a research log, a list of citations and a timeline.

However, a project like that, that could be turned into a memory book for my family was not easy to record, write or set aside until more information was gathered. This is why I spent several months learning about bullet journaling. The classic method was not "genealogy specific" so I started working on a method that suited me. 

I am now working with a planner system, a bullet journal and a software writing tool (Scrivener) and a paper notebook. It sounds complex but since most of my work is done at home this will work for me. I stopped taking client work and became retired. I am now only working on my own family as was recommended to me by several genealogists. 

This is my plan for 2017 and by the end of the year I hope to report progress.

The distractions are endless.

I am even distracted by DNA, which I started to learn and immediately saw it as a specialty and not something for every genealogist. I was WRONG. But, keeping track of that was harder than I thought.

I will be seventy this year, my health is not perfect and I am trying to be practical about the total picture. I'd like to ENJOY genealogy once again. I am working on it but lately, genealogy hasn't been fun. 

I suspect that others may feel the same. Do you?

Copyright: Erin Condren, 2016-2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Inventor: Glamorous Profession

Privately held, Midge Frazel, 2016

A Glamorous Profession
Blog Post 4 

Lest you think that being an engineer during the depression was a glamorous profession, this is a photo of the workplace Bill worked in probably during the 1950s. Bill hated wearing a tie and some years after these photos were taken, he took a chance and stopped wearing the daily tie and white shirt. Because I knew him, I can tell you that he did not like working in a big room with so many people around.  I am guessing that this room was twice as big as what was photographed and maybe there were some offices with closed doors.

Finding photos that tell a story after all of the family has died and you can't ask questions about it, is a sad situation. We did find the above photo before his oldest son died and sent copies of it to him and to his daughters (who couldn't believe how old it looked!)

There is always more to be learned about someone who lived a long life like Bill. He died at age 97, outliving his wife. I think of all the photos, I like this photo booth strip because it was so out of character for him to do. He was quite the guy.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Inventor: The Early Years

Compass belonging to WH. Frazel, 2017, privately held
The Inventor: The Early Years
Blog Post 3

1935 Rhode Island Census Card, Ancestry.com

When Bill Frazel took his first job at Builders Iron Foundry in Providence, RI, he is listed as a "clerk" in this census record. They didn't want to pay him as an engineer. Bill and his wife Ruth, didn't marry until 1937, so he was living with his parents in Bristol, RI and commuting to Providence. Just as today, people had to take a lower paying job to get their foot in the door. The Great Depression was no exception.

My husband and I have finally been through the box of his possessions and found this compass that he may have used quite a lot. 

What we didn't find was his American Red Cross blood card. Bill was blood type AB negative which is unusual. Bill's wife was tested and had to take the shots when she was pregnant because she was O positive. It is not know what type his parents were but that may have contributed to the stillborn death of his older sister. In the cemetery, there is her headstone and a blank space which was probably reserved for Bill or a future child which they did not have.

Bill was the classic only child. His mother doted on him and was known to brag about her smart son. Bill's father had been married previously and they had a child who only lived with them for a while since he was older than Bill. This first wife is buried in the family plot.

It was wonderful to talk with Cousin Eleanor as she knew this family and even attended the wedding of Bill and Ruth. Eleanor's family lived next door to the family and her mother was Bill's mother's sister. I gained information that no record will ever reveal.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Inventor: Brown Senior Candidates

Thursday, November 8, 1934 The Evening Bulletin (Providence, RI),
Privately held by Midge Frazel, 2016 (Photo Link)
Front Row, third men from the left (Wilbur H. Frazel)


Newspaper Clipping of Brown University Engineering Students
Blog Post 2
As a senior at Brown University, my late father-in-law, was enrolled in an engineering program. Newspaper clippings are a great source of family history but will deteriorate over time. I have scanned this and put it in an archival envelope. 

We know that my late father-in-law was accepted to both MIT and Brown and chose to go to Brown because his parents were Rhode Island residents at that time. He went to high school in Dedham, MA and apparently either his father retired or took a job in Rhode Island.

Even though it was during the Great Depression, both of my in-laws went to higher education.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Inventor

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2016, privately held
Bill Frazel, the Inventor
(Blog Post 1)

My late father-in-law, was an engineer and inventor. When colleague, Lisa Alzo, asked about his inventions, she and I collaborated for her article in the current issue (Jan/Feb) of Family Tree Magazine for an article about invention, titled "Reinventing the Past" (pages 48-54). It is always a pleasure to work with another genealogist as you always learn new things and have fun.

The photo above is a gold service pin with a diamond chip that was presented to Wilbur Hyde Frazel, (1913-2011) my husband's father, for his work service. It was still sealed in the tiny box. He obviously didn't open it or wear it as I guess it was intended. 

When he died, my husband packed up his Brown University (an Ivy League school) yearbooks, programs and mementos and we put them aside so I could do further research. He was a very unsentimental person, so I was surprised to find that he had saved anything. Bill was a only child so it may have been his mother, Linda Hyde Frazel, who kept the photographs and newspaper clippings and Bill added it to the box of "stuff" when she and her husband died in 1949, only a few days apart. My in-laws were married by then and settled in Rhode Island. Linda did keep genealogy records for her family, so she was the family historian for her family.

I thought you might like to see a clip of his college yearbook. Full image . Yearbooks can be a great source of information to add to your genealogy writings. This small clip confirms that he "was prepared" at Dedham High School. His parents moved to Dedham when he was of middle school age so his father (a self-taught mechanical engineer) could get a new job. Prior to that they lived nearby to where we live now in Hudson, Massachusetts.


We see that while Bill was at Brown, he lived at 1615 Hope St. in Bristol, RI where his parents lived during those years. He took a bus to Brown and that is how my in-laws met. She was on the bus going to Rhode Island College, a normal school.

 My husband didn't know that his father's degree was in Electrical Engineering. Sc. B is a Bachelor of Science. The year was 1935. 

I was amused that they called him Frizz because they tried to call my daughter that when she was in High School. The Frizz part refers to his name and the fact that his hair was extra curly.