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.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Prickly Fall: The Railroad Tracks Lesson

Leave Your Fears Behind
Local RR Crossing Acton, MA 5 Sept 2018
This summer, hubs and I stopped at a local railroad crossing and I suddenly remembered the lesson my father gave me at the railroad tracks behind the houses on Bowling Lane in Bradford, RI.

It must have been a time when my mother wasn't with us because she would not have approved of us going down so near to the tracks.

We went down a long series of stairs behind one of the houses. My dad looked at his watch and went out on the tracks. I was not nuts about following him. He told me to put my hands on the rails. It was vibrating. I saw no trains either way or a railroad stop like the one shown above.

Dad said that I should never go out on the tracks alone. We climbed back up the stairs and we waited what seemed like a long time until we could see the train coming. He said that you could always feel the vibration before the train actually came but it was very dangerous.

When I moved to Bridgewater from Rhode Island as a newlywed, I had no car to drive so I had to walk from our apartment to get groceries, go to the bank or the library.  I had to cross the tracks into town. When my parents came up for the first time, my dad took me aside and reminded me of the train lesson. I told him that I remembered and that I was still afraid to cross. Year after year the nearby college reported that kids took the shortcut by walking over the tracks and even some adults have been hurt on the tracks.

This is a good life lesson. Always be aware of your surroundings and don't take chances near the railroad tracks. It you see the train coming wait it out. There have been a lot of times when I have thought of dad and this lesson.

Proceed with caution. Life is short enough.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Prickly Fall: Newspaper Evidence

Newspaper Evidence

It is apparent that my father played for two local baseball teams after graduating from Westerly High School in 1935. During high school, my father ran track and cross country and played baseball. This is the kind of evidence you can find in high school yearbooks. He also helped support his family after his parents died in 1934 and 1937 by working in the local dye mill called Bradford Dye. These newspaper clipping from the Westerly Sun newspaper for June of 1938 helped prove where he was that year. Teams were sponsored by local business who most likely bought the uniforms and the equipment.  This put ancestors and relatives in a particular year and helps add evidence to their life story.

Westerly Hilltops at Hilltop Park
Westerly Sun, 13 Jun 1938, courtesy of  Barbara Fallon, August 2018

 Broadfoot, Third Base
Westerly Sun, 13 Jun 1938, courtesy of  Barbara Fallon, August 2018

Bradford Dyers ( as "Tommy" Broadfoot)

Westerly Sun, 17 Jun 1938, courtesy of Barbara Fallon, 9 Aug 2018

Prickly Fall: Champion Team Photo

Bradford Dyers Baseball Team
Tom Broadfoot from photo below
Bradford Dyers, 1940, Champions of Westerly Twilight Baseball League
This is the Champion Team Photo of the Bradford Dyers (BDA) of the Twilight Baseball League in Westerly, Rhode Island.

Did my father play for two baseball teams? This was the question I asked about the photos I have. This uniform Tom is wearing doesn't have a team name but other men have shirts that say Bradford. The plot thickens.

There is another team photo (not shown) that says 1936 and is the Bradford Dyers. Tom must have joined the team after graduating high school in 1935.

I guess you have to be champions to get a team photo.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Prickly Fall: Tom and the Baseball Photos

Prickly Fall: Two Baseball Teams
Was it Twilight League or Hilltop?

My Father, 1938 Hilltop Baseball Uniform
Tom Broadfoot, my father died on this day, twenty years ago. With every passing day it seems so fresh in my mind yet so long ago. For many years, this photo remained a mystery. Stay with me as I show you how solving this took a lot of time.

My father, loved sports like cross county, track and golf. He envisioned a retirement where his days were spent playing golf with his friends. That's not what happened because many of his friends moved to Florida and my mother, who didn't drive was demanding of his time because my maternal grandmother came to live with them. He did organize a senior golf tournament and it was called the Twilight League. 

This photo of my father is dated by the car license plate as 1938. Probably it was taken the summer before the Hurricane of 1938 in the town of Bradford, RI where he lived with his sister Ada and his brother Bill all who worked for the Bradford Dye. 

I appealed to my friend Barbara Fallon to help me solve the mystery of why this uniform says Hilltop. You see, we lived on a street called Hilltop but that was years later and my dad thought that was funny.

I assumed that my dad played for a local team sponsored by the company that he worked for and I wasn't wrong but it must have taken her a long time to find it in the microfilm of the Westerly Sun, a widely read newspaper of southern Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. 

The prickly thing is that there is a bar in Westerly called Hilltop so on this twentieth year, everyone should have a beer to salute my father.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Prickly Fall: Hurricane Fear

Pricky Fall: Hurricane Fear

Photo of Books about New England Hurricanes (1938 and 1954), taken by the author.
9 July 2009
When we cleaned out the items in our parent's houses, we found some books published and given freely to Rhode Island residents about the Hurricane of 1938 (often called the Long Island (NY) Express and the Hurricane of 1954 called Carol.

As part of my Master's coursework, I did a project about these Hurricanes. My family both maternal and paternal lived through the Hurricane of 1938 and I interviewed them about what they remembered. Many books have been written about that hurricane and the newsreels are available on YouTube. Because of a failure to predict hurricanes at that time, coupled with the beginning of World War II, this storm devastated much of New England. Power was out for weeks and the economy suffered. It was a blow to New England during the Great Depression.

We found out that my mother, who was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design couldn't drive in the wind (in a convertible) and a fellow student took over driving the car home.  My father, was working at the Bradford Dye in Westerly, was an able bodied adult and was called upon to help move bodies from the ocean near Watch Hill to Westerly so that they could be identified by loved ones.

In 1954, I was scared of the high winds and my mother tried to calm me down by telling me that our new neighbor was in a Boston Hospital giving birth. I wanted to know why anyone would have a baby during a big storm! Our neighborhood, plunged into darkness for days, became a place of fear as all the adults had lived through the 1938 hurricane and were not prepared at all.

It was my first experience of living without electricity. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. It gives me fear and anxiety.

Friday, August 31, 2018

School Days: My BEST writing

School Days: My BEST writing

Second Grade Printing. Collection of the author, 2018, September, 1954, Grade 2

I attended the Oaklawn School for grades 1-4. Oaklawn (the village) is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was at one time a Quaker community. When I was in 2nd grade, the "new school building" was under construction. In 2014, I went back to see what was left of my school. The part of the school that wrapped around the oldest ("new part") part is gone.

When they hung the girls bathroom mirrors, the principal pulled me out of the classroom and went with me into the bathroom. I was the smallest child on that floor. Afterwards, she explained that I should never go into the girls room without an adult female teacher if there were men in the bathroom. I was scared.

I also remember that when I was in third grade, polio vaccine was being administered to schoolchildren and we did not start school until 21 September 1955 (on my report card) so that they could monitor possible outbreaks from those children that had not been inoculated.

Oaklawn School began in the Quaker section and it is now the Oaklawn Public Library. For all of us that grew up in the area, we remember fondly the wonderful May breakfast tradition.  The Quaker building is long gone and the Baptist church still stands.

19 Aug 2014, collection of the author.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

School Days: Important Grades?

School Days: Important Grades?

Cranston School Department, Cranston, RI. Report Card
Collection of the author, privately held. 2018
Primary school curriculum certainly has changed over the years. I'm not going to show you anymore report cards as they became less standardized as the grade level got higher. I remember my third grade teacher best because she was horrified at my sub-standard handwriting despite the final grade of A for second grade. In third grade cursive writing was begun and we actually used pens that dipped in the inkwells for several months until the school bought BIC stick pens.

My husband, a lifetime "leftie" and older than I am says he didn't use a pen and an inkwell at all.

Apparently we learned reading, language and writing ONLY in the first two grades. I know we had to write the numerals 0-9 but arithmetic and spelling were only taught at second grade and not starting with the beginning of the school year. The real work started at third grade. 

Sputnik was launched and changed the elementary school curriculum. Teachers, untrained in science, had to start teaching it. That was not popular with lower grade teachers.

School Days: First Report Card

Cranston School Department, Cranston, RI. Report Card
Collection of the author, privately held. 2018
School Days: First Report Card

Some families save records, just in case. I never thought of my report cards as a record of my education until I went to Rhode Island College with plans to become a teacher. I discovered my mother had saved them in a paper folio in the china cupboard. When the plastic Ziploc bag was invented, I put them in order and threw out the folio. When we bought our own home, I took them and stored them in a filing cabinet. 

As you can see, the dates are important to my timeline and the information of promoted to Grade 2 was the last thing written on the front. Report cards were sent home with the child and a parent was required to sign them and send them back. The last page of the report card contains my mother and father's signatures. If I hadn't has samples of their handwriting this would have been a valuable resource.

I searched for the "start date" of September 9, 1953 and it was a Wednesday, which confirms that I walked upstairs and went from the Kindergarten classroom to first grade since the report card is for first grade, not Kindergarten.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

School Days: Finding Miss Abbey

Rhode Island College School of Education, 1952
Ancestry. com (27 Aug 2018)

Miss Dolores Abbey
Several of my high school classmates went to Oaklawn School. Some have told me that they lived in the neighborhood of the school and what street they grew up on. Getting their remembrances encouraged me to work on this project.

Using the tools of technology, I have been able to see what the area looks like now and helped me take a "field trip" back home a few years ago. One person a couple years older  "graduated" from the school and even has an Oaklawn pin. 

At that time, there was only one public college that prepared teachers for elementary and high school teaching in Rhode Island. In many states, this kind of college is called a "Normal" or "Dame" school. The University where I received my Master's degree was once one of these places and my genealogy friend Heather Wilkinson Rojo discovered we took the same Master's program at Lesley University. Mine was completely online and hers was at the actual school. Most colleges and universities have an online presence and will have a history of our school or a mission statement.

My late mother-in-law, my husband's cousin and his wife and I went to the same college. Because it will be 50 years since I graduated in 1969, the college has written a history of the years I attended and made a Facebook page for the reunion

I have been spending time looking at the old yearbooks at Schools change their name over the years and you may have to look hard for information. The Alumni Association can help.

I searched Ancestry,com's yearbook collection of Rhode Island College of Education (RICE) and found a yearbook from the year before I went to Oaklawn and easily found my first grade teacher. I don't think I will find others because women did quickly marry after college. It was called getting your "Mrs". I've always thought that was funny.

Monday, August 27, 2018

School Days: Going to Kindergarten

First Grade Photo, Oaklawn School, 1953-1954
Privately held, collection of the author
School Days: Going to Kindergarten

I remember my first day of school quite vividly because it really wasn't what I expected. I remember the Kindergarten classroom was in the basement of the old Oaklawn School. The steps to the inside of the old school were very steep and many children struggled up them to make it into the school. From research, I learned that the school was built in 1895. 

Much to my shock, there were no desks and chairs, and the teacher made us sit on a large rug in front of the piano. I had on a new dress and decided to sit on the piano bench. The teacher didn't notice because she was herding the other children to the rug. I politely refused to sit on the rug and asked where the desks and books were.

The next thing I knew I was being called out of the room by the woman who I think was the principal, Miss Murphy. We went to her office. I still remember the sunlight streaming behind her big desk and chair through the windows which were high up on the wall. 

She took out a card with pictures of three oranges and an apple and asked me to identify the apple. I asked her if she didn't know? I remember her laugh and she said that I had to show her, so I did. She told me it was a test. I was glad she knew and I felt better.

There were more cards and then I told her that I could read. She took me to the bathroom and came back for me with a book. Judging from the year, it was a primary reader called, "Fun with Dick and Jane". The next thing I knew, I was taken to a nearby first grade classroom. 

Miss Abbey showed me where to sit and told me they called my mother and I was to stay for lunch and go home on the afternoon bus. I was glad to see a "real" teacher and to see desks and a bookcase. 

I was placed in the front row next to a very blonde little boy named Terry. I have later learned that that was because we both were left handed.

Until they published Rhode Island College yearbooks online, I didn't remember what she looked like except for her dark hair and long red fingernails. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

School Days: Before Going to School

March, 1952 (Collection of the author)
School Days: Before Going to School

Before I attended my first day of school at Oaklawn School in Cranston, Rhode Island, I attended two locations for pre-schools. As an only child with few neighborhood children to play with between 1950 and 1953, it was felt by my parents, maternal grandparents and my pediatrician that I needed more socialization. I didn't like my pediatrician. He made me have shots.

 I know that my parents attended church at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Pontiac Section of  nearby Warwick, RI and I clearly remember the Preschool Sunday School Class because they let me ride a tricycle and we listened to Bible stories. I met the minister and I thought he was God.

Around that same time, my mother signed me up to attend a pre-school located in a home in Oaklawn. They picked me up at home and delivered me back all before noon. There was a flower hanging over the rear-view mirror and the lady driving told us to look at it because we were going to draw it when we got to school. My mother loved my drawing and kept it for a long time but it was not there when I cleaned out my parent's home to sell. It was a small, cobalt-blue wildflower. I don't know what the name of that school was but the car was a dark color and quite big since there were other children picked up at the same time.

Later that year, I went to a pre-school located near my grandparents in the Washington Park area. It had a playground and a high fence around it. I remember the small slide. My grandmother wanted me to go to the Henry Barnard School in downtown Providence and we toured that school on a day they had Kindergarten graduation. The kids wore small caps and gowns.

But, my mother didn't want me to go to school so far from our home and after that more families moved into houses. So, it was decided that I would go to Kindergarten at Oaklawn School. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Prickly Summer: Notice of Funeral

Funeral and Burial for Annie Aiken Broadfoot
Westerly Sun, 1934

Westerly Sun, 1934
It is hard for me to imagine that my paternal grandmother was only 50 years old when she suddenly died after surgery. I did learn from these two newspaper accounts obtained from the Westerly Library's archives of the Westerly Sun newspaper, that Annie's funeral and committal (casket into the ground) was conducted at the church where my aunt, her children and my father and his brother attended church. 

I went to church with my father and my aunt and my cousin one Sunday, so I have been inside. 

Reading the bearers is impossible because of the microfilm being damaged, but some of the names can be researched. I found Robert Thompson in the photo of the Westerly Pipe Band. The Dow and Aiken men are family and I imagine the damaged part might have been my father, my uncle, or male co-workers or neighbors in Westerly or Bradford.

My father and the rest of the family has to pay and arrange for headstones for my grandparents. I would guess that this happened after my grandfather died. Not a good thing to have to pay for during the depression.

Prickly Summer: Dies After Operation

Removal of body from the Hospital for Burial
Westerly Town Hall obtained by Rosalie

Annie Aiken Broadfoot Dies After Surgery

Westerly Sun, October, 1934
My paternal grandmother's body was removed from the hospital where she died after recovering for a surgical procedure. This is the only removal permit I have in my collection. I learned from this document that she died on 10 Oct 1934 of a coronary embolism. I have always thought she had heart disease and the embolism was what killed her but after receiving the newspaper accounts, it is apparent that she had some operation, perhaps a hysterectomy and then she spent two weeks in the hospital recovering and suddenly died.

As her husband had a drinking problem, the situation at home after her death can't have been good. My oldest aunt was already married, which left my aunt and my two uncles without any help. 

The family history information is correct, as they lived on Vose St. before moving to Bradford when my grandfather stopping working in the granite industry and took a job at Bradford Dye and they moved to a mill house on Bowling Lane. 

My Godparents (and aunt and uncle) Wedding Day

John Crompton and Annie Broadfoot Marry
Westerly Sun, Sunday 20 Jan 1929, obtained from Barbara Fallon, 10 Jul 2018

To tell the story of my paternal family in Westerly, RI, I needed to be sure that my Aunt and Uncle were married in Westerly. That's what she told me in my oral interview but I realized that I didn't know the location of their marriage. They were married in the same church as by the same minister  as my grandparents, Annie's parents. 

Rev. Burdick was a popular and well liked minister of the Seventh Day Baptist community. Like many of my family in this location in that time period, they were married at the parsonage not in the church itself.

This is what she gathered from the Town Hall:

Westerly, RI Town Hall
Book 5, page 183
Intentions and Returns
John Crompton, Residence Bradford, RI, Born July 8, 1902, Age 26, Born in England, White, Occupation Textile operator, Father James W. Crompton, Mother’s maiden name Rebecca Wolstenholme, Parents born in England, Father’s occupation Dyer, Number of this marriage, first.

Annie Lambert Broadfoot, Residence Bradford, RI, Born Sep. 15, 1909, Age 19, Born in Westerly, RI, White, Occupation Mill hand, Father Thomas Broadfoot, Mother’s maiden name Annie Aitken, Parents born in Scotland, Father’s occupation Textile worker, Number of this marriage, first.

(Marriage) Return
John Crompton and Annie Lambert Broadfoot married on 19 Jan. 1929.  Attest. Clayton A. Burdick, Residence Westerly, RI, Denomination of clergyman S.D.B.,[Seventh Day Baptist] Witness, Ada Broadfoot and Harry Crompton.  Recorded Jan. 22,1929.

The witnesses were Annie's sister and Jack's youngest brother, Harry.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Prickly Summer: Largely Attended Funeral

25 April 1937, Westerly Sun, Westerly, RI
courtesy of Barbara Fallon and the Westerly Library
At first when I read this, I didn't realize that such an awful thing to happen as suicide would have a "largely attended' service. But, I went back and read the write up of "Dead at Home" article and worked out the organizations that my grandfather belonged to plus I thought about the large number of people who worked at the Bradford Dye, on Bowling Lane and in the town of Westerly, RI where my grandfather lived after he married my grandmother and moved to Bradford, RI.

The Caledonia Society is an organization for people of Scottish heritage. The Highland Pipe Band was quite large and as you can see by the photos, Thomas was a member for a number of years. I have inherited a copy of another professional photo with some men identified which I will scan and post.

It is possible that they would have helped, along with the workers at the BDA to pay for the funeral and possibly pay for the headstones, The burial plot record, I have a photograph of, doesn't indicate any information about payment. I do think, from the time period, that it was a casket funeral for both my grandparents and that is why the headstones are close to the edge of the plot. 

Holding the funeral four days after the death did give family time to travel from where they lived to Rhode Island. I am quite sure that the John Broadfoot who is listed as a bearer was my grandfather's brother who lived in California. Dow and Wright were also family members.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Prickly Summer: Dead at Home

Westerly Sun, Westerly, RI Cropped top article,
22 Apr 1937, page 2
Prickly Summer: Dead at Home

Suicide in a small town is often sensationalized but thankfully, this article appeared on the second page of the newspaper. Most of the time, there is just a death notice, a notice of service or burial and an obituary. Even though it is awful to read, the factual information is useful to my family history records and writing. My grandfather was only 53 years old when he died.

This "Takes Life by Inhaling Gas" gives me much needed information about this moment in time. This is just the top part of the article. Reported are these facts:
  • he was despondent by his wife's previous sudden death 
  • both the family and the doctor and the ambulance crew (Westerly Sanitary Crew) tried to revive him
  • he had died after his daughter and son left for work at about 8:30 AM
  • estimated time of death was between 10 and 10:30 AM
  • my father was first on the scene and my aunt arrived quickly
  • he did not work the previous day or the day he died
  • his spirits seemed OK so the shock was greater
  • the gas stove tubing was pulled out and he inhaled the gas
  • the Narragansett Electric Company arrive to clear the air in the house and to turn off and repair the stove
  • because it was a suicide the town medical examiner was brought in so it would not be considered a murder
  • my father was identified as Thomas Broadfoot, Jr., which is incorrect as my father had a middle name and his father did not.
The article goes on to report his correct place and date of birth, where everyone in the household was employed,  the organizations he belonged to and that he was an accomplished curler.

The survivors match my research and the places they lived are correct. The funeral notice and the obituary are in the correct order and are factual.

Westerly Sun, 25 Apr 1937 page 5.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Prickly Summer: Thomas Broadfoot: Town Death Record

Westerly, RI Town Death Record , p. 298
photographed by Rosalie and shared with me.

Prickly Summer: Thomas Broadfoot: Town Death Record
I went to our annual visit to my Aunt Ann and Uncle Jack's house in Providence, RI for Uncle Jack's birthday. I helped my aunt carry inside some of the dishes and she asked me, "Did you know that your father found his father's body? I didn't. I did know this happened ten years before I was born from the gravestone. I did ask my father about it after we went home and he told me only the bare minimum and said that my Aunt Ada was "in charge" since she was the oldest daughter in the house. Not long after this, I began to prepare to ask questions of each family member that was there for the next Thankgiving. 

My friend and fellow Aiken researcher, Rosalie, went to the Westerly town hall, with a gift of chocolate and they allowed her to look at records. She took this photo for me. It was a game changer. My grandfather was an alcoholic. That was not good news for my own health.

This week, I decided to find out where everyone lived at the moment this happened so that I can make a timeline. I knew that my grandmother died in 1934. That made Ada the "head of household".  She was single. My father and my uncle were living at 116 Bowling Lane with her. Annie married Jack in 1929 and from my research, they were living in Providence at 57 Pettyes Ave. until about 1939 when they bought the house at 42 Dedham Ave.

Now that I know where they live at this moment in time, I can add in the information that Barbara Fallon located for me. Noting that his report was made by the town medical examiner, I put this in my family tree.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Prickly Summer: Tom and Annie My Paternal Grandparents

Paternal Grandparents Gravestones at River Bend Cemetery
Photos taken by Midge Frazel, 2002
Prickly Summer: Tom and Annie, My Paternal Grandparents

When I was a child, we decorated the gravestones of our close family, near Memorial Day.

One year, I went with my father, without my mother, but just to River Bend Cemetery in Westerly, Rhode Island. 

As I stood in front of the gravestones of the grandparents that died before I was born, I realized that they were fairly young when they died and that they died only a few years apart. Seeing the expression on my face, my father and my aunts told me I had nothing to be afraid of. They mistook my expression as fear not as questioning. When I said that I wasn't afraid, they left me alone. We planted the geraniums and left.

Some stories can only be told from the end. They can take years of research and recording. In this case, several other researchers have been invaluable help. I have blogged about this before, but all of what I have learned needed to be written cohesively. 

My father, the son of this couple, and my mother rest in this plot. Most New England families of the past are buried together. I now know that my maternal grandfather bought plots in nearby Elm Grove Cemetery, in Mystic, CT for himself and his wife and for his children but that is not how it worked out. So, my mother agreed to be buried here with my father's family. 

As people in my father's family have passed away, I have inherited photographs and papers that have helped me piece together this timeline. It has taught me a lot about how genealogy works. For the next few months, I will be writing what I know so my descendants and my cousin's descendants will understand. There's always more to uncover, but for now, I have to stop and get this done.

The last days of a person's life is often the hardest to write about. That's what makes this prickly. You'll see.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Prickly Summer: Would You Like a Beveridge?

Oral Interview Sheets by Midge Frazel, 1971
Prickly Summer: Would You like a Beveridge?

While my soon to be husband was in Vietnam, I decided to interview my father's family on Thanksgiving, so after dinner, I went with my father to his sister's home and started with simple names and dates. The thing I remember most clearly is that it became obvious that my family didn't know everything about their own generation. The most fun was the surnames and listening to them try to decide how to spell them. As you can see I spelled Aiken incorrectly and my aunt fixed it. It did turn out that it was only partially wrong.

After my aunt wrote her mother's name, the men wandered into the living room and my aunt said, "Do you want a beverage?" So, we had to stop while dessert was served in the kitchen. I looked at the four interviews I has conducted, while my aunt put a big piece of pie and a cuppa in front of my father without asking him what he wanted. 

My Aiken and Beveridge family has been a lot of work and this week, I finally figured out what a family member said about the birth of my great grandparents first born child. He was born in 1879 and his parents weren't married until 1881. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Prickly Summer: Witnesses to Wedding

Cropped witnesses to Wedding

Prickly Summer: My Paternal Grandparent's Wedding

Some years ago, my late cousin, who inherited a box of items when my father's sister, Annie passed away, discovered the marriage certificate of our mutual grandparents.  Seeing that my birthday was near, she took it and had it photocopied for me and put it in the mail as a surprise. I didn't know the exact place or date of my grandparent's marriage. 

Copy of Marriage Record

When looking at a marriage certificate from a church ceremony, you should record the people who attended the service, including the the name of the clergy and the name of the location of the church or the justice of the peace or courthouse ceremony. Location matters.

In this case, it was not my paternal grandfather's Broadfoot family that witnessed the service, it was my paternal grandmother's family. I admit I was surprised. My grandfather arrived at Ellis Island 2 Apr 1904 and was "going to see" his great uncle Tom who lived in Westerly. By 28 Nov 1907, he had met and married Annie Aiken. I have no idea how they met or where he lived in that time period. That's prickly. I do know she arrived (back) from Scotland on 1 May 1905 and was "going to see" her brother Alex who lived in New York after arriving in 10 Jun 1904.

Making a timeline is in order but for now I am glad to see Jessie Taylor Aiken and her brother Alex's signatures.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Prickly Summer: DNA in the family

Screen Shot of DNA Match of Midge and Jennifer
Used with her permission with her screen name blocked out, 2018
Despite prickly family troubles, I choose to remember that my late great aunt Georgina was a strong woman who managed to overcome some obstacles in her life. When I inherited some snapshots of Aiken family members who were from the South, I went seeking out living family to help me with this line. They were willing to exchange emails with me. 

My late uncle Bill's middle name was Beveridge. I'm so glad. Our surnames are important to remembering our ancestors. Thank you Uncle Bill and Aunt Hannah for caring about our family.

As Georgina was alive in my lifetime, I still feel that she is the "Aunt Teeny" I remember. My dad took me to Westerly one day, perhaps a Memorial Day, and when we got out of the car, I looked up at the house and a lady flung open the window and shouted out to my dad.

As I remember, the lady called my father Harcomb (his middle name) and said, "It's Harcomb and the wee bairn!" What she said after that, I didn't understand. Later, I asked my father if she was speaking French. I knew my dad spoke some "school French". He roared and said that was the Scottish accent. I might have 3 or 4 years old. 

I looked at the house on Google Maps and it doesn't look like what I remember at all. However, this could have been anywhere in the Westerly area at any house that hosted Memorial Day.  I wish my Dad had told me that the lady was his mother's sister.

Georgina left me a great new cousin to communicate with and we have had a great time along with Rosalie piecing together our Aitken/Aiken/Aikin family. Through Ancestry DNA, we have added another "proof" of DNA. 

It's not prickly at all. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Prickly Summer: What's the name?

Carve Names in the in the family, one in RI and one in Georgia
Prickly Summer: What's the Name?

Over the years, names in families change. Genealogists shrug and say that this is expected. But, when families came to this country they expected life to be different. My great grandparents, David and Annie (Beveridge) Aiken married in 1881 in Woodside in Aberdeen in Scotland. She was a rag worker and he was a granite dresser. They came to America in 1884 through Castle Garden and returned to Scotland in 1898. 

David became a US citizen in 1892 and his name is typed as Aiken.

They must have wanted their children to be born in the United States because only the last son was born in Scotland. They moved around a lot when the children were small. They lived in New York and Rhode Island during those years. By 1901, David is a settmaker in the granite industry living back in Scotland. Why they went back is a mystery because they did return in later years.

A family member told me that they loved going to Georgia because of the warm climate and the red granite which makes beautiful stone monuments. In fact, they did retire to Georgia and died there. They are buried in  Lithonia City Cemetery, Lithonia, DeKalb, Georgia and the name renamed without the T.

As I researched back, I did find family born in Scotland under the name Aitken and when they came to the US they kept the T. One man I knew and he was my cousin. 

But, none of that explained the middle name of my grandmother's sister, "Watt Moir". Only one family member seems to have it. His name was George Watt Moir Aitken and he was the brother of my great grandfather David. He came to America, raised a family and died in North Carolina.

I used to think Georgina was named for the state of Georgia but now I think she is named for her uncle George.

Names are prickly genealogy.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Prickly Summer

Cactus Shelf (photo by Midge Frazel, 2018)
Prickly Summer

We all know that some ancestors and their families can be troublesome to research and write about. They don't mean to be vexatious, it is just that they are more work than others. It can take years to get them in the right order with the right records. 

In the past, people used to get prickly heat (heat rash) when it was hot and uncomfortable in mid-summer. Babies cried, tempers flared, tummies got upset, people argued. Of course, unless a diary was kept or there was a newspaper article written, it isn't something people like to remember. Our ancestors who came to America needed tender loving care in a new place and they often didn't find a good job or a decent place to live. It is the same trouble people have today. Life can be prickly.

I was lucky. My family took care of each other as much as possible. My maternal family hired my paternal family and gave them a better life. There was less hunger and when families gathered there was good food, a roof overhead and simple fun to be had. They took photographs. I treasure these tremendously when new ones are shared with me. 
Aiken family photo shared with me by the late Virgil Veal and his wife Annie Dow. Annotated by that family.

But, the troubles can be thorny and stinging even in the good times. Like the cactus plants, they can look beautiful and still be hard to touch. So, this summer, I want to focus on finding out more now that we have more resources. I want to appreciate them from my cool, comfortable home and keep calm and research on. Here's the notebook I am going to use to plan the posts. Some of what I am going to write won't be public but I feel that people need to know about good times and bad.

Cactus themed for the Prickly Summer, 2018