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

Monday, May 7, 2018

Hopped on a Canoe

Hopped on A Canoe
My Third Great Grandparents
18 Feb 1817
Isaac Denison, Jr, and Levina Fish

The Day, 20 Aug 1999, page A1 and A5
"Keeping Mystic in its Natural State"

Would you ever think that your New England ancestors would get married in one home in one town and have a reception in another town and travel between the events in canoes in February? This seemed like an unlikely event to take place so I began to look for evidence that this actually took place. This 1999 newspaper article can be somewhat authenticated and even I am surprised. 

This wedding tale was found in the bride's newspaper funeral notice as located by Elsie Barstow and told again in a slide presentation, "The Fish families of early Mystic" by Warren Bourque, dated 17 May 1974.  Elsie lived in the house that belonged to Isaac and Levina at 6 Willow St. Mystic and was intrigued by Levina's long life.

It might be derivative evidence but it is all we've got since the bride (a long time widow) died in 1890. The wedding and reception are certainly not unlike ones today that are held in two locations and considered a "destination event."

For help with this "hopped on a canoe" tale this I enlisted the following people to help me: Dorothy Hanna, Mystic River Historical Society, 2 May 2018 and in the Mystic Press newspaper 24 and 29 July 1890 by Barbara Fallon and Nina Wright of the Westerly Public Library on 1 May 2018. No canoes were involved in the research.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

I.W. Denison, Shopkeeper

The Mystic Press, 29 July 1890 page 3
from the archives at  The Westerly Public Library
1 May 2018 from Barbara Fallon and Nina Wright.
My ancestor, Dudley Wheeler Stewart (1822-1886) was a merchant shopkeeper in the town of North Stonington, Connecticut. He did not marry until he was 33 years old. 

His wife Eliza Fish Denison (1833-1909) was my 2nd great grandmother and in 1909 when she died, she was living in Pawcatuck, Connecticut with her only living son and his family. That family included my maternal grandfather, Evans Stewart, who listened to all the family stories. 

This man in the ad above, I.W. Denison (1817-1895) was Eliza's eldest brother. There are photos of this storefront in many books on Mystic that I own. This ad tells me that although his store was larger and served a bigger town, this store had the same type of goods to be sold as Dudley's store.

Ever since I learned of this store, I have wondered if I.W. and Dudley knew each other. There are not very miles between the location of both stores. I suspect that Dudley, the last child born in his family, was introduced to his future bride by this man, known as I.W. or Isaac Wheeler Denison.
Photo taken in the Dension Homestead in 2009 by Midge Frazel

Eliza was educated at Portersville Academy and at the age of 17, she was living in nearby Groton with her uncle Simeon Fish (1799-1863), attending school and probably helping out in the household. Simeon Fish and Eliza's mother Levina Fish, were close in age and for sometime, his occupation is listed as merchant.

That's three men who were merchants who knew each other. 

In this time period, women were expected to marry, become a school teacher, or to nurse aged family members. Eliza was wise to marry Dudley. They married in 1856 and lived near his store in North Stonington, Connecticut. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Blogiversary to Me

Photo of cake by Midge Frazel
Writing blog posts is hard work. I started this blog in 2015 after returning from a conference with the thought that I needed to separate my genealogy research from the cemetery research. I enjoy doing this blog as much as I do writing about gravestones. 

This winter and spring, I have been transcribing and analyzing obituaries and funeral notices of as many of my ancestors that I can locate. They fit in well with the gravestone blog so that is where I have put them. 

Everyone seems mesmerized by DNA. It doesn't seem that despite the best effort of those who do fine work in DNA research, people are not getting that they must do research on their ancestors. I am getting a lot of questions about my ancestors who may or may not have lived in other countries. 

I refer them to my tree at Ancestry to see if they have a match to me. (

Right now, I am writing a family history book for my descendants about my family.  I find I am enjoying doing that and blogging is taking a "back seat" to that work.

I am impressed with my fellow bloggers who continue to put out well-documents, interesting and important blog posts. As I no longer travel or go to conferences by choice, my free time is spent doing things I love to do.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Thomas H. Broadfoot, my father, my hero

Obituaries and Death notice for Thomas H. Broadfoot
collection of Hannah Champlin Broadfoot, now in my possession, 2018
Thomas Harcomb Broadfoot (1917-1998)

My dad died in his chair in my parent's living room, comfortable in his pjs, slippers and bathrobe, after enduring the pain of lung cancer for many months. He slowly stopped breathing, just after midnight, with my hand on his arm. Late that afternoon he was talking and ate some food before becoming quiet and unresponsive. That's when the hospice nurse was called and arrived quickly with the pain medication and she called us to come right away. 

After he passed, I called his best friend (now deceased) who lived not far away and he kindly offered to write his obituary and fax it to the funeral home listed in the obituary. Many of the details are incorrect but neither my mother or I thought to correct what was sent. After some months, I sat down and asked my mother which parts were incorrect and we agreed. Now, it is time for me to correct these mistakes in my family tree so my daughter and grandsons won't wonder why what is "in print" was wrong.

The funeral home placed the notice in the Providence Journal and in the Cranston Herald and the Cranston Mirror. I don't think anyone put it in the Westerly Sun which was Dad's hometown paper. (update! yes it was and now I have a copy.) Dad was not born in Bradford. He was born at home at 7 Vose St. in Westerly. I continue to research his wartime service.

Many people came to his funeral and my family came to the graveside ceremony.

#52ancestors #9

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Memoir: Cap't William E. May and wife Mildred

Captain William E. May (1905-1970)
and his wife Mildred E. Lawson May (1907-1968)
Neighbors of my Aunt Anne and Uncle Jack Crompton

Photos captured from my parent's undated home movies
Location 42 Dedham Ave. Providence. RI
Blog posts should include remembrances or memoirs of people that touched your lives or the lives of your ancestors because in the larger scheme of things they add information to the neighborhoods and communities of long ago. These people may have been included with your family in holiday events or simple backyard cookouts. Let's hope they are not forgotten.

As my aunt and uncle were childless, they had a wider circle of friends than most people of that time. Time was passed by playing cards, listening to the radio and eating out at neighborhood restaurants.  

Mr. May and his wife lived at 16 Dedham Ave. in Providence, "up the street" from my aunt and uncle and they also had no children. Included in my paternal family events, it is to my family's credit that no one be excluded. As a curious child, I asked questions about people at these events and was rewarded with answers. This is how a childhood genealogist thinks about family.

Mr. May was a Providence Policeman, who rose from the rank of Patrolman in 1940 (1940 census) to Captain by 1964 (1964 Providence City Directory). My aunt, after a long day on her feet at various jobs, including one at Victor Cleansing Co., my family's business, helped care for Capt. May's wife Mildred (Lawson) May both before and after work. Capt. May's job was juvenile offenders. 

Crime & Delinquency , Vol 6, Issue 1, pp. 91 - 93, First Published January 1, 1960
located in Sage Publishing Journal [] accessed 1 Feb 2018
One day, I went home with my aunt and was picked up by my father after we ate supper there. My aunt, an excellent cook, fed my dad when he lived with them, before my parent's were married in 1946. He lived in a room upstairs, which he showed me that night.

We had just returned from taking "a plate" (whole meal) of supper to Mrs. May. We walked down the sidewalk to their home with the hot food. Mrs. May was wheelchair bound as she had rheumatoid arthritis. She opened the door and her dog, an English bulldog, growled. She reached down and said to the dog, "Friend" and he settled down and we entered. He was the first working animal I ever saw. He obviously was trained as a police dog. I was only allowed to pet him when she gave the command of Friend. He then transformed into a wiggly friendly animal. My aunt told me he was there to protect Mrs. May as she could not walk very much. He growled at my aunt every day without fail. That night, she let the dog outside and we waited until Mrs. May wheeled to the table to eat before we let him back inside for his own food.  

My aunt helped her twice a day every day for many years. This was the kind of person that my aunt was, helping others before her own needs. Aunt Anne lived until age 92, long after her husband, Uncle Jack died. My daughter's middle name is Anne after this strong woman.

As we were ready to leave, Capt. May returned home. He looked enormous in his police uniform, complete with gun and handcuffs. He left the room to secure his weapon and my aunt set out his supper before we went out the door. The dog stayed with her on alert the whole time.

Capt. and Mrs. May are buried in St. Anne's Cemetery in Cranston, RI. along with his two sisters and brother-in-law. I remember them.