my ancestors’ souls

“A Lady Reading” by Gwen John

Moreover, my ancestors’ souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.
~ Carl Jung
(The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C.G. Jung)

enjoy the ride

“Self Portrait” by Zinaida Serebriakova

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to
The top of the hill
But since we’re on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride

The secret of love is in opening up your heart
It’s okay to feel afraid
But don’t let that stand in your way
‘Cause anyone knows that love is the only road
And since we’re only here for a while
Might as well show some style
Give us a smile

Isn’t it a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride
Now the thing about time is that time
Isn’t really real
It’s just your point of view
How does it feel for you
Einstein said he could never understand it all
Planets spinning through space
The smile upon your face
Welcome to the human race

~ James Taylor
♫ (Secret o’ Life) ♫

James Taylor in the 1970s.

The other day this song came on the radio — I hadn’t heard it in ages and found that it has even more meaning to me now than it did in the past. Lately I’ve been so at peace with the passage of time… Even often ‘feeling afraid’ isn’t spoiling the ride. James Taylor was the first singer-songwriter I followed with passion as a teen. Since he was about 9 years older than me I often found his songs expressing and reflecting feelings I’ve had along the way.

He’s going to perform with Bonnie Raitt at Fenway Park in Boston on August 11. Not sure I could handle the traffic or the crowds but it is so tempting to dream about! Live music is always amazing…

Konrad Fusiak & Ludmila Karaseck

This the story of my Ukrainian great-grandparents, most of it given to me by their granddaughter, my aunt Mary, during a lengthy interview on 21 July 1999. Aunt Mary was the oldest child of my grandparents, William & Katherine, but she grew up in Ukraine with her grandparents, Konrad & Ludmila. When Mary was 2 years old her mother sailed to America without her to join her father here. Mary didn’t see her parents again until she was 18 years old when her parents could finally send for her.

Konrad Fusiak (1864-1926)

Konrad Fusiak was born sometime after 1864 in Ternopol’ (Galicia) Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in Ukraine, and died after 1926. He married (as his first wife), Ludmila Karaseck, who was born in Prague, Bohemia, which is now Czech Republic, and died in 1917 in the Ukraine.

Konrad died at the age of 72, according to his granddaughter. He was a land owning farmer and a deacon in the Orthodox Church. Ludmila came from Prague to Ukraine with her parents to work in the salt mines at Starasol (or Stara Ceyl?). Konrad and Ludmila raised their granddaughter Mary when their daughter Katherine left for America. Ludmila died of double pneumonia. Apparently after Ludmila’s death, Konrad married (as his second wife) (—) Blenday. Mary remembers this step-grandmother as being very kind and protective of her, since Konrad was apparently a man harsh in his ways.

Left to right: Konrad & Ludmila (Karaseck) Fusiak, Ludmila is holding her baby granddaughter Mary Chomiak, daughters Anna and Augusta, and in front, sons Nicholas and Julian.

These pictures were taken in Ukraine, and brought to America by my Aunt Mary. Konrad & Ludmila were the parents of eight children, five of them emigrated to America. Order uncertain:

1. Katherine Fusiak (my grandmother), born 19 November 1887 in Luzok Horishni (Galicia) Austro-Hungarian Empire [now Ukraine], died 22 October 1943 in New London (New London) Connecticut. She married 16 February 1907, William Chomiak, who was born 2 February 1882 in Drohobych or Nahvevitchi (Galicia) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a village now known as Ivano-Frankovsk in Ukraine, and died 7 November 1965 in Willimantic (Windham) Connecticut, son of Fedor and Anastazia (—) Chomiak. Katherine & William were the parents of eight children.

2. Anna Fusiak emigrated to America, settled in New Jersey and married a boarding house operator, Michael Prytuliak/Palmer. She died on 11 December 1963 in East Newark (Hudson) New Jersey. Anna & Michael were the parents of six children.

3. Augusta “Gussie” Fusiak, born in Luzok Vizniy (Galicia), died at age 39 in Harrison (Hudson) New Jersey. She married a butcher, Jacob Wasyliw, who was born in Lviv (Galicia). Gussie & Jacob were the parents of three sons.

4. Mary Fusiak, lived in Stariy Sambir (or Sambor) and married a Polish railroad worker (perhaps surnamed Nyedv) at Mazurka.

5. Nicholas Fusiak went to school in Sambor, and served in the Austrian army. Nicholas was studying to be a teacher in the Soviet Union. At some point he went to Czechoslovakia. He is thought to have been killed by Stalin when he returned to Ukraine.

6. Steve Fusiak also went to school in Sambor and served in the Austrian army. He apparently had a child, but died young of tuberculosis.

7. Andrew Fusiak, born 13 December 1896 and died in November 1940. He also attended school in Sambor, married Christina Wolanski (born in 1909) in Luzok Vizniy (Galicia), emigrated to America, and settled in New Jersey. He was a butcher. Andrew & Christina were the parents of four children.

8. Julian Fusiak, born 6 August 1898 and died in June 1976 in Irvington (Essex) New Jersey. He didn’t like school (in Sambor) and ran away from home often. He married Božena Lowda, who was born 24 April 1902 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire [now Czech Republic] and died in October 1986 in Irvington. Julian served in the Austrian army immediately after World War II. He is thought to have collaborated with the Nazis to free Ukraine from Russia. He worked as a storekeeper. Julian & Božena were the parents of four children.

Stern Patriotism

Tim’s 6th-great-grandfather was a veteran of the War for Independence, taking part in the Lexington Alarm battle, when he was 33 years old.

The first battle of the Revolutionary War, fought in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. British troops had moved from Boston toward Lexington and Concord to seize the colonists’ military supplies and arrest revolutionaries. In Concord, advancing British troops met resistance from the Minutemen, and American volunteers harassed the retreating British troops along the Concord-Lexington Road. Paul Revere, on his famous ride, had first alerted the Americans to the British movement.
The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut website

Capt. Lemuel Roberts, son of Lemuel and Abigail (Beaman) Roberts, was born 2 October 1742 in Simsbury (Hartford) Connecticut, and died there 19 December 1789. He married there 8 December 1763, Ruth Woodford, who was born 4 November 1744 in Farmington (Hartford) Connecticut, and died about 1800 in Bloomfield (Hartford) Connecticut, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Thompson) Woodford.

original headstone

Lemuel lies buried in the Old Wintonbury Cemetery (formerly Old North Cemetery) in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

The following account is from Lester A. Roberts, Esq., “Descendants of John Roberts of Simsbury, CT and Bloomfield, CT,” The New England Historical & Genealogical Register, Vol 42, July 1888: 246:

[Lemuel’s] stern patriotism made him some enemies, and in 1787 a protest was made to the General Assembly against his reappointment as Justice of the Peace, but without avail. He was found dead one morning at the foot of stone steps from a house in which he had held a court the evening before. Being lame, he was the last to leave, and if he fell or was thrown down the steps was never known. On his grave-stone in the Bloomfield burial-ground, under the usual inscription, are the following lines:

No Cordial to revive his heart,
No one to hold his head,
No friend to close his dying eyes;
The ground was his death bed.

Lemuel & Ruth were the parents of eight children:

1. Lemuel Roberts (Tim’s 5th-great-grandfather), born 17 April 1766, died 2 July 1829 in Bloomfield. He married 5 October 1786, Roxy Gillett, who was born before 19 March 1769 and died 6 September 1848 in Bloomfield, daughter of Amos and Susanna (Webster) Gillett. Lemuel & Roxy were the parents of six children.

2. Ruth Roberts, born 24 January 1768 in Simsbury, died 31 May 1847 in Worthington (Franklin) Ohio. She married in 1789, Ezra Griswold, who was born 6 December 1767 and died 22 October 1822 in Worthington, son of Elisha and Eunice (Viets) Griswold. Ruth & Ezra were the parents of two sons.

3. Hannah Roberts, born 15 March 1770, died 15 March 1829. She married Augustus Filley who was born before 31 August 1766 and died 5 March 1812 in Otis (Berkshire) Massachusetts, son of Jonathan Filley.

4. Samuel Roberts, born 20 March 1772 in Simsbury, died 9 October 1846 in Sharon (Litchfield) Connecticut. He married (as his first wife) in 1793, Eleanor “Elethea” Calkins, who was born about 1733 and died 24 January 1813 in Sharon. Samuel & Eleanor were the parents of four children, possibly more. Samuel married (as his second wife) in 1815, Pamela Patchin. Samuel & Pamela were the parents of a daughter.

5. Eunice Roberts, (twin), born 22 August 1774 in Simsbury, died 13 August 1825 in Hartford (Hartford) Connecticut. She married 3 March 1799 in Bloomfield, James Goodwin, who was born 27 December 1777 in Hartford, and died there 13 September 1844, son of Jonathan and Eunice (Olcott) Goodwin.

6. Lois Roberts, (twin), born 22 August 1774 in Simsbury, died 7 November 1847 in Indiana. She married Zopher Topping, who was born 17 June 1773 in Granby (Hartford) Connecticut and died 7 September 1814 in Worthington.

7. Hezekiah Roberts, born 5 June 1776, died 6 June 1776 in Bloomfield, age 0.

8. Hezekiah Roberts, born before 26 August 1781. He married Harriet King. Hezekiah & Harriet were the parents of three children, possibly more.

A ‘Well-to-do’ Farmer

My 4th-great-grandfather, Isaac Weekes, son of Isaac and Thankful (Nickerson) Weekes, was born on 19 May 1780, “The Dark Day,” in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died on 22 October 1841. He married 9 March 1803, Elisabeth Allen, who was born 24 January 1784 in Harwich and died 11 July 1868, daughter of Seth and Anna (Gage) Allen.

The New England Dark Day of 1780 ~ image from New England Historical Society website

The Dark Day is now known to have been caused by massive forest fires burning in the western states. A smoky cloud cast itself over the New England states making it so dark that the people had to light their candles and lamps at noontime. Many thought the end of the world was at hand.

The following is from Genealogy of the Family of George Weekes of Dorchester, Mass. 1635-1650:

He [Isaac] was a ‘well-to-do’ farmer; owned a large farm. He had his peculiarities: one of which was a fondness for puzzling his listeners by ambiguous language, which he would explain after enjoying their perplexity. He took delight in coupling apparent selfishness with generosity; as for example: the minister passing his orchard took an apple from an over-hanging limb; Mr. W. sent him a letter threatening prosecution for the trespass; on the minister’s prompt apology, and asking how much would satisfy him, he replied that he would be content with five dollars; the minister handed him the amount, which he took, and immediately returned with another bill of like amount.

My mother, Elisabeth White, was named after her 3rd-great-grandmother, Elisabeth Allen, and her 2nd-great-grandmother, Elisabeth Weekes, and her great-grandmother, Elisabeth Freeman. The maternal line was interrupted by the birth of her grandfather, Martin Freeman Thompson.

Elisabeth & Isaac were the parents of twelve children:

1. Jemima Weekes, born 28 November 1803 in Barnstable (Barnstable) Massachusetts, died there 19 August 1873. She married 23 November 1825 in Orleans (Barnstable) Massachusetts, David Eldridge.

2. Isaac Weekes, born 27 September 1805 in Harwich, died at sea 11 September 1825, age 19.

3. Sally Weekes, born 3 September 1807, died 28 December 1853 in Central Falls (Providence) Rhode Island. She married Capt. Charles Coffin Baker.

4. Reuben Weekes, born 21 December 1809 in Harwich, died there 23 March 1865. He married 17 January 1832, Mary Hopkins.

5. Ebenezer Weekes, born 27 November 1811 in Harwich, died there 10 May 1897. He married (as his first wife) 18 July 1834, Elizabeth “Betsey” Burgess, who died 21 September 1845. Ebenezer married (as his second wife) 12 March 1846 in Harwich, Malinda (Rogers) Allen, daughter of Adnah Rogers.

6. Joseph Weekes, born 4 September 1814 in Harwich, died 6 January 1854 in Port au Prince, West Indies [now Haiti]. He married 1 December 1836, Sally Ward, who was born 7 July 1817 in Wellfleet (Barnstable) Massachusetts and died 5 November 1879 in Orleans.

7. Thankful Weekes, born 19 August 1816 in Harwich, died 29 December 1886. She married in Harwich, 11 November 1837, Capt. Truman Doane, who was born 28 December 1812 in Orleans and died 31 December 1881.

8. Capt. Alfred Weekes, born 8 April 1819 in Harwich, died at sea, 5 June 1854.  He married Mary Ellis.

9. Elisabeth Weekes (my 3rd-great-grandmother), born 6 November 1822 in Harwich, died there 18 September 1908. She married (as his second wife) 12 June 1848 in Harwich, Warren Freeman.

10. Betsey Clark Weekes, born 5 July 1826 in Harwich. She married there, 30 November 1848, David K. Maker, who was born 30 August 1823 in Brewster (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died 19 June 1866 in Harwich.

11. Melinda Weekes, born 16 August 1828 in Harwich, died 16 March 1831, age 2.

12. Isaac Weekes, born 16 September 1831 in Harwich, died there 8 July 1893.  Isaac was named after his father and his older brother, who died at sea.

fairy tale forest

“The Fairytale Forest” by Edvard Munch

All forests are one. … They are all echoes of the first forest that gave birth to Mystery when the world began.
~ Charles de Lint
(Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, Spring 1990)

The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveler who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should shut and the keys be lost.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien
(J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth)

into the mist

hmmm… what have we here?

Last weekend we flew down to North Carolina to see the little one, and her parents, of course. 😉 A visit to the Museum of Life & Science in Durham proved to be a great adventure. The museum’s tag line is “know wonder.” We spent most of our visit at the “Into the Mist” outdoor exhibit because that’s where Katherine’s curiosity led her.

time to investigate the intermittent mist at closer range…

Activate push-button mist fields and watch as droplets of water suspended in air form clouds that hover over small valleys. How does humidity and wind impact your misty landscape? Take a one-of-a-kind stroll through this cooling landscape and watch as rainbows appear then disappear. Climb through tunnels, make sand sculptures, or just sit, cool off, and observe the beauty of mist, landforms, and rock.
~ Museum of Life & Science website

noticing how slippery the steps are…

Katherine is an observer. This little amphitheater/mist pit captured her attention. For a good while she studied carefully how the other children played until the mist stopped coming up from the ground and then how one of them would run up the stairs to push a button on top of a pole to make the mist appear again.

continuing her investigation…
still figuring things out…
watching another child press the button…
a new friend to play with on the sidelines…
but it must be more fun in the middle…
think I should try this, Grandpa?

When she finally decided to take the plunge she had a wonderful time and got thoroughly soaked in the mist.

cool!
oh this is fun!
taking note of a pine cone…
joy!
it’s so wet…
the little scientist explores…

After changing Katherine into dry clothes we all had lunch and then Grammy & Grandpa Tim got to take our little darling on the Ellerbe Creek Railway. She’s very interested in trains these days and there are a few more in the area we hope to ride on during our next visit. While on the train we passed the Hideaway Woods outdoor exhibit and will definitely have to check out the huge tree house playground. But we had all had enough excitement for one day and it was getting hotter as the day wore on. Hard to believe it was still February.