Long time readers of this blog may remember me complaining about the ancestral “stuff” we have accumulated over the years. For instance, here is part of my 15 July 2018 post:
You might guess from my recent choice of reading material that I’m still struggling with the objects and possessions I inherited from our ancestors. Things started piling up around 2008. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years! I have managed to dispose of a lot of stuff but cannot rest on my laurels. What’s left is stacked halfway to the ceiling in a corner of what is supposed to be the genealogy/guest room. The corner takes up almost half the room. … Trouble is, life (births, illnesses, travels, weddings, visitors, deaths) keeps happening and I need a good chunk of uninterrupted time to roll up my sleeves and dig in.
Four years after writing that, nothing had changed. More illness and then a pandemic… Well, I finally measured the pile of boxes. 6′ x 5′ x 4′. I’m terrible with numbers but I believe that was 120 cubic feet of stuff! And I finally realized that a good chunk of uninterrupted time was never going to come my way. I was going to have to seize it for myself. Walks, yoga, blogging, housework, puzzles, reading and family history research were all abandoned for the project.
I rolled up my sleeves and dug in. Much of it was disposed of. There were countless trips to the dumpster, the Book Barn, Goodwill and the Give & Take Shed at the transfer station. It took me a little over a month to make that pile disappear.
There were many treasures in there and these were roughly sorted and then stored where I can get my hands on them and organize them. (Soon, I hope!) At first I was trying to file important papers, like birth, marriage and death records, into the loose-leaf notebooks I created back in the 1990s. But it quickly became apparent that these would have to be reorganized to accommodate the volume of paperwork and photographs I was finding. These are the old notebooks:
There is room for expansion on the shelf below now. All the paperwork is put into acid-free sleeve protectors and kept in these notebooks. I need more! The first one was for us and our parents and the rest were for our eight grandparents and their ancestors. But I’ve had to start new notebooks for our parents and change the size for some of the grandparents. I can’t believe how many citizenship papers and wills and property deeds I found. Not to mention photographs.
One thing taking up a lot of space was my grandmother’s and my mother’s slides. My sister has made a start on digitizing them. Sadly, some are badly deteriorated.
There was about a decade in the 1990s I think of now as my genealogy heydays. My children were in their teens so I had more time on my hands. My mother had died of cancer in 1991 and my father decided to spend some of his time helping me with research. We took a day-long local family history class together with the Connecticut Society of Genealogists in East Hartford. He also came with me to a national genealogy conference in Hartford one summer where we bought a map of the Austrian Empire in 1875, as it was laid out when his parents were born there, in what is now Ukraine. I found the map and got it hung up again.
In 1993 I started a correspondence course with the National Genealogical Society.
My father and I also made many trips to Cape Cod during that decade. My late mother’s beloved parents were still alive and we visited them about once a month, sometimes making a side trip to a cemetery to locate an ancestor’s resting place. Grandfather finally had to put Grandmother in a nursing home when she kept falling and her dementia was too difficult for him to cope with. I am so grateful for my father’s companionship during those years. It was on these visits that Grandfather told me stories about his parents and grandparents, and I wrote them down. I did find many of my notes and corralled them into one place.
Grandmother died in 1996. After her funeral Grandfather took me and my sister and my cousin and my children to two of the cemeteries where Grandmother’s parents and grandparents were buried.
After a few pauses and restarts, I finally completed my course in 1998.
I wish that my mother had lived long enough to enjoy that decade with us. She became interested in family history toward the end of her life and my father used to help her visit town halls and genealogical libraries. She was just getting started with genealogy chat rooms online. She would have loved using the resources, like Ancestry.com, that I take for granted now. Once in the 1980s, before she got too sick, Tim had a work conference in Boston so he took Mom and me up there with him and dropped us off at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. We spent a memorable day in their library doing research. Went out for lunch in the city. It was a fun day, a rare mother-daughter outing. I can’t even remember who was watching the kids — was it my father?
Time marches on. Papa fell in 2000, breaking his femur, and began his slow decline. Beverly & John moved back from New Mexico to stay with him. Grandfather died in 2001. Auntie Lil needed ever more help and finally moved from elderly housing into my father’s house. Children went to college, got married and moved away. The 2000s are a blur of eldercare to me now. Tim had a major heart attack and almost died in 2007. Tim’s grandparents’ home in Provincetown was sold in 2009 and the Dennis Port home of my grandparents was sold in 2010, if I remember correctly. We wound up with lots of stuff we couldn’t handle or absorb. Papa, and Tim’s brother Toby, who lived out his last eight months with us, both died in 2013. Auntie died in 2016, at the great old age of 101. In 2017 Tim had major surgery, a sigmoid colon resection, and later that same year I was diagnosed with cancer and had a hysterectomy. So this is all why there was such a huge, untouched pile of stuff!
It’s such a relief to have it finally done. There are some loose ends to work on but these can be handled a little at a time. I’m looking forward to making new covers for my notebooks and reorganizing the insides. That’s fun work. It was so nice being able to set up air mattresses for our grandchildren to sleep on in the space formerly occupied by that awful pile of stuff!
I was going to post the latest predicted storm track but the the image wouldn’t save for me, so I went to WikiArt to find a painting…
It’s 6:15 am, we have wind and rain, temperature 74°F (23°C), Pressure 30 inHg, wind moderate at 20 mph. The outer bands of Hurricane Henri have arrived. The worst of it for us should be between 9 am and 4 pm. Yesterday afternoon the track started moving east again and when I woke up this morning it had moved again back to a predicted landfall east of us in Rhode Island, just over the state line.
My sister Beverly and I were reminiscing on the phone last night. Back in 1991, when she called our old New England Cape Codder grandparents after Hurricane Bob, Grandfather scolded her for worrying. “This house has been standing here since 1880 and it isn’t about to fall apart now.” He was 86 at the time and taking care of our grandmother, who was quite ill with dementia, at home. It was good remembering his calm and steady approach to life.
If we don’t lose power I will post weather updates from time to time. I think Grandfather would approve! 🙂
One thing about staying home during the pandemic is having gobs of time to sort through all the family stuff I’ve been grumbling about for years. The other day I discovered the above chart, created by me when I was eleven years old!
When people see how passionate I am about family history they often ask how long I’ve been researching my tree. “For as long as I can remember,” is my usual reply. Well, now I have proof I was doing it at least since age eleven. 🙂
Looking at this made me smile because it has so many mistakes, mostly the spellings of some of my cousins’ names. And using nicknames where I wasn’t sure of the full name. But I did the best I could after interviewing my parents. No dates. I was keenly interested in the relationships.
After I found this chart and drifted down memory lane for awhile, Tim suggested we go for a drive up in Ledyard because one of his friends said the trees were starting to show their fall colors. It was a beautiful Sunday drive! Please enjoy a little glimpse of our autumn. I have a feeling because of the drought it might go by too quickly…
Every day you play with the light of the universe. ~ Pablo Neruda (The Poetry of Pablo Neruda)
Local COVID-19 update: Ledge Light Health District is tracking an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in southeastern Connecticut. People are letting their guards down. We decided to try a take-out order on Monday — it was delicious — and then heard this news and decided we won’t be doing that again. Numbers are now higher than they were in April. People are gathering and not following protocols.
LLHD recorded 60 new cases during the week of Sept. 19-25 and another 43 new cases this weekend alone. Those numbers compare to a low point of five new cases a week in mid-August.
New London County now has 1,959 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 14 people are in the hospital and 115 have lost their lives. That’s 339 new cases and 7 more in the hospital since September 9 when I last reported. We were startled to see our part of the state the new area of increased concern on the news. Living in our bubble has become a comfortable routine yet this is raging all around us. It’s unsettling. A reminder that we’re doing all this staying home for a reason.
On Tuesday we decided to take another leaf peeping drive, as it was too humid for a walk. The weather people said that the colors are coming two weeks early because of the drought so we might be headed up to the Quiet Corner of Connecticut sooner than planned for our autumn drive. Still a lot of yellows for now but we did see a few rust and orange leaves…
We are under a gale warning today as we get some badly needed rain. Waiting to see how many leaves will be left on the trees tomorrow!
Finally, after years of eldercare, our own health problems, and helping to welcome our grandchildren into the family, I find myself with actual free time! It feels very strange.
So, I’ve been able to roll up my sleeves and tackle the pile of stuff taking up half of the guest/genealogy room. Three large boxes of stuff have been donated (mostly knick knacks) and a couple of large bags have gone to the dumpster. And I’m starting to find some of the buried treasure. Tim set me up with a scanner so I’m on a roll now!
These two pictures were taken by my grandmother, probably sometime in the 1960s. It makes me smile to think that my father took his in-laws to work with him one day, probably while my sister and I were at school and my mother was at work. They were very proud of his accomplishments. He was the first in our family to get a PhD. My sister would become the second.
We should be getting some snow tomorrow ~ that would be nice if only the rain wasn’t predicted to come wash it all away.
My great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson, son and only child of Martin Edward and Elizabeth Emma (Freeman) Thompson, was born 29 March 1875 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died 13 July 1965 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married in 1894, his fifth cousin, once removed, Amanda Eliza Hamblin, who was born 2 August 1879 in Dennis, and died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts, the daughter of William Nelson and Anna Eliza (Baker) Hamblin.
Martin was for a time the captain of the King Philip, a fishing boat out of Boston. He was a pilot and a sea-captain. In 1906 the couple resided at 69A Whiting Street, in Lynn, Massachusetts and later lived at 13 Wilson Drive in Abington. Probably sometime after his father’s death in 1928 they moved to the family home at 114 Depot Street, in Dennis Port, and were certainly there before 1957. For a time Martin & Amanda resided at 10 School Street in Woods Hole with their daughter and son-in-law, who were caring for his aunt and uncle, Edward and Susan Flora (Freeman) Swift.
Amanda had a very close relationship with Martin’s cousin, Annie (Thompson) Kelley. She cherished unrealized dreams of becoming an actress, but was well-known for the beautiful doilies she crocheted. Many of the doilies were given to her great-granddaughter, my sister Beverly, who seems to have inherited the crocheting genes. Beverly reproduced some of Amanda’s designs and has mounted some of the originals for safekeeping.
Amanda suffered from dementia in her final years, and for the year after her husband died, could only accept that he was at sea, and would only be made to rest easier when she was told that he was coming home soon. Amanda was called “Mum” and Martin was called “Pop” by their daughter and grandchildren. Both Mum & Pop died of pneumonia, a year apart, and lie buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis Port. Martin’s Namesakes: his father Capt. Martin Edward Thompson and his mother Elisabeth Emma Freeman. Amanda’s Namesakes: both of her grandmothers, Amanda Bearse and Eliza R. Eldridge.
Amanda & Martin were the parents of one daughter:
1. Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother), born 8 June 1906 in Lynn (Essex) Massachusetts, died 3 September 1996 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts. She married 30 November 1929 in Harwich, John Everett White, who was born 8 June 1905 in Rockland (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 4 April 2001 in Dennis, son of Samuel Minor and Emma Flora (Atwood) White. Emma & John were the parents of two children.
Located just a few miles from where we live, Elm Grove Cemetery (197 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, Connecticut) is where five of my ancestors lie buried. The most recent gravestone belongs to my 2nd-great-grandfather, William Martin White, and his second wife, Martha Bennett. I didn’t grow up in this area and it’s a bit of synchronicity that without knowing it, not long after I married, we moved to the area where so many of my ancestors lived and died.
My 2nd-great-grandfather, William Martin White, son of Austin and Lucy Ann (Thompson) White, was born 15 November 1836 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 18 November 1925 in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) 30 October 1860 in Methodist Episcopal Church, Mystic (New London) Connecticut, Ellen C. Hill, who was born about 1844, daughter of John and Polly S. (—) Hill. William and Ellen were divorced on 26 September 1876.
William worked both as a sailor and a farmer. For most of his life he lived at what is now 347 New London Turnpike in Old Mystic. It used to be called Old Turnpike Rd. William married Ellen, who had also been living in the same household with her relatives, his aunt and uncle, in 1860. Ellen came to be living there sometime between the 1850 and 1860 censuses, between the ages of 6 and 16. When she was 6 she was living with her parents.
The marriage was apparently troubled. In August 1865 the following item appeared in The Stonington Chronology 1649-1949:
A scandalous month-while Wm M White of Wolf Neck, Stonington, was on a fishing voyage, his wife eloped with a gay deceiver named Pendleton who is also a deserter from the regular army. She left 2 children, one 6 mos. old, and took with her $500.
It seems that the couple reconciled for a while, and had three more sons together, but finally were divorced after almost 16 years of marriage. William had custody of the boys and the youngest, Samuel, was told that his mother had died. However, on the 1880 census, Ellen, age 38, was residing in the Poor House of Stonington, identified as a “widow,” and had with her two young illegitimate children, born after she was divorced from William. Their birth records contain statements from William denying paternity.
Sadly, I have no idea what became of my 2nd-great-grandmother Ellen.
After the divorce, William married (as his second wife) Martha Bennett, born 27 July 1849 and died 16 April 1921, daughter of Henry and Caroline (—) Bennett. William’s last residence was 67 Pleasant St. in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts, and he died there of arteriosclerosis with senility. Perhaps he was living with his son Rufus.
In the summer of 1999, my grandfather, John White, and I visited the house of his grandfather, William White, at 347 New London Turnpike in Stonington, then owned by Millicent House Goodman, who very kindly showed us around. Grandfather had only seen it one time when he was a boy. He remembered coming to Mystic by train with his father and two brothers, and then taking the trolley to Old Mystic and then walking “a great stretch” to the house. He slept in the attic with his brothers and saw a sextant there. The next day they went clam digging. They were instructed to call Martha, “Aunt Martha.”
A history of the house William & Martha lived in is recorded in the book, A History of Old Mystic:
In 1717 Samuel Turner purchased land from Ephraim Fellows. He probably had this house built around 1725 when he was courting Rebecca Davison. This house is located on Rt. 184 about ½ mile east of Rt. 201. They were married on March 4, 1727/28. They raised 5 children here and it stayed in their family until 1765. In the Historic Resources Inventory done in 1981 by Blanche Higgins Schroer, she describes the interior as ‘having a large fireplace (brick with granite sides, wooden mantle) East parlor with deep sills and delicate Federal corner cupboard.’ In 1788 it was purchased by Joshua Brown and his wife Joanna Rogers Brown. This couple raised 10 children here and it stayed in the family for 100 years. In 1802 according to an old newspaper “to settle protracted dispute over highway from the Borough to Old Mystic, the country court appointed Benjamin Coit, John Hillhouse and Joshua Huntington to determine its course (the present route) but Joshua Brown’s claim for re-assessment of his land delayed construction and there was much opposition from the people in the northern part of the township since the route by-passed the Road District which was still the center of town.” In 1818 when the Post Road was established with the toll houses, the road went right past their front door. This home has had many owners and in 1981 it was purchased by Mrs. Millicent House. Soon after the ell on the back burned along with part of the house. Mrs. House rebuilt the ell enlarging it yet maintaining its colonial character, at this time she also added height to the upstairs rooms.
Ellen & William were the parents of five sons, all born in Stonington:
1. William Henry White, born 8 February 1862, died about 1954. He married (as his first wife) on 5 April 1885 in Easthampton (Hampshire) Massachusetts, Mary Ellen Twomey, who was born before 1 April 1867 in Ireland and died about 1899, daughter of Michael and Julia (Dronny) Twomey. William & Mary were the parents of four children. William married (as his second wife and as her third husband) 2 July 1902 in Greenfield (Franklin) Massachusetts, Anna C. (Schickedantz) (Jones) Hess, who was born in August 1861 in Madison (Lake) Ohio and died 20 November 1944 in (Clark) Ohio, daughter of Christopher and Judith A. (Clemens) Schickedantz, and widow of Edward C. Jones, and widow of John L. Hess.
2. James Courtland White, born 15 May 1864, died in June 1879, about age 16. In the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885, states James’ cause of death was a gunshot wound. He lies buried near his father in Elm Grove Cemetery.
3. Walter Price White, born about 1866. He married 27 November 1895 in Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, Elizabeth C. Anglum, who was born c. 1873 in Mansfield (Bristol) Massachusetts, daughter of Matthew and Hannah (Hayes) Anglum.
4. Rufus Burton White, born about 1870. He married 19 September 1894 in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts, Rosalie Weymouth Brightman, who was born 28 January 1871 in Rochester (Plymouth) Massachusetts, daughter of William Taber and Lucy Ann (Bumpus) Brightman.
5. Samuel Minor White (my great-grandfather), born 7 July 1873 and died 2 July 1949 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts. He married 21 November 1902 in Rockland (Plymouth) Massachusetts, Emma Flora Atwood, who was born 5 January 1873 in Abington and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough (Norfolk) Massachusetts, daughter of Reuel Gardner and Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood. Samuel & Emma Flora were the parents of three sons.
Ellen was also the mother of two more children:
1. Lydia F. White, born about 1876.
2. John F. White, born about September 1879.
My 3rd-great-grandfather, Austin White, son of Oliver and Lydia (—) White, was born 20 August 1806 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 June 1882 in Preston (New London) Connecticut. He married (as his first wife), 19 September 1830 in Groton (New London) Connecticut, Lucy Ann Thompson, who was born 20 August 1808 in North Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 December 1852 in Stonington, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson.
Austin was a farmer and a laborer. His marriage to Lucy Ann, a homemaker, was performed by Ralph Hurlbutt, Justice-of-the-Peace. Austin married (as his second wife), 31 March 1854 in Stonington, Melissa S. Cole. He married (as his third wife), sometime before the 1880 census, Lydia (—).
Austin & Lucy Ann were the parents of three children:
1. Lydia A. White, born 1833, died 1843 about age 10.
2. William Martin White (my 2nd-great-grandfather), born 15 November 1836 in Stonington, died 18 November 1925 in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) 30 October 1860 in Old Mystic-Stonington (New London) Connecticut, Ellen C. Hill, who was born about 1844, daughter of John and Polly S. (—) Hill. William & Ellen were the parents of five sons and were divorced on 26 September 1876. William married (as his second wife) Martha Bennett, born 27 July 1849 and died 16 April 1921, daughter of Henry and Caroline (—) Bennett. William & Martha had no children.
3. Rufus C. White, born 6 June 1839, died 16 May 1864, age 24, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. Rufus served as a private in the Union Army, Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, Connecticut and was killed at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. In the 1860 census, Rufus was recorded as a farmer with a personal estate of $100. Tim & I visited the battle site in May 2000, after reading about the battle, and as a stop on a trip to Florida. The following is from “Stonington’s Forgotten Heroes of 1861-65” in Historical Footnotes (Stonington Historical Society) by James Boylan:
The second large Stonington unit was Company E of the 21st Infantry Regiment, which was recruited in the summer of 1862 from eastern Connecticut. About seventy Stonington men served in Company E, under Captain Charles T. Stanton, Jr., of Stonington. Like Company G of the Eighth, this company became involved in the fogbound battle of Drewry’s Bluff, in which Stanton was severely wounded, and the siege of Petersburg, where Captain Henry R. Jennings of Stonington was wounded. Partly because its term of service was shorter, it suffered fewer casualties.
My 4th-great-grandfather, Oliver White, was born 27 July 1764 in Salisbury (Litchfield) Connecticut, and died 22 September 1822 in Stonington, son of Lawrence and Elizabeth (Vallans) White. He married, about 1797, Lydia, who was born about 1772, and died 9 February 1833 in Stonington.
An Oliver White served in the Revolutionary War, was listed in Zebulon Butler’s 4th Regt. Continental Lines.
Lydia & Oliver were the parents of five children:
1. Lydia White, born 22 April 1798 in Stonington, died there 3 July 1877. She married 24 December 1826 in Stonington, Rufus Hill, born in February 1799 in Groton, and died 10 March 1881 in Stonington, son of Robinson and Lydia (Briggs) Hill. Lydia & Rufus were the parents of a son, Rufus. At the time of the 1860 census they also had living with them Ellen C. Hill, age 16, probably a relative, and Lydia’s nephews, William M. White, age 24, and Rufus C. White, age 21. (See her headstone in the next section.)
2. Abby White, born about 1800, died 27 April 1873. She married Ephraim T. Bennett, who was born 12 May 1796 in Stonington and died there 6 March 1876, son of Elisha and Esther (Davis) Bennett. Abby & Ephraim were the parents of a son and they lie buried in the White plot at Elm Grove Cemetery, along with her parents and a brother and sister.
3. Oliver White, born 30 April 1802 in Quenebaugh-Thompson (Windham) Connecticut, died 7 January 1861 in Hartford (Hartford) Connecticut. He married 3 January 1830 in Stonington, Eliza Minor, who was born 25 October 1806 in Stonington, daughter of Jesse and Sarah (Hilliard) Miner.
4. Austin White (my 3rd-great-grandfather), born 20 August 1806 in Stonington, and died 29 June 1882 in Preston. He married (as his first wife) 19 September 1830 in Groton, Lucy Ann Thompson, who was born 20 August 1808 in North Stonington, and died 29 December 1852 in Stonington, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson. Austin & Lucy were the parents of three children. Austin married (as his second wife) 31 March 1854 in Stonington, Melissa S. Cole. Austin married (as his third wife) Lydia (—).
5. Samuel Minor White, born 12 May 1808, died 11 August 1894 in Sandusky (Erie) Ohio. He married 10 June 1832 in Stonington, Damaris Pendleton, who was born 5 March 1800 near Westerly (Washington) Rhode Island, and died 6 October 1872 in Sandusky, daughter of Abel Pendleton.
Oliver & Lydia were the parents of my 3rd-great-grandaunt, Lydia (White) Hill (1798-1877), who is buried here. I don’t know where her husband Rufus is buried, however, though his wife and parents are all buried here.
LYDIA, Wife of Rufus Hill, Died July 3, 1877. Aged 79 Years 2 Mo. & 11 Ds. ———-
The memory of the just is blessed. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might for there is no work, no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.
And lastly, the graves of Robinson Hill & Lydia Briggs, Lydia (White) Hill’s parents-in-law. For the longest time I felt frustrated that Lydia was identified only as a “relict” of Robinson Hill. But finally I think I can place her in the Briggs family of Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island.
Mount Vernon Cemetery in Abington, Massachusetts, is where my great-grandparents, Samuel Minor & Emma Flora (Atwood) White, and my 2nd-great-grandparents, Reuel Gardner & Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood, lie buried. I have many Atwoods on my family tree, with a lot of cousin marriages crossing the branches. Reuel & Louisa were half second cousins, once removed, both descendants of Nathaniel Atwood (1693-1767).
My 2nd-great-grandfather, Reuel Gardner Atwood, son of Reuel and Abigail Savery (Tillson) Atwood, was born 5 February 1833 in Middleborough (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 19 August 1908 in Henniker (Merrimack) New Hampshire. He married 26 November 1860 at Middleborough, Louisa Jane Atwood, my 2nd-great-grandmother, who was born 6 April 1840 in Carver (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 12 January 1928 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts, daughter of Ebenezer and Waitstill (Lucas) Atwood.
During the American Civil War, Reuel, age 29, fisherman, enlisted for a one year term of general service in the Navy on 17 September 1862 in New London, Connecticut, on board the frigate USS Sabine, one of the first ships to see action during the war. He was 5’9 1/2″ tall, with blue eyes and dark brown hair.
Reuel worked as a box maker and a fisherman. Louisa was a homemaker. On 11 March 1888, Reuel & Louisa survived The Great Blizzard of 1888 that killed more than 400 people along the eastern seaboard.
After Reuel’s death Louisa was a widow for twenty years. When the 1910 census was taken she was living in Henniker, New Hampshire with her son, Frederick, and his family. By 1920 she was living with her daughter, Emma Flora, and her family at 170 Linwood St. in Abington. Her grandson, John Everett White (my grandfather), fondly remembered the wonderful mittens she knitted for her three grandsons. They had a new pair every winter. Louisa died of tuberculosis at the age of 88.
Louisa & Reuel were the parents of eight children, but only three survived to adulthood and the others are buried here with their parents:
1. Elsie Fremont Atwood, born 9 August 1862 in Middleborough, died there 25 October 1863, age 1.
2. Elbridge Lincoln Atwood, born 10 August 1865 in Abington, died 20 December 1878 in Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, age 13.
3. Frederick Reuel Atwood, born 28 December 1867 in Abington, died 4 February 1963 in Hillsborough (Hillsborough) New Hampshire, age 96. He married 31 August 1895 in Rockland (Plymouth) Massachusetts, Jane May Patterson, who was born 13 May 1873 in Wallace (Cumberland) Nova Scotia, and died 21 December 1966 in Manchester (Hillsborough) New Hampshire, daughter of Thomas S. and Anna M. (Greives) Patterson. Frederick & Janie were the parents of four children.
4. Eustace Lorenzo Atwood, born 2 November 1870 in Abington, died there 22 November 1880, age 10.
5. Emma Flora Atwood (my great-grandmother), born 5 January 1873 in Abington, and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough (Norfolk) Massachusetts, age 82. She married 21 November 1902 in Rockland, Samuel Minor White (my great-grandfather) , who was born 7 July 1873 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 2 July 1949 in Abington, son of William Martin and Ellen C. (Hill) White. Flora & Samuel were the parents of three sons.
6. Amy Grace Atwood, born 17 April 1875 in Abington, died there 23 August 1877, age 2.
7. Samuel Ebenezer Atwood, born 10 March 1877 in Abington, died there 5 December 1880, age 3.
8. Everett Mason Atwood, born 26 November 1880 in Abington, died there 26 October 1971, age 90. He married 26 November 1902 in Abington, Alice Matula Merrill, who was born there 17 March 1884, and died 8 February 1976 in Weymouth (Norfolk) Massachusetts, daughter of Charles F. and Mary (—) Merrill. Everett & Alice were the parents of five children. Everett’s nephew was my grandfather, John Everett White, who was named in honor of his uncle.
Engraved on the back of the Atwood stone are the names of their daughter and her husband. My great-grandfather, Samuel Minor White, son of William Martin and Ellen C. (Hill) White, was born 7 July 1873 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, very close to where I live now, and died 2 July 1949 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts. He married 21 November 1902 at Rockland (Plymouth) Massachusetts, Emma Flora Atwood, my great-grandmother, who was born 5 January 1873 in Abington, and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough (Norfolk) Massachusetts, daughter of Reuel Gardner and Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood.
When Samuel was about 12, he ran away from home because he did not get along with his stepmother. He would not discuss with anyone his whereabouts between leaving home and marrying Emma Flora, although his sons speculated that he probably went to sea. He had been told that his mother was dead, but I discovered that his parents were actually divorced and that his mother was living in the poor house of Stonington with two illegitimate children who were born after the divorce. Samuel was named after his granduncle, Samuel Minor White (1808–1894).
In 1901 Flora was working as a bookkeeper. She was working in Whitman, Massachusetts, where her cousin lived when she met Samuel. Samuel & Flora were married by Fred Hovey Allen, Clergyman. Samuel was a hard-working laborer and in 1905 was working in a box mill. Flora inherited the house at 170 Linwood St. in Abington, where the couple raised their three sons. She had a baby grand piano she loved to play.
In the summer of 1911, Flora & Samuel survived a deadly heatwave that killed more than 2,000 people in the northeastern states.
My grandfather, their son, remembered that the house had a huge elm tree with an oriole nest and a lawn swing. Flora treasured her bed of dark red peonies. The family always had one horse, one cow (sometimes up to three), sometimes pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits. Samuel worked at a slaughtering house and at times slaughtered his own pigs. Each morning he left a list on the kitchen table of chores to be done by his sons, which weren’t always completed.
During the boys’ college vacations, a man came to cut firewood into stove lengths and all helped to stack the wood in the basement. Samuel also worked for a Mr. Dudley peddling ice. The ice was harvested from Mill Pond and the wagon served the city of Brockton. Sometimes the ice was harvested with horses. The horses pulled chisels which cut the ice, which then floated down the pond where machines pulled it up to the ice house. Sometimes a team of horses would slip into the water. Ladies would have to order the ice desired, and a meat cart came once every two weeks. My grandfather and his brothers would wait for the cart and a slice of bologna was often tossed out to them.
Flora & Samuel were known as Grammy & Grampy to their grandchildren. My mother spoke fondly of them, which is why I wanted to be called Grammy by my grandchildren. Tim didn’t want to be called Grampy, though, so he goes by Grandpa. Samuel died of colon cancer five days before his 76th birthday. Flora died of an ear infection and mastoiditis at the age of 82.
Flora & Samuel were the parents of three sons:
1. Earl Martin “Bob” White, born 5 December 1902 in Rockland, died 9 October 1965, age 62. He married in 1927 in Braintree (Norfolk) Massachusetts, Ruth Lois Tilden, who was born 20 October 1905 in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts, and died 7 July 1991 in Bourne (Barnstable) Massachusetts, daughter of Henry Edward and Ruth Ann (Crocker) Tilden. Bob & Ruth were the parents of two daughters.
2. John Everett White (my grandfather), born 8 June 1905 in Rockland, died 4 April 2001 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, age 95. He married 30 November 1929 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother), who was born 8 June 1906 in Lynn (Essex) Massachusetts, and died 3 September 1996 in Dennis, daughter of Martin Freeman and Amanda Eliza (Hamblin) Thompson. John & Emma were the parents of two children.
3. Lincoln White, born 11 February 1909 in Abington, died 31 August 1993 in Monson (Hampden) Massachussets, age 84. He married 18 April 1936 in Colrain (Franklin) Massachusetts, Marjorie Elizabeth Cary, who was born there 14 January 1913, and died 5 March 2004 in Wilbraham (Hampden) Massachusetts, daughter of Herbert Francis and Elizabeth (Blagborough) Cary. Lincoln & Marjorie were the parents of two sons.
Tim and I revisited this cemetery on March 5, 2016. Our first visit was so many years ago, but now that I have a better camera I want to return and photograph as many family plots as I can, retracing our steps.
An incurable early bird, on the last morning of our little weekend getaway I found myself unable to sleep and so decided to get up and read and gaze out of the sliding glass doors of our room at the Sea Shell Motel in Dennis Port on Cape Cod. It was about 40 minutes before sunrise and there was an intense yellow orange glow on the horizon.
As sunrise approached I decided to bundle up in my coat and my new Norwegian wool hat with ear flaps and walk down to the windy beach to take some pictures and enjoy some early morning solitude. It was the best moment of the day.
Thoughts turned to beloved grandparents who lived in Dennis Port, just up the street. When I was little we stayed with them at their house but sometime in the late 1980s, when my own children were little, my grandmother’s health problems became such that staying in a motel nearby became necessary. There’s no way to count the times we have stayed at the Sea Shell in the past 30 years or so. Each room is unique and charming, well-worn but clean and comfortable. No frills, just a short wooden walkway over the dune to the beach, the sounds of waves breaking close by.
I wanted to come here for old times’ sake. So often on this recent trip nature would vividly illustrate the simple truth that nothing is solid in the boundless flow of time and place, there is nothing to grasp. It was here that my grandparents embraced me with abiding wisdom and persisting love. But now they are long gone, even though I feel their presence still. The waves break on the sand and disappear and yet are still there, like the voices of my small curious children. Cape Cod is slipping into the sea.
My mother and her parents loved to travel but were afraid of flying. During my childhood we never flew anywhere so I didn’t notice this and it somehow never came up in conversation. It didn’t even occur to me when I was 15 and my father was offered a job in Greece and my parents decided to move us there. We traveled across the mighty Atlantic Ocean on a cruise ship, the TSS Olympia, from New York to Athens, with a stop in Haifa, Israel.
My first flight on a jet, from Athens back to New York, was memorable. It was just me and my sister, nervous and holding hands for most of the trip, on my 17th birthday, on a 747, shortly after the Greek army had deposed Col. Papadopoulos in a bloodless coup. Our parents were to follow us a couple of weeks later. The perimeter of the airport was surrounded by tanks, reminding us of the fear we felt at dawn weeks earlier, when we awakened to the sound of tanks rolling down our street and military music playing on loudspeakers.
We were in the middle of a row on the plane and did not get to look out the windows. There was a stop in Rome, but we didn’t have to get off. However, when we landed there my ears started to hurt, a sharp, stabbing pain. The pain subsided a bit as we flew on to New York, but returned with a vengeance when we landed there. I didn’t fly again for 34 years!
My mother made a dear friend in Greece, a Canadian woman named Carol who was married to a German man, Ernst. Mom overcame her fear well enough to fly to Lebanon with Carol & Ernst and my father, and to visit Carol & Ernst when they moved to Germany, and to Ukraine with my father and his sisters to visit the land where his parents were born.
My grandparents remained fearful of flying. When they came to visit us in Greece, to economize, they sailed on a freighter that accepted a few passengers! It was a rough and tumble passage, and I loved listening to their stories about their adventures on board. Grandmother died without ever having flown, in spite of her son’s repeated efforts and offers to take her up into the sky. He was a pilot, after all.
When Grandfather was 90-something my uncle persuaded him to fly from Cape Cod to Florida to spend the winter down there with him. Tim & I met Grandfather and his physical therapist at the airport to see him off. The captain was the son of the physical therapist, who had kindly arranged everything, and he came out personally to welcome my grandfather and then pushed his wheelchair onto the plane himself as we waved goodbye. Right then and there I decided that if Grandfather could face his fear so late in his life, I could do so as well.
Grandfather’s physical therapist also had made him a sandwich and put it in a zip-lock plastic bag. When my uncle called me that night he told me that when he asked Grandfather what he thought about the flight, Grandfather went on and on about the zip-lock bag. He had never seen one before and was marveling at the technological genius of its design! Never did say much about the flight itself!
Finally, my opportunity to try flying again came along when I was 51. Larisa, Tim and I flew down to Florida to visit his stepdad, who was dying of cancer. Much to my surprise, I loved it! Being a dreamer without much aptitude for logic, science and technology, I found myself in awe of the human minds who had figured out how to fly and it still seems like nothing short of a miracle to me every time we take off or land.
And the curve of the world passed With all of that flying Above the mighty ocean Now we all are arriving
Grab the carry-on baggage Join the herd for the mad run Take a place in the long line Where does everyone come from?
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve flown in the seven years since, sometimes even by myself, to Florida, Georgia and North Carolina to visit family. It’s still a thrill! So last month Tim & I boarded a Delta 737 in New York and flew to Frankfurt, Germany, our once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit his brother and sister-in-law and to visit Venice and Norway with them. Seven international flights in a month!
It was dark for the flight over, and uneventful. But I had a window seat and a flight tracker so when we caught up with the light over Europe I got to see all the fields and forests in Germany as we began our descent. Some fields were bright yellow – I later learned these were growing rapeseed. After we landed it took us less than a minute to go through customs.
As we shuffle on forward As we wait for inspection Don’t be holding that line up At the end lies redemption
Now I’m stamped and I waved through I take up my position At the mouth of the canyon Saying prayers of contrition
A few days later we took a cheap flight on a budget airline, Ryanair, to Venice. It was cloudy so I couldn’t see anything, and it was definitely a no-frills, sardine-in-a-can experience. On the trip back to Germany three days later, however, the sky was clear and we flew over the Alps, much to my delight! It was amazing looking down on those snow-capped peaks.
Please deliver my suitcase From all mischief and peril Now the sight of it circling Is a hymn to the faithful
Forgive me my staring For my unconcealed envy In the hall of arrivals Where the great river empties
A few days after that trip we flew from Frankfurt to Oslo on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). Even the inside of the plane had that Scandinavian feel, light and airy, you could even see through under the seats. After a magical week in Norway, we flew from Bergen to Stockholm, and on that flight, out of the blue, I got such a sharp stabbing pain in my nose, cheek and temple that tears were squirting out of my eye. At first I thought it was a sudden migraine, but I suspect there was something off with the air pressure. It brought back the memory of the ear pain flying home from Greece all those years ago.
We changed planes in Stockholm and then flew back to Frankfurt after having the best Swedish meatballs ever, right there in the airport restaurant. And unfortunately the pain came back on that flight, too.
Its hand carts and quarters All the people it carries To be greeted with flowers Grandfathers and babies
The friends and relations Leaping over hemispheres Transcendental reunion All borders vanish here
A little over a week later I took a 12-hour Sudafed before boarding the Delta flight from Frankfurt to New York, just in case. Not sure if it was needed but there was no pain on the return flight home. I love Delta because it has a flight tracker at each seat. I was able to identify the English Channel, Great Britain, the Irish Sea, Ireland, and stateside, my beloved Cape Cod, as we flew over. We also flew over Nova Scotia (thinking of Sybil then) but I couldn’t see the land there because of the clouds.
Too bad customs was overwhelmed when we arrived after having such a great flight. It took us almost two hours to get through the maze of lines and scanners and official agent desks! I’m glad my sister and brother-in-law did not give up waiting for us to appear through the arrivals door!
We are travelers traveling We are gypsies together We’re philosophers gathering We are business or pleasure
We are going or coming We’re just finding our way To the next destination And from night into day
~ Mary Chapin Carpenter ♫ (Transcendental Reunion) ♫
It’s good to be home. We continued to receive pictures of Katie in our email almost every day while we were gone. Thank you, Larisa! I have thousands of pictures to go through and many posts to write about this trip which I will get to, even if it takes me all summer. We went to the nursery to get flowers for the balcony and nasturtiums for Zoë to nibble on. We ate at our favorite restaurant and went down to the beach. Tim went to the eye surgeon yesterday and we found out that he will definitely have to have cataract surgery for both eyes in July. At the same time the surgeon will fix his astigmatism so he may not need glasses for the first time in his 62 years! That will be something else indeed… Life returns to normal…