comfort

7.13.18 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Sometimes I think it must have been much easier to live and die at the time of our ancestors, the Vikings.

When they buried their relatives, they also buried many objects together with the body. This was to be sure that the dead would not miss anything in their new environment. It was also an assurance for the family members who remained that they would not become obsessed with spirits of the dead and constantly be reminded of them because their possessions were still scattered all over the tent or mud hut. Very clever.

~ Margareta Magnusson
(The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself & Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter)

7.13.18 ~ Eastern Point ~ my camera decided to go Impressionistic for this distant cormorant

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.

7.13.18 ~ Eastern Point ~ there are three cormorants in this picture, which I didn’t realize until I saw the picture enlarged on the laptop

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. Now that there is a lull in the stream of summer activities I am annoyed by the droning of the air conditioners. But I since learning about the autism I am aware now that I am much more sensitive to noise than neurotypical people, so, I will wait patiently for some cool, dry, quiet weather to return.

7.12.18 ~ Grandmother Elm ~ Stonington, Connecticut

We enjoy going to estate sales. We rarely buy anything but a few days ago we found a large file cabinet in excellent shape at a great price. It is now in the genealogy/guest room waiting for me to make use of it. After my grandmother died my grandfather offered us anything we wanted in the house. I chose my grandmother’s mahogany secretary which I still have and treasure. Grandfather said he didn’t want us grandchildren to be burdened with all the stuff. I don’t want my children to be burdened either.

7.12.18 ~ Grandmother Elm ~ Stonington, Connecticut

I’m also sad about the changes at my beloved beach. The city has installed a gull repellent system. Every three minutes a recording of a gull in distress blares out from the loudspeakers. There are maybe two or three fearless gulls left on the roof of the beach house. All the laughing gulls are gone, all the different kinds of gulls are gone. I suppose I will never see my friend with the mangled foot again. It’s all too much for me to bear and I’ve been reduced to tears more than once this summer.

7.12.18 ~ Grandmother Elm ~ Stonington, Connecticut

I visited my elm tree, Grandmother Elm. I cannot believe it’s been 5 years since I have gone! I used to visit all the time when Tim’s brother was living with us, the year he died here of cancer. Now she has small stems and branches growing out at the base of her trunk, covered with leaves. When I read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben I believe he said this was a sign of distress. No other tree in the cemetery was like this. Perhaps she is suffering, too. Still, her wordless wisdom comforted me.

7.12.18 ~ Grandmother Elm ~ Stonington, Connecticut

West Dennis Cemetery

West Dennis Cemetery at 55 Fisk Street in West Dennis Village, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is where my 2nd-great-grandparents, Capt. William Nelson & Anna Eliza (Baker) Hamblin and my 3rd-great-grandparents, Benjamin & Eliza R. (Eldridge) Baker, lie buried. I don’t know much about the latter — yet. This cemetery was once known as the Crowell Family Burying Ground. I do have Crowells on my family tree — in fact, Benjamin’s mother was a Crowell — so I imagine returning here for more ancestor hunting in the future.

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

Benjamin Baker, son of Aaron and Achsah (Crowell) Baker, was born 31 May 1821 in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and died there 31 July 1893. He married 28 December 1843 at Harwich, Massachusetts, Eliza R. Eldridge, who was born 3 September 1823 in Harwich, and died 3 June 1901 in Dennis, Massachusetts, daughter of Leonard and Nancy (—) Eldridge.

I have only been able to find two daughters for this couple:

1. Anna Eliza “Annie” Baker (my 2nd-great-grandmother), born 2 October 1845 in Dennis, died 2 December 1927 in Yarmouth. She married 16 January 1868 in Dennis, Capt. William Nelson Hamblin, who was born about 1844 and died 19 May 1883 in West Dennis, son of Capt. William and Amanda (Bearse) Hamblin. Annie & William were the parents of three children.

2. Susan Maria Baker, born 20 July 1849 in Dennis, died there 26 September 1933. She married  31 January 1869 in Dennis, Ebenezer Ellis, who was born there  17 July 1846 and died about 1930, son of Ross Gifford and Thankful (Joy) Ellis. Susan & Ebenezer were the parents of a son.

Many sea captains from Dennis rest here. I was moved by the epitaph of Zenas C. Kelley (1812-1853, not a relative as far as I know):

For him break not the green turf
Nor turn the dewy sod
His dust shall rest beneath the surf
His spirit with its God

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

Information on Annie (Baker) & William Hamblin, my 2nd-great-grandparents, and their children can be found on this previous post: A Sea Captain.

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

This couple’s gravestone was located in the same plot. I found a connection through their Baker lines, which would make Seth Baker and Benjamin Baker fifth cousins. I suspect they are more closely related through another line. Jerusha’s maiden name is Wixon. When I was researching the land records at the Barnstable County Couthouse I found a pair of Wixon sisters sold land to my 2nd-great-grandfather, Martin Edward Thompson in the 1800s. More clues!

Saddle & Pillion Burial Ground

10.10.17 ~ Sandwich, Massachusetts ~ trailhead

When I was a small child developing a curiosity about family history, my grandmother told me about her 8th-great-grandfather, Edmund Freeman, who was buried with his second wife Elizabeth, in the Saddle & Pillion graves in Sandwich. Over the years I have occasionally tried to locate these graves but couldn’t make sense of any description of where in Sandwich they were located. But at long last, I stumbled across a blog, Historical Tid-Bits of Cape Cod’s Oldest Town, which had a link to a map! Maps (pictures) I can understand! And so last week, while visiting Cape Cod, my sister and I drove right up to the beginning of a short trail that led us to the site in the woods.

10.10.17 ~ Sandwich, Massachusetts ~ Saddle & Pillion Cemetery

Freeman settled on his homestead about a mile and a quarter east of the present Town Hall on the sloping land leading from what is now Tupper Road down to the Cape Cod Canal. (Most of the former Freeman land is now occupied by the NRG power plant.) They lived out their lives here and when Elizabeth passed away on February 14, 1676, Edmond buried her on a hill on their farm. He marked her grave with a large stone likening to a pillion (a British term for the seat behind the saddle on a horse). With foresight, Edmond also positioned a large stone that resembled a saddle to be used as a monument for his own grave. Family tradition tells us that the headstones reminded Edmund of the early years in Sandwich when he and Elizabeth traveled by horseback over the fields of their farm. Edmund Freeman died in 1682 and was buried beside Elizabeth, the longer stone, “the saddle,” was placed over his grave.

The burial place became known as the Saddle and Pillion Cemetery and is the oldest burying ground in Sandwich. Bronze plaques were added to these stones in 1910 by their descendants.
~ Sandwich Historical Commission website

My 10th-great-grandfather, Edmund Freeman, was baptized 25 July 1596 at Pulborough, Sussex, England, and died before 2 November 1682 in Sandwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) 16 June 1617 in Cowford, Sussex, England, Bennett Hodsoll, who was buried at Pulborough 12 April 1630.

By 1635, Edmund married (as his second wife) Elizabeth (—), who was born about 1600, and died 14 February 1676 in Sandwich.

Edmund, his second wife Elizabeth, and Alice, Edmund, Elizabeth and John, his surviving children from his first marriage, arrived in America in 1635 on the ship Abigail. At first they lived in Saugus (now Lynn) and soon moved to Sandwich in 1637. Edmund was a farmer and was one of the ten original settlers of Sandwich, presumably not including in the count their wives and children.

Edmund & Bennett were the parents of six children:

1. Alice Freeman, baptized 4 April 1619 at Pulborough, died 24 April 1651 in Plymouth (Plymouth) Massachusetts. She married (as his first wife) 24 November 1639, in Sandwich, Dea. William Paddy, who was born about 1600 and died 24 August 1658 in Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts. Alice & William were the parents of six children.

2. Edmund Freeman, baptized 26 November 1620 at Billingshurst, Sussex, England, died 29 March 1673. He married (as his first wife) 22 April 1646, Rebecca Prence, who was born before 22 May 1627 and died before 23 March 1648, daughter of Gov. Thomas and Patience (Brewster) Prence. Edmund & Rebecca were the parents of two daughters. Edmund married (as his second wife) 18 July 1651 in Sandwich, Margaret Perry, who was born about 1624 and died 5 November 1688 in Sandwich, daughter of Edmund and Sarah (Crowell) Perry. Edmund & Margaret were the parents of six children.

3. Bennett Freeman, baptized 20 January 1621 at Billingshurst, died before 13 January 1634, age 12.

4. Elizabeth Freeman, baptized 11 April 1624 at Billingshurst, died 24 June 1692 in Rochester (Plymouth) Massachusetts. She married by 1644, Lt. John Ellis, who was born 14 September 1623 in England and died about 1676 in Sandwich. John was censured to be whipped at a public post for committing uncleanness with Elizabeth before their marriage. Elizabeth had to stand by and observe the whipping. Elizabeth & John were the parents of seven children.

5. Maj. John Freeman (my 9th-great-grandfather), baptized 28 January 1627 in Billingshurst, died 28 October 1719 in Eastham (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married 13 February 1650 in Eastham, Mercy Prence, who was born about 1631 and died 28 September 1711 in Eastham, daughter of Gov. Thomas and Patience (Brewster) Prence. John & Mercy were the parents of twelve children.

6. Nathaniel Freeman, baptized 2 September 1629 in Billingshurst, buried 12 September 1629 in Pulborough, only a few days old.

Edmund & Elizabeth were the parents of a daughter:

1. Mary Freeman, born about 1636, died 5 November 1688 in Sandwich. She married about 1653, Edward Perry, who was born about 1630 and died 16 February 1695 in Sandwich. Mary & Edward were the parents of nine children.

Upon the Waves of the World

Dennis’ 400 sea captains earned their living upon the waves of the world. Their journeys took them to faraway lands inhabited by exotic peoples. Years, sometimes a good part of a decade would go by before they returned home to see family and friends. Yet this is the life they chose. Perhaps the spray and smell and salt of the ocean was in their blood, calling them from the rooted land to journey upon the rising and falling waves of the sea.
~ Jack Sheedy
(Dennis Journal)

My grandmother loved telling me stories about her own grandfather and often reminded me that the sea was in my blood. I’m pretty sure it was this sea captain who took his second wife with him on a few of his voyages and bought her a “monkey” in some foreign land. Apparently the creature was a “holy terror” on the ship but she adored him.

My 2nd-great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Edward Thompson, firstborn son of Martin and Ann Isabella (Hughs) Thompson, was born 4 August 1850 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died in 1928. He married (as his first wife) 5 July 1874 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Elisabeth Emma “Lizzie” Freeman, who was born 4 September 1851 in Harwich, and died there 4 October 1876, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman.

Martin was named after his father, a Norwegian immigrant, and followed in his footsteps, becoming a Master Mariner and captain of the schooner Nellie Lamphear. He also served on coasting vessels, tug boats, and was licensed to enter any port in the world. In 1910 he was elected port warden of Boston by the Boston Marine Society, the oldest association of sea captains in the world.

Elisabeth died of a “stoppage” when she was 25 years old and her baby son was only 18 months old. Her gravestone is inscribed:

Fled O forever from our view
A dear daughter, wife and mother, too:
She was a treasure lent, not given:
To be called away from Earth to Heaven.
Life to her looked bright and joyous
And her home was very dear:
To the summons of her Savior,
She gently yielded without fear.

1880 Captain Martin E. Thompson House, Dennis Port

The 1880 census indicates that, now a widower, Martin was living with his parents and his young son. Five years after Lizzie’s death, Martin married (as his second wife) her younger sister, Rosilla Ida “Rosie” Freeman, 23 February 1882 in Dennis. Rosie was born 6 March 1856 in Harwich, and died 18 March 1923, without children. In 1900, Martin and Rosilla were living as lodgers in the house of Nancy H. Merrill in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Beverly, Barbara and our cousin Matthew with Nellie’s carriage

Martin owned a beloved horse named Nellie (named after his schooner or vice versa?) who lived in the barn at 114 Depot St. in Dennis. He gave his granddaughter, my grandmother, her first three cars. According to my grandfather, Martin and his granddaughter Thommie worshiped each other. The first car was a Model T that had to have the carbon scraped every week. The next was a 2-door sedan Model T. Martin lies buried with his second wife, Rosilla, in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis, and Emma, his first wife, is buried in the same cemetery but in another lot with his parents and other members of his family.

Elisabeth & Martin were the parents of one son:

1. Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (my great-grandfather), born 29 March 1875 in Harwich, died 13 July 1965 in Dennis. He married 1 February 1900 in Dennis, Amanda Eliza Hamblin, who was born there 2 August 1879 and died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts, daughter of Capt. William Nelson and Anna Eliza (Baker) Hamblin. Martin & Amanda were the parents of one daughter.

In 1964 my grandparents inherited and moved into Martin’s house at 114 Depot Street, along with my great-grandparents, who they were caring for. Some of our happiest family memories were made there. My dear cousin Matthew bought the house in 2001 after our grandfather died. He renovated the place, keeping its historical integrity and was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the Dennis Historical Commission in 2005. Sadly, the house had to be sold in 2009.

Cape Cod Seafaring

The decade of the 1850s was truly an incredible period in seafaring history. Clipper ships sailed the world’s oceans, bringing back fortunes and treasures from faraway lands to Cape Cod, and the town of Dennis. And some of the ships playing a part in this history were built right down the road at Sesuit Harbor. These vessels, built by East Dennis hands, outraced pirates, battled typhoons, and carried their cargoes to their Dennis homes. And some just seemed to fall off the edge of the world, their crews never to be heard from again.
~ Jack Sheedy
(Dennis Journal)

My 3rd-great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Thompson, son of Hans Mathias Tønnesen and Dorothea Larsdatter Strømtan, was born 23 July 1818 in Brevik (Telemark) Norway as Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, and died 22 October 1896 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) after 2 July 1849 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Ann Isabella Hughes, who was born 6 January 1830 in Ireland, and died 16 May 1885.

Ingebrigt was vaccinated on 18 September 1832 in Brevik by Dr. Schmidt. [In 1995, my brother-in-law John located the birth record for Ingebrigt Martinus in the regional archives in Kongsberg, Norway.] According to naturalization papers, Ingebrigt arrived in America in the port of Philadelphia on 10 June 1837, and filed a Declaration of Intention in New York City 6 April 1848. The naturalization was processed by the Boston Municipal Court and he became an American citizen 17 April 1854. According to his great-granddaughter, my grandmother, Martin came to America to help test steamships which were just becoming commercially useful.

By 1850 the newly married couple was living in Dennis and Martin worked as a mariner, master mariner and sea-captain and had accumulated some wealth by 1870, claiming real estate valued at $4000 and a personal estate of $8000. On 2 March 1866, while Martin was captain of the Schooner Niger, two Swiss sailors with the same name attempted to land in a boat from the schooner but capsized and drowned. On May 13 the body of John P. Erixson was picked up on the shore of Harwich Port and on May 14 the body of John Erixson came on shore close to the same spot. John had sailed with Capt. Thompson for about 4 years and boarded with him and Mrs. Nehemiah Wixon. The sailors were buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery.

I have not been able to identify Ann’s Irish parents. She died of a tumor when she was 55 years old. The following is from Saints’ Herald Obituaries, 1885, p. 426:

Ann L. (Thompson) was baptized and confirmed a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 30 September 1874 at Dennisport, Barnstable, Massachusetts, by C. N. Brown.

Birth Date: About 1830
Death Date: May 1885
Death Place: Dennisport, Barnstable, Massachusetts
Spouse: Captain Thompson

Martin married (as his second wife and as her second husband) 1 February 1887 Frances Jemima (Turner) Turner, his housekeeper, who was born about 1848 in England, daughter of James Turner and Jemima Frances (Best) (Turner) Tyrode, and widow of John Turner. After Martin & Frances married Frances was able to bring her 18-year-old daughter over from England. Her daughter by her first husband was Eugenie Helene Maud Turner (1869-1939). By this time Martin had settled down as a merchant, and at the time he died he owned a spice store, his occupation being noted as trader. Apparently he left most of his estate to Frances and her daughter.

Martin died of bronchitis, at the age of 78. His will was written 24 March 1890 and proved 8 December 1896. Martin & Ann are buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis. The inscriptions on their tombstones are identical:

Rest till the morn
Of the resurrection,
When we hope to Meet thee.

Ann & Martin were the parents of three children:

1. Capt. Martin Edward Thompson (my 2nd-great-grandfather), born 4 August 1850 in Dennis, died 1928. He married (as his first wife) 5 July 1874 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Elisabeth Emma “Lizzie” Freeman, who was born 4 September 1851 in Harwich, and died there 4 October 1876, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman. Martin & Elisabeth were the parents of one son.

Martin married (as his second wife) 23 February 1882 in Dennis, Elizabeth’s younger sister, Rosilla Ida “Rosie” Freeman, who was born 6 March 1856 in Harwich, and died 18 March 1923, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman. Martin & Rosilla did not have any children.

2. John “Hanse Ingebrath” Thompson, born 19 June 1853 in Dennis, died 1917. John was also a mariner and was named after his grandfather, Hans Tønnesen and his 2nd great-grandfather, Engelbret Olsen Baar. He married (as his first wife) Thankful M. (—). John married (as his second wife) 13 February 1881 in Harwich, Etta Lee Kelley, who was born 1858 in Dennis and died 1929, daughter of Joseph and Barbara A. (—) Kelley. According to my grandmother, Uncle John had quite the temper, and made a big impression on her when he threw a frying pan out of the window, shouting out after it emphatically: “I said that there will be no onions fried in this house!!!!” John, Etta and their daughter Annie are buried with John’s parents in Swan Lake Cemetery.

3. Anna Thompson, born about 1863 and probably died young. She was in her parents household and attending school in 1870, when she was 7 years old.

Farewell, Auntie Lil

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux (1915-2016)

Last autumn we lost our aunt, who lived to be 101 years old. The various stories behind the above drawing presented a puzzle for us but after comparing memories we finally decided that the sketch was probably drawn on one of Auntie’s cruises. She kept it hanging above her bed for as long as I can remember, flanked on either side with the senior high school pictures of my sister and me.

Following is the obituary I wrote for the newspapers:

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux, 101, of Storrs, Connecticut, died on October 27, 2016, at Mansfield Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, after a short illness.

Lillian was born on January 30, 1915 in New York City, the daughter of the late William & Katherine (Fusiak) Chomiak, both immigrants from Ukraine. She married Leo Oscar Rioux on November 30, 1934 at Montville, Connecticut. Her husband died on June 5, 1957, leaving her a widow for 59 years. Lillian was predeceased by their two sons, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984) and Lance William Rioux (1950-1979).

Lillian was also predeceased by six siblings, Mary Riback, Jon Stephen Chomiak, Augustine Chomiak, Augusta Jean Hereth, Olga Chomiak, and Theodore William Chomiak. She is survived by her sister, Ludmila Sabatiuk of West Virginia, her grandchildren, Leo Rioux, Jr. of Montville and Sarah James of Tennessee, seven nieces and nephews, four great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson.

Lil was a graduate of Norwich Free Academy and was a seamstress employed at Hendel Manufacturing Company in New London for many years. She was a long time resident of Montville and later moved to Juniper Hill Village in Storrs to live closer to her brother. An avid traveler, beach bum and shell collector, she loved to sew, cook, grow orchids, do jigsaw puzzles and work with her hands.

A memorial gathering will be planned for next spring. Memorial donations can be made to Mansfield Town Senior Center, 303 Maple Rd, Storrs, CT 06268.

We had our memorial gathering for her on May 6, spreading her ashes on the graves of her parents and her husband and two sons, as she had directed. My Aunt Em read to us her memories of Aunt Lil’s earlier years.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s parents, William Chomiak (1882-1965) & Katherine Fusiak (1887-1943), Comstock Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut

Every year on Memorial Day, my father would drive Aunt Lil to these two adjacent cemeteries, so she could plant geraniums in front of the headstones, each one a different shade of red or pink. When my father could no longer drive, my sister and brother-in-law stepped in to take her. As he has been doing for years now, John once again planted the geraniums that meant so much to her, this time with family spreading ashes and telling stories.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s older son, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

The story Auntie told me was that it was not permitted for her to be buried in the Catholic cemetery with her husband and sons because she never converted to Catholicism. But she married a Catholic and had her sons baptized in the church. It was her wish to join them in the cemetery by spreading her ashes on their graves.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s husband, Leo Oscar Rioux (1913-1957), and their younger son, Lance William Rioux (1950-1979), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

At the last grave Tim read a poem my sister Beverly wrote in memory of Auntie for the occasion.

They were worker’s hands, never soft, never still.
It took me fifty years to catch them, hold them, keep them safe and warm.
A thousand times I watched them go:
knit and purl
peel and chop
turn the pages
stir the pot.

If hands could talk what would they say?
It took me fifty years to hear them, know them, find out how they spoke.
A thousand times I felt their love:
show and tell
hug and pat
acts of kindness
pet the cat.

I’d come to love her knobby hands
that always showed me what to do.
How those hands have touched my life!
They’ve one more job before they’re through:
stitch and mend
my broken heart.

~ Beverly Chomiak
(Her Hands)

Then we all went to eat at one of her favorite restaurants, Old Tymes in Norwich, finishing the meal with dishes of Auntie’s favorite black raspberry ice cream. ❤

namesake

5.6.17 ~ Katherine at the grave of her great-great-grandparents

She’s too little to understand just yet but I think she recognized her name, the one she shares with her great-great-grandmother, Katherine. We were at the cemetery to spread some of my aunt’s ashes on her parents’ grave, as she had wished us to do. Will share some things from the memorial we had for my Aunt Lil soon…

A Sea Captain

My 2nd-great-grandfather, Capt. William Nelson Hamblin, son of William and Amanda (Bearse) Hamblin, was born about 1844 in West Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died there 19 May 1883. He married 16 January 1868 in Dennis, Anna Eliza “Annie” Baker, who was born 2 October 1845 in Dennis, and died 2 December 1927, daughter of Benjamin and Eliza R. (Eldridge) Baker.

Hamblin home ~ 123 Fisk St., West Dennis

William was a mariner and became a sea-captain by the time of his death at age 39 of heart disease. William & Annie lie buried in West Dennis Cemetery on Fisk Street. William’s gravestone inscription reads:

Husband
William N. Hamblin
d. 5-19-1883 Aged 39 yrs,
We hope to meet thee in heaven.

Annie was a widow for many years. Next to her husband’s, her gravestone is inscribed:

Wife
Annie. E. Hamblin
d. 12-2-1927 Aged 82 yrs,
Gone but not forgotten.

Annie & William were the parents of three children:

1. Benjamin Francis “Benny” Hamblin, born 23 November 1873 in West Dennis, died 26 October 1955. He married 30 November 1899 in West Bridgewater (Plymouth) Massachusetts, Lillian Wright Pratt, who was born 16 September 1872 and died 20 May 1946 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts, daughter of Ira A. and Lucy Ann (Hathaway) Pratt. Benjamin & Lillian were the parents of a daughter, Ruth Vivian Hamblin, who married Arthur John Coburn. Ruth was an only child, just like my grandmother, her cousin. Grandmother told me that she and Ruth considered themselves sisters more than cousins and had a very special relationship. Ruth’s husband, Arthur Coburn, made the cherry magazine rack that my grandparents, John & Emma White, gave Tim and me for a wedding present.

2. Amanda Eliza Hamblin (my great-grandmother), born 2 August 1879 in Dennis, died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts. She married 1 February 1900 in Dennis, Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson, who was born 29 March 1875 in South Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts and died 13 July 1965 in Dennis, son of Martin Edward and Elisabeth Emma (Freeman) Thompson. Amanda & Martin were the parents of Emma Freeman Thompson, my grandmother and Ruth’s cousin.

3. William Nelson Hamblin, born 1 July 1883 in Dennis, two months after the death of his father, died 31 December 1958. He married Sadie Louise Crowell, who was born 11 September 1884 in Dennis, and died 23 March 1972 in Yarmouth (Barnstable) Massachusetts. Apparently the younger William did not follow his father to a life at sea. William & Sadie were the parents of two sons — Gordon and Francis Hamblin were the much-talked-about cousins of my grandmother.

The following is from the Sunday Cape Cod Times, June 22, 1980 article by Craig Little, pg 13, South Yarmouth:

[William] began selling Mobil gasoline from 55-gallon oil drums mounted in his Main Street front yard in 1914, when Main Street was still Route 28. Ten years later, when it was clear that cars were here to stay, he had the garage built a few dozen yards from his house. Even in 1935, when Route 28 was rerouted to the north and Main Street was relegated to a scenic bypass, there was enough business to keep the station going….. W.H. Hamblin bought the little candy store and moved it to the property in 1928 so his wife could sell ice cream. Now window boxes with geraniums decorate the outside, hanging below the old wood-framed glass display cases.

Hamblin’s Garage in Bass River is a living museum of roadside retailing, a dusty monument to the time when gas stations were stucco and red tile, not shiny plastic and chrome floating on a sea of jet black seal-coated asphalt………[Francis’] brother, Gordon, takes care of the mechanical work (“We don’t do any big jobs like transmission work or rebuilding engines. We do mufflers, brakes, tune-ups, exhausts. Yep, we do all that”). He’s been there since 1934, when he was right out of high school…… After Francis leaves, Gordon will stay on in the house behind the shop. He’ll keep on driving school buses for the town, something he’s done for years. For years he’s also serviced the South Yarmouth’s post office’s fleet of mail vans, working on them on an outdoor hydraulic lift installed in 1930. “Oh, I dunno, I guess they got about 18, 19, or 20 of ’em,” he says from under his cap, worn at an angle, Rootie Kazootie style. “I work on all of ’em — they usually get ’em down here about 5 in the evenin’. They need ’em in the day.”……. The Hamblins charge between $5 and $6 an hour for labor. It doesn’t seem to bother them that other garages get three times that for the same work……. “Yep, been an inspection station since I was a kid,” adds Gordon, twisting a final spark plug into place on Silva’s Mustang. “As far as I know, since the early ’20s.” Behind the car, in a corner next to a pile of old boxes capped with a dusty pith helmet, is a sagging easy chair where Gordon can sneak a break during his long days.

Like an archeological dig, the inside of the gas station has strata of artifacts. Peel back a tire sealant ad from the ’50s and you find a tobacco ad from the ’40s. Peel that back, and underneath is a flyer from the ’30s. Time stands still here…… But after 66 years of pumping gas and changing flats here, the Hamblins are selling out. “Don’t wanna die here,” says Francis, the talkative Hamblin who acts as the front man, pumping gas, taking care of the candy store and making small talk with the customers…….. Francis didn’t arrive until after World War II, when the brothers took over the business from their father, W. H. Hamblin……. Even in 1967, when a shiny new Mobil station was built down by the Bass River Bridge, the Hamblins managed to survive, by switching to Arco. “That’s comin’ too close,” philosophizes Francis….. The more you look around, the more you wonder why antique dealers didn’t clean out the Hamblins years ago. “Oh, I got some baseball cards of Babe Ruth and them at home. Must be worth $40 or $50 apiece,” says Francis, who knows by now that an old thing gets more valuable as it gets older…….. Probably the newest thing in the garage… a rototiller destined to carve out a garden for Francis in New Hampshire. “Just bought a place there last year,” he says. “Hope to have a good-sized garden…….. Because of the war, our father started closing Sundays,” says Francis. “He liked it so well he never got back to the seven-day week. We stay pretty busy, ‘specially at inspection time. Most of ’em is repeats…….. A lot of people come in to have work done on their old cars,” Francis says, nodding toward the 1936 Packard that someone dropped off in the back lot. “They hate to see us go. Oh, we’ve just gotten up in age and want to take it a little easier. Anyway, fella that wants to buy the place says he’s gonna try to keep it as a landmark… won’t do much modernizing. Geez, hope they pass those papers.

Memory Circle

William Franklin Raven (1851-1917)

Tim’s 2nd great-grandfather, William Franklin Raven, son of Henry Charles and Clarinda (Sweet) Raven, was born 12 July 1851 in Macomb (St. Lawrence) New York, and died 14 September 1917 in Escanaba (Delta) Michigan. He married, 5 March 1888 in Cambridge (Lenawee) Michigan, Elona Naomi Case, who was born 7 July 1853 in Cambridge, and died 22 January 1929 in Badaxe (Huron) Michigan, the daughter of Herman Roberts and Paulina (Minor) Case.

The following is from Col. Charles V. DeLand, DeLand’s History of Jackson County, (Logansport, Indiana: B.F. Bowen, 1893), 1075-1076:

Elona Naomi Case (1853-1929)

WILLIAM F. RAVEN

Among the representative farmers and dairymen of Columbia township, where he owns a fine landed estate of nearly three hundred acres, is Mr. Raven, who comes of ancestry long identified with the annals of American history. Mr. Raven is a native of the old Empire state, having been born on the parental homestead farm, in St. Lawrence county, New York, on the 12th of July, 1852, a son of Henry and Clarinda (Sweet) Raven, the former of whom was born in Merrickville, province of Ontario, Canada, while the latter was born in the state of Vermont. ……. The subject of this review passed the first ten years of his life in his native county, and thereafter was for a time a resident of Herkimer and Oneida counties. His early education was received in the public schools of the locality and period, and was supplemented by a course of study in Fairfield Academy, where he was graduated as a member of the class of 1873. Between his public school and academic courses he had learned the printer’s trade, and for some nine months he was employed as a compositor in an establishment on Fulton street, New York city. Thereafter he secured employment in connection with a lumber business at Ilion, New York, being thus engaged for four years, at the expiration of which, in 1877, he came to Michigan and after looking about the state in search of a suitable location finally took up his residence in the township of Cambridge, Lenawee county, where he made his home for the ensuing two years. He then, in 1880, effected the purchase of the Hoag farm of one hundred and thirty acres, in section 15, Columbia township, Jackson county, the same being most eligibly situated a short distance to the northeast of Clark’s lake. Since that time he has added to the area of his farm until he now has a finely improved and valuable landed estate of nearly three hundred acres. In addition to diversified farming he is now making a specialty of the dairy business, keeping a high grade of Jersey cattle and being known as one of the most progressive, practical and successful dairymen of this section. He takes a loyal interest in public affairs of a local nature and has been a member of the school board of this district for the past eight years, while in 1901 he was called upon to serve in the office of township treasurer, giving a discriminating and most acceptable administration of the fiscal affairs in his charge. Fraternally, he is a popular member of the Masonic order, in which he has passed the capitular degrees and also of the adjunct body, the Order of the Eastern Star, as well as the Knights of the Maccabees and the Grange. Mrs. Raven is identified also with the Eastern Star, the Ladies of the Maccabees and the Grange. In politics the subject is a stanch adherent of the Democratic party, taking an intelligent and lively interest in the questions of the hour, and in the community he commands the unequivocal confidence and esteem of all who know him and wields no slight influence in local affairs. On the 5th of March, 1888, Mr. Raven was united in marriage to Miss Eleanora Case, who was born in Lenawee county, Michigan, a daughter of Herman R. Case, a native of Connecticut, who came to Michigan in the pioneer epoch. Mr. and Mrs. Raven have seven children, all of whom are at home save the eldest, who is attending the Agricultural College, at Lansing, their names, in order of birth, being as follows: Paulina, Hermon, Marion, William, Emmett, Julia and Ayesha.

All the photographs on this post were contributed anonymously to Ancestry.com in 2013.

William & Elona (Case) Raven and their seven children…

The following is from an undated and unidentified newspaper clipping:

Sudden Death of William F. Raven

Remains Brought to Brooklyn for Burial

William F. Raven, formerly a resident of Columbia township, died suddenly in a restaurant at Escanaba last Friday morning of heart trouble. he had been in Chicago to attend a wool growers’ convention and had gone north in the interests of the state agricultural extension department, being at the head of the live stock section. The remains were taken to his home at East Lansing where the funeral was held and on Monday brought to Brooklyn for burial at Highland Cemetery. He was buried with special Masonic honors, the Master of the Lansing Masonic lodge coming with the funeral party.

William Raven was well and favorably known to every Columbia resident and few men have become so well known throughout the state. He came here, a farmer boy from Ohio, and working on farms and teaching for a few years bought a farm, now tenanted by one of his sons, William. He was united in marriage to Miss Elona Case of Cambridge and a large family came to bless their home. Besides the widow the surviving children are herman, John, Emmett, Marion and Will, daughters Paulina, Julia and Ayesha, all grown men and women, a family of honor and credit to the community.

Mr. Raven has for about ten years been in the employ of the state and made his home in East Lansing. He was for a time in charge of all the college extension work in the upper peninsula. He spent a year or two on the soil survey and had charge of the live stock extension work through out the state. Prof. R.S. Shaw, dean of agriculture, and Prof. R.J. Baldwin, director of extension work, of the M.A.C. paid tribute to Mr. Raven at the Exponent office on Monday. They spoke in highest terms of his work stating that he was the best informed and most reliable of any of the men on the extension work and that his death would be a distinct loss to the state.

And the following is from “Reminiscences” by Ayesha Raven Laidlaw, Elona’s youngest daughter:

In our neighborhood the community of Jefferson had a cemetery which was supported by the township, which did not take very good care of it, except for mowing. So the women formed an organization called the Memory Circle, and they raised money for that little cemetery. It continued for many, many years. they had Ice Cream Socials, and we had the biggest house in the township, so the Ice Cream Socials were always at our house in the summer. In the winter they had a Chicken Pie Dinner, and that, too, was at our house. Brother Herman always spoke of those dinners. When Mother was entertaining, he would say, “Well, Mother’s having another Graveyard Social.” As I said, that continued many years, and, as late as when we lived in Tecumseh on Democrat Street, Paulina and I entertained those women for Julia when she was home from the East. Many, many of them came from Jackson, Liberty, Cass Lake, and Jefferson and the community, and one lady, when she got out of the car, said, “Well, you don’t know me. I’m Zilla McCready.” And I was shocked because I thought she had been dead for many years. I think there were six or eight ladies there who were past eighty years old.

Elona & William lie buried in Highland Cemetery in Brooklyn (Jackson) Michigan. They were the parents of seven children:

1. Paulina Elona “Polly” Raven, born 20 July 1879, died 2 January 1959 in Lyon (Fulton) Ohio. She married 30 June 1917 in East Lansing (Ingham) Michigan, Frederick Elwin Morse, who was born 19 January 1876 and died 21 April 1958. Paulina & Frederick were the parents of two sons.

2. Herman Case Raven, born 24 April 1882, died 5 April 1937 in Portland (Multnomah) Oregon. He married 1 February 1908 in Cook Valley (Dunn) Wisconsin, Elvira Florence Scritsmier, who was born 1 February 1880 in Auburn (Chippewa) Wisconsin and died 28 January 1969 in Portland. Herman & Elvira had no children.

3. Marion Case Raven (Tim’s great-grandfather), born 18 October 1883, died 4 December 1926 in Jackson (Jackson) Michigan. He married (as her first husband) 20 June 1906 in Hanover (Jackson) Michigan, Catherine A. Verplank, who was born there 2 May 1885 and died there 27 July 1941, daughter of George Washington and Ermina (Huntley) Verplank. Marion & Catherine were the parents of three children.

4. John William “Will” “Bill” Raven, born 5 February 1886, died in Highland Park (Wayne) Michigan. He married (as his first wife and as her second husband) 13 February 1913 in Jackson, Emma Belle (Faxon) Clark, who was born there 17 October 1873 and died there 7 February 1927, daughter of Dewitt Clinton and Lucy Ann (Campbell) Faxon and widow of Harry B. Clark. Bill married (as his second wife and as her second husband) Evelyn (—). Bill married (as his third wife) Mabel (—). Bill never had any children of his own.

5. Emmett Leroy Raven, born 16 September 1889, died 20 December 1971 in Badaxe. He married (as his first wife) 23 June 1915 in Mulliken (Eaton) Michigan, Ethel Alvina Peabody, who was born 24 September 1892 in Roxand (Eaton) Michigan and died there 25 October 1927. Emmett & Ethel were the parents of four children. Emmett married (as his second wife) 18 June 1929, Mildred Nellie Gardnen, who was born 6 January 1890 and died 26 July 1979 in Colfax (Huron) Michigan.

6. Julia Agnes Raven, born 17 October 1891, died 29 February 1968 in Middletown (Middlesex) Connecticut. She married 17 May 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Homan, who was born 3 August 1889 and died 13 January 1951. Julia never had any children of her own.

7. Clarinda Ayesha Raven, born 8 June 1895, died 29 August 1987 in Fort Myers (Lee) Florida. She married 19 July 1917 in East Lansing (Ingham) Michigan, Orville William Laidlaw, who was born 14 July 1893, and died 24 December 1978. Ayesha & Orville were the parents of two sons.