My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why I Wrote This Post...You Just Won't Believe One of The Reasons!

The photo on the left isn't anything special to anybody but me. There are no flowery or ornate designs, no statues or outstanding features on it. So when I received a request to use it for a project, I was a bit surprised. My email came from oversees and began with the following message:

"Hello Barbara, I am in the UK and I am preparing a Register of WW1 serving female casualties for publication at my own expense as a lasting memorial to these oft-forgotten women. The Register will show them in alphabetical order and comprise a short biography together with photographs of them, their graves and their memorials. One of these is Frances Poole who is in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington. You have provided a photograph of her grave marker to Find A Grave and I should be most grateful if you would allow me to use it in my Register. I will, of course, place your name against it, as an acknowledgement. It seems likely that she is an ancester of yours and so if you have a photograph of her that I might use that would be a bonus. I hope that you will give me permission. I look forward to hearing from you, Kind regards, Jim"

Of course he could use the photo, I give everybody permission to use my Find-A-Grave photos (shown above). But I needed to tell him that my Great-Aunt wasn't a ancestor (nor ancester)! So, I dashed off the below message to him, to make sure this was a legitimate request, I mean who doesn't know about ancestors?

"Yes, you may use my cemetery photo, thank you for asking first. Frances was my great-aunt, so unfortunately she wasn't an ancestor, but a sister of my grandfather. No, I don't have a photo of her, only one of her brother and a small photo of her sister, obtained through a passport application I found on

Frances wasn't in the war, she had just become a nurse but went to care for soldiers who had the flu. I wrote about that in my blog, which you may see here, and have permission to use anything in the blog.

"Hello Barbara, Thank you for coming back to me. I am most grateful to you for allowing me to use your photograph of her grave. You have corrected me on one thing. I always thought that an ancestor was anyone, back through the generations, that had the same blood source. A quick look at the meaning on wikipedia I see that it is just going back through parents and parents of parents, etc.

He quoted and answered my question: "I'm curious, how did you happen to find her on FindAGrave?"

My project is 20+ years in the making (so far). I have a listing of all WW1 serving female casualties which is virtually complete. This is for British, Canadian, South African, Indian, Australian, New Zealand and other British overseas territories. In addition, virtually all of the US women who served and died serving their country in wartime or died as to a consequence of the war. Your great aunt was one of these. She did not have to work overseas to be classed as a casualty of the war. Just dying "in harness" was enough. So I have her name and her date of death. With this it was not difficult to search Find A Grave (or Billiongraves) to find out where she was interred. I have a successful hit of about two out of three. I do not have a great deal on your great aunt so far but what I have I have put below. If anything is wrong I should be grateful if you would let me know.   Kind regards, Jim"

Two reasons for posting this, the first is to show that not everybody knows what an ancestor is and second, if you are a blogger, you'll always be surprised by some of the emails you receive. The above link is to one of my more popular posts called Frances and the Flu. The cemetery is in Washington, D.C., and I made a special trip from Massachusetts to see where my great-grandparents were buried, and his sister, the above Frances. The trip was six years after I left my Washington job, and never knew they were there, buried within miles from where I worked!

Note: Jim gave me permission to use what he wrote.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Two Lowell Actresses Won An Academy Award, and I Met One!

The 87th annual Academy Awards will be given out this Sunday, February 22, 2015. I'm sharing some information on two women who were  born in Lowell, Massachusetts and each was a winner. One of them, I actually met, in London of all places.

Bette Davis was born in Lowell on April 5, 1908 and only lived there a few years. Her former home isn't too far from where I live.
Winter is a great time for me to watch DVDs from Netflix, so I've been getting my fix of her wonderful movies. So far, I've seen about 12, and don't have a favorite yet. She was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and won twice for best actress for her role in Dangerous and Jezebel.

Bette has always been a favorite of mine, and I was quite fortunate to see one of her gowns worn in a movie in the exhibit called, Dressed for the Part at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell. See my post about that exhibit along with my piece on seeing Princess Diana HERE.

The second Academy Award winner born in Lowell, was Olympia Dukakis. It seems that I've always known that, or maybe since she won her Best Supporting Actress award in 1987 for Moonstruck. Since I was living in Virginia, I must have seen or heard something about where she was from. This memory tidbit came in handy one afternoon in the early 1990s when I was alone in London. While waiting to talk to the concierge at the Russell Hotel, I listened to the lady in front of me (she was relaying information to her husband who was standing a few feet away). Dressed in casual clothes, she didn't stand out...but her voice did. When she turned to leave, I asked if she was Olympia Dukakis. (Note: little if any make-up on.) She said, "yes" and I told her that I had lived in Lowell. She was quite excited, and probably pleased that somebody from Virginia would know that fact. I must have asked for an autograph (since I was collecting them at that time), but I didn't have any paper. She did, and wrote, "To A Fellow Lowellian" Regards, Olympia Dukakis.

From Olympia's book, Ask Me Again Tomorrow, her autobiography published in 2003, I chose a few lines to quote. "My mother's family emigrated from the Mani region of southern Greece to Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1907, when she was six years old." "Those who chose to emigrate to American came because it offered them a place where their hard work would be rewarded, where they would be able to improve their circumstances in life. And Lowell offered them a place where they could, at the same time, maintain their Greek values." By the time my brother and I and all of our cousins were born, Lowell had become known as 'the Acropolis of America.'" In June 20, 1931, Olympia was born and 1939, the family moved to Somerville.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

There Is A Lot to Like About Lowell -- Series #22

"There Is A Lot to Like About Lowell" is the city slogan.

Along the Merrimack River in Four Seasons

The Merrimack River From Wikipedia: "it is a 117-mile-long river in the northeastern United States. It rises at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers in Franklin, New Hampshire, flows southward into Massachusetts, and then flows northeast until it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport."

There is a man-made beach, a popular spot during the summer. The river can be very rough, high or smooth (above and below).
Six bridges cross the river, the city is on both sides.

There are walk paths on both sides of the river, and even in the middle, as shown above (with man-made canal on left and river on right).

While looking up information about the river, I found a site, I wasn't aware of. It's the NOAA National Weather Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, they track the height of the river (see their colorful chart below on the left).

Since Lowell currently has the most snow of any city in the United States (February 16, 2015, at 111") I'll be watching  the gauge readings frequently. We all remember the recent floods in 2006 and 2007.

Flood Categories (in feet)
Major Flood Stage:58
Moderate Flood Stage:54
Flood Stage:52
Action Stage:50

Historic Crests
(1) 68.40 ft on 03/20/1936
(2) 60.60 ft on 04/23/1852
(3) 60.57 ft on 09/23/1938
(4) 58.84 ft on 05/15/2006
(5) 58.09 ft on 04/17/2007

Snow chart, posted February 16, 2015, by Mill City Weather. (Permission granted to use.)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

His Little Green Book Was So Organized, Why Can't I Be?

Since 1981 this little green book has been looked at many times, because it contained a wealth of information about my Grandfather's many trips. At the time of his death, this was one of several things I decided to keep. It was in good condition, but I looked at it so many times that page holes have torn and the binding had to be taped.

When my grandfather married in 1953 to his secretary three months after his wife passed away, I believe they decided to make their time together (he was 61, she 52) travelling around the world. There is no date on this book, but the fact that they went to Cuba is an indication it was before 1962, and Cuba is #1 in the index and first page, shown below. I believe their honeymoon was in Cuba and Mexico.

Many years later, I received over 2,500 slides that corresponded to the pages in this book. I had seen many of the slides when they shared them with my family during our infrequent visits to Connecticut. They not only traveled the world, but spent winters in Florida, and summers in England. Some of you might remember the hand-made Christmas cards he made when I posted them to my blog.

I believe I inherited my love of travel, genealogy and photography through him, but not the ability to be organized. He was a NYC architect, so that accounts for his neatness and organizational skills, I believe. Many years later, when the widow was moving, she wanted to get rid of the slides, all in trays, in about 10 xerox paper boxes. Nobody wanted them, but I did express an interest. Ultimately, I got them, and they remained in my basement for about 15 years...never looked at them, so they collected mold.

I know, that's sad and I should have known better. My grandfather would be horrified with me, especially if he knew I had to toss after I went through each slide. I kept maybe 10. To clarify a bit, all slides with family members had been kept by the widow, and I have no idea why this index book wasn't with the slides. I assume she knew about it.

Regretting isn't going to help me now. I can hear my genealogy friends voices now, and believe me I don't know what I was thinking. But a lesson to those who have old photos and slides, don't keep them in the basement.

Since this is the beginning of a new year, I'm going to try very hard to be more organized in my life. Not just with genealogy, but with personal papers as well. Actually, I am going to put the personal before the genealogy as we move into February. He'll be watching me, and telling me to go quicker so I can get back to genealogy!
The index (top and bottom) consisted of two pages. You can see for Cuba and Mexico there are two pages,  some countries had many pages.

 There are 5 pages on the ships list.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Blizzard of 2015

Right now, on January 27, 2015 the storm is still blowing, and I've decided to use this post to share photos, once I am able to get outside to take pictures.

In the meantime, HERE is a link to the Live Storm Cam from the Lowell Sun newspaper located on Dutton Street. As of 9:20, you can't even see across Dutton Street to the parking lot area of the National Park Service. NOTE: The webcam is now turned off. I believe it will be turned on again, for the next major storm, as it was last year.

We have received 33" as of 9:30 pm, and it is still snowing.

These photos were taken January 28th and January 31st. 

Both Central and Merrimack Streets are two-way, and as you can see, there are no cars and no places to park.

Credit to Mill City News.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There Is A Lot to Like About Lowell -- Series #21

"There Is A Lot to Like About Lowell" is the city slogan.


Visitor Center
On June 5th of this year, the Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP) will be 37 years old. I wasn't living here at the time it was established (having left 4 years earlier, when the unemployment rate was at 12%) and unfortunately didn't get to see the many changes until I returned to the city in 1994. Every day there are still old buildings being renovated and huge plans are in the works for improved changes for the city. The city of Lowell, individuals who bought dilapidated mills and the LNHP are all doing their part to make Lowell a better city for the future.

This Visitors Center isn't something I like, it's something I love. I am there frequently either asking questions, looking at updated programs, or chatting with people I know, who are there as well. This is where you learn about all the places the Park Service maintains, such as the Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit (my post), the canal boat tours and trolley tours, the many miles of walkway along the canals, the Boott Cotton Mills Museum and more.
Map shows our two rivers, the Merrimack and the Concord, and many man-made canals.

Children love this trolley and have their
own area to play and learn.

Theater (above) where you can view a film about the history of Lowell.

"On June 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation dedicating $40 million to the creation of Lowell National Historical Park. It was a move that saved the city’s historic downtown."Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Representative Paul E. Tsongas are also shown. Paul Tsongas was from Lowell.

Typical of a genealogist, I tried to find more information. One of the more interesting things I found was a daily log of all of President Carter's activities for the above day. When he met for the signing Wednesday morning between 7:55 - 7:59, there was just enough time for a photo and the signing. The actual page may be seen HERE.

*More information about the LNHP may be seen HERE.
Entrance to the LNHP.
Books about Lowell, including the most recent (Oct. 2014) called, Mill Power. I purchased it the day after it's release. My husband read it, and I've looked at the many photos.

There are two entrances. Above is on Market Street and below is on Dutton Street (where you can park, see photo at bottom of parking area).