The Cashmans and the Clarks




June 26, 2014

This is a repost-




I know you’re there!  I just need to find a way to find you. - E.B.

The proverbial brick wall can be likened to a nagging headache that continues unabated until it broken down. I don’t know anyone who engages in the business of genealogy, who doesn’t have at least one pesky ancestor, who wandered away from the fold and vanished into the ethers.

There are people who die and are never identified. There are those that vanish by their own volition, change their name and disappear into the crowd, but not very many. Almost everyone has a paper trail. If someone is looking for them, they will be found.

I experienced my first brick wall when searching for a long lost uncle, who boarded a train and eventually lost contact with his family. I remember sitting at my desk day after day, staring at his vital statistics. No one in the family knew what happened to him. No one had a clue. I believed the answer to the mystery was hidden somewhere on that page and indeed it was staring back at like a huge red flag.

My missing uncle served during the Spanish-American War. After some research on military records and a flurry of phone calls, I was able to retrieve a copy of his military pension file. The mystery was solved. The pension file was a road map of his life after he left Northampton, Massachusetts. Affidavits told the story of his travels through the West and his encounter with a stranger, who attempted to steal his identity and his military pension. Most touching was the hospital records that documented the details of his death and the funeral home records that described the suit he was buried in.

At the end of the day, I came to realize that a good working knowledge of resources and well-developed analytical skills are the keys to finding an elusive ancestor. When I consider all of the trial and error internet searches, phone calls to relatives and days spent pouring over the same information, I shake my head. Everything I needed to know was on that tattered sheet of paper.

When confronted by a brick wall, think about other resources that might contain the information you are seeking. As an example, instead of relying on an internet search or census records to locate children, consult the parent’s will or probate record. Research newspapers for obituaries for known family members, which will name next of kin.

Stick with it. Your elusive ancestor is hiding right in front of your face.

Need assistance with your genealogical research? Go to: or write to Elizabeth Banas at

Finding John and Hannah's House

June 15, 2014

Check out the September issue of  Family Chronicle Magazine to read my tutorial and article to finding your ancestors homes though deeds and other sources.

The True Story of the Clarks of Bay State Village (1837-1955)

May 29, 2014

It is nearly June and I am still waiting for the copyright certificate. There is a reason for everything and I suppose the reason this is taking so long will unfold in the future. In the meantime, I am organizing material for my next book. God Bless! Elizabeth

Message from the Webmaster

May 4, 2014

Posts unrelated to this site are not published unless they receive approval from the webmaster. It is the policy of this website to delete posts unrelated to genealogy, family history or comments pertaining to the blog posts. Just an FYI-The Webmaster


The True Story of the Clarks of Bay State Village (1837-1955)

March 30, 2014

This book project is nearly complete, but it looks like I will not meet my deadline. I am still waiting for the copyright to be processed and I am still working on editing the final copy. This has been a long and arduous process, which I hope will have a happy ending. I will notify everyone when the book is available on  Elizabeth


Albert Goodhind-March 1, 1932-January 16, 2010

January 16, 2014

                                    There is nothing new under the sun...

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! The projected publication date for The True Story of the Clarks of Bay State Village is late March 2014. I will see you at winter's end. Wishing you a joyous and safe holiday season-Elizabeth



When the news isn't good: Finding my family in long forgotten letters

June 25, 2013

Years of research brought me to a place where I believed, I had exhausted all resources. They left nothing behind, I thought. Where great-great grandpa came from, went to the grave with him. EAB

Those who know me are aware of how preoccupied I am these days. I am working diligently to finish a narrative history of the Clark branch of my family. I have spent years researching and compiling records pertaining to my elusive great-great grandparents. Aside from bits of family tradition that made little sense from an historical perspective and vital records relevant to their children, I had very little information to begin my research. It was as if the first generation of Clarks in the United States dropped out the sky and landed in Northampton, Massachusetts.Years of research brought me to a place where I believed, I had exhausted all resources. They left nothing behind, I thought. Where great-great grandpa came from, went to the grave with him.

It was serendipity that led me to a collection of letters between family members which spanned over forty years. I knew the relatives that authored the letters. My only impetus to explore the collection was a faint, burning hope that I would find a clue buried somewhere between the lines of an old letter that would help me break down the impenetrable brick walls that kept me from finding my great-great grandfather. It was a long shot, but it was all that I had left.

I found myself on a cool spring morning in mid-April in a quiet corner, surrounded by stacks of boxes containing manila folders filled with old personal correspondence between several family members, who have been gone for many years. After skimming over a half dozen letters, I surmised that I was on a dead end street and my day was a waste. I simply did not care if it was raining on April 22, 1956 or if the snow was falling at six o’clock on New Year’s Eve in 1960. A few more letters and I am done, I thought. Not more than a minute later, I caught sight of my grandmother’s name scrawled in a letter written in 1955. The author had penned a clearly unflattering description of her and her children, which included my mother. I should have taken offense, but instead, it struck me as very funny. I read the paragraph aloud to Geo and we both laughed.

Over the years, I heard similar sentiments stated by my grandmother regarding family members. Apparently, there were few people in the family, who liked one another.  I always wondered what provoked the issues between this brood of brothers, sisters and in-laws and as I browsed through through letter after letter, I realized that the cache of old and obviously very personal correspondence between mother, father and son was an uncensored peek into their thoughts and opinions on the ever present family strife, how they viewed important life events and the challenges and issues they faced in their daily walk. I felt as if I was peering at their world through their eyes. There were jaw dropping revelations about people close to me; allusions to the circumstances of the birth of a family member, a criminal case and the strange story of an in-law, who wound up in a psychiatric hospital due to the influence of a relative. I was quite certain the person who wrote about the circumstances of the committal never imagined that one day I would have access to such an admission. How bazaar!  No, the news wasn’t good.

There is nothing new under the sun, I thought for the one millionth time. Sibling rivalry, jealousy, family disputes and tantalizing gossip between family members will always exist. Life is never perfect or painless and talk is always cheap. Still, I found some of the revelations in the letters very believable and stunning. I wondered how I would present this material in the narrative and if it would change how this family is remembered by those still living.

While there was vitriol and gossip contained in the letters, there were passages pertaining to mundane and ordinary daily events, as well; narratives about cold raw January evenings spent on the divan watching “the fights” and Sunday afternoon visits from family, who brought gifts of fresh eggs from the chickens they raised in the backyard;  a remark about  a good pot roast dinner and  a touching description of  the lavender dress my great-grandmother wore when the family buried her. I could see it all in my mind’s eye, even though, I was not there.

As I read on, images of my childhood and the carefree days I spent with my grandparents, drifted into my consciousness. I recalled my grandmother’s Hermit cookies and trips to Lilly Library to borrow books that set my imagination on fire. I remembered the sound of change rattling in my grandfather’s pockets when he walked and chocolate ice cream at a place called the “Two Cows.” So many perfect moments I had forgotten were mine again. Even though the news contained in the letters wasn’t good, I felt lifted and I thought to myself, how lucky I was to have been loved by such wonderful light-filled beings.

It was serendipity tugging at me or perhaps dumb luck that caused me to reach for the simple red spiral notebook wedged in the back of a box. To my utter surprise, it contained a draft of an unfinished family narrative that contained biographical information about my great-great grandfather! I now had new territory to explore and a new perspective from which to write.

At the end of the day, as I gathered up my belongings to leave, Geo and I both agreed that it was unbelievable that the letters and the notebook existed. I said a little prayer thanking God. The news wasn’t good, but I was leaving with an insightful glimpse into the challenges and issues of long departed family members and I had found a notebook filled with genealogical treasures. Moreover, I had found a lost part of my spirit.

Keep diggin' for those gems!




             Elizabeth Banas

Elizabeth is a professional genealogist. She is a member of the National Genealogical Society, Association for Professional Genealogists and the New England Association of Professional Genealogists. You can send your research requests to








April 15, 2013


So much to do and so little time to do it! I am in the middle of a time crunch. I do not have a post to share this month. However, I do have the photo below that looks to me to be two Clark women. The photo was taken in Northampton, Massachusetts. The clothing suggests the photo dates to circa 1900. Could this be Mary (Clark) Becket and Jennie (Clark) McCarthy? If you can identify the lovely ladies in this photograph, please contact me at





Keep diggin' for those gems!


Elizabeth Banas is a professional genealogist. She is a member of the National Genealogical Society, Association for Professional Genealogists and the New England Association of Professional Genealogists. You can send your research requests to or go to

Dad said: "The handwriting was on the mirror. It told the tale." I know the writer.






Happy Birthday Wilbur Cleary!

October 27, 2012

Today would have been my grandfather's 119th birthday.  He was born in Bennington, New Hampshire on October 27th, 1893 to Andrew and Margaret (Cashion) Cleary. He lived in Norfolk, Virginia with relatives for eight years, but most of his life was spent in Florence, Massachusetts where he was employed by the International Silver Company. He married my grandmother Mary Hannah Clark in April 1917. They lived in Bay State Village for a while and then moved to Middle Street.

I remember him as a laid back man, who told some fine stories about his childhood in New Hampshire. His most famous tale was about a  very large rabbit he hunted down on a winter day. According to the yarn, this rabbit was so big that when he slung it over his shoulder to walk home, the rabbit's paws were dragging on the ground. (Yikes!)

Grampa smoked a pipe. He liked to read newspapers and talk about politics. He also liked Teaberry gum and a cup of tea after dinner. He wrote a poem about a fallen soldier that was published in Readers Digest. His aspiration was to write song lyrics.  He had a beautiful flower garden at his last home in Palmer, Massachusetts. On October 27th, 1964, after doing some yard work, he went into the house for lunch and a nap. He died in his bed that afternoon. It was his  71st birthday. He left the world on the same date, he came into the world.

I will always remember him telling me to dance a this funeral. I didn't. It would have caused a rift, but I have tried to make it up to him by dancing on each of  his birthdays. Time for some Bon Jovi and U2. Happy birthday Grampa!


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