There is nothing new under the sun...
There is nothing new under the sun...
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
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or go to eabanasgenealogyservices.com.
Dad said: "The handwriting was on the mirror. It told the tale." I know the writer.
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!
For years, I have heard rumors and discussions regarding an alienated line of my family. No one in my line knew what or who caused the feud. However, the animosity between family members was so deep and painful, it seeped into subsequent generations.
Recently I stumbled upon an old deed which revealed a great deal about the relationships within the family of my great-great grandparents, John and Hannah Clark. The deed, which conveyed the family home to Jane, the youngest Clark sibling for one dollar was executed in May of 1895, less than two weeks after the death of Hannah. It stated in part: “I, John Clark in consideration of one dollar and other valuable consideration, paid by Jane E. Clark, my daughter, of said Northampton, who has lived with and assisted in supporting us…”[1.]
I have a good working knowledge of this family. I know that both Thomas and William Connors, Hannah’s sons by her first marriage, received very little education. Both were working in cutleries at an early age. Thomas was still residing at the family home at the time of her death. It would appear that they contributed to the household for many years. Twins, James and Mary from her marriage to John Clark, also went to work at an early age, ostensibly to contribute to the household. The Connor brothers never attained home ownership. James and Mary were able to buy homes, but much later in life, when their children were nearly grown.
I wondered what forces were at work that led my great-great grandfather to transfer title of his house to his youngest daughter, while forsaking the other children, who contributed to the economic stability of the family for so many years. Was there bickering and strife between father and sons? Was he duped by his daughter or infirm? Or was he resolute in the sentiment he expressed in the deed? I was certain that this was the event that caused the legendary feud, but where was the proof?
I will never be privy to John Clark’s private thoughts or his conversations with his youngest daughter. I will never hear the other Clark siblings tell their side of the story. Though, I strongly believe this singular act may have been the undoing of the Clark’s as a family unit, I will not state my opinion regarding this matter in the narrative I am preparing to write. Personal opinions have no place in sound genealogical research and reporting. At the end of the day, there is no evidence that the transfer of the family home to Jane caused the rift.
It is human to form opinions and analyze the behavior of others through the prism of our personal experiences. I reread the document several times before I concluded that it was a personal life experience which led me to a premature opinion of what occurred within this family.
My father, who passed away two years ago on January 16th, made an observation regarding our family history. He said that it seemed that history was repeating itself; that it was “all happening again.” Considering recent events, he may have been looking into the future when he made that statement.
I seldom quote scripture, however this verse from Ecclesiastes holds special meaning for me. “What is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past into account.” ( Holy Bible, New International Version, Ecclesiastes 3:15). Dad knew it and I know it, too.
1. "Hampshire District Recorded/Registered Land,"digital images, Masslandrecords.com (http://www.masslandrecords.com : accessed 28 Dec 2011), Clark to Clark, deed, 16 May 1895, citing Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Deed Book 475:177.
*While this site is dedicated to the Cashmans and Clarks, this post pertains to my great-grandfather Richard Goodhind of Dartford, England. Richard is not connected to the Cashmans or the Clarks.
Recently, I requested and received a military pension file for my g-grandfather, who fought in the Civil War. I knew about his service years ago. In fact, a cousin conducted extensive research on our great-grandfather’s military service a number of years ago. I was not convinced that we would glean anything new from this file. However, I thought it was important that we have every record available that was pertinent to his life.
I could not have been more surprised. This file could be likened to a road map of his life from his enlistment until his death. Among the items included in the file was his Declaration for Pension. This item contained a personal description and noted his place of residence after leaving the service. Another affidavit contained the maiden names of his first and second wives, marriage dates and the names and birthdates of his children.
Other vital records contained in the file, were death and marriage records, which included certificates pertinent to my great-grandmother’s second marriage and second husband after the death of my great-grandfather. Other documents in the file were related to my great-grandmother’s application for a Widows Pension. This included handwritten letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The question of what happened to her financially after the death of her second husband was answered by way of a copy of a contract she signed with a women’s home shortly before her death. Mystery solved!
If you have never worked with military pension files, then you have missed out on a great source of genealogical material.
Most military records can be ordered via the NARA reproduction site. However, the process of retrieving copies of Massachusetts military pension files is more complicated. Hiring a professional to help you through the process may be the path of least resistance. Contact E.A. Banas Genealogy Services (email@example.com).
When you find that obscure record on microfilm that would have required spending a ton
of your hard earned cash and a trip or two to East Timbuktu to retrieve, you will smile and say: “Microfilm rocks!”
The internet has made census records, vital records, military records and so much more available at the click of a mouse. For that reason, it may be hard for those of you beginning your genealogical journey to believe that there are many resources not available online. If you haven’t looked beyond your subscriptions to Ancestry.com and Fold3, you are missing out.
One of the most underutilized resources, in my opinion, is the Family History Catalog and the microfilm rental program. Images of church records, naturalization records, early land grants and wills, as well as privately published genealogies are just a few of the items found in the catalog and while most items require rental of microfilm, some items can now be downloaded on-line and do not require a visit to the local family history center.
Microfilm rental is a process and gratification is not instant. However, if you are willing to venture into the unknown, here are some simple instructions on how to locate, rent and view microfilm from the Familysearch Library Catalog:
The catalog can be accessed by way of both the new Familysearch site and the Family History Library Catalog main page (http://www.familysearch.org/eng/libr/ ) The format of the sites is slightly different. For the purpose of this tutorial, the following instructions will apply to the new Familysearch site located at http://familysearch.org.
Once on the main page, click the catalog tab. A drop down menu and search box will appear. The drop down menu offers several ways to search for an item (place-name search, surname search, keyword search, etc.). Once you have made a determination of which search criterion you wish to use, highlight your choice and fill in the search box with your query item. You will then be redirected to a page which contains a list of resources from which you can choose. Click on a title to go to a page that contains a description of the resource. Some of the items have been digitized and are accessible online. Not what you’re looking for? Go back and review the resource list or repeat the entire process with a different search criterion. I often perform multiple searches with different search criteria. As an example, if I am looking for a naturalization record, I may opt perform an initial search using the subject and another using the place-name. If you are searching by place-name be sure to enter the state first, county and then town or city (e.g. Massachusetts,Franklin, and Greenfield). If an item requires microfilm rental, read the film notes which give a brief description of the subject matter contained on the film. When you’ve found what you’re looking for, print out the page or make a note of the film number (e.g. FHL US/CAN Film 706648).
Now it’s time to find a local family history center. You can do that on Familysearch, as well. Find the tab labeled Familysearch Centers. This tab will take you to a search box where you will be asked to fill in information regarding your location. Once done, hit the search button and you will be redirected to a page that contains a bulleted map and a list of metropolitan areas. Choose the metropolitan area closest to your location and click. It’s magic! A box appears over the map with all of the pertinent information you need to locate and communicate with your local family history center. You may be surprised by the number of Family History Centers that are close by.
The rest is easy. Call your local Family History Center and request a film rental. Staff will give you instructions as how to make the request and where to send your payment. Normally, a check is made out to the local stake and often the check sent to someone in the organization, rather than to the church address. It will take approximately two weeks for the Family History Center to receive the film order. My experience has been that the staff is very responsible about calling when the film has arrived. The cost of rentals has recently increased. You can expect to pay between $5.75 and $7.00 per film. When you arrive at the Family History Center you will find microfilm readers and a copier. I have always found the staff at the centers to be very caring, helpful and patient. Even when I could not get the gist of loading the film into the microfilm reader, one gentleman on the staff, patiently loaded and reloaded film for me all morning and never complained.
Okay, so there is no instant gratification in ordering microfilm. Yes, it’s slow and maybe even archaic. It takes a little
time. Okay, it takes a total of a half month. However, when you find that obscure record on microfilm that would have required spending a ton of your hard earned cash and a trip or two to East Timbuktu to retrieve, you will smile
and say: “Microfilm rocks!”
"Family History Library Catalog.” Database. Familysearch.org. http://www. familysearch.org/eng/libr/ : 2012.
From left to right: Nephew Alfred and Richard Goodhind. Photo courtesy of Tim Goodhind
Vital records, censuses, probate files, deeds and local history are the fabric that researchers stitch together to construct a family history. The discovery of a new record is always exciting. However, there is nothing more gratifying than to gaze into an ancient face of a forbearer. I know of nothing that elicits as much commentary. Photographs of ancestors provide a glimpse into their spirit and humanity. Moreover, what is so compelling about a photo of an ancestor is that we are
really looking at piece of ourselves that is embedded somewhere deep in our DNA. No matter how voluminous our collection of records may be, the discovery of an ancestor’s photo is the crowning jewel of genealogy research.
That is why locating a photo of my great-grandfather has become a mission. My cousin Tim Goodhind has been researching the line for years and yet despite his best efforts he has only managed to acquire one photo, which is a long distance shot
of great-grandpa at an advanced age.
The lack of images of this man is frustrating because he led a remarkable, if not eventful life. Richard Goodhind emigrated from Dartford, England in 1860. His brothers, all papermakers were already settled in the United States. For a short time, he lived with his brother Frederick in Russell, Massachusetts, where he was also employed in the papermaking industry.
Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the army and was assigned to Captain Richard Cory Company G, 2nd Massachusetts Regiment. During his service, he participated in some of the war’s most historic battles, including Gettysburg.
A "Certificate of Record", compiled by the Soldiers and Sailors Historical and Benevolent Society make mention of his employment as the superintendent of Hurlbut Division, American Writing Paper Company and superintendent of Zenas Crane, Jr. Company. He was also employed by the Chester Paper Company, the Hampshire Paper Company and Beebe and Holbrook in Holyoke. The certificate noted: “He was an example of a man rising to prominence through sterling character and persistent attention to business."
His obituary also noted his reputation: “…the skill of the deceased in his line of business was proverbial among papermakers and he was widely known.”
Richard first married Charlotte Martin Cook with whom he had five daughters. After her death,
he married Mary Stickles of Philmont, New York. Two children were born out of the union: Bertha and my grandfather Murray.
He was a member of the Scott Bradley Post (GAR) in Lee, Massachusetts at the time of his death in 1911.
An eventful life indeed and yet just one photo of the man. Even the Massachusetts Archives response to my query was negative.
It is noteworthy that his second wife died, decades after his passing, at the Berkshire Home for
Aged Women in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Perhaps all of the ephemera was given away or simply chucked into a waste bin? Though that is a possibility, it seems unlikely that she had possession of every photo ever taken of him. Certainly, his daughters, who remained close to him over the years had a photo or two. However, if that is so, a descendant has yet to come forward to share their cache. I hold out hope that someday, I will receive a positive reply from a kind stranger or distant relative stating that an image of Richard has been found.
Indeed, photographs of ancestors are the crown jewels of our research. Whatever, our wild imaginings about our forbearers may be, whatever we may have gleaned from the records and the stories told about their battles in war and battles in life, nothing is more compelling than a photo of an ancestor.
 Soldier and Sailors Historical and Benevolent Society, compiler. Certificate of Record, no.
35096, 1904. Privately held by Timothy Goodhind, ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE],
Sunderland, Massachusetts, 2007. This certificate is a compilation of Richard
Goodhind’s Civil War service. Unsourced.