Monday, September 29, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Andrews Lot

Thomas Andrews Lot CR#34, Cranston, RI

The Bus Stop
In August, I returned to my childhood neighborhood for a day of pure genealogical joy (instead of heartache) and to "lay to rest" and enhance my memories of the project of last year about "The Plat". At that time, I have no really current photos of places nearby to talk about how our lives change over time. After planting my Heritage Garden in my yard, we decided to return, visit the neighborhood and surrounding attractions all in one day.  

What genealogical adventure doesn't include a cemetery? This is another Rhode Island Cemetery that has been moved. I will blog about it at a later time but I knew you would want to see it now.

This is the Thomas Andrews Lot CR 34. I call it the "bus stop" because this is where our school bus dropped us off. No wonder they made us not wait on this island. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: The Homestead

The Old Homestead, August, 2014

Visiting the Plat

We family history folks are sentimental about almost everything aren't we? When we went to Cranston, Rhode Island last month and parked down a nearby street for a couple minutes. I decided to get out of the car and take a photo of my parents house. I don't know the people who live there now and I decided not to go ring the doorbell. I felt comfortable with that. Time can heal. Writing about my childhood was hard but a lot of fun.

My husband said that it felt funny not to pull into the driveway. We spent almost every weekend for a few months trying to help my mother before she got sick and went to the hospital and later to rehab where she did not improve and died of COPD and pneumonia after being sent to the hospital. Her dementia got so much worse. 

Taking this visit was a good idea. I feel so much better now that time has passed. The folks in the neighborhood helped out a lot by watching the house during the week. By the time, it was sold, I was happy to be done with the worry.

The neighbors on the left are now my Facebook friends. I didn't know them as well as the people to the right. One of my childhood playmates is a best friend of the wife on the left. Isn't that amazing. I guess my parents didn't know that.

Sunday is a good time to be sentimental. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Carleton M. Fisk

Photo by John Bibber, Find-A-Grave volunteer, used with permission
Mount Hope Cemetery, Swansea, MA. (2014)


Photo by John Bibber, Find-A-Grave volunteer, used with permission
Mount Hope Cemetery, Swansea, MA. (2014)



My husband's Uncle Carl and his wife Edna M. Craig lived a long and happy life together. They were married on her birthday. She was my mother-in-law's sister. The Craig sisters and their brother were very close and lived not far from each other their whole lives. Easy to talk to, Uncle Carl was an interesting man who lived to have a 100th birthday party which we attended. Not many families can say that. Uncle Carl was the life of that party, walking around and talking to guest like he just turned 50. 

I am so glad to see his gravestone and as I suspected Uncle Carl's mother and father are listed on the stone too. Uncle Carl told me that he and his father built the house in Swansea together. It had a crushed stone driveway which fascinated my daughter when she was little and went there with us for dessert on Thanksgiving. Being a childless couple, Uncle Carl and Aunt Edna had a lot of friends and bought a camper and went on many adventures. When she passed away, Uncle Carl continued to travel. We have many family stories about them. 

Uncle Carl's sister is also buried here. Her name was Ruth. Her husband's name is on the stone and I think he died in Florida which may be why there is not a death year for him on the stone. I will save what I know about Uncle Carl's family for another day since they were so interesting to research.


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Monday, September 22, 2014

What Shapes Our Lives as Genealogists?

Laura Ingalls Wilder Book Collection,
photo by Midge Frazel, 5 Sept 2014


What Shapes Our Lives as Genealogists?


As my readers know, I have been interested in family history since I was about eight years old when my grandmother showed me her husband's family Bible and the photos of his grandparents.  (Who knew grandparents had grandparents?)

That's the day I became a genealogist.

The Bible and those photos belong to me now and they are the starting point for my maternal genealogy research. 

Many family historians and genealogists talk freely about how history and literature have shaped and influenced their research and their interest in genealogy as a whole.

As the author of a book for educators about digital storytelling, I investigated many ways to blend all disciplines and technology together for students and teachers to use storytelling to meet curriculum goals and benchmarks for learning. It is the book that bridged the gap between my life as an educator and my life as a professional genealogist.

Historical fiction should contain facts that can be proved but the story line can be altered to include places, people and events that are not entirely accurate. Historical fiction must be written to be interesting enough to appeal to the audience. Just dates and places do not make history come alive.

Your own family history, while fascinating to you and your family, might be boring to others. The wider the audience, the harder the author must work to please the reader. Today, we have self publishing options that change how the publishing process works between the author and the reading audience. There is no "editor". It is neither good nor bad. It is just a different way of publishing.

Your second or third grade teacher must have made you aware of the difference between fiction and non fiction, which is a life-long lesson no matter how the story is told. 

The media (print, blog, newspapers, books, Web sites, electronic readers and movies) are just containers to hold stories. It is often hard to tell where the non-fiction ends and the fiction begins. You must be a critical evaluator of information in this media-controlled life.

About the time I became aware of family history, I was involved in reading the juvenile historical fiction of Laura Ingalls Wilder. As an early reader, I was asked by the teacher not to bring books from home to school. I suspect that the teacher did not want attention brought to the fact that I was in the "highest book group" in my grade. You had to fit neatly into groups back then as the school day plan was so rigid.

Mrs. Wilder's works of fiction seemed so real that many readers assumed that all of it could be proved as fact. I was quite shocked (as a young adult) to discover that the character, Mr. Edwards, did not exist at all, and to learn he was a composite of people met along the way to help explain how some events occurred in the timeline of that partially fictionalized story.

Realizing this, the "adult me" became more interested in what the real story was and why the books remain popular and have never been out of print. Authors can only wish for such continued success and royalties.

The late Garth Williams sketches are so engaging that it is easy to forget that the people in the books didn't really look like that. Would I have worried about that as a young child? Probably not.

Today, children can see actual photographs of the characters in the books, see and visit the preserved or memorialized homes of the family members, follow a geographical timeline, admire the family objects in special museums and see the gravestones. This is the real history for children.

Does this confuse children even more to see these non-fictional tangible things? I think not. We don't give children enough credit and it is the adults who are unbending in their understanding of fiction and non-fiction. Whoever wrote these books and how factually accurate they are does not deter us from gaining the understanding that life was harder in the past and those stories can help us all understand lives beyond our own. For example, "Where were your ancestors living in the 1860s and 1870s?"

Everyone wishes that their family history and the stories around the facts were as riveting as the ones in these books. We hunger for the stories of our ancestors and they shape our work as genealogists. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: School in Oaklawn Part 1

Sign on Railroad Trestle, Oaklawn, Cranston, RI, author's collection, Summer, 2014

This lovely sign was not put up until long after I was grown up. I first noticed it when we took my widowed mother's laundry to the laundromat to be done and one of her neighbors drove over to pick it up during the next week. I couldn't get close enough to it to see that it was a picture of the train depot. I see the train ran from Providence to Oaklawn and I didn't know that.

My first pre-school was in a teacher's home in Oaklawn. I barely remember it. I do remember that the teacher or a teacher's aide, came to my house to pick me up and bring me home again. They put a blue flower over the space where the rear view mirror met the roof of the car. It was a big old black car with plenty of room to pick up kids. I think they picked up several children in a trip. 

When we got to "school", we had to draw the blue flower and write our first name on a lined paper. I am amazed I remember that. With so few children living in "The Plat", I may have been the only child to be sent to Oaklawn  for school. I was four.

Oaklawn is a cute little village and even today, when you drive under this trestle, it seems peaceful and quiet on the other side. Soon, I will blog about my first few years in Oaklawn School.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday; James Craig

Photo by John Bibber, Find-A-Grave volunteer, used with permission
Mount Hope Cemetery, Swansea, MA. (2014)

Photo by John Bibber, Find-A-Grave volunteer, used with permission
Mount Hope Cemetery, Swansea, MA. (2014)


James Craig and Ella (Lang) Stansfield

James Craig, my husband's maternal grandfather is buried with his second wife Ella (see photo below to see what they looked like) at Mount Hope Cemetery in Swansea, Massachusetts. 

James's first wife, my husband's maternal grandmother, Hannah (Wilde) Craig died in 1932 and is buried with her parents at Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River, Massachusetts. I was delighted to see my request for this gravestone fulfilled and it and another gravestone completely changed my vacation plans (in a good way). Thank you John Bibber because now I don't have to go and look for graves in this large cemetery.

The wonderful news is that by having the death dates for James (1952) and his wife Ella (1960), we can finally date many family photographs. I knew they were buried here from a Facebook friend's mother who called us to find our more about Ella's family.

Social media is a big help in this way. Knowing where they were buried was the first question I had. I was amazed by being able to confirm that James was a severe diabetic and died because Ella did not get there in time to give him his insulin shot. After her husband died, Ella discovered she too was diabetic and died from it. But, I had no dates of death to go by and so now I do!


James and Ella were married sometime in 1939 and lived in Warren, RI in the 1940 census. As she was the widow of Robert Stansfield, she owned her own home and raised her two children, Violet and Robert. We don't know if she was living apart from Robert Stansfield when he died, but I do know he died in 1939. Viola and her husband are also buried here as their names are on the stone. 

Ella worked in the mill with James and they were very much in love when they married (from the phone call I was told this). It is always great to have that little bit of personal information about family. My late mother-in-law told us that she was glad her father married again so someone could take care of him. My husband only remembers him a little bit. Due to diabetes, he had lost a leg and my husband remembers being fascinated by that but he thinks the amputation happened after Steve was born in 1945.)

Viola and her brother Robert, were highly educated, at Vassar and MIT. Both married but were childless (source: family history notes of my late mother-in-law)

I have some family snapshots that now can be dated and will become Sentimental Sunday blog posts next winter)
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Oaklawn Public Library

Photo by Midge Frazel, August 2014

School or Library?
Because September is "Back to School Month", hubs and I ventured down to historic Oaklawn, a village in my native Cranston, Rhode Island. I had him drive down to the Oaklawn Baptist Church where I took several photos of the church. As traffic was light, I zipped across the street to stand on the sidewalk to take a full shot of the church. I smiled at where I was standing and walked up to the side of this building which once was called, "Oaklawn Library" because of the plaque that is on the side of the building. 

I did not know that this library was once a school! The elementary school I attended in Oaklawn (Oaklawn Grammar School) was built in 1895 according to the Images of America book, Cranston by Lydia L. Rapoza and Bette Miller, published in 1999 and pictured on p. 115. My school was being renovated when I went to Kindergarten and that building is what stands today. The old, 1895, school is gone. I remember my mother calling me to tell me it was torn down. 

As an educator, I enjoy learning about school buildings and libraries, especially ones that fit into my family history. The book does tell me that "my school" was built in spring of 1895 for $6,232,69. The web site for the library, states this became a library in 1896.

I see that the sign says circa 1838 for its beginning year and it makes we wonder if this was part of the Quaker friends history near that year as it was across the street from the meeting house. 

According to the book, the front of the building facing the road (with the quarterboard) on the side is the original building. I don't remember it without the addition (with the window). It became a branch of the larger picture of the Cranston Public Library system in 1968.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Galloping To Fall

Print Copies of Gallup Genealogies, 1987 and 2 vol 2009

Planning for Fall
Coming in October


I was reminded recently, that new genealogical evidence comes along all the time. Ancestry has posted the database of the Hale Cemetery Records for many cemeteries that I have visited. 



I have visited a gated and locked historical burying ground that is on private land, three times. The final time, was at the annual family reunion and we were encouraged to go "next door" to the cemetery and look at the gravestones. This was my opportunity to take a fast photograph of every stone, rock, memorial stone and footstone. I had a deadline. Lunch and the reunion began at noon.





My photographs are not that great. It was very sunny and hot. My own ancestors that are buried there, I had already photographed. It was important as one of them is my DAR record ancestor. This is also part of one of my Mayflower lines. I am excited to report that I have ALL the gravestones that are known to exist in one GALLUP line.


But, what about the other photographs in this cemetery? Well, it is time I got around to labeling them and to research them as best I can. Many people ask me about this cemetery and it was an adventure finding it. Today, it would be much easier. I got a lot of wrong information. 

Soon, I will explain the project and what kind of sources I have for researching that I can share with others.

Brian Zoldak will help me when he can. As a Connecticut resident, he knows about the area. Cousin Carmen Johnson's ancestors rest here too. It is important for me to "finish" this project. Michelle Miller's husband is a Gallup and she is interested too. Facebook gives us a chance to talk about this. Jane Preston and Fred Burdick can help too. Crowd-sourcing at its best!

This will be an ongoing project for fall and winter. We have started a private Facebook group to help us manage the information.

Questions about this post?: email me please

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Almost There!

Almost There! Photo by Midge Frazel, August 19, 2014, Cranston, RI

Happy Grandparent's Day

Apparently, I am writing in my head all of the time! On a recent trip to my childhood neighborhood area, I put my camera around my neck while we were in the car. I thought there might be some changes in the landscape I wanted to photograph. What I took was some photos that would make great blog posts.

When our daughter was small, we traveled "home" to visit with both hubs parents and mine every month. The grandparents lived about 20 minutes apart in Rhode Island. First, we went to my parents and then his because we usually went on Sunday and my mother-in-law was the church person and didn't arrive home until 12:30 PM.

To keep her amused on the hour car ride, I picked out landmarks along the way. The first photo on the left is the exit off Rt. 95 S. After turning off 95, you needed to stay in the right lane. I called the spot in the second photo, the "almost there" point.

When my father died, we had a service in the funeral home and then rode together to Westerly for a short graveside service. Our daughter wanted to drive her own car to the house and then ride with us. It dawned on me that she might not remember how to get there. 

"Remember the almost there spot!, I said to her on the phone. "Yes," she replied "I can do it! " I was still worried she would drive right by. She did fine. 

She and my mom made sandwiches together in the kitchen for the neighbors who came by after the service. My mom was surprised that people still did that! A few years later, she wrote her wishes and requested that nobody be invited to the graveside except for us. In her dementia, she couldn't remember that I was standing behind her for my dad's graveside service even though I kept telling her I was there.

My mother and my daughter talked about how 50 years is a long time to be married. I could hear them from the dining room and I didn't interfere in their choice of topic. 

When we arrived at this point in our day trip this past month, my husband and I shouted out simultaneously , "Almost there!" and I snapped these photos. Just doing that has helped me get past the years since my loss.

Happy Grandparent's Day!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Placement of Stones Part 2

Placement of Stones (Part 2)

Joseph and Naomi (Fancy) Frazel
Maplewood Cemetery, Marlborough, Middlesex, MA
It is hard to be sure of who "Father" and "Mother" are in plots like these. Suppose everyone placed their parents to rest like this and then moved away? It would be unknown to anyone who they were unless they contacted the cemetery office. 

When Joseph and Naomi (Fancy) Frazel died and were buried here, they already left behind four dead children in Bridgewater, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada when they came to American about 1892. Due to the kindness of Alice Baker Frauzel who lives not far from Baker's Settlement Cemetery, I have all of the gravestones that can be found in Nova Scotia of this part of my husband's family.

After coming to America, Joseph and Naomi gave birth to Loren (d. 1897), (Samuel d. 1956), John (d. 1897) and Albert (d. 1894). 

Phares, Samuel, Jeremiah, Rhoda and Sophia were the only children who lived to adulthood. The 1900 census says Naomi gave birth to 12 children.



Sons of Joseph and Naomi, Maplewood Cemetery, Middlesex, MA

from the wall to the street:
Father, Mother, Loran, Samuel, John and Albert.

Rest in peace.