Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Identifying Heirloom Jewelry

Silver Ancestral Jewelry
 inherited from my maternal grandmother, 1992, photo 12 Oct 2014

Source Citation: Year: 1950; Arrival: New York, New York;
Microfilm Serial: 
T715, 1897-1957;
Microfilm Roll: 
Roll 7816; Line: 18; Page Number: 100. ( 12 Oct 2014
As I have inherited all of my mother's and grandmother's jewelry, it is hard for me to clearly mark when and who the pieces belonged to. My mother only lived 10 years after her mother. 

My grandmother's jewelry was in the same house as my mother and my mother merged the collections together. However, these two pieces my mother told me were my grandmother's "from a trip". Further evidence is her wearing them in a few photos.

As I have begun to work with the passenger lists of my grandparent's trips provided by, I discovered that these two silver pieces are clearly from Guatemala since the one on the left is stamped with Guatemala on the back and the one on the right says, "libertad 15 de septiembre de 1821". That emblem and date are the liberation of Guatemala from Spain in 1821.

The passenger list for the ship, Jamaica shows my Stewart grandparents and their traveling friends, the Youngs, leaving Puerto Barrios, Guatemala on 6 Apr 1950 and arriving in New York on 10 Apr 1950. I am feeling more sentimental about them now that I know they were bought in my lifetime.

I wish I could figure out which of the many Kodachrome slides matches this trip. Slides of Mexico, Guatemala and Bermuda all look the same to me.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Working with the Hale Cemetery Records

Hale Cemetery Records for Ledyard, at

The Hale Cemetery collection is a great set of transcriptions to have in your toolkit for working with Connecticut cemeteries. As it is someone else's interpretation of what information is on the stones, it is not to be taken literally. Check each transcription against 

But it will help me decipher what is on the most worn or damaged of the gravestones. The list, as you can see here for the town of Ledyard, CTis typewritten and is dated 1932. 

So, any gravestone placed hereafter that date will not appear in the list. I have a few gravestones photographed that are very small and are very worn out. I am comparing the list of names on these pages with what I can see on my own photographs. Many of those are infants.

I can tell you that the list is not in the same order and is not alphabetical either. The list starts on page 35 and ends on page 39.

I am going along with my printout and placing a small colored dot next to the name on the printout indicating that I have a photograph that matches it. (dots). I can only sit for about a half hour doing this before I get bored. 

The Hale pages also tell me who is a veteran and gives a map of the graveyards. I will report on the veterans on November 11. 

I won't post these gravestones in any order. It won't matter to readers. This way I can do more research on some than others and keep track of what I have done.

I hope you enjoy these posts!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: About Gallup Hill Cemetery

Side Gate of Gallup Burying Ground, Ledyard, CT
Photo by Midge Frazel, 15 August, 2009

About the Gallup Hill Burying Ground
Gallup Hill Burying Ground (often called Gallup Hill Cemetery) is also accessible from this side gate. According to the Hale Cemetery Transcription of the 1930s, this cemetery is #10. Each cemetery in Connecticut was assigned a number by town. (So #10 is specific to Ledyard/Groton.) The warranty deed was recorded 29 Oct 1902 and 22 Nov 1902 as reported in the 2009 edition of the Gallup Genealogy on page xi of Volume 1.

Paraphrasing from all the Gallup genealogies, this land was once part of Groton, CT and was the farmland of Benadam Gallup (1693-1755) which was inherited from his father, the first Benadam Gallup (1655-1727) which was inherited from his father, John Gallup in an original land grant from the State of Connecticut. John Gallup died in the Great Swamp fight and is buried in a mass grave in Rhode Island.

The front entrance of the cemetery used to have a gate on it that was removed and now is at the John Mason cemetery The family association now holds this Leyard land privately and maintains the gravestones, the stone wall and the entrances. This photo shows the "right of way" through the woods to the adjoining property. It is 565 feet from the road to the gravestones which I will show in a later blog post.

Photographing and researching each stone in a cemetery is very time consuming. I think the process is as important as the actual photographing so I will be reporting on that as I go along with each stone. It may take a long time for each one to be a Tombstone Tuesday.

My notes say that I visited this private cemetery three times: 23 May 2004, 6 Aug 2007, and 15 Aug 2009. Depending on the photograph I will chose the best one from my collection. Note: Brian Zoldak is contributing his gravestone photos which are way better.

The Gallup Family Association is "dedicated to the purpose of maintaining the care and sanctity of the Gallup Burying Ground on Gallup Hill Road in Ledyard..."  2009, page vii

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Street Signs

Hilltop Drive Street Sign, 2014, collection of the author

Street Signs are located on telephone poles in many neighborhoods. This street sign outside my parent's home looks newer than I remember and it is not on the pole that is directly at the base of our driveway. I imagine it was moved to be on the next pole a long time ago where it should be at the intersection of Ledgewood Drive and Hilltop Drive in "the Plat" in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Living now in a neighborhood where there are NO telephone poles inside our complex, the builder had to put up poles for the signs. One sign has already been lost as it fell off some months ago. I am amused at how hard that street is to find for delivery people looking for it.

It is quite a surprise that I should feel sentimental about the street sign here. When I was a little girl, people were not sure how to write our street name. That's the danger of all uppercase letters. Is it Hill Top Drive or Hilltop Drive? I observed it spelled both ways on mail that came to our house.

While researching "The Plat" last winter and using city directories and plot cards to look at the neighborhood in a different way, I was thinking how important the name of the street is to genealogy research. If you weren't alive, it may be hard to find out where your ancestors lived. Census records, phone books and city directories can help.

I take today's post as a sign that I am moving in the right direction.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: The Scottish Great Aunts Part 1

Photo by Glenn Russell, 2014, Find a Grave Volunteer
The Scottish Great Aunts
Part 1
When my husband's family celebrated holidays, his mother's sisters and brother often invited the Great Aunts to come for the celebration. My mother-in-law inherited the big manila folder from her sister (marked: DO NOT THROW away) with the papers from the great aunts shown here on this gravestone. The other side, according to the paper work says CRAIG, with ivy carving. I have the funeral expenses, the location of the gravestone and the dimensions of the stone. 

This stone cost $250 dollars and was created by the Lawson Granite Company. The dates and names match the document. It was paid for by Margaret but my husband's aunt Janet filled in the final dates and took care of the final arrangements. I seldom see such meticulous paperwork. I admire that.

In the envelope was also naturalization papers. It was a genealogists jackpot!

The Great Aunts: Maggie and Jennie, family photo collection of Stephen H. Frazel, undated

This post covers just this stone but the stories tell so much more. But, for now, it is great to see this stone in Fall River's Oak Grove Cemetery. His family is spread out over this huge city cemetery and my knees and back thank Glenn for not having to struggle and find it.

They lived a long life and worked hard. What more could we ask of our immigrant ancestors? 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Going to the Library

Pontiac Library, Warwick, RI, photo by Midge Frazel, August 2014

Love Your Library by Going to the Library
I love to read. I have always enjoyed writing and photography. Every job and career that I have had was made better by reading and writing. Sometimes, I am surrounded by "math" people and have had to help them with reading and/or writing. 

In my recent adventure, Hubs and I went into nearby Warwick to take a few photos of what I call Pontiac Village. As a child, this is where the nearest library was located. "The Plat" is physically closer to Warwick and because of the housing developments of the 1950s, businesses and schools were built in places that were once empty space.

Before I was five, I went with my friend to get a library card. Even though I was not a Warwick resident, I was eligible to get a library card.

However, this is NOT the library that was there at that time. The library that was in this village was a tiny building located in what is now the parking lot of this library. We parked our car near the spot where the old library was located. Miss Edith Knight was the librarian in that building It was a small library heated with a pot belly stove. (Wow, am I old!) (History)

Parking Lot for the Present Library built in 1957, photo by Midge Frazel, 2014, 
I was allowed a library card because I could read. My friend picked a book at random from the stacks and handed it to the librarian and she made me read from it. I was sent home with a card for my parent to sign. We walked home, my mother signed, and we walked back to give it to Miss Knight. Then, I could take books out. I picked a book and we walked back home. I remember this better than I do what happened yesterday. Miss Knight was a stern, no nonsense person. 

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.