Sunday, March 08, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: Tarantula Man

Photo of Broadfoot family, fall 1914, courtesy of family of John Broadfoot
used with permission

Tarantula Man
My paternal grandfather, Thomas Broadfoot (1884-1937) went to visit his brother John Broadfoot in the fall of 1914. No one told me about this adventure, so far from Rhode Island, so I was surprised to find out he went there! This past week, my cousin located a typed journal of Jane Hannah Broadfoot Thompson (the little 7 year old girl in this photo), which included another photo similar to this one. It was not the photo which took me by surprise but the text that went with it. (Jane, who we called Cousin Jean, was my first cousin, 1x removed born in 1907)

"Uncle Tom Broadfoot from Westerly, Rhode Island came to vist us for a while. (He was Dad's brother.) For a pastime, he caught tarantulas, put them in a can and sold them to the University of California. I used to watch him pour water down their holes and that fascinated me...."

I'd bet my grandfather used the money to pay his room and board. I hope her did not use it to buy alcohol as he did in later life.

I do know that Uncle John and his family moved to California in late 1912 or 1913 after a visit back to Scotland. 

In 1913 my grandparents lived at 7 Vose St. in Westerly. It was a crowded household. In addition to themselves, my grandmother's parents David and Annie Aiken lived with them. David and Annie live in their own place in 1920 according to the census)

Tom and Annie had two children by the fall of 1914, my aunt and godmother Annie (born in 1907) and my aunt Ada (born in 1913). My father was not born as yet.

It is hard to be sentimental about my grandfather as he died before I was born but I do think that this little tidbit about tarantulas is a story worth knowing about. Not everyone's grandfather hunted tarantulas!

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