Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday's Child - Benjamin and Norman Parker Smith

Since this is my first time participating in this prompt, I just want to let you know up front that I'm going a bit "outside the box" because this post is about a search for headstones, rather than the finding.

Benjamin and Norman Parker were the first and fifth born son's, respectively, of my great-grandparents, George Robert and Isabella Frances Parker Smith.

Benjamin was born in 1889 and Norman in 1903, both died in the same year they were born.

When Benjamin (named, as was the convention of the time, after his paternal grandfather) was born, George and Isabella had lost a stillborn son and had a daughter who was almost two years old.  They were living in Buckingham, Quebec with Isabella's parents.

When Norman was born the growing family, which now consisted of two girls and three boys, was living on the other side of Quebec in Thetford Mines.  I wonder how hard it was for my great-grandmother to leave her baby's grave so far away.

I only know of Benjamin and Norman through some old photocopies from the family bible.  I don't know how they died or where they are buried.  Benjamin is not buried with his grandparents in Buckingham, and Norman is not buried in Thetford Mines, that I can find, nor is he buried with his parents in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

I know that many children were buried without headstones at the time that these babies died, but I would dearly love to find Benjamin and Norman if at all possible.  This little mystery is really the thing that pushed me from just cataloguing what I know into doing my own research.

Perhaps someday the cemeteries where they rest will be catalogued by a fellow family historian and I will find them on Find A Grave,, BillionGraves or some site as yet unknown to me.  Perhaps I will stumble on them myself while cataloguing headstones on a trip north.

In any case, Benjamin and Norman have not been forgotten.  I think of them often in the course of my research.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Military Monday-L/Cpl. Lawrence N. Dean

My Great Uncle L/Cpl. Lawrence Nimmo Dean, brother of my maternal grandmother Marjorie Elizabeth Dean Smith, was killed in action in Nijmegen, Holland on April 2, 1945 - little more than a month before V.E. Day.

L./Cpl. Lawrence Nimmo Dean

It is only through my family research and putting together my tree, with names and dates, that I have come to understand what Uncle Lawrence's death must have meant to my grandmother.

Their mother, Eva Maude Bean Dean, died in 1916 of "Creeping Paralysis."  My grandmother, the eldest child, was 12 and Lawrence, then the baby, was not yet two.  Because of Eva's illness my grandmother had likely been Lawrence's primary caregiver since he was born and their father, (James) Louden Dean would not remarry for four years.

I realized that it must have been like losing a child for her, when the call came from her brother Kenneth.  Her husband, my grandfather, was also overseas, so I was happy to learn from my mother recently that my grandmother did not have to bear the news alone.  Her sister, Dorothy, was there on a long visit.  Thank goodness they had each other to lean on.

(James) Louden Dean m. Eva Maud Bean
North Hatley (Minton), Quebec-1902

Marjorie Elizabeth b. 1904
Kenneth Emory b. 1906
Dorothy Irene b. 1908
John Louden b. 1910
Lawrence Nimmo b. 1914

(James) Louden Dean m. Lena Emma Hodge

Clifford Howard b. 1924
Helen Alberta b. 1925
Margaret Evelyn b. 1927

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Benjamin Smith (1822-1908)

I have lived on Long Island since my family moved here from the Chicago suburbs when I was two and a half.  I even went to college here, at Hofstra University in the Village of Hempstead.

We didn't move here because of any family collection - we came because my father was accepted into the Psych program at Adelphi University.  My father was born in Chicago, my mother in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  Most of my father's family lived in New England when I was little and most of my mother's was then in Quebec.  I always felt more at home in those places, and that feeling only grew as I got older.  I even referred to my trips to Canada as going home.

So imagine my surprise upon reading this obituary of my 2nd great-grandfather on my mother's side, that he was born "at Hempstead, Long Island."

We already knew that he was a politician and grocery owner in Newark, New Jersey.  My great-grandfather, his youngest son, was born and raised there before emigrating to Canada.  But we had no idea that there was any connection to New York at all, much less only miles away from my home and possibly very near the campus where I attended college.  It was almost surreal and it felt like I was...Tripping Over My Roots.

The article tells us he was born at Hempstead, Long Island and died in Newark, New Jersey.  While we are sure about where he died, I have not yet found any confirmation of his birth here on Long Island.  We know from a very short wedding announcement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that he and his wife were married in Brooklyn, and lived there at the time, but so far that hasn't led us to an actual marriage record.

I have been blessed to "inherit" a great deal of information about most branches of my family tree.  But beyond that and the documents found on, very few of the over 700 people on my tree were added through my own research.  I feel like I've been amassing information about my family for a long time, but I'm really very new at this.

So, where was Benjamin really born?  Long Island has changed a lot in the last 200 years.  If he was born in Hempstead in 1822, would that exact place still be considered Hempstead today?  What were his parents' names?  Are they buried nearby?  What  is the best place for me to start looking?

I've been in touch with the cemetery where Benjamin and his wife should be burried because my mother and I want to take a trip there sometime in the next few months.  I've also left a message at the church he may have helped to found (according to the obituary) because it is across the road from the cemetery, but I haven't heard back from either place yet.

Since we know where he died, I guess my next best bet is to follow the advice of Bill Dollarhide, and get copies of Benjamin and his wife Mary Ann's death certificates, which I so hope will give me their parents' names.

In the meantime, if anyone out there has any advice or guidance to share, I will gladly take it!