Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wedding Wednesday-Dagmar Anderson & Howard Matthews

I recently discovered that a box of what I thought was saved business correspondence belonging to my paternal grandfather also contained personal correspondence relating to the search for family information.

Tucked away inside these letters were also some clippings and photos, among them, my grandparent's wedding announcement.

It is another reminder that I have to ask my stepmother for my dad's home movies that include some wedding footage, although I do have this wonderful photograph of the bride and her gorgeous bouquet.

Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson Matthews
October 19, 1931 - Age 25
Miss Dagmar Viola Anderson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl J. Anderson of 68 Garden street, will be married this afternoon to Howard Beirly Matthews of New York City. The marriage will take place at the home of the bride's brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Anderson of 34 Elm Terrace, at four o'clock. Dean W. G. Chanter of Wesleyan University, Middletown, will perform the ceremony, using the single ring, Methodist service. The bridal music will be played by Mrs. A. H. Anderson, and Mrs. Charles A. Matthews will sing "I Love You Truly."
The bride will be attended by Miss Dagmar C. Peterson of East Walpole, Mass., as maid of honor. Charles A. Matthews of New Jersey will be best man for his brother.
The bride will wear a gown of flesh chiffon with veil of flesh tulle falling from a cap of Princess lace and orange blossoms. She will carry a bouquet of Madam Butterfly roses and blue delphiniums. The maid of honor will be gowned in turquoise blue chiffon and her arm bouquet will be of Briarcliff roses and gypsophilia.
The ceremony will be followed by a reception for 35 guests at the home of the bride's parents, which is decorated with palms and ferns. Later the young couple will leave for an unannounced wedding trip, the bride wearing a brown traveling costume with accessories to match. They will be at home to their friends after November 1 at 106 Arlington avenue, East Orange, N. J.
The bride was graduated from Manchester High School with the class of 1923. Mr. Matthews was graduated from Wesleyan University, class of 1928. He is a member of Phi Nu Theta and Mystical Seven fraternities and is now on the staff of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Company, public accountants.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Part III of Howard Matthews's Story

Time for Part III of my paternal grandfather's autobiography and family history.  

In this part of his story, my grandfather laid out dates and ages as best he could with the information that he had (which I have yet to verify).  He then spoke of some of the family's neighbors on Nafus Street in Pittston and gives us a few details of his childhood over 100 years ago.

Then he writes about the wedding of his eldest sister, Lillian.  He wasn't there as he had not yet been born, but he did attend his other sister's wedding twelve years later, tune in next week for that one.

It is unfortunate that I have not been able to find exact dates of my parent’s arrival in the USA or of their marriage*.  Death certificates at the Pittston, PA Cemetery record that Arthur William Matthews died December 6, 1915 at age 71, and Ada Hobbs Matthews September 1, 1919, at age 64.  In addition they record the following, making a total of five burials in or double lot.
William Matthews (first son of my father’s first marriage)      1869-1920 age 51
Will’s wife Laura S. Matthews                                                      1869-1950 age 80
LeRoy Matthews (my brother)                                                      1880-1929 age 48
Since hist first wife (a Griffith) is said to have died at the birth of John Matthews (1870), when my father was 26, it would seem that he must have married very soon after his arrival in the USA (1865) when, I have assumed, he was about 23.  We don’t know the date of his second marriage, to my mother Ada, but since the birthdate of the first child of that union (my sister Lillian) was April 1, 1878, the marriage must have occurred at some point in the 7-year span 1870-1877.  So perhaps they were married in, say, 1876 when my mother would have been 21 and my father 32.  The children of that marriage came along as follows:
                                                                                                                  Age of
                                                                                       Born            Mother     Father
Lillian (Mrs. G. Floyd Hunter)                                4-1-1878             23          34
LeRoy                                                                               1880             25          36
Fred                                                                                   1882            27          38
Bess (Mrs. William H. Ahlers)                            2-20-1884            29          40
Charles                                                                             1895           40           51
Howard                                                                    7-21-1901           46           57
My father had the family home at 13 Nafus Street built for his bride, my mother.  All six of us were born in that house and all six plus the two half-brothers were raised there.  Dorothy says, “Mother (my sister Lillian) was proud of the fact that they were the first on their street (Nafus Street) to have a built-in bath tub.  It was lined with copper or tin as this was long before porcelain or enamel tubs were made.”  I had many baths in that tub.  Nafus is a short street, two blocks long, running from Main Street to Vine Street and the cemetery.  In my youth it was lined with substantial homes on good-sized lots.  Across from us was the Myers home.  Mr. Myers was a Civil Engineer and he owned the first Hupmobile I had ever seen.  His father, our milkman, had a Stanley Steamer.  His son, Clinton, who became head of the Martz Bus Lines, was one of my playmates.  On the opposite corner lived the editor of our local newspaper, the Pittston Gazette, next to home the Smiles family, and across the street the Cadmans whose apple trees we raided each Spring and in whose backyard we erected tents made of old carpets each summer and occasionally slept in them overnight.
On a wall of the sitting room at 301 Philadelphia Avenue in West Pittston (the G. Floyd Hunter family home, now occupied by Dorothy Kenworthy) there hangs a framed copy of the printed invitation to the wedding of my sister Lillian to G. Floyd Hunter at the old homestead (13 Nafus St) on October 27, 1897.  Lillian was then 19½ years old; Floyd five years her senior.  Dorothy tells us that every time she visited Cousin John Merritt he told her that he had attended the wedding of her very beautiful mother.  Lillian was the “arty” member of the Matthews family.  She painted in oils and some of her works are hanging at 301.  Floyd along with his brother and father, operated a farm and rendering works on the side of the mountain west of West Pittston.  Their tables were always abundantly supplied with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Tallow, the product of the rendering works, was sold to Proctor & Gamble.
Obviously, since I was not born until 1901, I was not present at Lillian’s wedding.  But I was at the wedding of my sister Bess to William H. Ahlers.  It too was held at 13 Nafus Street.

*  You may remember that I found an Arthur Matthews arriving in NYC on April 25, 1865 from Liverpool.

In addition to my grandfather's correspondence, I also found a copy of my grandparents' wedding announcement.  I'll be sharing that later this week for Wedding Wednesday.

Happy Hunting!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Ann Codner Smith (1821-1914)

Although I have been working more on the Matthews tree because of recent discoveries, I would still say that the Benjamin Smith family are my primary research interest.  I think I've done all I can from my computer, however, and have been relying on my cousin in Canada to dig up all she can from Ancestry while we wait for information regarding Benjamin and Mary Ann's burials.

The Benjamin Smith Family - Sometime before 1908
Orlando Chauncey, Charlotte "Lottie", George Robert,William Henry
Benjamin, Mary Ann
Emma Amelia

In my very first post I shared Benjamin's death notice and today I share Mary Ann's.

Mrs. Mary M. C. Smith
     Services for Mrs. Mary M. Codner Smith, widow of former Alderman Benjamin Smith, who died yesterday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. James M. Fisk, 1153 Broad street, will be conducted at that address tonight at 8 o'clock.  Rev. William H. Morgan, former pastor of the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, will officiate.  Interment will be made at Basking Ridge at the convenience of the family.  Mrs. Smith was ninety-one years old.  Her death was due to advanced age after a brief illness.  For more than sixty years she has lived in this city and during that time was a member of the Central Chruch.  One daughter and two sons survive her.  One of the latter, George R. Smith, is a member of the Canadian Parliament.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Pt 2 of A Story by Howard Matthews

Last Monday I started transcribing the personal story and family history of my paternal grandfather, Howard B. Matthews.  I'm sorry to say that I disparaged him a bit in that post, saying that he did not cite his sources.  Well, he didn't, in the finished version of his manuscript.  But he did save all of the correspondence with his family while he was trying - over many years as it turns out - to piece together the facts of his family.  I found all those letters this week and although I know it will take a long time to go through it all, I can tell I have found a rich source of information.

The first installment gave us a little history of the Pittston, PA area and ended with my great-grandfather, Arthur Matthews' immigration to the United States shortly after Abraham Lincoln's assassination.  Today you will learn a little more about Arthur and about my great grandmother, Ada Hobbs Merritt Matthews and her family.

       I do not know what caused him [Arthur Matthews] to settle in Pittston, but from the number of Welsh people we visited on Sunday afternoons during my childhood, and the number who in turn visited us at 13 Nafus Street, it is possible that they influenced his choice.  And it is possible that his first wife was of the Griffith families who came to the USA from Wales in 1830 and 1860, settled in Pittston and neighboring Plymouth and were engaged in sinking coal mine shafts. Or he may have been related to and had maintained contact with descendents [sic] of William Matthews who emigrated from Wales to Litchfield, Connecticut in 1671, and decades later married into the Lyman Hakes family of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
In any event he went to work in the mines of the Pennsylvania Coal Company, founded by William R. Griffith.  I imagine, altho I am not certain, that at first he must have been just a miner.  But not for long, for his first love was music.  He played the violin and the piano, composed hymns and led the choir in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Pittston.  Soon, as an independent contractor, supervising his crew at the mines required only the first two hours of the day; the rest of the day he spend at his music store uptown.  A very devout Roman Catholic Miss Allen ran the store when he was busy elsewhere.  Later she became a nun.
By his first wife, a Griffith, he fathered two sons; William Matthews, 1869 and John Matthews born 1870.  We are told that she died in childbirth.  Thus, my father was widowed when he was 26.  At that time my mother, Ada Hobbs Merritt Matthews (born in 1855) would have been only 15 years of age.  We do not know the date they married* but their first child, my sister Lillian, was born in 1878 when my mother would have been 23 and my father 34.
My mother’s brother, Joseph Hobbs, and her two sisters, Emily and Bessie, came to this country from London and lived in West Pittston, Pa., with their mother’s brother, Uncle John Merritt.  Later, following the death of her mother, my mother, then a very young girl, came to live with Uncle John and his wife Margaret.  I know no more about my mother’s family or how they were situated, but several things seem to indicate that they were not an impoverished family.  A picture of my mother, taken in London when she was quite young, shows a very well dressed young lady.  And Uncle John Merritt is described as a native of England, of a family of inventors.  Also, many times, as a child I heard (and Dorothy did also) about tea lands owned by my mother’s family in the Far East and that unless someone of the family went to England to assert ownership, thy would revert to the Crown.  This was brought up again and again, always with regret that no one had looked into it.
A History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, published in 1893, describes Uncle John and his wife, Margaret Stephens Merritt, as natives of England, of a family of inventors.  It states that John Merritt had charge of the machinery of the Pennsylvania Coal Company until 1870, and was superintendent of the Pittston Gas Co. until his death in 1882 when my mother was 27.
My mother lived with Great Uncle John and his wife Margaret until she married my father.  Margaret is said to have strongly opposed the marriage as they had become very fond of Ada and felt she was much too young to marry a widower who was the father of two young sons.  Apparently she was opposed to marriage in general, for their own daughters, Mary and Margaret, never married.  In addition, they had two sons, John W. Merritt, Jr. born 1859 and Adrian.  Adrian was an engineer.
My niece, Dorothy Hunter Krick Kenworthy, older daughter of my sister Lillian, knew John Jr. and his two sisters quite well and called on them and John’s daughter Edith at the homestead on Wyoming Avenue in West Pittston.  She describes them as very proper persons who spoke the King’s English and served tea every afternoon.  Uncle John who live to be 90, (he attended Wyoming Seminary), she describes as an interesting and well educated electrical engineer.  He was Superintendent of the Pittston Light Co., and was responsible for the planning and installation of electric power in Pittston.  Later he moved to Virginia as a mining engineer.  Dorothy and her mother Lillian visited Uncle John and the two sisters frequently.  Dorothy says she enjoyed Margaret because she was more down to earth and she had a wonderful sense of humor.  She was organist of the West Pittston Trinity Church for years.  The Merritts were Episcopalians as was Grandma Matthews (my mother) until she married.
Dorothy describes my mother’s sister Emily as a petite little person, very proud of her appearance, especially her dainty feet!  Bessie, for whom my sister was named, was extremely attractive and had a beautiful singing voice.  After her marriage to William Snell they lived in Dorrancetown (now Kingston) where she sang in the Methodist choir.  They legally adopted Mr. Snell’s niece, Ellen, a close friend of my sister Lillian.  Ellen later became Deaconess of the M. E. church.  Aunt Bessie died in the 1930s.
Dorothy’s letters, from which much of this information is taken, are filled with other backup materials.**

*   I found the date of Ada and Arthur's marriage - they were married at the Methodist parsonage on October 28, 1876.
** I have just found these letters.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Grandma Smith's Chocolate Sauce

This past week I was reorganizing and purging in our bookshelves when my eye fell on a particular cookbook and set off my sweet tooth.  I have only ever made one recipe out of this cookbook, but it will always have a place on my shelf, safe from gifting or donating.  Why?

Anglican Church Women
Personal Recipes
Church of St. John the Divine
Thetford Mines, Que.
Janet Isabella and Marjorie Elizabeth Dean Smith
My mother and grandmother

This cookbook was put together by my grandmother's church as a fundraiser and contains her recipe for Chocolate Sauce.  It's a very simple recipe and you might even have all the ingredients in your pantry right now.

You will need:
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, roughly chopped (solid, not the pre-melted kind)
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn syrup (Grandma used Beehive brand which is dark and thick, I use Karo dark)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Melt the butter, add chocolate, and stir over very low heat until melted.  Add boiling water slowly, stirring constantly and bring to a boil.  Add sugar and corn syrup stirring until dissolved, cook 5 minutes.  Add vanilla and salt.  Serve hot or cold, though I recommend hot.

Of course, I had to make some this week.  We had it over vanilla ice cream (which I recommend, it is pretty sweet) watching game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

This sauce is fairly thin when hot, then thicker and almost chewy as it cools over and under your ice cream.  It's so nice to have something on your ice cream with ingredients you can pronounce that doesn't taste manufactured!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - A Story by Howard B. Matthews - Part I

An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin – some we never met – others we see a time in their life before we knew them.

Howard Matthews was my paternal grandfather and although I don't remember hearing about it while he was alive, it seems he also had the genealogy bug.  In the last years of his life he was trying to put together a family history with as much information as he could find.  Although an accomplished accountant, he was a frustrating family historian because he didn't cite his sources.  Still, he left behind a some wonderful details that I hope will help me on my own genealogical journey.

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing my grandfather's typewritten history (put together in 1984) in order to preserve it for posterity, put it out there for other family members and hopefully give you some entertainment along the way.

The first installment will give you some family background, a little history of Pittston, PA and introduce you to my great-grandfather.
A Story
by Howard B Matthews

        I, Howard Bierly Matthews, was born in our family home, 13 Nafus Street, Pittston, Pennsylvania, on July 1, 1901, the 8th child of my father, Arthur William Matthews, the sixth of him and his second wife, Ada Hobbs Matthews.  I am the survivor of these eight children, 2 daughters and six sons.  My mother was 46 and my father 57 when I was born.

13 Nafus Street, Pittston, PA
Date Unknown
Pittston was one of the five townships founded by loyalists from Connecticut in 1768.  It is named after William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, a graduate of Cambridge and a member of Parliament.  It is situated in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania, on the main branch of the Susquehanna River, in historic Wyoming Valley, scene of the contest between Connecticut and Pennsylvania over land ownership which each claimed to have obtained from the Six Indian Nations in 1754 and 1762.  The dispute resulted in warfare between early settlers who espoused Pennsylvania’s claim and the Crown Loyalists who upheld Connecticut’s.  The Crown was unable to settle the argument, warfare continued and eventually resulted in victory for the Crown forces who had the assistance of Tory Rangers and Iriquois [sic] Indians.  There followed in 1778 the Wyoming Massacre, one of the bloodiest in American history.
Anthracite coal became the largest source of employment and wealth in that part of Pennsylvania.  Records indicate that the first shipment of coal was made in 1807 via the Susquehanna river and that coal was shipped directly from Pittston as early as 1813.  By 1850, a series of double-tracked planes had been constructed to haul coal from Pittston over the mountains to Hawley, Pennsylvania, where a canal provided a connection to the Delaware and the Hudson rivers.  Later, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad became the thoroughfare for the shipment of coal to the west.
In 1851 a plank road was built connecting Wilkes-Barre and Pittston and, via a bridge across the Susquehanna, to West Pittston.  The first National Bank of Pittston was established in 1864 (my nephew, Willard Hunter was later to become its President).  There followed the Miners Bank in 1869 and the Peoples Bank in 1871.  Pittston’s newspaper, the Gazette, was established in 1850.  There were three churches:  the Methodist, established in 1808, the Presbyterian in 1842 and the Episcopal in 1848.  By 1865 Pittston was a community of about five thousand homes.
The foregoing is by way of a setting for the arrival of my father.  He joined aforesaid Methodist Church on February 28, 1869.
My father was born in Coleford, Monmouthshire, England, the seventh child of Mark and Mary Matthews who also were born in Coleford.  He spoke Welsh, that unpronounceable language.  As a young man he had worked in and around the coal mines in Coleford.  He came to the USA as a member of a British orchestra which arrived in New York City the day Lincoln was buried*.  I think he must have been about 23 at that time.  He left the orchestra, settled in Pittston and never again saw his native land.

*Abraham Lincoln was buried in Springfield, IL on May 4, 1865.  I searched New York passenger lists for that date and did not find any Arthur Matthews arriving in NYC that day.  I did find an Arthur Matthews arriving in New York from Liverpool on April 25, 1865 - the second day that Lincoln's procession was in the city.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Talented Tuesday/Sepia Saturday-Howard Matthews

I was inspired by Jana at Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog to participate in Sepia Saturday this week and then I realized as I opened GeneaBloggers this morning that this post would fit the bill for Talented Tuesday as well.

Jana's mention of a family music "gene" was all I needed to remember these photos of my grandfather and the Wesleyan Glee Club in the 1920s.

Here is the club in 1927 when they were National Intercollegiate Champions for the second year in a row.  My grandfather can be found in the second row from the front, sixth from the left (you can enlarge the image by clicking on it).

Grandpa was Leader of the club in 1927, proudly taking them to their second national championship in two years, singing The Long Day Closes, The Lotus Flower and Twilight Song.

My grandfather's father was also musically inclined.  Arthur William Matthews came to the United States on May 4, 1865, the day of Abraham Lincoln's burial, as the member of a British orchestra.  He played violin and piano.

Howard's son and my father, Stephen D. Matthews, would follow his father's footsteps by both attending Wesleyan and becoming a member of the Glee Club.  If I ever finish scanning dad's slides, I wonder if I will find pictures from his days at Wesleyan.  I was able to find a free online recording of the Wesleyan Glee Club singing the Campus Song in my father's last year at university.  You can find it here (just click "link to audio") if you're interested - in my humble opinion, they were really good!

And until I find pictures from dad's Wesleyan days, I'll leave you with this one (and if he were alive he would kill me for this) - playing tuba in the Middletown, CT school band in 1950.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sport Center Saturday - BCS and the Smiths

My grandfather, George Washington Smith, and at least two of his brothers attended Bishops College School in Lenoxville, Quebec as teenagers.

My grandfather's time there overlapped with his brother, Herbert Austin's, and because of his love of photography, we have a lovely collection of snapshots of both BCS and its sister school King's Hall Compton, where their sister Frances Ruth was a student.

Here are just a few, and I definitely recommend clicking on them for a more detailed view.


Boozie Louie Herb

Dormitory Football - "Tear 'em up!"