Thursday, June 30, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Grandma Matthews' Childhood Tea Set

Yes, I was planning to share another treasure from the basement stash this week, specifically a Swedish Bible, but I found myself a bit caught up in researching them and didn't have time to put a post together. I hope that I will be ready to post one of the next week.

In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of this child's tea set that my paternal grandmother, Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson, passed on to me when I was little.

As a child I was only allowed to use this set under strict adult supervision. It is delicate, although from what I've been able to find, not particularly valuable, outside of its sentimental value of course.

Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson b. 1905 - Manchester, CT

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Ada Merritt Hobbs' Bible

Over two weekends last September, Donald and I went through my step-mother's basement finding many hidden treasures from my dad's family in the way of Bibles, books, furniture, photos, negatives, slides, china and silver. After months of airing out I am devoting some time every week to scanning and photographing these finds and sharing them here on Treasure Chest Thursday.

As I explained in more detail last week, we found a literal stack of Bibles and prayer books in that basement last September. Last week I shared photos of the Bible belonging to my paternal great-grandfather, Arthur William Matthews. This week I photographed the Bible of his second wife, my great-grandmother, Ada Merritt Hobbs.

Undated photo of Ada taken in London.
Ada was born in England in 1855. Her Bible is dated 1867 which was the year before both of her parents died. According to my grandfather Matthews, she was the last of her siblings to come to her maternal uncle John Merritt and his wife Margaret Stephens in West Pittston, PA.

Anyone have any ideas what the word under Hobbs is?

Ada's Bible is very different from Arthur's. It is much smaller, including very small print, and doesn't come with any of the extra indexes, maps or anything else that Arthur's has. It is not personalized but stamped "Holy Bible" in gold on its spine with some delicate embossing on the borders of both covers and gilt on the top, front and bottom edges of each page.

In this frame, which came to me as-is, are copies of photos of Ada & Arthur.

I inherited these photos immediately after Dad died eleven years ago.
The negatives were among the treasures in the basement found last September.

It did unfortunately come to me with some damage to the cover so I didn't take too many pictures with the book open. I also had Donald put on a pair of cotton gloves and hold the Book open for me so that we could open it as little as possible. This is a treasure I would love to be able to use myself in daily life, but it is far too delicate.

For next week, I have a Swedish "Bibeln".

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Arthur Matthews' Bible

Over two weekends last September, Donald and I went through my step-mother's basement, finding many hidden treasures from my Dad's family in the way of Bibles, books, furniture, documents, photos, negatives, china and silver. After months of airing-out I am trying to devote at least an hour every week to scanning and photographing these items and sharing them with you on Treasure Chest Thursday.

On the second weekend of our cleaning out of my step-mother's basement last September, we were working our way through Dad's books. This was not an inconsiderable task. My father was a voracious reader and seldom parted ways with a book he had purchased. We were close to calling it a day, my step-mother was somewhat annoyed that we weren't taking more (Dad had an office and a library in their basement, I have a two-bedroom apartment) when suddenly she spied two piles of books on their backs behind the books on one of the shelves. As happened frequently during those two weekends, this discovery was quickly followed by a sharp intake of breath and lots of "Oh my goodness!" and other exclamations. What she had uncovered was a literal stack of Bibles and prayer books, one older than the next and all incredibly precious.

This Bible belonged to my paternal great-grandfather, Arthur William Matthews, his name barely still legible on the cover. It was likely not his first Bible, as it was published in 1901.

The first name inside is not Arthur's but that of his granddaughter, Louise Ahlers, but she was only four when he died in 1915, so perhaps it was given to eldest daughter Bess Matthews, Louise's mother, upon his death.  Later, it appears to have been passed to my grandfather while he was at Wyoming Seminary which was 1922-1924. My father signed it when he was nine, I don't know if it had been given to him then. How I wish Dad had shared these things with me when he was alive.

As I get back to my Research Plan with a capital R and capital P, I look forward to learning more about my great-grandfather's life in Coleford, Somerset, England. I believe the church played an important role in his life there, perhaps providing his academic and musical education. Information I have gleaned from his probable baptismal record leads me to believe that the family was very poor when he was born, and yet he composed music, lead the choir at the Methodist Episcopal church in Pittston, PA and played at least one instrument, the violin. Come to think of it, I wonder, with the embossing on the cover, if this Bible was a gift from the church or the members of the choir?

When I was trying to decide which parts of this Bible I should photograph, I decided that I would start with a couple of passages, Luke 2:36 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Family mythology says that I am named for Anna the prophetess of the Gospel According to St. Luke, so I went in search of that passage only to find a couple of pages missing. 1 Thessalonians was in-tact, though.

I Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you."

This Bible also includes "Readers' Aids"; "Brief treatises upon and outlines of topics related to the study and understanding of the Holy Scriptures" and also a concordance and word guide including index, gazetteer and these maps.

I'm happy to have this much of the Bible photographed now, so that I can take a closer look at some of these maps without risking damage to the Book itself.

Next weeks Bible is much older, it belonged to Arthur's wife, my Great-Grandmother Ada Merritt Hobbs and she dated the inside of the cover 1867.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Letters to Daddy II

Last Thursday I shared these letters that my mother sent to her father overseas during WWII. This week I have two more.

Fri 14th (Apr 14, 1944)
Dear Daddy,
Thank you for the flowers, they were Beautiful. I put some on the table, and the rest on the table beside the window.
I listened to Henry Aldrich last night. I wend to MacRaes sugaring-off wednesday the 12th. for my Birthday I got a skipping rope, just what I wanted. and two dresses and the book of Lassie come Home from Mummy, and a little Bunny Rabbit to Pin on my coat. and it had a Little fluffy red tail. and a $1.00 from Aunt Ruby and Uncle Parkie. $1.00 from Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bud. $1.00 from Aunt Ada and Uncle Kenneth. $1.00 from Clifford. and 16 cents out of Margaret's Birthday cake. and 6 cents out of mine. Aunt Adah made a Birthday cake and she made a Birthday cake for Margaret to. STANDBY FOR THE NEWS.

Henry Aldrich, or The Aldrich Family, was a radio show that aired from 1939-1953, according to Wikipedia.

Sugaring-off is a traditional way to celebrate a maple syrup harvest. Part of the celebration is to make maple syrup taffy or tire d'érable by heating syrup to about 250º F and pouring it over snow. Some people then roll a popsicle stick or tongue depressor in the taffy to make a kind of lollipop. My mother remembers eating it with her cousins until the sweetness made them sick, then eating some pickles clear their palates and starting over again.

Margaret was her mother's half-sister, Margaret Evelyn Dean. She was a few days shy of her tenth birthday when my mother was born.

This letter was written a few weeks after V-E Day in anticipation of her father's return home.

24th of May
1945 To Daddy
Dear From

To My Dear Beloved Daddy:

How are you.

I hope that you will be home soon. I can hardly wait to go to the s_______________ club. I have a Picture Puzzle about it. Mummy says people have to be rich to go there. We are going to have the whole Smith family after the war and I made up the menu we are going to have. Here it is.

Meat                        Vegetables           Fruits in bowl                    By for now
1 roast turkey           potatoes              apples                                with Love
2 boiled chickens     carrots                oranges                              J.
1 lamb - mint jelly   tomatoes             pears                                  J. Peanut.
1 dozen sausages     celery                  Thats all                             Smith.
(You call them)        lettuce                 I can                                  (Drawing of a tree and flowers)
(They look like        beets                    think of.                            Spring
bananas and are
burnt on one side.)

Unfortunately, that is all the correspondence between my mother and grandfather that survives. I am lucky and grateful to have these and I truly cherish them.

Among the many amazing things that we brought home from my step-mother's basement last year were some personal prayer books and bibles that belonged to ancestors and relatives. Assuming I can start getting them photographed this weekend, I will start sharing them here next week.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mystery Monday - Oh, those BSOs!

Like my dog spotting a squirrel on his morning walk, I have been distracted from my research plan again by a Bright Shiny Object.

When she came for BBQ over Memorial Day weekend, Mum brought an album of mostly unrelated photos. Among them was this one.

Any photo this old is guaranteed to draw an immediate reaction from me. Who are they? How have I never seen this photo before? Writing on the back, yes! First names only, uh-oh, here we go, down the rabbit hole.

To Eva & Louden
from Lena, Harold
with best Xmas wishes.

The photo was sent to my maternal grandmother's parents, Eva Maude Bean and James Louden Dean. Eva had a brother named Harold, but I don't know his wife's name. A quick look at a cousin's tree on Ancestry to which I have access told me that she doesn't either. I noticed right away that Harold Whoever-he-is bears some resemblance to my grandmother's brother, Kenneth Emery Dean, so I thought I would do some photo comparisons.  Here are all the photos that I have containing Eva & Harold's closest family members.

Denison Minser Bean
Father of Eva & Harold.

Sylvia Amelia Bean (ctr) and Eva Maud Bean (rt) are Harold's sisters.

Sylvia Amelia Bean (rt.) - Harold's sister.
Eva Maude Bean back row, right.
Kenneth is the little boy.
Kenneth Dean & Adah Bailey

I still think he looks like Uncle Ken, but I'm not sure about his possible siblings or father. I have not been able to locate Harold in census records after 1911 when he was still a bachelor. Nor have I been able to locate a baptismal or marriage record. The baptismal record isn't a big surprise since his parents weren't baptized until they were in their 30s and had been married about nine years (but had just lost a young son), and my great-grandmother not until she was seventeen and in a different denomination from her parents. The marriage record isn't surprising either since he likely would have been married in his wife's church and we don't know anything about her.

I think I'm going to give over about another hour of research time to looking for Harold and Lena. If I don't have any good leads by then, I'll have to add them to my to-do list and get back to my research plan...again.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

THREE World War I Memorials in RVC

That's right, three!  You may remember that I found a World War I memorial on the Middle School and another at Veterans Memorial Park. On Sunday, we stumbled on another at the Municipal Building!

This plaque (on the stone at the base of the tree) was erected in 1920 at what was then South Side High School, so named because it was the first high school on the South Shore of Long Island, outside of Brooklyn and Queens, when it opened in 1892.

Now the Municipal Building, this was the original
South Side High School. It was red brick then.

The plaque says that it was erected by the "Comrades" of the fallen the day before Memorial Day in 1920. This honor roll contains 19 names and the dates from 1917 - 1919.

Just about the time this memorial was erected, the high school was becoming overcrowded and plans were underway by 1921 for a new High School two blocks north and one east of the first building. A history of the Rockville Centre schools [1], written by a former Superintendent of Schools in the district, says that the idea of memorializing those from the village who had died in World War I was conceived almost as soon as the building was proposed. He does not say who may have proposed it, I would love to find out if I can. That building, by the way, is now the Middle School that I wrote about here.

Here again are the plaques on the Middle School.

West Plaque

East Plaque

There are 19 names on the original plaque, but only 11 here. Although the West Plaque says this is a memorial to those who "served with the Armed Forces", I don't believe that accounts for the discrepancy. There is at least one name on all three of the honor rolls of someone who appears to have been killed in Germany while working for the YMCA. The East Plaque says "in the World War 1917-1918". Could it be that the other 8 young men died after Armistice Day but before they were discharged? Are the dates my clue? The only other obvious difference is that the first plaque divides the names into three columns; Killed in Action, Died in France and Died in U.S. but there are names from each of the three columns on the Middle School plaque, so that doesn't seem to my answer.

Here is the plaque again from Veterans Memorial Park, the one I blogged about a few days ago that holds memorials for both World Wars, Vietnam and Korea.

This more closely resembles the first plaque; the names, dates and columns are the same.

I'll have to do some more digging on this as well, but it seems Veterans Memorial Park was created sometime after the Vietnam War as the plaque below would suggest.  The oldest plaques here seem to be on the World War II monument so my guess is that was here first, but that is yet to be confirmed.

I'm hoping that I can get some good information over at the American Legion. The history of Post 303 is actually tied to that of the Middle School. When the school building was still in the design stages, the Board of Education suggested that the Legion make their new home there. A room was designed for them and the Veterans of Foreign Wars post which they occupied for several years until eventually moving into their own buildings. The Memorial Room was located on the third floor, directly over the entrance, according to Floyd B. Watson [2].

In addition to the plaques, Floyd B. Watson's book tells us that there were 14 poplars (another number) planted on Hillside Avenue in front of the school by the American Legion, each bearing the name of one of the fallen on an attached plaque. When he was writing the book in the mid-50s, the trees were still decorated every Memorial Day [3]. Today they are gone.

One last thing I learned about the school is that it was nearly renamed Memorial High School. In fact, when a ceremony was held for the laying of the cornerstone, a banner on stage used that name [4].

History won the day, however, and South Side High School retained its name. When the student body outgrew this second building and it became the Middle School and that was also a first for Long Island.

I plan to look for information at the American Legion, The Museum of Rockville Centre, the Long Island Studies Institute and whatever local newspaper archives I can get access to. In the meantime, though, I need to get back to my own family research!


[1]  Watson, Floyd B., History of Rockville Centre Public Schools and Some Early History of Rockville Centre, 1957, 81.

[2] Watson, History of Rockville Centre Public Schools and Some Early History of Rockville Centre, 82.

[3] Ibid

[4] Watson, History of Rockville Centre Public Schools and Some Early History of Rockville Centre, 83.