Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday's Faces from the Past - Curt Chittenden

I spent most of last weekend inside to avoid the awful heat. That meant that I got quite a bit of scanning done including some of Dad's slides.

Dad graduated from what was then The Loomis School and is now Loomis Chaffee, a prep-school in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1954.

He took many photos of the beautiful, old buildings around campus and also a handful of identified photos of schoolmates.

This one is labeled as Curt Chittenden. Curt, are you out there? Family of Curt? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - One Family, Many Denominations

My paternal grandfather, Howard B. Matthews, was baptized and raised in the Methodist Episcopal Church. His father was choir director at the M.E. Church in Pittston, PA for many years.

My paternal grandmother, Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson, was baptized and raised in the Swedish Lutheran Evangelical Church, specifically Emmanuel Lutheran, in So. Manchester, CT.

During his time living in Manhattan in the 1930s, my grandfather attended The Riverside Church, not far from the Columbia campus where he lived.

I don't know anything about my grandparents' church affiliation while they were living in East Orange, NJ the first few years of their marriage, but I was very surprised when I learned recently that after moving to Chicago they attended Hyde Park Baptist Church in their neighborhood. I learned this upon opening this Bible of my dad's.

Although the cover has a permanently dusty appearance, the Bible overall is still in fairly good condition and has beautiful illustrations.

Shortly after Dad received this Bible, my grandfather accepted a position at his alma mater, Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and the family moved in early 1950. There they attended South Church, a congregational church that is now part of the United Church of Christ.

In 1957, while Dad was in his junior year at Wesleyan, he received this Bible for his twenty-first birthday from his mother's brother Axel and his wife Anna, for whom I am named. (Anna's given name was Elizabeth Ann, some called her Betty and some Anna.)

It was sometime during his years at Wesleyan, we don't know exactly when, that Dad said he woke up one morning knowing that he was meant to be an Episcopal priest. That was all he would ever share about this revelation, so that is all we know. What I can say is that this must have happened before the beginning of his senior year because he gave his mother this Episcopal prayer book for her birthday in October of 1957, near the beginning of his final year at Wesleyan. Actually, there were two of these prayer books in the basement. The one on the right belonged to my grandmother; obviously well-worn and much read.

Having made the decision to enter into the priesthood in the Episcopal church he was off to General Theological Seminary the following year. More about that in my next Treasure Chest Thursday post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Lucy Maude Montgomery

This Tombstone Tuesday post was inspired by Wendy Mathias who writes the excellent Jollett, Etc. blog. Her comment on a previous Tombstone Tuesday post, about having a visit to Prince Edward Island on her bucket list and her love of "Anne of Green Gables" by L.M. Montgomery reminded me that we had visited the author's grave on Prince Edward Island more than once.

Cavendish Community Cemetery is located near the Green Gables house attraction and a wax museum. We must have visited the museum right after the cemetery on this visit, because these slides of the grave site were immediately followed by slides from the wax museum.

A scene from Anne of Green Gables at the Wax Museum

Transcription of Headstone:



Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21, 1901

Howard Bierly Matthews, son of Arthur William Matthews and Ada Merritt Hobbs, was born on July 21, 1901 at the family home, 13 Nafus Street, Pittston, PA. He was my paternal grandfather.

Here he is lighting the candles on his own cake at his 75th birthday party.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Howard B Matthews

I have two New Testaments to share with you this week. Both belonged to my paternal grandfather, Howard B. Matthews. And this post just happens to fall on his birthday, he was born on July 21, 1901 in Pittson, PA.

I have previously posted my grandfather's story in his own words, but to summarize, he was the youngest of eight children and only fourteen when his father died in 1915. Almost two years later he left school after his sophomore year to help support the family. After two near-death experiences as a miner, he found a mining job above ground but ultimately he wanted more for himself and knew that a good education was the key. In 1922, three years after the death of his mother, he talked himself into a scholarship at Wyoming Seminary, a Pennsylvania prep school.

And as he prepared for this new challenge he received these two Bibles, presumably as tokens of well wishes. This one, from a friend named Billy, is a Scofield Reference New Testament, unfortunately in very bad condition.

Wikipedia has a full article on Scofield Reference Bibles which you can read here. Apparently they were very influential and are still printed today although altered, since the Scofield Bible is now in the public domain. The verses referenced in the center column seen below were related to the verses on each page, allowing the reader to follow threads through books and chapters.

The second New Testament, "New Testament in Modern Speech" was more of a surprise.

A very unassuming looking plain brown book with the cover missing at the spine, little did I know the surprise it held for me clipped in the back. First were some short, personal prayers.

Behind these were notes that puzzled me because of their more political content until I remembered something else from my grandfather's story. "All students were required to take a once-a-week course in public speaking. Preparation consisted of reading a short article in a magazine and then using it as a topic for a speech. No notes were permitted. One you were called upon, you were on your feet and on your own. Some of the speeches on the outlawry of war (remember, WWI had just ended) interested me so that I joined a group of students who spoke on that subject in churches up and down the Valley."

I believe these notes were either his reference materials for these speaking engagements or they were the way that he worked through his thoughts before going out with his fellow students. A real gem of a family find for sure, but another reason they were so fascinating to me is that we are still (hotly) debating these topics today; nationalism, immigration, international aid, our role in the world and more. It has been very interesting for me to see him sort of working out his feelings and beliefs.

To be honest, I have held back a couple of pages. Some of the views that my grandfather expressed were a bit too negative for me to share here. I am not trying to hide who he was or censor his beliefs because I disagree with them, but this is the internet and it can be an ugly place when people disagree, especially in the current climate. I would never expect that from any of my fellow genealogists of course, but once something is online it is out there forever and I would have no control over the audience.

Many of the Bibles and prayer books that I found last year represent a milestone of some sort, a birthday, a first communion, a confirmation. Next week I'll share some of my dad's journey through Bibles and prayer books that he received and that he gave.