Tuesday, March 20, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Misfortune

This photo was likely taken in the summer or fall of 1908. Pictured are my great-grandparents, James Louden Dean and Eva Maud Bean and their three eldest children, Marjorie Elizabeth (my grandmother), Kenneth Emery and Dorothy Irene. Dorothy was born in June of 1908.

You may remember that the Louden Deans were a farming family, living in North Hatley, Quebec. Then, as now, it was primarily a dairy farm which also had a good-sized sugar bush, which means they also produced maple syrup. One of the farms that adjoined Louden's belonged to Robert Dean, a paternal uncle, and it was there that he met with great misfortune on October 1, 1912.

     "A very serious accident occurred here Oct. 1st, which might have proved fatal. While engaged in cutting ensilage for his uncle, Mr. R. Dean, J. L. Dean had the misfortune to get his hand caught in the machine. Mr. N. E. Drew was the first to notice the accident and immediately reversed the machine, but not until his arm was badly cut and torn. Dr. Hume, of Sherbrooke, was immediately summoned and temporarily dressed the wound. He was taken to the Protestant Hospital at Sherbrooke, where it was found necessary to amputate the arm above the elbow. He is doing as well as possible at present.
     Last Tuesday about fourteen men gathered at the home of Mr. J. L. Dean and had a "bee" to cut his grain and help with this work in general. On Wednesday about twenty women had a sewing bee for Mrs. Dean, who is an invalid and is in Sherbrooke taking treatment of Dr. Lynch. Much sympathy is felt for the family in their sad misfortune."

As noted in this clipping, my great-grandmother was already suffering the effects of "creeping paralysis", some type of degenerative disease like ALS or MS, when this accident occurred.  One nice thing to see in all this was the reaction of the community as told in the article above and another below.

     "We are pleased to note the large attendance at the "benefit" to Mr. Louden Dean given by Mr. A.C. LeBaron and the orchestra, assisted by Mr. Blair, of Waterville, last Monday evening. The cause was indeed a most worthy one. All deplore the great misfortune of Mr. Dean."

     "Mr. J.L. Dean, who met with an accident a short time ago, is recovering as speedily as possible."

     "Mr. J.L. Dean has returned home from the hospital and is doing as well as can be expected."

In addition to these articles, I am also lucky to have my grand-uncle Ken's memories which he contributed to a history of the area. He remembered that it was his father's glove that became stuck in the machine, causing his arm to be pulled into the cutters. Uncle Ken also wrote that it was another neighbor who made a tourniquet out of binder twine, likely saving Louden's life in the process; it was a long way into town on a horse-drawn wagon and then to Sherbrooke by train to get to the hospital for surgery.

Uncle Ken also said that once his father recovered he was determined to learn how to do everything around the farm that he could do before the accident, and he did in a very short time, "even to milking the cows, two teats in one hand."

As Amy Johnson Crow reminded us in her email with the month's topics, stories of overcoming difficult circumstances are important to pass on from one generation to the next. If Louden's descendants were to use his story as inspiration in overcoming their own troubles, that would be the best outcome of all.

1. Dean, James Louden, etc. Photograph taken ca. 1908. Privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Rockville Centre, NY 11570.

2. "Minton," The Stanstead Journal, 17 Oct 1912 p. 5, col. 4, paragraphs 2-3; digital images, Google News Archives (http://news.google.com/newspapers : accessed 28 May 2017).

3. "NORTH HATLEY," The Stanstead Journal, 7 November 1912, p. 2, col, 1; digital images, Google News Archives (http://news.google.com/newspapers : accessed 28 May 2017).

4. "Minton," The Stanstead Journal, 31 October 1912, p. 2, col. 2, 4th item, digital images, Google News Archives (http://news.google.com/newspapers : accessed 28 May 2017).

5. "Minton," The Stanstead Journal, 28 November 1912, p. 2, col. 2, 3rd item, digital images, Google News Archives (http://news.google.com/newspapers : accessed 28 May 2017).

6. Conner, Reg, The Vine and the Branches (North Hatley, Quebec), 246-247.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Click To Enlarge

A couple of weeks ago, after I published my post about my great-grandmother, Eva Maud Bean, I was looking at some of her parents' records while trying to decide what exactly to do next and I realized that I had made a classic genealogy mistake - I had assumed!

I had looked at the 1881 census in which everyone in the Bean family was listed as a Free Will Christian Baptist, then considered the fact that I had been unable to find a baptismal record for Eva and assumed it was because the family was Free Will Christian Baptist when she was born in approximately 1874. Once I started looking at her parent's records again, I realized that they had not been baptized in that church until June of 1881, so while it is still possible that the family attended a Baptist church when Eva was born, it certainly isn't a sure thing.

This isn't a mistake I want to make again, so I knew I needed a new approach and later that day while I was looking at some relevant background material I realized that what I need is a timeline.

I probably haven't used timelines enough in my research, and when I have it has been something sketched quickly on a sheet of paper. I know there are better ways and especially because I want to do something very visual, I decided to do some searching and see what other genealogists are doing with timelines.

I remembered that DearMYRTLE had a Wacky Wednesday not long ago with Dr. Shelley Murphy talking about timelines, so I put that on my list along with searches of Cyndi's List, the Family Search Wiki and the blogs on Geneabloggers Tribe.

Coincidentally, while I was beginning my search I saw a tweet in my timeline from the same Dr. Shelley. She was promoting her upcoming talk at RootsTech and she asked, "Thinking about timelines?". Uuuuummm, yes I am actually, how did you know??

So, I started with that Wacky Wednesday episode which is available on YouTube. It was helpful and had some great pointers, but the timeline discussed in this presentation was more of a list and I was looking for something visual.

Next, I moved on to Cyndi's List. As of today, Cyndi Ingle has compiled a list of 82 links under various subheadings in her Timelines category.

While not every link was helpful for my current project, they were all interesting, like The Food Timeline found in the General Resources category. In the end, two resources helped me the most; the Family Search video, "Using Excel to Create Timelines" under the General Resources category and a series of blog posts by The Shy Genealogist under the Templates and Forms category.  The timeline I am creating now (top of this post) is a variation on the one she creates, step-by-step, in three posts. I loved how she organized certain data on the top and other events on the bottom. I'm trying this approach by putting most events on the bottom and religious information on the top.

Also intriguing were a software option and a template that I will definitely look at again after I buy a new computer. The software is Genelines Timeline Software, which can use a GEDCOM file if you wish and the template can be found here.

I have to say I never even made it to the Family Search wiki, although Cindy had included some things she found there, or to a search of the blogs on Geneabloggers Tribe but I will use them in the future if I need more ideas.

Although my timeline is obviously not finished, it has already helped me to see some things I hadn't given much thought before, like the ten year gap between the births of Eva's youngest known siblings and the fact that her brother was buried in an Anglican cemetery when he died at the age of four even though their parents were now baptized in the Free Will Baptist church. So my new analysis of events is already raising new questions, and that is a good thing, especially if they lead me to new uderstandings.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Lucky

If you read my Amanuensis Monday series back in 2015, then you have read this story before, but I just couldn't think of anything else in my research that fit this topic so well.

Howard Bierly Matthews was my paternal grandfather. When his father, Arthur William Matthews, died in December of 1915 the family was living beyond their means, having been without his income for a few years and, I believe, in some debt. They sold the family home at 13 Nafus Street in Pittston, PA, sold many of their belongings and moved to a nearby town. After Howard's sophomore year in High School, he was told that he would have to contribute to the family income instead of returning to school the following year.

As many men were fighting overseas in 1917, jobs were plentiful. Luzerne County, PA was coal country and the most lucrative jobs were underground, and so he went. I think he tells the story best.

     "Soon it became apparent that what the Super really hired me for was to be the keeper of the Yardage Books.  In these were kept a record of the length and thickness of the rock a miner had to blast down and load in order to get at a thinning vein of coal. He was paid for the coal by the number of loaded cars he and his helpers produced and he was paid additionally for the aforesaid hindering rock.  He was an independent contractor and could hire as many helpers as he wished.  The payment for rock made up for any slowing down in his coal production.

     In every two-week pay period I had to accompany the Assistant Superintendent, Malachi Glennon, on a tour of the entire mine, right up to the “face” of each of the scores of chambers (tunnels) where the actual mining, the blasting and loading of coal was going on.  As we came to each area we were met by its foreman who accompanied us over his “workings”.  His primary responsibility was to push for loaded cars to meet the daily goals set by the Super but he of course knew of the problems encountered by his miners and he guided us in the allowances I entered in the yardage book.

     These journeys were very interesting and I was either too young or too dumb to recognize the dangers although they did expose me to many of the dangers associated with underground mining.  Certainly, as I recognized later, I was safer just being with Malachi Glennon, a wonderful man then in his 50’s, huge but not fat, red-faced, redolent of last night’s liquor, but a kindly family man, father of a young man who was a stationary engineer at the head of one of the slopes I have described.

     Malachi and I together were involved in two of the kind accidents typical of mining,- a gas explosion and a fall-of-rock, otherwise known as a roof cave in.

     Mines are ventilated by a forced air system which brings fresh air from outside, through the long tunnels and then by a series of doors and temporary movable ducts, called brattice-work, right up to where the miners are working at the face of the chambers.  The force of a sudden release of a pocket of gas, ignited either by blasting powder or any source of sparks or flame, reverses the flow of air, blasts open the control doors and scatters particles of coal and rocks. It was the air reversal and flying specks hitting us in the face that told Malachi what was happening. He immediately threw me to the ground and covered me with his own body.  We lay there while the burning gas, rolling along about 2 feet below the ceiling, burned itself out without harm to us.  Had there been enough gas to fill the entire tunnel we would have been burned to a crisp.

    Again in the roof cave-in, because of his many years of experience, Malachi understood the implications of the sounds he heard,- the cracking of roof rock and the groaning of support timbers.  He pushed me ahead and we ran as tons of rock and timbers crashed behind.

     It was some time after these events that Malachi asked me what I intended to do with my life and what were my ambitions.  I replied that I would like a job like his.  Malachi stared at me a while and then said: “Howard, get the hell out of here before you get kilt”. Probably after saving me twice he didn’t want to stretch our luck. Because of his concern and the knowledge that my working underground was worrying my mother sick, I decided to give it up despite the fact that inside jobs paid much better than outside jobs."

He was very lucky indeed; he was lucky to get out and I am lucky to be here and in the debt of Mr. Glennon!

My grandfather looked back on Malachi's advice as "Fortuitous Happening #1" in his life because it forced him to think about what he really wanted. After a few more years working in the mine offices what he wanted turned out to be a good education. His mother, Ada Merritt Hobbs, had died by then, so he had no financial responsibilities, other than his own. He managed to talk himself into a partial scholarship at Wyoming Seminary, a nearby prep school and was on his way to a college education, graduate school and a very interesting and rewarding career.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of my grandfather as a teenager. I believe the above photo was taken during his time at Wesleyan University where he was a member and leader of it's Glee Club.


Matthews, Howard B. Undated photograph. Privately held by the author, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Rockville Centre, NY. Photo was found in a binder of photos and ephemera from the subject's time at Wesleyan University 1924-1928 and came into the author's possession after the death of her father, Stephen D. Matthews, the subject's only child, in 2005.

Matthews, Howard and Dagmar, "A STORY [1984]," Privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Rockville Centre, NY.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Strong Woman

This is one of my 2nd-great grandmothers, Anna Katrina Mansdotter1. Amazingly enough, even though my middle name is Catherine, I am not named for her. I didn't know anything about her until a couple of years ago.

As you may have guessed, Anna was Swedish. Her youngest son was Carl Johan Anderson, father of my paternal grandmother, Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson.

Although I have hardly begun to research my Swedish ancestors, I am very fortunate to have an audio recording of Carl being interviewed by my grand-uncle, Axel2. In it, he speaks of his impoverished and difficult childhood and the impact of his father's death on the family.

Carl's father, Anders Svenson, died on April 6th, Easter Monday, of 1874 when Carl was 7 and his sister, Josefina, was about 13. When Anders, a farmer and blacksmith, fell ill, the family was already living in what Carl called just about the poorest situation in Sweden; with his death, their only income disappeared.

And so, at the age of 52, Anna went to work for a local Patron or Lord. It wasn't light work, she worked on his farm, feeding and milking fifty cows and feeding four pairs of oxen. For this backbreaking work, she made 50 Swedish kroner per year plus food, which was supposed to be enough to feed not only herself but also her family. Unfortunately, it was not enough and Anna was forced to do something we would find unthinkable today. In order to keep her children from starving, she sent them to work.

Josefina, 13, went into domestic service and Carl, 7 or 8 by this time, was sent to work at a glassworks, Limmareds Glasbruk, partly owned, according to Carl, by the same Patron who wasn't paying Anna enough to feed her children.

Carl's pay did not include food, but his mother would take the money he earned and buy it for him (he lived at the factory most of the time as it was too far to walk and he worked from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m.) This part of the recording is very difficult to understand, but it is clear that even though he worked twelve hour days, his pay was barely enough to feed himself. He says on the recording that he still doesn't know how his mother was able to buy his food with so little money.

I have to say that I didn't think of Anna for this topic right away, but I was making the classic mistake of presentism; seeing this family's circumstances through the lens of my own time in history and not theirs. The progressive Sweden that we know today did not exist in the 1870s, there was no social safety net for Anna and her children, and most children in poor families worked. The movement against child labor and toward legislation was just beginning at the time of Anders' death3. In 1874 the country was only a few years removed from a great famine, fear of starvation was a real thing4. Anna was fighting for their survival. She went from wife and mother to farm laborer living alone in a very short time. Carl certainly did not appear to have held any grudge against his mother, he speaks of her on the recording with fondness and admiration.

Anna labored on Patron Larson's farm for about ten years, according to Carl. I don't yet know what happened to her after that, except I have a feeling she may have gone to live with Josefina and her husband, Per Johan Bengtson, a shoemaker with whom Carl was apprenticed for a short time. Anna died in 1911 at the age of 89. I need to learn more about her.


1. Mansdotter, Anna Katrina. Undated photograph. Privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Rockville Centre, NY. This photograph was found in an envelope in the basement of the author's father's home after his death among other artifacts of the Anderson family. Writing on the back of the photo says "Mother of C.J. Anderson" referring to Carl Johan Anderson.

2. Carl Johan Anderson (Healthland, 305 Walpole Street, Norwood, Massachusetts.) Interview by Axel Heinrich Waldemar Anderson 12 October 1955, copy of audio file held by the author.

3. Hindeman, Hugh, ed, The World of Child Labor: A Historical and Regional Survey, (New York: Routledge, 2015) p. 577.

4. Clemensson, Per and Andersson, Kjell, Your Swedish Roots: A step by step Guide, Kindle edition, (Provo, UT: Ancestry publishing, 2004) p. 310.

Monday, March 5, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Where There's a Will...

...in some cases, there are many more documents to find and unravel. So is the case of the will of my 3rd great-grandfather.

In 1882 my 3rd great-grandfather, James Dean, "sick in body but of sound and disposing mind," and my 3rd great-grandmother, Jane Irwin, summoned Joseph I. Mackie, Notary Public of Cookshire, Quebec, to their home for the purpose of making their wills1.

Photo taken by Leslie Nutbrown while cataloging Eaton Cemetery, Eaton, Compton County, Quebec for interment.net.   Used with permission.

In both of these wills, James and Jane made the other their usufructuary legatee; the survivor would not actually inherit the property but it was theirs to use and enjoy for their lifetime, their heirs were their youngest sons, Samuel and Joseph.

At the time of James' death just a few months later, Joseph was living in California. We know this from oral family history, photos that were taken at photographers in California, a possible census record and from James' will2.

Samuel, meanwhile, appears to have been living in Canada, but I haven't yet been able to locate him between 1871 when he was 15 and living in nearby Hatley with his brother John, and 1889 when he married Celia Amanda Clements in Montreal3.

Wills and other civil contracts for Quebec are found in the records of the notaries who created and registered them with local authorities. The digitization of this vast collection is not complete, so although I spent the last week searching for and transcribing all the records I could find pertaining to this branch of my tree, I have a feeling I haven't found everything.

In any case, it seems that after his marriage to Celia, Samuel wanted to take over the farm legally and either Jane did not want to live with the newlyweds or they did not want her to live with them. According to one of the notarial records I have found, a Deed of Donation wherein Jane gives the property to Samuel before her death, Jane agreed to move herself, her widowed daughter and three grandchildren into Celia's former home but only under some very specific conditions. This is an excerpt from my transcription of the document4.

     The present Donation is thus made to and in consideration of and subject to the hereafter mentioned obligations, charges, conditions and restrictions which the said Donee doth hereby promise, bind and oblige himself, his heirs and assigns to faithfully fulfill, perform, carry out and observe that is to say:
     To support and maintain the Donor for and during the remainder of her natural life, in a comfortable manner according to her means and station in life, in and by providing for and furnishing her with a good and wholesome livlihood, meat and drink, lodging and clothing, washing and mending, firewood cut-ready for use (and taken into her house or room) and the light, and all the other necessities of life; to take a good care of her whilst in health, and in sickness to procure her the Spiritual and Medical attendance and all such other attendance as her age and infirmaties shall require; to pay all the debts of the said Donor created up to this date and the bills of her sicknesses, attendance and care.
     To take the said Donor to and from Church and to and from visiting at any time that she shall call upon him to do so, except in the time of sowing, haying and harvesting.
     To pay the said Donor yearly, during her life-time, as and for spending money, the sum of Five Dollars, and the first payment whereof shall become due at the expiration of one year from date and then to continue every year thereafter at the same date to make said payment of Five Dollars.
     To pasture and winter for Dame Mary Jane Glenn (nee Dean) one cow for the term of three years from date free from charge.
     The above support and maintenance, attendance and care shall be furnished, and given at the house of Dame Celia A. Dean, which was built for Isaac Jordon for the widow of William Jordan, and which is situate on the part of the North one-hundred and twenty-five acres of the Lot number Eight in the South Rage of the said Township of Eaton.
     To give to the said Mary Jane Glenn and her three children, a home with the said Donor, for the term of three years from this date only the word "home" in this case means lodging only.
     And at the decease of the said Donor to have her buried in a Christian like manner, to pay her funeral expenses and for a grave stone and the inscription thereon.
     And for the security of the due fulfillment and carrying out of the said obligations, charges, and conditions, the said hereby donated property shall remain specially mortgaged and hypothecated to and in favor of the said Donor for the rest of her natural life and of the said Mary Jane Glenn and her children for the term of three years from date by privilege.

I don't know yet whether this was a document reflective of the times or reflective of the personalities and relationships in this family. It's one thing to legally transfer property to your son, it's another thing entirely to have to spell out or to feel you have to spell out that he will provide you with a wholesome livlihood and the means to keep warm, that he will take care of your medical needs, that he will get you to church and take you visiting, and that he will pasture and winter a cow belonging to his own sister, and that only for three years!

And what about brother Joseph? Well, according to the terms of James' and Jane's wills, he could only inherit his share if he came back home within three years of his father's death. If not, his share would transfer to another brother, Robert. It appears that Joseph never did return to Quebec, but as I said, there seem to be some contracts that I haven't yet found, so those answers will have to wait.

I hope to have the time one of these days to take a deeper dive into the Quebec notarial records of the time. I'm so curious to discover if there are any similar arrangements in other families and see what insights that might give me into my own ancestors.

1. Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1637-1935. Name: James Dean, Notarial Act Number: 3369. digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed March 4, 2018, citing Fonds Cour Superieure. District judiciare de Saint-Francois. Code CN501. Greffes de notaires, 1815-1921. Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Quebec, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.)

2. Photograph of Joseph Dean, date unknown but believed to be ca. 1881, taken in Jackson, Amador County, California, privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Rockville Centre, NY. From an album that passed from her mother believed to belong originally to Elizabeth Nimmo who was married to Joseph's brother, John Dean, the author's 2nd great-grandfather, also 1880 U.S Census, Township No. 3, County of Amador; California, population schedule p. 49, dwelling 23, family 24, Joseph Dean; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed March 3, 2018, citing NARA microfilm publication T9.) Not known if this is our Joseph but names in household and ages are consistent with known family and in the same county as the photograph. Also, James' will as cited above.

3. For Samuel's residence in 1871, 1871 Census of Canada, Subdistrict: Hatley, District: 141, Denombrements des Vivants [Enumeration of the Living], dwelling 187, family 191, John Dean household, digital image Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed March 2, 1018, citing Statistics Canada Fonds, Microfilm reels C-9888 to C-9975, C-9977 to C-10097, C-10344 to C-10388, C-10390 to C-10395, to C-10540 to C-10570. For Samuel and Celia's marriage, see Stanstead Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968. M>Montreal>Methodist Saint James>1889 Image 13 of 21 Marriage of Dean and Clement.

4. Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1637-1935. Name: Jane Dean, Notarial Act Number 7280, digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed March 4, 2018, citing Fonds Cour Superieur. District judiciare de Saint-Francois. Code CN501. Greffes de notaires, 1815-1921. Biblioteque et Archives nationales du Quebec, Montreal, Quebec Canada.)

5. Photograph of Dean, Samuel and Clements, Celia, date unknown, privately held by the author [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Rockville Centre, NY. From an album that passed from her mother, believed to belong originally to Elizabeth Nimmo who was married to Samuel's brother, John Dean, the author's 2nd great-grandfather.