24 September 2009
20 September 2009
Here is your assignment if you choose to play along:
1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your “roulette number.”
2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?
3) Tell us three facts about that person with the “roulette number.”
4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.
5) If you do not have a person’s name for your “roulette number” then spin the wheel again – pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!
Here is mine, a day late, hopefully not a dollar short:
16 September 2009
F. P. Barnes' Concert Ball Room Orchestra,
694 Washington Street, Boston
15 September 2009
14 September 2009
I love pension files because you find attestations by Town Clerks to vital records. In this, case it is said elsewhere in the pension that this birth was found in the diary of Rev. Ebenezer Gay, not in the church or town records. I love that. And someday I will go gaze at it, for I believe it still exists.
I use the Revised Fourth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, published in 1968 because it is pretty good for older legal terms. On page 1200 you can find a definition of Non Compos Mentis:
11 September 2009
Some details of that horrific day are starting to fade, so before I forget, a brief note for my descendants...
Myles and I had been married 13 years on September 10, 2001. We chose to go into Boston for a romantic dinner and overnight stay in a hotel. I think it was Mrs. Potter who babysat our sons who were 10, 8 and 4. So on the morning of September 11th, we weren't even home. We were enjoying a fine breakfast in bed on the tenth floor of a Back Bay hotel admiring the beauty of a cloudless September view of Boston. You could see all the way to Logan airport and we watched the planes coming and going, wondering how they managed not to collide. We turned on the TV and towards the end of the Today Show, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer (I think!) brought us the news of a plane striking the World Trade Center. Not many days before that, a small plane had crashed into a building in NYC, so no one was particularly alarmed, and certainly no one seriously thought "terrorist attack." They may have mentioned terrorism, but the media is always trying to jack us up emotionally, and we were used to dismissing their excited chatter as the usual hype.
It was when the second plane hit that it sunk in. From that point on, we were riveted to the TV, occasionally switching channels to make sure Katie and Matt weren't hallucinating. Information was coming in from so many sources that no one had time to vett it and certainly couldn't make any sense out of it. They announced that air traffic was being halted all across the country. Glancing out the windows again we found the view of Boston was now eerily still. A city frozen in fear. I started feeling a bit vulnerable up there on the tenth floor, and wanted to leave, but Myles wanted to watch events unfold, and swept aside my anxiety with a dismissive, "Oh, relax!" News of a third hijacked plane came in. Accounts varied as to where it might be headed. the White House, the Pentagon, the Capitol?
It wasn't until the first tower collapsed that we looked at each other and started moving. We got a call from the desk telling us the hotel was being evacuated and we should check out right away. We hustled downstairs but instead of checking us out they just waved us away, barking out, "Just go! Go!" There were lots of people standing on the street, and police everywhere. Later we found out that the hotel was evacuated because they had already traced some terrorist suspects to the 9th floor, just one floor beneath us.
We had come in separate cars and I was really freaked out driving home alone in heavy traffic on the Mass. Turnpike. I called Myles and we stayed on the phone during the ride, silent, listening to radio accounts. All I could think of was that my little quiet town of Shrewsbury would never be a target for this sort of attack. I wanted to be near my children. Even if they were only in school, I needed that proximity so that if I had to I could even walk over to get them. It was listening to the radio in the car that really made me very afraid. They were following the course of the plane over Pennsylvania and trying to predict where it was headed. It just felt at that moment like someone was targeting everything we Americans look to for authority and protection. How many planes had been hijacked? Five, ten, fifty? Which news accounts were true, and which were panic? I already felt the psychological damage this would have on our country.
The stark irony of that gorgeous blue sky portending such danger was impossible to reconcile. We watched TV all day. They recommended that we prepare children, yet keep them away from the broadcasts. We greeted them as they got off the bus and tried to brace them for turmoil. Then for days and days Americans watched as the full horror unfolded. More and more accounts came in. The Pentagon, the plane in PA, all of the people lost in NY, makeshift memorials, relatives and friends pleading for information. And so many tears. We were totally vulnerable and bewildered. The whole nation was depressed, lifted occasionally by stories of great heroism.
September 11th, 2001 marks a vast division in the psyche of the nation. Before that date, most people had heard about terrorist attacks but pretty much ignored them because they did not take place on American soil. Newscasters would report disasters overseas only by relating how many Americans were killed. We were an insular, self-absorbed country, trusting that our own goodness would keep us safe. But when you stop being vigilant about your actions, and not protecting yourself, you are likely to get hurt.
I've lived in several foreign countries. When I lived in Italy in the late 70s and early 80s, I found out what it is like to know that terrorist attacks may strike. You just go on living –– but if a terrorist does strike, it does not have the devastating effect of shock as 9/11 did on Americans. It had never actually occurred to most people that we could become victims. Coming back to live in America, I knew it was just a matter of time. Our borders seemed wide open compared to those of other countries. If you read the newspapers, you were aware that there were many groups who hated or blamed the United States and the Western world in general for just about anything they didn't like. Fundamentalism, poverty and ignorance had combined to create a steaming cauldron of rage. I wasn't shocked, just petrified.
A chasm separates the day of our 13th anniversary, September 10, 2012, from September 11th. Like Adam and Eve gazing down at their own nakedness, we are now cognizant of both our own vulnerability and aware that we have some accountability. We moved forward with ideas on how best to protect ourselves that mark a political split as well. We are now a nation sharply divided, driven to extremes by the intense fear of that day. I just hope that one day our great nation came come together on those values that we share, which are many more than divide us, and work together to keep America safe.
10 September 2009
09 September 2009
This is the infuriatingly mysterious Barnes/Vinal tomb in Scituate, Mass. It is across the street from the Barnes ancestral home where my family lived when I was really young. My older siblings all played in the woods around it, and were lucky enough to be able to explore inside. My brother tells me that there was nothing left inside when it was bricked up sometime in the mid-1900s.
08 September 2009
Here lies buried the Remains of RABBI
07 September 2009
06 September 2009
Salem, Nov. 21. Criminal Trials
A notice of his death gives a little insight into why he might have had troubles. Like many black sheep, there was probably a physical cause for his inability to conform: “Sudden Death.–– We learn from the Amesbury Transcript that Mr. Nicholas Colby, of that town, was found dead on Sunday afternoon week, near the house of Mr. Page Ring. He was subject to apoplectic fits, and it is supposed had one on his return from the village, and falling into water by the road side was drowned.” [Haverhill, MA] Date: 1845-04-17; Paper: Sun, genealogybank.com]
On 24 May 1807, in the middle of a terrible nor'easter, a scow capsized and six out the eleven men in it were instantly drowned. After the boat capsized, Nicholas Colby, who was a good swimmer, succeeded in getting the remaining "four upon the bottom of the scow, which barely kept afloat. He tried hard to save Hoyt, who clung to him, while beneath the surface, with a death grasp, but finding his strength rapidly failing he was obliged to exert his whole remaining force in tearing himself from the drowning man; and, having nearly exhausted himself in his efforts, Colby endeavored to persuade Moses Kimball, who could swim, to swim ashore and find help, as it was evident the wreck could not long be kept afloat. But Kimball’s brother positively forbid his making the attempt. Finding all entreaty unavailing, Colby at length resolved to make the attempt himself, though scarce expecting to be able to reach the land, and bidding them good-bye, he struck out for the shore. John Ingersoll, of the Rocks’ Village, a young man lately returned from sea, observing the severity of the storm, and having a curiosity to see its effect upon the river, was that morning walking along the shore, when he suddenly came upon a man feebly clinging to a rock near the water’s edge. It was Colby, too much exhausted to drag himself out of the water, or even to speak aloud. With great difficulty, the brave man explained the perilous situation of his companions. Ingersoll immediately ran to the village below, gave the alarm, and, after trying in vain to induce some one to assist him in the attempt, embarked alone in a small skiff, and after great peril succeeded in finding and saving the four persons on the wreck! Surely the names of Nicholas Colby and John Ingersoll well deserve an honorable place in our history. They have it, and may their noble example never be forgotten by their posterity.”
And may every black sheep have his redeeming qualities!