28 September 2010

My Mother's Genealogy Research Log/Travel Diary from May 1981

Three of four sisters and five siblings
Abbie (Barnes) Thompson, Priscilla (Barnes) FitzGerald
and Louise (Barnes) Sullivan, later Dodds
circa 1980, Scituate, Mass.
I miss my mother every day. She was so alive with curiosity and humor and integrity and love. Above all, she was really, really bright. Had a great memory and could, inter alia, calculate math problems in her head, knit argyle socks on size 0 needles, do the NY Times crossword in pen if she wanted (she was too humble to do so), tend a mean vegetable and flower garden, cane chairs, and she loved history and genealogy. She was patient and worked hard at everything and didn't get many official vacations, so she used everyday opportunities to have fun. I keep wishing she were around to experience genealogy on the web, and the big conferences, and all of the fun and rewarding things I get to do.

Happily, my mother, Priscilla, or "Ma," as I called her, kept the a few diaries in her lifetime. On this occasion, she and my Aunt Abbie managed to get away from their domestic duties long enough to go on genealogy tour! And happily again, she kept a diary of the trip. I just love this more than I can explain. I was flitting around in college at the time, totally NOT interested in genealogy, glad that my mother and aunt could have a grand time together, but thinking their research and interest in genealogy was, well, quaint. Now I'd forfeit a limb to have been on that trip with them. Such is life, I guess. "Don't it always seem to go," yada yada...

So, here it is, I know I have some photos of their trip in my office somewhere, but it will have to remain for another time that I unearth and post them. I added a few follow-up emails from my darling and equally brilliant Aunt Abbie which she wrote after I sent her the transcription.


Notes from Priscilla FitzGerald’s Diary, 
"Trip to Frederickton, New Brunswick with sister Abbie Thompson, for Purpose of Ancestor Hunting"
May, 1981

Wednesday, May 20, 1981
Left home at 9:45am. Take off at 11:20. Lovely seat, companion from Phoenix Arizona - said, "Don't make me look out the window or the plane will fall." Had to put down and go through customs in Yarmouth. Arrived in Halifax 2:30 or so. Had to wait for Provincial Air lines flight to Fredericton until 6:30. Arr. in Fredericton 7:25. Abbie already familiar with the city. Had late supper of seafood chowder which was yummy. Late to bed – long after 12. (In parenthesis in margin, "Called Jim.")

Thursday, May 21, 1981
Had breakfast at hotel (Hotel Beaverbrook). To the Archives at 8:30. Had lunch at Keddy Motel. To Archives until 5:00pm. Bought book at Archives autographed by author Rob't Fellows. Found that John Hagerman owned land where the Legislative buildings are (and Hotel Beaverbrook) and died on the way back to St. John after a trip to Fredericton. Shopped for food and booze, came back to hotel to sample same. Had a late supper and went to bed late. (In margin, "Called Hagermans to tell Doris we would be out Sunday.")

Friday May 22, 1981
Slept until 7:20. Five minutes late getting to the Archives. Found Peleg Tripp's parents were Peleg Tripp and Jane Ogden. Lovely late dinner – fish dinner. Sitting around relaxing and Abbie says, "One nice thing about this trip, no phones are ringing." Phone rang. Paul Brewer called and arranged to travel with us Saturday. Played 2-handed bridge. To bed late.

Saturday, May 23, 1981
Up at 6:00am - breakfasted on cheese omelet. Picked up Paul Brewer across the river and went to Tripp Settlement, Burtt's Corners. Jones Forks examining cemetaries. Saw where the Mactaquac Dam has risen and filled up the valley with water. Paul talked to a Harry Gilbey and he says that prob. Peleg Tripp (the first – Loyalist) was prob. buried on a ridge near Keswick Ridge on his own property. Said Peleg was supposed to be a wheeler-dealer. Had lunch at the lovely Mactaquac Country Club. Went shopping for booze for Jim, present for Polly and slippers. Raw and very windy out. Walked a long way looking for a book store – which was closed. Late supper and late to bed.

Sunday, May 24, 1981
Rose early enough, but didn't get under weigh until 7:20. Motored up to Hartland to see and drive over and back on the longest wooden bridge in the world. Came back down #2 highway and crossed the river at Nackawic. Had a little difficulty finding our Hagermans, but found them. First, we went to church and there was Neil Hagerman. (Passed a church with the steeple lying on the ground.) Doris and Neil Hagerman not very interested in our visit, but Donnie was there and we both loved him. He took us down to show us how high the river had risen – their house would be about one third of the way across the river – showed us all the pictures of the family and went with us to see the Bear Island Cemetery – where his father and mother, grandfather and mother and great grandfather and mother and Aunt Maud and Cousin Alma Lint are buried.*  Beautiful cemetery on a high hill. Donald is a lovely man. Weather fine. People boating on the river. Found that "Captain J. Hagerman d. 1838 aged LVI also May his wife died Dec. 26, 1849 aged 72 years." were bd. there. Mary was born in Long Island. Also buried, but with no stones were Isaac and Louisa and Jacob and Mehitabel. Myles Hagerman was buried in B. I. Cemetery also. (Donnie's brother.) Major domo at church presented Ab and me with a pen and key ring. All kinds of birds to be seen. Donnie stated matter-of-factly that Doris is "senile now." No apologies. No glossing.
Happy hour.
Had a fisherman's platter for dinner. (Ate junk food and nothing else all day.) Wrote cards. To bed late.
*Probably Cornelius, father of Jacob, and his wife are there, too, but nobody knows. Because of the Mactaquac Dam, Church, cemetery, inhabitants, live inhabitants and all were moved uphill. Interesting. Cornelius was son of Captain John. Donnie gave Abbie a piece of yellow brick for her fireplace. (In margin, "Called Jim, Louise and Anne.")

May 25, 1981 Monday
Up early and to Archives. Found that Betsey Smith's parents were Stephen Smith and Elizabeth Golden. A good find. Had lunch at the Keddy – onion soup and a poor drink. Back to Archives until 4:00pm or so and then to Harriet Irving Library and then to Geary to see the Carr Cemetery and then around Grand Lake to see Cumberland Point where John Stillwell was at one time – Sparsely settled. Looked in all the church yards but couldn't find any Stillwells. Crossed the St. John River on a ferry boat and came home the scenic way. Arrived at hotel 8:30 had a quick sherry and braised beef for supper. All the apple orchards are in bloom. Very pretty. Also found Grandmother Jones (Isaac Hagerman's family), and Jared Jones (Darius Jones' family) in the 1881 census list. He was 20 and she was 12.

Tuesday, May 26, 1981
Up early – breakfasted at hotel and got to Archives at 8:30. Didn't find anything new but tied up loose ends of a couple of things. Had to get stamps and get my money out of hotel safe, so we came back to hotel to have lunch. Returned to Archives and spent an hour or more and then took a tour up around Kewsick Ridge and Burtt's Corner and looked at 3 or 4 more cemeteries. Rain off and on. Returned to hotel about 7:30. Had happy hour and ate an enormous and delicious and expensive dinner across the street at the Victoria and Albert restaurant. Had 2 sherries, a tossed salad, lamp chops and braised tomatoes, and tasty mushrooms and then half a piece of fresh strawberry cheesecake and coffee. Saw beautiful scenes on our trip today and yesterday and Sunday and Saturday. Came upon 2 young men stranded in the wilderness but as I had a lot of money on me, we passed them by. But stopped at the first house we saw to report that they should be helped. Hope they were. (In parenthesis in margin, "Called Jim.")

E-mail from Ab. Oct. 1997
My Loyalist number is----MC  2041- 80, and I think it was through John Stillwell. They wanted me to go through Hagerman because it was closer to my generation.  But I knew that would then go through Vernetta, and we had no birth for her. Stillwell came down through Jared Jones so was easier to prove. Maybe I can send you my line. If I can find it. Lots of Loyalists we have--Hagerman, Ogden, maybe Tripp, Smith, Stillwell, Boone, Burtt, Golden, Foreman, Carr, Whelpley, but not the Joneses. They were pre-Loyalist.

E-mail from
Ab. 11/7/97
Thank you for the diary of your Ma's re that week in Fredericton, N.B. Except when I was a little girl and sick a lot in winter & your Ma would read lovely books to me that week was the nicest time I ever had with Priscilla. We were doing what we both loved and had a peachy time besides.

5 comments:

Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt said...

I still have the earrings she bought me, little silver studs.

Mel Wolfgang said...

What a great thing to have! Thanks for sharing; your mother's diary reveals a woman who obviously loved what she was doing, and did it with gusto. I especially liked the line where, after a long day at the Archives, she wrote, "Shopped for food and booze, came back to hotel to sample same." Bless her and her memory!

Nolichucky Roots said...

Phenomenal. How wonderful that you've a glimpse of her at work on something you both love.

Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt said...

Mel, that's my favorite bit, too. Using modern lingo with old fashioned syntax.

Georgie Kennedy said...

Polly, so wonderful to read this about our mothers having such great fun being themselves. I am blessed that mine is still assisting me with my research into our roots. Off to Salt Lake City in four days!