Saturday, 3 November 2007

The Unenumerated

It occurred to me while sourcing the census for my mother and her family that I could not find them listed on the 1920 U.S. Federal Census!

Knowing that she was age 12, lived in Belmont, Massachusetts, with her mother, 3 sisters and one brother and that the address at the time was 311 Beech Street, I could not fathom why I could not locate the family! I needed to unravel this mystery.
I first did a search on for each member of the family using their full names. I came up empty. So, I started changing the parameters of the searches. I decided that my best bet would be to search for my grandmother, as her place of birth would distinguish her from any other Havilands in the state. Again, I got no hits. I tried using wildcards, spelling variations, first name only, last name only, with and without the town and county, with and without dates of birth. All of which came to naught. I even (foolishly) went through 3,500 of the names that came up in the search results to see if I could find my grandmother. Nope!

I thought I might be misinformed about where they lived, so searched the town directories. In 1918, they were living in the house; in 1922, they were also there. Huh? Then, why were they not showing up in the 1920 census? I decided a page-by-page search was in order.

The 1920 Census indicates that there are seven enumeration districts for the Town of Belmont: Districts 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 465. I would have to figure out which one I needed to search. Each district's boundaries were listed on the general page for Belmont, Middlesex, Massachusetts. Although I was somewhat familiar with the streets, I needed a map to outline each district. Getting a town map from Google Maps, I started the chore of determining the district boundaries.

Using my graphics program, I created a layer for each district and began to plot the general outline of each. The landmarks and street names have changed a bit, but I was able to determine that the district which I should search was District 18.

Going back to, I began a page-by-page search of the census. After not finding the family listed anywhere, I thought I should try to plot the enumerator's route to see if she missed any streets. Although the town has grown over the years, the names of the long-established streets have not changed much, so following her route was not a problem. What I discovered is that she did not stop at my grandmother's house! The family should have been listed on Sheet 16A or 16B. Their neighbors (at 261 Beech Street) are enumerated, but 311 Beech Street is not!

I thought I was mistaken, so went through each page of the other six districts, including the McLean Asylum (my grandmother's occupation in 1922, according to the town directory was as a nurse), but could not find anything even approximating the surname. I found the names of friends and family, but not the inhabitants of 311 Beech Street!

The only conclusion that I can make is that the enumerator missed the house. There may be a reason for this. As mentioned in a previous posting, my grandmother supported the family with a store on the first floor of her home. The door to this store faced onto Beech Street with large display windows on each side of the door. It could be that the enumerator did not realize that the building was also a home. Or, it could be that the family was not home at the time (unlikely) and the enumerator forgot to return. Whatever the reason, the family is not enumerated on the 1920 U.S. Federal Census!

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Friday, 24 August 2007

Margaret Helena Sutherland

It is almost ten years ago since I first made contact with my birth mother, Margaret Helena Sutherland. Today marks the 8th year since she passed from my life. After learning the first tiny tidbits of information about Margaret and her family, I set about trying to trace her ancestry.

It was from my new-found family that I learned that Margaret was born in 1933, the 4th child of William James and Emelie Sophie (LeBlanc) Sutherland. That's all I needed to start on the quest for my bloodline!

The Sutherlands

William James Sutherland was born in Portland, Maine, in 1889, to James and Millie (Burris) Sutherland. James and Millie emigrated from Nova Scotia to Maine shortly after their marriage in 1887. Millie must have died shortly after William's birth, as there is no record of her after 1900. His father, James Sutherland, remarried when William was about 7 years of age, having three children with his second wife, Fannie D. Daily.

The available records for Nova Scotia cannot verifiably establish James' parents names. However, I believe them to be John/William and Bridget Sutherland. Until there are more Canadian databases posted online, this is as far as I can go with Margaret's paternal lineage. There is much independent research that has been done on the Sutherland arrivals in Nova Scotia, but I have not been able to "connect the dots"...yet.

The LeBlancs

Emelie Sophie LeBlanc was the 11th child of Charles B. and Sophie (LeBlanc) LeBlanc. (Although her mother shared the same surname with her father, their common ancestor was many generations removed, making it unnecessary to obtain any dispensation to marry.) The union of Charles and Sophie eventually produced a total of 13 children!

Charles died in 1906 and Sophie in 1910, when Emelie was about 17 years of age. They are buried in the Old Cemetery of St. Michael's Parish in Margaree, Nova Scotia, with many of their children and ancestors. It was not until 1918, however, that Emelie emigrated to Portland, Maine, where she met William James Sutherland. Her motivation to leave for a new place where the language and customs were very different from her Acadian heritage is unknown. Was it for economic necessity, or just for the adventure? No one knows for sure.

The Sutherland-LeBlancs

William James and Emelie Sophie were married in Portland, Maine, in 1922. Shortly after the birth of their first child, Armond James, they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is there that Amelia Grace, Joseph Arthur, Margaret Helena and Patricia Ann were born. Patricia died when she was about 2-years-old. Whether it was the difficulty of dealing with the death of Margaret's younger sister, for financial or some other reason, Margaret's mother sent her to Nova Scotia to live with relatives for a good part of her early childhood. To this day, the reason is not known. Margaret would not talk about it, only to say that she liked her family there, but did not want to go back.

Eventually, Margaret returned home to her family in Massachusetts. However, their reunion would not last for very long. When she was about 8, her father died; two years later, her mother also died. Her older sister, Amelia Grace, would become Margaret's legal guardian.

Although Margaret's life was full of trials, she eventually married and lived a good life, short though it was. I was her first born child, but did not get to know her until the last few years of her life...and continue to learn new things through my relationships with my new-found family.

To learn more about my connection with Margaret, see the Family Harvest Genealogy website.

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Saturday, 9 June 2007

Ruth Ernestine Haviland

Ruth Ernestine Haviland would have been one hundred years old today. She was a woman of many facets...bookkeeper, WAC, homemaker, poet. To me, she was "Mom."

Born on 9 June 1907 at the family home in Arlington, Massachusetts, Ruth was the third child of Arthur William and Mary Jane (Gilfedder) Haviland. The year of her birth marked the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Arlington (originally called Menotomy, known as West Cambridge until its incorporation and renamed Arlington in 1867); Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States; Denton True "Cy" Young was the manager of the Boston Red Sox (a name they adopted in that same year); and Fenway Park would not be built for another three years.

Ruth's early childhood was marked by the premature death of her father (a lineman for New England Telephone) in 1913, the result of a work-related accident. Although Ruth was only 6 when he died, she had fond memories of the time spent with him and often spoke of going camping or taking a cruise on the "Emily F." Arthur's death was a devastating blow to the family, as he was so young (32) and had left behind five children under the age of 10 for his wife to raise.

Upon the advice of a lawyer, Ruth's mother purchased land and built a home for the family in nearby Belmont, on the corner of Orchard and Beech Streets. Incorporated into the design of the home was space for a small dry goods store which allowed Mary to earn a living while keeping an eye on her active brood. It supported the family well until such time as the new "super markets" began to appear. However, by that time, the older Haviland children were working outside the home, allowing Mary to "retire."

Ruth was the middle child of five - four girls and one boy. She loved music, sports and poetry, yet earned a living as a bookkeeper (like her grandfather.) When her mother purchased an upright grand piano, Ruth and her sister, Ethel, learned to play. Both of them would continue to "tinkle the ivories" into their later years. Her favorite was "The Robin's Return," which she would play whenever she was happy. Even into her 80's, Ruth would play her favorite songs on the piano - from memory!

Outside the home, Ruth was involved in the YMCA's Vagabond Club. Located in Boston, the club was comprised of a group of young adults interested in the stage. They presented plays and other entertainment to the community, including dance numbers. She also learned to drive an automobile when it was not common for women to drive. Her mother (an adventurer) just couldn't get the hang of it, so Ruth stepped up and got her license.

It was while Ruth was working for the E. B. Blaisdel Slate Company that World War II began. The economic conditions of the time forced the company to close, leaving Ruth without employment. About that time, Ruth read an article in the newspaper about the Army recruiting women. Being patriotic and wanting to do something, she enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC - the name was changed later in 1943 to Women's Army Corps.)

Reading her letters to her mother over the course of her service, it's plain to see that this was one of the happiest times of Ruth's life. While stationed at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Ruth developed friendships which lasted throughout her life. Her job in the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAG) kept her busy, but she took advantage of her furlough time to attend the theatre and shop for family in the stores of Chicago.

After World War II that Ruth met a young, handsome sailor, Frank Donovan. Because of their age difference (10 years), Ruth delayed saying "yes" to Frank's proposal of marriage, but he was persistent and they were married in 1950.

Both Ruth and Frank loved children, but would not be able to have any of their own, so they decided to adopt. I was the lucky child they chose. As a mother, Ruth was devoted and loving. Although they had the opportunity to adopt another child, they must have decided that I was enough of a handful!

Baseball was Ruth's favorite sport. She would follow the Red Sox games almost as intently as her brother, gritting her teeth with intensity when the Sox were at bat, urging the Sox to hit a home run to win the game. She was fortunate to go to see Ted Williams' last game at Fenway Park, thrilled to have witnessed that little piece of baseball history. Neither she nor her brother would live to see the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004, but I believe that they were cheering from the bleachers in the sky.

Ruth passed away in 2000, having lived a full and interesting life. On this 100th anniversary of her birthday, she is remembered with love.

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Wednesday, 6 June 2007

D-Day Salute

Today is D-Day, so I thought it appropriate to salute those members of the Family Harvest family who served in the service of their country.

Although not directly related to me, our family includes Fiorello Casale, Purple Heart recipient, who was at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Fiorello was born in Palestrina, Italy, in 1910 and immigrated to the United States in 1927 at age 17 on the S.S. Presidente Wilson. His parents had preceeded him across the Atlantic and had settled in Lynn, Massachusetts, a center for shoe manufacturing. Fiorello found work in a shoe factory to help support the family, which had grown to seven siblings by the 1930 U.S. Census.

Six months after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Fiorello enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Private with the 175th Infantry 29th Division under the command of Colonel Paul R. Goode. He was 31 years of age, older than most of the soldiers at that time.

On 6 June 1944, during the Allied force invasion at Omaha Beach, the 175th was held offshore in Corps reserve, coming ashore on 7 June, securing the bluff tops. Two days later, they seized Isigny, then crossed the Elle River, advancing slowly toward St. Lo while fighting bitterly in the Norman hedgerows. It is during this march that Fiorello was struck and died.

Fiorello is buried in Saint Laurent (Permanent Cemetery), Saint Laurent, France.

Although this post is in honor of Fiorello Casale, he was not the only member of the Family Harvest Family to serve his country during World War II:

U.S. Navy
Frank J. Donovan (SC-982)
John L. Donovan (CL-9 "Richmond")

U.S. Army
Ruth E. Haviland (Fort Sheridan, Illinois)

Civilian Service
George L. Donovan (Boston Navy Yard)
Ellen F. Donovan (Boston Navy Yard)

In Memory Of Those Who Served.

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Saturday, 28 April 2007

New Family Harvest Genealogy Website

After four long years, I have finally completed a revision of my Family Harvest Genealogy website and it's now online!

The new design was created to try to update the look of the site and make navigation of the pages easier, while incorporating a bit more content. This is my first attempt at writing the pages using cascading style sheets, so if there are problems viewing any of the pages, please let me know by using the contact page on the site.

New on the Family Harvest Genealogy website are updated databases, the previous ones had been taken offline to protect the privacy of those still living. For this revision, I have taken great care to ensure that no living persons are identified in the databases.

Also new are some of the photographs. I have removed the photo gallery, as most of the photos are now in the databases. Eventually, the people and their stories from the old gallery will be added to the People Pages.

The Adoption story has been moved to the new About Me section. The story is now more or less complete. I have continued contact with my new siblings and have come to love them as if we had been raised together. There are stories to tell, but they will have to wait until I have a bit more time to write them.

I am planning to add more to the Research section of the site. Presently, I am concentrating on military research, but my files are full of much more that I would like to present on the pages.

The Family Pages will also be expanded to include my husband's Latvian families. With so little Latvian information available on genealogy sites, I hope to provide some background about these remarkable people.

Hope you like the new Family Harvest Genealogy site!

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Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Agnes Gertrude Quigley

One hundred years ago today, Agnes Gertrude Quigley celebrated her first birthday. She had not been expected to live to the first anniversary of her arrival in the world, let alone reach the esteemed age of 87!

"Gertie" was the youngest of three girls born to John Francis and Mary Ellen (Gilman) Quigley. She was born in the part of Boston known as the West End. The West End was an area of Boston to which many Irish moved (from the North End and Fort Hill areas) in the 1860's and 1870's before putting down roots in the celebrated Irish stronghold of "Southie."

She never got to know her father, because he died the same year she was born. Her mother found work in a hotel as a waitress to support the three girls and her own mother, Catherine, who lived with them. When Gertie was in her teens, her mother and grandmother also died, leaving the girls to fend for themselves.

From the stories that Gertie often told, the young Quigleys went to work as soon as they finished school. One job, in particular, she spoke about often - at Schraft's Chocolates. Gertie trained as a chocolate dipper, but unlike her sister, Mae, the constant smell of that sweet treat often made her sick (and did for the rest of her life.) So, she quit her job at the chocolate factory and took up her mother's trade of waitressing.

Gertie loved her job as a waitress. She was trained in the proper methods of serving and clearing food and all that goes with it. This expertise led to adventures in many places, waitressing in posh hotels, just for fun. Some of the places she often spoke about were Chicago, Florida and New York. She even boasted that she had the pleasure of waiting upon a U.S. president!

One of Gertie's jobs led her to Oswego, New York, on the southern shores of Lake Ontario. It was there that she would meet John Harold Smith, a red-headed Irishman who was the love of her life. Her happiness would not last very long, because "Harold" died a couple of years after they were married. However, Gertie loved her adopted town of Oswego and lived there the rest of her life.

She lived alone in an apartment which had been created on the top floor of an old victorian-era house. Despite her age, she would climb up and down those steep stairs to go to work and take her beloved dog for a walk.

Gertie worked her whole life. Even past the age of 80, she was waitressing at a restaurant in Oswego. One day, she noticed a little box next left on the table by one of her "regulars." Scooping up the box, she charged out the door after the man. When she tried to give it to him, he refused it, telling her it was her tip. Inside the box was an antique diamond ring. The story he told was that his sister's house had burned to the ground and all that was left was the jewelry. As he had no need for it and because Gertie had been so good to him over the years, he wanted her to have it! (As an addendum to the story, I received that very same ring for my 21st birthday from Gertie.)

Living in Oswego is not easy in Winter. My Dad always worried about his aunt living up there all alone in such weather. But, Gertie was made of tough stuff. After one huge storm, my father called her to find out how she was doing. Her reply was that she was a little irritated, because she'd had to get a ride on the snowplow to get to work!

Every year, though, Gert would make the trip by bus from Oswego to Boston to be with family for the Christmas holidays. For the whole visit, we would hear countless re-telling of the stories she had told the year before. Year after year, we heard about her life with Harold, her adventures with her friend, Annie, places she'd been and things she'd done. The stories would be relayed in a voice like gravel and would be puncuated by occasional belches from the beer she enjoyed so much. She was quite a character.

I was probably the only one of the nieces and nephews who found the stories fascinating. Around 1980, I planned to tape her next recounting, but Gertie didn't come to visit that next year...or ever again. She died in 1983 at age 87.

Every year on this day, my thoughts and prayers go heavenward to Gertie. She was a woman of extraordinary strength and resilience with a voice of gravel, but a heart as soft as well-worn cotton. So, on this April 10th, Happy Birthday Aunt Gert! You are missed.

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Sunday, 1 April 2007

Robert Hill Gibby

Robert Hill Gibby was born 184 years ago today, the 11th of the 16 children of Samuel and Ann Jane (Hill) Gibby.

The Gibby family emigrated from Dublin, Ireland to the United States some time between 1830 and 1835. It is not certain where they landed, quite possibly New York City, but more likely on the docks of Boston, Massachusetts. By 1840, Samuel's entire family was living in Lowell, Massachusetts, as the census for that year lists a household of 20 people!

Robert married Lydia Young Farmer in Lowell shortly after that census (in 1844.) In the successive years, they would become the parents of 8 children - 5 boys, followed by 3 girls. Their first-born, Adam Henry, would not live much past his 3rd birthday, dying of the croup in 1848.

There is little information available about Robert between 1850 to 1874. A painter by trade, Robert is found in Charlestown (1860) where he lived until some time between the 1880-1900's, when the family relocated to Somerville.

There are a couple of curiosities in the 1880 Census. One is that Lydia is not listed as his wife, rather Robert's wife is enumerated as "Elizabeth." However, in the 1900 Census, Lydia is shown alive and well, having been married to Robert for 57 years! Another curiosity is that there are two grandchildren with the surname, Gibby, living in the household. It's not clear who the parents of these grandchildren are, as there is no female of child-bearing age listed. It could be that they are the children of one of Robert's sons living in the household whose wife may have died. (I still have to research this possibility.)

Robert, who became a naturalized citizen in 1840, did not participate in the American Civil War. However, two of Robert's brothers, William Henry and Nicholas Oprey, and nephew, William Henry Jr., enlisted and served in the War Between The States. William in the 40th Massachusetts Infantry Co. G, Nicholas in the 16th Massachusetts Infantry Co. A and William Jr. in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. (Again, research is ongoing.)

Robert died in 1901 in Somerville, Massachusetts, aged 78. Fifteen years after his death, my adoptive father, Frank Donovan, was born in Charlestown, Robert's home for many years. I wonder...if they were both alive today what stories they would share?

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Saturday, 24 March 2007

Entwined Branches

When I began the research into my birth ancestry, I had no idea just how intertwined the branches of the tree would become!

Nova Scotia saw the arrival of its first European immigrants in 1604. Pierre Dugua de Monts (Sieur de Monts) had received a monopoly for fur trading from the King Henri IV with the stipulation that he establish a permanent settlement in the New World. Accompanied by Samuel de Champlain and 77 men, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean, setting up a community on a small island in a river on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy. After losing almost half of the settlers during that first winter to the harsh weather conditions and malnutrition, he decided to relocate the settlement to the head of the Annapolis Basin on the northern tip of the Bay of Fundy which was more sheltered and promised to be a good port for future trade. He named this settlement, Port-Royal.

In the succeeding years, approximately 100 families came to Port-Royal from France. Among those settlers was Daniel LeBlanc his wife, Francoise Gaudet, and her daughter from a previous marriage. Daniel and Francoise would add 6 sons to their family. Five of the 6 would have large families - and so would their children. It is from this Acadian family that I am descended...more than once!

My great-grandfather was Charles B. LeBlanc (Belone, Belone, Belone, Claude, Rene, Jacques, Daniel). Census records list his wife as, Sophie, but I could not find her maiden name anywhere in any of the records available online. It was not until the province of Nova Scotia announced their Nova Scotia Genealogy website online (this month) that I was able to search the marriage records and discovered his wife's last name: LeBlanc!

I am still in the early stages of researching this new line, but at first glance, it seems that Sophie (Dominique, Lazare, Joseph, Joseph, Francois, Rene, Rene, Daniel) is descended from a different son of Daniel and Francoise than Charles. Appearing in the lineage with both of these LeBlanc lines are Chiasson, Hebert, Arsenault, Bourg, Cormier, Landry and many other Acadian family names.

Unraveling the twists and turns in the LeBlanc lineage has been a challenge for many genealogists. I am hoping to benefit from their hard work and find some living relatives in Margaree, Nova Scotia!

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Saturday, 17 March 2007

In Search of the Shamrock

On St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would go on a hunt for my elusive Irish ancestors.

For years, I've been at a standstill with the research into my Celtic background. I have been able to identify the emigrant families, but have had no luck discovering where in Ireland they had their roots...and did not have any additional success this time around, either.

The exception to that is my grandmother, who emigrated to the United States from Ballyshannon, Donegal. My grandmother was born in 1879, the third child of twelve born to Patrick and Mary Jane (Maguire) Gilfedder. Following traditional Irish naming patterns, she was named Mary Jane, after her mother. But to us, she was known as "Grammie."

Grammie's arrival in the United States was a mystery to us all. Although we knew where she came from, she would not talk about her voyage across the Atlantic. We did not know the date of the trip, the name of the ship she took, with whom she traveled, where she landed nor where she lived when she landed. It was not until the Ellis Island website opened up that the mist began to clear.

Mary Jane Gilfedder was 20 days past her 20th birthday when she left Ireland to begin a new life in the United States. She made her way to Londonderry, where on 29 September 1899, she boarded the ship, "State of Nebraska," destined for New York City.

The State of Nebraska was built in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1880. It was 385 feet in length and 43 feet wide. It carried 1,001 passengers (175 in First Class and 826 in Third Class) and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean at the speed of 13.5 knots. It remained in service for only three years after bringing my grandmother to America to begin her new life.

Twelve days after leaving Londonderry, the State of Nebraska arrived in New York City, unloading its human cargo on the docks of Ellis Island. What the young Mary thought when she first set foot on American soil will never be known. We also do not know who was there to greet her, if anyone, after passing through the immigration process and making the ferry trip to the city docks.

The ship manifest provides not only information about the passengers, but details about their destination. Grammie's entry indicates that her destination was Boston, Massachusetts, that she already had in hand a ticket to The Hub, paid by K. Gilfedder, and that she had $5 in her pocket. "K. Gilfedder" was most likely her sister, Kate, who had already made this same trip and was living in Newtonville, Massachusetts.

The 1900 US Census confirms that Mary completed her journey from New York City to Boston and had found employment in the home of Frederick Cutter of Newton, Massachusetts. By the time of the 1910 US Census, Mary has been married and now appears as the wife of Arthur W. Haviland, living in Belmont. Also listed in the census is her sister, Kate (aka "Catherine," after whom I was most likely named) and 4 daughters!

Grammie would see more changes in her life within a few years. She will give birth to the long-awaited son, her husband, Arthur, will die from a work-related injury at age 32 and she will build a new home in Belmont where she sets up a neighborhood dry goods store.

I have to marvel at the accomplishments and determination of the young woman who made the long voyage from her comfortable home on Bachelor's Walk in Ballyshannon, Donegal, to the uncertainty of a life raising and supporting 5 children alone. Not only did she manage to support her energetic brood, but she instilled in them the values of family, religion and patriotism. She embraced her new homeland with her whole being, even managing to lose the "brogue" which distinguished many Irish immigrants trying to get a foothold in the New World.

So, on this St. Patrick's Day, I celebrate the life of Mary Jane Gilfedder, an inspiration to her children and grandchildren, the ninth (and last) which I was privileged to have become.

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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Two Trees

In my family garden, there are two trees: Adoptive and Birth.

The Adoptive Tree

My knowledge about my Adoptive family has come gradually over the years. Surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins, I grew up with a "working knowledge" of this family's tree.

My mother was very proud of her heritage, both its origins and its longevity on the North American continent. Every now and then, she would mention yet another relative, about whom I was unaware. But, she became most excited when one of her many cousins would write to her, sending along another piece of the relationship puzzle.

She kept a folder of wrinkled and yellowing clippings about family members which had appeared in the local newspapers. In other folders were collections of old letters and photos; boxes hidden in the attic were full of more photos and letters. It was not until I inherited this treasure trove that I understood her fascination with her heritage.

Names in this tree include: Haviland, Gilfedder, Goodhue and Maguire.

My father's family was largely unknown to him. He knew that he was of Irish descent and that his family had lived in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts, but his parents did not often talk about (or know) where they came from in Ireland. It's still a bit of a mystery, but research has unearthed some rather interesting tidbits and hints.

Names in this tree include: Donovan, Quigley, Norris and Gilman.

The Birth Tree

My Birth tree has been revealing itself over the past 10 years, since the time when my birth mother and I first made contact.

Although she believed that she was of Irish ancestry, my birth mother was actually a descendant of the hearty Acadians and Scots who settled in the picturesque province of Nova Scotia, Canada. I did not have enough time to ask her about her lineage, but my siblings and a cousin have been helping me piece together the family history.

Names in this tree include: Sutherland, LeBlanc and Chiasson.

My birth father's family hails from the American South. He is of English heritage. That is the extent of what I know for sure. However, I believe that I may have located him in the 1930 United States Census. Until I can confirm my findings, this branch of the tree may remain unknown.

Names believed to be in this tree include: Harvey, Jones, Agee and Perkins.

As this blog develops, I intend to share the results of my research and stories about the people in both of my family trees. It's meant to compliment my Family Harvest genealogy pages, which are undergoing a major revision.

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Thursday, 1 March 2007

Preparing the Ground

In the beginning, there were only three: Mom, Dad and me.

Mom was the middle child in a family of five, but she had 20 aunts and uncles and a multitude of cousins. Surprisingly, it was a tight-knit clan. Over the years, annual get-togethers reinforced the family ties and kept the family in touch with each other.

Dad had one older brother, only 6 aunts and uncles and virtually no cousins. His father had been raised by his grandmother, with whom he had lost contact. His mother had been orphaned at a young age and raised her two younger sisters. It was a tiny family, but a close one.

My parents married late in life. Desperately wanting children, they decided to adopt. Three years into their marriage, I entered their lives. Although it was a surprise to their families, they accepted me as one of their own.

I've always known that I am adopted. My parents had been advised to tell me at an early age, so it has never been an issue with me. In fact, my adoptive status has been, in an odd sort of way, a source of comfort for me. Knowing that I was "chosen", made me feel special while I was growing up. I still feel that way, even though I know I'm no different than a multitude of people on the face of this Earth.

Maybe it was because I am adopted that my obsession with genealogy began. Maybe it was the occasional letters my mother received from a cousin who was researching the family history that piqued my interest. Or, maybe it was a lack of information about my father's ancestors that launched me on the quest to discover their origins. Perhaps it was a combination of many factors. Whatever the reason, I find myself constantly seeking out new information about the lives of the people who came before me.

Ten years ago, I sought out and located my birth mother. Sadly, we did not meet until it was almost too late. Now that she has passed away, I cherish the short time I spent in her presence. I have many unanswered questions about her and her family. Tantalizing clues have lead me to begin a new genealogical adventure. Unraveling the past and understanding my blood lineage is the next phase of my research. It promises to be a challenge!

My husband does not quite understand my fascination with family...but he indulges me in my ancestral quest. For that, I truly thank him.

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