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I watched Charles and Di's wedding in Machias, ME, aged 8 (right, spring 1981?)  My parents must already have separated, because I watched it at the house of someone who was a sometime babysitter of us, who I guess must have run an in-home daycare.  My father used to leave us there when he had to work; the house was on the side of town by the hospital (across the bridge from where we lived). The father of the family bought our pale blue VW bug and had once been hit by a falling tree, breaking his neck; they had a daughter older than me and a son my age or younger.  I found them all on Facebook this morning, natch.  I wonder where my mother was?

For notes and commentary on today's wedding, see my sister.  I didn;t mean to get up to see the wedding this morning, since I worked until 10pm last night, and was up for an hour worrying about tornadoes on Wednesday night, and was up 3 times for no apparent reason with Dillo on Tuesday night.  But Dillo hollered for me at 4:40am, and by the time he was soundly asleep again it was 5, and I was awake, and why the hell not?  I watched the CNN feed which had no commentary and was quite peaceful, with lovely quiet empty streets of London (did they scrub them? so clean!) and lovely Westminster Abbey and lovely music.  The bride has excellent taste in demure gowns, and I got a little weepy because I do tend to cry at brides nowadays.  And Casper said, "He looks much better with his hat ON."

I hope this marriage is a better one for all parties than the previous.
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Acheson and Hawkins family photo, 1930
I kind of adore this photo.  The seated lady, center, is my great-great-grandmother; the occasion is her 80th birthday, in 1930.  Seated at far left is my great-grandmother, daughter of the celebrant; her husband, my great-grandfather, stands at far right.  Seated at far right is my (great-) Aunt Jane, who died aged 99 2 years ago and was a sometime correspondent of mine, and sent me $1000 when I married, although I never met her.  She's 22 here.  My grandfather was 18 when this picture was taken and isn't in it; away at college I suspect.  The other middle-aged people are the celebrant's children and spouses; the young man is my great-uncle.

I LOVE the clothes (especially on the women), and the expressions on the faces (especially Aunt Jane).
(Edited because I can't tell my right from my left.)

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I had a hard time at last night's Girl Scout meeting - the kids ran amok a bit, and I need to work out a way to not have that happen.  It's still astonishing to me how 10 2nd and 3rd grade girls can be so wild, when there are 2 adults in charge!  I definitely need to work on my group management skills.  There's one girl in particular who is extremely distractable and creates wildness in others (including, especially, In Casper) and in general the fact that 7 of the girls are in the same grade at the same school and are mostly good friends exacerbates things.  This meeting required us to be outdoors for part (planting seeds) and in the gym at the church for part (setting up tents).  It's much easier to manage them physically and socially when we are seated around a table, which works for some activities.  I just need to figure out how to work with them when we can't do that. Thank god we only have a troop of 10.  But I am a bit worried about our upcoming activities prior to our camp-out.

Census meme:
March 1981 I am living in two houses, both in the same town in rural Maine, since my parents separated about 9 months ago. One house is our former family house, currently inhabited by my father, a big 1930s four-square style house with lovely woodwork and a big yard, that was going to be my parents' back-to-the-land homestead.  My mother's house is rented, a less fancy Cape, and we only have 2 bedrooms so my 2 siblings and I share a 3-story bunkbed.  I am 8, and my siblings are 5 and 2.  Since it's March in Maine, there's probably snow on the ground. (I am honestly not positive which year my parents separated; it may not have been until late spring 1981, in which case we're all still living together in the fancy house.  One thing I am certain of is I hated my 3rd grade teacher.)

March 1991 I am in my freshman year of college, by this point living by myself in a "maid's quarters" room in a wing of my dorm that is about 8x10 feet.  The dorm is elaborate Victorian-stone architecture, and I love my tiny room.  I moved out of my quad after the woman with whom I shared a room spent every evening sitting on her bed watching me, which freaked me right out.  I'm in suburban Philadelphia, but probably the campus cherry trees are not yet in bloom.

March 2001 I am living in Northwestern CT in a small town, in a rented apartment which is the first floor of a small and modest Victorian house, with my husband and one juvenile cat. We are here for my husband's work; I am in theory working on my dissertation. I shovel snow and volunteer at the local public library.  Our landlord Vinnie, who lives upstairs, has a black lab he leaves home alone inside for 10 hours a day, and the dog's pee drips down into our kitchen light fixture.  Our kitten loves to explore the rough-stone, dirt-floor basement.

March 2011 I live in a house I own (okay, the bank owns it - or probably some shadowy international conglomerate who bought my bundled mortgage owns it) in Athens GA.  We live in a sidewalky, family-filled neighborhood with great kids across the street and next door and down the block and great neighbors without kids, too - older couples, single adults, etc. Our house was built in 1922 and we just put a roof on it, and it has old-house issues, but a big yard and a hammock on the front porch and all sorts of great stuff.  I live with my husband, two kids (7 and 4), and two cats (10 and 1).  It's Georgia and we had a warm February, so we have daffodils and cherry trees in full bloom and redbuds coming out.
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Today was shitty, in unfortunately literal ways. Therefore, I bring you 1) the invitation to my great-great-great-grandfather to dinner with George Washington and 2) an order placed for plants for my great-great-great-grandfather (different side)'s house (in the country, at that time). Such an admixture, all jumbled up, is entirely typical of the 7 boxes my father is sorting through. I transcribe the roses from the latter for my rosarian friend (maybe you can help with the names?)

David Acheson, from George Washington

Plants order p1

Plants order p2

9 roses (at $4.00/dozen)
2 Abel Grand 2 Horace Vernet
2 M. de H. Amande 1 Boieldieu
1 Marquis of Salisbury 1 Pierre Grillon

5 roses (at $.060 each)
2 Mons Norman 1 Elise Boelle
1 Eugenie Verdier 1 Marie Baumann

2 roses (at $0.75 each)
1 Rev. J. B. M Carrim 1 Mme. Noman

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My father had a vague idea of a family story in which his uncle David, as a child, burned down the house, or at least set it seriously on fire.  Numerous members of the family being notorious packrats (seriously, my father has a detailed order for nursery plants dating to maybe 1865, when a house was rebuilt), he has now turned up the documents that seem to support this:

1. An early-terminated lease, which was paid off in full (for $4000 in 1920, which must have been a lot), only 5 months after having been renewed for a 3-year term.
2. Notes in legalese from my great-grandfather about the limits of liability of a renter under conditions of fire.

So, maybe Great-Uncle David did burn down the house in October of 1920 (when he was 5).  But apparently this was never spoken of again; they were that sort of family. (My father once told me he never saw his grandmother out of white gloves; she died in 1974.)

I have a lot of fascinating mixed thoughts about wealth and class and the importance of caring (financially) for spinster ladies that will have to wait until I feel less like the living dead (I spent most of yesterday with a fever and aches and nausea and much of last night actually sick.)  One thing that interests me is that my great-grandparents apparently never owned a house, always renting, and at that renting in the swanky part of Pittsburgh (Shadyside) where they had grown up.  I wonder why?  He was a lawyer and the son of a federal judge; she was the daughter of a judge and her mother had inherited wealth - her grandfather was a banker and invested with James Laughlin, of Laughlin Steel, who was his brother in law,  I know for a fact that my father inherited some of that wealth when my grandmother died, so it's not like they'd already spent it all.  But they rented, and didn't buy.
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This is a story built on a family anecdote, two census records, and a will.  My sister could probably tell it better. Read more... )
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I discovered today I am a direct descendant of Myles Standish as well as John and Priscilla Alden (his son married their daughter). Mayflower Descendants, here I come! Suppose I should go read Longfellow now. And, just in time for a small family reunion at Thanksgiving on that side of the family (we are gathering at my 88 year old grandfather's).
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While one knows, intellectually, that one's Puritan ancestors were involved both directly and indirectly in nasty relations with the native peoples of New England, and that anyone living on the frontier in Pennsylvania and going on military missions to Detroit probably also involved unsavory dealings, there's nothing like coming up against slave-owning ancestors to give a nice white liberal Yankee girl pause. Yet here we are: http://www.werelate.org/wiki/Person:Nathaniel_Irish_%283%29 (This link is fascinating in its own right, with transcriptions of original documents and good citations to the historical record, and Nathaniel Irish, who was my, lemme see, 9-generations-back direct ancestor, certainly lived an interesting life. And left a fellow human being to his daughter in his will.)

It would be nice to go back to the yeoman farmer-schoolteachers of New Hampshire, but on I must press.
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Yes, laundry at 6am night five. Why we are doing this at age 4 and 3 months after more than a year of dry beds, I dunno.

I've been doing a big genealogy project in off times for a little while now, and it is surprisingly fun - the thrill of discovery! My father inherited some 6 or 7 boxes from his father, who kept up a long genealogical correspondence with a distant cousin (a librarian, natch) who lived in Washington PA, the town his family came from. My father estimated this week that he'd sorted through about 15% of the first box (whence came all the images in my flickr stream.) I'm doing a little on the maternal side, too - I know my mother has tons of information but unlike my father she is not retired and does not own a scanner.

It's fascinating to me to look at my family history in the context of American history and social change. My paternal history is all about westward expansion in Pennsylvania, from the Scots-Irish settled near Allentown in 1750 who dealt with "Indian troubles" to the early settlers in Washington, PA (which is south of Pittsburg and was on the frontier in 1790). Then it's about industrialization, and education as the way to become part of the propertied class, employing immigrants as servants. And how early immigrants' children can make good - the 11th child of an immigrant who settled on the frontier ends as a federal district court judge in industrialized Victorian Pittsburgh.

I am fascinated by family sizes and how they change in different regions and times (if you were having kids in Western PA at the turn of the 19th century, you had 12 kids; in New England generally far fewer, and the the end of the century 5 was a lot everywhere.)

I come from a lot of people who were in the US before the Revolution. Except for a pair of ancestors who emigrated from Germany in 1850, nearly all of my lines end up with a Revolutionary War soldier - I could be in the DAR about 20 times over. (Even my Nova Scotian great grandmother was from people who were in MA before they went to Canada, being loyalists).

Education is huge, and can lead to riches if you become a lawyer, and not if you become a minister. I have an ancestor who graduated from Princeton in 1745, and in the direct line I am descended from, every single ancestor of mine went to college. And it's largely a female line! His son went to Dartmouth, then a daughter to Mount Holyoke (ca. 1840!), her daughter attended Wellesley, hers was Wellesley 1907, my grandmother Radcliffe 1933, and my aunt attended Radcliffe, too. But those folks were teachers and ministers, and never had much money. My achievements, such as they are, are deeply reliant on the level of education and social class of my ancestors. History matters, even on an individual basis.

I'll post the link to the web site I've set up in a locked post in a second - locked because the site mentions my actual name which I try to keep separate from this identity. If you've not got access to my locked posts and are interested in my dead ancestors (such a possibility seems vanishingly small, but there you have it), send me an email.
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Here it is, 9:45 (past my bedtime), and I'm wondering whether my ancestor (hmm, let's see, my great-great-great grandmother), Margaret Irwin Hays, snookered the DAR. Did Eliza McCully really have a baby at 44, in 1825? And if so, why does Margaret not appear on the list of children, which included "died in infancy" children, of which the youngest was born in 1813? A list that includes death dates in the 1890s, so not made before she was born or anything.

People, let me be a warning unto you.
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This is the autobiography of author Frances Parkinson Keyes, who was my great-grandmother's first cousin. She was born in 1885, and it was published in 1960, but she frequently refers to contemporary family letters, so there is possibly less memory-error than in some similar memoirs. (Now I want to go to New Orleans to see if they have her papers at Beauregard House!)

Taken as a whole the book is sort of fascinating in its Henry James-esque story of America vs. old Europe, social climbing through husbandry, and such-like. Keyes mother was - well, a woman with Goals and Means of Achieving Them. If I'd been her daughter, I too might have married as soon as it was legal for me to do so. Below are some passages specific to my family history.

Read more... )
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More about Melancthon Gilbert Wheeler, who was my great-great-great grandfather (1803-1870). Blame today's excursus on the Buffistas.
Read more... )


Aug. 3rd, 2010 07:53 pm
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Jonquil posted today about the resurgence of pertussis in California, due to non-vaccinators. Since we've been vaccinating for so long, a lot of people have forgotten how terrible many of the formerly common childhood illnesses can be. Here's a passage from a family memoir about how my grandfather's cousin Mary nearly died of diphtheria. It's worth bearing in mind that this family (with 7 children) is upper-class; they have live-in servants and Grandfather is a federal judge. The poor would have had such an illness much worse.

Read more... )
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Sorry, actual life, aside from Isaiah Mustafa, is on the boring-to-painful tip right now. So you get dead ancestors.
Read more... )

The Berles

Jul. 14th, 2010 01:36 pm
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So, Theodore Protas Berle, my great-grandfather. What I know off-hand of him, largely by report of my grandmother, is he was a strict authoritarian, of German heritage, born in St. Louis, more than 20 years older than his wife, whom he met and apparently decided he would one day marry when she was 8 years old.

Here's what Google tells me. Read more... )
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Yes, they were in BOTH of the newspapers in town.


The wedding of Miss Avis Wheeler Hill and Mr. Theodore Pratos Berle, at the home of the bride's parents on Main St., North Woburn, at 6:30 last evening, was one of the prettiest home weddings of the season. The large old fashioned house with its spacious hall and rooms, beautifully decorated with ferns, palms, leaves and roses made a splendid setting for the auspicious event.

The ceremony was performed by Rev. George H. Tilton, pastor of the North Congregational Church. Mr. Charles R. Carter, of this city was best man, and the maid of honor was the younger sister of the bride, Miss Elizabeth Putnam Hill. The members of the Alpha Kappa Chi of Wellesley College of which she was a member, also attended the bride en suite.

The marriage was solemnized in a room banked with young oaks and maples and the library and hall were prettily decorated with crimson and white peonies.

The bride wore a gown of white Japanese crepe, with tulle and old family lace, and carried a shower bouquet of lilies of the valley. Her bridal veil was fastened with a spray of lilies of the valley.

The bridesmaid was attired in organdie muslin and carried a bouquet of pale pink sweet peas tied with a ribbon of the same shade.

The couple were the recipients of an unusually large number of wedding gifts both useful and ornamental.

Following the ceremony a reception was given by the bride and groom assisted by Mr. and Mrs. William W. Hill, parents of the bride, and Mr. Charles R. Carter, the best man. There was a large attendance of relatives and friends including guests from New York, Pittsburg, Manchester, N. H., Boston, Winchester, Somerville, Medford, Woburn and elsewhere.

The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William W. Hill, and one of Woburn's most popular young ladies. She is a graduate of the Woburn high school, '04, and Wellesley college, class of '07.

The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Pratos Berle of St. Louis, Mo., a graduate of Oberlin college, with degrees from Yale, Andover, and Harvard colleges. He was for a time pastor of the North Congregational church in this city and is at present holding a responsible position in the New York office of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

After returning from an extended wedding tour, Mr. and Mrs. Berle will reside in New York city.
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At halfpast six o'clock Wednesday evening, June twenty-sixth, 1907, at the residence of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. William W. Hill, No. [blurry - 237?] Main Street, Woburn, Rev. George H. Tilton, pastor of the North Congregational church, N. W., performed the rite that united in wedlock Mr. Theodore P. Berle of New York City, and Miss Ava Wheeler Hill, graduate of the Class '07 of Wellesley College.It was one of the most notable matrimonial events that has occurred in this community for many years. Both parties have hosts of warm friends who showered congratulations and good wishes on the happy couple at the close of the ceremonies.

The Best Man was Mr. Charles R. Carter of Pittburgh, Pennsylvania; and Elizabeth Putnam Hill, younger sister of the bride, performed charmingly the duties of Bridesmaid. She was dressed in organdie muslin, and carried a bunch of pale pink sweetpeas tied with ribbon of the same shade. The bride was beautifully attired in white Japanese crepe with tulle, and old family lace. She carried a shower bouquet of Lilies of the Valley, and her bridal veil was fastened with a spray of the same. Her only ornament was a diamond and pearl brooch, the gift of the groom.

The ceremony took place in a room banked with young oaks and maples; the halls and library were decorated with white, pink, and crimson peonies; the diningroom was trimmed with pale yellow marguerites, the bride's Class flower at Wellesley; the sittingroom was trimmed with windflowers [sic?] in pastel shades. The house was redolent with the perfume of woodland ferns.

Mr. Morris Carter, a cousin of the bride, played bridal music just before the ceremony, and also the Lohengrin wedding march for the bridal party to come down the stairs. A very attractive feature was the grouping on the stairs and landing of 30 girls from the A K X Society of Wellesley, to which the bride belongs.

Following the wedding Mr. and Mrs. Berle gave an informal reception assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Hill and bridesmaid, which was attended by friends from Boston, Brookton, Cambridge, Constantinople, Turkey, Haverhill, Lowell, Manchester, N. H., Melrose, West Medford, Nashua, N. H., Newbury, Vt., Newburyport, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Pa., Roxbury, Somerville, Wakefield, Wareham, Winchester and Woburn.The Highland Orchestra furnished the music during the evening, at the close of which the bridal party left for a wedding tour.

These were my great-grandparents. They had 4 daughters, my grandmother 3rd in 1913, and it was not a happy family, at least according to my grandmother.
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It's a little funny to me how many people I am related to have wikipedia entries.

There's my great-great grandfather, Marcus Wilson Acheson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Wilson_Acheson

My great-grandfather's first cousin, Edward Goodrich Acheson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Acheson (nephew of the above)

My great-grandmother's first cousin, Frances Parkinson Keyes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Parkinson_Keyes

My grandmother Dod's first cousin, Adolf Augustus Berle, Jr. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Berle

Nobody on my mother's side at all, as far as I can tell; I know a lot about her family history, but nobody seems to be Wikipedia-level.
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Upon learning that my great-great-great-uncle John Henry Wheeler (1850-1887) was a professor of Classics, and having an office hour in the Classics department with no eager questioners, I poked around on the internet to see what more I could learn.

John Henry Wheeler was born to Melancthon Gilbert and Frances Cochran(e) Parkinson Wheeler in 1850. He attended Harvard and got his B.A in 1871 and his A.M. in 1875. He attended the seminar in Classics led by Basil Gildersleeve (my mother remarked that our next cat should be named Basil Gildersleeve) at the newly-founded Johns Hopkins University in 1877-1878. Another sometime attendant was M. Carey Thomas, who helped found Bryn Mawr College; see Ward W. Briggs, "Gildersleeve and M. Carey Thomas," American Journal of Philology, v. 121, n. 4 (2000), p. 629-635. He received his PhD in Bonn, Germany, in 1879. He appears in the Harvard Register for 1880 (courtesy of Google Books), listed as a tutor in Latin and Greek. He was a professor of Latin at Bowdoin College in 1881-1882, and then a Professor of Greek and department head at the University of Virginia from 1882 until his death in 1887. UVA has 4 boxes of his papers in their Small Special Collections Library, consisting of translations, including of Thucydides, and class preparation materials.

He had married Louise Fuller Johnson, of Newbury, VT, at a date I haven't yet discovered, and they had a daughter on July 21, 1885, who grew up to be the famous author Frances Parkinson Keyes, also wife of the governor of and then senator from New Hampshire. (http://www.catholicauthors.com/keyes.html) Apparently the family lived in James Monroe's house in Charlottesville (http://www.ashlawnhighland.org/), where Frances was born, and where John appears to have died on October 10, 1887 of a cause I have not seen mentioned. He was buried in his wife's family plot at The Ox-Bow in Newbury, VT, as was his daughter Frances when she died in 1970.
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I am about to turn 14 here, and my mother is 36 coming up on 37 - exactly the same age I am now. It's August 25, 1986, at Crazy Aunt Nancy and Billy's house in Richmond. We visited my great-grandmother Mary in the nursing home on that trip, and Mary thought my mother was her daughter Porter, who at that time had already been dead for 11 years.


Me and my siblings, Christmas 1986. This is my One True Haircut; I think I'm on my way back there right now. Possibly even that color, if I can justify the expense. (Notice that Nate is on Jane's back and Jane is on my back and I am very strong!)


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