A Cousin Found

December 15th, 2009

I posted several days ago that it was time to reach out and see if I could find any “cousins” out there who might be willing and able to help.  To do that, I had to try to find someone who I have in my Tree, and who is still alive.  That is the trick.  In order to be in the Tree, the had to be born before 1930.  That makes them at least 79 years old.

Well, in looking back through the “children” in my Tree, I came across Richard E. Walker.  Richard Walker was born in 1927.  He was the son of Rena Lamothe and John Walker.  Rena, of course, was the sister of Napoleon Lamothe who was my great grand father.  This makes Richard a first cousin to my grandfather.

I looked the name “Richard Walker” up online and, to my surprise, I found a “Richard E Walker” living in Worcester, MA — exactly where the family had been in 1930.  Moreover, his age was listed as 65+ !  I wrote a letter to Mr Walker introducing myself and listing a couple of his family members and asking if he was the same Richard Walker as I have in my Tree.  I sent the letter off a few days ago not really expecting too much.  I anticipated having to send 4 or 5 letters to get a response.

Much to my surprise, I received a telephone call from Mr Walker Sunday during halftime of the Patriots game!  It turns out he IS the same Richard Walker and he has been trying to trace his family tree for many years – even going so far as hiring a professional genealogist some years back.

We spoke for 10 or 15 minutes (he wanted to get back to the Pats game after halftime!) and I promised to print up what I had discovered of his Tree on both sides, send it to him, and ask him to fill in what he knew.  It turns out that I went back one generation further than his research (thanks to the Internet) so we both stand to learn something.  He knew most of Rena and her sisters, who I can not track because when they get married their names change.  This could be a huge source for both of us.  Im very excited!

A Milestone is Reached!

December 4th, 2009

If you had asked me 18 months ago when I first started recording what I know about the Family Tree if I ever would get to the point where I entered the 1,000th person, I would have said, “No way.”  But that is exactly what happened today.  I entered the one thousandth person into the Lamont-Crowley Family Tree on Ancestry.com. Check the Tree out here.

Unbelievable!  If I drank, I would toast myself LOL

There are probably another 100 or 125 people I could enter, but I am waiting until I can definitely prove that Maximillian Grenier was my great-great grandfather and that the records I found for Godfrey Pichette in Canada are the same Godfrey Pichette who was my great-great grandfather in Providence.  I don’t really add people to the Tree unless I have some documentation I believe is accurate.

Anyway, back to work.  Let’s see if I can get to 2,000 quicker than I got to 1,000 LOL

Looking for Cousins

November 30th, 2009

It seems I’ve about exhausted the resources and memories of the people I’m in direct contact with in terms of the Family Tree.  It is time to start looking for cousins: second, third and more.  It seems extremely likely that someone else in the family has an interest in the Tree so it should be just a matter of contacting them.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? LOL  We’ll see!

Brady Cousins Found!

November 14th, 2009

After the passing of our Mom and Dad, my sister was left with the task of going through their papers.  One of the goals we had was for her to try and track down the results of the work my folks did when they went to Ireland back in the late 1980s.  Mom was trying to gather enough documentation to prove either of her grandparents (Big Tim Crowley and Teresa Brady) had been born in Ireland.  Only by showing that she was no more than 2 generations removed could she meet the legal requirements for someone to own land in Ireland.  That was a goal my folks had.  It took almost their entire trip (I hesitate to call it a vacation) but they found the church where Mom’s grandmother had been baptised.  That enabled them to obtain her birth certificate.

My sister, Mary, found it!

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Having this enabled me to show definitively that one Emma O’Gara and her mother, Genevieve Carr, are great nieces of Teresa Brady!  I’ve sent them a copy of the birth certificate and they confirm the names, dates, and places and that “our” Teresa Brady is “their” Teresa Brady!

Emma had a baby boy 3 weeks ago, so it may take a while for her to get enough free time to answer all the questions we have.  In the meantime, I’ve asked the Crowley Cousins for any stories related to them by their parents about Teresa.  Emma and Mrs Carr are as curious about Teresa in the US as we are about her in Ireland.

Im hoping this will be the beginning of a robust correspondence between us.  Perhaps even a couple of the other cousins will take part.  That would be wonderful.

A Contact from Across the Pond

November 3rd, 2009

I found a web site that specializes in family trees in Great Britain and uploaded my Tree there.  I was hoping for some help in the Crowley part of the Tree.  So far nothing there.  However, I have received several contacts from people who have one or more Lamont’s in their Tree.  No one has matched there yet either.

And then yesterday I got an email from someone who has Barbara Loose in their Tree and found her in mine also.  Well, I wrote back to them (after I looked up Barbara in my own Tree – the name was completely unknown to me).  It turns out my Dad’s Uncle Joe had married a Barbara Loose while he was stationed in England during World War 2.  The person who emailed was her nephew!  He actually had been to visit the two of them while they were living in California in the early 1990s.  Amazing!

He’s got lots of family info on Barbara and I am going to grab and add it to my Tree.

Now I have something to tell Auntie Mary when I go visit her! LOL
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These pictures were taken while Uncle Joe was stationed in England.  Aunt Barbara worked for the Red Cross during the war.  Uncle Joe was my Dad’s favorite on that side of the family.  I remember meeting him when I was 10 or 11.  He and Aunt Barbara came to RI from CA to visit the family.  He was a big guy, tall and it was easy to see that he had been powerfully built in his prime.  Deep voice and the absolute nicest guy. 

 Aunt Barbara passed away in October of 1999.  Uncle Joe followed in March of 2000.  Funny how that happens.

Where In the World is Ken Clark?

September 21st, 2009

Well, a lot has happened over the summer — I didnt bother to write about it, my apologies for that.  Before I try to update everything that has gone on, I want to write about something I just learned last week.

Aunt Lois (my Mom’s aunt, my great aunt) is 80 years old.  She is not in good health.  She is of perfectly sound mind, however, and is proving to be a great resource in my research.  During a recent visit to her, she told me about her brother, Ken, the movie star.

Yes, movie star.

Ken Clark

Ken Clark was in about 50 movie and TV episodes in a career that spanned 5 different decades, from the 50s to the 90s.  In 1956, he won roles in three Robert D Webb movies, On the Threshold of Space, The Proud Ones, and Love Me Tender, yes THAT Love Me Tender, with Elvis!  However, the most well-known of his roles is probably that of Stewpot in South Pacific.   

That was his busiest year and after that, work seems to have gotten harder to find.  He did a lot of TV episode work, “Death Valley Days,” “The Thin Man,” “Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre,” “Highway Patrol” to name a few.  But the movie roles didnt seem to be coming.

As the 50s came to a close, the major movie studios began to change their production model.  They stopped signing actors to exclusive contracts.  Thus, Ken, as well as a host of others, lost his contract with 20th Century Fox.  In between the growing list of TV appearances, he made a couple of low budget science fiction movies, (the now classic) Attack of the Giant Leeches and 12 to the Moon.
Ken Clark in 12 to the Moon

Ken Clark in Attack of the Giant Leeches

But, movie stardom did not seem to be in the offing – at least not in the US.  So, around 1961 Ken packed up and moved to Italy.  It was there his career took off.

But I dont want to delve too much into his career.  most of what I know is public record on various web sites like http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0164153/  What I learned from Aunt Lois is what, to me, makes this even more exciting: no one in Aunt Lois’ family ever had contact with Ken after 1960!  No call, no card, no note, no telegram, no nothing!

Aunt Lois would not tell me why, but it must have been something big — at least, big in the 1950s.  What else could keep someone from contacting their family for 40+ years?  Nothing when his parents divorced, nothing when his father died, nothing when his mother died, nothing when his other sister died.  Just nothing.  It must have been something emotional, not just a fight between a small town Ohio boy with a dream and his father over becoming an actor.

I have been trying to track Ken Clark down, but so far no luck.  I contacted the Screen Actors Guild and they do have a record of him but they have no contact information.

If anyone out there knows of a way I can try to contact Ken Clark, please let me know.

Aunt Eleanor Almost Didn’t Come Back

May 30th, 2009

In the early morning hours of September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland.  At 11:15 AM on September 3, 1939, England declared war on Germany.  In between those two world-changing events, something happened that went unnoticed by almost everyone in the world: the SS Athenia left Liverpool, England and sailed for Montreal, Canada.

The Athenia had departed Glasgow, Scotland a day earlier, stopping at Belfast, Ireland and Liverpool to pick up more passengers.  One of those passengers was Eleanor Crowley.  Eleanor had been married to Daniel Crowley for less than 10 months and was in England to fulfill family obligations around the death of her aunt.  She had managed to work in a visit or two to see other relatives — with the impending war she didnt know when, or if, she would see them again — but now it was time to head home and be reunited with her new husband.  News of the invasion of Poland had certainly caused him some concern for her safety.

SS Athenia Underway

By the evening of September 3, the ship was about 250 miles northwest of the island of Inishtrahull, Ireland.  Word had reached them of the declaration of war and the mood was somber.  At about 4:30 that evening, the Athenia was spotted by a German U-boat, U-30.  The captain of the U-boat, Fritz-Julius Lemp tracked the ship for three hours.  He recorded that the ship was sailing without its lights on and sailing in a zig-zag course.  Based on these factors, plus the location – which was outside typical shipping lanes – Lemp concluded the ship was a troop carrier.  Lemp fired two torpedoes at the Athenia.  One struck home.

The torpedo ruptured the bulkhead between the engine room and the boiler room.  The engines stopped immediately as icy ocean water poured in through the enormous hole.  The Athenia was dead in the water and began to list.  The radioman began to broadcast SOS messages giving their location and situation.  Several nearby ships altered course to help.  The crew began to load passengers onto the life boats, but it was not an orderly process.  Panic gripped the ship, passengers and crew alike.  They had no idea if there were more torpedoes to come; how long the ship would remain afloat; or even if there would be enough lifeboats for everyone.  About 50 people had been killed by the explosion and many more were injured.  Later, reports were filed by some passengers that members of the crew were looting cabins after they ordered the people to the lifeboats.

Aunt Eleanor was put in a lifeboat along with about 50 other people.  But even that did not go smoothly.  One man fell out of the lifeboat and hit the water next to Aunt Eleanor.  She reached over and grabbed hold of him but she was not strong enough to lift him back into the boat.  Afraid that she might lose her grip, or worse, get pulled in too, she screamed for help.  Even as the men near her reached out to help she clenched her fists tighter so as not to let him slip away.  Finally, he was in the boat and she relaxed her grip.  They both survived, but unfortunately, Aunt Eleanor’s nails did not.  She had gripped so hard into his clothes that her nails were broken!

Their lifeboat drifted near the hulk of the Athenia for a couple of hours until a Norwegian tanker, the MS Knute Nelson, arrived and transferred the passengers aboard. 

SS Athenia Sinking

The Athenia sank about 14 hours after being struck by the torpedo.  The Knute Nelson picked up a total of 450 survivors and dropped them off in Galway, Ireland.

Uncle Dan did not learn Aunt Eleanor’s fate until a list of survivors was published on September 6.  I can not even imagine how long those three days were for him.

Aunt Eleanor finally made it back to the US on September 27 aboard the SS Orizaba.  She had lost everything except the clothes she wore, but she survived.

Timothy Crowley and Theresa Brady

May 10th, 2009

In going through some of Mom’s things, Mary came across these pictures of Timothy Crowley, my great grandfather.

The first is of him taken on his wedding day, April 24, 1913.
Timothy J Crowley, Sr

This one was taken years later, obviously, and shows him in his police uniform.  I don’t know yet what the numbers on the uniform mean.  I am hoping the Providence Police can help me with that.
Tim Crowley in uniform

This is his wedding photo, with Theresa Brady, and was given to me by Mom’s cousin Ann Marie.
Theresa Brady and Timothy Crowley

2 Funerals and No Weddings

May 8th, 2009

I have been absent for quite a while, obviously.  This wasn’t due to lack of interest or a pause in research – well, actually, there was a pause, but not a voluntary one.  My parents passed away. 

Mom died two days after Christmas; Dad died the day before Easter.  Both had been ill for a while.  Mom had Alzheimer’s and Dad was just sick – believe it or not, they still don’t know what was wrong. 

Both lived with my sister in Virginia, so the issue of services for them became problematic.  Mom told us she didn’t want anything, but when we told family members in Rhode Island that we planned to honor her wishes, there was quite an uproar.  We decided we’d wait until Spring and have a memorial Mass at that time.  Mom’s Mass was March 21, 2009 at St. Rita’s in Warwick, RI.  Dad’s was 6 weeks later.

There was a slight mix-up at my Dad’s Mass.  The priest who had said my Mom’s Mass, Fr O’Hara, got called away at the last minute.  He arranged to have someone else say Mass for us.  Fr. O’Hara is an old family friend. He and my folks were extremely active in St Rita’s “back in the day,” as they say.  Well, the priest who filled in for him forgot that I wanted to say a few words about my Dad after the Mass.  He just dismissed us and we left.  No eulogy.

I had spoken at my Mom’s Mass and wanted to do so again for my Dad.  Many of the people who were there for Mom were back again and they were, no doubt, expecting it as well.

Not having had the chance to say it then disrupted my grieving more than I realized.  After speaking about Mom, I had a sense of closure.  Not so with Dad.  So, for a purely selfish reason, I’m posting his eulogy here. 

____________________________________________________________

When I started thinking about what I was going to say today, a few words popped into my head right away: Happy, Supportive, Intelligent, Funny.

But there is one word that – for me – sums Dad up à Teacher.

Dad wanted to be a school teacher, but he never had the opportunity to become one, so he became Life Teacher.

Dad Taught me many things at every stage of my life. Some I’ve outgrown, others I will remember forever and hope to pass on to my kids.

When I was little, he taught me how to throw a football, the rules of baseball, why I shouldnt hit my sister.  As I got older, it was things like how to start a camp fire, how to fish, how to spit watermelon seeds in a race across our back yard after a cookout.

And, it wasn’t just me.  Dad had many students. He was a Scout Master for years at St Rita’s.  Troop 1, Oakland Beach. 

He taught the scouts a lot besides orienteering and camping: Perseverance, Charity, Volunteerism.

I remember one December.  He volunteered the Scouts to set up the Nativity Scene on the lawn out front.  This was back in the days when Christmas season began after Thanksgiving, not the Monday after 4th of July weekend.  Anyway, Dad forgot to get the key to the storage room downstairs and, of course, the priest (Fr. Gillooly) was not home.  So…. Dad taught us to Improvise!

With great care and precision and skill I didn’t know he had, Dad taught 8 Boy Scouts how to use a credit card to jimmy a lock open!

Dad also taught his grandchildren many positive lessons.  Some were the very same ones he taught to me – others were different.

When Amy and Sean were young, we took them down to visit my folks. Amy had just started to play soccer.  Dad told her it was great that she was excelling in school and sports and that a woman can do anything a man can do.  If you know my daughter, you know she took that lesson to heart immediately!

Not every lesson was so deep.

One time when my folks came up to visit – again when the kids were young – Dad took the time to sit down with Sean and teach him the “PROPER” way to put ketchup on a hot dog.  Sean does it that way to this very day!

One of the most powerful lessons Dad taught me is that it’s OK to admit when you’ve made a mistake.  So long as we learn from it, correct it, and move on.

And there is one last lesson Dad has to teach. 

I am now in the process of learning that nothing in this life is permanent.  The ones we love cannot stay with us forever.  Each moment is so fragile and so precious.  I have to learn to live without him being just a phone call away.

Dad taught a lot of people a lot of things.  I am proud to have been his student, and his son.

_________________________________________________________________________

Colleen Lamont,Ed Lamont

This was taken at my sister’s wedding.  This is how I will remember them.

A Memorial

March 30th, 2009

In the newspaper clipping describing Joseph Lamont having been killed, it mentioned that he graduated from St Rafael’s Academy in Pawtucket, RI.  Someone suggested I try to contact St Rafael’s to see if they had any information they could share about him.  That seemed a good idea, so I did.

 I sent an email to their Alumni Director.  A couple of days later, I received a reply.  She told me that Joe Lamont had transferred into St Rafael’s and had been “about a C student” both before and after he transferred.  She said he had left school early to enlist, but had completed enough coursework to be graduated that June.  She said the school was pretty forgiving with young men who left to enlist, so whether he actually did finish enough or they just said he did, he still graduated.  By that time, though, he was in basic training.  He never got to see his diploma.

On the way back from a recent visit to RI, I stopped by the grounds of St Rafael.

There it was.
St Raphael Memorial

A close up.
Close up

It gave me a good feeling to know that even if I hadn’t “rediscovered” him, he would have been remembered somewhere.  Still, Im glad he’ll be remembered by family and not just his school.