Archive for January, 2009

A Missing Relative No Longer Missing

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Another update…

As you know, I have been keeping a visual record of my Tree on Ancestry.com.  In addition to research capabilities, that web site also has a large message board area.  I have posted on several of them mentioning specific relatives and asking for information.   I received replies to several of them from people who are related – in a very distant way – and from people who are just willing to help me in my research.  One response was of particular note, and is the subject of this post.

The message I posted mentioned my great grandfather, Frank Hartwell Orcutt.  The response I received was simply this, “Hello, I know this genealogy very well & can give you great insights. My Great Grandfather and your Frank H Orcutt were brothers.”

Needless to say, I replied.  This message was hugely different from anything I had received before.  In the past, even when the person wasrelated to me, it was usually the case that our 7th or 8th or even 10th great grand parents were the same.  Never before had I heard from someone who was this close a relative!  Add to this, the fact that she was related to a brother of Frank H Orcutt meant that there was a potential that I could learn more about him and that branch of the family.  Little did I know what lay in store!

I emailed the poster and it wasnt long before we were emailing several times a day.  It turns out that the poster is named Sharon Orcutt Peters, and she is, among a number of other things, a genealogist!  She is an author as well, and along with innumerable articles in various magazines, she has a book published on the history of Abington, MA.  Well, as you can imagine, Sharon has been a tremendous source of knowledge, information, and inspiration.

Sharon will be the subject of a number of future posts, but for now I need to continue keeping my promise to update a number of other topics.   After that, I’ll post more on current happenings.

More on Joseph T Lamont

Friday, January 30th, 2009

One of the people about whom I’ve learned the most, and at the same time the least, is Joseph Lamont.  I know a lot more now about how he was killed.  I have a copy of the official accident report.  Eye witness descriptions, aircraft information, and crew information are all included.

I’ve met a few people who have helped immensely.  I hope they do not mind me mentioning their names – I will not disclose their contact information, just thank them for all the help and information they’ve shared with me.

Ken Arnold, who is web master of a site dedicated to a number of 549th members.  http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Runway/9601/7thaf.html is dedicated to Earl Tigner, a compatriot of Joseph Lamont.  Ken has offered to set up a page for Joseph, but there isnt a whole lot I can add to the information in the accident report.

Max Tomassini’s, father-in-law was Earl Kovara, another member of the 549th on Iwo Jima.  MAx has found proof that Joseph Lamont and 8 other members of the 549th were awarded Bronze Stars for their roles in the ground fighting on Iwo Jima.  Max has over 150 photos taken by his father-in-law and has sent them to me for examination.  He has put me in touch with a couple of people who may yet be instrumental in shedding more light on Joseph as a person.

I’ve been in touch with the current commanding officer of the 549th Combat Training Squadron (the current incarnation of the 549th), Lt Col. Ron “Rat” Hanselman, and his executive officer, Maj Misty “Shark” Sorensen.  Col Hanselman has gone to the extent of appointing a squadron historian to put together as much of the history of the 549th as possible.

I have been continually amazed and gratified that there are so many, many people who have made it their business to preserve the legacy and memories of men like my great uncle.

I will write more on this topic later.  For now, on to update other topics.

A Visit to Aunty

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I suppose the first of my “catch up” posts should be about my trip to visit Aunty Mary.  I admit I was of two minds about it.  Part of me looked very much forward to it – I hadn’t seen Aunty in years and she was one of my favorite aunts.  But, I knew there was huge potential that she’d be upset with me (again, I hadn’t seen her in years!) and that she’d pull no punches in letting me know.  Which, by the way, is one of the reasons she’s one of my favorites.  Also, my father told me she has 6 or 7 cats living with her.  As I mentioned before, I not only despise cats, I am violently allergic to them.

Nevertheless, I took a day off work and drove the hour or so down to her house.  It is the same house she’s lived in since some time around 1935.  The same house my dad was born in.  The same house my grandfather died in. The same house.  In fact, almost everything in it is the same – but more on that later.

My first thought when she opened the door was “Aunty got old.”  What did I expect? She turns 81 this April.  Still, 80 is the new 50 if Aunty is any guide!  She lives alone and gets herself around, does minor repairs on the house, painted the outside trim, cuts the lawn, everything!  She is amazing.  I hope I am as active when I am 65, let alone 80.

Well, we went in and chatted for a bit.  I updated her on the new things I had learned since we last spoke.  And then, she broke out the albums.  So many albums!

Aunty has always been a pack rat.  In fact, I think she will be remembered as teh patron saint of pack rats!  But that is not a bad thing – especially where genealogy is concerned.  Aunty showed me a stack of 15 or 16 photo albums.  I was almost overwhelmed.  She told me who and what was in each of them.  She categorized them chronologically, by family member.  I had brought my digital camera, a pad, pen, and a digital recorder to help take notes.  We opened the first page of the first book and my overwhelming was complete.

I saw faces of people who, until that moment, had only been a collection of names, dates, and familial lines on a family tree chart.  My grandfather, Paul, who died in 1953 was there as was my great grand father, Frank – the one who left his wife and 3 kids (including my grandmother) only to return some years later to have 6 more kids.  So many people were there: aunts, uncles, cousins, people I knew only as adults who were pictured as kids, grandparents, great grandparents, great uncles and aunts, and more.  There were drawings, poems, original artwork done by my relatives – and surprisingly good, if I may say so.

Aunty knew them all by name.  She rattled off names and dates and places like a tour guide who’d been on the job for 60 years.  We fell into a rhythm.  She told all about the photos on each page; we staged the page so I could take a picture of it; I took the picture; then we moved to the next page. It went on for page after page after page.

99 pictures later, the battery in the camera died.  Of all the things I brought, the battery charger was not one of them.  99 pictures later it was about 2 in the afternoon.  Still, we didn’t stop.  We went though 8 or 9 of the albums before it was time to go.

Since then I’ve been copying, cropping, and saving individual pictures.  When I dont know the names anymore (my memory isnt what it used to be), I send the pages to Aunty and she labels them for me.  I’m not done yet but I still have to go back and get more pictures of more pages.

More on that in a future post.

(so much for more frequent shorter posts LOL)

Long Overdue Updates

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Well, it has been a wild ride, and it isnt over yet.   So much has happened it seems a blur.

I went to visit Auntie; took 99 pictures of pages in various photo albums; learned a lot more about Joseph T. Lamont; met several people who have helped in my research; met 2 relatives I didnt know I had; reconnected with a bunch of relatives I havent seen in years; and, in the meantime lost my mom to Alzheimer’s Disease over Christmas.

I’ll write separate posts on these topics over the next few days and include many more details there.

 I feel badly that I have not kept up with the blog.  I need to get into the habit of posting more frequent, shorter posts.