Archive for the ‘Lamont Side’ Category

A Cousin Found

Tuesday, 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 Contact from Across the Pond

Tuesday, 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
Photobucket

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.

A Memorial

Monday, 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.

Lt Col Richards, A 549th Comrade

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

I just hung up the telephone after a conversation with retired Lt Col Fred Richards.  His name and contact info were given to me by a relative of a former 549th member.  Mr Richards knew Joe Lamont, though not well.  He remembered him from flight school and still cant figure out how my uncle finished Night Fighter Training before he did.  They were separated at that time and Mr Richards followed my uncle to Hawaii, lagging some 2 or 3 months behind.  They were not reunited again until many months later on Iwo Jima.
 
Sadly, the only time Mr Richards remembers my uncle from Iwo was hearing that he had been killed the day before.  He regrets not having found him sooner.
 
Still, the validation of meeting someone who actually KNEW my great uncle is a wonderful feeling.  Mr Richards and I had a great conversation covering most of his career in the military.  He has many, many stories!  I’ll be in touch with him again, I have no doubt.
 
I did learn that night fighter training was purely voluntary.  And that the wash out rate was fairly high.  I asked if he knew Earl Kovara and he said Yes.  I told him I was in contact with Max Tomassini (Earl’s son-in-law), and would pass Mr Richards contact info to him.  Mr Richards said that would be great.  I think he really enjoys talking to people who are connected to one of his old units, the 549th.  That seems to be a common trait among the WW2 veterans I have met.

I’m very glad and very fortunate to have met Mr Richards.

The Missing Greniers Found!

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Ancestry.com came through again!

I had been spending a lot of time on only a few people in my Tree lately, so I thought it would be good to go back, take a look at the outstanding threads, and see if there was anything I could add.  Im so glad I did.

Ancestry.com has a number of message boards where people can post their queries for others to read and, with a little luck, respond.  This has worked for me quite a few times in the past (see Orcutts, Curriers) so I thought I would try it again.  I posted a request for information on Mary Anna “Annie” Grenier (b1875 d1923) who married Napoleon Lamothe on 6/30/1896 in Providence, Rhode Island.  About all I know, I said in the post, is that Annie’s mother lived with the couple in Worcester, MA in 1900, was also named Mary, and was born in 1836.  Not a lot to go on, I know.

Not a lot, but apparently enough!

Roland Grenier responded to my query the same day I posted it with marriage details including Annie’s parents names: Maximilian Grenier and Zenaide Despres.  It is still a mystery to me how “Zenaide” got translated as “Mary” by the census taker in 1900, but neither Maximilian nor Zenaide spoke English, and while Maximilian could read and write, he could only do so in French.  I suspect another incident of “language barrier” struck.

The reason I seem to be taking this at face value is because I had earlier found a tentative result in the census of 1880 in Southbridge, MA detailing one Maximillian Grenier, age 47, and his family –> wife, Xener, age 44, and children Joseph, John, Henry, Samuel, Rose E, Albert, Mary A, and Marie (with her husband Joseph).  Note the listing of Mary A.  In 1880 her age is given as 5.  That matches exactly with what I already know of her.  Note too, the name Xener.  If pronounced with a French-Canadian accent, that would probably sound like “Ze-nay”.  Very, very much like “Zenaide” might sound to an 1880 American census taker’s ear!  Again, note that Zenaide could neither speak, read, nor write English.

In the 1900 census, Zenaide is listed as having given birth to 18 children, only 9 of whom were surviving.  Here are 8 of those children.

I now have entire new lines of searches to run!  I will keep you posted on the results.

More on Joseph Lamont, 549th NFS

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

An impromptu visit to Aunty yesterday yielded another priceless nugget!

Aunty had been going through her things looking for a letter mentioning Moses Orcutt she received many years ago.  She found that letter (the topic of another post) but also found a photograph of Joseph T Lamont!

Joseph T Lamont

The photo wasnt really a photo, rather it was the picture included in the news item published in the local paper when he was killed.  So, what I have here is a photo of a photo that was printed in the newspaper.  Hence the image quality is not exactly great.  Looking at the photo, though, it appears to be his “graduation” photo taken upon completion of Army basic training.  It is difficult to see, but there is definitely something on his lapel.  And his tie appears to be military style.  It could also be his high school photo, but he left high school early in order to enlist, so Im not sure if he had a graduation photo.

On that topic, the clipping referenced Joseph leaving St Rafael’s Academy in April 1943, 2 months before he was to graduate, to enlist in the Army.  He had completed enough of his senior year to graduate and he was awarded his diploma in abstensia.  Given that he was 20 when he died in 1945, he would have turned 18 in 1943.  My guess is he turned 18 that April and enlisted as soon as he could – not even waiting to finish his last year of high school.

I need to get a picture of the newspaper clipping itself.  Perhaps there are more clues buried there that a thorough reading will reveal.  In the meantime, I have sent the picture off to some of the surviving members of the 549th NFS to see if any of them might remember his face.

More coming on this topic as soon as possible.

The Caribou Connection

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Time for a quick “catch up” update.

Thomas Currier, father of Elizabet Currier (wife of Frank Hartwell Orcutt) was born in Canada.  He married Laura Gagnon of Maine, and their children were born in Maine.  I can not find a record of Laura’s birth, but I found the WW1 draft registration card of her brother, Thomas, Jr.  He indicated that he was born in Caribou, ME in November 1891.  Awesome!

 So, I checked online to research Maine birth records.  I discovered that Maine did not pass a law until 1892 requiring local towns to send their birth registries to the state.  Thomas was born 2 months too early to have fallen into that “new” requirement.  Argh!

I looked up the town of Caribou, ME and found they have a web site.  A little while later, I was on the telephone with their Town Clerk and their Librarian (both of whom were extremely helpful).  It turns out that record keeping was, shall we say, somewhat sketchy back then.  There are no records prior to 1892 for the Currier family.

Oh well.  Close but no cigar.  I will have to try other sources and see what I can find.

In the meantime, if any of you out there have any info on the Gagnons or Curriers of Caribou, ME, please feel free to contact me! LOL

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)