Archive for the ‘Progress’ Category

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

Names Are So Confusing

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

“A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”

William Shakespeare wrote the former; we dont know who wrote the latter, but of all the old sayings that have to do with names, I think Ben Franklin’s best applies to my situation.  Ben said, “What signifies knowing the names if you know not the nature of things?”  Well said, Ben.  What does it matter if you know what things are called, if that’s all you know about them?  Very true, unless you happen to be talking about genealogy.

There are a lot of examples in my search where I have been stymied, for longer or shorter times, by differences in names.  Whether they’ve been spelling differences (Lamont vs Lamonte), transcription errors in the records (Crowley vs Crowsley), or resulting from language barriers (Isaac vs Elzear) they’ve been issues to overcome.

The one that is most recent is whether Frank Hartwell Orcutt is really Francis Hartwell Orcutt.

Frank Hartwell Orcutt

I found a copy of the Birth Records for Abington, MA in 1884 in which his birth is recorded as “Frank.”  But, given that his father was Francis Colby Orcutt, could it be that the parents were calling him “Frank” instead of Francis to avoid confusion?  My new-found cousin, Sharon, is calling in some favors and trying to get a copy of the official birth certificate from the Town of Abington (being a published author and professional genealogist has its advantages!), so soon this mystery may be solved.

There are 4 or 5 others I already know about and just as many likely waiting to step up and cause problems!

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.

Face to Face

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

After Auntie Mary’s last letter, I realized that it would be far easier for me to ask my questions if we were sitting face to face.  I had hesitated to do this because I know she has many, many cats – and in addition to hating cats I am also quite allergic to them.

However, Auntie has several photos and who knows what kind of documentation that I would love to get copied.  Even if that means bringing a camera down and taking pictures of them.

I just sent the letter yesterday, so I will update the blog when she replies.

An Unknown Great Uncle

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Another letter received from Auntie Mary, and another intriguing lead.

It seems her father, Paul Alfred Lamont, used to refer to an “Uncle Al.”  The only name she knew for uncle Al were his initials: A. F. Lamont.  The only thing Aunty knew about uncle Al was that he had a son who was killed during WW2 near Iwo Jima.  Aunty said, “His mother was listed, not his father.  Perhaps his father was dead.”

OK, so I did some research on casualties of WW2 from Rhode Island and found one Joseph T. Lamont.  He was a second lieutenant in the 549th Night Fighter Squadron.  He is listed as having received an Air Medal and a Purple Heart but as being Killed in Action July 17, 1945.  This date is about 4 months after the battle of Iwo Jima, but the 549th Squadron was active in the region before and after the actual battle.  I need to find a source to get a copy of the incident report of his death.

I can find no birth record of a Joseph T Lamont in Rhode Island.  However, on Alphonse’s draft registration card for WW2, he lists a Jane Lamont as his wife.  It is entirely possible that after Annie’s death, Alphonse got married to this Jane and had a son.  Even if this took place after 1923, the son would have been old enough to fight in WW2.

This bears much closer investigation and is yet another line I need to follow.

I think I am going to try to make an arrangement to go visit Auntie Mary and bring a recorder and digital camera.  It seems every time we communicate, I find new leads worth following!

Moses Orcutt, veteran of the Revolutionary War

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

The info Auntie Mary gave me has enabled me to make leaps and bounds of progress on the Orcutt branch of the Tree.  The reason for this is that the Orcutts have lived in Abington and Weymouth, MA for over 200 years!  Tracing them back through the US Censuses was a fairly simple matter.

Of course, the farther back one goes, two things become clear.  First, that the Census was, at first, just a mechanism to enumerate just (male) heads of households – everyone else was just counted (not named).  Second, the further back one traces their roots, the more likely one is to find some other Tree which overlaps.  This is what happened to me.  I found 8 or 9 Trees which overlapped the Orcutt branch.

Now, this has some perils of its own.  For example, if someone else made a mistake, just adding their info to my Tree means I have done nothing more than duplicating that mistake.  So, while finding overlapping Trees is good, it does not mean just “click and go” on to the next.  It means click and check, confirm then go.

Either way, it is pretty neat to think that in one fell swoop, my collective ancestors went from “late 19th century immigrants” to “late 19th century immigrants except for one branch who fought in the American Revolution!”  If I was a female, I would be a Daughter of the American Revolution!  Nice!

New Questions for Auntie Mary

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Auntie Mary provided either clues or actual information enough for me to answer several of the original questions my early research had raised.  For example, the question about who Ralph Mousdell was, the question of Frank H Orcutt’s biological father, the question of who (and where) exactly Dinah Currier was, and what the realstory was behind Frank and Elsie Orcutt and their seeming two lives.  Well, all of those have been resolved now – thanks to Auntie.  However, there are a few of the old ones still remaining, and now there are a couple of new ones.

Auntie gave me the birth and death dates for Napoleon Lamothe.  However, only the birth date of Alphonse.  Why?  Was Napoleon still in contact with his children after Annie passed away?  She died in 1923, but Napoleon did not die until 1947.

Why did Alphonse change his name to Lamont when Annie did?  And, how did they decide on LAMONT anyway?  Why not Lamond, Lamotte, or Jones?  Did she change the names of the three kids legally, or just practically?  If not legally, is the marriage of her son, Paul, to my grandmother legal?  Wow, what a thought.

And then there is the question of who Annie Grenier’s father was.  I know her mother was Mary, born in August of 1836, but that is all.  Who were Annie’s ancestors?

Each question answered raises a new unanswered one.  But, at least the questions are changing and the process is continuing.