Monthly Archives: July 2018

Classroom roots

Teaching Of Plimoth Plantation in 1983.

A time of major transition – I just retired from teaching after a wonderful run of thirty-five years. No one who knows me well asks: What will you do [more of] next? While genealogy, per se, was not part of the prescribed English and history curriculum, that quest always played in the background and sometimes assumed center stage. Particularly in the teaching of American history, it became the hook which anchored students to a personalized past.

Every Thanksgiving, I would manage to sneak in a lesson on William Bradford, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, that usually began with a recitation from Of Plimoth Plantation, committed to memory: “It is well known unto the godly and judicious…” What impressed my students more than a hearty declamation of the text was that I could recount my descent from Bradford. During my first year of teaching, when seniors just a few years younger than I sorely tried me, one student stayed after class to talk to me. “Don’t tell my friends I told you this, but I am a descendant of John Alden. Have you heard of him?” Continue reading Classroom roots

‘The first of their fellow citizens’

The life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Treasury Secretary, has penetrated the wider public consciousness ever since the release of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical.

The musical touts Hamilton’s connection to his adopted home, New York City, and in truth his name is found on streets and buildings across Manhattan. Meanwhile, though Boston was a stronghold of his fellow Federalists, Hamilton did not spend much time in the city during his lifetime. As such it is peculiar that his statue can be found on the Commonwealth Mall in Boston’s Back Bay. Continue reading ‘The first of their fellow citizens’

ICYMI: Piece work

[Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 19 December 2016.]

I have developed a soft spot for two of my great-great-grandparents, Domenico Caldarelli and Maria Tavano. They were born in Italy, Domenico in Naples and Maria in Villa Santa Maria, Chieti. They emigrated to New York with their four children around 1890.

I had my first glimpse of Domenico in New York in the 1900 Federal Census, when he was listed as a prisoner in Sing Sing. Was this my Domenico? The prisoner was older than I thought Domenico should be. Why was he in Sing Sing? What happened to his family? Continue reading ICYMI: Piece work

Tune up

The big, green Buick we had when I was a child was named “Betsey.” Like all cars she needed maintenance. So with Betsey in mind, I have scheduled a “tune up” of the Early New England Families Study Project to be done after I finish the second volume of Early New England Families 1641-1700, which is nearly done.

Continue reading Tune up

Finding peace

Empty copper tubes mark spots where ceramic containers of ashes have been removed to be reunited with families. The original Oregon State Insane Asylum building is visible in the background.

If you do family history long and broadly enough (searching out great-great-aunts and fifth cousins, as well as your direct ancestors), you’re sure to find them: family members whose census or burial records indicate that they were living in a state hospital or similar institution. Continue reading Finding peace

To be American

I grew up with an understanding that I had German and Irish roots. My paternal grandfather would often pull out a few German phrases he learned from his grandparents. On my mother’s side my cousins and I all took great pride in being “Kiley girls.” While these identities were strong in my upbringing, it wasn’t until I was older that I realized my most recent immigrant ancestor was not German or Irish, but Czech – an identity that was not impressed upon me at all.

Continue reading To be American

Back to the sea

Haring's funeral train
President Warren G. Harding’s funeral train passing through Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on the way to his state funeral in Washington, D.C., August 1923.

When writing my last post, I missed an event that Granduncle Fred (Ross W. McCurdy, that’s for you!) mentioned briefly in the many notes he had made. While Fred was “hoboing” his way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, he and his pals happened to be sitting on a coal car in the freight yard at Marion, Ohio, when the body of 29th U.S. President Warren G. Harding arrived for burial in Marion, Harding’s hometown. The President had died suddenly on 2 August 1923 at age 57 while on a speaking tour to San Francisco. Seeing “the entire train draped with black bunting” was a somber moment for Fred and his companions. Continue reading Back to the sea

A Mulcahy mystery

Michael Mulcahy on his wedding day.

On 7 May 2018, my maternal grandmother Eleanor Margaret (Buckle) Sadlow passed away at the age of 89.  She was born 22 August 1928 in Arlington, Massachusetts, the daughter of William and Frances (Mulcahy) Buckle; in 1947, she became the wife of Chester Francis Sadlow.

Following this sad event, as I was helping to go through some of my grandparents’ belongings. I came across a photograph of my great-great-grandfather Michael Mulcahy. The back of this photo had my grandmother’s handwriting indicating that her maternal grandfather was born in 1869 and died in 1960, and that this photograph was taken on his wedding day. I immediately recognized the name from my previous research on this family line and felt a strong pull to discover more about him. Continue reading A Mulcahy mystery