2021: the year in review concluded

[Author’s note: Part 1 can be found here.]

In July 2021, Christopher C. Child reviewed a surprising feature in his ancestry: that he has 1 (one) ancestor who resided in northern New England during the seventeenth century:

“…My connections to Vermont are even briefer. A great-great-great-great-grandmother, Julia (Vaughan) Perry (ca. 1814-1899), was born in Allegany County, New York. Her parents William and Elizabeth (Foster) Vaughan were born in Massachusetts, Vermont, or Rhode Island (sources vary). William’s probable parents were born in Rhode Island and had moved to Wallingford, Vermont by 1800. I do not know who Elizabeth’s parents are. Those are my only known ancestors in Vermont!

“Aside from my Russell ancestors…, who were in Mason, New Hampshire, I have a few other ancestors who traveled through the Granite State on their way to New York, as well as some other Ulster Scot families which paused in Londonderry, New Hampshire in the early eighteenth century, all later traveling west. Again, for these ancestors in the three northern New England states, none were living there in the seventeenth century. Do I have any ancestors in Northern New England in the 1600s? To date, I have found … one!”

Jan Doerr spoke for many when she characterized “Remembering Days,” “Researching Days,” and “Underwear Days, when Remembering and Researching get tangled up in a pile on the floor, just like those mornings when you can’t get your feet out of your underwear, lose your balance, and fall over… Underwear Days.”

“Apples have become such a part not only of our nutrition but also of our lexicon, music, and idioms that we seldom notice them. But last spring, once the winter’s mental fog lifted, I noticed that there are many very old apple trees on my family property, more than I had been aware of. Their white blossoms stood out against the bare limbs of other trees or the newly-green spring leaves. Until the early 1950s there was an old apple tree on Our Old House’s front lawn, and until we put in a new septic system there was a really old one outside my kitchen window, thoroughly rotted but a favorite of both squirrels and birds. My ancestors’ property next door had an orchard (it still stands for all its advanced age) from which we enjoyed huge Wolf River apples, Galas, Astrachans, Winter Ganos, and others eaten in hand, in pies, or pressed into cider. Some of the old trees in my ‘back 40’ certainly look two hundred years old, but none invite ‘sitting.’

“I soon realized the importance apple orchards or individual apple trees held for my family as they became noted in the deed exclusions or in stated rights of way. Perhaps it was George Read Cony (1825-94) who had a favorite tree when he reserved the right of passage to that old orchard next door…”

Rhonda McClure put a modern gloss on travel challenges in her September post on covering the Tokyo Olympics:

“After a 14-hour plane flight, a person met the plane and took the media individuals first (someone else took athletes after); we now went on a hike. If Ellis Island had the 6-second exam, watching the immigrants carry luggage, follow directions, and walk upstairs, Tokyo had the 20-minute walk to isolate us from anyone else in the airport. While I didn’t have steamer trunks, I did have a small bag and a rather large purse (with my computer and iPad in it). Thank goodness the small bag had wheels, or I never would have made it.

“Because my health app wasn’t working, I was delayed, sitting in some seats and watching volunteers in isolation garb help people move on to the next point. It was here that I began to truly worry that I might not get into the country. My health app wasn’t working. My activity plan hadn’t been approved yet. All I had going for me were two negative COVID tests…”

In October, Amy Whorf McGuiggan found an unexpected family connection in the Hingham (Mass.) Cemetery:

“I’ve returned to this cemetery time and time again and have written about it on several occasions for Vita Brevis. How many times must I have strolled past the grave of Francis Augustus Osborn not realizing his connection to my grandfather’s family? And as we explore cemeteries, getting to know their residents a little more intimately, heretofore unnoticed themes begin to emerge, a social network of history that seems to connect otherwise disparate individuals. I imagine weaving a long string between graves in a spider web-like fashion, a cemetery version of six degrees of separation, if you will. Indeed, while exploring my Francis A. Osborn connections there emerged, in that cemetery filled with colonial history and the ghosts of the town’s first settlers, a somewhat overlooked Civil War history.

“Central to the web of connections is the Civil War Memorial, officially known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, an impressive 30-foot obelisk made of Quincy granite. Situated on a prominent knoll – ‘a quiet retreat, away from the noise of the street, with the bay so finely in view’ – and honoring the seventy-four Hingham men lost in the war, the monument was dedicated on 17 June 1870. It stands near to the family plot of Governor John Albion Andrew (1818-1867), a Maine-born lawyer and statesman who was drawn to Hingham by his wife, Eliza Jones Hersey…”

Pamela Athearn Filbert dispensed with a favorite family story in a review of the “false friends” in accounts of the World War II flying ace Marion E. Carl.

“Another clipping from the Oregonian, dated 16 November 2008, announced the death of Marion’s younger brother Manton Arthur Carl. I think it must have been awfully confusing having both a Marion and Manton living in the same house growing up! Manton’s obituary noted that he’d been born in a tent as his parents worked to clear their new farm, and he died just 100 feet away in the house he’d shared with his wife on the same farm in Hubbard, Oregon. (Another of Grampy’s aunts, Eunice Ann Christy, had married the oldest son of William C. Hubbard, for whom that town was named.) Manton’s survivors included five children, including a daughter named Christy.

“‘Carl’ – check. ‘Hubbard’ – check. ‘Christy’ – check. These were surely my people. What great folks to have in the family tree!”

In December, Michael Dwyer considered an unexpected kinship between his maternal grandparents.

“My mother’s parents, Emory Morse and Lois Rhodes, never would have dreamed they had ancestors in common. Three of Lois’s grandparents were born outside the United States: paternal grandfather William Rhodes in Devon, England; paternal grandmother Mary Counihan in County Kerry, Ireland; and maternal grandfather Mariano Sylvia in St. Michael, Azores.

“That left a possibility that the lineage of Lois’s maternal grandmother, Mary Bethiah (Paine) Sylvia, born on Block Island in 1848, might lead to a ‘duplicate ancestor.’ It took me years to trace Mary’s ancestry back into eighteenth-century Massachusetts.

“A series of discoveries, first within traditional published genealogical studies and later from genetic evidence, confirmed one set of Mary Sylvia’s great-grandparents as Seth Phinney and Sarah Cotton, who married in Harpswell, Maine, in 1788” – and thence back to Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

2 thoughts on “2021: the year in review concluded

  1. Regarding Julia (Vaughan) Perry’s ancestry: for all it’s worth, there was a major migration from the Westerly/Hopkinton area in far southwestern R.I. to Allegany County, N.Y. after 1800. Many settlers were connected with the 7th Day Baptist Church.

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