I’ve posted photos of this book of sermons by my great-grandfather, Rev. Andrew J. Mowatt, previously here, but yesterday I took a few more for a photo assignment for my AAUW photography group. I’ve learned a lot about Rev. Mowatt since my original post, including the fact that he authored at least FOUR books based on his sermons. This particular book was based on sermons he delivered at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Andrew J. Mowatt was the son of the immigrant Thomas Mowatt whom I wrote about a week or so ago.
When Lonnie and I walked into the Visitor Center at New Mexico State University, we did not have high expectations of finding anything.I explained to the very nice receptionist that my grandfather had been a coach there from 1910 to 1914 and that I was hoping to at find out that there were some buildings left from 1910 that I could photograph. We were told that no, the buildings from that era did not survive and that it was too late to meet with the archivist who might have some documents from that era (her office was closing at 4:00). They were being very helpful, however, and marked up a map of how to get to the library where the archives were and wrote down the contact information for the archivist so that I could let her know that we were coming.
While this was going on, Lonnie was in the adjacent conference room looking around, and he spotted a football up on a bookshelf. As he looked closer, her realized that it had my grandfather’s name on it- and that it was the game ball from when the team won the 1913 Southwest Championship! You can imagine our excitement!
As I was photographing the ball, the employee mentioned that there were old yearbooks in the archives. How exciting! But right there on the bookshelf were yearbooks; just as she was saying that these were the more recent ones, we saw some very small yearbooks in the collection. You guessed it- the yearbooks from the years Grandpa was there!
As I realized what a treasure trove we had come across, my hands started shaking, and I got chills- it was an out of body experience. We took some time carefully taking cell phone shots of the pages that featured Grandpa- and found a goldmine of photos and articles. An unbelievable find! One article was especially moving to me, because it told of his kindness and emphasis on sportsmanship and fair play over winning. Those were the qualities he demonstrated his whole coaching career- and what made him so beloved by his players and the community- and by our family.
Below is a photo composite- the football overlaid upon a photo of the champion team of 2013.
The next day we met with the archivist and discovered that the entire collection of student newspapers was online. I searched for Badenoch- there were 93 entries! There seemed to be an almost equal number of articles about my grandfather AND my grandmother! Mimi, as we called her, had a beautiful classical singing voice and performed at events through the college and elsewhere while living in New Mexico- and also managed to have two babies between 1910 and 1912 (her first child was born in Chicago)! The archivist found a file of correspondence between my Grandpa and the president of the college from when he applied to coach there. It was emailed it to me when we got home.
So now my task is to organize this information and integrate it into my genealogy software program. Family history, like laundry, is never done!
My cousin is getting married on Saturday! We aren’t able to make the wedding, unfortunately, and actually will probably not be able to watch the ceremony live (we will be visiting our newest grandson, Caleb!)- but we wish her well!
Yes, I’m talking about THAT wedding!
One of the benefits of working on genealogy for almost 30 years is that you know who your ancestors are- so, when I saw an article on my iPhone’s CNN app naming Capt. Christopher Hussey (one of the original proprietors of Nantucket Island) as an ancestor of Meghan Markle, I must have gasped out loud- Christopher Hussey is my ninth great grandfather!
Since then, I have researched Meghan’s ancestry in order to place her in our family tree. We are actually both descended from Christopher Hussey’s daughter Mary Hussey and her husband Christopher Page. This makes us eighth cousins once removed (8C1R in genealogy lingo).
Here’s a screenshot from my genealogy program:
I actually tend to add famous people to my tree whenever I find a connection- just for fun. I can’t say that I’m descended from anyone famous (Lonnie is one up on me, because he has a Mayflower ancestor. . .), but I do share DNA with quite a few names you’d recognize (including several presidents, writers, Hollywood people, and . . . a serial killer). You likely have famous relatives too- perhaps Meghan Markle!
BTW, the title of this blog refers to the Kevin Bacon Game (6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon), which was a fad about 20 years ago, in case you forgot. And, not to be a name dropper, BUT- I’m only a few degrees away from Kevin Bacon himself (through marriage not DNA, alas).
Ok- back to photography . . .
One of my most treasured possessions is a quilt presented to me by my mother on the occasion of our marriage in 1971.
The quilt was made by my great-grandmother, Mary Amanda Peaslee, who was born in Postville, Iowa in 1859. Her parents, Augustus and Elizabeth Mary Crawford Peaslee, were recent immigrants from Ontario, Canada, along with her maternal grandparents, William and Charlotte Crawford (both born in Ireland). Mary Amanda, along with her four siblings, grew up in Iowa, and she moved to Chicago at some point in the 1870’s with some of her family. In 1882, she married my great-grandfather, Charles Harper Bean, and gave birth to my grandmother in 1888. By age thirty-five, she was already a widow with a seven year old daughter. She never re-married, but lived with her sister and then my grandmother until her death in 1949 at age eighty-nine.
Mary Amanda was an accomplished seamstress all her life and was listed as such in a Chicago City directory before her marriage. My mother remembered sitting sewing and ripping out stitch after stitch as a young girl- never quite measuring up to the exacting standards of her grandmother. In later years, my mother returned to sewing and made beautiful outfits with her Elna sewing machine- always using Vogue designer patterns.
In one corner of the quilt is the inscription embroidered by my grandmother (Mary Amanda’s daughter): “Pieced by Mother at 12 years of age.” It was made in 1871- one hundred years before our wedding- and now it is 145 years old!
Lest you think after yesterday’s post that my genealogy research consists of neatly organized and photo-worthy little objects, I’m posting some photos today of what I’m actually DOING these days in genealogy. After 20 years of researching obsessively- and 5 more years of slipshod sporadic research- I ended up with piles and files of papers and a computer database full of information- and not much to show for it all. I’m not getting any younger, so I decided it’s time to put my papers (and computer files) in order so that my descendants can make sense of it all- and perhaps make a few photo books.
Easier said than done.
Being an only child has its benefits and drawbacks. I have SO MUCH STUFF! And it falls to me to organize it all. In the background you can see just one of several big tubs of photos and family papers- and my new little portable scanner that I just love. I can actually scan photos while watching TV! The photo on top of the stack is of my father- one of a zillion I inherited (not all as cute as this one). What to do with them all???
Below is a project that I am so proud to have made headway on in the last month. I’m following a system of organizing and color-coding my genealogy paper files that makes finding things so much easier- especially for family members that may inherit these papers someday. These files still take up the same amount of space (two very full, deep file drawers in the garage), but I don’t feel so overwhelmed when I look at them now. Each color represents the family line of one of my grandparents- and I’ve done the same for Lonnie’s family. The yellow files actually take up more room than any other color and continue on into the next drawer. These are my New England forebears and my elusive Canadian Peaslees (lots of research but no definitive answers yet on that line).
Now that the files are organized by color, I am working on one branch at a time, mostly just up to my great-great grandparents. I’m checking sources, organizing digital media, writing bios for those that don’t have them- and noting what is missing in the files. I’m working in a very limited and structured way, so that I don’t go off on tangents. I am taking a break from researching in order to organize what I have. And it looks like it could take a few years. . .
My resolve has already been tested this week by the discovery by a distant cousin of the parents of one of my three most challenging ancestors (Lonnie’s great-great grandmother, Lucy Crump). After some screaming and jumping up and down, I noted the information and passed it on to another researcher- and am now trying to ignore the barrage of emails coming my way with more leads. Genealogy can be lots of fun when information just falls in your lap!
When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the antique gold pencil that was kept in the chest that held the good silver. My mother said it belonged to a great-great grandmother, but that I was not named after her- which was obvious to me, because Melinda was SPELLED WRONG! My mother was not particularly interested in family history, but I was, even at a young age. I wondered who that Malinda could be (and why her named was spelled wrong).
Of course, I didn’t realize at that time that variations in spelling are the norm rather than the exception in genealogy- as are inaccurate family stories. When I started doing genealogical research, I discovered that Malinda Tucker was actually the second wife of my great-great grandfather, Luther Bean, whom he married after my great-great grandmother died. My mother’s mother would turn out to be Luther’s only heir after her aunt died, so we have quite a few of his things.
As you can see by examining the photo, he was in the Civil War as a surgeon. He grew up in New Hampshire, and he and my great-great grandmother, came from a long line of New Englanders- going all the way back to the early colonists (right AFTER the Mayflower). Later in life he moved to Waukegan, Illinois, where he continued to practice medicine.
Another inaccurate (I think) family story was that I had a great-grandfather who was in the battle of the Monitor vs the Merrimack, which I learned about in school. I remember being proud to tell my sixth grade class all about it- minus the name of this mysterious great-grandfather. I have searched and have yet to find him, the most likely candidate being Luther- but there is no record of this in his service record that I can find. This story may be as false as the story that my husband’s grandfather was “half Indian”- and his mother grew up on a reservation in Oklahoma. Wrong!
Oh- about the spelling of Malinda/Melinda– on her gravestone, her name is spelled with an E, like mine!
Photography note: the gold lines under the pencil in the top photo are reflections.
I’m on a mission to finish up my genealogy research and organize it in some meaningful way to pass on to future generations. There are so many aspects to this whole project that it seems overwhelming at times, and I get paralyzed with indecision over what to tackle next. I’ve researched the ancestors just about as far as I can go at this point, have a file cabinet, binders, and boxes filled with research, and have had my DNA done (twice), but I still have boxes and boxes of photos left to deal with.
I recently reorganized our front hallway dental cabinet so that the drawers are organized to make sense again. I use this chest to store and display family memorabilia from my husband and my childhoods and (mostly) from our parents’ and grandparents’ lives. I got the idea of putting this together from a newspaper article given to me by my friend, Kathryn, who spotted it and gave it to me, knowing my interest in genealogy and that I owned a similar cabinet. I’m sure I’ve mentioned more than once here that it belonged to my father who bought it used when he opened his dental practice in the late twenties. It was painted white when we acquired it, but we had it stripped to its natural mahogany. I think I should stop calling it a dental cabinet now- it’s our Family History Cabinet!
Here is a drawer with some items from my grandmother and great-grandmother. Both photos are of my grandmother, Marion Bean Badenoch, known to her grandchildren as Mimi.
My latest genealogy/photography project is to scan and restore some of my old family photos. I have hundreds, not counting those from my childhood and my children’s childhoods- so obviously, I am going to have to be very selective. I believe that the photo of Mimi in the oval frame was taken when she was sixteen (that’s what my mother told me, I think), but I’ve also considered that it could be her wedding portrait- it’s a pretty fancy dress! She went to finishing school in Boston, so it could have been taken around that time.
Here is the photo as scanned:
And here is the restored one:
Contrast alone makes a huge difference, and I attempted to eliminate most of the scratches and marks as well. I haven’t made a final decision about tone. The tutorials I’ve watched showed converting all the images to a plain black and white, but I think I prefer some brown in the tones to give a bit of a vintage look to them. Another decision to make!
I think my next photo restoration project will be the cute childhood image of Mimi sitting in the chair.