Monday, March 30, 2009

The Cracker Tavern, Duxbury, Massachusetts

My ancestor, John Winsor (my 4th great-grandfather) ran The Cracker Tavern at the corner of Winsor and Washington Streets in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The beautiful building was torn down in 1962.

Daniel Webster and Henry Thoreau were both patrons. Thoreau wrote about my great-grandfather in his 1865 book, "Cape Cod" (pages 77 and 78), as follows (paragraph breaks are my own to make it easier for you to read, and references to my great-grandfather in bold):

I once sailed three miles on a mackerel cruise myself. It was a Sunday evening after a very warm day in which there had been frequent thunder-showers, and I had walked along the shore from Cohasset to Duxbury. I wished to get over from the last place to Clark's Island, but no boat could stir, they said, at that stage of the tide, they being left high on the mud.

At length I learned that the tavern-keeper, Winsor, was going out mackerelling with seven men that evening, and would take me. When there had been due delay, we one after another straggled down to the shore in a leisurely manner, as if waiting for the tide still, and in India-rubber boots, or carrying our shoes in our hands, waded to the boats, each of the crew bearing an armful of wood, and one a bucket of new potatoes besides. Then they resolved that each should bring one more armful of wood, and that would be enough. They had already got a barrel of water, and had some more in the schooner.

We shoved the boats a dozen rods over the mud and water till they floated, then rowing half a mile to the vessel climbed aboard, and there we were in a mackerel schooner, a fine stout vessel of forty-three tons, whose name I forget. The baits were not dry on the hooks. There was the mill in which they ground the mackerel, and the trough to hold it, and the long-handled dipper to cast it overboard with; and already in the harbor we saw the surface rippled with schools of small mackerel, the real Scomber vernalis.

The crew proceeded leisurely to weigh anchor and raise their two sails, there being a fair but very slight wind; -- and the sun now setting clear and shining on the vessel after the thunder-showers, I thought that I could not have commenced the voyage under more favorable auspices. They had four dories and commonly fished in them, else they fished on the starboard side aft where their lines hung ready, two to a man.

The boom swung round once or twice, and Winsor cast overboard the foul juice of mackerel mixed with rain-water which remained in his trough, and then we gathered about the helmsman and told stories.

I remember that the compass was affected by iron in its neighborhood and varied a few degrees.

There was one among us just returned from California, who was now going as passenger for his health and amusement. They expected to be gone about a week, to begin fishing the next morning, and to carry their fish fresh to Boston.

They landed me at Clark's Island, where the Pilgrims landed, for my companions wished to get some milk for the voyage. But I had seen the whole of it. The rest was only going to sea and catching the mackerel. Moreover, it was as well that I did not remain with them, considering the small quantity of supplies they had taken.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blackden, Blagdon, & Blagden

Sometimes putting families together is a pain in the arse, I must say. Particularly when you get back into the 1700's and the men in every generation were named, as my correspondent put it, "John, Charles or William"! LOL

Thankfully, I have completed the transfer of my husband's entire family (even all the ancestors of his step-parents) from FTM to Legacy. Now I'm working on mine (I'm still on my paternal side...).

Meanwhile, my focus is also on the Blackden, Blagdon and Blagden family (families?) that settled in Massachusetts and Maine in the early to mid-1700's.

I have plenty of documentation going about 6 or 7 generations back. But from that 7th generation, and on back, things get cloudy. This is the problem that my email correspondent is having as well. Her female ancestor is a Blagdon, and everything from her marriage through the present day has been figured out.

But the Blagdon's parents? She has not a clue. So I am focused on pulling together every little snippet of Blackden, Blagdon, and Blagden (sometimes even Bragdon and Bragden!) information as I try to help this potential cousin (to my husband).

If you are also researching this family in Somerset County, Maine, and surrounding areas, feel free to drop me a line!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Joseph Scotton & Al Brandl

The first of the 2 photographs below says "Joe Scotton, taken in Volk" (it looks like most of the photographs were taken in Volk).

I found one man who enlisted during WWII by this name - Joseph M. Scotton, born February 7, 1919 in Delaware and died March 9, 1998 in Mt. Vernon, New York.

He enlisted October 7, 1940 and was single at the time.

His wife might possibly have been named Maria, as there is a Maria Scotton who died in New York in 2004. I looked up the Scotton name in current New York directories and found several. I did try to make telephone calls, but one number was no good and I left a message at the other, but never received a response.

The second photograph is of "Al in the field, taken on August 19, 1943. Brandl."

There were 2 men who could possibly be "Al Brandl" when I looked through WWII enlistments.

One was Albert Brandl, born March 19, 1910 in Wisconsin, and died August 20, 1972 in Los Angeles, California. He enlisted in L.A. in March of 1943.

The other was Alfred Ivan Brandl, born June 25, 1923 in Texas and died February 9, 1985. He enlisted in November of 1942.

His wife was Beatrice Eleanor, who died in 1986 in Texas.

I found 2 children: John William Brandl, born 1958 in Texas, and Mary Ann (now married to Patrick Wenske), who was born in 1962 in Texas.

A telephone call to the Wenske household went unanswered.

So I hope somebody out there recognizes "Joe Scotton" and/or "Al Brandl" as their father, grandfather, or uncle! These two men served in Company A, 2d Med BN (2nd medical battalion), ARMD.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a genealogical gold-mine!

A gold-mine of requests, that is!

I am still in the midst of transferring my family tree file from Family Tree Maker to Legacy. I finally completed my husband's side a week ago, and am working on mine, which is (at this point) far more extensive. We are talking thousands of people from very well-documented New England families, for the most part.

Of course, there are variations - my Italian great-great grandparents, who came to Massachusetts in the 1890's, my British great-great grandfather, whom came to Connecticut in the 1870's, and the odd and unexpected Southern side (originally from Perquimmans and Tyrrell Counties in North Carolina, and from Norfolk County, Virgnia before that), that creeped in through marriage to one of the many sailors in the Winsor family from Duxbury, Massachusetts!

Meanwhile, the past week has also brought me many genealogy-related emails. One asked me about my Westgate ancestors, one about my husband's Blackden (Blagdon, Blagden) ancestors, and my sister asked me to research her fiancee's paternal name.

My sister's request is the most difficult to fulfill. "Daviage" is a rare name and I can not find it anywhere! I can find her fiancee's mother and uncle in the Social Security Death Index. I can find another uncle all over the internet. But if you look in the 1920 or 1930 censuses, I can not find his grandfather.

I told my sister that I need more information, of course.

Her fiancee's maternal lineage is easy-peasy. They are old New Englanders. We end up being cousins, of course!

But his father's side? I'm not sure. His mother was caucasian, but his father is African-American. This would be my first foray into "black" ancestry and, honestly, it has been something I have wanted to research for a long time now! I've always been curious about the challenges of documenting African-American ancestors.

The funny thing is, despite the way the "Daviage" name sounds, it does not appear to be French. Or, at least, not French-Canadian. It shows up predominantly in English records! So I don't know what to make of his ancestry just yet... A Caucasian ancestor back there? Adaptation of the name from the family who "owned" them during slave times?

We honestly don't know.

This will certainly be a one-step-at-time process, unlike New England genealogy where you can often hit upon a connection (say, the Alden name comes up), and when you've proven that this particular Alden daughter is your ancestress, immediately go to Mayflower silver books, volume 16, parts 1, 2 and 3, and put together a family tree for that particular branch in 60 seconds flat.

Nuh-uh. This one is going to take some serious genealogical Nancy Drew-ing on my part, and I am looking forward to it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Philip Monzelia (Monzella) and "Red" Herman

As you can see, the corner of this photograph is torn, making it difficult to read the upper lefthand corner from the back. It says "Monzelia & "Red" Herman".

The photograph was taken in Volk and these men were the cooks.

"Red" Herman is too obscure for me to even begin exploring WWII enlistment records, so hopefully someone out there will recognize his picture or the nickname as that of a grandfather, uncle, etc.

As for Monzelia, I believe the portion of the photo that is ripped may have actually said "Philip J. Monzelia".

There is a Philip J. Monzella who was born in 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Charles and Stella Monzella (as Mazella in the 1930 census). They emigrated from Italy in 1921. His grandfather was Philip Monzella, born in 1866.

So if either of these names is familiar to you, let me know! I would love to reunite this photograph with family.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


This photograph merely says "Dantona" on the back:

A search of men with the surname "Dantona" who enlisted during WWII gave me the following results:

Battisto Dantona, b. 1919, enlisted 16 Sept 1940, Connecticut

Frank Dantona, b. 1919 in Italy, enlisted 21 Jan 1942, New York

Liberato Dantona, b. 1914 in Illinois, enlisted 13 Jun 1942, Connecticut

Michael J. Dantona, b. 1918, enlisted 13 Oct 1944, New Jersey

Rosario Dantona, b. 1913 in Italy, enlisted 31 Mar 1944, Massachusetts

Sammy G. Dantona, b. 1919, enlisted 17 Nov 1942, Massachusetts

Vincent A. Dantona, b. 1918, enlisted 27 October 1942, New York

I do not know which man is in this photograph, or even if he is one of these men. I hope someone out there may recognize this picture as that of their grandfather, father, or uncle, and claim it for their family. :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Warren C. Bailey

Now that I have figured out how to work my scanner, I am going to begin uploading the photographs of the men of Company A, 2d Med BN, ARMD.

These photos were taken during WWII by my husband's grandfather, Normand Therrien, while in Germany. I have only succeeded in finding family for 2 or 3 photographs, and hope to find family for the rest!

I am beginning with Warren C. Bailey, who was born about 1922 in Massachusetts. His father was Roy D. Bailey. He had a sister named Ruth, born about 1915 in Massachusetts.

They are in the Portland, Maine in the 1930 census.