I hope to share research, information, tips, and a little of my family history with others following the path to greater genealogical awareness. Let the search for enlightenment continue...

Monday, June 29, 2015

James Lea, Cracker Barrel, and Me - Mystery Monday

(Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2015 Cynthia Shenette) A couple of weeks ago my family and I had a late breakfast at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Sturbridge, MA.  My son had a soccer game in Brimfield, so we figured we'd stop to eat on our way home.  After our meals were getting ready to leave, and I noticed a framed diploma on the wall.  

The name on the diploma was for a James Lea who graduated from Warren High School in Warren, Ohio on 7 June 1928.  How did James Lea's diploma end up on a wall in a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Massachusetts, some 550 plus miles and 87 years later? 

I did a quick search, and according to Ancestry.com a James D. Lea was born on 27 or 28 October 1910 in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio and died on 2 July 2002 in Columbiana, Mahoning County, Ohio.  A James Lea is listed as part of the 1926 sophomore class in a yearbook photo from the Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, Ohio.  The diploma is signed by H. B. Turner, Superintendent of Schools, J.W. Davis, Principal, as well as R. G. Ingersoll, H. S. McKibben, Lynn B. Dana, and A.L. Button, of the Board of Education.

If you knew James Lea I'd  love to hear from you.  I'd love to know how his diploma ended up as wall decor in a Cracker Barrel in Sturbridge, MA.  Or as radio broadcaster Paul Harvey use to say, I want to know "the rest of the story."

Other Posts You Might Like:

The Worcester Tornado, June 9, 1953 - Those Places Thursday
A Picnic and a Surprise - Wordless Wednesday
Leokadia (Szymanska) and Feliks Szerejko - Wordless Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday: Warsaw Wedding

Thursday, May 28, 2015

St. Mary's School (Worcester, MA) Fundraiser - Treasure Chest Thursday

Dochod Szkoly
11 Kwientnia 1926 roku
Prosimy o poparcice wszystkie firmy oglaszajace sie w programie.

Benefit of the School
11 April 1926
Please support all businesses advertising in this program.

(Copyright (c) 2015 Cynthia Shenette) I know my grandparents, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko and Adolf Szerejko, were involved with amateur theatricals at their church.  Here is a program from one that appears to have been a fundraiser for the St. Mary's School, the parish school for St. Mary's Church (now Our Lady of Czestochowa), in Worcester.  The fundraiser was held 11 April 1926.  I recognize some of the names of the performers on the program, obviously those of my grandparents Adolf and Antonina Szerejko, my grandmother's cousin Sophie (Kowalewski) Konopka, and my grandfather's best friend Chester W. Janowski.  I also recognize some of the other last names on the program from the old Vernon Hill neighborhood.  

According to a newspaper clipping from a 1923 performance, my grandfather use to perform as a magician, and his magic act was first in the program on this particular April night in 1926.  My grandmother, who had a lovely singing voice, sang and is listed as performing in a couple of the skits, no doubt playing the comic roles she so enjoyed.  The 1923 newspaper article mentions Chester Janowski was a musician and played the accordion.  On this program he plays the harmonica after my grandfather's magic act.

One of the things I love about researching my family history is it's like putting the pieces of a puzzle together.  I like finding something like this program and consider it as one small piece in a bigger puzzle.  How does this piece relate to the other pieces in my collection?

The ads in this program are interesting in and of themselves.  If you look closely you can see handwritten notes on the program with what appear to be dollar amounts.  My guess is someone was recording the dollar amounts for the ads in the program.  There is an ad for my aunt Helen Bulak's dry goods business, Bulak and Pomianowska on Millbury Street, in the program.  The pencil notation looks as if she paid $2.00 to place her ad in the program.

I like looking at the individual ads and am in the process of trying to translate the text which will be the focus of another blog post.  I also like what the ads say as a whole.  The program kind of gives me a little peek into the Millbury St. business community. In a related project I am working on mapping the Millbury St. business community as it existed in 1926. While that might initially seem a bit unrelated to my specific family, it does provide some insight on what daily life was like in their little world at the time.

Please be kind regarding my translations.  I used a combination of Google Translate and Polish / English dictionaries, plus I tried to figure out what seemed to make the most sense.  If you recognize any of the names in the program I'd love to hear from you.  My plan is to do another post at some point about the ads and the 1926 Millbury St. mapping project I've been working on.  I also hope to post a translation of the script I have for the "Ostatnie dwa Ruble" or "The Last Two Rubles."

Enjoy the show!


PROGRAM [Left page]

Sztuki magiczne - A. Szerejko
Harmonija Solo - C.W. Janowski

PROGRAM [Left page]

Magical Arts - A[dolf]. Szerejko
Harmonica Solo - C[hester]. W. Janowski

PROGRAM [Right page]
Edward Nowozenski - A. Popko
Mary, jego zona - A. Kulesza
Rateklusia, panna sluzaca - Z. Kowalewska
4) Spiew Solo - L. Slotwinski

PROGRAM [Right page]
Edward Nowozenski - A. Popko
Mary, his wife - A. Kulesza
Rateklusia, maid - Z[ofia]. Kowalewska
4) Singing Solo - L. Slotwinski

PROGRAM [Right page]
8) dwa spiewy i muzyka ?
Akompanjament do spiewu A. Kiernozek

PROGRAM [Right page]
8) two songs and music ?
Accompanist to singing A. Kiernozek

PROGRAM [Left page]
5) "Goscie z Ogloszenia"

Lewicki, kupiec - H. Butkiewicz
Anna, jego zona - A. Kiernozek
Irena, icn corka - Z. Kowalewska
Piotr Bomba, wiesniak - C.W. Janowski
Barbara, jego zona - A. Szerejko
Waclaw Molski, buchalter - L. Slotwinski
Jan, sluzacy Lewickiego - A. Popko

PROGRAM [Left page]
5) " Guest of the Announcement"

Lewicki, merchant - H. Butkiewicz
Anna, his wife - A. Kiernozek
Irena, daughter - Z[ofia]. Kowalewska
Piotr Bomba, a villager - C[hester]. W. Janowski
Barbara, his wife - A[ntonina]. Szerejko
Waclaw Molski, bookeeper - L. Slotwinski
Jan, the servant of Lewicki - A. Popko

PROGRAM [Right page]
6) Spiew, Solo - Z. Kowalewska
Golnicki, student - A. Szerejko
Zdziebko, jego sluzacy - C. W. Janowski
Mama sluzaca wl. domu - A. Szerejko

PROGRAM [Right page]
6) Singing, Solo - Z[ofia]. Kowalewska
Golnicki, student - A[dolf]. Szerejko
Zdziebko, his servant - C[hester].W. Janowski
Mama maidservant at home - A[ntonina]. Szerejko

PROGRAM [Left page]
Udzial w spiewie

Z. Kowalewska         C. Janowski
  A. Kulesza                L. Slotwinski
    A. Szerejko               H. Budkiewicz
                              A. Popko 
                                A. Szerejko

PROGRAM [Left page]
Group singing

Z[ofia]. Kowalewska           C[hester]. Janowski
A. Kulesza                   L. Slotwinski 
A[ntonina]. Szerejko     H. Budkiewicz
                              A. Popko
                                           A[dolf]. Szerejko

Other Posts You Might Like:

A Matter of Habit: Solving a Mystery
Celebrating Spring - Wordless Wednesday
A Window in Time, April 11, 1940
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Presenter Interview: Lisa Louise Cooke, Genealogy Gems

(Copyright (c) 2015 Cynthia Shenette) I had the opportunity to interview Lisa Louise Cooke, the owner of the Genealogy Gems genealogy and family history multimedia company.  She is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, a frequent speaker and the author of four books--Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, The Genealogist's Google Toolbox, and Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies.  

Lisa will present "How to Use Evernote for Genealogy," "Mastering Using Google for Common Surname Searches," and "The Google Earth Genealogy Game Show" at the New England Regional Genealogy Conference.  NEGRC will be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI on April 15-18, 2015.

Why and when did you become interested in genealogy?

I was an early bloomer, catching the bug when I was about 8 years old. I stumbled across some old photo albums at my Grandmother’s house that contained old black and white photos of people I didn’t recognize. I asked her about it, and we were off and running. I was the only kid in my class using her allowance to buy death certificates!

What do you do to prepare for a Genealogy Gems podcast?

Podcasting is about 10% recording and 90% preparation and post production. Every day I scour the web for anything I think will help my listeners have greater success in their family history journey. I’m also constantly networking and interviewing experts, and most importantly spending time on my listener emails so I can keep my finger on the pulse of what’s important to them. And I LOVE sharing their ideas and comments on the show.

What is your favorite "traditional" genealogy source?

I would have to say the census, simply because it is the backbone of going back in time. It’s such a rich source and is particularly exciting for folks new to genealogy because they can make quick progress with it. I especially enjoy the British census records which were often and written by our ancestor!

Do you have a special tip or trick for finding family history information in newspapers?

One of my favorite strategies that has been paying off big lately is searching for addresses. I talked about this in depth recently in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #174. After hitting a goldmine of articles in the British Newspaper Archive on my husband’s family, I switched gears from names and focused on addresses. Two of my most exciting finds: Great Grandfather Cooke’s home listed for sale in the classifieds just before they bought it featuring a thorough description of the property (the house, the gardens, the neighborhood), and an auction, also listed in the classifieds, several years later stating that the owner was “going abroad” and listing all of their household possessions! The newspaper clippings provided a look into their personal world that I could have not obtained any other way.

What is your favorite tech tool for genealogy/family history research?

That’s a hard one to answer. The overarching answer is the tech tool that fits the question at hand. But if I had to pick, I think it would be Google Earth because it combines location with time frame. And it supports our work from a variety of angles: search, research analysis, and storytelling. I could talk about it for hours. How much time do you have?

What one tool do you think every genealogist should have in his or her technology toolbox?

If we are talking hardware, then I would have to say a smartphone and/or tablet. These little computers in our pockets make it a breeze to snap photos, shoot video, capture document images, record interviews with relatives, translate and magnify documents, organize and carry all our research notes, and the list goes on and on. It’s all about mobile these days. The key is to invest a bit of time getting to know your device and how it works and then adding on the apps that get jobs done. I’ll be covering that in depth in my class ["How to Turn your iPad or Tablet into a Genealogy Powerhouse"] at the conference on Wednesday morning.

Is there a technology tool you would like to explore more in depth in the near future?

My passion these days is data visualization. Technology is making it possible to see our data and research in new and exciting ways, opening up opportunities for analysis we’ve never done before. I think I need to give up sleeping to invest the time I would like to in this field!

Who is your favorite ancestor and why?

It’s a hard question to answer because it depends how we define favorite. There are those I find likable and affable. There are those who I admire for their sheer grit and determination. And then there are those who have guided me, sometimes with a hand I swear I can feel on my shoulder or whisper in my ear, that I thank every day for leading me to exciting breakthroughs and the opportunity to reintroduce them to this current generation of our family. My Great Grandmother Lenora Herring is one of those ancestors. You can hear her story and how she guided me in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #39.

Have you experienced frustration in researching a particular "brick-wall" ancestor in your personal genealogy?

Yes, just like everyone else I have brick-walls. Probably the one that weighs on me the most is my Great Grandfather Sporowski’s family. He was born in Kotten, East Prussia in 1881 according to his naturalization papers. His wife was born not terribly far away, and I have found all the church records for her family several generations back. But I have come up with nothing for Kotten. I believe it was a small village and that it was located in what was Kreis Johannisburg, but so far dead ends for records from that time period. Just talking about it makes me want to jump back into the search! It’s been a few years since I really sat down and devoted hours to it. Genealogy Gems and traveling keeps me pretty busy these days.

What do you do in your spare time?  Do you have any hobbies?

It might be shorter to list what is not one of my hobbies. I enjoy playing music (piano, guitar and ukulele), swimming, shooting, sewing, decorating, decorative painting, old movies, canning, gardening, cake decorating, knitting…but most of all spending time with family, particularly my grandkids.

Do you have any upcoming projects or books you would like to talk about?

I always have irons in the fire. Some are too early to talk about publicly, but I can say that we have created a new small sound studio where we’ll be filming new content very soon for the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel, and for Genealogy Gems Premium Members on our website. I’m very excited about that! You will also see a new book from me by the end of the year. Our free weekly newsletter is the best way to stay abreast of what’s coming up. You can sign up on our website’s homepage. I would love to stay in touch with all the genealogists from NERGC 2015.

If you would like more information on Lisa Louise Cooke check out her website, Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems, or listen to her Genealogy Gems Podcast for "nuggets of inspiration and innovation."

Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
A Comedy of Errors: My Family in the Census (Part 1 of 3)
More than Meets the Eye - Tuesday's Tip
Analyzing A Photo: The Holiday Party

Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Fifth Blogiversary (Yes, I'm Still Here)

(Copyright (c) 2015 Cynthia Shenette) Wow.  Five years.  Where has the time gone?  My, how blogging has changed.  How I've changed. How my blogging has changed.  The blogosphere is a different place than it was five years ago. I started blogging a couple of years after my mom died as a way of keeping the flame alive, remembering those I've lost.  Five years ago I had time.  Now I have everything but.

Last July I went back to work full-time as an academic librarian.  I LOVE my new job, buts sometimes it's very demanding and some days downright exhausting.  I volunteer at my church, and I'm a docent for a local historic preservation society.  I'm an obsessive gardener in the summer and crochet and read in the winter.  I have too many animals to care for, and I've started taking piano lessons.  I help with homework and tote my son back and forth from soccer.  One of my co-workers said there is a rumor at the library that I don't sleep.  And I do genealogy in my spare time. Spare time?  What's that?

But I blog on.  Why?  Because the rewards are too great.  I make connections with other people all the time.  People read a blog post I've written where I mention the name of someone in my family, an ancestor, or someone they knew.  And they contact me.  It's amazing really.  Blogging forces me to delve into one small piece of my research.  I have so much.  It keeps me focused.

Last year my goal was to blog once a month, or write 12 blog posts a year. I almost made it.  But not quite.  Ten, not 12.  C'est la vie.  I need to let it go and move on.  But it still bugs me none the less.  I managed to write ten. Why couldn't I manage 12?  My goal is the same this year.  Twelve posts. That shouldn't be so hard.  Should it?

Thank you, friends, for reading.  For sticking with me.  I know my blog is pretty narrow in focus and not everyone's cup of tea, but if you've taken the time to read my posts, leave a comment, or contact me sometime over the last five years I appreciate it.

So here we are.  Blog on, my friends.  Blog on.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Oh, The Places I'll Go! Or My Fourth Blogiversary
Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
Presenter Interview: Colleen Fitzpatrick, Forensic Genealogist
Tumbleweed Guest Ranch, 1944

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ninety Five Years Ago Today - Wedding Wednesday

Standing, Left to Right: Chester Janowski, Adolf Szerejko, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko
Sitting: Helen Bulak

(Digital Image. Photograph Privately Held by by Cynthia Shenette. Text Copyright (c) 2015 Cynthia Shenette)  My grandparents, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko and Adolf Szerejko, were married 95 years ago today on 11 February 1920 at Our Lady of Czestochowa (St. Mary's) in Worcester, Massachusetts.  I've written previous posts about their wedding here and here and here.

My cousin sent this photo to me last year.  While I have wedding photos of my grandparents only my grandmother and my grandfather are in them not any members of the wedding party.  I guessed that my great Aunt Helen Bulak, my grandmother's sister and only sibling, was probably her maid of honor, but I didn't know for sure. This photo confirms what I suspected, that Aunt Helen was indeed my grandmother's and provides a bit more information.

Writing on the back of the photo says:

 "Chester Janowski Dad's best friend
Auntie Helen
Mom & Dad"

I had no idea who my grandfather's best friend was.  Now I do!  It's amazing how one seemingly small piece of information can add significantly to your knowledge base.

Chester Janowski is mentioned in a few other pieces of paper in my collection of family history stuff, so now I can start putting pieces of a new puzzle together.  I also now know what he looks like so I can see if I can identify him in any of the photos in my collection.

I am currently working on a blog post for April and will write more about Chester in that post.

Happy Anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa!

Other Posts You Might Like:

Niagara Honeymoon - Wordless Wednesday
A Polish Magician and Dating a Clipping - Amanuensis Monday
Always a Bridesmaid - Mystery Monday
The Opal Ring

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Four Wives and 24 Children: A Demographic Study

(Copyright (c) 2014 Cynthia Shenette) A couple of years ago I did a tongue-in-cheek piece on my great-grandfather, Francois Chenet (1813-1886), for the Carnival of Genealogy.  While the piece is fun it doesn't tell the whole story.

Francois is notable in my family tree in that he was a Civil War soldier, but my main fascination with him is that he had four wives and 24 children.  I wanted to know what kind of a man has four wives. And 24 children.  Not only is the number of children fascinating, but the dates and places and events in his and his wives' and children's lives tell a story about the family as a whole. Thanks to the detailed birth, marriage, and death records in the Drouin Collection, the U.S. and Canadian Censuses, and his Civil War pension file I've been able to put together a reasonably comprehensive profile of Francois and his family.

Francois was born in St. Denis in Quebec on 18 April 1813.  He married his first wife, Marie-Marguerite Charron on 3 October 1836 in St. Denis. Francois was 23 years old and Marguerite was 21.  Marguerite may have been pregnant at the time of marriage as she gave birth to their first child, Marguerite on 16 June 1837, eight and a half months after the wedding. Marguerite was 22 and Francois was 24.  Over the next 12 years Marguerite gave birth to nine more children--Justine (1839), Jean Baptiste (1840), Julienne (1841), Celina (1842), Philomene (1844), Francois (1845), Marie-Reine (1847), Marie-Vitaline (1848), and Joseph (1849)--in quick succession.

I charted out Marguerite's pregnancies from 1837 to 1849, and figured out she was pregnant for at least a portion of every year of their marriage.  The longest stretch between pregnancies was 13 months.  On three separate occasions Marguerite only had three months off between giving birth and getting pregnant again.  Life must have been hard with constantly being pregnant, having multiple children to care for and working as a farmer's wife in rural Quebec. Two of the couple's ten children (Jean Baptiste and Marie-Reine) lived less than a year.  Marguerite gave birth for the last time in November 1849.  When she died on 5 June 1850 at the age of 35 she left eight children behind, ages 12, 11, 8, 7, 6, 5, 2, and 7 months.

A year and a half after Marguerite's death Francois married his second wife, Theotiste Tetreault, on 20 January 1852. Francois was a 38 year old widower with eight children, now ages 14, 12, 10, 9, 7, 6, 3, 2.  Francois and Theotiste had four children together--Francois Xavier born 1852, Louis born 1854, Louis Napoleon born 1856 and Toussaint born 1858. Francois Xavier and Toussaint lived less than a year. Daughter Celina from Francois marriage to Marguerite died in February 1858 at the age of 15. Toussaint and his mother, Theotiste, died on the same day, 8 April 1859, perhaps during an epidemic of some sort.  Daughter Marguerite died two months later on 15 June 1859 at the age of 21.  Francois was 45 years old.

Francois didn't mourn long.  He married his third wife, Louise Dubreuil, seven months later on 8 November 1859. According to my calculations Louise was almost five months pregnant when they married.  Whether the child was Francois' or someone else's and the the marriage was one of convenience who knows.  At the time of their marriage, Louise inherited eight step-children from Francois' previous marriages--ages 20, 18, 15, 14, 11, 10, 5, and 3.  

During their marriage Francois and Louise had two children of their own, Marie-Louise born in April of 1860 and Marie born in 1864. There probably would have been more children had Francois not joined the North to fight in the Civil War.  Francois Jr., also volunteered and died of disease at the age of 19 on a Virginia battlefield in 1864. Marie-Vitaline died in 1864 at the age of 16 and Philomene died in 1866 at the age of 22.  At the time of Louise's death on 14 December 1866, there were only three surviving children out of the ten from Francois' first marriage to Marguerite. When Louise died Francois was 53 years old.

Francois married my great-grandmother, Lucie Touchette, on 18 July 1867. He was 54.  She was 19. I wonder what life circumstances would induce a 19-year-old girl to marry a widower 35 years her senior. Upon marriage Lucie became "mother" to seven step-children--Justine age 28, Julienne 26, Joseph 17, Louis 12, Napoleon, 10, Marie-Louise 7, and Marie 3.  One month after their marriage Lucie was pregnant with her first child. Victorine Lucy was born on 13 May 1867.  Over the next 13 years Lucie gave birth to eight more children--Francois Adei in 1871, Joseph Theodore Hormidas (also known as Frank, my grandfather) in 1873, Joseph in 1874, Marie-Josephine in 1876, Flavi Joseph in 1878 and Marie Delina Vedora in 1882. 

Victorine Lucy died at the age of two in 1871.  I suspect there was a ninth child that died as there was a 23 month gap between pregnancies from July 1868 to April of 1870, a 13 month gap between July 1874 and July 1875, and a 23 month gap between October of 1879 and July of 1881.  The 1900 U.S. Census corroborates this. When the enumerator asked "Mother of how many children." Lucie's response was "9," and when asked, "Number of these children living." her answer was "7."

According to his Civil War pension file Francois weighted 130 lbs. in 1884, suffered from "rheumatism" and was blind from cataracts.  It's interesting to consider when you think about the fact that he had seven children age 14 and under, including a two-year-old daughter, at the time.  Francois died at the age of 72 on 22 March 1886. Lucie was 38.  Francois left 14 children from four marriages, ranging in age from 3 to 46.* Lucie died in 1917. She outlived her husband by 31 years.

* While I have not been able to find a death record for Justine, I do know she was alive at least until 1864 when she married Louis Debreuille.  For this exercise I am going presume she lived until 1886. If you have information to the contrary please contact me, and I will be happy to consider it.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Sightseeing Around Civil War Richmond, Virginia
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
The Death and Funeral of Charles Senecal - Amanuensis Monday
Photo Story: Dad and a Mystery Solved

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tumbleweed Guest Ranch, 1944

(Digital Images. Photographs Privately Owned by Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2014 Cynthia ShenetteI'm constantly surprised by which of my blog posts resonate with readers.  Last year I posted Tumbleweed Guest Ranch, August 1943, because I loved the photos and hoped to possibly make contact with someone who either remembered the ranch or was related to someone shown in my photos. Much to my surprise that post was my most popular post of 2013 and one of my most popular posts of all time!  A number of readers have graciously taken the time to contact me over the last year to share information about Tumbleweed.

"After the Hayride"
Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, left; Unidentified, center; Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, right

Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, left; Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, center; Unidentified, right 
My mom, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, and her sister, Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, vacationed at Tumbleweed during the war years of 1943, 1944, and 1945.  I probably have a 100 photos in a scrapbook that were taken over the three year period! The captions under the photos in this post are the captions my mother used in her scrapbook.

"Kris + Helene riding a pair of Army horses"
Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, left; Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, right

"Jack on Patches"
Jack Franks
Tumbleweed Guest Ranch was located in Westkill, NY, a hamlet of the town of Lexington, NY.  I learned John R. "Jack" Franks owned Tumbleweed from the 1940s through about 1958. According to a newspaper article Jack was a former rodeo rider and bronco buster from Santa Fe, NM.  He started Tumbleweed around 1941 and owned other dude ranches in New York state, including the Rawhide Guest Ranch and the Navajo Guest Ranch.  A reader contacted me and told me he grew up at Tumbleweed--his father purchased the property from the original owner, probably Jack Franks, in 1958.

"Helene feeding Ambitious a daisy"
Helene (Szerejko) Dingle

"Jack + Patches"
Jack Franks
Dude ranches were a popular vacation destination in the 1930s and through the war years of the 1940s. If you look at vacation advertisements from the time, you will see dozens of ads for dude ranches in the East--in the Berkshires, the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the Poconos, and elsewhere.  An article from 1936 in the New York Times said that dude ranches catered to some 15,000 dudes annually.

"Helene, Kris + Irv."
Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, left; Helene (Szereko) Dingle, center; Irv, right

"Time out for Dawsons "
I found a couple dozen newspaper ads for Tumbleweed from the 1940s and 1950s in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey newspapers, including in the Boston Herald and the New York Times. Tumbleweed was advertised as a "real Western style ranch run by experienced ranch folks." They offered free horseback riding instructions for beginning and experienced riders, 25 to 35 hours of saddle time a week, rides over "magnificent mountain country," as well as rodeos, pack trips, chuck wagon suppers, and square dances.  Their slogan was, "Vacation on Horseback"  and motto was, "There's no time clock on our horses' tails!"

Helene (Szerejko) Dingle

"Helene - leg art"
Helene (Szerejko) Dingle

Tumbleweed advertised moderate rates for modern, private log cabins with showers, as well as excellent food.  The main ranch house was constructed of logs and contained an "Indian fireplace" decorated in "western fashion."

"Crisco Kid"
Christine (Szerejko) Shenette

"Kris Soaping Saddles"
Christine (Szerejko) Shenette
Guests were assigned a horse at the beginning of the week and responsible for the grooming, feeding, and bathing of their horse for the duration of their stay.  I kind of forgot, until I saw the photo above, my mom learned how to ride on an English saddle rather than on a western saddle.  I remember my mom said that one of the guys at the ranch use to kid her and ask her how she was able to ride on "that postage stamp!" 

"Follies Cowgirls"
Christine (Szerejko) Shenette

"Follies Cowgirls"
Helene (Szerejko) Dingle

Another reader who vacationed at Tumbleweed between 1951 and 1952 contacted me and said the people who ran Tumbleweed did not discriminate against Jews when other resorts did.  I found a 1941 advertisement for Tumbleweed in the Jewish Chronicle which substantiates this.  My reader said the folks at Tumbleweed were fun and "open-minded" during a time of discrimination and prejudice.  She told me she met a group of girls there, and they became friends for life.  Some guests, like my mom and her sister and this lady, returned to Tumbleweed year after year.

"Shoeing Powderpuff"
 Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, left; Jack Franks, center; Elmer, shoeing Powderpuff

"Kris, Rex, Helene"
Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, left; Rex, center; Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, right

I'm not sure why my mom and her sister stopped going to Tumbleweed after 1945.  Maybe the end of the war changed things and opportunities for other types of vacations opened up.  I do know that my mom loved Tumbleweed and talked about her time there fondly.  Mom worked at the Ration Board during the war, so maybe after the war she had different friends once she moved on to a new job and she and her sister decided to explore new destinations for their annual summer vacation.

"The sister act"
Irv, back row center; Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, second on the right;
Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, far right

Jack Franks sold Tumbleweed around 1958 but remained in the guest ranch business.  According to a newspaper article he operated the largest ranch for children on the East Coast, at least into the 1960s. Tumbleweed eventually became a riding camp for teens in the 1960s and 1970s.  If you are interested, there is an active Facebook group devoted to sharing memories of Tumbleweed.

This concludes this year's visit to Tumbleweed.  See y'all next year!

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