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...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Frank L. Naramore, The End of a "Tragedy"

(Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

A Lonely End To A Tragic Tale...


For those of you who have been following my series on the
Naramore family and "The Coldbrook Tragedy" which I began for the 97th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, here is the unmarked grave of family father Frank L. Naramore. Frank died on 04 Mar 1936 and was buried in Hope Cemetery in Worcester, MA on 07 Mar 1936. Frank's grave is a single grave to the right of the memorial plaque with the small metal marker sticking out of the ground. There is no headstone.


Here is another photo of the grave from the opposite direction. This time the grave is to the left of the grave plaque with the metal marker.


Here is another photo, and again Frank's unmarked grave is to the left of the plaque with the metal marker.

This seems to be the classic sad ending to a tragic tale. In 1901 Frank had a wife and six children. In death he was alone. His
obituary says he leaves no known relatives. His last address, given in his obituary, is listed as 44 Exchange St. in Worcester which was a rooming house at the time he lived there. My guess is no one knew or cared where he was buried, or has visited his grave since he died in 1936. Perhaps it's an appropriate conclusion to a life poorly led.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Tombstone Tuesday: The Naramore Children, Riverside Cemetery
Tombstone Tuesday: Jacob Riis, Riverside Cemetery, Barre, MA
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Stories My Grandmother Told Me

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

Congratulations and a BIG thank you to Jasia at Creative Gene for hosting and organizing 100 editions of the Carnival of Genealogy. All I can say is WOW. Frankly I don't think capital letters are big enough for this WOW, but they will just have to do. As a newbie to COG--my first post was only in April of this year--I have found it so enjoyable that I consider participating a priority each month. COG offers a wonderful opportunity for all of us, newbies and established geneabloggers alike, to write on topics we might not write about otherwise. Jasia, you are awesome!

There's One In Every Family

Initially I had trouble trying to decide who to write about for this topic. After considering the options, I finally decided to write about my grandmother, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko. My grandmother is the person responsible for sparking my interest in family history and genealogy. When I was little my grandmother would tell me stories about her parents, about the grandfather I never knew, about life in the Polish community on Vernon Hill in Worcester, MA, and about Poland.

A Very Brief Biography

My grandmother was born in a village in the former Lomza province of Poland in 1896. She was the second and last child of Antoni Bulak and Ewa (Kowalewska) Bulak. She came to the United States in 1897 with her mother and sister Helen. They met Antoni, who was already working in the states, and settled in the Chicago area. In 1900 the family moved to Worcester, MA where my grandmother spent the next 90 years of her life. She married my grandfather Adolf on February 11, 1920. My mother, their first child, was born at home in July of 1921. Two more children followed. In 1940 my grandparents moved from their Polish neighborhood on Vernon Hill to the rural outskirts of the city. Tragically my grandparents' middle child died in 1955 leaving three young children behind, and my grandfather died at the age of 64 four years later. My grandmother lived for another 31 years after the death of her husband and died at the age of 94 in 1990. At the time of her death she left two children, six grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.

These are the facts, the important "when and where" bits of information we genealogists collect to piece together the details of a person's life. Pretty dry reading, at least to me. While the dates provide basic information they don't tell you anything about who she was as a person. They don't adequately describe the grandmother I knew--the vibrant, funny woman who loved
gardening, was a superb seamstress, had a beautiful contralto singing voice, and was totally devoted to her family. Even though she died in 1990 I still miss her and think about her almost every day. My grandmother Antonina, or Anna as everyone called her, lived two houses away from where I grew up in Worcester. I spent a significant amount of time at her house throughout my childhood and teen years. During our time together, my grandmother would talk about her parents, about coming to America, about her youth, and about her life with my grandfather and their three children.

Family Stories Provide Clues to the Past
So much of what I've been able to figure out about our family history is thanks to her. The bits and pieces of information she included in her family stories have been important to me and to my research. Even when she was in her nineties she remembered life events in great detail. She didn't embellish. She pretty much told things how she remembered them.

One of her often repeated stories was how my great-grandparents, Ewa and Antoni, met while they worked on an estate owned by the Glinka family in the Ostroleka area of Poland. According to my grandmother, Ewa was chosen to live and work at the local manor house as a seamstress because of her talent for sewing. (For examples of her work see
here and here.) The Countess Glinka liked my great-grandmother and taught her how to read and write which was unusual for a peasant girl in late nineteenth-century rural Poland. My great-grandfather Antoni worked in the stables on the estate. Ewa and Antoni met and eventually married. According to my grandmother the countess was godmother to their first child, my grandmother's sister Helen.

A couple of years ago, after several years of trying, I finally discovered the name and location of the estate where my great-grandparents met. I found an entry in my Aunt Helen's travel diary from her
trip to Poland in 1937 that mentions the village of Govorovo. The name of the village, combined with the details of my grandmother's stories, led me to the Palac w Szczawinie in Szczawin, Poland. Szczawin is located south of Ostroleka and neighbors the village of Goworowo.

I initially looked up Govorovo on the Internet without luck. I eventually remembered that w sounds like v in Polish, so I tried Goworowo. I found a website which mentioned Goworowo, northeast of Warsaw. One of the nearby attractions listed on the website was the Palac w Szczawinie, the former estate of the Glinka family. I clicked, and there it was. I cried. I couldn't believe it. I actually found the estate my grandmother told me about all those years ago. One hundred years, two world wars, a Soviet occupation, and it is still there. Apparently the the manor house was taken from the Glinka family by the Germans during World War II. After the war the house fell into disrepair but has recently been restored and now serves as a bed and breakfast.

My grandmother's story about the Palac w Szczawine is just one example of how her stories gave me the information I needed to puzzle together the pieces of our family's history. I wish I thought to formally interview her before she died, but I didn't. My grandmother's stories are her legacy to me, to my son, and to our family. When I think about who I am today, I know a large part of my personality, interests, and joys in life come from her. My grandmother's stories keep not only her memory alive, but the memory of those who came before her alive as well.

So thanks Gram. Thanks for sharing your memories, your love, and your stories. Your legacy lives on...

Named Persons:

~ Bulak, Antoni (1868-19 Feb 1940)
~ Bulak, Ewa (Kowalewska) (1873-20 Mar 1924)
~ Bulak, Helen (21 Oct 1894-09 Feb 1985)
~ Szerejko, Adolf (11 Apr 1895-19 Dec 1959)
~ Szerejko, Antonina (Bulak) (30 May 1896-22 Sep 1990)

Photograph: Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko at age 21 (taken about 1917)


Other Posts You Might Like:
A Matter of Habit: Solving a Mystery
Where They Lived: Every Address Tells a Story
COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)
Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Before We Got the GPS...

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

"Um, Honey...THIS isn't grandmother's house. I said over the river and through the woods. THROUGH the woods."

How DID our ancestors manage?

For a more thoughtful post on Thanksgiving read my post,
Reflecting on My American Experience This Thanksgiving.

Now go have that second piece of pumpkin pie. You know you want to...

Happy Thanksgiving from Cynthia at Heritage Zen!


Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: WWI Red Cross Volunteers
COG 97: Researching the "Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)
Tombstone Tuesday: Wladyslaw Kowalewski, The Mystery Continues

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: The Kowalewski Family

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) Genetics are an interesting thing. I have a number of photos in my collection with no information on them, but I can tell they are ancestors just by who they look like in my family. I know nothing for sure about the people in this photo, but I know we are related. Several people in the photo clearly resemble the Kowalewski side of the family.

I've always wondered how I ended up with a very blond little boy. I have dark brown hair. My parents had dark brown hair, my grand-parents had dark brown hair, and my great-grandparents had dark brown hair. The first time I saw this photograph I thought, wow. Look at the little boy in the center and the girl to the left. Unfortunately there is no information written on the photograph itself.

Given the resemblance I figured out they are part of the Kowalewski family. I know the Kowalewski family came from the former Lomza province in the Goworowo, Szczawin area near Ostrolenka (also spelled Ostroleka). My guess is the photo dates from some time in the early nineteen hundreds given the clothing style. The photo was taken in the old country. I know because the young man in the back row is wearing a Polish/Russian military uniform.

Have you been able to identify old photographs just by looking at the family resemblance?


Other Posts You Might Like:

Reflecting on My American Experience This Thanksgiving

Tuesday's Tip: A Tale of Two Indexers
Books of Interest - Landowners in Poland, 1913-1939
Books of Interest - St. Denis: A French Canadian Parish

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reflecting on My American Experience this Thanksgiving

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I've been thinking about how my son's collective ancestry typifies a large part of what I think of as the American experience, as defined by many of the major events in history since the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts in 1620. As a genealogist and family historian, sometimes I think it's easy to look at individuals rather than our ancestry as a sum of many parts.

While my son's ancestors didn't come to America on the Mayflower, they did arrive in Rhode Island in 1633. They survived cold New England winters, disease, and deprivation. They later fought in the American Revolution and as the old saying goes saw the whites of the Red Coat's eyes at Bunker Hill, and after the colonies won their independence, settled along the Mohawk River Valley in New York where they farmed the land for the next two hundred years. As time progressed they watched Scots Irish immigrants come into the area to help construct the the Erie Canal with mule teams and watched factories spring up in the towns and cities that dotted the length of the Mohawk River.

Other ancestors populated Acadia, or Nova Scotia, during the seventeenth century until they were forcibly removed by the British during the Seven Years War or what Americans call the French and Indian War. Some of the ancestors expelled from Acadia eventually ended up in Louisiana, others managed to find their way back to French speaking Canada to resettle in Quebec. During the mid-nineteenth century some made their way to California to seek their fortune during the Gold Rush. Ancestors fought, were wounded, or died of disease during the Civil War. They participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. After the Civil War ancestors joined the great migration of immigrants from Canada to New England to work in the lumber camps of the Green Mountains and the mills of Massachusetts.

At the end of the nineteenth century another set of ancestors left their homeland in Europe. They left their families--mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters--behind and set off in search of a better life in America. They endured difficult conditions on ship and arrived at Ellis Island with the rest of the "yearning masses" also hoping for a better life in their new land. Immigrant ancestors found their way to the Midwest, to Chicago to work in low wage jobs in the steel industry. When they lost their home due to fire they made their way to Massachusetts to join other family members, also immigrants, in the steel mills. They worked long hours in difficult conditions to pursue the American dream.

During the twentieth century ancestors fought in World War I, World War II, and Korea. When both parents in one family died within two days of one another during the great flu pandemic of 1918, their children were adopted by family to become part of an extended family. Ancestors were affected by the crash of the stock market in 1929 and struggled with varying levels of success through the Great Depression. They participated in the Civilian Conservation Corps and joined the military.

One ancestor served his time in the military in the late 1930s and early 1940s, only to be discharged in November of 1941, eighteen days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He reenlisted in February of 1942, served in the Pacific theatre, and participated in the battles of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, the Marshall Islands, and Okinawa. He survived. Another family member fought with Patton's army in the European theatre. He witnessed the liberation of Buchenwald. After World War II family displaced by the chaos of the war in Europe, lingered in a DP camp for years until they were finally able to make their way to a new life in the United States.

Our ancestors survived war, deprivation, and hardship. They survived childbirth when health care was rudimentary or nonexistent, and during times when mothers knew death from childbirth was an ever-present possibility. They suffered from small pox, rheumatic fever, whooping cough, flu, measles, mumps, and a host of diseases our children, thankfully, will never know. There were bad times, but there were of good times as well. They lived life the best they could given their circumstances. That's four hundred years of history in my son's ancestry. He IS my American experience. That's a lot of weight to carry on those little shoulders.

When you sit down to dinner with your family this Thanksgiving, think about the people that came before you. It doesn't matter if they were French, Irish, Polish, Italian, or African American. It's doesn't matter if they came on the Mayflower or not. They were the ultimate survivors. We are here because of them, and our lives are better because of them. I know I have a lot to be thankful for.

What's your American experience? Take some time to write about it over the next week, and then share it with your family over Thanksgiving dinner. Almost four hundred years of history should give you something to talk about. Now, please pass the gravy...


Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: The Play, Elizabeth

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I know from another photo I have in my collection that my grandmother Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko wore this costume for the play Elizabeth in 1918.  My guess is this photo is also from Elizabeth.  My grandmother is standing in the center, and her sister, my aunt Helen Bulak is on the right.  I'm not sure of the identity of the woman on the left, though I think her first name may be Kasi.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Follow Friday: Who's Following You?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Clairvoyants and Distractions

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

Articles like this one are what distract me from my appointed task of reviewing microfilm for obits at the library. How can you not love this one? Read on...

Worcester Daily Telegram. Friday, September 10, 1915, page 9.

SPIRITUAL MEDIUMS AND CLAIRVOYANTS

They Organize the Liberal Thinkers Educational Society to Meet on Every Sunday


Spiritual mediums and clairvoyants of Worcester have organized a new society which will be called the Liberal thinkers educational society.

The society will meet every Sunday at 2 o'clock and 7, in Malta hall, 306 Main street. The meetings will be open to the public, and the men who have organized the association are arranging a program of seances which promise to be better than any ever seen in Worcester. Table-lifting mediums, message carriers, and all other kinds of spiritual experts will take part in the seances every Sunday, starting Sunday.

The society was started by M.B. Magoon, 21 Clinton street, and so far the membership is large enough to warrant meetings in public. Mr. Magoon is president of the association, and A.A. Kimball is vice president. Other officers have not been chosen. Directors are Drighton H. Dow, Frank Ellis and C.H. Stewart.

Mr. Magoon said, last night: "We have been at work a long time to bring about the organization of such a society or association, and at last our plans have materialized. The society will be non-sectarian, and the meetings will be open to the public. No admission fee will be charged, but we will have a silver collection at every meeting. The guests may give if they please, but we do not force them.

"We will stage some of the best seances ever seen in Worcester, and we are busy engaging mediums and trance experts from all parts of New England. We will also have some speakers at our meetings, and they will choose their topics from spiritual, socialistic and general topics. I mean socialistic, because we will have some socialists here to speak.

"The founders of the society are practically all what is called spiritual healers. This is a new science, but it is prospering in Worcester."

Gottcha! See, this one sucked you in too. Now get back to work!

There are hundreds of stories in the city and this is just one of them...


Other Posts You Might Like:

Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...
Mystery Monday: Another Polish Wedding
A Matter of Habit: Solving a Mystery
Letters and Photos and Stuff, Oh My!: Sorting Through a Loved One's Estate (Part 1)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day: The Life of a Doughboy, 1918

(Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette. Keep the Home Fires Burning, by Lena Gilbert Ford, Available Under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

These photos were sent from my grandfather Adolf Szerejko to his then girlfriend, my grandmother Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko. My grandfather served in France during World War I.


On the back of the photo: "Augusta, GA 7-2-18"


Written on the train: "Going to GET the Kaiser, Scranton, Pa, US Aviation Section Regulars, Going to Germany to Berlin via France"

On the back of the photo: "Taken at Rocky Mountain South Carolina Adolf"


"Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC."



On the back of the photo: "Those are my friends, front row from left to right J. Coyle (best) J. Erns. Percons. Szerejko At the back Anctile. Moore. Sanders. Four Irish, one French and the last man I don't know his nationality Adolf" The spelling may be off as the handwriting is very difficult to read.



" I'm next."

"Camp Greene, Charlotte N.C."

"Kolacja na "hike" (Dinner on the "hike")"

Written on the back: "What we got ourselves into"

"Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC."


Keep the Home Fires Burning ('Til the Boys Come Home)

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning.
Though your lads are far away,
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining,
Through the dark cloud shining,
Turn the dark clouds inside out
Till the boys come home.

Thank you veterans for your service. Happy Veteran's Day!


Special Thanks To: Marek for his translation of the Polish into English.


Other Posts You Might Like:

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: WWI Red Cross Volunteers
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Wordless Wednesday: Dad, Somewhere Cold
Tuesday's Tip: "Ask a Librarian" Service at Your Public Library

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Alsatian Girls

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)I found this photo in with my grandfather Adolf Szerejko's World War I photos. He was stationed in France. My guess is the photo dates from about 1918. This looks like a posed photo to be sold to soldiers and tourists.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Tuesday's Tip: Consider Adding Links to Your Blog
Wordless Wednesday: Warsaw Wedding
Not So Wordless Wednesday: Mule Train Into the Grand Canyon
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Polka Time!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Fail to Find Mother of Abandoned Child

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at
Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

I will admit I am something of a newspaper junkie. Back in my working days B.C. (Before Child), I use to read three newspapers a day. For several years when I worked in the serials department of a university library, I read many of the magazines, journals, and newspapers that came in each week while I was on my lunch hour. I was very well read and could converse on a variety of topics, not in great depth of course, but just enough to be popular at cocktail parties. I read anything that looked interesting, from the news of the day to Time magazine's cover story to the report of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. If you want to rivet cocktail party goers just start chatting about the latest findings in Scientific American or Nature or Sex Roles or Psychology Today. If you really want to wow 'em chat up your tuna knowledge. You WILL be the life of the party. Trust me. Now I'm lucky to have time to glance at the headlines and obits online on a daily basis. Such is the life of the busy stay-at-home suburban mom.

That said, I love old newspapers. I love the news, what's perceived as the news, the editorials, the letters to the editor, the social news, the gossip, the advertisements, and the classifieds. I go to the library to look up one obit on microfilm, and I am sucked into a newsy vortex. Last week as I was preparing my nun post for the 99th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, I was hoping to find some information on the opening of St. Mary's School in Worcester, MA in 1915. I didn't find a word about the school opening, but I did find some fascinating reading. On one page alone the headlines shouted out, "Fail to Find Mother of Abandoned Baby" and "German Alien Women to Register June 17" and "Man Kills Woman and Kills Self" and my favorite, "Sewer Committee Hosts at Luncheon Yesterday." I can't find an article about a school opening, but I can find out the Worcester Sewer Committee entertained 40 members of the sanitary section of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. Apparently lunch was followed by a tour of the sewer plant and system. Oh boy, lunch and a show. Digest on that.

Given my fascination with old newspapers I've decided to post occasional transcriptions of local stories, well, periodically.


Worcester Daily Telegram. June 5, 1918.

Fail to Find Mother of Abandoned Child

All the efforts of the police department to find the mother of the three-hours-old girl discovered in the woods in the rear of 390 Lovell street, yesterday forenoon had failed up to an early hour, this morning. From the time the police were notified they worked on the case without result.

The baby was found by August Andrew, 18 Southbridge street: Joseph Menchette, Shrewsbury, and Francis Rawson, 574 Pleasant street, yesterday forenoon.

The cries of the infant attracted the attention of three men who were working in their gardens close by. They found the baby resting on a pillow of leaves and moss, and partially covered with leaves.

The men notified police headquarters, and the ambulance with Police surgeon Robert J. Northridge, was sent to the scene. Dr. Northridge said the baby was only a few hours old and would have died of exposure in a short time. The baby was wrapped in blankets and taken to city hospital.

A whisky bottle, freshly emptied, was found near the spot.

This story really touches me on so many levels. What happened to the baby? Who was the mother, and what happened to her? What were the circumstances of the mother's life that made her think this act was her only option? Sadly, I'm guessing the bottle of whiskey was the desperate mother's choice of anesthesia. Or maybe she just had a drinking problem. We'll never know.

There are hundreds of stories in the city and this is just one of them...


Other Posts You Might Like:
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...
Amanuensis Monday: Frank L. Naramore Obituary
COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)
Tuesday's Tip: A Tale of Two Indexers

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Fall Weekends in New England

(Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette )

Why I love New England...



Longfellow's Wayside Inn, Sudbury, MA, September 2010


Rockport, MA, October, 2010


Wedding Cake House, Kennebunk, ME, October 2010


Marble House, Newport, RI, October 2010


Chinese Tea House at Marble House, Newport, RI, October 2010