Saturday, October 12, 2013

Society Saturday – GSV Fall Meeting

Today was the Fall meeting of the Genealogical Society ofVermont (GSV), which took place in Rutland, Vermont.  I joined the Society last year, but wasn’t able to make it to the Spring meeting, so this was my first exposure to the group outside of reading the newsletters and a couple of interactions with the Facebook group.

I was very pleased with the meeting.  There were just under 30 people in attendance, most of who seemed to have known each other for some time.  Despite being a newcomer, I didn’t feel unwelcome at all.  I chatted with a few people, and found some common research interests.  The highlight of the meeting, however, was definitely the three presentations that were given.

The first speaker, William Powers, Jr., gave numerous examples of the importance of finding several sources of documentation before coming to a conclusion.  Cases ranged from incorrect tombstone inscriptions to census records with similar, but not correct names.  The presentation was entertaining, and the speaker was excellent.

Michael Dwyer gave the next presentation, which was a summary of his search for third great-grandmother’s husband, Silas Hall.  Again, the speaker was entertaining and the information interesting.  He showed how some ancestors “flavored” their stories, sometimes making them more difficult to track down.  In some cases the flavoring may be an innocent embellishment of facts.  In other cases, such as Silas Hall, the flavoring may be more purposeful (such as having three wives).

The final presentation, given by Jim Davidson of the Rutland Historical Society was my favorite.  Mr. Davidson outlined numerous sources available for information on the Rutland area, beginning with the late 18th century and working up to the early 20th century.  Many of the sources have been put online by the Historical Society, or are available either at the Historical Society building or the Rutland Free Library.  Since my wife’s family is from the Rutland area, I now have several new options to check out for information.

After attending this meeting, I’m looking forward to attending more next year and possibly becoming more involved with the Society as I get to know the organization more.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Founding – The Start of My Life

Prompt 2 of The Book of Me is “Your Birth”.

I don’t have many baby pictures of myself.  I know I’ve seen a few, but somehow they haven’t come into my possession.  The photo shown here is of my family, about 5 months after my birth.  We’re standing in front of my grandmother’s house, which was just below the house that my parents built when my sister was small.  Based on this photo, I’d say that I was a pretty typical bald little infant.

The start of my life, however, based on what I’ve been told, wasn’t boring.  First, my mother, due to a medical condition, wasn’t supposed to have any children after my brother.  Not only did she give birth to me, she lived long enough to see me graduate from college.  Next, I arrived a month earlier than expected.  My mother always told me that I didn’t want to miss 1972.  Being a month premature, I was transported from the hospital in Springfield, VT to what is now Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where I spent my first few days in an incubator.

Everything must have turned out well.  At some point, I’m guessing before Christmas, my parents brought me home.  Since I was a near Christmas baby, they brought me home in a stocking.  I remember my mother showing me the stocking one time when I was a kid, but I’m not sure what happened to it.  The stocking, apparently, was a gift from the hospital to all of the December babies.

The best story from my birth?  I have a small flat spot on the end of my nose, roughly the size of a fingertip.  My mother used to tease me by telling me that I when I was born the doctor put his finger on my nose and said “Awww…  He’s sooo cute!” and my nose stuck that way forever.  The story may have been a fiction, but my flat-tipped nose always makes me smile and think of mom.

Friday Find - Unnamed Batchelder Comes Home

A few years ago I traded a friend of mine some maple syrup for a box of Walton's Vermont Register books from the late 1800s. The original owner of the registers kept daily notes in the front of them. It was obvious that he was a farmer, and that he lived near where I grew up, based on some of his entries. There were mentions of "Went to S. Derry", "Went to Weston", "Went to Landgrove". I always thought it would be neat if he had been from Peru (where I grew up), but I never really thought much more about it.

Tonight, I started reading through the entries of the 1898 edition. In addition to place names, the names "S. Stiles" and "Simmonds" were frequently mentioned. Stiles and Simmonds were families in Peru way back when. I kept looking through the entries, till I got to October 31st. The entry was "Edmond Batchelder died." Edmund Batchelder was my great-grandfather's name, though he didn't die until the 1930s. I flipped the page. November 2nd, "Edmond Batchelder buried." November 3rd, "Fannie Cross buried."

Fannie Cross was my great-grandfather's first wife. I'd never found a death date for her. I checked FamilySearch for the date and place, and sure enough, there she was. Fannie Cross, wife of Edmund Batchelder died from "Shock after child birth" on 1 November, 1898. I checked my database. I had an unnamed baby girl, stillborn to Edmund and Fannie on 1 November, 1898. It appears that the unnamed baby girl may actually have been a boy, named after his father, and born late on October 31st or early on November 1st. Unfortunately mother and child didn't survive.

I've heard of ancestors finding us instead of us finding them, but I've never had it happen before. Not only did the writer of the daily entries live in Peru, he knew my great-grandfather's family. Weird how a penciled entry by someone who knew my great-grandfather found it's way out of Vermont, down to Connecticut to a friend of mine, then to me, taking 100+ years to travel.