Advent Calendar 2011 – Grab Bag: Cousins at Christmas

Today, like every Christmas that I can remember, I had dinner with my cousins.  Last year we decided that we would get together the Saturday before Christmas since I live farther away now.  I have three cousins on my maternal side and two of them have two children, a boy and a girl each.  With all of our children, there are 8.  Along with the 8 children at the kitchen table, we had 10 adults for dinner in the dining room.  On the menu was surf and turf, steak and boiled lobsters.   We decided to do something a little different this year because my husband’s sister has a seafood allergy.  Kate made place cards and all the ladies who were not eating lobster sat at one end of the table and all those dining on crustaceans, i.e. the men, at the other end.  Being a vegetarian, I loved the idea of being out of target range of the flying lobster fluid.  A great time was had by all and it was fun to change up our usual seating pattern. My cousins and I were talking about how our kids, second cousins, know each other so well and how we make it a point that they do.  As long as we are alive, our children and their children will spend time together.  I suspect it was this way among previous generations of our family, long before our time. Among my grandmother’s possessions was a letter dated December 18, 1949 from her second cousin, Robert Chipman. “It is the little deeds and kind thoughts all added together that makes the best gift of all,” he wrote. Yes, Robert. ...

Advent Calendar 2011 – The Holiday Happenings

Happy Anniversary to Addie May Collier and Joseph Brophy! Addie and Joe were married on December 14, 1916 in West Haven, Connecticut.  What a guy Joe must have been to marry a woman who had four living minor children and an ex-husband!  My grandmother often talked about Joe Brophy.  He was about the best stepfather a girl could dream of.  He was a railroad conductor and wonderful to all of the children.  Addie and Joe had one child, Jack, together.  Sadly, Addie died in September 1931 so this happy couple never made it to their fifteenth wedding anniversary. I remember that Joe died when I was five years old and everyone went to his funeral but I stayed home with a neighbor.     I cannot pass by this opportunity to mention Addie’s enate great grandmother, Lois Chalker Walston.  Dear Lois.  Lois was born on 20 December, maybe in 1804 or 1805.  I don’t know who her parents were.  Maybe her father was Randolph Washington Chalker of Guilford, Connecticut, son of Dr. Isaac Chalker, or so Dr. Alvan Talcott said.  How did Dr. Talcott know? Who threw birthday parties for you, Lois?  Anyone?  Did your husband Daniel remember your birthday?  Lois, I will never forget you.  I will spend the rest of my life finding you.  You are my grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother.  You are my seventh...

Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Grandma’s Box

This lovely couple is Tom and Jenny, my grandmother’s grandparents.  Jenny is my enate great-great grandmother.  There was a family story that they loved each other so much that they got married twice.   Their story probably could have gone on forever if not for one small detail… nosey progeny. When I first began my research, I found a marriage record for Thomas and Emma J. Thompson dated May 6, 1875.  Being the neophyte supersleuth that I was, I was happy to find the marriage record and believed that name reversal was at play here, as that was very common.  This worked out well in my mind since their only child, a daughter named Addie, was born in 1883. Fast forward to a random Saturday morning at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford.  For years, cousins and I have been tracking Collier ancestors and trying to put together one of our most elusive lines.  That particular day I decided to peek at the court records on microfilm.  Was I ever surprised to find a listing for a divorce of Emma J. Thompson and Thomas Collier.  I immediately reviewed the file for this couple and it turned out that Emma J. was not Jenny E.  A small tidbit that gave away the shenanigans was a handwritten note by Tom’s attorney, removing himself from the case, as his client had a child out of wedlock.  Other papers told of accusations of Tom’s extramarital activities, most notably with Jenny Thompson.  This marriage was dissolved on October 9, 1891. A walk back through the census and other documents revealed that Emma J. was most likely the older sister of Jenny...

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