Thursday, September 5, 2013

Memory Thief

My grandmother has dementia. It's been a slow progression over the last 10 years. It started with mild memory confusion, forgetting a name or date, mostly short term memory loss. I haven't had the opportunity to see her very often over the last 7 years as I lived a long distance from her, but each time I was in town to visit I could see her slipping further and further away. I was lucky because each time she always knew who I was and we'd enjoy our long chats about family history and life in general. She and my grandfather were the ones who introduced me to genealogy when I was in high school. She always had such wonderful stories, and she was always willing to take the time to answer all my questions and share all she knew.

One of my favorite things were these large scrapbooks she'd been keeping for many years. It was full of old art work and photos of her life. She wanted to be a fashion artist for the newspapers and magazines, back before they used photography for all the clothing ads. So she had a wonderful collection of fashion artwork from the print ads as well as her own drawings. I remember so vividly the day she pulled out these large black scrapbooks and cracked open the book to show me. I was mesmerized by each page. It was as if I could see every wish and dream she had as a young girl all laid out before me.

While growing up she lived a state away and had a big artistic job that took her to Italy. She painted tile. She'd create these beautiful murals. She was glamorous. She wore black liquid eyeliner and always smelled of roses. I can't smell rose water today without thinking of her. She wore silk blouses and could flirt with the best of them. Oh and her laugh! It was deep and rich and bubbled up from within her.

In high school she moved to our state and lived about 20 minutes away. She still painted tile and shared a studio space with my mother. I saw her often and loved it. I'd go spend the night at her house, especially those days when I just needed a break from my siblings. She was always so welcoming. She'd make eggs and cheese danish for breakfast and watch movies late into the evening, but always took a bath before she went to bed.

We came to visit our family this weekend, and yesterday my aunt brought her over to visit. She walked in withthe assistance of her walker, looking thin and frail, yet she was still wearing her black eye liner. Her hair a mixture of black and grey. She looked right at me and smiled. "Hello," she said as her eyes scanned the room. "There are so many people here," she continued. My aunt put her arm around her shoulders and asked if she recognized everyone, to which my grandmother said no.

She looked right at me and didn't recognize me. My heart was breaking. I had been warned. I knew what to expect and I wasn't angry, just terribly sad to see this women who was so full of life, with so many stories to tell, so confused.

My aunt said, "This is your granddaughter, Heidi."

"She is? Heidi?" I could see her struggling throuh the cloudy haze her memories are hidden behind and then she smiled. "Heidi," she says more confidently. "How long has it been since I saw you?"

Over the next few hours she settled in and after a few awkward moments I believe she started to remember me. My hubby took our kids and their cousins outside to the pool and I stayed with my grandmother. She needs someone with her at all times or she gets paranoid, but I was glad to do it. I wanted to memorize every thing I could. I wanted to look at her face, her hands and into her eyes. I knew the grandmother I knew was inside this frail shell, and I knew I may never see her again, but instead of mourning that, I wanted to enjoy every moment of our conversation, even if she asked me the same questions over and over again. I made her lunch and enjoyed watching her eat it. I sat beside her and talked about life and for a bit she had some really lucid moments.

She told me stories of her childhood...all stories I had already heard, but I stored away her voice and the way she laughed. The laugh hasn't changed at a bit. She spoke of her brother and how lucky and fortunate she felt she had been through her life. She couldn't remember how many daughters she had, but she remembered her summers on the island her grandparents owned playing with her cousins.

She drank coffee and then asked why no one had fed her lunch yet. We reminded her she'd eaten a tuna sandwich with apples and grapes and she said, "I did?" Then she asked for a piece of toast, which she ate in the same lady-like manner I always attributed to my grandmother.

When it was time to leave I hugged her as tight as I felt her frail body could handle and told her I loved her. She flirted with my husband and I smiled because she was showing her true nature yet again.

When my aunt returned home after dropping her off she told me, before even pulling out of the driveway, my grandmother turned to my aunt and said, "You have such wonderful friends. That couple, they were so lovely. You've known them for a long time, haven't you?"

My aunt smiled and nodded. "Yes, Mom, I've known them a very long time."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kent Family Mystery Photos

My wonderful aunt has been helping me dig up photographs of my maternal grandmothers family. We've been able to find some wonderful photos, but sadly not many are labeled well. It got me thinking about my own photographs and whether my kids or grandkids would be able to decipher who was in each photo, date it was taken or the event. In regards to my photo albums they wouldn't be able to...but my photographs online or on my computer are at least labeled by who's in the photo.

It's definitely given me something to think about.

In our research search...we've come across a few photos have us stumped. 

All I know is this of the Kent family. Unsure of who each person is.

No idea who these children are.

Children unknown. This may be cousins or family...or maybe even school friends of the Kent family. The ages and genders don't match for the Kent siblings.

We think this is a family friend...unknown who it might be.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beyl Ancestors

With the help of my new found Beyl cousins we've been able to trace the Beyl ancestors back to my 7th Great-Grandparents.

For someone who couldn't even find my great-great grandparents a few months ago...this has truly been a gift.

Joseph Antoine (Anton) BEYL
b-1/2/1897 Strasbourg
d-1/28/1989 San Francisco, CA
*Married: Amelia FRIES (3/11/1905 - 12/18/1982)

Francois Antoine (Franz Anton) BEYL
b-5/31/1860 Oberlauterbach
*Married: Josephine SIGRIST (3/19/1865 - ?)

Jacques (Jacob) BEYL
b-3/12/1815 Oberlauterbach
*Married: Maria Anne (Maria Anna) SCHMITT (3/23/1825 - ?)

b-4/27/1791 Oberlauterbach
d-12/27/1850 Oberlauterbach
*Married: Madeleine (Magdelaine) LEHMANN

Jean (Joannis) BEYL
b-7/20/1754 Oberlauterbach
d-12/7/1831 Oberlauterbach
*Married: Catherine SCHICKEL

Jean Georges (Joannis Georg) BEYL
b-5/19/1729 Niederlauterbach
d-6/18/1758 Oberlauterbach
*Married: Maria Elisabeth KRAEMER

Joseph BEYL
b-1682 Siegen
d-4/10/1752 Siegen
*Married: Anne Marie FRITZ

Monday, November 26, 2012

Introducing Anton and Josephine Beyl

Anton Franz Beyl with his wife Josephine Sigrist Beyl 
and one of their sons Joseph Beyl

I never thought I'd actually see a photo of my Great-Great-Grandparents. I can't even put into words the emotions that I felt seeing this photo for the first time.

My Great-Great Grandfather was a baker. If you look in the first window you'll see different types of breads. Yummy! I wish I could taste them.

The other windows have beautiful lace curtains, which I can imagine Josephine dusting.

Joseph has such a swagger about him. Isn't he a cutie? What a charmer he must have been.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brown Ancestors

I've written about Marie Anne Brown and her husband Dr. Ernest E. Kent. Today I'd like to share more about the Brown family.

Marie Anne Brown's parents were Peter Elie Brown, MD and Maria Sophia Rafter.

Dr. Peter E. Brown was the son of Jeremiah R. Brown and Susan Wooldridge (Woolridge). Jeremiah R. is my 4th great grandfather. He and his wife Susan and their 6 sons immigrated from England to Canada...where they settled near Hudson Quebec in 1842. (Near the Ottawa River, opposite the indian village called Oka, 30 miles from Montreal). The ship they traveled on was named Pusie Hall.

1841 England Census 
Hampshire, St Mary Bourne, District 1A

Jeremiah R. Brown was born December 23, 1809 in Thatcham (England) parish. His parents were Jeremiah (Jery) Brown born 1783 and Mary Brin. Jery and Mary married on August 27, 1804 in Thatcham, England.

Jeremiah R. had two brothers David Jeremiah Brown born 1805 in Thatcham and James Brown born 1807 Thatcham. Jeremiah R. died July 1884 in Quebec, Canada.

Jeremiah R. had two brothers David Jeremiah Brown born 1805 in Thatcham and James Brown born 1807 Thatcham. David married Catherine Delanie Bohanen and Ann Hamilton (1805 - 1850). He immigrated to the USA and took the name David Benham. James Brown married a woman named Sarah (1809).

Jeremiah R. Brown's wife was Susan Wooldridge who was born November 9, 1800 at 5:15 and baptized the following Sunday in Newbury church. It is said that she is buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Ste Anne de Bellevue under the name Woolridge (no "d"). Her parents were James and Susannah Wooldridge.

Susan was 10 years older then Jeremiah.

1851 Census of Canada
Canada East Quebec / Valedreuie County

They had 6 sons:

James Brown (1827-1809) Revered
William Brown (1831-1912) Spouse: Mary Hodgson
John Brown (? - 1905) Spouse: ?
Frances Brown (1835 - ?) Spouse: Eliza Grisdale (1835 - ?)
Charles Brown (1838 - ?) Spouse: ?
Peter Elie Brown (1839 - 1933) Spouse: Maria Sophia Rafter
Sister?? Mrs. Joseph Lancaster (found a reference to her in her brother James Brown's obituary...haven't been able to find out any further information on her yet)

Reverend James Brown Obituary

Peter E. Brown, MD married Marie Sophia Rafter (b. Jan 5, 1837 Quebec - d. Oct 28, 1918 Ste Anne de Bellevue)

Peter and Marie had 9 children:

Joseph Henry Patrick Brown (1863 - 1934) Spouse: Margaret Augusta De La Rende (1859 - ?)
John James Louis Brown (1865 - 1939) Spouse: Gertrude Juliette Martha Wilare
Frederick Alfred Brown (1866 - 1900) Spouse: Agnes Jervis
Irederie Brown (1869 - ?)
Cecilia Agnes Brown (1870 - ?) Spouse: Pascal Deslauriers
Peter Elie Brown (1871 - 1913)
Charles Edward Brown (1873 - 1929) Spouse: A Ethel Van Der Veer
Marie Anne Brown (1877 - ?) Spouse: Ernest E. Kent
Helena Cathrine Brown (1879 - ?)

Marie Sophia Rafter was married in 1856 to a James McElhearn in Montreal, Quebec (Basilique Nortre-Dame) and she was 19 years old. It appears from the witness signatures and the text that her parents are John Rafter and Mary Ann Rafter.

Marriage Certificate 1856 Montreal, Quebec
Basilique Notre-Dame
Maria Sophia Rafter and James McElhearn

James McElhearn immigrated from Great Britian to the USA in 1850 at the age of 26...his ship name was Argyle.

James and Maria Sophia married in 1856 and James died at the age of 35 in 1859...they were married only 3 short years.

It's hard for me to imagine losing a husband so quickly and yet if he had lived...she wouldn't have married Peter E. Brown and I wouldn't be here today. 

Death Certificate of Marie Sophia Rafter

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mystery Photo

I'm not sure who this photo is of.

I tend to think it's the Kimple's...because of the gentlemen's mustache. Every photo of William and Mary Kimple, William is sporting a similar style mustache. Maybe this was taken on their wedding day??

Monday, November 12, 2012

George Washington Bates - Civil War Vet

George Washington Bates
b - Aug 4, 1842
d - Sep 30, 1928

1st Wife
Nancy H Towner 1847 – 1906
Herman W. Betts 1868 – 1903
Gertrude Betts 1870 – 1950
Morrow Betts 1873 – 1958
Cortella M Betts 1879 – 1942
Circe Annette Bates 1881 – 1941
Earl M. Betts 1885 – 

2nd Wife
Emma C Erb 1863 – 1940
Grace Bates 1904 – 2000

Civil War Draft Registration 1863

Lists George "Betts" as single, farmer and 20 years old.

Other Betts/Bates family members are listed here as well, such as Reason Betts Jr., William Betts, and others. I would love to find out more about their service in this war. All 3 of these men survived the war.

George Bates (far right)

Robert Minnigh with Great Grandpa Bates

George W. Bates Civil War Buriel Card

Death Notice:

  • Birth: Aug. 4, 1842
    Crawford County
    Pennsylvania, USADeath: Sep. 30, 1928
    Crawford County
    Pennsylvania, USA
    PA--Meadville Tribune....03 Oct 1928
    GEORGE BATES: 86; WShenango, lifelong resi-dent & CivilWar Vet, died Monday[10-1] at his home after a long period of ill health. MrBates enlisted in the PA 14thCavalry in 1861, serving with meritorious record throughout the entire duration of the CivilWar. Returning to his home he soon became one of the twp's foremost farmers, retaining that position until a few years ago.
    Surviving are his wife Emma & the following children: Mrs Gertrude Bush-Williamsfld; Mrs Cortelle Sharp-Parkman; Mrs EO Minnigh-Con-neautville; Mrs Grace Williams-Jamestown; William Sponsler-Youngstown; Morrow Bates-Conneaut OH; Earl Bates-Denver CO.
    Service will be held Thursday [10-4] at State Line Church with interment in ParkLawn Cem