Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Regrets and Redemption Lead to a Present for my Family

I am sure that all good family historians have moments that they regret ... I wish I knew what questions to have asked my grandmother, Nana, Marian Evans Dakin, before she died in 1974.  As a result of not knowing ANYTHING about the DAKIN family back then, my work was extensive to piece together the story. I only knew my grandfather's name (he died when my father was 2 years old) and that he had died in the 1918 flu pandemic, along with his son and mother-in-law in less than one week.

When I was in high school, Nana brought some small brownish pictures of something [she said it was a power plant that her husband Rob worked on] to share one year when she came for her annual visit.  Of course, I was the uninterested teenager.  I'm not sure anyone else in my family was much interested either.  I think she brought them out just once during her annual six-month visit.

Years later, I was a 20-something who would drive down to visit her in Connecticut.  I helped her go through various things in her house, and made note of who she wanted them to go to and what things were.  Of course, we didn't find EVERYTHING since there still were surprises when I was her executrix cleaning out her home.  By then, I had enough sense to start asking some questions about the family -- clearly not all of the ones I should have, but I made a start.  On one visit, I asked her about those pictures of the power plant.  "Of, those, I gave them to the power company."

I contacted the power company and was told they did not know where the pictures were, but they did share some information on the power plant which helped me to understand how it worked along with some of the history of the Bulls Bridge Power Plant in Gaylordsville, Connecticut.

What I never asked my grandmother was the "rest of the story" which turned out to be quite interesting.
This year's Christmas present for my family is what I learned about this story AND about the DAKIN family.

In my grandmother's desk, when she died, was one of the surprises for this executrix -- the negatives for the pictures my grandfather, Rob Dakin took of the building of the addition to the power plant.  This book, Bulls Bridge:  The Story of a dreamer, a family farmer, a camera and the building of a power plant, is the result of much research.  It is not only the story of the power plant but includes information on the DAKIN family line, all the way back to Thomas Dakin, the immigrant settler in Concord, Massachusetts by 1652.

The "Readers Digest" version of the story of the power plant is about a politician with a dream to harness the Housatonic River, a farmer who sells a convoluted part of his farm for the canal to be dug right across the fields and past his house, a farm boy who watches the canal and power plant emerge, and then, the power plant is finished and does NOT bring any power to the surrounding neighborhood!  The high school boy, goes off to college (first in family), comes back as an assistant engineer and works on the addition to the plan which brings power to the neighborhood and documents it all with his camera. His pictures from 1912 are included in the book.

I learned a lot about my ancestors as people as I researched this book -- this was not a compilation of just dates.  Oh how I wish I had the sense to talk to my grandmother about this before she died in 1974.

The link for this post is:
©2013, Erica Dakin Voolich


  1. Hello Erica:

    I noticed your name and genealogical interest at the bottom of your recent Freecycle posting, and wondered whether you might be connected to Amasa/Amos/Moses Dakin of Concord, MA (b. 1732), who is one of my direct ancestors, via the Dakins of Cherry Valley, New York. Is this at all useful to you? I could send you other names if you think there might be a useful connection.

    --Janet Campbell

  2. Janet
    I don't find Moses in the A H DAKIN genealogy book. There were lots of DAKINs in Concord in the 1600s and 1700s descended from Thomas the original immigrant. Is your line from him?
    Or by some chance are you descended from the John Deyken who came on the Abigail who folks are trying to connect to Thomas?
    There is a DAKIN family webpage. Would you like to join it? They share DAKIN research.

  3. Fascinating read. I think it's so cool that you were the executrix and had the opportunity to learn more while grandmother was alive. I have a cousin who had the opportunity to go through her mother's stuff and all of the generations of family stuff in the home. How I wish I lived closer to have helped her do it. I know I would have found things like this. Anyway... I was a thoughtless teenager myself. I missed the opportunity to learn more about my ancestors from my grandmother. I thought I'd leave a comment and say how very much you're not alone in this.

  4. Thank you Devon Lee for your comments.
    I am glad I was able to know my grandmother both as a child & teen and then as the more rational thoughtful adult. I came to appreciate her as a person. But, I was a young adult and unfortunately didn't know everything I should have asked. However, as executrix I found an amazing collection of quilts (I knew her mother-in-law was a quilter and there were a few quilts on the beds but....), these negatives, and also a treasure trove of letters from Sweden (which I'm working on).