Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson
Showing posts with label Gaylordsville CT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gaylordsville CT. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Bundle of Letters: Such a Treasure!

Marion Evans Dakin
playing a game she loved,  Scrabble


When Nana, my grandmother Marion Evans Dakin, died on the 4th of July in 1974, her only son who had survived to adulthood, had already died two years before her.  As her oldest granddaughter, I found myself as her executrix ... a whole new world of responsibility added to the life of a mother juggling a couple of kids.  Commuting to Connecticut was more than I could do, so we put the crib on the top of our car and stayed in her house for eight weeks, first as she was dying from a stroke and then afterwards as we cleaned out her house and settled her estate.

My siblings joined me part of the time as we discovered we were on a treasure hunt.

An old Jacquard woven rug which was much older
than Nana that we found in her house.

I knew Nana had quilts made by her mother-in-law, Mother Dakin (Mary Alice Smith Dakin) but we had no idea how many quilts were there not just on the beds but hidden in trunks in the the attic.  We all went home with antique quilts and I documented them in my book Quilts in our Family.  When I had visited her a month before Nana died we had taken the quilts off the beds a couple of other quilts to the nursing home where she was staying so she could put on a quilt exhibit.  One of the quilts was a sampler quilt and she spent the last month of her life finding the names of each quilt square.  Ironically, the morning the quilt exhibit was to open, the nursing home called me to say she had had a stroke.  When I arrived in Connecticut, they were questioning whether to open her "show" of quilts.  I said "of course, show the quilts, that's what she wanted."  When I told her they had "opened" the show, she squeezed my hand.
Some of Mary Alice Smith's quilts
Not so dramatic in appearance, was a bundle of letters tied together with a string in the back of her desk.  I looked at them and saw that I couldn't possibly read them -- they were in Swedish.  I knew her grandfather Eric Helsten was from Sweden but I didn't know much else about him.  I assumed these must have been his.  I put them in my stuff to take home not knowing whether I would ever be able to read them.  Ten years later, I had a Swedish colleague who was willing to try to translate some of them for me -- she would read while I scribed. 
1858 letter from Eric's mother,
Lovisa Charlotta Robbert Hellsten 


 It took about 30 years before they were all translated, but what a treasure!  Eric was one of 13 children and everyone of his siblings and his mother took on personalities.  Eric's father had died unexpectedly, leaving his wife with young children including a baby.  Eric was the oldest son, a teenager, and he had older sisters.  He apprenticed as a tanner in Sweden and when there wasn't much work.  He came to the USA in 1845, settling first in Haviland Hollow NY and then moving to Gaylordsville CT when he bought his own tannery.
Eric Adolf Helsten


Back in the 1980s, we had enough letters translated that I was able to piece together a bit of Eric's family tree and when my wonderful colleague/translator traveled to Sweden for Christmas, while there she wrote the Uppsala parish vital records office and a few weeks later I had a letter from Alice, a "cousin."  Alice's grandfather and Nana's grandfather were brothers.  Years ago my grandmother visited Uppsala Sweden but didn't know about Alice, so they never met.  I had a chance to visit Alice back in 1984 before she died in 1990.  Such a treasure hidden in a bundle of letters.  It's too bad my grandmother never new the contents of what she had carefully saved.

I have taken the 86 Swedish letters and documents, had them translated and put them together in chronological order.   I researched Eric's family back in Sweden and his life in the USA.  I wrote a book for my family this year which is the story of Eric's family on both continents.  A Ring and a Bundle of Letters has been 30 years in the making with the help of three wonderful translators who not only read Swedish but also could decipher the old handwriting, structure and spelling.  

The book is available from Lulu.com

Such a treasure!


©2013, Erica Dakin Voolich














Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Family Story, a Bit of Investigation and the "The Rest of the Story"


My mother used to tell the story about her mother-in-law's Aunt Mary:

Mary lived to be 92.  In her old age, her family became concerned about  her living alone on the family farm.  They insisted that she move in with her daughter-in-law.  Each day, Mary would get up, hitch up the horse and  wagon, ride up to her home, spend the day and then return at night to sleep at her daughter-in-law's home.  When she died, Marion Dakin, her niece, helped to clean out the house.  Marion found all of the "new  fangled" gifts--a toaster, an iron, etc.-- she had given her over the  years still in their original boxes.

πππππ

Mary Louise Helsten was the oldest child of Eric Adolf Helsten and his wife Mary Hearty.  Mary L was born in Patterson New York on 7 June 1850, and the next year her family moved to Gaylordsville Connecticut where she grew up. In 1878, shortly before turning twenty-eight, she married a widower, Charles Pomeroy, who had a teenage son Henry.   Henry was the child of Charles Pomeroy and Josephine Hallock Pomeroy



No one in the family told any stories (that I recall) of Aunt Mary Pomeroy as a step-mother, or wife -- just as an elderly woman who lived thirty-nine years after her husband died in 1903.  She was fifty-three years old when her husband died.  So what was she doing for thirty-nine years?  She never remarried.  How did she support herself?

A little bit of searching in the US Census:
• 1850 can't find Charles Pomeroy
• 1860 Charles Pomeroy (age 26) and Gertrude Pomeroy (16) are living with Ithamar (63) and Louisa (60) Ferris in New Milford, Conn.
• 1870 Charles Pomeroy (35) and his wife Josephine Pomeroy (24) are living in Litchfield, Conn on her parents' farm, Homer (60) and Caroline (55) Hallock.  Charles is working as a farm laborer.
• 1880 Charles Pomeroy (45) and Mary L (30) and son Henry (17) are farmers in Litchfield, Conn.
• 1900 Charles Pomeroy (65) and Mary L (49) are living in New Milford, Litchfield, Conn. and he is a farmer.
• 1910 Mary Pomeroy (59), widow is living in New Milford, has a hired hand (under relationship), who is listed as a "farmer," not "farm hand" (under occupation) ... THE REST OF THE STORY... 

πππππππππ

I was looking at Miriam J Robbins site to search for city directories.  She had some links for New Milford, Connecticut and I was working my way through the directories checking out various family names.  I started noticing the ads.  This half-page ad was run in the directories for 1884-5, 1888-9, 1891, 1897:


Looks like Charles Pomeroy was not only farming.  If you take a look at his farm.  Sure looks like it is also a lumber yard on the right:


Not only does it look like both a farm and a lumberyard, but look between the buildings, set back, there is the house that Mary lived in with her husband Charles and, in her later years, would drive her horse and wagon to daily to spend her days in her latter  years.



Charles Pomeroy died in 1903, and by 1902, he no longer had his large ad.  He was listed, instead, in small listings under the individual items sold, such as "FERTILIZERS"



Now for the rest of the story.  What was Mary doing after her husband died?

Here is the listing for the various Pomeroy family members in 1914 in New Milford





"Pomeroy ...
--Mary wid Charles hardware and lumber Merwins-
     ville n Gaylordsville h do"

Written out without abbreviations:
 Pomerory Mary, widow of Charles, hardware and lumber [business] in Merwinsville near Gaylordsville, home ditto [she lived where she worked, a "home-based business" in today's lingo].

Looks like Mary was busy.  According to the small ads in that 1914  directory, she had listings under:
Hardware and Cutlery, Lumber, and Mason Materials.  Even if, in the address book section, she is "Mary, widow of Charles;" when listing 'Mary the businesswoman,' she was "Mrs. Charles Pomeroy" in the directory:

In 1914, she is sixty-four years old and clearly working at the family business that her husband started and ran in addition to the farm.

The next online directory I found for New Milford, was 1927.  Here she is listed as "Mary E wid Charles h Gaylordsville" and her grandson Charles, son of Henry is running the business.

In the 1930 census she and her daughter-in-law, Caroline Pomeroy (63), are living together in New Milford, they are each widows, she is the head of household at age 79. In 1940, she is still the head of household, now at age 89 she has her step-daughter-in-law Edna C Pomeroy (74) living with her in her own home, as she was in 1935.  She completed two years of high school according to the census.

In the 1930 census, the property listed right before Mary Pomeroy has Charles C Pomeroy, and it is listed as farm and lumber!  So, sometime before 1930, her grandson has taken over the family business.

ππππππππ


One final thought.
I was looking at Charles Pomeroy's ad.  He is selling "Box Shooks."
"Shook" was a term that I wasn't familiar with.  So I looked it up in the Free Dictionary by  Farlex.
A shook:  "a disassembled barrel; the parts packed for storage or shipment"
Maybe you learned a new word today too!

The link to this post is http://genea-adventures.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-family-story-bit-of-investigation-and.html

©Erica Dakin Voolich 2013



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: http://genea-adventures.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-regrets-and-redemption-lead-to.html
©2013, Erica Dakin Voolich


Friday, August 19, 2011

John CARLSON, his suit of clothes, and our hunt for information, part 1

John Carlson in his suit
As I mentioned in my last post, John CARLSON was to get $100 and a suit of clothes when he finished his apprenticeship.  The family story with this picture is that it is the suit that he received.
John went to Chicago about 1866 or 7, so he must have come to the United States in the late 1850's.

My GGgrandfather Eric HELSTEN had saved all his letters from his family after he arrived in 1845 until he died in 1903.  When my grandmother died in 1974, I found all the letters tied together in a desk drawer.  She never told me about the letters (and what I've learned from them is another story) and I don't read Swedish, so I took the letters home and saved them.  A few years later I worked with a wonderful woman from Sweden, who translated a bunch of the letters.

I spent a weekend reading all of the translations that I had to see if any mentioned John Carlsson.   No luck.  Then I decided to look over the other letters to see if I could recognize the name John Carlsson in the body of any of the letters.  Chris suggested that I not only look for  John, but also look for Johan, Carl, Karl, or Charles.  Those were other names that he went by.


Then I found a letter dated 12 February 1856 from Jonas Augustus Carlsson written in Swedish from Brookfield, Connecticut.  Chris was ecstatic.  Carl Johan Augustus Carlsson was her great grandfather's name in Sweden!  This would put him in the the US two years earlier than she thought he came, but maybe he did come then.

Chris wished she might have some had writing to compare it to, but all she has is a signature from 40 years later.

I scanned the letter and e-mailed it to Chris [isn't modern technology great?] and she sent it to relatives in Sweden to be translated.

A couple days later Chris sent me the translation with a note.  His wasn't her great grandfather!  This Jonas Augustus Carlsson talks of missing his parents and siblings in Sweden, but does comment that life is tougher there so even though it isn't great here, it is better than there.




Eric HELSTEN, Mary HEARTY and his apprentice John CARLSON

Mary HEARTY
Last February, I was checking to see if anything new could be found on my GGgrandparents Eric HELSTEN or his wife Mary HEARTY.  Eric came from Uppsala, Sweden in 1845.  Mary came from Dorsey, Parish Creggan, County Armagh, Ireland around the same time.  They were married in Patterson, NY 12 August 1849 and moved over the New York/Connecticut line to Gaylordsville, CT.  In 1842, Eric was apprenticed as a tanner in Sweden and so it was not surprising to discover that when he settled in Gaylordsville that he started a tannery in 1853.

I discovered someone else was searching for Eric and Mary.  I was pleased.  I am descended from their daughter Caroline Matilda HELSTEN who married Charles H EVANS. I don't know what happended to two of their four children, Mary Louisa HELSTEN and William HELSTEN.    Maybe one of their descendants was searching.

Eric HELSTEN
So I sent a message asking how she was related to Eric and Mary.

However, it was someone NOT descended from Eric and Mary.  It was Chris Finland who was searching her ancestor John CARLSON [Carl Johan Augustus CARLSSON].  John was an orphan who came from Sweden after his grandparents, who had been raising him, died.  John was apprenticed to Eric HELSTEN. Chis has a paper saying that John got a new suit of clothes and $100 for his 7 years of apprenticeship as a tanner and shoemaker.  Chris didn't know anything about John's early years but figured that maybe Eric was a distant relative or family friend who had taken him in -- how else might he have gotten here from Sweden?

John's mother was from just south of Uppsala and Eric came from Uppsala. Chris has been searching for years.  She has found relatives in Sweden, traveled there, and had been working on a family tree for Eric HELSTEN in hopes of finding a connection, anywhere.  No success.

This has led to our working together to see if we can find anything about  John CARLSON and to figure out his relationship to Eric HELSTEN.