Ireland : A Brief Story about My First Visit

 

The Burren, County Clare: This area is fascinating; filled with Megalithic tombs, Holy Wells, underground Caverns, Ring Forts and disappearing lakes. I would have to say that this area was my favorite area of Ireland. This was also my favorite picture from my trip in 2006.

Ireland
 2002

Ireland. I have been thinking about the land across the sea since I was very little. My grandmother always said she would like to take me there. It never happened in her lifetime but I did have the good fortune of traveling there twice.
 In 2002, I went with my mother-in –law, and her sister. Also on the trip was a family named Martin who have been several times and have also rented cars so we really saw the countryside. Their family consisted of six altogether. We rented a small van which held 7 of us comfortably and we also rented a small car. Before we left, we decided which places were most important to us so we could plan our trip accordingly. What I found interesting was that we stayed in hotels each night, and only had accommodations the first night. From there on, we had the hotel clerk make our arrangements for the following night for us. I am not certain this was customary, but the clerks had no problem with the request. We wanted to try to find places that could hold all nine of us. Our trip was for 10 days. Many of the hotels had bars inside them which stayed open all night if you were a guest there. In Killarney, we stayed at The Brooks which I highly recommend. It was quaint and the clerk went into his kitchen to get us a pint as we chatted by the fire. Many of the hotels only have hot water in the morning and late in the evening. They are very much into conserving energy and in some places I was told they had a meter outside where you deposit your change to have electricity. I did not see many paper items such as matches, napkins, condiments in the restaurants. There is not much waste there and that was impressive. I would also recommend to frequent pubs with signs which advertise Traditional Irish Music. This is where you will experience the pub atmosphere. If you go in October like we did, it was very chilly, lots of rain and the pub was a welcome place where we could stand by the fireplaces and smell the turf and feel its warmth.
 We landed in Limerick at Shannon Airport, and headed for Killarney, a manageable drive after a long flight. We headed for Blarney Castle where none of us kissed the Blarney Stone, much to the dismay of the fellow who wanted to hold our legs. The trip was one adventure after another as by the end of our trip, we had visited 30 pubs. That is 3 pubs each day. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the pubs.
 One day we went to Ballyvaughn near the Burren and stayed at a very nice hotel with a restaurant and pub. While eating dinner, I penned a song onto a napkin. I told everyone in our group that I had written a song about our trip. They all wanted to hear it. I sang it to the tune of an Irish song. We stayed there about 2 hours when the entertainment came for the evening. He got all set up and the room was filling up. The microphone was turned on and he introduced himself. He tells us a bit about the songs he will play and thanks us all for attending. Then he said as he looked at me, “I hope before the evening is over that my friend in the back row will come up later and sing us the song she wrote.” My mouth dropped. I had no idea how he knew I had written a song and looked to my friends to see who the rat was. They swore they told him nothing. He was waiting for an answer from me……. OK I could do it, I nodded, but a bit unsure about the whole thing. Later he called me up to the stage. First I asked him how he knew I had written a song. He said he had been there all afternoon. It was a comical song I had written about Guinness all that goes with a pint of Guinness. I asked the audience for permission to sing this song as it had 2 objectionable words. They were not terrible words, just descriptive. I told them and they said, “Sing us your song”. As I sang, looking like a nut of course, the whole crowd was very quiet. They were truly a good audience. After I finished, applause broke out and the dancing commenced. I had a fellow ask me to dance and a few pints were sent to my table, which I gave away. That was a fun time.
 The most exciting part of that trip was a visit to Corrandulla to Clarke’s Pub. It was a very cold and rainy day. There were a few older men at the bar and they were very happy to see these visitor’s from away. They asked what brought us to Corrandulla. I told them my family had lived there many years ago and I wanted to go to check out the cemetery nearly. We had a drink and a bite to eat and sat by the fire. One fellow sang to us in Gaelic. He was very involved with theatre and gave me a copy of a play called ‘Thy Will Be Done” which was excellent. I read it on the plane ride home. Tim Martin and I drove down to the cemetery in the rain and he watched me run all over the cemetery to see if my ancestors were there. I found a few of them and took many photos in the rain. That was the highlight of my trip. I was thrilled to be there, rain of not. It rained every day we were in Ireland. Some of our group had gone to the Beleek factory in Co. Donegal, near Northern Ireland.
 We also visited Dingle Peninsula which I highly recommend. I think the scenery took my breath away especially the drive around Slea Head. If you want to find good areas to shop, I think Killarney, Co. Kerry and Galway City, Co. Galway are probably the best places to find Irish goods such as jewelry, linens, maps and music which is where I spent most of my money. Keeping in touch was difficult by phone. I had a phone card, however always had to go through an operator. A card for 1 hour maybe was really good for 10 minutes. I don’t think cell phones are too practical as you would need to convert the voltage, same as if you had a video camera. I bought a digital camera with a couple of memory cards and lots of batteries. The Internet cafes are excellent. I had no problem finding them and they cost about 1 Euro for 15 minutes. This trip was a blast….much different from my second trip where I rarely visited a pub. My second trip was spent in hostels for the most part and the experience was very interesting.

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

Portland ,Maine to Portland ,Oregon- The Conscientious Objector-1918

Miss M. Louise Hunt, Assistant Librarian
Central Library
‘Conscientious Objector’
April 1918 / Portland, Oregon

Elanor Catharine (Kit) Hunt on left, with sister, Marietta Louise Hunt – circa 1886
Photo courtesy of Polly Carmichael

Marietta Louise Hunt was born in Portland, Maine in 1876. She lived in 1880 at 22 Beckett St., now O’Brien St. She was born to George Albert Hunt [from Unity, Me] and Annie Rebecca Roberts [Saco St., Westbrook, Me.] She had two older brothers, Edward Marshall Hunt and William Payson Hunt. She also had a sister named Anne Roberts Hunt [Mrs. Frances] Fassett who lived in Washington State. There was also a brother named George Fessenden Hunt. George A. Hunt ran a dry goods business with the same name on Commercial Street, near the bottom of Moulton Street in Portland. Marietta Louise Hunt graduated from Portland High School in 1894 as a classmate of Governor Percival Baxter’s. According to the records from Drexel Library School, she may have taught at Portland High School for two years. She graduated from Drexel Library School, Pennsylvania in 1901.
I have been a genealogist for 34 years and often wondered what happened to the Hunt’s of Portland/Falmouth, Maine. (M.) Louise Hunt was a first cousin to my great grandfather. She used her middle name as there were many women named Marietta in the family. It was not until I discovered more details of her life did I know that she died the year that I was born, 1960. I found this info through the diary transcriptions left by William Roberts, her uncle. One entry in 1913 stated that M. Louise Hunt was on a visit from Portland, OR.
I performed a search on the Internet search engine, Google, using M. Louise Hunt and Portland, Oregon.  Much to my surprise, a web page from the Oregon Historical Society popped up onto my screen. Captivated by this fascinating find, I read to find that she had lost her job in 1918 for a ‘crime’ that she committed. She finally resigned after public outcry and hysteria fueled by her refusal to participate in the purchase of Liberty Bonds, which helped to fund World War 1. The position she held as Assistant Librarian, under Miss Isom, paid $175.00 per month, a substantial income for that time period. Immediately, I contacted the Oregon Historical Society which was eager to assist me in my quest for more information. I asked about newspapers as I had to have copies of anything regarding the whole ordeal. I was not prepared at the amount of info. I would receive. There were two newspapers and they both carried articles everyday regarding the story for about eight days. I even have an editorial cartoon about the incident. Also included was a very long article in the Oregon Historical Society’s Quarterly, dated 1970 entitled, “The Conscientious Objector”.
Interestingly enough, I checked the month of April’s newspapers for Portland, Maine after she returned to Maine, only a week later and there was NO mention of the ordeal. The newspaper pages were filled with advertisements reminding readers of their obligation to support the War by their purchase of Liberty Bonds. I also read a short write-up about a man who was tarred and feathered in Michigan as a result of his refusal to purchase Liberty Bonds. The country had four Liberty Bond Campaigns, two in 1917 and two in 1918. At this time in History, there was overwhelming pressure to remain loyal to government and to become active with the War Effort.  One of the largest efforts on the home front was to ‘Sell’ the War to Americans, through public advertisements, speeches and public art. There were many relief organizations and the War Bonds helped support those, including the American Red Cross. It was a time of great patriotism which swept across the Nation. Liberty Temples were built in some cities as a place to support the need for the marketing of the War.
‘Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America’ written by Sara M. Evans is filled with information from that time period. The book explained how Socialists, Radicals and Pacifists, all who opposed the war suffered unprecedented loss of civil liberties as well as freedom of speech. There were many who were incarcerated. [See Montana Sedition Project]. Susan B. Anthony’s successor, Carrie Chapman Catt, believed the Women’s movement would risk a great deal by opposing the War, so she asked that they diligently for Suffrage and also the War relief. This group supported a hospital in France, knitted socks for the soldiers and collected canned goods. They joined efforts with the Red Cross and they participated in the Liberty Bond Campaigns by purchasing them. I found this particularly of interest since M. Louise Hunt was a single woman, as many were in my family at that time; she was alone in her outspoken opposition at the Central Library. Only one person on the Library Board voted to terminate her. The rest supported her right to not participate in the Liberty Bond Campaign.
The book by Sara M. Evans stated that nearly half of all college educated women in the late nineteenth century never married. Women had greater opportunity than before to be self sustaining. Economic Independence was an option for many educated women and many chose that route.
A brief summary of events that week in April 1918 was that a Librarian, an employee on the public payroll, was forced to resign from her position as a response to public pressure towards the Library Board. There was a meeting to discuss the incident where Miss Hunt had been approached by Mr. William Bryon, Special Agent from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and President W.B. Ayer from the Portland Library Association at the library. This matter came to light when Mr. Locke of Lang & Co. and Mr. Wilson of Hartman & Thompson were detailed by the Liberty Loan executives to ascertain why Miss Hunt had failed to subscribe to any of the Liberty Bond issues. The Following Incident transpired after Liberty loan fellows reported the incident to the Liberty Temple. The Head Librarian, Miss Isom, referred all questions to be directed towards Miss Hunt regarding her refusal to participate in the Liberty Bond Campaigns. In Miss Hunt’s office, she was interrogated by the legal firms mentioned above. Questioned why she had not participated in the 1st and 2nd campaigns, she replied that she was ill. Asked about the 3rd campaign, she replied that she did not believe in war and refused to support it. She was then interrogated about her citizenship. She answered that she came from Portland, Maine. She was asked if she did not think it was every citizen’s duty to support the War and keep our Army in France to defend her freedom. Her response was that she did not think she put patriotism above her personal feelings and that she had spoken to her attorney, Richard Montague who advised her that she was not obligated to buy Liberty Bonds. She then asked her interrogators if they were trying to coerce her into buying Bonds. They denied coercing her but they replied that it was every citizen’s duty to support the War. The Government was only asking for a loan from her at a good rate of interest. Her reply was that the rate of 4 ½ %, that some people were subscribing to the Bonds for the sole purpose of a business investment rather than a patriotic one. She was asked if she knew what the Huns were doing in France and Belgium, the cruelties they practiced with women being ravished and did she not think she should protect OUR BOYS who were fighting to protect her?
Her reply was that she was willing to suffer anything rather than buy a Bond… and if the Government wanted it, they could come and take it. She would never give them any money or loan them any voluntarily. When the incident was reported to Liberty Temple, the U.S. District Attorney, Bert Haney, was notified.
Haney’s reply was written in the newspaper.(4.12.1918)” You can quote me directly as saying emphatically that no person with such unloyal and unpatriotic tendencies, as the woman in question, should be permitted to hold a public office, irrespective of whether he is in his legal rights or not.” Mayor Baker said, “The library board must act quickly to clear the stain from the name of otherwise a loyal State.” The library held an initial meeting to deal with the serious charge against Miss Hunt. The board’s vote was 14-1, with the majority voting to support her right to refuse the purchase of Liberty Bonds. One person, Mr. Woodward, wanted her terminated from her job. Mr. W. B. Ayer, president of the library board claimed he had a conversation with Miss Isom regarding Miss Hunt. Miss Isom stated that she never heard Miss Hunt utter any disloyal or unpatriotic sentiments. She was highly efficient and this was the first complaint against her. When the public outcry became so great, various meetings were held around the city, in support of termination from her position. As a result, the Liberty Loan Committee pressured the Central Library to hold another vote. The meeting was chaos with accusations flying around the room. In the end, Miss Hunt handed in her resignation as she did not want the Library to suffer the consequences of her actions. She had great respect for that Institution and what it represented to the Community.
To give an example of the public outcry, one meeting was held which was largely attended by Men of wealth and stature. It was unanimous that steps should be taken immediately to oust Miss Hunt from her position. The paper reported one banker as saying, “If the Library officials refuse to take action, I am in favor of taking legislative or other action to Deprive the Institution of any financial support by taxpayers.” Liberty Loan Headquarters received many calls and complaints, in person, regarding her refusal to buy Bonds.
Some folks wondered how she could be a Conscientious Objector and still be on the government payroll. One article stated that the place for Miss Hunt to hold her beliefs were in the privacy of her closet. Upon further reading, I have found that some of our Country’s learning institutions even stopped teaching German during this period in time. Supporting the War was a moral issue. One newspaper article mentioned that she was a native of Maine and she had an unyielding and tenacious New England conscience and was most offensively UN-American. Some felt that she could not go anywhere, that she would be known and her record would follow her. She left Oregon forever but did secure employment at a library in Michigan and later retired from a library in Racine, Wisconsin in 1940.
 The last few articles from the Oregon newspapers that week were filled with terrible comments about her. One columnist wrote,”What patriotism is in normal Americans is, in Miss Hunt, a perfect vacuum.” The journalism reflected opinion rather than fact that week. She was compared to “A Man without a Country” and some felt she was guilty of treason.
One newspaper dated April 16th, 1918 stated that, “By tending her resignation at once, the assistant librarian rescued the library board from a very unpleasant and uncomfortable situation. In taking her leave, Miss Hunt praised the library board for its ‘brave stand for freedom of conscience’. Miss Hunt having separated herself from public service, the incident, so far as she is concerned, may be considered closed. The library is under severe criticism in most quarters-for refusing to reverse or modify its ‘brave stand for freedom of conscience’. It was also written that all involved from board members to well respected community members all acted in what they believed to be sound principles of political freedom.
The Hunt incident incited a series of events where every public servant’s patriotism was questionable. It became a’ witch hunt’ of sorts. The County Commissioner’s office planned to have all public employees demonstrate their 100% allegiance to ‘Uncle Sam’. The Oregon Journal (April 18th, 1918) reported that, “It was gratifying and reassuring to witness the intensified spirit of almost universal loyalty and Americanism that has been displayed in Portland in the library case” In the end, Miss Hunt continued to travel and was very independent. Her obituary of Oct.1960, revealed no mention of her troubles in Portland, Oregon that year in 1918, but rather her academic accomplishments and her love of travel, having visited Europe several times. I cannot help but wonder what sort of headlines she would make today, if any at all. Portland, Maine was the home to such a woman of interest, and to think it was a marvelous discovery with the use of the Internet. I also contacted the Central Library and was sent a brief note explaining they had no information for me. That was a disappointment . Recently, I found that she is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, Maine.

 

  Sources include the newspapers of Portland Oregon [The Evening Telegram/The Morning Oregonian /Oregon Journal] from the week of April 13th, 1918. Oregon Historical Society Quarterly, Sept. 1970, vol.212 pages 212-245 also ‘Born for Liberty’ by Sara Evans and lastly Portland, Maine newspaper [April 18th, 1918 edition]
 

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

A Lesson from Fourth Grade

A Lesson from Fourth Grade
Redbank School

 

 This story is one I submitted back in 1997 to SPCASA Connector Newsletter.
It was published Oct. /Nov. 1997- Volume 14

Fourth Grade was the year I remember best. I was in Mrs. Schofield’s class at Redbank School. The academic year was 1969-70. We had a new boy join our class that year who was visibly different from the rest. He needed crutches to get around. I noticed that he was very shy and spent recess alone. I chose to befriend him.
By summer, he moved. I thought about him often and wondered how he was doing. We were both in High School now. Once while driving in Portland, I saw him outside his home. He was now using a wheelchair. I knew I needed to write to him.
To my surprise, I received a letter from him. He remembered me. I’ve carried him in my heart all these years as a gentle reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Two years ago, he passed away. [I have a memoriam and his letter still] I realized that I had been a good friend to him and I found comfort in that. I still think of him.
I thought of him when I found my son had Muscular Dystrophy. I knew that my son would experience the same struggles. I am grateful for that fourth grade memory because it taught me that people are just people. They all want acceptance and friendship.
With that memory of my grammar school friend, I know the importance of talking to children. As I push my son around in his wheelchair for a walk around my neighborhood, I answer the children’s questions. One child asks, “Why doesn’t he know how to walk?” My reply always includes a smile and an honest answer. “He does know how to walk. His legs won’t let him walk. It is the same if you need glasses because your eyes won’t let you read without them.” They are always satisfied with my answer. This, I feel, will be beneficial to my son because he will see that I am dealing with the questions. I am trying to model for him the power he will need in life. He will need to rise above his disability, and show the world who he is. If we as adults talk to our children about these issues, we can instill in them the importance of being a friend and having compassion for others.

Suzan Roberts Norton
In memory of my childhood friend, Dana Rush

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

Diaries reveal Life in Westbrook , Maine -1870’s

                                        

                                                                 William Roberts [1843-1913 ]                                         
                His mother warned him that he could catch a cold after he got his whiskers shaved and a Haircut.
                                                This photos was taken after he got his hair cut in Waterloo, IA.
                                                        Photo Courtesy of Polly Carmichael

Often I drive from Saco Street in Westbrook, Maine for a three mile distance across  Route 25 in Gorham. I am thinking about this road as William Roberts, an ancestor of mine who wrote a lifetime’s worth of diaries that spanned from 1867-1913. He lived on Saco Street near present day Eisenhower Road and traveled this road to visit his sister, Mrs, Randall [Frances] Elder. Frances lived across the road from the municipal building in Gorham in a farm built by the Elders in the late 1700’s. This farm was burned in 2002 by Gorham FD. I am interested in this stretch of road as I believe that there is not much today that William would recognize.     

            As he is traveling down Saco Street, heading for Gorham, he passes the Old Conant Place which is still occupied by descendants of the original family. The next familiar home is the house was most recently occupied by Century 21 Real Estate, formerly the Dewitt Manor, and originally owned by the Rines family. A half mile down the road is the Mosher Farm which is on the corner of the road which heads to Sebago Lake and Route 25. Today Beal’s Ice Cream is across the street from Mosher Farm. The Old Richardson Place is the next recognizable farm today that William traveled past on this stretch of road. There are no trees on this road that were here when William was alive. In fact the whole population of the world has changed nearly twice since his birth in 1843.

            He was one of seven siblings with six reaching adulthood. He lived in the same house nearly all his life. The world that William lived in was a different world in many ways. Farmers were tied to agriculture, watched the seasons, annual waterfall, and the heavens were watched closely. Everyone knew how to use their animals to help with labor, from using horses to help with lumber and getting it out of the woods, to using oxen to help move buildings.Chopping wood, tending crops, harvesting hay which took all of August, consumed a great deal of time. William even grafted trees and did so for  man named Skillins down by Long Creek in South Portland. Life was filled with chores, family duties, and there was little idle time. Each Sunday, William attended Church, sometimes twice and usually two denominations. Reading the newspaper and visiting were also reserved for Sundays. Superstition was not uncommon. The infant mortality rate was very high. My family had an antidote for scarlet fever, and smallpox and other ailments. One of the ingredients was foxglove. Neighbors and family relied on each other because that was how they survived. Life was very slow indeed.

            It is fascinating that he wrote his diaries with the intent that one day someone would read them as he left us a window to his life. Reading the diaries was not comparable to reading a book, as a book is much faster. As I read, I had to remind myself that he did not know what his future held, or what hardships lay in store for him: He did not know the ending. It was just like life, however if I wanted to look ahead to reference a death date, I usually became upset afterwards because I really should not have read ahead as I felt like it was as if I wanted to know my own future. One example was when his friend Sylvanus S. Hatch, a new father, lost his baby at the age of three months.. I had an emotional attachment to the characters in William’s story and it brought a tear to my eye.

William was most interested in world events, having gone Westward twice in his life. Written on Sept . 5th, 1869-Waterloo, IA, “ Didn’t go to meeting but read some in the Bible. Went up to where the bridge went off and saw two horses come near to drowning that they both died .” Once he wrote in his diary bout the huge Fire in Boston in 1872. Within a week he went to Portland and boarded a boat with his brother John [Both men served 9 month voluntary enlistments in 25th Maine Co. E, Civil War- 1862-63] While on this trip , he visited his friend George Browne from Westbrook, who was admitted to the hospital in Boston, before William left for Portland. In fact, William wrote that he accompanied George to the hospital. George died a few days later from Smallpox. His body was sent back to Westbrook for burial in Saccarappa Cemetery and the grave overlooks Beaver Pond. William writes that he becomes concerned he may have Smallpox as he is not feeling right. He starts off with an excruciating headache from the back of the head and he calls the doctor. The doctor is not sure he has Smallpox but confirms later as the headache is followed with severe vomiting. The diary entries were empty for two weeks or so and then he begins to feel better. He details how his mother also comes down with Smallpox and she survives. On Jan. 3rd, 1873, William wrote,

“ We washed some of our Smallpox clothes. Father did most of it but Mother and I helped a little and Charley helped hang them out”  [Charley was his brother who married Ella Whitney in later years and  moved to Edes Falls Road in Harrison.]

William’s diaries detail his time as Overseer of The Poor one year. The Poorhouse was also on Saco Street next to the John Roberts’ farm. He tells how one person at the Poorhouse was sent back to Canada at the town’s expense of a few dollars. He was very curious about people from different nations. He wrote of working side by side with a Frenchman and once wrote of meeting a  ‘Prussian by birth’ on one of his trips out West. His world was changing very fast. I know he marveled at his changing world but not sure he knew the full extent of how the Industrial Revolution and the Westward Expansion [Manifest Destiny] would change the world around him. Reading the paper once a week is so much different than being bombarded with images 24/7 on television, radio, and the internet. Our ever changing world could be a cause of more anxiety.  I am not sure we can keep up with all the stimulation.

The diaries have revealed more family clues than I ever imagined I would find. I have found ancestors in Australia, relatives on the West Coast and even the whereabout of William’s father’s sister, Harriet who was age seven in the census of 1820. One diary entry mentioned he had witnessed a man named Gustin digging up the remains of Uncle Otis’s wife[above mentioned Harriet] and child in 1888. She had been dead for 40 years. Her daughter had been eighteen months at death. The remains were buried in Saccarappa Cemetery overlooking the ravine. I was fortunate to find the burial location and an early transcription which had dates as the dates were illegible when I finally found it.

   One day, a diary entry gave a vivid description of his cousin Daniel Dole driving his wagon hurriedly from Stroudwater [near the burial ground], anxious to get some help as his father ,Moses Dole, had shot himself. William left his duties on his farm to assist his cousin’s family for two weeks, noting that Uncle Moses was buried two days after the incident. I am not sure if it was accidental or not. He also helped  care for his sick nephew for three weeks at his sister’s home on Beckett Street, Munjoy Hill which is now O’Brien Street. He went where he was needed. William’s father Charles worked until he was nearly 92 years, cutting trees and doing heavy manual labor. One article said he cut and stacked six cords of wood in one day as he was an expert ax man and skilled with a saw. Concerning Charles’ old age, William wrote, “Father is in bed with old age” Charles never sat alone at night during this time, as family and friends kept vigil by his bedside for three months. William recorded all their names.He wrote of his wife having a stroke and could not move in her bed. The doctor came and told him that she would be dead in two days. The doctor was right. She died at home. William’s world is gone but I am fortunate to be a witness to his diary entries he left behind.

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

Remembering Redbank School

 

My name is Suzan Roberts Norton, and I was born the eldest child of John and Patricia O’Donnell Roberts in 1960. I lived for a short six months with my grandparents on Anthoine Street and then to my parents’ first home at 34 Powers Road, South Portland. We moved in 1965 across the street to 160 Devereaux Circle [3 bedroom, top floor] as my mother was expecting her fourth child. I recall the move as everything was put into a station wagon and moved across the street. I sat on the open back door of the station wagon as my dad inched across the street. We lived in Redbank from 1960-1980, when my parents bought a house on the corner of Dawson and Broadway. My dad started his own business in 1974 down at Long Creek which is where the present Home Depot is in South Portland. While I was in High School, I worked with him whenever I could. I would walk over there after school. He was there maybe five years when he became adamant about buying a home. I was one of four children, my brother David born in 1961, my sister Sharon born in 1964 and my sister Carol born in 1965. We have very strong roots and we were all brought up in Redbank.

I married in 1985 and decided I would like to move back to an affordable rent in a nice neighborhood with lots of kids. You guessed it…Redbank would be my choice. I moved upstairs from some folks I knew very well, Mr. and Mrs. Wendell Lewis, as I attended school with their children and my brother played sports with their sons. I was familiar with many of the neighbors already, like the Murphy’s and the Waterhouse’s. We stayed a year or so when my husband enlisted in the US Navy after a short separation from the Navy. This took my husband, my baby Michael and me, to Panama City Beach, Florida. This is where our other son John {J.T.) was born. After that tour was over we came back to Maine briefly and then my husband joined the US Army and I was thrilled to find we would be going to Bad Kissingen, Germany and later to <st1Fort <st1Bliss, El Paso Texas. Eventually we came back to Maine and we moved back to Redbank, only this time we lived across the street from the Lewis family at 36 Wainwright Circle East. I chose to stay home with my kids and do some side work, signs, calligraphy and I even babysat my sister’s kids and my cousin’s kids. I was very involved in scouting also.

 I took a position at <st1Redbank <st1School only mornings and during recess, maybe 10-15 hours per week. I have wonderful memories of the staff there. They were an exceptional group of people, a real team. It must have been very difficult for them when the school closed. It was a privilege to work at the school each day and the school was dear to my heart. Perhaps a year passed when Mary Marsh asked me if I would be interested in a full time position at <st1Kaler <st1School, working as an Ed Tech. I interviewed for the position and was delighted when they wanted me to join their staff. Kaler was also an old school with many families not unlike our own families in Redbank. The parents were very involved in their children’s education and it was also a small school, maybe only 108 children were enrolled that first year I was there [1995] It was nice that some of the Redbank families I remembered as a child were parents of children who attended Kaler. I worked at Kaler from 1995-1998 and I enjoyed every minute of it. The kids are wonderful; our investments and our treasures. All the time I was there, there was talk of four elementary schools closing sometime in the near future and Redbank and Kaler were on that list. The closing of these little neighborhood schools was met with great resistance. I heard 2008 would be the year, but I did not know it would happen so fast. Who would have ever thought the <st1Skillin <st1School would be accommodating all the Redbank Kids? I heard a great deal of opposition to this as well. The neighborhood as we all knew it would be forever changed as the schools closed. Never again will kids be so close the first twelve years of their lives to be mainstreamed into middle school together. Will we ever have those close bonds with elementary friends again? I still have many friends from elementary school and I call them on their birthdays. Anyhow a change was about to happen, and sometimes change is good, but I did not feel that way when I saw the empty lot where our school once stood.

I saw the news one evening and saw Jim Dow being interviewed about the school’s closing and demolition. He is the manager at <st1Redbank <st1Village and gave a nice interview. I immediately drove over there twice that week to take pictures. My real motivation came when I “googled” <st1Redbank <st1School  and saw ONLY Jim’s interview. I was shocked I could find nothing else regarding our neighborhood. I did find one story at the Maine State Archives website regarding a recollection by Bob Dyke who lived on a farm where present day <st1Country <st1Gardens is located. He was a witness to the plane Crash in the 1940’s down behind the gas station at Redbank near where <st1Olde <st1English <st1Village is located. See www.redbankstreets.com [Ruth Conner’s site] for more info on this plane crash. I felt an overwhelming responsibility to do something about collecting some sort of living history of our neighborhood of Redbank. I posted all my grammar school pictures on www.mainetoday.com under South Portland. At first, I thought the folks at Mainetoday.com would think I was nuts and so would all the readers. Anyhow something wonderful happened. Ruth Conner posted a comment and we began to talk about what we could do. I told her that maybe it was up to us to start preserving something that is representative of the neighborhood. With the help of everyone, it has been a huge success. So here we are today, keeping friends in touch and sharing recollections. What could possibly be better than that? Our school may be gone, but I am forever grateful that we have started something so that we are all keeping the neighborhood memories alive.<st1Redbank <st1School stood for Community, Family Life, Education, and it was where we learned life’s earliest lessons. In our neighborhood, not only did we all live together, but we went to school together and we played together outside of school. As years passed, many generations of families stayed in Redbank, a place where people relied on each other and felt safe in their homes. Today I live on 114 in Standish, near <st1Sebago <st1Lake , but it is not comparable to the place I grew up in, as I do not know my neighbors, because the world is different today. Most families have two parents working, have busier lifestyles and the world is driven by technology. Let’s stay connected and continue to contribute to our blogs. 

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

Finding that Needle in a Haystack : Ways to search the Internet

 

Photo courtesy of Polly Carmichael

  redbankmisc247.jpg australian cousins picture by fiddlinsuz

This picture was one of several in one of the old family leather hinged albums which sat in the parlor in the Roberts’ Family Homestead built early 1800’s on Saco Street , in Westbrook, Maine. Had it not been for the marking on the back of the photograph, combined with information I found in William Roberts diaries dating from 1867-1913 and clues painted on some old handpainted portraits of children dating mid 1800’s, along with an old letter dated 1925…. I might never have known that I had relatives go to Australia in the 1830’s roughly.
        This photograph could be a former Westbrook native, since the back is marked  A. Wooley Studio, 42 MacQuarrie Street, Hobart, Australia, I am almost certain it could be William Roberts who was born in 1807 to William and Betsy Hatch Roberts, both buried in Saccarappa Cemetery in Westbrook, Maine.  I had seen a mention of him in the 1820 census. After that, it was as if he disappeared. He ‘disappeared’ until I contacted my relative who still lives in the family homestead. She gave me a few items that I found extremely interesting. She also allowed me to copy all the family pictures in the albums.One item was a letter dated 1925 sent from Australia to cousin William Roberts, author of the diaries. This William would have been a nephew to the William in Australia. The letter was penned by a thirteen year old grandchild of a woman who was dictating the letter. The old woman who was dictating the letter was a Harriet and I could not read her last name ,as it looked like Gergison or Ferguson. A depiction of this Harriet is above in 1846 when she was only 6 months old. {Odd how her brother Charles is shown wearing a dress at age 3}
        So the mystery unravels and I become obsessed with finding out who the letter is from especially since it never was read by the recipient as he had been dead for two years when it arrived. I believe the recipient’s daughter felt the letter was important enough so that it remained in the family papers until I was fortunate enough to have it given to me, along with two handpainted miniature paintings of children named Charles and Harriet Roberts. On the backs of these portraits were penned the birthdates and the dates the portraits were painted. I had seen those family names before but the dates did not match with the people I knew.
        The diaries indicated that William had received letters on occasion from a cousin Harriet in Australia and along with his diary entry, he posted her address. Now I was not too familiar with what resources were available in Australia regarding genealogy, however I did find that there exists a resource called the Sands Index. This is a reverse directory in which you can look up an address to see who lived at a certain location in a certain year. The world wide web is a fascinating place as there are so many who will help you. I was very fortunate to find a librarian who answered one of my queries. I would also like to say that I have on many occasions taken photos for folks from around the world of cemetery pics and even looked things up for them. It is not uncommon that others will help you in your quest for information. The librarian told me the name was Gergison, not Ferguson and that the woman was listed as a dressmaker. This was a great find. After receiving this info, I immediately went to www.rootsweb.com and clicked on the message boards. I searched for the surname Gergison and found only one worldwide and it was in Australia. After sending a few queries, I told the person I may have something they would be interested in(Portraits and Letter) Finally after two months, I received a reply from a woman who said that her sister in law was the genealogist and she would forward her my name. A friendship began as the woman who was the genealogist had copies of many old birth records, in fact one matched the exact date on the back of the miniature portrait of the little boy named Charles Sefton Roberts born 1843. I have never been so excited to find this sort of information and to think a little detective work and the use of today’s technology, we were able to solve the mystery. The diaries also mentioned a visit in 1869 by a Charles S. Roberts to the family home on Saco Street. William was told by his father, Charles, to give Charles S. Roberts a bank draft for 250 dollars, which I believe was his inheritance money. His diary entry was rather short and I sensed he was annoyed. Charles S. Roberts, the recipient of the 250 dollars, was the son of William in Australia ,whom I found later through my Australian friend had died in 1860. This Charles S. Roberts did not stay in Westbrook very long as the following day, he and a Saco Street neighbor, Sylvanus S. Hatch (from the Hatch/Libby House) headed West. I think ‘West’ was in and around the Ohio area as Sylvanus married a woman from Ohio. Sylvanus died in 1914 and is buried in the Hatch lot at Saccarappa Cemetery. William , of the diaries was most interested in the world around him and wanted to head West also. He left his duties on the farm and headed West exactly one week after Sylvanus and his cousin Charles left for the West. I often wonder what happened to Charles S. Roberts as I never found him anywhere in the US Census after the diary entry. (I saw some Charles. S. Roberts’ however none matching the age or nationality) William stayed in Waterloo Iowa for six months and headed there a year later and spent another year out West. He came back home to the family farm on Saco Street and was the caretaker of the farm. He was also a veteran of the Civil War(25th Me. Co E) and he is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Westbrook, Maine. He had one Daughter, Eleanor Roberts Waterhouse.

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Skerritt’s of Portland, Maine

In June of 1891, she was fifteen, and headed for a new home with her Aunt and Uncle. She was leaving the only home she knew in Anbally, County Galway , the oldest of her 9 siblings. Two of her brothers were born after she left and she did not meet them until later in life. Anbally is situated halfway between Tuam ,Galway   on N17. She would be traveling to Boston aboard the S.S.Nestorian; one of the ships, which took many as the second mass exodus of immigrants from Ireland, began. Her name was Mary Anne Dolly, the daughter of William and Bridget Skerrittt Dolly. Her father was from Manchester,England and her mother was from one of the original fourteen tribes of Galway. Her father was born to Matthew and Mary Nolan Dolly. Her mother was the daughter of Michael and Mary Cunningham Skerritt. I believe she was named for both grandmothers. Mary would be one less burden for her family and perhaps would seek a great opportunity in this unknown world she was traveling to. I am the Gr. Granddaughter of her and I used to ask many questions of the older relatives. I was told that there may have been a couple of uncles here that they would meet. Upon researching many documents in the Portland, Maine area, I have found 2 Skerritt men who were here in the 1880’s. I believe they were brothers named William and Thomas Skerritt. These men could have been her mother’s brothers as they are the approximate age or perhaps her mother’s uncles. Irene Greaney, who was the daughter of Martin and Mary Skerritt Greaney whom Mary traveled with that month to America, relayed this information to me. Irene Greaney also told me that her parents were very close cousins. Another cousin in Holyoke, Marie Martin, told me that she heard from her mother that the Greaneys were in fact very close cousins and maybe left because they did not have their families’ blessing. I only know of one story relayed by Mary Dolly to her family as a child growing up in Ireland. I was told she remembered hiding in a field by a rock wall most of the day after she stole a yellow ribbon until her father came looking for her. I was in these fields when I visited Ireland and I remembered her story .I thought that these fields have not changed in a hundred or so years as some of these rock walls had trees growing out of them.

                The ship arrived in Boston and soon after Mary, with her Aunt and Uncle, traveled to Portland. She went to work in her Aunt and Uncle’s home as a domestic. Martin worked as a kiln setter according to the census of 1900. I am not sure she worked there very long as she was not too close to her Aunt. I have heard she was not too fond of her Aunt. Soon afterward Mary went to work at the Portland Star Match Factory on Commercial Street. It was here that she got sulfur poisoning in her jaw and had surgery to remove a part of her jaw. The surgery left her mouth with a twisted appearance. I am told she remembers maggots on her jaw, which were used to eat the poison. You must remember that it was not that long ago that ether was being used in surgical procedures. She worked here along with many other immigrants. Commercial Street was filled with much industry including the Hat factory; The Gas Works where the Skerritt brothers worked who came before Mary. There was Rufus Deering Lumber where she met her future husband Howard Elisha Fowler who came here from Havelock, NB, Canada and was seven years younger than her. Commercial Street was a bustling area crisscrossing with railroad tracks and horses and wagons. I have found Skerritt’s in the city directories who worked in the factories as molders, bunchers and straighteners. Portland was once again a cosmopolitan city as it had been before the Great Fire of July 4, 1866.Prior to the Civil War, Portland recorded some 4000 ships entering the harbor in the year 1863-64.

Soon thereafter, her 4 sisters began their journey to America. After 100 years some of the families have remained in contact. I found Mary and her sister Maggie (who came in 1895 according to the census) worked as domestics in Portland at 12 Arsenal St., Portland together. Maggie ended up marrying the son of the family she boarded with as a domestic, eventually becoming Mrs. Carr. The head of the household where Maggie worked was a bottler by trade. The 1901 census of Ireland showed that all Dolly family members except the 3 sisters who had already left for America. Before 1901, Kate (Mrs. Kerrigan), came to join her sisters, Mary and Maggie. I am told that Nora came around 1905. She would have been about 19 yrs. Only one sister Bridget (Delia) stayed in Ireland along with the 4 Dolly brothers. (Martin, Matthew, William and Michael) Later(1914) another sister Helen came to America. She married Martin Murphy (also from Ireland)and settled in the Lynn/ Dorchester area of Mass. and never had children. I am told that other neighbors from Ireland also settled in and around the same Mass. area named Lawless and Griffin. Mary visited some of them  by train throughout the years. Of the 4 Dolly brothers, Martin came to the states and spent money foolishly along with never writing to his parents according to a letter dated 1911 written by his Father to Mary.  I think he went back to Ireland and I do not think he married. Another brother William came to the America but also went back as he did not like it here. It was a huge disgrace to the family when someone came home I was told by an Irish relative. He was forced to marry in an arranged marriage and had 2 children with mental disabilities, one who is still alive in his late sixties. (As of 2002) This cousin in Ireland is the granddaughter of the late Bridget (Delia) Skerritt

Broderick. The Broderick’s were from Belclare, Co. Galway. She told me that her mother used to wash the laundry for the Dolly men. I heard from a Dolly on the Internet that Dolly means colorful warrior.

She married Howard Fowler on March 2, 1903 (according to INS records) after she had given birth to her first daughter Dorothy in Dec. 1902. Dorothy proved to be a big help to her mother in later years when Howard passed away from Spinal Meningitis at the Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary on March 25, 1909. His death certificate did not mention any children or his wife, but his obituary did. He left 3 daughters behind and a wife who would never remarry and worked as a domestic. Mary’s husband’s wake was in her home on Brackett Street. After the funeral, his body was taken to Havelock, NB to be buried in the Fowler lot. Dorothy remembered seeing her father in the casket as she was the oldest of her siblings, seven at the time. Dorothy was allowed to stay home while her mother worked. I am told the daughter Gladys ,who was 3 years younger than Dorothy, lived at St. Elizabeth’s orphanage for a short while along with my grandmother, Lyllian, who age one at the time of her father’s death in 1909.Gladys was 4 years old. St. Elizabeth’s was operated by the Diocese. Lyllian stayed at St.Elizabeth’s until she was old enough to attend St.Domenic’s Grammar School at the age of 8. Lyllian remembers her mother bringing food and visiting daily at the orphanage. It was always curious to me how my grandmother knew all her cousins and placed such importance on family, I think more so than her siblings. Since her life began at the orphanage, it is amazing how she placed so much importance on family. I remember being young and interested in family history.  I have but one baby picture of my grandmother. My grandmother and Gladys were very close. Dorothy and Lyllian raised their families in the same neighborhood around Brackett, and Tate Streets. 

I connected with descendants of the first William Skerritt who came to Portland. He came here in 1886 at the age of 21. He eventually became an American Citizen. The census of 1900 shows he married in 1888. According to his descendants, he sent for his sweetheart, Mary Burke, in Ireland. He and his wife had many children and also suffered many tragedies. Most of his family is buried in    Calvary Cemetery in South Portland ,Maine with some of the bodies being sent back from CT and VT. Mary worked as a live in maid at one of Portland’s home shortly after she arrived. Their first child was Mary, who died young of Typhoid fever on Mar., 22, 1905 in Bridgeport, CT.

  Their other children were Martin, Harry, William, Johnny, and Joe. When Martin was but 5 years old he was rolling his hoop and it fell into Portland Harbor or commonly referred to as Casco Bay. He went in after it and drowned. Shortly afterwards they moved to Boston where they had 2 more children, Jimmy and Helen. Helen died in Bridgeport CT on Feb. 20, 1923 of TB. After a few more years the family moved to Montpelier VT. In VT 4 other children followed, Francis, Arthur, Alice Mary and Cecilia. Francis died in Bridgeport on Sept. 9, 1918. Cecelia was the baby and she was born in 1909. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Barre VT. William still worked for the Gas Company. Some of the older brothers went to CT to seek work. The house was getting quieter. On Oct 23, 1916, little Cecelia ran to meet her sister Alice who was coming home from school. She was struck and killed by the only car in Barre ,VT. After the death of her baby, Mary wanted to leave VT and be with her other sons in CT. William left the Gasworks after 30 years and moved his family to CT.

Marie Martin(87) from Holyoke was another cousin I met in 2003. Her grandparents were Martin and Honora Gardiner Skerritt. Martin was a sister to Mrs. Wm. Dolly of Anbally (mother to Mary Dolly Fowler) She has entertained Irish relatives her whole life and is a wealth of family knowledge. I was very lucky to connect with her after another distant cousin in Ireland gave me her address.Her mother Delia Skerritt left her employment in Indianapolis with Mrs. Benjamin Harrison (widow of US President) in 1922. She saved her money for a long time so that she could go back to Ireland to spend a year with her beloved family. During this time her parents spent one week at a resort in Salt Hill ,Galway with their daughter and had a photo taken. It was perhaps the only professional portrait that was taken of the both of them. Upon returning to Indianapolis she went to work for the Grover’s who also owned a summer cottage on Beach End, Eastern Point, Gloucester Ma. From here she left to marry a man named Patrick J. Ward on Oct. 1, 1924 in St. Anne’s Church. Their farms adjoined in Carrouruane, Claregalway, Co. Galway.

               

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

Multi-tasking : Has all this technology allowed us to accomplish any more in a day?

As we ring in the New Year, we are all thinking of certain goals we would like to reach. I believe multi-tasking and enjoying it, are the key to achieving your goals. A few examples come to mind, especially being a woman in my forties, I am trying to become more health conscious. My job consists of sitting at a desk on a switchboard.  I have often thought a stairmaster would be a great way to keep in shape as I took calls from customers, but that might be a little silly.  So I bought a giant Swiss therapeutic ball and I sit on it at work. I move from side to side, working on my waste, and I also do small crunches as I take phone calls. Then when I need more activity, I stand up and lean into the ball with one leg at a time, to stretch my legs and work the backs of my legs. I felt a little silly but everyone is quite accustomed to it now. Another woman brought hers to work also. We feel much better. A small change but I am doing a sort of multi-tasking. More water is also one of my little goals.

            Last evening I had a brainstorm. Our son uses an electric wheelchair, and this has taught us to find solutions. Prioritizing, and coordinating doctor appointments, and generally giving him the best possible care I can and also taking time for me and my husband…..well just lets say that many things get compromised because the day is still 24 hours long. Physical therapy is very important but I have not much time left for anyone near the end of the day. Someone comes to your home and trains you to do PT for your loved one. You will love this idea and I stumbled upon it quite by accident. I was whipping up dinner when I put on a Bruce Springsteen CD on my boom-box in the kitchen. I get a little wacky and start dancing. Well my son is annoyed with the music to begin with but I see him and decide to dance with him. He cannot lift his arms or legs so I grab his arms and then his legs and move to the music. I am getting exercise and he is getting his PT … and Dinner is getting cooked , but the best part is we are having fun… not like work. Of course he wouldn’t even look at me because he thinks I am a wack- job anyhow. That’s what I call Creative Problem Solving on a Daily Basis. We all do it from time to time.

            Now about all this multi-tasking, my advice is this: I don’t like to see folks brushing their teeth when they are driving or putting on make-up or even shaving. Get in the car and drive, and focus on being the best driver you can. A cousin of mine lost his life after living in a rehab hospital for a year with a serious brain injury as a result of someone changing a music CD when they were driving. All this technology is a huge distraction in our lives. Never ever would our ancestors have imagined that we would become part of the Machine. Each day we interact with machines, whether it involves a call to the bank, the operator, or ordering something online. The Industrial Revolution changed the world forever with the introduction of machinery replacing labor. I am amazed at the instant connections with people globally. I love to get mail 40x per day versus waiting for the mailman. I still love the handwritten letter though. Imagine how technology has changed our lives. Are our lives 100% better because of technology? Do we get any more done today than we did say 125 years ago?  I think we still work equally as hard to make ends meet as our ancestors did. The big difference was that the weather played a significant role in their livelihoods. They couldn’t get the hay ready until it was completely dry. Crops were bad some years because of the weather. I read a lifetime of diaries written by an ancestor dating 1867-1913. Each day, he wrote exactly what the temperature was and the even the type of snowfall. They had difficult lives filled with hard work as there was no wood fairy to chop their wood to keep their houses warm.  A trip to Raymond from Westbrook took 4 hours by wagon one way. The visit lasted 4 hours and then it was another 4 hours to get home. These trips were done on Sundays. Either a person stayed home on Sunday waiting for visitors or they visited relatives and sometimes friends. Survival depended on those connections to kinfolk. The wagon would leave with a cord of wood and come home with a barrel of apples, some barrels of flour or whatever supplies were needed at home. It was the same as today, no wasted trips but today it is because of gas prices. An empty wagon lost money. I think the quality of life was better in some ways. People are getting lazier with all this technology and we are for the most part not doing much physical work like our ancestors did, for the same reasons. We are all a product of out times. Still I love the distraction of writing this blog. Just a little food for thought… Best wishes on your New Year goals!

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

History, Advocacy, Inspiration & Stories of Long Ago