Friday, January 30, 2009

Cemetery Saturday

Mabel Frances (Jenkins) Kidwell
b. July 7, 1910
d. Oct 1, 1928

When I first visited Flint Hill Cemetery in Fairfax County Virginia I was overwhelmed at the number of Kidwell family headstones that were there. My mind raced with thoughts "are ALL of these people related to me in some way?" I've been to that cemetery on three different occasions, always photographing and noting the Kidwell stones that I come across and this one happened to be one of them. Mable Kidwell (not to be confused with my Great Grandmother May/Maybell/Mable Kidwell) was among a group of 3 headstones that I photographed one afternoon. I had no idea how she was connected to me, or if she even was. Turns out, she is my 1st Cousin 3x removed in-law who died after the birth of her first child. She was married to Earnest Kidwell Jr.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Adams News Clip Of The Week

I haven't written much about my 2nd Great Grandmother Jane Fountain Roe and came across this news clipping in my favorite little newspaper The Adams Transcript.

This article is again from the social pages, about a 69th birthday party in honor of Jane Roe. This clipping is from the paper dated August 13, 1935. Jane's birthday was August 10th. The party was held at the home of her daughter Sarah Leeming (my Great Grandmother - see stories about her "accidents" here and here).

Not sure what "musical program" was playing but I am very curious about what "Round Dancing" is.. anybody know?

This is a photo of Jane. We're not sure about the date of this photo, but she certainly appears to be in her 80s.

Jane died in March of 1958 at the age of 91, at a nursing home in Cheshire MA.

News clipping image: North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: North Adams Transcript. North Adams, MA, USA. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is there such thing as a musical gene?

Coming from apparently a long line of musicians, this question begs asking. Is it true that musical talent is passed along? My father plays the guitar, self taught, can tune it by ear and can pick up almost anything else that makes music and play it. Although I could never play any instrument - I was the singer in the family, enjoying singing from the time I was a small child until I was in high school. My Grandfather wrote songs, my DH's grandfather was a very well known pianist and much sought teacher of piano. My kids all sing, some better than others, but they've all got the "gene" apparently. Lets face it, some people can carry a tune and others simply can't.

I'm driving my Grandmother home from shopping a couple weeks ago and the subject of kids playing instruments in school came up. One of my kids played the flute for one year - no longer interested so no, none of them are playing anything this year. I asked if she ever played an instrument -

"No, but my brother George could play the piano, just taught himself, never had lessons and could play any song he heard." Why couldn't I have gotten that gene?

And then she tells me about how her father Joseph Leeming played the piano for silent movies... WHAT? That's the kind of cool bits of information that pour out during casual conversation with your family members. Why didn't I already know this? It's not something that I would have thought to ask, and she never thought to mention. She couldn't explain if he actually worked at the theater or in a studio of some sort - I know nothing about silent movies and I'm assuming that the music was actually played in the theater while the movie was showing... ? Can someone answer that for me?

It pays to talk to the elders in your family. The wealth of information about your family history will go with them when they pass. Don't just stick to the facts, go off course a bit with open ended questions about what they did when they were kids, what was their home life like? Ask them if you can record it so you can go back to it later. Just have a casual conversation and the memories will flow from them like a river. I've got many hours of tape talking with my Grandma. I just know that when I sit down and listen to it all some day there will be some shining moment that I'll have gotten something from her that I didn't even know was there.

Thanks to Elyse over at her Genealogy Blog for the recent post about another casual conversation and a great story - she made me remember this little bit about my family and the times with my Grandma when I hear the family stories that make us laugh and sometimes cry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Military Monday - Form DD214 or Report of Separation

When a soldier leaves the military and has had active duty (or active duty training for more than 90 days), a DD214 is generated showing his military history. During WWII, this for was referred to as WD AGO 53 or a Report of Separation. For US military researchers these documents are available from the Archives. On their main page look under the "Most Requested" box and choose military record. The Archives site states that the DD214 can be obtained for free by a soldier or next-of-kin to the soldier. I was interested in getting another copy of my Grandfathers because as you can see, his appeared to have been carried around in his wallet for 30 years.

This Report shows the following information:

  • Name
  • Army Serial Number
  • Grade
  • Organization
  • Date of Separation
  • Place of Separation
  • Permanent Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Color Eyes & Hair
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Number of Dependents
  • Date of Induction
  • Date of Entry into Active Service
  • Place of Entry
  • County and State
  • Home address at time of entry
  • Military Occupation
  • Spec Ser Number
  • Military Qualifications
  • Battles
  • Decorations and Citations
  • Wounds Received in Action & Date
  • Immunizations
  • Service Outside of the US - where stationed
  • Reason for separation
  • Pay Data
  • Insurance information
  • Right Thumb Print
  • Signature of Soldier
  • Signature of Officer
This form can be ordered on line using the archives vet rec system. One warning - there may be additional paperwork to fill out after your request has been received, get as much info as you can on that soldier before applying, some of which may be available right there on the archives site.

If you go to their AAD (Access Archival Databases) search area of the Archives site and enter your ancestor's name in the search box, all databases that the name appears in will come up. If you'd rather target a specific battle or time of duty, select the military campaign your ancestor fought in first (for instance, I chose WWII) and on the next screen there is a search terms box as well. On this second screen I entered BELLEW, WILLIAM. This gave me results for where his name appeared in their available electronic databases for WWII. In this case, I chose "View Records" for the Electronic Army Serial Number database, which brought up seven results:

My Grandfather being the last on this list, I chose his record and the following screen came up which gave me a bit more information necessary to complete the request for his documents.

Check all the available databases for your ancestors, you may just have a vet in there somewhere. Happy Hunting!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cemetery Saturday - Do I have the RIGHT to visit that burial site?

I am curious about the rights to visit burial sites of our ancestors. Is there some legal right or not? I certainly would not march up to some farmer's property and start poking around without permission from him, but do I have an actual legal right to gain access to a cemetery of my ancestors on his property?

My 10th Great Grandfather James Thomas lived in Charles County Maryland in the mid-late 1600s. His family owned a large tobacco plantation they called "Ware". This property, was then transferred to his wife by his will, signed in 1701. Over the generations, Ware was divided up among sons and daughters, and part was eventually was owned by my 8th Great Grandmother Anna Mary Thomas who was married to James Kidwell Sr.

In a deed dated June 9, 1772, Anna Mary Thomas Kidwell and James Kidwell sold 50 acres of Ware back to the Thomas family, 1/4 acre of the property was listed as a burial ground.

It is believed by many Kidwell researchers (and there are MANY of us) that James and Anna Mary Kidwell are both buried on the property, along with other various Thomas and Kidwell family members. Question is - do we have a right to view them?

I have a hand drawn map, made by another researcher using various documents stating the exact location of the property and sure enough, when I look at this area on google earth, there's a power plant smack in the area of where he's drawn the property on this map. I am still curious if this is actually the correct location of the plantation but for now, I'll take his word for it. I have heard from other researchers and would-be visitors to the area that they have written to the power company for permission to visit the location and have been told that due to security reasons, they would not be permitted access to the property.... is this legal?

I myself have written to this power company, requesting that if I cannot visit the burial location of my ancestors, would they mind searching the property for a burial ground or cemetery? And, if I'm still not permitted access, would they photograph the area for me? Not surprisingly, I have not yet heard back from them but I'm confident that they'll at the very least send me a kind "no" notice. I actually don't expect them to photograph it, but what does it hurt to ask?

In the meantime, I've been searching for information related to the laws about burials and allowing access to family members to family cemeteries. On rootsweb I found an interesting bit of info related to Maryland law on this matter.
Most interesting to me was the following statement, found on the page "Applicable Laws in the Annotated Code of Maryland and the Maryland Rules"

"To gain access to a cemetery located on private property: To facilitate access to a cemetery, Section 14-121 of the Real Property Article provides that any person in interest (as defined in the Section) may request the owner of a burial site or of the land encompassing a burial site, that has been documented or recognized as a burial site by the public or any person in interest, to grant reasonable access to the burial site for the purpose of restoring, maintaining, or viewing the burial site. An access agreement form can be executed similar to the one that is printed in the text of the law. The law provides that except for willful or malicious acts, the owner of a burial site or of the land encompassing a burial site is not liable for damages in a civil action to a person who enters on the land for injury to person or property."

I'll have to look into this matter to get more detailed info, such as who do they refer to as a "person in interest, as defined in the Section"? Would an 8th great grandchild be a "person in interest"?

Realizing of course that I cannot simply walk into their office and demand access to the property, I don't think it's too much to ask if proper arrangements are made with them.

Watch for updates if/when I receive something from the power company I'll be sure to post my disgust.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Adams News Clip for the week

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the social pages of newspapers in small towns are chock full of little tidbits about all the families in the area. If you took a few days off work sick, they wrote about it.. have a new baby? It's in there!

When I found this little notice about my Great Grandparents Joseph & Sarah (Roe)Leeming, I called and asked my Grandmother (their daughter) what had happened.

Apparently if your husband is in the hospital having an operation and you go to visit and fall down in front of the hospital on some ice... you guessed it, they wrote about it.

This clipping was in the North Adams Transcript newspaper 02/02/1934.

This is a seperate "fall" incident from the one that I wrote about here that also involved Sarah Leeming - which is worth a look for a good chuckle :-)

Image: North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: North Adams Transcript. North Adams, MA, USA. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't forget to look for church records!

I am the happy holder of two documents from my family history. The Certificates of Graduation of my Grandfather, William Bellew and his brother Hugh Bellew (the one we're still trying to figure out what happened to). These documents are rather oddly large, so I've photographed them and have one pictured here. But, it's not what's in these certificates that gave me information necessarily, it's where they lead me that made me the happy recipient of another few small pieces of my family history.

The School of The Holy Trinity was a catholic school in Central Falls, Rhode Island where my Grandfather lived when he was younger - that much I knew. But, was it still there? Did they hold any records? This is what I set to find out. I quickly found reference to The Holy Trinity in Central Falls, so I found a contact us link and sent them an email. The kind reply said that they didn't have the school records any longer, but she did let me know that they hold church records for this family and she would send them along to me. A few days later I received a Confirmation Certificate in the mail for my Grandfather and a Baptism, Confirmation & Marriage certificate for another Bellew brother Alfred.

Other than the names of their God Parents and the dates of these sacraments, these documents weren't glowing with any new tidbits of information, but they are now part of the history package I have for these two members of my family.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Military Monday - What in the World is a Mission Report?

I was inspired by a post recently at GenBlog by Julie related to military terms. Reading her post took me back to about a year ago when I first entered the world of doing military research and how lost I felt in all the jargon. You can read Julie's post here.

I've written previous posts about my Grandfather, William Bellew's WWII military service. Luckily, I was blessed enough to have his original discharge papers folded tattered and torn as they were, available to me having been tucked away in a little box in my Grandmother's apartment. After finding these documents I wanted to know more, so where did I go? The National Archives of course? Admittedly, I didn't start there - wanting to seek out info from others who were familiar with what I was about to embark upon. I found a group website for his Bomb Group, signed myself up as a "member" and quickly typed a post to find out more. The response was incredible! Within two days my post had over 150 hits and more than 20 responses and I very quickly realized that I had a lot to learn about military jargon. For instance, one of the replies was:

"Flak in the target area was very effective, accounting for 30 aircraft being damaged. Aircraft 42-31449 landed at Beccles just short of Rougham due to major flak damage."

And another
"B-17G 42-31449 was from the 332nd BS and was flown by C. L. McDowell on this mission. He was leading the Low Squadron of the 94th 'A' Lead Group"

And another
"According to the July 29th 1944 94th BG 'Mission Formation Chart' Floyd N. Butler didn't fly on this mission. I have noticed though that he did fly on the mission the day before, July 28th, to the same target, Merseburg/Leuna. He led the 94th 'B' High Group in the 45th 'B' Combat Wing with Albert R. Waters in a 333rd BS aircraft"

.... Flak? what in the world is that? Who was McDowell? What was 333rd BS? What was a low squadron and a lead group? What are all those numbers for and where were Beccles and Rougham? I was quickly filled with many questions and thankfully I had come to the right place.

After gathering such info as what crew Granddad was assigned to :
Arriving from AAF Station #153 to the 94th BG, 19 Feb 1944 and further assigned to the 331st Squadron on 21 Feb 1944 :
1LT Floyd N. Butler (P) 0-790620
2Lt Earl E. Tjomsland (CP) 0-755791 KIA, 6 Oct 44
2LT Rodney L. Gunderson (B) 0-689462 KIA 6 Oct 44
2LT Vincent E. Bahl (N) 0-695850
S/Sgt John H. Callahan (748) 12031094
S/Sgt Roy G. Wander (757) 12207478
Sgt James T. Maloney (612) 32884631
Sgt Raymond V. Worthley (611) 39082043
Sgt Frederick R. Salvani (611) 32702044
Sgt William P. Bellew (611) 31210954

One of these guys quickly set out to find out if anyone from his crew was living. As a matter of fact one was, after calling this total stranger I found that Granddad wasn't flying with his regular crew that fateful day he was wounded, but had volunteered to go up with another pilot who was short a gunner (previous posts about this story are here and here) Mission reports they told me, we need the mission reports! What on earth is a mission report? Well, almost a year later - and it's been quite a journey, too much for this post; I've got them in my little hands. This is not light reading folks!

A Mission Report is just that, a report written about the mission flown that day for a particular Bomb Group. In my case, there are two mission reports written by the Operations Officers and reports or narratives written by the Lead Bombardiers for both A and B groups of planes flying on this mission that day. "That Day" being the day that my Grandfather was wounded. I really wanted to know who he was flying with and if any of that crew was still living!

The first two reports contain detailed information on what time the planes took off, what the target was, what formation was being flown (including chart of each plane by number and pilot), what time they passed the coast of England, what time they arrived on the coast of Germany, what time the target was reached, if the planes turned, and what time the "Bombs were away". If any planes left the formation due to damage, personnel injury, or malfucntion this was also noted. All of this info is in the first two pages.

Also included are several pages of plane formations, a malfunction and combat damage report (listing each plane with every little damage hole reported - more than 12 pages), a Group Navigator's report (detailing weather conditions and visibility and such stuff), a report from the Group Communications Officer listing such information as necessary for communication problems encountered during the misson or damage to communication equipment. If any planes aborted the mission there was a seperate sheet for each. There is a form that's completed showing that the gunners (3 on each plan) had been interrogated if there were any malfunctions in armament. There is a report showing how many guns were used (in total) and how many rounds were fired, and finally a photo and bomb plotting report, and photographs of the "target" area (copies are not very good). In all, there are more than 45 pages of information.

To get these reports, I had to know what date I wanted and what bomb group (his being the 94th). I ordered them through the National Archives website and they quickly replied with informaton for me about how many pages it was, the cost and the availability of the info. Once I placed the order (via check in the mail) it took about 3 weeks to get the info.

If you have an ancestor who was wounded, it could be of interest to get the mission report for the date of their injury. You may find some interesting facts if you can get through all the pages. These reports have helped me in two ways; First, Granddad's regular crew was not flying that day so he must've been with another crew as stated by the gentleman I spoke to during the summer. Second - there are two planes with damage details listed in this report that fit what we already know - one of them has been ruled out so it's possibly be the other... we're still trying to track down it's crew.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cemetery Saturday (or Sunday :-)

These are the headstones of George W. Keener, and his wife Margaret Miller Keener; my 4th Great Grandparents.

George was born in 1772 in Shenandoah County Virginia. He was the son of Samuel Keener & Catherine McCullough. He died May 22, 1863 in Taylor County WV.

Margaret Miller was born in 1788 in Bath County Virginia, she was the daughter of John Miller & Eva Burns. She died April 26, 1860 in Taylor County WV.

Both are buried in the Keener Cemetery in Grafton, West Virginia. The cemetery is located in the woods on private property, but I understand that the owner is very welcoming to family members who wish to visit these graves. I have not yet had the pleasure of visitng the cemetery myself - these photos were taken by Melissa Wisen, another descendant of this couple, who has photographed many of the stones located there. To view the other burials at this cemetery (79 in total entered), you can visit the Keener Cemetery page at Find A Grave. Or to view other listings created by Melissa, you can view her stats page here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Where in the world is Drogheda?

The topic of the 11th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture is "My Key To Ireland".

If you have found your ancestral county or village in Ireland, just how did you find your way there? What resources led you to learn the original county or townland or your ancestors? Tell us how you did it and what your feelings were when you made the exciting discovery.

If you have not yet found the area where your ancestors made their homes in Ireland, tell us about the resources that you hope to use to find out. What records and documents do you hope will lead you to that information? How do you plan to go about the search?

If you have always known the place or places where your family hailed from, tell us about them. What draws you there and what else have you learned throughout your search for family history?

Let me begin by asking - Don't we ALL claim to be a bit Irish? There's something magical about being from Ireland, calling ourselves Irish, celebrating St. Patrick's Day and wearing the "Kiss me, I'm Irish" buttons. But, how many of us are Irish... really, really Irish? To me it seems everyone of us is, at least just a wee bit.

I was told that my Grandfathers' parents came to the States from England, but that they were actually from Irish families. Bellew didn't sound like an Irish name to me, but what did I know? Now my McCann family - that name sounded Irish - so I started with them. The US records were of no help, the family that actually came to the states were all born in England so I had to start there.

Turns out, listed on the 1881 Census in Preston England, my McCann family did come from Ireland. My 3rd Great Grandfather, Patrick McCann listed Fermanagh Ireland as his place of birth, his wife Catherine listed Mayo Ireland as hers. Finding this I was hopeful that some of the belongings of my Great Grandmother Margaret McCann Bellew would hold some clues, but she was born and raised in England. Other than a Catholic Prayer book that was printed in Ireland, there were no further clues for my McCann family.

In checking the same census for another 3rd Great Grandfather, James Bellew also living in Preston, he listed his birth place simply as Ireland. His son, Patrick is also listed as born in Ireland. However, just this week with the release of the 1911 census, I was excited to find Patrick's birth place listed as "Drogheda Ireland".. wherever that is. A quick search of this location told me that it was in County Louth. I was able to confirm this on the Family Seach site, finding a baptism record for Patrick in Drogheda in 1864.

My knowledge of Ireland is very limited as is my research knowledge for this country. Aside from doing a few searches with no luck, I've not found anything solid on these families in Ireland - although I didn't have much to go on as far as the area they were from until recently. I'm not familiar with what records or indexes may be available to me on line at this point so I'll be starting with that learning and pursue it as far as I can from there.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1911 England Census Release

The 1911 Census Release site is a wonderful thing! I enjoyed using it, and found the records I was after very quickly. In a way, I'm glad it's not a subscription site, allowing me to limit my spending by purchasing credits to buy just the images I'm sure that I want. The searches are very intuitive and allow you to continue to narrow your search etc. In the 6 or so records I actually viewed, I found two transcription errors - which I am always quick to let someone know about and the site of course has a button to do this.

Once you've done the basic search (name & location) the database lets you know how many records it found but leaves the search entry screen up if there are many of them, to give you the opportunity to narrow it down by birth dates etc. Once you get to the results screen, there is actually a good bit of information provided on each individual. Then you can select the one you are fairly sure about and request to view either a transcript of the record (10 credits) or the actual image (30 credits).

After viewing several search results I selected one to 'buy' - Of course it was my Bellew line again. My Great-Great Grandfather Patrick and his wife Elizabeth were there in Preston, Lancashire, England in 1911. But, as I held the printed copy of this form in my hand I quickly realized something - it is in HIS handwriting. Patrick himself filled this form out for me! No middle man, no stranger's attempt at the spellings, just a form filled out by dear ol' great great granddad. The 1911 census had an individual form for each household. He even signed it at the bottom.

I have found 2 of my 2nd Great-Grandparents in the 1911 census. And I must say, the site is wonderful to use. Now that I've purchased access to those records, they will remain on the site in "My Records" and I can also save the images to my PC.

Monday, January 12, 2009

1911 England Census... YAY!!!

I'll probably pay for it tomorrow but I think I'll be up half the night searching the 1911 England Census released tonight on Although it's still 'early' here in the states, the site isn't yet bogged down with searches as I'm sure it will be tomorrow. When I received the email a few hours ago, telling me it would be released tomorrow, I figured they were talking "their time", which is 5 hours ahead of us, so I gave it a shot - Yup, it's up and running! Wahoo! It's the wee hours of the morning over there - no one is flooding the site (just yet that is :-)

Anyway, if you've got ancestors in England in 1911, give it a go!

Have a great evening!

Military Monday

WWI Draft Registrations were completed for approx 98% of the men in the US under the age of 46 in 1917 & 1918. These registration cards have been scanned and searchable images are available on Ancestry (with a subscription). If you have any male relatives living in the US during this time, chances are pretty good that you'll find someone in this database.

Much information can be gleaned from these registrations, which contained the birth date of the individual, who is being supported by them, their occupation, and where they were born. Also, a brief physical description is listed on the second image of the card.

My Grandfather, Leonard C. Anderson was registered in Fairfax County Virginia on June 5th 1917. At the time, he was 21 years old and responsible for supporting his parents (Charles & Sallie (Holt) Anderson), working on their local farm in McLean. He stated that he was born in Fauquier County Virginia, on Feb 26, 1896.

Image: World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cemetery Saturday (a wee bit early) - Leonard Cleveland Anderson

Not sure if I'll get around to posting tomorrow so I wanted to share a headstone today of my Grandfather - Leonard Cleveland Anderson.

Leonard was born on Feb 25, 1896 in Virginia and died Aug 6, 1978 at the VA Hospital in Martinsburg WV. He was the son of Charles William Anderson and Sallie Virginia Holt. Leonard was in the army for a short time during WWI, but never saw any action due to several illnesses and a chronic back problem.

He was married to May Kidwell in Fairfax Virginia, who I understand left her first husband for him. Together they lived in DC until she died in 1933 as a result of the birth of their final children (twins). Together they had 5 children. He was then married to Edna Keener, together they had 3 children.

Leonard is buried at the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, Fairfax County, Virginia; along with other members of the Anderson, Holt and Keener families. In this second photo, beneath the bush on the left is the stone of his Grandmother, Mary M. Holt (mother of Sallie Holt).

Mary M. Holt and Leonard were the only two headstones in the area but I wanted to know who else was in the vicinity of their plots. The records at this cemetery were not readily available when I requested them. As a matter of fact, I was originally told that they could not be found. Several days later the gentleman called me back "Someone above must be smiling down on you" he continued - "I picked up a book this afternoon and out fell the records for your family plot." He promised to send information via email which is outlined here;
Our records show that in 1924 Leonard C. Anderson obtained rights for Lot 5 in our cemetery, which consisted of 12 burial plots. 6 of those were used, the other 6 were returned to the church in 1988 - at this time my Grandmother had re-married and moved to Florida.

Also buried in this lot, without stones, are Sallie Virginia Anderson, Charles William Anderson, Pauline Keener Harrington and Richard Cleveland Anderson. There was also a note about a child burial, possibly beneath Sallie, but the records gave no details - not even a date about this burial. We believe it is a child of Sallie & Charles' who died when very young.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Very Sad, But True

Every family has one right? The black sheep? The wayward one? The one who could never seem to "get it together"? I only know Uncle Al through my research of the family, never having actually "known" him - so from my perspective, Uncle Al was this person - and surely not the only one in our family. Not to speak ill of the dead, just an observation on my part. I've done some research on Uncle Al's life. After all, he was my Grandfather's brother. But what a shocking ending! You'll see when we get there...

Alfred Sylvestre Cyril Bellew was born Oct. 27, 1928 in Central Falls, Rhode Island. A place that his family lived after coming to the US. He was baptized on November 11, 1928 at the Holy Spirit Parish in Central Falls, and married to Anita Claire Decoteau on May 2, 1953 in Adams, MA.

I've found a few newspaper clippings about Al and have one here, relating his 10th birthday party happenings for the social pages of the North Adams Transcript newspaper. There were also tidbits about his singing at school, playing basketball at school and having perfect attendance.

There was another clipping announcing his engagement, another about his entry into the National Guard, and a great find showing him during a gun inspection while in the guard. There was a story about his recruitment, his advancement in the guard, and his placement on the firing squad.

All typical stuff for someone's life, but then... Al died, living in the streets of the town where he lived, in January 1991 at the age of 62. A photo of his box, on the front page of our local weekly paper. Living in a box, that's how it ended. Such a sad story really but every family has one right?

Images: North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: North Adams Transcript. North Adams, MA, USA. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Military Monday

Another Military post about my Bellew family today. I somehow missed Ancestry's release of the British Army WWI Service Records during November, and just began looking at the records last night. And what do you know? Yet ANOTHER Bellew family member was in the Army! This record is for my Great Grandfather, John Bellew Sr., (b 9/27/1889, Preston, Lancs, England; d 12/15/1958 Maryland USA) who served in the British Army for 4 years. Enlisting in February 1909 and discharged in 1913.

The first page of this record contains info such as the family street address, occupation & employment info of the individual (he was a weaver), and age at the time of enlistment. Other pages following give physical condition of the individual, stating that John was "Well Made", at a height of 5' 3.5", with a girth of 35". The last page lists all training, ranks and discharge information.

This database contains 4-5 pages for each soldier, making up a 'packet' of their time in the British Army. Yet another wonderful find for my family's military history! I've posted here the first page of his report.

Image: British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2008. Original data:
War Office: Soldiers’ Documents, First World War ‘Burnt Documents’ (Microfilm Copies); (The National Archives Microfilm Publication WO363); Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.