Friday, February 27, 2009

Margaret's Envelope - The idea came from.....

I just realized that I would be totally remiss if I didn't mention that the idea of making several posts about Margaret's Envelope items came from Granny Pam... no, she's not my Granny. She's Granny Pam of the blog Granny's Genealogy.

Granny Pam has been posting for sometime about items in Belle's Box. I thought this was a great idea and a wonderful way to share multiple items that belonged to another, while telling the story behind the items and the person they belonged to.

So, a big "Thank You" to Granny Pam for sharing the items in Belle's Box with us and for the idea that I totally borrowed from her!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Birthday Wishes and Love Notes - Margaret's Envelope Post 3

If you've just happened upon this series, you may want to start at the beginning - go to the labels listed below on the right select Margaret's Envelope and start with Post 1 - you don't want to miss a thing!

We left off with John leaving England with his son to come to the U.S. in August 1923. Margaret wouldn't leave England until May of 1926. This family was apart for almost 3 full years so as you'd imagine, there were some communications back and forth.

This is a small group of post cards that were sent between John & Margaret. (Or Jack and Maggie or Peggie as they called each other apparently).

This first one is from Barrow-in-Furness, which I believe is a coastal town north of Liverpool. It doesn't appear to be a Christmas themed card, but that's the wish that's contained on the reverse. It must've been mailed in an envelope for it has no post mark nor is it dated.

This one contains sentiments of the distance between them and another mention of Christmas on the back. Unfortunately, none of these postcards are dated or postmarked.

There were a series of cards that appear to be made of some type of plastic on the outside, they are in very fragile condition so I photographed them rather than scanning. These contained again several Christmas wishes and love notes. One of them is addresses Margaret as "Dear Girl" and signed as "From Your Own Boy Jack" - how sweet! The smaller one with the embroidery was actually dated and signed as follows

From Your Loving Husband and Son Willie
To Wife And Children
25th Dec 1923

The next post will be what I know about John's time in the U.S. prior to Margaret's arrival and then we'll get on with more contents of Margaret's Envelope.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lost her citizenship because she married?

My Grandfather William Bellew and my Grandmother Dorothy were married at St. Marks Church in Adams, Massachusetts on Saturday April 19, 1941. Because my Grandfather was not yet a citizen of the US, many members of my Grandmother's family told her that she was no longer a citizen. Even though she was born in the U.S., because she had married an un-naturalized alien her citizenship was no longer valid. I simply thought this could not be true and didn't give it much thought when she brought it up - until recently.

I was revisting the book They Became Americans Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins by Loretto Dennis Szucs and actually found reference to where this thought would have come from.

Because our early laws were based on the English common law, there was some confusion about a woman's nationality. The laws weren't clear if the nationality was based on the woman's father's or that of her husband's when she married. This is absolutely insane! So if you were born in America and married an Englishman then suddenly you were English?

Additionally, if a woman applied for naturalization prior to marriage that was okay, but if both you and your husband were un-naturalized, you could not apply for yourself until he did so. If an non-citizen woman married a man who was a citizen, she automatically obtained citizenship.

In 1860 a law was passed that stated any American born woman or other U.S. citizen woman would lose her citizenship if she married and left the country to live with a foreign born husband. If you decided to return you'd have to go through the "process" of getting naturalized.

In March of 1907 another act was passed that stated any woman who had U.S. citizenship and married an un-naturalized man would lose her citizenship... are you kidding me? Should the husband become naturalized, then her citizenship could be restored.

An act was passed September 22, 1922, called the Married Women's Act, which changed the 1907 act and prohibited expatriation of a U.S. citizen by marriage after this date. But Congress wasn't done yet - what about the women who had married between 1907 and 1922? It only took 14 years - in 1936 Congress passed another act that stated if the marriage had ended prior to 1936, then the woman's citizenship was restored... what about the women who's marriages hadn't ended? Yet another act was passed in 1940 to restore fully all U.S. citizenship to any woman who had lost it due to marriage under the law of 1907. However, these women had to take an oath of allegiance at the naturalization court prior to exercising their rights as U.S. citizens (voting for instance, which was given to women in 1918, could not be done if you were part of this group).

So, this law was NOT in effect when my Grandparents had married, but her family was correct in their belief that she had possibly lost her citizenship. Who would have thought?

"We are both in the pink" - Margaret's Envelope Post 2

Next in this series is a postcard, from my Great Grandfather John Bellew, addressed to his wife Margaret. John departed England on the ship Sarmaria on August 23, 1923, with his son William (my Grandfather) who was almost 6 years old.

The family was living at 23 Milner Street in Preston Lancashire England. John & Margaret had three sons at the time, Hugh b. 1916, William b. 1917 and John (or Jack) b. 1919.

Here is the front of the postcard John Sr. sent to Margaret, showing the ship they were aboard.

Written in pencil on the reverse is a short note from John letting Margaret know about their trip so far. I am amazed that the words are still visible.

"We got to Liverpool all right. We left at 5/30. We will arrive at Queenstown Friday Morning. We are both in the pink. Kiss Jacky and Hugh for us both. With Love From Jack + William XXX"

I was interested in the postmark on this card. Not having any understanding of where it would have actually been sent from - although images of him running to a box at the next port came to mind, I figured this wasn't the case. What I learned after a bit of research was that these pieces of mail were handed to the steward on the ship, who then took them to a post office at the next port of call. The "PAQUEBOT" postmark means that it was posted on the high seas.

While it's not part of the contents of Margaret's envelope, here's the passenger list showing John and William. Their planned destination being Pawtucket Rhode Island. I still have yet to find the other family members who were already there as I've been told.

This is just the beginning of the story of this family's journey to the US, and the contents of Margaret's Envelope. Stay tuned, there's more to come!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Margaret McCann Bellew's Envelope Post 1

Having found a new cousin as a direct result of info posted here and at a message board, I think it's necessary to share items that belonged to my Great Grandmother Margaret McCann Bellew. I have an envelope that was given to me by my Grandmother which contained many items of this family's past. Documents, memorial cards, news clippings and a prayer book that contains items of interest as well.

Margaret was born Feb 6, 1896 in Preston, Lancashire, England. She was the daughter of Hugh McCann and Alice Ann Smith. Margaret married John Bellew, the son of Patrick Bellew and Elizabeth Hall at the St. Ignatius Church in Preston on July 1, 1915. For the first item from Grandma's Envelope I want to share this church issued marriage certificate. You'll note it's in latin.

The witnesses listed are Lawrence Hall (John's Grandfather on his mother's side) and Alice Ann McCann - Margaret's sister - who apparently liked to attend weddings but never had one of her own.

In the envelope we found a second church issued marriage certificate for this couple, this time in English and printed later (August 19, 1923). Possibly they needed an updated certificate in preparation of their move to the US. John traveled a few years before Margaret, his US address is scribbled in the lower right corner of this document.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Update your Message Board Posts - It really does pay off!

I must say that I'm VERY excited! Tonight I was contacted by my 2nd cousin 1x removed. She is related to me through the McCann family. I have been reaching out for some time on message boards and forums, trying to find a McCann family member in the area of Preston England. Tonight I finally made that connection!

Here's my Great Grandmother
Margaret McCann Bellew
b. Feb 1896 in Preston, England
d. Dec 1968 in Maryland, USA

Margaret would be my new found cousin's Grand Aunt. This photo of Margaret was taken in Jun 1959. I have a few things that belonged to Margaret and will begin a short series of posts about Margaret's Prayer Book and it's contents in the next few days. Tonight I wanted to share this photo - the only one we have.

To all of you researchers - Go back and update those posts on the forums and message boards! John Neill mentioned this a couple weeks ago on his Genealogy Tip of the Day blog (see post here), it's very important to keep those posts current - how many times have you responded to a post when you realized that it was 2 years old or more? With email addresses often changing, people are much more likely to reply to a post that is more recent.

Military Monday & Adams News clip of the week

If you're a regular visitor then you certainly know by now that I've been tracking down all things military related to my Grandfather's WWII military service.

Having received his medals just a couple of weeks ago (see them here) I wanted to post this news clip from his home town at the time of the war (Adams MA). The article gives details on Grandad being awarded the Air Medal and the Oak Leaf Cluster. Apparently he had written to Grandma telling her all about them and included the documents that were given when the medal was awarded. The article mentions the documents and quotes the comments listed. I have the originals of these documents - one of which is also posted here.

The newspaper article appeared in the paper on May 22, 1944, just two months before he was wounded and returned to the States.

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.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cemetery Saturday - Abraham Keener

This is the headstone of Abraham Keener, my 1st cousin 4x removed.

Abraham was born about 1843 and died Apr. 17, 1852. He was the son of John M. Keener and his wife Margaret Johnson Keener. He is buried in the Keener Cemetery in Grafton, Taylor County WV.

A great big thanks to Melissa Wisen - a distant Keener cousin of mine, who photographed the stones in that cemetery and made them available on the Find A Grave website and gave permission for me to use them here on my blog.

See all of Melissa's memorials here, or visit Find-a-Grave to search for your own ancestors.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Greta over at Greta's Genealogy for the Kreativ Blogger Award. I am so touched that someone enjoys reading all my ramblings about my family history!

Here are the procedures connected with the KreativBlogger Award:
1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate ? other bloggers
4. Link to those sites on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate

I've seen this award get passed around in another blogging community, it seems that the rules change as it goes. Some say award to 5, some to 7. I'm having trouble choosing so I'm going to the middle - choosing 6 that I love to read:

Lisa at Small-Leafed Shamrock
Delia at Delia's Genealogy Blog
Andrea at Family Tales
Harriet at Genealogy Fun
Julie at GenBlog
June at June's Art Freebies

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Adams News Clip for the week

This week's social news clipping is a story about a party given for the 39th wedding anniversary of my Great Grandparents Joseph William Leeming and Sarah Hanna (Roe) Leeming.

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.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Military Monday - Still basking in last Wednesday

I'm still basking in the glow of the package I received last Wednesday, containing my Grandfather's WWII Military medals. I cannot get my thoughts together as for what to write about today for my Military Monday post.

I will share this photo of my Grandmother as I handed her the medals and she saw them again for the first time on Friday afternoon. What was very interesting to me was her not recalling several of them. "I don't recall ever seeing this one" she said. I asked "really?" then she recalled something that I knew nothing about.

When my Grandfather was discharged, his paperwork stated "Soldier entitled to European-African Middle Eastern Theatre Campaign Medal", what I didn't know was that this meant he was "entitled" to it, not that it had been issued to him. Reading further, it also states "Sol awarded Purple Heart" meaning it had already been awarded to him. Grandma now tells me that there were "a couple" of medals that were due to him that he had never received. Apparently he never followed up on this and he never actually received the medals. Now we've received them for him (the other she'd never seen was the American Campaign Medal). If you're interested in seeing them, you can see the photos at my post of Feb 11th here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

10th Edition - Smile for the Camera

The word prompt for the 10th Edition of Smile For The Camera is Costume? No, not as in Halloween. Costume as in dress in general; especially the distinctive style of dress of a people, class, or period. Show us that picture that you found with your family collection or purchased that shows the costumes of the rich to the not so rich, from the civil war to the psychedelic sixties. I know you have them, so share. Admission is free with every photograph!

This is Marjorie and Ethel Kidwell sisters of my Great Grandmother May Kidwell
No idea of the reason for their dress or the occasion - gotta LOVE the shoes OH and those hats!

Happy Birthday Grandma Keener

My Grandma Edna Keener was a strong woman. Her mother died when she was only 9, the oldest of 8 children. Having her own first child at 14, raising three sons along with the many siblings in the home - it must've been a very difficult life for her. As an adult, she worked in some kind of electrical assembly job for most of her life and took care of her husband who was almost 30 years her senior.

Grandma lived nearby when I was young, I recall sunny days on her back porch, in the garden, playing in the yard that seemed so enormous to me. Her kitchen was giant and it seemed she always had something cooking (we were probably there for meals most of the time). Her dining room walls were covered with collected plates and was rarely used, except to pass through to the front of the house. As a child I didn't notice, but whenever I smell old books, or a damp basement - you know that smell? I remember her home smelled just that way.

Grandma moved away when I was in my early teens and I only saw her once when I was an adult. I was about 20 when she came back to town to make sure that her brother's things were in order, as he was terminally ill. Too bad that I didn't realize the things that were slipping away at the time - the things that now I would love to talk to her about, her memories, her family, her life.

I am told that I resemble her, tell stories the way she did, and often make facial expressions that were just like hers. Strange how you do those things when you really didn't "know" a person, or spend any time with them to pick up habits such as these.

The last time I saw her, she was on her deathbed. Only a few weeks before she passed away. Oh, the things I wish I had asked! Grandma died on January 17 1995. She was 70 years old. Today would be her 84th birthday.

Happy Birthday Grandma, you're always in my heart!

Yes, It took an act of Congress!

It all started almost a year ago - a search on the Archives website for my Grandfather's Military Records. I had no idea how to use their site, but found his record, which didn't contain much and also found an area to look up various other US military history. Right there on the screen I see a link "Replacement Medals and Awards" . This link was interesting to say the least so I went there.

Granddad's medals have been missing for quite some time, all children had been asked - did you bury them with him? Everyone said no. Grandma didn't know where they were - probably lost in a move or left behind somewhere. Granddad has been gone since 1975. Grandma can't remember the last time they actually had his medals. Needless to say, this was making me sick so I had to investigate further the possibilities of getting them replaced.

On the NARA site there is a form to complete. Having all of Granddad's military documents in hand I quickly went to work. Submitted my paperwork and then the waiting began. I had quite a time with these people and you can read all about it in this post.

I felt that I hadn't been treated fairly by the NPRC and I did not just want to go to some military surplus and purchase medals. I wanted them from the Air Force! As I said in that previous post, I contacted my local Congresswoman's office and they promised to help. That was last October 2008. I received some paperwork in the mail, copies of requests submitted by them to the military, with a big "CONGRESSIONAL" stamp across the front. Her office has been in constant communication with me about the medals and today they finally arrived!

Now, this was no small undertaking for me, but as far as I'm concerned it was well worth it. It only took a year, and now I've got medals, issued by the Air Force based on my Grandfather's records. My persistance finally paid off and my Grandma is going to be filled with joy when she sees them!

I received word yesterday that they were coming - you would think that when the box came today I would have just ripped and teared right into it. Believe me, it was hard to contain myself, but I wanted to sit down and take it all in. I reached into the inner-envelope and pulled out a box, opened it and cried. The Purple Heart medal is just beautiful. I've never seen one up-close and personal.

The next box I opened contained his Air Medal

The package also contained an Honorable Service Lapel Button, the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign medal, the American Campaign medal, and the WWII Victory medal.

I am so thankful to now again have this lost piece of history for my family.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Military Monday - Enlisted Record Document

Today's Military post is the Enlisted Record of William Bellew.

An enlisted record document details the soldier's hometown, his physical description, how long he/she served and where. Also included is where they were discharged or detached from (in this case, the Fletcher General Hospital in Ohio), wounds received, vaccination details and the physical condition of the soldier when discharged.

There is an area for listing the locations of active duty, what medals are due to the soldier, what pay is due, and any days lost during duty.

This document is on the reverse of the Honorable Discharge certificate.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cemetery Saturday (a bit late) - Frances Bellew

Who arranged burial of Frances Bellew? I may never know...

Frances Bellew was the daughter of Patrick and Elizabeth Hall Bellew. She was born in Preston, Lancashire, England in 1894, and died in Preston in 1951. Frances was alone when she died - well, at least she had no family remaining in the area. Her siblings had all died or gone to America and both of her parents had already passed away.

So, who arranged for her burial? This question came up when I was trying to determine who John Bellew (see the previous two posts about him) was left with when his Mother left the country. My thoughts turned to Frances and the possibility that maybe John was with her - his Aunt on his father's side. I had a photo of her headstone that a very friendly volunteer sent to me about 8 years ago. When I pulled out the records it dawned on me - her headstone reads ".. a dear friend" A dear friend? She was never married, all family gone... who was the friend that put this stone up for her? I am attempting to contact the office at the cemetery where she's buried again, hoping that maybe they could tell me who purchased her headstone or arranged for it to be erected. Notice her stone among the others, it's not much but probably all her friend (or friends) could do for her - and for that I am very thankful.

This family plot was purchased by Frances' father Patrick. He purchased it when Frances' brother William died in 1910. The other family members buried there are beneath Frances.
In 1910, her brother William died at the agae of 19
In 1923, her father Patrick Bellew died at the age of 59
In 1927, her mother Elizabeth Hall Bellew died at the age of 63

Frances died at the age of 56 - apparently she was a dear friend who was truly missed. I hope I can find out by whom.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The broken heart - Updated info on John Bellew

A friendly Andrew posted a reply to my message on a board at Ancestry today. Turns out, from info obtained in John's military record, that he entered the regiment from Worcestershire - not Lancashire. So at some point he obviously left the Preston area.

Because he was 21 when he was killed, there was thought that possibly he was married prior to entering the service - I have not yet found any marriage records for young John.

I've not been able to nail down marriages of all his Mother's sisters to this point. Their first names are quite common for that time and there were quite a few McCann family members in the area. I do know that several of them were still single in 1911 according to the census record, however after that date there are still many duplicates of the names, making it next to impossible to identify the correct unions until I am able to order marriage certs for each of them.

Another possibility is that John was left with his Father's sister - Frances Bellew, however Frances was born and died in Preston, never married and didn't have any children - I don't think it's likely that John would have left her completely alone and go to Worcestershire - but anything's possible.

So the search continues...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My heart just broke

I watched the Ellis Island special last evening... and cried my eyes out during most of it. The hospital did wonderful things for some, but others were treated so unfairly and it brought to mind a story of my family and the heartache that a mother must've felt.

I've written before about my Grandfather's brother John, but after hearing the stories last evening and getting a better understanding of what these families had to go through. I feel more connected to them now than ever before, and it's breaking my heart.

My Great Grandfather John Bellew and my Grandfather William Bellew came to the US in 1923, joining other family members who were already in the States. Three years later, my Great Grandmother Margaret (McCann) Bellew and their other two sons Hugh and John, planned to join him. All the names are on the passenger list - except one is crossed out. Family story has it that John was "too sick to travel" I am now so curious about this I can hardly stand it. Did they know what awaited them if they arrived with a sick child? From what I understand, they didn't implement the departing inspections until 1929, so I don't believe that it was the result of an outbound "health inspection" that kept him from boarding that boat. Could it have been fear? Fear of being seperated from him in a strange country upon arrival? What would make a Mother leave her youngest child behind?

Now I'm feverishly trying to determine who he was left with. No one knows this information on this side of the pond. I'm reaching out to all McCann family members in the area of Preston Lancashire. Margaret only had sisters and I'm also searching for their marriages so that I can reach out to those surnames as well. I'm hopeful that someone ANYONE will recall or know the story of the boy who stayed behind while his entire family left for America.

John Bellew was born in 1919 in Preston Lancashire England and died in 1940 in WWII at Dunkirk... see info on his Military Service at a previous post here. You can read about the Christmas cards he sent to his parents at another post here. He had his First Holy Communion at the Martyr's Church in Preston England that's all I know about him. Would someone please help me find more?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Military Monday

While researching my Grandfather's military history in WWII, I found out that he kept a diary and wrote everyday about his missions. Although not what I expected it to be, the diary gave me many clues about his military time and his medals. One thing in particular I wanted to know was when did he fly his first mission? March 7, 1944 was the answer. The diary only contained the target information, the weather and such info as that. No deep writings about what it was like to be up in that plane on an actual mission for the first time - possibly he didn't want to remember it that vividly.

When I realized that Ancestry had the publication Stars and Stripes on their site I began looking at the dates of his missions and found this one for his first mission - Berlin was the target.

Image: Stars and Stripes Newspaper, Europe, Mediterranean, and North Africa Editions, 1942-1964 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: The ‘Stars and Stripes’ Newspaper of the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa, 1942-1958; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1506, 138 rolls); Publications of the U.S. Government, Record Group 287; National Archives, Washington, D.C.