Thursday, October 24, 2013

Please Contact Me

I am looking for a couple of people in particular.

1. Anyone who can tell me about the parents of William Everett Mitchell, raised in an Orphanage in Massachusetts and born in the 1870s.

2. Everett Harold Mitchell, brother of John and Carol, or any of his relatives.

3. Members of the Day family of  Kings or surrounding counties in New Brunswick, especially if they count Henry Day among their relatives.

4. Relatives of Maggie Patterson, born in Ireland and mother or step mother of William Everett Mitchell.

5. Relatives of Harold Mitchell(deceased) of Massachusetts and New Brunswick.  Brother of Richard, Everett, Helen, Loretta(sp. varies) and Helen Mitchell.

6. Relatives of Helen Mitchell Price and Oscar Price.  Helen is sister to Richard, Everett, Loretta and Harold Mitchell.

All of these people are keys to branches of the family that have eluded me so far.  I need information on them to continue with my exploration.  Please contact me at if you have even the tiniest bits of information on any of these people.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mary Mitchell Burrill About Her Father and Grandfather

I never really knew my father.  I have some...perhaps two or three... impressions of him, that may be real, but could just as easily be the product of stories of him.  But, when I think of him, and what he might have been like, I have a few sources.   I have my mother's enduring love, having never gotten over him, and opposing that, her hatred for some of his ways...being rather different in temperament.   And I have the mannerisms, of my brother and sister. 
I think, despite their father and son closeness, that I do not get the sense of who he was from my brother.  He was very young when my father died, and based on comments from other people who knew my family at the time, Dick's stories of him are not as true a picture as I get from my sister.
My father died when my sister was in her mid teens.  This was a critical time in a young life, not that my brother's eleven was not.  She was profoundly affected by his death, and some of the circumstances that surrounded it. I do not believe that she will ever recover from that one event in her life.  One advantage to listening to stories that she tells, is her ability to throw out a couple of words on a subject, and if you know about the time and place, the events really come alive.  She just has a gift for that.  Go to to read her letter about our grandmother.  The tears really flow when I read that.
 Mary Burrill (my sister) has been sending me copies of letters that she sent to her friend Jan in the early years of her construction of her present house in the woods.(an enterprise that my father would have burst with pride over).  Some are real tear jerkers, and when that happens, it is usually on subjects she did not intend to provoke emotions. 
She was very close to Jan, and shared intimacy with her on subjects that she did not open up easily with even family.  She had avoided even thinking about many childhood events that had hurt her so deeply, and in the letter I read today, she wrote about our father in faltering, loving and agonizing lines.  I have asked her permission, and will, with a few changes, publish them here for the family. 
You may not get the same picture that I do, with a lifetime of hearing stories about him and knowing the locations, but I hope it gives you some picture of the person and the time in which they all lived.

"The facts that I am sure of are these:
Our grandfather, William Everett Mitchell married Henrietta Day of Hatfield Point, NB, Canada.
  They lived in Malden, Massachusetts where all or some of their children were born.  They had Helen, Loretta, Everett, Harold and Richard Bruce(My dad).  Richard was the baby.
My Grandmother returned to Canada, taking the children with her.  The marriage fell apart.  She divorced Grandpa and remarried.  She died before my dad was old enough to go to school.
My grandfather was tall, slim, had blue eyes and deep auburn(almost red) hair.
He was a house painter in the Malden, Massachusetts area.  I have one fairly clear memory of him:
Dad, Mom and I were in Malden during WWII.  We were walking. I was between 2 and 4.  Two tall men in painter's white coveralls and matching white caps were taking ladders down from a house.  They were my grandfather and my uncle Everett. 
I associate his death with my birthday.  Either he died, was buried or had his heart attack on my birthday.

I've known ever since I moved back to Houlton(She and Fred camped out at the old farm where we lived as children while they prepared the site for their house in Lakeville and moved into that house when it was partially finished.) that I would one day have to write about Dad.  I avoided it while I was in Littleton.(The place was too emotion laden.)  Now I am alone with the cat, I have had a cup of tea.  Here goes:
Richard Bruce Mitchell was born on Feb. 8 1908 in Malden Massachusetts. I suppose there was a snowstorm; there was always snow on his birthday.
By the time he was six years old he had been taken to Canada.   His parents had divorced.  His mother was dead and he had had an illness that nearly killed him(Pneumonia maybe) and affected his health all of his life.
Dad never said how they got along during his growing up years.  Never mentioned his mother's divorce, re-marriage, step-father.  These are the fragments I remember of stories he told me when I was a child:
There was a farmhouse, a barn, animals, wood chopping, cabin building, wood working and carpentry.  Hunting for food and clothing.  Making show-shoes and snares.  Bobcats, wildcats, many deer, rabbits, owls and fish.  Snow and cold.  He told of snows so deep that they shoveled out the upstairs window and snow-shoed to the barn loft door so they could feed the stock. 
They took the sleigh across the winter ice on the river. The ice was breaking up behind them.  They whipped the horse unmercifully, trying to keep ahead of it.
Uncle Harold riding a horse around the house, forgot the clothesline and snatched himself off the horse when it hit him on the neck.
The day there was a thunderstorm so bad that it frightened the cat.  She ran across the cupboards, over the table and finally directly over the old black iron wood stove.  She left little footprints behind her(burnt on the stove).
Then there was the time it was so cold that the cat climbed into the oven, and someone closed the door!
All of the children were crack shots.(They had to be.)  Aunt Loretta shot a black bear from the back steps.  We had that skin as a rug for shot in the neck!
One Christmas, they had so little that only the baby(Dad) got a present, a pencil box. (He reminded me of it the year that I was bummed out because I only got a couple of comic books for Christmas.)
The children all went to a one room school in Canada.  Uncle Everett threatened everyone's life.  None of the Mitchell kids would stand in the classroom and pledge allegiance to the Canadian Flag.  They were U.S. Citizens and the BIG BROTHER would have taken retribution from their hides on the way home if they had so much as stood up in respect!
My Dad had a sixth grade education.  He had to go to work to help support his family.  He often went back to Canada to work on his sisters' houses and get food for the winter for his nieces and nephews even when I was little.
He was a natural mathematician.  Numbers were a language he understood.
Dad would like to have been a cowboy.  He had an old wooden guitar. (Mike has it now).  He would sing "Red River Valley" and "The Streets of Laredo" at the drop of a hat(if I begged a little).  He even told my mother he was the foreman of a "ranch" in Northern Maine before they married.  He was an Outdoors Man, loved nature, knew the ways of the woodsman.
He stood 6'1".  Thin. Brown hair that went gray quickly at 40+.  Baby blue eyes.  A small cleft(like Rick's{Burrill}) in his chin.  He always had a grin for a friend and a helping hand.  He didn't swear.  He was a hard shell baptized-in-the-river Baptist.  He did not attend church.  "God is where I am.  The woods is a church and so is the field."  His thoughts with regard to the Catholic Pope was "No man should have that much power over peoples' lives."
Watching the sunset was a religious experience.  Turning your back to the sunset and watching the golden rays drip over the spruce and fir trees like honey was even more so.
Dad was a tea drinker.  A bit of Canada that always stayed with him.  He would put tea on the wood stove in the morning, set it on the cool-side-of-hot and at lunch or supper(when it was strong enough to hold a spoon upright) the tea would be just right for him.
He always ate bread and butter with everything....his breakfast, lunch and dinner, a donut, a piece of pie.  He had to have a cup of tea and a piece of bread and butter.
He would often whistle a bunny to its feet for me.  (Just to explain this to non woodsy people.  When a rabbit hears you whistle, it will often stop and rise up onto back legs to see where the sound is coming from.)
He hit me only once in my life.  He spanked my butt for being rude and recalcitrant to my mother.  All other spankings, beatings and whippings belonged (were given by) to my mother.
The happiest time of the day was when Daddy came home.
My father did hard physical work all his life.  He was a field hand, a carpenter, a woodsman, an electrician.  He was a foreman in an armament factory during WWII because he could visualize the concepts of the plans, and numbers were easy for him.  That is when we lived in Malden, Massachusetts.
He was a construction worker for Loring Air Force Base in the fifties.  We lived in Caribou, where Bill was born.
Dad was always a quiet person.  He hated to shave.  Mom cut his hair.  We were poor.  He had deep depression.  This got worse.  Each winter he was ill.  Each Spring he got better.  Year after year when winter came, he became more ill than the winter before.  Each Spring he got better, but not as well as the Spring before.
The doctors said "Pernicious Anemia.  Drink a raw egg in milk every day."  No help.
Basically he took three years to die. Glomerulonephritis.  Kidney disease.  They used to call it Bright's Disease.  The urine concentrated to amber.  He was weak and thin.  No Dialysis, kidney transplants, no Lasix. 
"My you're looking better.  Look at all the weight you're putting on..." as the urine backed up into his tissues.  Mom prayed on her knees in hysteria for a miracle.  The doctor never told her he was going to die.  But he did.
June 3, 1955  He was 47 years old. 
It was the last day of school.  I had just had my 15th birthday.  Dick was 11 and Billy was 3.
I have a lot of best memories.
Running to meet the truck and jumping on the running board to catch a ride....being put up on the horse's back to ride out of the woods.... The smell of new wood being worked....Dad Dowsing(what  a sight!)... Doing the "barn chores" by lantern light...wagon and hay rides...carving pumpkins, and Dad taking it outside and lifting it lighted to the window....the gun behind the door when prisoners escaped the prison.... Dad pointing out the Aurora Borealis and the Big Dipper...Dad carrying me up to bed and telling stories.  "Someday you'll see men walking on that old moon up there...not in my lifetime, but in yours."
Oh, If he could only have waited a dozen or so years!
There is more but I am done..................M.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Everett Mitchell's Family in Houlton, Maine by John Mitchell

Our original house on the Ridge Road in Houlton, burned down in 1944 just 2 months after we moved in. The shack was given to us by our neighbor, just across the line in Littleton. He hauled it down on a flat trailer behind a tractor. We(Everett Sr., Veronica, Everett II, Mary, Carol and John Mitchell)  lived in the shack for nearly nine years; from 1944 to 1953 when we moved back to Massachusetts.

The House


The house -- a loose term, shack really, was black. The roof and outside walls were covered with tar paper. The tar paper was held on by short zinc coated nails with large heads. The nails were designed specifically for tar paper. The short spiked part of the nail was to keep the nail from going all the way through the board. The large head was to keep the nail from ripping the tar paper. Any crack made in the paper while the nail was going through would not spread past the outside of the head. The zinc was to keep the nail from rusting. The entire shack was covered with layers of this black, zinc pocked paper.


Inside, the walls were exposed. There was no double construction. The inside wall was the back of the outside wall. The two-by-fours were exposed, and the black tar paper of the outside could be seen through the cracks between the boards. There were parts of the interior wall that were covered with newspaper. I think those papers were exposed to the wind, and the newspaper was there to reinforce the tar paper in keeping the cold winter wind out.


Every fall around the outside of the house, my father would build a fence of scrap wood that would be about a foot from the building and would circle the building except for the front door. After it was built he'd bring loads of manure from the barn and pack it in between the fence and the house. This served as an insulation from the cold when it froze, and kept the cold air from coming up through the many cracks in the floor. In the spring, when the manure thawed, the manure around the house was the first load to be taken away. Because as soon as it began to thaw, it began to smell.


Leaks in the roof were a constant problem. When it rained hard, one or two places in the roof would leak no matter how much or how new the tar paper on the roof was. Pots, usually for cooking, would be put under the leaks to catch the water. The water would be thrown out the front door as they filled. We had no plumbing so all water was thrown out the front door into the gutted basement of the burned out house just outside the front and a bit to the left.

The Horses, by John Mitchell, son of Everett and Vera Mitchell

The Horses

Don, the horse, was crazy. My father bought him from a man who'd abused him. Don was gray and he was big and he was strong. The man had entered him in pulling contests at county fairs. To get him to pull more-and-more weight, the man beat Don with a knotted rope. From the day my father brought him home, Don was trouble. He'd kick down anything you'd try to pen him up in. He kicked down the stalls. He kicked down the doors. He jumped fences. Any time you put him out to pasture, he'd run away.

In the short time we had him, my father and brother spent most of their time chasing him. They chased him around our pasture or our neighbor's pasture trying to get a halter on him to lead him home.

That winter, while my father was away in Canada, working in a lumber camp, my mother sold Don for dog food. That made my brother happy (no more chasing Don through the snow).

The horse I remember was Bob. Bob was an old horse (eighteen or nineteen years old). He was a Belgian draft horse, but he was not as big as the ones you see in shows. He was a gelding. Because he'd been castrated he didn't grow up to be as big as his peers.

He was docile. If there was no one behind him telling him to go, he'd stop where he was, hang his head and fall asleep. But if you kept after him he'd work all day. He was strong enough and he pulled tons of wood out of the forest.
I saw Bob angry once. My father rented a filly from a neighbor to help pull the wagon for haying season. She was tied-up in the barn in the same large stall Bob was in. While we had her she went into heat. Since Bob was the only male horse around, the filly expected Bob to service her. She followed him everywhere; and in their stall she nibbled at him. Bob took it all. But one night she was courting Bob and he suddenly had enough. Since he was a gelding he didn't know what she wanted, and she'd annoyed him to no end. Bob turned on her and bit her on the neck. She whinnied and jumped. Bob just went back to his grain. After that my father put the filly in an empty cow stall. She was not too bad there. But the next day when my brother took Bob out and hooked him to the hay rake, and left the filly in the barn alone, she went wild. She began rearing up on her hind legs and kicking at the front of the stall with her front hooves. She neighed wildly and nearly kicked the front wall out. My brother had to stop raking the hay and bring Bob back into the barn and calm her down.

The next morning my father took the filly home. Bob was the last horse we had. My father sold him for dog food just before we left Maine. By then he was too old to work.

We had several horses. I don't remember them all. There was Don, Bob and Colonel. I don't remember the name of one that I rode. Colonel died of polio. He couldn't open his mouth anymore and he had to be shot. My father used the other horse to drag his body off into the woods. I was very young when that happened. Once, when my sisters and I were playing in the woods, we came across his skeleton. It was a few years later, so I remember that. His jaw was huge. His bones where gray and broken. We didn't touch any of it. My sister, Mary, had loved that horse and out of respect we never went back to that place again.

Photos from John Mitchell of the Houlton area.

The road along the Meduxnekeag below Market Square in Houlton Maine

The "B" Stream where it goes under the bridge where the "B" Road and Ridge Rd split off. Our farm was on the Ridge Rd.. The "B" Stream was our property line on the West side of our farm. John Mitchell

Additionally from Bill Mitchell:

This was also the stream where my brother Dick had a camp with his friend Jackie Porter and others. The camp was not too far from where the highway now crosses the stream. It would not surprise me if Dennis Drew, Arval Porter, David Ingraham and Larry Ross were involved, but I am not sure of that.

It seems that Dick and his friends accumulated a lot of building materials. They carried them into the woods there and built a camp. It evidently had double hung windows, doors and a stove. They also furnished it. These materials could have come from anywhere, and I will not venture to elaborate further.

The land was not theirs of course, but they felt ownership because of all the work they did.

It seems that they went there to use the camp one day and were chased away by a squatter. He was evidently Native American from a local group.

They were, of course, angry. They waited till this man got drunk and fell asleep on a bed in the cabin.

Then they quietly took the entire camp apart and carried it off into the woods leaving nothing but the heavy stove and the man sleeping in the bed.

This carries on a longstanding tradition, as when our father first moved to Littleton, he built and lived in a similar camp in the woods along the stream and up-stream from what would eventually become our property.

Let me know by e-mail if anyone has further details on either of these events as I do not have all the details.

Everett Mitchell's Barn by John Mitchell

     In my mind the barn and my father are inseparable. The huge barn was my father's domain as the house was my mother's. He ruled over the animals and the activities of the barn with full command. He spent his days and evenings there. He only came to the house to eat and sleep.


     Like the barn, he was tall and his big bones and long legs were like the rafters of the barn. His gray hair and gray mustache highlighted his huge head and large jaw. He stared down the animals and they obeyed him. He never flinched around them. If they would not go where he wanted them to go, he'd push and shove them. And if they pushed or shoved back he smacked them with an open hand making a sound that would echo off the barn and fill the barn yard. The biggest horse and most stubborn cow would move after one of his smacks.


     He kept care of his tools. He spent hours sharpening saws and axes, mending horse harnesses and wagon parts. He smoked a pipe and the filling and the lighting of the pipe was a ritual he had down pat. It always went in the same order: open the pouch, put the pipe in the pouch, with the index finger of the same hand that held the pipe, the tobacco would be pushed into the bowl.  The pipe would then be withdrawn from the pouch. The pouch would be folded up  and returned to the left rear pocket of his coveralls. Then using the finger of his free hand, he'd push the tobacco into the bowl until it was at a tightness so that it would be able to draw air through it but still be tight enough so it would not fall out of the bowl. In one pocket of his shirt he carried wooden matches, the big ones with the red tip that can be struck against anything.


     He would put the pipe in his mouth and then with the match in his right hand he'd lift his right leg  and strike the match against the back of his right thigh. When the match burst into flame he would bring it up to the pipe's bowl and inhale deeply so the flame would be drawn down onto the tobacco, and the tobacco would start to burn. As soon as it was ignited, smoke would flood all the cavities of his head. Smoke would come out of his nose and out of his mouth around the stem of the pipe which was clenched in his teeth.


     The first great puff or two of smoke seemed to be what smoking a pipe was all about. After that it didn't seem to matter whether the pipe continued to burn or not. He'd hold it in his mouth and smoke it, but half the time the pipe would be out and he'd dump the burned and unburned tobacco on the ground and put the pipe back in his pocket to wait for the next smoke.


     He was a slow man who took his time with everything. He was like the creaking old barn. They both breathed the way a great elephant breathes, slowly in and slowly out, the great bulk swaying with each long breath. He walked like a barn with legs stiff and creaking. He never bent his knees. His walk was a relaxed goose-step. It was like his height would make him fall if his knees were ever to bend. Stiff and slow he went leading a horse or carrying a saw and an ax.


     But somehow he piled mountains of wood; cord after cord that big trucks came and took away. He never owned a power saw. He never owned a tractor. He never bailed hay with a hay bailer. He never had a milking machine. He never worked with power tools of any kind. He provided his own power or the horses he was driving did.

Memories of Littleton Maine and Father's barn by John Mitchell

This is not the barn in John's story, but it is across town near our house. It was known as the Stillman barn. It will give you an idea of the look of the barns in the area, though many were much more sophisticated.

The barn was sixty feet high. To young children it was bigger than a mountain. The barn was the god of the farm. He stood over everything. Inside the rafters criss-crossed up to the seemingly infinite ceiling. Hay pile after hay pile—up and up as far as you could see. Light pushed through the cracks illuminating hay dust with thin bars of light. It creaked and shifted always; making noises as it settled and resettled, adjusting itself to the changing weight of it's great load of hay, feed and animals.
At times it was like a living, breathing god. Knot holes of light were like eyes; whispering sounds of wind through cracks were like silent orders from the building saying when to feed the animals; when to bring in the hay; and when to pile up more fire wood.
The animals where content in the barn. It was the place, at night, where they knew they'd be safe from bear and wolf. It was their den; their cave; their burrow from carnivores.
As the sun set the barn was where all headed, and not just the cows and horses, but the cats and the dog and the people. Sunset was milking time. It was also feeding time. Hay was pitched down from the top of the rafters onto the middle of the barn floor. From there it was divided up amongst the cows and horses. The horses were given grain as well. The cats would prowl the grain room looking for a brave mouse to come in through a crack in the barn wall. This was the cats supper. The dog, who fed on scraps from the kitchen table, would crouch down in the middle of the barn floor, where the hay had been, and make a bed from where he could watch the barn door. If any man or beast, unknown to the dog, tried to enter the door the dog would bark and growl until someone from the house came down to see what it was. Usually it was a skunk or raccoon trying to get to the grain.
The barn door was half as high as the barn. It was hung on pulleys that rolled along a long steel bar.
When open in the summer to let in the hay wagon it looked like a huge hole had been blown in the side of the barn. In cold weather the big door was kept closed and people and animals came in and out through a small door set in the lower middle of the large door.
The rooster shaped weather vain on the top of the barn spun in the wind. It was mounted on a lightening rod that ran through the barn into the ground.
In the summer thunder storms where common. They'd blow in from New Brunswick and you could see them coming; fast moving black clouds pushing birds and straw before them. Once a great bolt of lightening hit a tree behind the barn and split the tree in two. One half lay on the ground. The other half still stood. When it cracked it sounded like a crack in the world—and the smell of burning wood and
the smell of electric fire; reminded me of burning meat.
After we left the farm, the barn stood longer than all the buildings. Vandals burned the house; the chicken coop was burned too. The machine shed had been torn down. But the barn survived. It fell of its own weight without the weight of the hay to keep in accorded. The last time I saw it, it was listing to the south. It was blown that way by the North Wind; which proved to be a powerful god.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It Makes Me a Little Sad.

I am constantly amazed that a couple of generations away from the immigrant parents and grandparents, people that I meet cannot tell me where their family is from in England, Scotland, Ireland, or Italy.
My family, depending on whether we are talking about my mother's side or my father's side are sadly unaware of their roots.  
We knew that we were from Sicily, or we were Canadian Loyalists or whatever, but the real origins are to me, a source of pride and interest.  Often the kids are interested, but the parents pass on only vague stories about the family past.  Indeed, in my Grandparents' case, they were a little ashamed of their "armpit of the earth" island, while they cherished their childhood experiences at the same time.
Well, Surprise, Surprise, we are not exactly Sicilian on my mother's side, and not just Loyalists on my father's.  The stories are much more complex than that.
On my father's side, there is Irish, American Loyalist, hounded out of Pennsylvania and New York, and immigrants from the earliest of English migrations to New England.  There are Welsh royalty, Norman French Barons, and Danish Vikings...a virtual tapestry of people and history.
On my mother's side, we are Sicilian, Arabic, Jewish, Spanish, Calabrian, Campagnian, possibly minor nobility, popes and cardinals....likely there were pirates, farmers, rogues, seamen, merchants, knights and heroes.  And no, our most recent ancestors did not come from Sicily...Though we have Sicilian blood...if there is such a thing...we were from a small island north of Sicily called Salina, and the surrounding Aeolian or Eolian islands...Lipari, Panarea, Stromboli, Vulcano, Filicudi and Alicudi    This too, is probably even more complicated that that!
Please read on...question older relatives unrelentingly before they die off...contribute stories and photos to this site... and teach the future generations about your family!  Send information to the email address in my profile to the right.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Quote From "Sweet November"

"People must be remembered,Charlie.
Otherwise, it's as if they were never here at all. All we are, are the people who remember us.
If we go away, and everybody forgets we were ever here, its as if we never were."

Sara to Charlie in the 1968 version of "Sweet November" with Sandy Dennis as Sara Deever and Anthony Newley as Charlie Blake. This is a wonderful film and worth finding.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dear Emily

I just want everyone in the family know that over four family blogs, I have nearly 1000 posts about family.  In those posts, I have nearly 1500 names that go back 35 generations, to the Norman Conquest in 1066 and before.  I have had to stop doing the family tree at my generation, because frankly there are just too many names to deal with if I put in the newer ones.  I will leave that job to whoever takes it over after me.
The reason I do this blog is so that my family, as widespread as they are, as different in habits and lifestyle as they may be, may get some enjoyment out of our family's amazingly diverse and interesting past.
Some will be able to see how simple and idyllic it was to live in earlier times, while others will be able to see how difficult it was for some.  Either way, I try to do this for them, and not for myself.  I get absolutely nothing out of this, except for hours and hours of letter writing, phone bills, headaches and hundreds upon hundreds of hours of research.  I post for free to all.  I do not advertise on it, and I always hope that people will simply enjoy some little part of it.
One of the drawbacks is that I sometimes get a wrong name or date, here and there.  I spend untold hours on the phone and dialing information at a buck a call, trying to contact the right people, to talk to them directly, and put in the best post possible information, so that you and your children and your grand and great grandchildren can see YOU, and read something nice about you.  To that end, I always post my email address right on the profile to see and to contact me.  I always encourage you to call me or to email me to add stories, make changes,and so forth.
Meanwhile, I have to suffer along doing the best I can for people who do not call me, who do not try to get the stories to me etc.
I encourage everyone who is related, to give me a call anytime at all.  I want your stories, your photos and for you to enjoy the only thing I am able to give to you.  

Maurice Doubleday


Maurice Doubleday was the son of Carol Mitchell and Maurice Doubleday.
He and his wife Kim, had four children, One son Sachel, after the baseball player and three daughters: Emily, Marley and Isabel.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Brother Dick's Fiftieth Birthday Newspaper Ad 1994

This newspaper clipping appeared in a big packet of recipes and Littleton history, thanks to Dot Campbell, our childhood neighbor.  Thanks Dot.  Any opportunity to cause embarassment is a blessing.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Wrong Side of the Bed.

Bar Sinister and bar Dexter.  Left or right...(Some of you will remember Simon Bar Sinister.) If you were sinister or born on the left side of the blanket, you were illegitimate.  Legitimacy was not always as important at one time as it was in later generations.  William the Conqueror was illegitimate, the son of the previous baron and a leather tanner's daughter.  Indeed, the concept of marriage between one man and one woman was not really a requirement in the church or in the population in general in the early medieval and dark ages.  The son of a marriage probably would be favored, but it was not required for succession to an estate or kingdom.  The coat of arms of an illegitimate union would reflect the status with a black bar on the left or sinister side of the shield, which was also the place a woman's family arms would appear.
It seems that Henry I of England was a very busy boy, and some of our relatives were very busy with him.

Sybil or Adela Corbet(1075-1157+-) was the daughter of Baron Robert Fitz Corbet(see earlier posts) known as The Lady of Alcester at Warwickshire(her legitimate husband was the lord of the castle; the greatest castle of England) became the mistress of Henry(Beauclerc) and had four children.  They were:

Sybil, who married Alexander the first of Scotland.
Reginald de Dunstanville, the Earl of Cornwall
Rohese, who married Henry de la Pomerai

Some of these cannot be confirmed as children of Sybil, but are assumed to be.

Henry also took Nesta, Princess of South Wales as his mistress. 

She was the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales and Gladys of Powys(northern Wales).
She married Gerald Fitz Walter and had several children by him.
Henry then fathered Henry Fitz Henry with her while she was married to Walter.  He was also known as Henry Fitz Roi.

Again we have ventured into uncharted territory, and all these records should be looked upon with suspicion as there are conflicting records.
 One fairly official looking record on the internet said Henry Fitz Henry was Henry the second, king of England...That is highly unlikely.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lingua Franca

How did we arrive at this point in our English language?
England began, as far as anyone knows, with a Celtic tongue or suite of tongues spoken by the myriad of small tribes all over the island, probably from south-central Europe.  There may have been earlier languages, but my understanding is that whatever predated these Celtic roots, probably has not survived in any recognizable volume.

  One could compare Continental Celtic languages, if they could be isolated, to what is remaining of Celtic languages in Great Britain, and get a few ideas of what might have been here before, but one would never really know if the differences were from mixing with older languages or what had simply evolved in a different way from the mother tongue.

Evolution is one of the characteristics of language.  As situations, invasions or immigration occurs, language adapts, adds and drops words, changes spelling and grammar conventions.
Latin, has been pretty much static for 1600 years or so.  It is not exactly the same as Classical Latin, after all, it had to decay as people stopped using it in everyday language, and situations over the centuries have added words, and words have fallen out of use as the situations or phenomenons described have disappeared from our lives.

Since the 1400s, Latin has not been used in legal transactions. The last true Roman disappeared with the fall of Rome in the Dark Ages, and the only real use for the language, after the decline of it's use legally, was in the church up till the 1960s.  Now, even that has disappeared.  It really was beautiful, and I was sad when it went away in the church.
Now It is a dead language.  It is not in use by anyone for daily activities.

Most of our modern languages can be traced to a single common Indo-European language, another indication that our human differences are only cultural, and not genetic. 
This central/southern Asian parent language migrated all over the world with the waves of immigrants or conquerors, and eventually arrived in greatly altered forms at our modern languages and countries.

In general, we speak a lower or evolved form of German which came to us through the Saxons, Angles and Jutes from High German, much like Dutch descended from a parallel to or descendant of High German.  German in turn came from an earlier language that took in outside influences and local names over the centuries.

When a people or tribe separate from its parent tribe geographically, new place names appear, accents change, spelling changes, foods differ, and your tribe begins making its own mistakes in usage and spelling that are different from what is happening in the "Old Country".   Meanwhile, the people in your old country are making their own changes and mistakes that change the language.   Eventually, people are separated long enough that they no longer understand each other.(Do we Americans truly understand the British?  OK bad example.)

We all know about the new words that are appearing in American English, from immigrants and new situations in our lives.  For better or worse, our English is changing.  Just an example, when was the last time you heard anyone on TV or the radio pronounce more than one "R" in Library and February.  It was only in the last fifty years or so that a school child would get his or her knuckles rapped if he/she left that letter out.  Now, to me, as a person who had his knuckles rapped more than once, this just seems like plain laziness, but it is all evolution, whatever the cause, just like our strange use of constructions like: his/hers, and he/she.  The pronouns really have little effect on anyone, but we have to use them rather than the standard "male" choice of word as much as possible, or some Ultra Liberal with have a fit!

This evolution of text or language is also visible in the Bible.  So much of what we read in the Bible has little to do with the original work, because scribes made little mistakes in copying older texts over the centuries.  Then new generations of scribes and later on, printers made further mistakes, often building on the earlier mistakes.

Even in translating from early Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic(the language of Jesus) can be a real nightmare, because all of those languages are either dead, poorly understood or significantly changed.  We can sometimes interpret words from those languages in a number of ways.  This causes even more confusion.  Anyone who does a translation tends to use words in their translation and interpret them to satisfy his/her own philosophy.

Did Moses cross the Red Sea, or the Sea of Reeds?   Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost?  Did Cinderella wear a glass slipper(Verre) or did she wear an Ermine fur slipper(Vair)?

The first major wave of immigration or conquest of England came with the Romans.  Julius Caesar made an attempt in the last decades of B.C.. Then, Caligula pretended to go to Britain.   Finally came the successful conquest in 43 AD by Claudius's armies.  The old Celtic peoples (Britons) had been touched by traders before this time, from Greece, Phoenicia and even the Basques, leaving little traces of their languages when they did, but they did not have a completely cohesive language or government..
Rome pushed the Celtic people and their language(s) right out of the country.  Traces remained with the common people, the place names, local products etc.. But, generally the languages were pushed into Wales, Scotland and Ireland, where they remain to varying degrees today.  Wales is using Welsh on a regular basis despite the English attempts to snuff it out over the centuries; Irish and Scottish to a lesser degree.

Roman Britain was very Roman for almost 400 years.  Latin was used in all aspects of life in the country.  But, as the Roman Empire in general came under attack on all fronts from migrating peoples wanting a bit of the Roman lifestyle, wealth and climate; the waves of attack on Roman Britain from the Scottish Picts and the Welsh seemed like too big and expensive a problem to deal with when things were getting bad at home.   So, they just picked up their toys and went home.  Some people stayed behind to try to preserve their lifestyle without protection.  Their language held on and made it's way into new languages as they arrived.

Next came the Angles, Jutes and Saxons.  These peoples, who began raiding in England once the Romans had gone, eventually settled throughout England and brought their Germanic languages with them.  Eventually, they became such a large proportion of the population, that their language became dominant.   Again, the new common language retained many remnants of the older languages in place names, indigenous foods, and anything useful from the earlier peoples.
If I remember correctly, the Saxons did not even have words for hills, valleys or mountains in their language, because they lived on large plains in northern Germany.  Older words stayed on to be applied to those features.

Also, Latin was respected as a very pure language, and the language of authority, so it remained as a "legal" language in use in courts etc..   When it started to fade over the years, Latin got another boost when the Saxons converted to Christianity, and the Latin using clergy became the custodians of knowledge and history.   The Anglo Saxon Chronicles, written in Latin, are still an important source of history of the period, from the beginning of the Dark Ages till after the Norman Conquest.
In the late 700s, the Vikings began raiding the British Isles.  Despite all efforts by the Saxons to keep them out, the Norwegians, Swedes and Danes pushed more and more into Northern and Eastern England, and, like in Normandy, they settled more and more to working the land till the 870s, and 80s.  The treaty of Alfred(The Great) and Guthrum( A Danish warlord) divided the country into Mercia(toward Wales), Wessex(the south) and the Danelaw(north of London and the Thames, and north of a diagonal line across the country to the Chester area).
There were frequent struggles between the dominant Wessex kings and the "Norse" for who would rule the country right up till 1066.  Wessex was always the winner, even if there were a few Norse kings thrown in here and there.  The Saxon language remained dominant but there was a ton of influence and even a living Norse dialect in much of the the former Danelaw right up to the 1400s.  Differences can still be heard in places like Yorkshire(Yorvik=York) even today.

In 1066, came the Normans.  After the conquest, the higher levels of society spoke French.  The Norse tribes who had earlier taken over northern France had developed their own form of French.  This was one of the fastest conversions on record for a people adopting a new language.  They became the new lords of England, but they were always in the minority.
Latin was still rattling around in the church, legal paperwork and the law courts, but the dominant language of the educated(and there were damned few of those) and the upper classes was French.  Unfortunately, there were mostly men coming in from Normandy, and few women.  The Normans, though they tried to marry Norman women had few choices after a while, and they began to marry Saxon women more and more.  With the Saxon women, came the Saxon language, and French began to fade into the background.  By 1399, Henry IV spoke to his people in English at his coronation. 

Both Latin and French had taken a back seat in the courts, and in daily life, and they never regained their popularity again.  Of course there was plenty of vocabulary, syntax and grammar left over.  Soon, even the habit of gender in language disappeared...Le and La for instance as well as gender in most nouns and adjectives.
Over the years, four distinct dialects developed.  There was one from the former Wessex.  Basically this was the south, say from the level of the Thames to the coast, Dorset and Cornwall, that were still heavily influenced by Celtic.
The entire center of the country was divided into two halves like an open book that has its division along the spine of the book.  The eastern and western Midlands, the west was likely heavily influenced by Celtic/Welsh (our family would fall under this group) and the eastern Midlands, more influenced by Norse languages.  The Midland dialects were quite similar however.

The north and perhaps tending a bit to the east had the fourth dialect, heavily influenced as I noted earlier by Norse languages.

There was language pandemonium.  People from one part of the country could barely understand people from other parts of the country.  It was hard to carry on business, and to understand laws.  So, as the printing press and a trend toward education came along, Geoffrey Chaucer and a number of other influential authors started writing in the Eastern Midlands dialect mixed with the local London.   This blend eventually became dominant, and standardized.

Of course many changes have taken place since that time in the 1400s, but basically that is the same English we use today. Spelling and grammar continue to change, new words are introduced, products come from overseas, adding their names; immigrants add words; technology evolves; all producing changes in the language.

France only allows a handful of words to enter the language each year.  It is very regulated.  They are extremely proud of their language, and it is very simple and beautiful.

English, though, is a veritable tossed salad of  vocabulary and grammar.  It can be a very difficult language to really master because of all the irregularities and multiplicity of words.  However, it is extremely rich, nuanced, beautiful and expressive.  Many thanks to all those tribes, conquerors, authors and immigrants that contributed to it.

Shakespeare alone, contributed hundreds or thousands of new words to the language(I love the word: incarnadine..."Macbeth"), and though some of them are quite rarefied, and seldom used, they help to make the English language one that we can be truly proud of.

There are some that say that Shakespeare contributed to the King James Bible as well.  Any of you that remember it, pre 1970, may remember how beautiful its 17th century language was.

Now here is a parting gift for you as a reward for reading this post.  It is a perfectly good and accepted word, unlike supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  It is from "Love's Labors Lost".  It is  honorificabilitudinitatibus....  Let me know if you know what it means.

Check out this link:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I have no children of my own.   There seems little point to be doing all this work for just myself.  Of course I want this to be available for all the Mitchell relatives and the Cafarella and Cincotta families as well, but my children will never benefit from my work.  I decided, that there should be a focus in my personal sphere that will have a stake in preserving the information.  My brother and his family do not seem to have a strong interest, my distant cousins on all sides, I do not know well enough to judge if there is a commitment to such an endeavor.  So, I decided that I should bring my sister's family into it more than I might in other branches of the family.  So, before you look at this post and say to yourself, "Who in the world are the Burrills?", They are my sister's husband's family.  They are an interesting bunch on their own.
Fred (her husband) had a grandmother who did a genealogy, back when it was difficult, in the non-information age.  She was able to go back as far as I have, and found some really interesting people.
Carrie Odiorne's genealogy is now gathering dust in my sister's attic. 
I am afraid that people do not really get interested in genealogy till they reach mid to late life, or the day their children come home with an assignment to do a short genealogy for school.  My sister's kids have not really gotten to that point yet, so there it sits in a box.
The thing is... the more of these obscure branches of the family that I bring in to this work, the more likely that someone in the vast number of people in the family will take an interest down the road.  Also, if I do this for a really big group, it will be more cost effective to publish as a family history book to be left in state archives for the future.
One reason I find it easy to put the Burrills in here is because I know a little something about them already.  Unfortunately, I have found that thinking you know them leads to some misconceptions.  I will try to set them straight now.  I would encourage other "married in" members of the family to do the same for their family and send it along to me to be published here,
So, here we begin with the Burrills.

Frederick Wendell Burrill b. December 7, 1936
Charles Edward Burrill  b. November 20, 1938- January 24, 2006  

    Mother:  Alberta Hutchinson Burrill February 21, 1901- July 6, 1992
        Alberta's mother:  Annie Duffy Burrill
        Alberta's father:    Scott George Burrill

    Father:  Richard, Odiorne Burrill  June 17, 1900 - January 8, 1966
        Richard's mother:  Carrie Louise Odiorne
        Richard's father:     Frederick Wilson Burrill

            Richard's grand-father:    Wesley Burrill

If Fred and Charlie Burrill were kids today, there would be someone standing in the wings whispering that they were abused children.  Invariably there is someone who believes that military children suffer because of all the moves they make in a lifetime, or that they should be near grandparents or extended family instead of some out of the area locale that the parent is forced to take them to because of a job.  As a customs officer, Richard too, was moved often.
In my mind however, The two boys lived an absolutely idyllic childhood.  They moved every few years to a new town along the Canadian border.  They hunted and fished with each other and with their father Richard in remote locations with few neighbors other than owls, bear, deer and moose.

Richard was from Houlton, Maine originally.  He was in the Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine when he met Alberta.  
Such an odd couple.  Alberta was from Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  She was tiny, and you would never have guessed when I knew her that her wedding gown was a short, Flapper-like affair. 
Richard was tallish, an outdoor lover, and was teaching in Augusta by the time the boys came along.  They were born in Lewiston.  As I look at Fred now, I really see the same person and habits I saw in the rather formidable Richard.  Fred seems more mellow than his father though.
Richard applied for the Customs service.  They were posted first in Orient, Maine.
 If you do not know Orient, it is on the eastern border with New Brunswick, Canada.  Large lakes, wilderness, farms and when you get to the right spot along route one, there are elevated views toward Canada that will take your breath away, especially in the Autumn. 
It was always a ritual, when my mother was well, to drive down to Orient to see the view once a year.  There was a restaurant there, called "The Million Dollar View".  This is not too terribly far from where my sister and Fred live now. 
Orient is only about 10 miles east of the formerly famous, (Tombstone Every Mile) Haynesville, Maine.  However, I suspect it would take a troop of native beaters, and water loving Elephants to get there the crow flies.  It is also on Grand Lake, which is divided in half by the Canadian-US border, and must have been a Customs and Immigration nightmare. 
In the other direction, it is almost due West from where my father was raised in the Kars area of New Brunswick, and from Kings Landing.
Anyway, this, like all of their postings, was an area that was ripe for fishing, camping, canoeing and hunting, and I am sure they took full advantage of it, as soon as the boys were old enough.

Alberta was my playmate when I was a child.  She had the two boys, Fred and Charles, and they had been wrapped up in the outdoor activities and sports that their father was interested in, unless I miss my guess.  I came along after my sister married Fred, and had many of the interests that Alberta had, and was a sponge to soak up those interests I did not know I had.  She had an interest in French, probably from having all those posts on the Canadian border, and had studied Russian.  I suppose that in the 60s, we all thought we would be speaking Russian someday.  She also, despite being a rather stereotypical New England cook...Meat and steamed potatoes and veg, done very plain, followed all meals I ever witnessed with the bane of all our existences in that time period...the home made dessert.  The more sugar and chocolate the better.  Of course there could be no more eager and appreciative recipient of anything chocolate than the Burrill men, like most American men in the middle of the 1900s.  I do not think I ever went into that house at 60 Court Street, when there was not a red tin on the far kitchen counter full of Brownies layered in waxed paper. 
I suspect that when she was not hosting me, she was busy with all sorts of community activities.  Garden Club I am sure of, though she did not really have much of a garden.  I think Garden Club was compulsory though, or they drummed you out of town.  I went to plenty of Community concerts at Ricker College with her, including such odd things as a reading of the "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" by T.E. Lawrence. 
Richard sat reading and listening to ball games, or watching television in a big recliner just outside the kitchen door in the dining room.  We buzzed around him doing crafts, or she would be busy combing my hair the opposite way from my mother to prepare me for portrait sittings, or getting a meal out of the way so we could head off into the hinterlands around Houlton searching for weeds to make crafts projects with.  I remember gluing dried weeds and seed pods into heavy "Chinet-like" paper plates and spraying them copper color to be hung on the wall.  Pretty, but Oh,...The dust...!
She would load me into the black Ford Falcon, and off we would go. I remember once, having a couple of dollars in my pocket for some reason, and I insisted on taking her to lunch.  I think she insisted on paying.  We went to Al's diner, opposite the park, and had pizza.  I insisted.  She looked at this 10 inch bland beauty on her plate like I was asking her to eat a 10 inch roach.  She was mortified when I insisted on her picking a slice up in her fingers...  I think she said something like:"What do I do with it?"  It was the early 60s, and we did not really get out of the fifties in Houlton till 1980 after all.
When it was time to part company, she would kiss me on the neck and nuzzle into you and sniff deeply like she was trying to remember your scent.  She was sooooo cute.
Later on, she provided the funds for several years of private Art lessons, with Nell Chadwick, who had lived next to her and later set up her apartment and studio upstairs in one of the brick commercial buildings just off Market Square.  Her apartment was dominated by many of her paintings, including a monumental old master style religious painting that dominated the long narrow room.
My own mother was always interested in "Artsy" things, and could probably have made a living at it in another place and time, but she was not into this gadabout and joiner lifestyle, nor did she have the funds to do these things with me.  She also, did not have a driver's license.
My mother was more of a "Hot Ticket" type than society tea party hostess.  She was always beautiful, though faded when I was old enough to notice.  It would not be to many years before her life changed forever when she first staggered in the front hallway from the effects of Multiple Sclerosis.  I wonder if her life and activity had been colored by the effects of MS for years before it showed up.
Mrs. Burrill was just the opposite, and I guess that novelty was what attracted me to her.  She was conservative in dress and manner, a typical housewife of the time period, devoted to her family and proud of her was always proud of boys in her eyes....She was very New England in many ways, having come from Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  She was always very proud of her Burrill connection too.  She had deep connections to Early America herself, if I remember correctly, but was equally proud of the Burrill and Odiorne' history.
She was particularly proud of connections to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. 

Mike McPherson son of Diane Burrill age 24 in 2012

In case you have checked this post out a couple of times, I am having a hard time writing this.  Deciding how to approach this story has not been easy, but keep checking.  I will finish it eventually.

Maritime Provincial History

A large percentage of our family history can be traced through the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  I am looking for brief articles to include for those who have an interest in learning more about that area.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rulers of Wales.

For a complete list of rulers of Wales, search for:  List of Rulers of  Wales on Wikipedia.  See the link below. 

Wikipedia is always a good source of information, but they need help to continue to be a presence on the web.  Please consider contributing information to the Wikipedia posts(become an editor or a writer for them) if you have knowlege on subjects of interest, and also consider contacting them and contributing to them financially.
You may consider contributing information about your town, your local area, tourist attractions, family genealogy, state, or special areas of research that you engage in or were educated in.

According to Wikipedia, there were a number of tiny kingdoms that were ruled separately and later joined together as Deheubarth.  I will have to do some research in order to find the actual line of blood that might be our relatives.
Also, there were rulers of Powys farther north.  Not only did they marry into the Deheubarth line, but I believe that they may have some relationship to the Owen family, our relatives connecting later into this family.

The Deheubarth area contains a small penninsula in the far south that contains the oldest known burial in the British Isles, 29,000 years old, known as the Red Lady of Paviland.  It was also the traditional home of two pre Roman British Celtic tribes known as the Silures and the Demelae

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So, What Does All This Mean, and Just Who Are We?

I don't think I will really arrive at an answer to who we are this way.  I can say that when I started all this in 1984 around Uncle Joe and Aunt May's dining table with all the gathered family experts, I had a few questions about who we were, but I thought that following a couple of family lines would answer them pretty completely.  Now........God help me, I have all these hundreds of answers and no idea of how to apply appropriate questions to them.  Just think how confused and lost I will be when the last of my Massachusetts family elders are gone or have completely lost their minds.

I have found church officials in the family, with no easy way to place them in the line correctly.  I have found Italian Counts and Knights that will take decades to research in a language that I only stumble around in.  I now have a Welsh Prince and his line of  kings of a fleeting medieval kingdom in the family.

So what is it good for?
When you are working with 30 or forty generations of couples contributing DNA, and twenty or thirty branches of the family that will likely be just as complex, you might ask what in the world you have in common with them.
By the time you split all those branches up, and spread the DNA contributions out on a bulletin board,(3x5 cards work best for this) you might be able to point to that Welsh prince and say "I am descended from Welsh kings".  Then you would magically rifle through the gene pool and find his contribution to your body.  They all have name tags!  There it is...the fourth one from the end on the 8th Chromosome.  It turns out that my left nostril is this shape because of him...Please refer to the illustration.

I will tell you the ultimate fantasy.

 You run across an old snapshot of a 15th century Lord High Treasurer of England, that you know is related to you.  He has his arm draped over Henry the 7th's shoulder and it looks like they just picked up a couple of babes in a tavern in Winchester, just down the street from the cathedral. (Where else) You look at it carefully as those 15th century Polaroids are fading out pretty fast.  Suddenly you exclaim...."Oh..My...God...He looks just like my brother Dick if he just grew a red goatee!
Actually, you do get those little revelations.  But it happens a little differently. 

You are browsing through old family photos, or see a family portrait in some museum house in Pennsylvania, and you say ...Oh...MY...God...I thought those eyes came from Grammie Cafarella's family, and those hands too...but you are looking at your Mitchell side.

It does not take too long before you realize just how interconnected we all are.

I knew that the Normans were in Sicily for a time, but it has only been recently that I found that they were all over the southern part of Italy, and they were from the same handful of families that eventually became our relatives in north western England.
You also realize that some of your basic ideas about history just have to be scrapped.  What the hell were these Frenchified Vikings doing in North Africa, Palestine, Russia and Sicily.  Not every European a thousand years ago was traveling to neighboring villages twice in a lifetime with the family oxcart.  Europe, (and people from other cultures will find that Asia and the Americas were the same), was a very dynamic place.  And you must remember that just because technology was a bit primitive, does not mean that these people were in any way dumber than we are, or less able to leave DNA in some hotel one night stand, half way around the known world.
Anerio Cincotta is fond of telling the story of his teen aged father hopping on 25 foot boats in Malfa and ending up in Lisbon a few days later, with his father in hot pursuit to drag him back... Do we really think that this sort of thing happened a hundred years ago, or do we picture these people spending their lives in a single village somewhere, trapped in a proscribed role in their community, until cheap steamer tickets to the New World or Australia set them free?

You also learn that your ancient family members were not that much different, and sometimes a lot less virtuous than you picture.

I was tickled to learn that one of my great great+ grand parents was one of the very earliest settlers in New England...1623(I think) in Cape Ann, Massachusetts, and later in Marblehead where evidence of his name is in the streets of the town.  Pretty Neat...until you realize that this guy named Norman, was traveling to the New World as a non Puritan laborer, and his name was an Alias!  His name was actually Fryeth.  Times just don't change.

OK, so how about another example.

Perhaps you history buffs know that the famous Henry the 8th  was a younger son.  He had an older brother Arthur.  Arthur was a great choice for a Prince of Wales, where the family of Tudors was from.  What would inspire confidence in the English rabble like a new King Arthur.  And here he was the future sovereign in a new and teetering dynasty after the Wars of the Roses!

If you know about Arthur, you probably also know that he died young and did not assume the throne.
That is an interesting tidbit of history, but did you know that one of your 15th century ancestors was Arthur's intimate friend, and that Arthur had his own room in our family member's home even as an adult.

Connections...That is what I get out of all this.  I get a feeling of connectedness..if that is a real word...

When I went to King's Landing in New Brunswick and volunteered my time as a blacksmith and as a painter, I knew that I had a connection, and that my father had grown up only a few miles away.  But I did not really...FEEL... my Canadian background.  I did not feel his British...his Loyalist...his backwoodsman identities.  I have not been able to find much on my grandfather Mitchell...his supposed Patterson clues so far...  As a result I do not feel the slightest connection with my Irish roots...I do not identify with my Mitchell name that much either.  I definitely snickered when I heard that Aunt Vera thought that the Mitchells in Lowell were all a bunch of horsethieves...I can absolutely identify with that!

All of my recent discoveries about my Grandmother Henrietta(How unfortunate was that name?) have opened new worlds to me.  I feel the Loyalist and the Canadian now.  I can even feel the Norman French.  Why have I always been drawn to Welsh stories, Celtic folk songs.  I absolutely love Normandy and count my time at Mont St. Michel as one of the highlights of my life.

I am feeling a connection with the world.  Even if I do not have a single source to point to as my family's home, I go someplace and can say to my self , "my family once walked these same streets".  This was something that overwhelmed me in Malfa when I walked along with the procession for Saint Joseph's day, to the top of the town, where Grammie's birth records are.  She said, " Just go into that church and you can find my baptism in a big book there".   When you do these things you find that you do not recover from the accumulated emotions from the day before, and there you are connecting yourself into a place on the earth, a place in history and a place in family.

I think we all wonder from time to time if there is really a point to the time we spend on earth...well, maybe not...But doing all of this has given me a tranquility and satisfaction knowing that I am part of a whole, even if that whole is running the planet into the dumpster.  If we survive our own ineptitude, who knows, in a couple of thousand years when some descendant, direct or otherwise, on our next home planet,... some grandfather will point to a fuzzy point of light in an obscure part of the galaxy and say to his grandchild...."On that little point of light we had a wonderful ancestor.  She was a round little woman who had a hard life, but as a child she lived on a little, flower covered volcanic island in a sparkling blue sea.  She used to get up at night and sit in her window when her parents and her cousins were all asleep.  She could smell Jasmin on the wind, and a little sulfur, too, as she watched the volcano across the channel in the Thyrennian sea, erupting, just as it had for 2000 years before she was born.  It would cast gold framed shadows on the wall of her bedroom."

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Two John Talbots and The Kings of Deheubarth

Talbot Arms used by the family since the marriage of Gwendolyn Mechyll,
 daughter and sole heir of Prince Rhyss Mechyl,l to Gilbert Talbot.
Photo from Wikipedia

John Talbot is an ancestor whose line joined us through the female side.  Seems this is what we are doomed to.  I have always thought that the best people always married into the family!
The list below is the best progression I can recreate at present for the Talbot line.  Do not take it as exact.

1. Richard Talbot(Formerly tenants of Giffards of Normandy then tenants of Walter Giffard at Woburn and Battlesden in Bedfordshire.)
2. Hugh Talbot
3. Richard Talbot
4. Gilbert Talbot marries Gwendolynn Mechyll Daughter and sole heiress of Prince Rhys Mechyll(see note below)
5. Unknown
6. Sir Richard Talbot marries Sarah Sister of William Beauchamp, (9th Earl of Warwick)
7. Gilbert Talbot Summoned to Parliament is First Baron Talbot
8. Richard Talbot married to Elizabeth Comyn
9. Unknown at this writing.
10. Richard Talbot married Ankaret Le Strange(not the only Le strange that married in).
11.*Their child Sir John Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford, married Maude De Neville.
12. Their son John Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford,  married Elizabeth Butler
13. Their daughter Anne married Sir Henry Vernon of Haddon.(treasurer to Prince Arthur,  Henry VIII's older brother)
14. Their daughter married Sir Robert Corbet 1477-1513 already charted.
I tend to use the Corbets as a base line because they were the first early line I traced.)

Sir John was the Earl of Shrewsbury(I have yet to research the line in detail.)
My interest in this post is that he was a major player in, and was killed at the battle of Castillon near Bordeaux, France in 1453.(The battle is worth a quick read on Wikipedia)
This was the final battle of the Hundred Years War and a decisive victory for the French.  After that time, the English only held Calais on the continent and eventually lost that as well.  The Wars of the Roses(Not the movie about a divorcing couple and their house) weakened the English crown for so long, that they were unable to continue their attempts to keep French lands.

John was created Earl of Shrewsbury in the second creation of the title in 1442.

  The Corbet's overlords(Remember them from other posts?), the Mongomery family had lost the Shrewsbury title in 1102 when the third Earl joined in a rebellion against the crown as an ally of Robert Curthose(another interesting character to read about.  The name means something like short stockings referring to the fact that Robert was rather short.) in 1101.   The title remained vacant for all of that time in between
John was made Lord High Steward of Ireland and the Earl of Waterford.  The two titles have continued together since that time.

The second John Talbot became Lord High Treasurer of England and was later killed in the battle of North Hampton in the Wars of the Roses in 1460

Map of kingdoms of Medieval Wales from Wikipedia

The Welsh line to the Talbots, on and off rulers of Deheubarth. 

Hywell Dda
Rhys ap Tewdwr(say that last name two or three times fast and see who it reminds you of)
Rhys ap Gruffydd 1132-1197 ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth in Southern Wales.
Rhys Gryg (Rhys the Hoarse)
Prince Rhys Mechyll House of Dinefwr, kingdom of Deheubarth
Gwendolyn Mechyll marries the first Gilbert Talbot.

The kingdom in reduced, then rebuilt form, bounced around between brothers and direct heirs through the Norman period.  It continued beyond Prince Rhys till it was reduced to only Cantref Mawr( a bit farther to the east, mostly in Brycheiniog in the map above) into the 1280s.  I don't know about you, but I cannot imagine my family twisting their tongues around the complex sounds of the Welsh language.  How amazing!

The Marcher Lords

The Marcher Lords were those lords placed in possession of the counties on the border between Wales and England after the Norman Conquest. One was the Earl of Hereford, the second, the Earl of Chester, and our family was subject to Montgomery the Earl of Shrewsbury.  This would be the present day area of Shropshire.  Montgomery is a town inside Wales in Montgomeryshire.
Basically these great men(Magnates) were more or less independent of the king, acting much like kings themselves.  They dispensed justice and ruled the area in every way independent of the king except for treason cases. 
Sitting immediately adjacent to Montgomeryshire, inside Shropshire, was Owestry, an early seat of the Corbets, and wholly inside England, despite its rule by Montgomery.  However it was some time before this border line between Wales and England at the the break between the two counties was drawn.  There are Dikes or earthworks in the area of Owestry which mark earlier 9th century and earlier borders with Wales.
For various and sundry reasons, most of the rights and lands of these Marcher lords came back under the control of the king in just a few generations.  The grants of land became vacant through lack of an heir, the Earls proved to be less than loyal, etc..