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..