Search This Blog

March 12, 2019

Last Dinner on the Titanic

I love history. I also love food. I love the history of food. So when I came across Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner by Rick Archbold on Amazon, it pretty much jumped into my cart and bought itself.



Lately, I've been trying to cool it on buying books... I honestly haven't been actually reading much lately, due to being busy and tired from work, and to needing bifocals (because being horribly nearsighted wasn't enough -- yay, middle age!). Right now, when reading a paper book, I have to either take my current glasses off or hold the book away from me.

But this is one book I have managed to read, and I'm so glad I got it. It's a treasure for anyone fascinated in Edwardian cuisine and/or the Titanic specifically. It has not only menus for each class, but also gives recipes. Granted, some of the recipes are by admission best guesses, but this still serves as a nifty guide if you should endeavor to put on the eleven-course first-class spread. It includes poached salmon, lamb, and filet mignon... for ONE meal. I can only figure that most ladies only ate a couple of bites of each course, or they would have never gotten through them all and would have resembled Free Willy. Edwardians actually did regard being plump as a good thing... girth meant you were rich (most people at this time literally couldn't afford to be fat, and they did a lot of physical labor).



First class menu on the night of the sinking. For some, this would be their last meal.


The second and third class dinners, while simpler and with far fewer courses, were still nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the second-class accommodations and food were equal to first class on other liners.

What readers might find puzzling is that the third class menus list meals as "breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper" instead of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is because working class people then still ate their main meal of the day ("dinner") at midday rather than in the evening. "Tea" was actually more substantial than "supper" was (third class supper was cabin biscuits, cheese, gruel, and coffee). But their earlier dinner of vegetable soup, roasted pork with sage and pearl onions with peas and potatoes, and dessert of plum pudding, doesn't sound bad at all. And given that most liners until now had required third class passengers to bring their own food, this would have been luxurious.

This book even included suggested music to play for your Titanic meal recreation, as well as instructions on presentation and table setting.

Would definitely recommend for anyone interested in food history and/or Titanic.


March 9, 2019

Back!

I haven't been posting here much because I wanted to change the focus of this blog, which was originally about genealogy. As much as I love genealogy research, I frankly found writing about it to be quite boring. In this topic, there really isn't much room for snark or humorous commentary, the way there was when I previously hosted a blog about societal issues/current events.

I wanted to do something with social history... but what? That's a pretty broad scope. So... I've settled specifically on Victorian and Edwardian eras. Why this time period? Because, simply, I really like it. It was a time of such change, and I think that back then there was a sense of optimism about the future. So basically, you can expect to see posts here about life from the 1840s through the 1910s. I might occasionally venture into the 1920s, but I'll try to stick to this time period. Food, fashion, music, art, literature, and just everyday life will be the topics -- as will family history from this era, so I'm not abandoning that altogether! I'll feature/pull from contemporary sources such as books, archives newspapers, et cetera. 

I hope that you come along as I explore the history of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It should be fun!

June 10, 2018

1920s fashion myths

As I had written in a previous entry, I wanted to turn the focus of this blog from being strictly genealogy to social history (of course I'll still include genealogy as well as part of that, since history and genealogy are intertwined).

I've become rather fascinated by fashion history of late, and as the 1920s is one of my favorite decades of the past, I wanted to take a look at 1920s fashion -- in particular, what we think we know about it but don't. 

When you google  "1920s dresses", the images that will come up are basically bad Halloween costumes. Short skirts with lots of fringe, stiletto t-strap heels, and feathered headbands. The look is complete with very heavy makeup.

And it's totally... 





So let's address some misconceptions about women's fashion in this decade.

1. Body type. A very common idea is the ideal female body type in the 1920s was tall and rail-thin (like Lady Mary in Downton Abbey). Actually, think more Clara Bow, who was 5'3" and 112 pounds, neither tall nor super-slim. Boxy and flat-chested was the ideal shape. 



2. Skirt length. They were certainly shorter than they had been in the previous decade, but dresses in the 1920s generally fell below the knee. The only time a skirt in the '20s would have ordinarily shown knees is when their wearers were sitting down.

3. Corsets. Women in the '20s, contrary to popular belief, did actually wear corsets. Not the same sorts of corsets their grandmothers and mothers wore, of course; they didn't have boning. But women's foundational undergarments have always been used to give the desired body shape. In the '20s, curves and boobs were out.



4. Shoes. When you look for 1920s shoes, you'll often see high heels with t-straps. Women's pumps in the '20s were low with a thick heel, and were often Mary Jane style (strap across the instep). Although t-strap shoes in the '20s did exist, you really didn't see them much until the 1930s. 



5. Makeup. I think a lot of us get the idea from films of the 1920s that the makeup then was heavy and almost goth-like. Smoky eyes and deep, dark colors. But first, these were actresses, and not "regular" women. Second, the type of orthochromatic film in use back then made colors look darker than they were -- e.g., red looked black on film. So makeup was lighter and brighter than we tend to think. 


I don't claim to be a fashion expert, and was unaware of much of these things myself until fairly recently. So next time you see "flappers" at a costume party, you can roll your eyes. You're welcome.

August 6, 2017

Three generations of George Norbury Mackenzies

A few months ago, I and my best friend were at an antiques shop, and I found some old photos in a bin. On looking through them, I found four of people who were members of the same family. Because of my dad's health challenges, and then his recent passing, I've only now gotten around to posting them. Perhaps descendants of the family will see this post.

The first photo is of George Norbury Mackenzie I, 11 February 1824 - 31 January 1887.



From what I could find on this gentleman on Ancestry.com, he was born in Maryland, son of Thomas Mackenzie and Tacy Burges Norbury. 


This is his wife, Martha Anna Downing Mackenzie (7 April 1827 - 16 Dec 1894), daughter of Howell Downing and Harriet Gorsuch:







This is their son, George Norbury Mackenzie II (4 May 1851 - 11 February 1919):





George Norbury Mackenzie II was author of Colonial families of the United States of America, in which is given the history, genealogy and armorial bearings of colonial families who settled in the American colonies from the time of the settlement of Jamestown, 13th May, 1607, to the battle of Lexington, 19th April, 1775 (seriously, could the title be any longer?). So he was evidently interested in family history himself.


The last Mackenzie photo I found in the bin was that of George Norbury Mackenzie III (2 April 1875 - 7 June 1928):


I would be happy to share these photos with any Mackenzie descendants or relatives who are interested. 

March 12, 2016

Baptism record for 2x great-grandfather Thomas Ryan

Last week, Findmypast had free access to their Irish records databases (this weekend, Ancestry.com does also). There I managed to find the baptism record for my great-great grandfather Thomas Ryan!

At first, I only knew that he was from Ireland (looking for a Thomas Ryan in Ireland.... yeah, good luck with that). But awhile back, I had stumbled upon an obituary that mentioned that he was from County Cork. So now at least I could narrow him down to a county. I also had a birthdate (from his death record) and his parents' names, from his marriage record.

So when I searched birth and baptism records for Ireland on Findmypast, I hit a record for a Thomas Ryan who was born on 25 July 1831 to David Ryan and Johanna Lynch, which matched the information I had.

The record states that he was baptized in Fermoy, so now I know the specific township he was from.
 
Thomas Ryan's baptism record from Fermoy, Cork, Ireland

Talk about the luck of the Irish!

I found a death index for a David Ryan who died in 1874 at the age of 70 in Fermoy. Although this was likely to be Thomas's father, I can't be certain without more details.

Thomas immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Boston, where he married my great-great grandmother Johanna Fitzgerald in 1860. I can't be sure when exactly he immigrated, or whether his parents or other family came with him or not.

November 7, 2015

Daniel Mace, Union Civil War veteran

My 2nd great-grandmother Elizabeth Mace Bean Winslow (1846-1907) had two older brothers who both served the Union during the American Civil War: Thomas and Daniel. Thomas, whom I've written about before, perished.

But Daniel survived, and today it's his story I want to tell.

35-star Union Civil War flag

Daniel Webster Mace was born on 14 February 1845 in New Hampshire (probably Plaistow), the second surviving child of John Mace and Sophronia Bly. Around 1848, John Mace disappeared, and in the 1850 census, Sophronia and her children were living with her aunt and uncle (she is listed as a "pauper"). On 30 April 1859, she married Joseph Fellows.

So the Mace children grew up poor and fatherless; eldest son Thomas actually joined the Navy 1857, at the tender age of 14! In the 1860 census, Thomas is a farmhand working for (living with?) a neighbor, and Daniel is a shoemaker's apprentice in Massachusetts.

I get the definite impression that, given the above information, things were not great at home.

Thomas almost immediately answered President Lincoln's call when war broke out in 1861, and was killed at Williamsburg on 5 May 1862. On 22 August of that year, just a few months after his brother's death, Daniel enlisted in the 50th Massachusetts infantry; I find this so brave and touching.

He enlisted again in February of 1864, this time in the 59th Massachusetts infantry, company E. During the siege of Petersburg, on 7 June 1864, Daniel was wounded in the left leg and captured- and he would spend the next six horrible months at Camp Sumter in Andersonville, Georgia. He survived, and was exchanged on 25 November.

On 18 March 1865, Daniel married Mirinda Wilkinson. It would be interesting to know if they had been engaged during the war, or if they met at some point after his release from the prison camp and just had a whirlwind courtship. Daniel was discharged from the Army for disability two months after the wedding.

Daniel and Mirinda had a son, William, born in 1867, but the marriage was apparently a troubled one; Mirinda divorced Daniel in 1880, and the records give her charge against him as "habitual drunkenness."

All I can say here is, if I had spend almost a half a year at Andersonville (the conditions of which were comparable to those of Nazi death camps), then I'd probably drink too. There was no counseling, no VA, no psychological support for soldiers at all at that time. 

Tintype of Daniel Mace c. late 1860s, originally mislabeled as his son Willie. Courtesy of Dan's 3rd great-grandson Jon.

In the 1900 census, Daniel is living with his now-widowed mother Sophronia, his sister Elizabeth, Elizabeth's husband James, and their daughter Bessie (my great-grandmother). In the censuses of 1910 and 1920, he's living alone and is a laborer.

Daniel was apparently very close to his half-sister Laura Fellows Noyes, Sophronia's daughter by Joseph Fellows. She, too, was a divorcee, as well as a medical doctor. "Uncle Dan" would help her with her three girls-- two of whom would also become doctors.

When Daniel died on 1 June 1924, Laura Noyes was his attending physician. Interestingly, he left only 1 dollar each to his son and to sisters Lizzie and Sarah Ellen. The rest of his estate went to Laura and her heirs. Granted, his "estate" probably wasn't very much, but my understanding is that you leave $1 to someone as basically a way of saying, "No, I didn't overlook you-- I really meant to give you the shaft."

In Daniel's will, he also requests that his grave be given a "suitable monument" reading "Daniel W. Mace, Company E, 59th Regiment Mass. Volunteers, War of 1861-1865", along with his age and date of death.

Thank you, Uncle Dan, for your service.

August 8, 2015

Thomas B. Mace's Civil War enlistment papers

My fourth cousin Jon recently moved to Rockingham, New Hampshire. He took a trip to the New Hampshire Archives to see if he could find any information on our common 3x great-uncle Thomas B. Mace. He served in the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry in Company K, and was killed at Battle of Williamsburg on 5 May 1862 at the tender age of 19.

Jon found Thomas's enlistment papers, and was kind enough to send them to me and give me permission to share them here.





The papers provide some interesting pieces of information:

The papers confirm that Thomas joined the army voluntarily, although he apparently needed the permission of his stepfather, Joseph Fellows; Fellows had been married to my 3x-great-grandmother Sophronia (nee Bly) for about two years.

Joseph Fellows calls himself Thomas's "father-in-law", not "stepfather." Today, "father-in-law" strictly means father of one's spouse, but evidently it had a looser meaning back then, literally "one's lawful father", which could include the children of one's spouse. Following this, a "sister-in-law" could be a stepsister, and a "brother-in-law" a stepbrother. This is something I didn't realize-- and something to keep in mind when we run across these terms on probate records, wills, or censuses.

The enlistment documents also include an oath of loyalty to both the state of New Hampshire, and to the United States, and a promise to "observe and obey the orders of the Governor of this State, and the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the laws of the State and the rules and articles of war of the United States, and the regulations which govern enlisted men."

A physical description of Thomas is also included-- according to this, he was 5'7", with dark hazel eyes, light brown hair, and a light complexion.

Lastly, and rather surprisingly, Thomas was illiterate; he made an x instead of signing his name. I would have expected an American man born in the 1840's to have had some schooling, at least enough to read and write some. I can only figure that he couldn't go to school because he was needed at home. Sophronia's first husband (and Thomas's father) John Mace disappeared in the late 1840's, when he was just a little boy. Sophronia didn't marry again until 1859, to Joseph Fellows. Sophronia herself was illiterate, so I suppose there was no one to teach Thomas.

It's sad to think that only eight months after he made his mark, agreeing to fight for the Union, he would die doing so, at an age where today he would be starting college.

Thanks to my cousin Jon, who is always so good about staying in touch and sharing information.

June 29, 2015

Marriage record for David Thomas Ryan and Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald

In the Massachusetts Town Records databases I highlighted in my previous entry, I also found the marriage record for my great-greatparents David Thomas Ryan and Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald. I had previously only been able to find a transcribed record, but here is there actual certificate!



Ancestry line:

David Thomas RYAN (1875-1939) m. Mary Elizabeth FITZGERALD
Clare Regina RYAN (1911-2001) m. Boruch Bernard KRANTZBERG
My father (living) m. S. HOWES
Me

June 13, 2015

Burial records for 3rd greats Joshua and Arvilla Palmer



Last weekend, within a timeframe of 48 hours, I discovered where my 3rd great-grandparents Joshua Palmer and Arvilla Bailey Palmer were buried, when Arvilla died, and got photos of their stone uploaded to Find-A-Grave.

I had been unable to find death records for Joshua and Arvilla, and the state did not have them either. So I emailed the Concord Historical Society* and my email was forwarded to the person who is in charge of cemeteries in Concord. Last Friday afternoon, this person got back to me with the name of the cemetery (Blossom Hill), and even included burial records and map showing exactly where the burials are located.

Arvilla Bailey Palmer either died or was buried on 11 January 1861, at 45 years old. Her husband, my 3rd-great Joshua, died at age 48 on 25 May 1864 (this I already knew, as I had found his death notice in an archived newspaper).

They are buried with their daughter Flora A. Palmer Follansbee, sister of my 2nd great-grandfather George Bailey Palmer, and her husband James W. Follansbee. He was apparently a Civil War veteran who had seen a lot of action, and was actually present at Appomattox when Lee surrendered to Grant. 



Joshua's name is incorrectly given as Joseph
Saturday morning, I created memorials for Joshua and Arvilla, and that afternoon they were claimed. The following afternoon (Sunday), the volunteer posted the photo of their stone.

Thanks to all who helped make this possible!

Ancestry line:

Joshua PALMER (1815-1864) m. Arvilla BAILEY
George Bailey PALMER (1850-1926) m. Mary Olivia PURINTON
Frank Bailey PALMER (1888-1958) m. Bessie Maud WINSLOW
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father
Me


*No one responded to the couple of emails that I had sent, so I sent an actual letter. Yes, though the mail. I've done this before when email and phone calls haven't been returned, and I in my experience this succeeds in getting a response. About a week after I sent the letter, I got the email.

May 30, 2015

2x great-grandparents Thomas FITZGERALD and Rose CONNELLY

Recently I wrote about discovering the birth record for my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald Ryan (1879-1954). Through it, I was able to find quite a bit of information on her parents, Thomas Fitzgerald and Rose Connelly.

Here's what I found this past week:

Great-grandmother Mary's father Thomas Fitzgerald was born in July of 1853 in Ireland to Patrick and Mary Fitzgerald. He immigrated in 1860, and on 18 August 1878, he married Rose Connelly in Newton, Massachusetts. She was born about 1847, also in Ireland, to Thomas and Bridget Connelly.



I found records for four children born to Thomas and Rose. My great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth was the eldest, born on 22 May 1879. She was followed by Thomas, born 9 January 1881; then Eddie, born 2 April 1882; lastly, Walter was born on 7 March 1885. All were born in Needham, Massachusetts except for Walter, whose birthplace was given as Wellesley.

Rose died just over one month after Walter's birth, on 10 April 1885, of typhoid pneumonia. Whether the birth contributed to her contracting the illness, I don't know. She was only about 37 years old.

I figured that Thomas, who was only about 32 at this time and had several small children, would probably remarry. Lo and behold, he did: he married Louisa Priest, a widow whose maiden name was either Deacon or Deaking, on 5 August 1891. She was born in England. It surprised me that he waited so long to remarry when he had small children who needed taking care of, and that when he did, it was to an Englishwoman.

In the 1900 census, Thomas and Louisa were living in Boston with William P. Fitzgerald, aged 22, whose relationship to Thomas (the head of the household) is listed as "son." Since Thomas and Rose had no recorded son by this name, and since he was too old to have been a son of Thomas and Louisa, he was almost certainly Louisa's son by her previous marriage-- i.e., Thomas's stepson.

Where were his children? They weren't living with him, none had died (at least not that I can find, and I know for sure that Mary was alive), but I can't find any census entries that fit any of them. Walter, the youngest, would have only been about 15 years old. Could they have been in Ireland with relatives?

Louisa died on 15 October 1908, and Thomas followed on 19 December 1916.

Thomas is buried at New Calvary in Mattapan. I reached out to the cemetery and found out his plot number (278 or 279 of section 8). I've requested a photo of Thomas's resting place on Find A Grave.

The plot's owner is listed as my great-grandmother Mary E. (Fitzgerald) Ryan. Strangely, neither Rose nor Louisa is buried there. Louisa's death certificate gives her burial place as Cedar Grove Cemetery; Rose's death record, listed in a register, does not give her burial place.

As is so often the case with genealogical discoveries, more questions arise...

Ancestry line:

Thomas FITZGERALD (1853-1916) m. Rose CONNELLY
Mary Elizabeth FITZGERALD m. David Thomas RYAN
Clare Regina RYAN (1911-2001) m. Boruch/Bernard KRANTZBERG
My father m. S. HOWES
Me