May 24, 2014

3x great-grandma Sophronia

Last week, a distant cousin who found me on Find-A-Grave, and who found this blog through it, contacted me and introduced herself: she's the great-granddaughter of my 2nd great-grandmother's half-sister.

She shared something via email attachment that I've been dying to get: a photo of my 3rd great-grandmother, Sophronia Bly Mace Fellows (she would be this lady's 2nd great grandmother). 

Sophronia Bly Mace Fellows (1818-1905), c. 1890's

She doesn't look anything like I pictured her; I had frankly expected her to more resemble my great-grandmother Bessie, who looked as though she could fight Chuck Norris and win. This lady may be older and careworn, but she has a gentleness to her features.

Sophronia's eldest son was Thomas B. MACE, whom I've written about before. He was born about 1843, and after serving as a Navy sailor at the age of 14, enlisted in the 2nd New Hampshire, Company K when the Civil War broke out. He fell at Williamsburg on 5 May 1862. Sophronia filed for his pension in August of 1869, right after the death of her second husband, Joseph Fellows.

Sophronia's only child by Joseph Fellows was Dr. Laura Etta Fellows Noyes, who was the great-grandmother of this cousin who contacted me. In 1900, Laura was attending the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Boston, and in 1902 she set up practice in Rumford, Maine. Two of her three daughters became doctors as well. Pretty remarkable for the early 20th century, I'd say.

So a big thank you to my cousin for sharing this photo and info with me. I'd been wishing to find a picture of Sophronia for years, and now I can finally put a face with the name. Honestly, I don't know how people did genealogy before the internet...

Ancestry line:

Sophronia C. BLY (1818-1905) m. John MACE
Elizabeth MACE (1846-1907) m. James W. WINSLOW
Bessie Maud WINSLOW (1886-1970) m. Frank Bailey PALMER
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1913-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father

May 17, 2014

SWETT of Newbury and Marblehead

[NOTE: This entry was edited by me on 26 May 2014 and again on 15 June 2014 to correct errors]

I have a lot of SWETT ancestors, with several interconnected lines... in fact, this surname has the most numerous and tangled branches of any other in my family tree.

All of these can be traced back to John SWETT, who was probably originally from Guerney Island. He married Sarah UNKNOWN about 1603 In England. He was admitted as a freeman to the Massachusetts Colony on 18 May 1642, and was a grantee of Newbury, Massachusetts that same year. dying on 13 June 1651. His wife Sarah had died 11 December 1650.

I descend from John SWETT and his wife Sarah through two of his children, Stephen and Benjamin. Stephen ran a tavern, and Benjamin was a soldier in King Philip's War. 


The Swett-Isley House in Newbury, MA, originally owned by Stephen SWETT (1620-1693)

Signature of Captain Benjamin SWETT (1626-1677)

Then I descend from two of Stephen's children, John II and Joseph, and three of Benjamin's children: Joseph II, Moses, and John III.

Stephen's grandson, Joseph SWETT III (1689-1745), was of Marblehead, and he became successful and wealthy in the shipping business. His first wife Ruth PARKER, from whom I descend, died on 4 Apr 1725, and in September of that year Joseph remarried Martha STACEY. His daughter by her, also named Martha, married Revolutionary War hero Jeremiah LEE. 

A silver flagon bearing the crest (above) and names (below) of Joseph SWETT III (b. 1689). They donated this to the Church of Marblehead. Photos courtesy of Rick Ashley and obtained from

Martha Lee (nee SWETT), 1726-1791, wife of Colonel Jeremiah LEE, and my 8th great half-aunt

Ancestry line 1:

John SWETT I (d. 1651) m. Sarah UNKNOWN)
Stephen SWETT (1620-1693) m. Hannah MERRILL
John SWETT II (1648-1717) m. Mary PLUMMER
Samuel SWETT (b. 1680) m. Jane GERRISH
Samuel SWETT II (1706-1756) m. Elizabeth ADAMS
John SWETT IV (1731-1777) m. Sarah UNKNOWN
Sarah SWETT (b. 1772) m. Joshua PALMER I
Joshua PALMER II (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

Ancestry line 2:

John SWETT I (d. 1651) m. Sarah UNKNOWN
Benjamin SWETT (1626-1677) m. Hester WEARE
John SWETT III (1670-1753) m. Bethia PAGE
Huldah SWETT (1699-1738) m. Samuel WINSLEY
John WINSLOW I (1729-1816) m. Elizabeth FRENCH
John WINSLOW II (1774-1848) m. Mary WEBSTER
William WINSLOW (1800-1860) m. Mary "Polly" SEVERANCE
James W. WINSLOW (1838-1906) m. Elizabeth A. MACE
Bessie Maud WINSLOW (1886-1970) m. Frank Bailey PALMER
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father

Ancestry Line 3:

John SWETT I (d. 1651) m. Sarah UNKNOWN
Stephen SWETT (1620-1693) m. Hannah MERILL
Joseph SWETT I (b. 1657) m. Hannah DEVEREAUX
Joseph SWETT III (1689-1745) m. Ruth PARKER
Hannah SWETT (b. 1724) m. Joseph LEMMON
Elizabeth LEMMON (b. 1743) m. Thomas LEWIS
Mary LEWIS (b. 1777) m. Samuel THURBER
Margaret THURBER (1810- 1846) m. Anthony Christopher SPECHT
Hannah Melissa SPECHT (1843-1924) m. George Albert BAKER
Jessie May BAKER (1873-1927) m. Thomas Parker SIMMONDS
Estelle May SIMMONDS (1893-1930) m. Horace William HOWES
Henry Richard HOWES (1913-1987) m. Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father

Ancestry Line 4:

John SWETT I (d. 1651) m. Sarah UNKNOWN
Benjamin SWETT (1626-1677) m. Hester WEARE
Joseph SWETT II (1658-1721) m. Hannah WARD
Esther SWETT (1690-1719) m. John EATON V
John EATON VI (b. 1714) m. Hannah FOWLER
Jemima EATON (1747-1791) m. Christopher CROSS
Hannah CROSS (1768-1858) m. John MUNROE
Anna MUNROE (b. 1793) m. Richard SIMMONDS
Christopher SIMMONDS (1816-1894) m. Margaret Esther PARKER
Thomas Parker SIMMONDS (1871-1953) m. Jessie May BAKER
Estelle May SIMMONDS m. Horace William HOWES
Henry Richard HOWES (1913-1987) m. Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father

May 8, 2014

Was your grandma a flapper?

I've been thinking about the Dutch lady I blogged about previously who has chosen to live as a lower-middle class housewife in 1938 Amsterdam. In that post, I had asked for readers to think of and share what time period in history they would choose to "live" in.

For myself, I at first thought of the Edwardian era, but then I considered that women were very restricted by both social regulations and by their own clothing. Yes, those dresses were gorgeous, but they were also very uncomfortable, especially with corsets. I remember in that social experiment show Manor House that the sister of the lady of the manor actually had a bit of a breakdown due to the rigidity and absolute boredom of upper-class Edwardian female life, and had to leave the project. She literally couldn't take it anymore.

So I decided on the 1920s instead. Regarding both social codes and clothing, the 20s were less restrictive. The standard of living rose meteorically, all kinds of new inventions were born, the economy was booming; the Great War had ended, and the Great Depression hadn't yet hit. Many homes now had electricity. Coco Chanel revolutionized women's fashion and perfume, while Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Paul Whiteman revolutionized music with their catchy jazz tunes.

So I've been downloading music from that decade. My best friend is the city clerk of a nearby town, and they're planning on doing a 1920s festival next year celebrating the area's history during that era, and I figure she can use the music for that.

While I've been doing this, I started thinking of any ancestors or relatives who might have been "flappers"-- women who bobbed their hair, wore shockingly (for that time) short skirts, smoked in public, drank, danced to jazz, and wore makeup. Their nickname came from their rejection of corsets... and other restrictive garments in the chest area.

My grandmothers were born in 1911 and 1918 respectively, so they were too young to have done the Charleston in speakeasies. Their mothers were born in 1886 and 1893, and my grandfathers' mothers were born in 1879 and 1854. They were all, by the 1920s, married with families, or widowed. No flappers there either.

However... my grandmother Clare (born in 1911) had an older sister, Alice, who was born in 1906. She was the right age, and from what I've heard about her, she was free-spirited and fun-- a bit wild, actually. I can definitely see her being a flapper.

Sadly, Alice died of tuberculosis in the 1940s.

Alice's daughter-- my father's cousin-- is in her mid- 80s now, but she does keep in touch once in awhile, and next time I talk to her, I'll ask her more about what she remembers of her mother.
A flapper

May 4, 2014

Preserving your pictures

My mother's cousin Phyllis recently got in touch with me. She was really more like a sister to Mom, as they grew up together and Mom didn't have any siblings.

Phyllis came across some old photos of my mother, and thought I would probably like to have them. She sent them along, which was very nice, as most were photos I didn't have and had never even seen before.

I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of original photos of my family-- some quite old-- and this prompted me to post about how I try to preserve them so that these pictures last as long as possible.

Sunlight, moisture, and acid are the enemies. Sunlight fades photos over time, eventually destroying them. Moisture, especially here in Florida, can also damage them. Acid is found in some types of plastics and glue.

I keep my old and important original photos in a binder with pvc-free sleeves, out of sunlight, and instead frame/display copies. Another advantage of displaying copies is that you can enhance photos and fix flaws, such as spots or creases, on the computer before printing them.

If you for some reason can't make a copy and must display the original photo, consider using uv-filter plexiglass that will help prevent fading.

Use mats as well. They aren't just decorative, they serve a practical purpose: a mat creates a small space between the photograph and the glass. Moisture will eventually form inside the glass and, if the photo is touching the glass directly, it will get damaged.

If you have boxes full of photos in your garage, you really should at the very least bring them inside, such as to a closet, where they won't be exposed to humidity and other elements.

I'm sure others of you might have more ideas!
My mother, aged about 9, with Snowball, her Japanese Spitz