Memories of Celine

Memories of Celine

Please excuse me if I sound a little disjointed. I have worked on this for a week and cry every time I do. Today is fraught with pain as my cousin is put to rest…..

It is a peculiar position to be the oldest child of the oldest child of the oldest child. Especially if each generation had children in their 20s. Most of the elderly relatives are still alive. And they have stories. So, to me, the 1920s are just as present to me as the 1960s. In a family who prized tradition, we celebrated holidays as if we were still peasants in Italy. As generations come and go, we all assume that each generation will be around for almost forever. The average age of death in my family is around 90.

That was, until this week. The world of our family stopped. Of course, the coronavirus played its part. But the brightest light of my generation was snuffed out too early. Not by the virus, but by some incipient mutation which caused chronic meyloid leukemia.

My cousin, Celine, was my first cousin. I remember when she came home from the hospital at two days old. I was just short of 9 and had a new baby sister, too. I knew all about holding babies. Now, there were two babies to dote over.  The two babies grew up to be best friends.

And I got to babysit, for 35 cents an hour. My siblings and I watched as three other cousins came, over time. And I got to babysit the first three often, before I went off to college. Celine was, quickly, the little mother, the organizer. Brian was the sensitive one. And Kristin was the happy one. Brendan, the youngest, came later, after I had moved away, so I didn’t get to watch him grow up. They lived on humor, music, their Faith, and cheese pizza on Friday nights.

Celine was bright, articulate, a great athlete (swimming and skiing) and a creative seamstress. She was a mechanical engineer, who put her whole career on hold so she could raise her children, herself. Her Catholic Faith was how she lived her life.

Named after a Catholic nun, Celine was an old soul. She was the type who could sit and contemplate, not like most of us who can not sit without something to do. She had her pink rocker on the front porch and could listen to the birds, aware of their joy. And their joy consistently was reflected in her smile. I am sure she had bad days, but I never saw one. All I saw was that magnificent smile that brightened a room.

Her parents have lost their oldest.  They should not fear. She is with her grandparents, who doted on all eight grandchildren. Her parents did a remarkable job in raising not only Celine, but the other three, as well. Celine will be missed more than we can predict. But she will live on in the lives of her daughters, Kate and Emily, who will remember their mother’s words. And she will live on in the hearts of her two wonderful parents and three siblings, who thought the world of her.

verlinda graves stone

verlinda graves stone

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Many of the women in this series are virtually unknown to the public. These women were just living their lives. They did not see themselves as exceptional. We do. Our first woman in American history is Verlinda Graves Stone:
 
Verlinda was the middle child and first daughter of Thomas and Katherine Crowshaw Graves, born about 1618. Thomas was a young man of some money and an adventurous spirit. He bought two shares in the new Virginia Company in 1607. This entitled him to a trip to the wilderness known as Virginia. Thomas came over, a single young man of about 21, in 1608 on the Mary and Margaret. He participated in the development of Jamestown, while, at the same time, going back to England every few years. While there, he married Katherine Crowshaw and had all his children there. They moved to the East coast of Virginia over time, the last coming over by about 1630. The children were: John, Thomas, Verlinda, Elizabeth Ann and Kathryn.
In an era where girls were married off in their mid-teens, Verlinda married William Maximillian Stone, a man 15 years her senior in either 1634 or 35. Stone had been in the colony at least 6 years and had developed, with his brother, John, a prosperous trading business. He had a plantation on Hungar’s Creek, where he had built a comfortable house.
Verlinda, aged 16 or 17, became the mistress of a very active plantation, which grew rapidly. Within 12 years, the couple had nine servants, and acquired twelve more, with time. The plantation was sizeable and grew tobacco, corn and other foodstuffs. Stone was very busy with his merchantile business. In addition to that, he was sheriff, member of the House of Burgesses or vestryman for the next thirteen years.
This meant that the young wife was not only obligated to raise the children (they had seven between 1638 and 1655) and direct the servants, she was also obligated to hostess monthly county court or monthly vestry meetings. Without hotels or motels in existence, she probably hosted more than her share of visiting business partners. Verlinda was an active member of the dinner conversations, which were probably mostly business and politics in nature.
As the English Civil Wars began, politicians were split along religious lines, with the Cavaliers supporting the king, and the Anglican Church, and the Parliamentarians supporting the Puritans. The arguments spilled over into the colonies, especially Virginia, where Governor Berkeley demanded a strict following of the official English faith. The East coast, accessible only by crossing the Chesapeake, was not touched much by Berkeley’s insistence until the mid-1640s. More Puritans had moved to the small peninsula and their voices were being heard.
Meanwhile, Leonard Calvert, the proprietary governor of Maryland, had difficulty attracting new settlers to the new colony.  In 1643, he returned for a visit to England and had George Brent be his stand in. The Stones were already thinking of moving to Maryland by then. It appears they chose to occupy part of the land owned by Calvert as early as 1645.  It was a 100 acre tobacco plantation with a large house. St. Mary’s City, the capital at the time, is bordered by the  St. Mary’s River, a short, brackish water tidal tributary of the Potomac River, near where it empties into the Chesapeake.
Calvert returned in 1645 and died of an illness in 1647, leaving Maryland without a governor and his two little children without a father. His brother, Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, was the general governor of the colony, and had to find a new governor. Knowing the story of William Stone, Baltimore asked Stone to become the third governor and first Protestant governor of the colony. Verlinda moved her little children, probably only three so far, her nine servants and a household of furnishings to St. Mary’s.
The family bought Leonard Calvert’s house, sold to them by Margaret Brent, the executor of Calvert’s will. It was a much grander house than the one the Stones had in the largely unsettled area of East Coast Virginia, a home built for the younger son of a baron. This became a problem some years later.
Here, again, Verlinda played hostess to businessmen and politicians. There was no meeting house for the assembly, so they stayed and had their meetings at the Stone’s house.
In April, the general assembly met with the purpose of discussing sixteen bills. This included an Act Concerning Religion, a guarantee of religious freedom to all Christians. The bickering and shouting, as well as the large amounts of alcohol required to quell the thirst of the politicians, required a woman of amazing patience.
After the first few years of relative calm, the anxiety of the civil wars in England entered the everyday life of Marylanders. In 1652, Stone was deposed and lowered to the level of governor’s council. But, after a short time, he was reinstated. This did not last long. In 1654, Parliamentarian representatives came to Maryland and took over the government. Verlinda, William and the children were obligated to go into exile in Virginia. Within months, Lord Baltimore persuaded William to go back to Maryland, with supporters, and defend the colony against the Parliamentarians.
With a band of only 100 followers, William went 75 miles north of St. Mary’s City to the Severn River, where the town of Providence, now Annapolis, had been founded only a few years before. There he engaged the vastly over-numbered Parliamentarian troops. Half his men were killed or maimed and William was injured badly, his shoulder damaged. It was obvious that he needed to surrender. And once he did, he was taken prisoner. Verlinda, having stayed behind in safety, was not.
Hearing of the treatment William endured, Verlinda went to nurse him. On her arrival, she immediately wrote a letter to Lord Baltimore giving details of the enemy and requesting aid at once. The letter showed Verlinda to be a well-educated, well-spoken woman with great powers of analysis. Baltimore probably did not do too much for them, for the letter would have hardly had time to reach him.
Many of the soldiers Stone fought against were the Protestant emigrees from Virginia whom Stone had invited to move to Maryland. When he was sentenced to being shot to death, a number of the soldiers objected. He was subsequently released a month later. He resumed his position as governor for a few more years. His retirement ended William Stone’s public career.
At the end of the decade, when King Charles II ascended to the throne, Lord Baltimore offered the Stones a tract of land in Maryland, as large as one could ride around on horseback in a day. They thus acquired land in Nanjemoy, 60 miles up the Potomac. They named the plantation Poynton Manor, after the place William’s family had in England. William lived there, developing the manor, and died at the end of 1660.
The new widow lived in St. Mary’s City for a while but a few years after William’s death, the son of Leonard Calvert, William, sued her for trespass, claiming she had no right to Governor’s Field. The son of the old governor claimed Margaret Brent had no right to sell the house, which they had closed on in 1650. Despite a court battle, Verlinda lost her plea and moved to Poynton full time. The odd thing is that Verlinda’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth, eventually married the young William Calvert and would have had access to the house, had it not been sold to the colony as a meeting house for the assembly.
Verlinda lived at the manor during her widowhood, per her husband’s will. However, she acquired land in her own right, purchasing 300 acres in Charles County in 1664, which she named Virlinda. Two years later, she acquired 500 acres in Prince George County.
When Verlinda died, July 13, 1675, she was considered quite rich, being worth nearly 15,000 pounds of tobacco.
 
 

Underwear in the 17th century

Underwear in the 17th century

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What did people wear under their dresses or breeches in the 17th century? Well, the most common answer is, nothing. Underwear was a fancy upper class phenomenon.
There are some discoveries showing a form of bra and drawers for women in recent archeological studies in Germany and France, and a mention of drawers in Italy. The common women did not use them in a routine way.
The manufacture of various pieces of clothing was severely limited due to lack of elastic, buttons, zippers or snaps. Almost everything on clothes seemed to be tied.
Women wore a chemise, a thin linen shift, with elbow length sleeves, most often pulled over the head and tied at the neckline.  Over that, were the stays. Most often made from lengths of bone aligned vertically, the stays were connected together with cloth and surrounded the mid-section. They were used to keep the waist pushed in and the breasts pushed up. The stays, or corset, were laced up at the back, which meant that the woman could not dress herself, but, rather, needed another to help. A husband could be quite an asset in the morning!
A man wore very long shirts, which wrapped between the legs and kept him warm under his breeches. As far as Scots go, I have no idea how they kept warm under their kilts!
Both men and women wore knit stockings, most often wool. As trade with Asia increased and access to silk became available, knit stockings as thin as heavy tights in today’s society became a style, but very expensive. Men’s stockings were mid-thigh length, held in place by the breeches which were secured just below the knees with ribbons. Women’s stockings were almost as long, and secured below the knees with ribbons. The extra length was rolled down over the ribbons.
Shoes gradually altered style during the 17th century. At the beginning, leather or cloth shoes, and boots, all had flat soles, with just a little heel. By the middle of the century, high heels and high soles became the rage. These were thought to be practical for walking the muddy roads of towns and villages, few of which had so far been paved. Wooden shoes, not unlike those noted in Dutch culture, were actually common among farmers and country folk in England and American colonies, at that time. Women would, then, have indoor shoes and outdoor shoes.
 

Details make a difference

Details make a difference

Writing is one of the best ways of expressing ourselves. The plot and the character development in fiction can blossom into great literature. The concepts of science, philosophy or history can expand a reader’s knowledge.
But the best story line or concepts presented can pale when the reader cannot picture the scene. Dialogue drives the scene. But being able to see what is happening, through the words of the author gives the reader a better attachment to the story.
For example, in the Rex Stout novels of the 30s and 40s, we knew exactly where Archie and Nero Wolfe were, how the furniture was arranged and what Nero’s schedule was. They lived in mid-town Manhattan. The office had two desks, with phones on each, two red leather chairs facing the larger desk, with a small table between them. These were reserved for the most important visitors of the moment. Other chairs could be brought in. Nero worked on the third floor twice a day, morning and afternoon, with his orchids, and could not be disturbed. I haven’t read a Nero Wolfe detective mystery in 30 years. But the description sticks.
In Carmen Amato’s Emilia Cruz mystery series, the detective room has a desk and cheap computer for each detective, a coffee pot and a large marker board for notes. The lieutenant’s office opens right into the office. He is aware of what is going on. The place smells of coffee and tobacco. We know the notebooks in Emilia’s desk and who sits across from her. Details let us walk through the story with Emilia.
Writing is all about getting the whole story out. Not only do we want our readers to be able to picture a place, but we need to have our readers picture the characters. Most people, and, by extension, most characters, have some little quirks that the writers should capture and present occasionally. In Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Claire mentions Jamie’s odd traits frequently. His red hair is coppery, reflects the candlelight with a golden glow. Or he gets seasick easily. So she puts him into scenes where he has the opportunity to turn green, vomit, concentrate on his breathing with his head between his legs or whatever else Gabaldon choses. What about Claire? She has curly dark hair which is constantly coming loose from her hairpins and she does not like to wear a cap over her hair. But these things are not mentioned once in the hope that the reader remembers. It is repeated throughout each book.
One thing I have noticed is trying to picture outdoors in stories. I love stories where the scenes change, indoors to outdoors, one building to another. And I enjoy picturing where the character is. It could be a park, or it could be a park-like setting with ancient oaks creating a canopy over the stone walkways. The second can be recognized so much more easily.
In my work in progress, the year is 1635, the place is the East coast of Virginia. Except for little houses dotted around the countryside, most of the action is out of doors. Spring brings pink and white flowering dogwoods. Multiple trees supply colorful berries for animals throughout the summer. Flowers of every color bloom throughout the long summer. Placing my characters in the forests of Virginia can give my readers a more enjoyable read.
Put detail in your stories. Let your readers enjoy even more.
 
HOW THE FOUNDING OF HARVARD IS PERIPHERALLY RELATED TO THE BOOTON FAMILY

HOW THE FOUNDING OF HARVARD IS PERIPHERALLY RELATED TO THE BOOTON FAMILY

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This is the story of three families: the Graves, the Eatons and the Bootons.
The first family, the Graves, starts with Thomas Graves, gentleman, joining forces with several other men to form the Virginia Company, a subsidiary of the London Company. The other two subsidiaries were Plymouth and Somers Island (Barbados). The London Company was a stock company with the dual purpose of establishing colonial settlements and profiting from cash crops such as timber and tobacco. Although it was a privately owned stock company, it was granted a chapter by the new king, James I, which gave it a monopoly to explore, trade and settle.
Today we don’t see a problem with investing in stocks, but this stock was quite expensive. Pamplets and broadsides had gone out all over England advertising a chance to buy in. But the cost of one share was 12 pounds, 10 shillings, about a six months’ gross salary for a blue collar worker. Thomas Graves bought two shares.
On April 26, 1607, the first settlers of the company landed at the southern edge of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, naming it Cape Henry. It is quite close to present day Virginia Beach.
A week later, after having been attacked by Indians, the settlers sailed 40 miles up the James River and established the Jamestown Settlement.
Thomas Graves arrived in the third ship, the second supply ship, in mid 1608, leaving his family behind. Despite the extra supplies the company struggled, especially financially. Part of the problem was lack of labor. Starvation and Indian attacks, as well as a ridiculous concept that “gentlemen don’t work” slowed down development.
Despite the fact that over 500 colonists set sail for Virginia by 1608, only 60 people had survived to receive the new governor in early 1610.
However by 1612, due to Thomas Rolfe’s experiments, sweet tobacco from Barbados was mixed with the sour tobacco available locally and the export business took off. Still with a labor shortage, a system of indentured service was developed by 1619, in which four to seven years work for the company was exchanged for passage, food, protection and 50 acres of land at the end.
In 1621, the colony was having trouble meeting taxes of the Crown. The following year, one quarter of the population was killed during the Indian Massacre of ’22. Taxes were even harder to pay without people to harvest the tobacco. The king rescinded the charter and turned the status into a royal colony with a king-appointed governor.
Thomas Graves, who had bought two shares for 25 pounds, received 200 acres for his personal use. Apparently he took the ships back and forth between Virginia and London a number of times since he does not seem to have been much affected by the massacre or the starvation. And eventually, probably 1612, he brought his wife and two baby boys over. On June 30, 1618, Graves was sent out from Jamestown with a small band of settlers to establish the hamlet of Smythe’s Hundred ten miles from Jamestown. When the house of Burgesses was established in 1619, he was a delegate.
Smythe’s Hundred was abandoned after the massacre and he next moved to the eastern shore by early 1524. In 1625, the hamlet had 51 inhabitants. He became commissioner of Accomac County in 1629 having received twoo hundred acres the year before as payment for finding indentured for which he was paid 50 acres per servant. He was commissioned captain and served as a burgess for Accomac County in 1629-30 and again 1632. Graves was also a vestryman for the new church in 1635. He died in late 1635/early 1536, survived by his wife Katherin and children John, Thomas, Ann, Verlinda, Katherine and Frances.
Hungars Parish, Accomac County, was a sizeable hamlet by 1635. The first minister was Rev. Francis Bolton, but he did not last too many years. The first vestry meeting was Sept. 29, 1635. The vestrymen (parish council but with more power) were William Cotton, minister, Thomas Graves, Obedience Robins, John Howe, William Stone, William Burdett, William Andrews, John Wilkins, Alexander Mountray, Edward Drews, William Beneman and Stephen Charlton.  To demonstrate how small the number of settlers, William Stone, William Cotton, William Burdett or their children all married into Graves’ family.
 
The story now goes to the next generation, Ann. Ann Graves was born in the colony abpout 1620. At the age of 15, her father became vestryman in the Hungars Parish church. And the minister was William Cotton, recently arrived from England.
Cotton was the son of Andrew and Joane Cotton and was a graduate of Exeter Collee, Oxford University. Born about 1610, he graduated 1634-5 and was in Hungars Parish by February, 1634. Ann married William within a year or so.
One must understand the institutional structure of ecclesiastical feudal rights to dues, fees and perquisites common in England and Anglican Virginia. So, it should come as no surprise to find a minister in the wilderness of Virginia aggressively collecting tithes or “God’s feudal dues” in order to advance his own modest but worldly career. It is amazing that Mr. Cotton used open litigation sanctioned by the local county court.
It all began when the General Assembly in Jamestown insisted on the compulsory payment of tithes to the Anglican Church of Virginia. The tithe was set at ten pounds of tobacco plus one bushel of corn per “tithable” with a surcharge payable in livestock. And failure to pay was punishable by twice the fee. Local church wardens were ordered to attach goods belonging to the delinquent parishoners. In January, 1633, the County Court of Accomac acknowledged the enactment.
In December 1633, the commissioners of the county again requested the church warden to initiate attachment proceedings. The following February, Mr. Cotton personally appeared before the commissioners to complain that the church warden was obstucting the progress of justice by “failing to obtain warrants and attach the goods owed to him as parish minister”. In other words, Cotton was identified with the church. All things owed to the church thus were owed to him, personally.
Although relatives and friends joined the vestry to assist in the situation, Cotton eventually attacked the estate of the now deceased church warden and walked away with 300 acres of land.
Cotton died young in early 1640 and in his will, he left his land to his unborn child, who turned out to be a girl, named Verlinda, after her aunt.
 
Now we move, briefly, to Boston where Nathaniel Eaton lived with his wife and children. Educated at Westminster School and Trinity College of Cambridge, in England, he was good friends with John Harvard. They both immigrated to New England in the mid 1630s. Nathaniel’s brother, Theophilus, came about the same time, but, not liking the austere Puritanical policies of Governor Winthrop, moved on to found New Ha
ven in 1638.

Meanwhile, Nathaniel, seen as very educated, was invited by a committee to build a boarding school for young me. He was well funded and built both the building, planted an orchard, created its first semi-public library and established the colony’s first printing press. Yet, one year later, he was fired following allegations that he beat the students and his wife gave them unfit meals. Eaton was tried and found guilty. However, the lack of information lead to the establishment of court reporters.
About the same time that Eaton was fired, he was also excommunicated from the congregation in Cambridge. He also had some serious debts against him.
He decided it was wise to leave the colony and he headed for Virginia, with instructions to his wife to follow. He arrived in 1639-40. The rest of the family was lost at sea.
Eaton found a small church in Hungar’s Parish and became assistant to the minister. He met and married the widow Ann Cotton in short order. They had two sons by the time the New England debtors caught up with him. So, again, Eaton took off, this time back to England, in 1646-7. Ann thought he was dead. As it turned out, he was exonerated of 100pound debt after he left.
Later on Eaton was ordained an Anglican priest and appointed vicar of Bishops Castle, Salop in 1661 and rector of Bideford, Devon in 1669. But his debts followed him and he died in debtor prison in 1674.
Ann Cotton Eaton spent some years raising her children Verlinda, Samuel, and Nathaniel.
On June 8, 1657, she married again. This was another rector of the Hungars Parish church, Rev. Francis Doughty. He was 53, she was 37. Unfortunately, he was much of the same breed as the other two. He had been married before and had lived in Massachusetts before. There he had gotten into trouble with a church. He also had a several years long law suit with his sister over an inheritance before being dragged out of his church and chased out of town. Then he became a Presbyterian minister in Long Island before moving to Virginia.He had known her only a few months before they married. Later he became rector of Sittenborn and South Fardham in 1665. Apparently, he was opinionated and turned people against him. Around the beginning of 1668, he was told to leave the colony.
Ann was unwilling to move away from her family which now included four grandchildren and they divorced. In the divorce papers, Doughty claimed that the climate of Virginia no longer suited him, so he gave Ann 200 acres of land on the Rappahonnock River. In typical fashion, he gave the land a trustee, his son, Enoch, whose granddaughter married into one of my branches.
Verlina, Ann’s daughter, had married just after her mother had, on September 1, 1658, to Thomas Burdett. They had five children, Thomas, Eliabeth, Frances, Parthenia and Sarah. He died within 10 years. Shortly after, she became engaged to Rochard Boughton, who before their marriage, was appointed trustee for Ann Cotton Eaton Doughty’s land. She moved in with them and lived with them in Charles City Maryland until she died in 1686. Verlinda and Richard had four children: Samuel, Verlinda, Katherine and Mary. Verlinda died about the same time as her mother. Richard died in 1706.
 
Richard is not in my direct line. Either his brother or an uncle is the father of our direct line. However, it is pretty sure that Thomas Boughton, who arrived as an indentured servant in 1635, and bravely expanded his property, is our direct ancestor.
 


oRIGINS OF THE RAGMAN MURDERS

oRIGINS OF THE RAGMAN MURDERS

What started as an innocent question, thinking I was going to get a simple answer, ended up becoming the most intense research project of my life. I wondered how a woman died. Yes, it happened nearly 100 years ago. Yes, it involved a group of people who did not speak about the subject for all those years. But I wanted the answer.
I had been told the answer, or answers, as I discovered over time. She was either killed in a car accident in Italy with her husband. Or, she died in childbirth and her heart-broken husband ran away. Or, she took a bullet for her husband when an angry neighbor brandished his gun. None of these turned out to be the truth. All I knew is that Carmela Amato died in the early 1910s, probably in Hartford, Ct.
I began at the end of the story. Or, so I thought. This was twenty years ago, before a google search was known. Before ancestry.com existed.
Working on what seemed to be the most likely scenario, that she took a bullet from a neighbor’s gun, I looked up the phone number for the Hartford, Ct police department. It was a whim. I was brave enough to ask what might be a totally foolish question. The phone operator was kind enough to pass me through to Detective Lt. Jose Lopez. Instead of taking my phone call as a silly one, Detective Lopez listened to my not very clear description of what I knew and said he would get back to me.
And he did. About two weeks later, I received a phone call from Detective Lopez. I was at work and, luckily, it was a slow day. The first thing he said was, “Are you sitting down?” I sat down immediately. Then the detective told me that he had combed the archives of the Hartford Courant and found several long articles referring to the death of Carmela Amato…..by her own husband. Stunned, I listened to his information and his promise to send me copies of the articles. It was only a few days later when I received the package including a personal letter.
Soon, my curiosity got the better of me, so, I called Detective Lopez and arranged a meeting to personally meet him and, separately, a crew from the Hartford Courant while I arranged two days of research at the Connecticut State Library.