Turners Falls, MA - Genealogy Gathering

Come and join us! New or experienced researchers are always welcome.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Face of Public Works

The Selectmen of Greenfield stated in their 1910 Report, "The wisdom of employing a town engineer has been thoroughly proved during the past year. Mr. Chapin has had supervision of all sidewalk, sewer, bridge and other construction work and has plotted many acres for Assessors’ maps, and we believe that his employment has saved money and benefited the town in other ways.” The line item for Town Engineer for 1911 was $1,300 salary.

The 1910 census of Greenfield shows H.G. Chapin, age 26, living with his parents on Congress Street. He is listed as a Civil Engineer. Former Town Engineer, Bill Allen, remembers Farley Chapin as his neighbor at 41 Congress St.

According to "Municipal Journal" of Public Works [Google books], published in July of 1912, Elwin S. Warner of North Adams replaced Mr. Chapin, who had resigned. So the term of Greenfield's first municipal engineer was brief. Mr. Warner is listed in the 1913 Harvard University Alumni Directory. Mr. Chapin's alma mater has not been discovered yet.

His 1921 passport application states that he was born in Gloversville NY on 23 June 1883 and had lived in Mexico from 1905-1907, Guatemala in 1912, and in France since July 1918. Passenger records show he arrived in New York on the Monterey on 28 August 1907 and again on the Merida from Veracruz, Mexico on 28 December 1907 and the Cartagno from Panama to New Orleans 19 December 1912.

Mr. Chapin later worked for J.W. Colt company and traveled extensively in Europe, according to the passport application made in France in 1921. He had plans to do business in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries. He is listed on the manifest of the Berengeria, arriving in New York from France 8 October 1926, on the Tuscania 1 November 1927, and on the Bremen 14 July 1930.

The database of Military burials at Arlington National cemetery includes a Harry Gardner Chapin, with the stated birth date, who died 7 February 1965. His service is listed as "CAPT HQ DETCH ARMY SVC CORPS A E F USA."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Does This Make You Feel Better?

From the 1919 Annual Report of Greenfield, the tone is less encouraging about the progress of public works, due to the lack of manpower and resources during the war.

'At the March meeting an appropriation of $2000 was made for much needed repairs to the Cheapside Bridge. Under the capable direction of Frank Frizzell, who was engaged for the job, the repairs were made rapidly, without mishap and well within the appropriation, the total cost beint $1,432.17. The bridge, though still of an unknown and questionable strength, has been made much safer.'

'Owing to the apparent need of retrenchment wherever possible, the purchase of a new sewer cleaning machine, contemplated for this year, was deferred. This machine should now be added to our equipment.'

Importance of Proper Plumbing

1892-1893 Greenfield Annual Report includes names of teachers, and books purchased for the library. The following comes from the Board of Health:

There were 84 deaths in the Town in 1892. We have suffered from no epidemic except a slight increase in the number of cases of scarlet fever, and an increase of about 60 percent of cases of diphtheria. Many of the cases of diphtheria have occurred in houses in which there was old and imperfect plumbing, or where there was no plumbing at all, save a cold water pipe in kitchen. The sooner that all householders recognize the importance of putting a trap between each and every sink or basin, or water-closet and the soil pipe, and then ventilating each trap with a separate pipe running to the roof (thereby preventing siphoning of traps) the better will the general health become. An unventilated trap is worse than no trap, because it gives a false show of protection.

Pretty Words on Building Roads

From 1889-1990:

In order to sustain the reputation of the town as a desirable place for residence and business, heavy expenditure of money is necessary. The people have been very liberal in voting supplies, and great care should be taken that the line be not crossed between expenditure which is necessary and right and that which is unnecessary, extravagant and useless.

At the last annual meeting the town voted to complete macadamizing Main street and a little over 5000 square yards was laid, averaging ten inches in thickness, completely underdrained by two lines of blind ditches, laid with porous tile, at an expense of $5,145 including the expense of crushing.

The excellence of this street has attracted the attention of people who are interested in road repairs, and many visitors from cities and towns intending to adopt some system of macadamizing their streets, have examined it and all report themselves as much pleased with our success.

Gleaned from the Greenfield Annual Reports

New England towns publish reports annually, generally at the time of the Spring Town Meeting. A variety of genealogical information can be found, and is not necessarily consistent from year to year. The following was taken from the "Annual Reports of the Selectmen and Overseers of the Poor and Town Clerk of the Town of Greenfield, 1880-1881"

Although the winter has been an unusually severe one for the poor people, not as many new cases of application for help have occurred as might have been expected; in fact, but comparatively few new cases of want of help have been made. A large part of the expenditure has been for persons or families who have long been in the habit of looking to the town for a large part of their maintenance. Two persons are still maintained at the insane asylum at Northampton – John Hartney and Mary Harrington-at an expense of over one hundred and sixty-six dollars each. Since the tramp law came into operation, (the first of May) we have had no tramps to speak of. Four who have tried to beg their way along were promptly arrested and sent to Bridgewater. Occasionally one gets short in traveling, and is furnished with a ticket on the cars to the next station, and so disposed of.

The Treasurer estimates that the town has paid about $400 interest for money borrowed during the year, to take the place of money due from delinquent tax payers. Simple justice to prompt payers would require all unpaid taxes to draw interest, that they be not again taxed to pay the interest on the money withheld by delinquents.

Pauper Account (with amounts listed, annotated when I found them in the census)
Mrs Richardson
Joseph Newton
Mrs. Tobin
Isaac Newton’s children
Charles Taylor (1880 census, black, born Mass, basketmaker, aged 65, wife Jane, 70)
Mrs. Darnley
Calvin Newton (1880 census, age 74, farm laborer, wife Anna, 66, inflammation of the stomach)
Mrs Daniel Murray
Mrs Slattery
Mrs. Putnam
Miss Alice Moore (1880 census, age 80, living with sister Susan Root)
Wm. Grogan
Mrs. Ryan
John Hartney, in Insane Asylum
Mary Harrington “
Charles McCloud (? Age 30, wife and child on Chapman st)
Fred Cadett
Mrs. Forrestall
Mrs. A. Newton
Mrs. Ryan, Hope Street
Mrs. Lehey
Richard Smith
James Welch
Railroad fare for tramps
George F. Potter
Mrs. John Glassett
Horace M. Powers
Mrs. Frost
Mrs. Henry Wells
Mrs Donahoe
Mrs Riley
Wm Walt
Mrs. Abby Smith
Edward Stark
James Bowers
Reardon Family, Northampton
Herbert Bowers
James Connor
John Commons
Nancy Bissell (1880 age 84 in schedule of defective and dependent at the poor farm)
Hanflin Family
Fliny Earle estate for individual who will pay back
J.C. Thorn
Mrs. B. Clark
Keeping tramps
Ann Jarvis, fare to Boston
L. Nims for teams
J.L. Lyons, for R. Riley’s coffin
Same, C. Newton’s coffin
Wm. Brigham (homeless child in Sterling institution)
Geo. Bingham

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Societe St. Jean-Baptiste Update

We are working to publish the inventory of the records of the Turners Falls Societe St. Jean-Baptiste which were found in the Rendezvous on Third Street. The goal of the club was to preserve the French language and culture, and to serve as a mutual aid society for members who needed assistance.

We photographed two of the record books to create digital images. The proceedings of the Naturalization Club are viewable here. There are lots of names, but not much other information. They loved their Parliamentary Procedure! The roster for the society from the first membership will be posted as soon as I clean up the images.

Get the (Old) News Firsthand

Shari found this great local resource on Google. Newspapers are such a valuable historic resource. Read the Turners Falls Reporter 1872 - 1922 here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cemetery Mystery in Greenfield

They knew right away that this mystery was right up my alley.

Greenfield's DPW found what appeared to be a grave stone while excavating for a new sidewalk on Pond Street. After assuring them there was very little chance that this baby was buried there, or that the stone had washed across the street from Federal St. I sent out a call to my Facebook network. We didn't find Horace Eugene Roberts in Greenfield Deaths, but there were several trees posted on Ancestry.com that had information on this family.

I found a Hart family organization web site and made contact with the owner - Mrs. Roberts was a Hart. Betty Patterson in California was very interested in finding out more. She had information that they were buried in Green River Cemetery, and sure enough, a call to Snow & Sons confirmed that there is a family plot there.

I was able to photograph their grave stones at Green River and post them at Findagrave.com for all to see. This stone was likely a carver's mistake. The stone in the cemetery has a rectangular block on a carved base, with an oblesk top. Horace was the first burial, and the other family members were added, with individual markers for each of them also placed in the plot.

It seems Horace's mother, Mary died a few years later. His father remarried, and is also in this plot, along with Horace's two sisters, Mary Cordelia and Charlotte. Census records find the family in New York City in 1860 and 1870, but the girls were with family in Greenfield after their father remarried. They lived with Frank Thompson, and later their aunt, Susan Nims. Mary was a teacher, and Charlotte attended Wellsley and also taught there.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Local French Findings

Thanks to the Montague Cultural Council, we have received a grant to aid in preservation of the records of the Societe St. Jean Baptiste in Turners Falls!
Shari Strahan will lead the effort to catalog the ledgers and historic material that was found during the renovation of the Rendezvous. We will select some documents to scan and place the digital records at the library for reference. Look for more information to be presented as we begin to dig into the records.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Piecework: When We Were French Celebrates All of our Ancestors

Don't wait to get your tickets to see Abby Paige at the Shea Theater on Sunday, January 30 at 2 pm for a single performance in Massachusetts. Abby's one-woman show personifies a wide variety of characters who personalize the immigrant experience, and what it means to treasure your ethnic heritage.

Listen to WHAI or WIZZ for the chance to win a free pair of tickets! Purchase tickets on-line at www.countryplayers.org or call the Shea at 413.863.2281 ext. 1 to reserve your seats. All tickets are $10.

Ronald and Adrian Meck will provide a musical introduction.

We have collected some historic memorabilia for the lobby, including a historic map of Quebec and census data from 1900 Turners Falls.

Come and share this heart-warming afternoon with us!