Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Private View (more Blumer history)

This is a 2nd installment from the Sierra Madre newspaper about the Blumers:

The View from Sierra Madre
Vol. 3 No. 17
Thursday, April 25, 1974

A Private View

The Blumer home was a center of social activities in the early days of Sierra Madre. A family of three sons and three daughters attracted many age groups for picnic parties, musical evenings, drama rehearsals and the usual sewing parties. As the cover picture shows, the large house and grounds had a beautiful view from its hilltop location. The vine covering the front porch was the first large wistaria vine planted by J.G. Blumer in 1887. (The famous Wistaria Vine was planted by Mrs. Brugman in 1894).

After Mr. Blumer's death in 1918, Mrs. Blumer and daughter Edith continued to live at the Auburn St. Address. The other children had moved from Sierra Madre. Dr. George Blumer served the medical profession in several areas before serving for many years as Dean of Yale Medical School. Elsie married local boy, John Hart, who left for an established law practice in New York. Hilda married William Thacher and lived in Ojai at the Thacher School. Philip, a banker, married and lived in Eagle Rock. Fred, associated with Sperry-Gyro Co., married and lived in New York.

Later the Conrad's tennis court on Mira Monte became a gathering place. There were many private tennis courts scattered throughout the village. A cousin of the Blumer's Percy South, brought the first ping-pong set to Sierra Madre and it, too, became the "rage."

In 1923 the Blumer home and the upper four acres of the property were sold to John and Edith Brice who established Brice Academy, a school for boys. Many changes were made in the lovely home and the second story porch was enclosed to make dormitory rooms. At this time Mrs. Blumer rented a house on North Baldwin until the purchase of the Sokol house at 529 W. Highland in 1924. In 1925 the lower half of the Blumer property was sold to the Lutheran Society. In 1926 Mrs. Blumer died. The home property was later sold to the Vard family, the remainder of the property was subdivided and the back roadway became an extension of Hermosa, although it carried Grand View numbers. In 1948 the Bromley's purchased the homesite and have restored it to its original charm.

Edith Blumer married C. W. Bowen in 1928 and they purchased the home on Marlborough Terrace which was part of the original Churchill Ranch in the upper canyon. Mrs. Bowen will be remembered by many for her continuous interest in community activities; a guiding force in all the early dramatic enterprises, a member of the Library Board, and from its organization in 1931, the historian of the Sierra Madre Historical Society and editor of the prized "Annals of Sierra Madre."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. John George Blumer

John G Blumer and Edyth Walford Blumer

One of our Blumer cousins (Bob or Lila) passed me copies of two articles about our ancestors that were printed in their local newspaper. I am going to retype them here for posterity. I would include a byline, but neither article has one. The photos are from an album my grandmother Edie gave to me.

The View from Sierra Madre
Vol. 3 No. 165
Thursday, April 18, 1974

Mr. & Mrs. Blumer
"John George Blumer came to Sierra Madre from England in 1886. He found here a scattered community of small ranches, hardly constituting a village. The extent to which Mr. Blumer entered into the development of the community and the moulding of its future stamps him as a man much out of the ordinary, whose activities should be made a vital part of the record of local history." So wrote Mr. George Morgridge, a former editor of the Sierra Madre News, in writing of one of Sierra Madre's early citizens.

Mr. Blumer, born in 1845, was a native of England. He received an excellent education and developed a keen business sense through his many enterprises in England. In addition to his business activities, Mr. Blumer was keenly interested in the educational and cultural affairs in his home community in Darlington, England. In 1871 Mr. Blumer married Miss Julia Walford, and to them were born six children, George, Elsie, Hilda, Edith, Philip and Frederick. Mrs. Blumer's literary talents contributed to making a home of educational and cultural activities.

By the time Mr. Blumer had reached forty years of age he had established a record as a successful business man and marked recognition as a leader of community interests. Failing health presented a need for a change from the rigorous English climate. About this time Mr. Blumer read an article in "The Lancet", a London medical journal in which a Dr. Fred Gresham described the peculiarly favorable climate of his home community of Sierra Madre for pulmonary and kindred diseases. Mr. Blumer engaged in correspondence with Dr. Gresham which resulted in the decision to move to California. When the Blumer family arrived in Los Angeles, they were met by Dr. Gresham who arranged for them to come to Sierra Madre and stay at the Gresham home "Bromley Knolls" located at the head of Neher Drive. The family soon learned to love the charm of the foothills and it did not take long for Mr. Blumer to make the choice to settle in Sierra Madre. He purchased from A.D. Trussell a trace of approximately ten acres north of Grand View, west of Auburn Avenue and bordering the Gresham place across the canyon to the west. On the new homestead was a small house which had been built by Mr. Trussell. The Trussell's moved higher up the hill and built a house which later was owned by George Humphries at 214 West Carter Avenue. Mr. Blumer needed a much larger house, which he proceeded to build at once, adding to the front of the original structure, part of which had been built into the hillside. He also found himself engaged in a new occupation - orchardist, with a variety of deciduous and citrus fruits on his ten acres. Always an enterprising man, in 1888, because of the low citrus market, Mr. Blumer built a workshop on the south side of Olive Street west of Auburn, the main entrance to the Blumer home. Here he manufactured orange, lemon and vanilla extracts. His products were popular with the housewives of Sierra Madre but there was difficulty in getting the fruit properly prepared. Synthetic vanilla extract appeared on the market at this time and the project was discontinued around 1890.

The Blumer family was an important addition to the community with every age group represented in the activities for several decades following. Mr. Blumer entered into all public activities immediately. At the first annual meeting of the Sierra Madre Water company following his arrival, he was elected to the board of directors and served as vice-president and president until about 1908. His influence and concern was evident after Sierra Madre was incorporated in 1906. The water system needed to become a municipal facility instead of a mutual company. His tireless efforts in activating this transition and when the transfer was finally made found Mr. Blumer being appointed by the Board of Trustees and elected mayor, that his services might be utilized to complete this critical transfer. While he only served as mayor from June through October, 1914, it was a fitting termination of his long period of service.

Sierra Madre Library was another vital interest of Mr. Blumer. Through the Ross donation and the contributions of other citizens, Sierra Madre was early provided with a library building. Mr. Blumer was president of the society from 1889 to 1908 until the library was taken over by the city. During this time he organized the corps of lady volunteers who rotated monthly service without pay. He encouraged book donations and purchased books from funds derived largely through the annual library benefit in the old Town Hall. As president of the Sierra Madre Library Association he was concerned to make the library available and useful without tax support.

Transportation was the third of the major problems with which Mr. Blumer struggled in common with his fellow citizens. He served as chairman of the committee to seek the electric railroad franchise into Sierra Madre. There were many workers who helped, but at the meeting in the old Town Hall to celebrate success, it was Mr. Blumer who was presented with an engraved gold watch as a token of community appreciation.

Mr. Blumer's later years were passed quietly but retained a keen interest in the developing community. His methodical search for facts continued with his daily weather record, which he kept for thirty years. It was one of the oldest continuous records in Southern California.

As a token of appreciation for his service in public interests, Ella Shepherd Bush, a well know portraitist, made a crayon portrait which was donated to the Sierra Madre Public Library. Shortly after this recognition, Mr. Blumer died, on Dec. 24, 1918, a well loved man of family and community.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Letter from Francis S Dane I to son Duke Dane

Sunday July 3, 1938

Dear Old Son,

Because this is due for arrival on your birthday I'll address it to you though I know you'll share it with Edith just the same. I haven't commented much of that fine letter you wrote to me on my birthday but I've thought a lot about it and have taken a lot of pleasure in reading it over. I expect I did a lot of preaching in many of my letters - much more than necessary - but as time goes on you'll appreciate how much your progress means to your mother and to me. And still does for that matter though now we've gotten ourselves pretty well trained to the idea that you not only know what is right but will do it instinctively. (How many times have I told you that your greatest difficulty was to say "No"!!)

This must be a very special anniversary for you - the first in your new life and your thirtieth. That it may be a beautiful and perfect day for you both we hope and pray. It should be a day of great rejoicing for you two there and for the four or us here. Nathan's boat is due in N.Y. Thursday so that if he can't get home that night he will be here surely to help us celebrate your day. And how we shall enjoy it and only wish you two were here - but the next best thing to that will be the thought of you having a holiday together on or near your beloved ocean with thoughts of business forgotten. Knowing you I sometimes feel sorry you are in business and yet the kind of business you are in does seem to be the very thing for which you are adapted - and a kind to touch your sympathies and bring out your best qualities. And it is a satisfaction to know that you are doing a good job. A job well done is hard to beat and if the good job is also a worth while job doing good to others - what more can one ask? Well only one thing and that is that the discouraging things which are bound to crop out in all jobs shall not get you down - nor make you lose confidence in yourself - nor in the ultimate aim you keep before you. You have many things to be thankful for and you will have many more as the years go by.

I've had a bit of a struggle with that pipe you sent me - the smaller one - but now it's pretty well broken in and I like it very much. The big one I haven't yet tackled but I may take a shot at it on your birthday or some day after Nate arrives to watch the performance.

What a week we have just had. Aunt Julia and Jane arrived Wednesday after we had had three days of pouring rain with the garden beaten down and everything flooded. They were both so tired they hardly knew what they were doing so they wavered about from attic to cellar trying to collect all of Jane's things into one spot for the expressman to take over to Hartsdale N.Y. where Jane is to live after her wedding. To add to their troubles they had flat tires to contend with and silver to pick out. They left Friday afternoon at three (having planned to leave at ten in the morning) and when I got home both mother and Mart were exhausted. Yesterday was clear and cool and today even more so - so we are all revived. We've had open fires all the week and will have another this afternoon after we return from taking Mart to Bedford for a ball game.

Now it's evening. We've had a fine ride up to Carlisle and Groton. Supper as usual and now I must put this in the mail. As you'll see we are sending this to Lederle as we suppose they will know your address and that ought to bring it to you about Friday. Here's hoping the day is glorious and that you are both feeling well and have some special outing but if it should be bad weather just remember the good old verse in Psalms which says "This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice in it." I've always liked that - perhaps you will, too.

Dearest love

Poem from 1878

I found among the papers of my grandfather Duke Dane, this little Christmas poem. It was clearly written for John Farwell Anderson, who was Duke's great grandfather, my great-great-great grandfather. My guess is that his mother, Anne Jameson (Anderson) is the writer since she died in 1879, while his father died in 1853. On the opposite side of the poem, but in a different handwriting it says "From Martie". John's wife's name was Marcia, so this could be her.

John F. Anderson Child of ours
We come to greet thee these Christmas hours

We bless & watch over thee noble son
Finish the good work you've begun

Let no fooling jeers of child, or wife,
No matter how much of family strife,

Stop you from searching, or let your pen rust
In reading and writing of us who are dust

And if in your searches my son you should find
Some Grandmarm a monkey, oh never you mind

Dec 25th 1878

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Convocation by Charles W Gilkey

I found this type-written essay among the papers of my grandfather Francis Smith “Duke” Dane. I believe that the author is Charles Whitney Gilkey, who was Dean of the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel and it appears that the text is from a convocation speech.

Charles W. Gilkey
December 15, 1935

The Road To Success

Last summer on the Maine coast we had as a ship-mate for a day, one of the younger members of the last Byrd expedition. Even on our 36 foot sailboat he showed at once the sailor’s training he had had both under MacMillan in the Arctic and Byrd in the Antarctic. He asked for my orders as captain of our little craft with a discipline, and carried them out with a promptness, which made me feel for the moment almost like an Admiral myself. Our conversation then, and around our fire that evening, ran of course to questions about Little America – and me own to its psychology. What happened among them and inside them when 70 men were shut up together through months of unbroken darkness and cold? Finally he said that I might find the best answer he could give if he loaned me his private journal, which few eyes beside his own had seen. You can guess with what interest I read every line of it written mostly by candle-light in the cold at the end of the long days’ work; but you can hardly guess with what surprise and delight I came upon the inevitable text for the Convocation sermon:
At Sea…………Nov. 15, 1933
The best commentary on that text is the life history to date of the man who wrote it. I picked up some of his history from his mother, who had been our neighbor during the previous summer when he was writing that journal at Little America; and more of it from the Head Master of the boys’ school in New England where he had been a student ten years ago. In spite of his small size and weight he had been chosen captain of the school eleven because of his cool-headed gift of leadership; and had pulled their big game literally out of the air in its closing minutes by his resourcefulness – “SUCCESS IS NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”
But the meaning of that entry was even plainer when the Head Master told me the story of his difficulties with his studies, and especially with his English. Failure in that critical subject not only cost him his school diploma, but caused him to drop out of college in his Sophomore year. And yet this boy who could not pass his courses in English, can keep a journal that can make you see sunsets in the South Pacific, and feel the hazards and labors of those anxious weeks of unloading the two ships at the Ice Barrier; can coin an epigram that none of us are likely to forget. Give the lad some vivid experience to tell about; a cause greater than himself to lose himself in; something important to say; and here in these journals he is learning to say it vividly – unforgettably. If success in the use of English consists in passing school and college courses, he never arrived at that destination; but if it consists in learning to use English effectively, here he is already far out beyond that destination, and still going on. “SUCCESS IS NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”
A still deeper meaning appears in that sentence when we look at its bearing on his search for his life-work. Like plenty of other students in this confused post-war period, Duke floundered around a long while after he left college. He could neither find the thing to do – nor could he find himself. A summer with MacMillan in the Arctic revealed his love of the sea – and his knack with dogs. This last led to a job in the camp where they were training the dogs for the Byrd expedition; and that, to the chance to go as a dog-driver. Making good in that searching test, he has come home to an highly responsible and useful business opening which may well lead out into a career almost professional in its standards and possibilities. Doubtless, like most boys in their teens, he thought of success as getting a job; but in the twenties, he has revised and enlarged his own conception of what success is. It is not so much getting a good job, as making a good life. It is “NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”
Duke took only eight words to paint that picture; but how revealing a picture it is. It shows us life as what sailors call a cruise. You choose the direction in which you want to go – perhaps even the final port where you want to arrive; wind and weather will head you off from this port, and send you into that one. It shows us life as what motorists call a long trip: you decide whether you are bound; but the detours and the state of the roads, tire and engine trouble, determine whether you can spend the night in this or that tow or inn. Still more discerningly, it shows us life and the universe as a mountain range which we explore. Seeing the summit ahead, we think it will be success to reach that; only to find when we stand on that crest a still higher one ahead… It is the same picture which Paul gave us in that great passage which Dean Brumbaugh read for our lesson… “Brethren, I count not myself… but forgetting… and reaching forth… I press on…” For such an adventurous spirit, no stopping-place is final. LIFE AT ITS BEST IS THE PURSUIT OF A FLYING GOAL: And on that view of life, “SUCCESS IS NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”
Here then are two conceptions of success; two levels on which men live life. Some of us measure it by the place where we spend the night --- as a destination, some of us by the direction in which we are moving --- as a journey. You have been long enough here at the UC to learn much about this difference as it implies to human thought and knowledge. I once heard one of the most famous scientists ever graduated here recall that about 1900 our own catalogue in physics said that all major discoveries had now been made in that field, and there remained only their application in detail. He went on to point out with delight that since then the new physics had either transcended or transformed all the supposed finalities of 1900. So you have found it here in every area of human thinking …….. But you will go out on Tuesday into a world where on every hand dogmas and prejudices and labels are being thrust on us as finalities. This will be particularly true in an election year as bitterly found as 1936. On the one side experiments will be defended as if they were panaceas; and on the other, old formulas that no longer fit in a changing world will be solemnly used to prove that the earth is flat because it still looks that way. In such times, everybody gets to look for the truth as if it were a dogma in which to spend the night. People who so think wake up sooner or later to discover that the truth is “beyond them”. Remember then from your college days that truth is the quest of a flying goal; and keep as you value your intellectual life, your freedom to do your own thinking in its pursuit. FOR SUCCESS IN THINKING “IS NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”
So.. it is also with success in working. Some of you, like Duke may have to flounder around for some time before you find a job, -- still for a man’s life-work, which in these prosaic days has too much dropped out of our vocational vocabulary. It was his “calling”; something he had heard ahead of him like a voice from the possible future; a voice like that which drew Kipling’s “Explorer” on and out into new discoveries…..
Every man’s greatest life-work is like that; and it often takes time and toil to find it. Whistler failed as a soldier and an engineer, and Brooks as a teacher, before they “found their calling”; one as an artist and the other as a preacher. One of the best-known poets in America today started out to be a lawyer --- till he discovered he could never be happy in the law, no matter how much money he made. Money and fame are comfortable inns for the night to be sure; BUT SUCCESS IN ANY REAL “CALLING” IS NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”
Still more is all this true in that area where so many of our most difficult issues lie; success in living together. Here all our social and political dogmatists are urging their particular “ism” on us as a finality. “America must choose”, said a radical preacher in NY last Sunday, “between fascism and communism.” Which reminded some of us of the remark of the negro when his preacher faced him with two roads… “one to hell and one to eternal damnation”… “Well, dis nigger takes to the woods.” You have been here long enough to know that not only fascism and communism in Europe, but capitalism and socialism and democracy itself in America, are none of them the finalities that so many people think. It is particularly important that we Americans, who carry the democratic heritage and faith forward in days when it is being so widely abandoned, should penetrate to this deeper meaning of democracy. Our fathers thought of it as a form of government, and complacently boasted that our own, in the language in which the eagle used to scream, “was both theoretically and practically perfect”. We who live in a city where so many of the processes of democracy are obviously breaking down, and so many of the methods of the dictatorship are so obviously emerging, will hardly say that. But what need we have to realize what our own TV Smith has helped so many of us to see, that democracy is also a way of life: moving forward ever toward a larger measure of justice and opportunity and participation for the common man, and of concern for each and every one of “the least of these”. In the adventure of democracy, “SUCCESS IS NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”
And Above all remember this in religion. Our age like every other is full of those who regard their creed or their church or their latest fad as a closed finality; and in strong reaction from the, those who have abandoned creed and church, faith in God and man, --- and finding no shelter in these, have lost all sense of direction and quest in life, have become spiritual defeatists, and to all the ultimate questions about the meaning of life can only shrug their shoulders and say, “What’s the use?” To both of these, Duke has pointed the way.. Faith in God and man and life itself is not a stopping-place where our questions cease. It is a way of living, wherein we move out and on the higher toward the Highest, in the faith that neither life nor death nor the universe will bring us to the end of the road. Faith in yourself and in others, in God and in immortality, is that kind of an adventure… IT IS “NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY.”

Retyped by Kyle Dane, March 25, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pedigree of Elbridge Gerry Pond

So, every once in a while I start using the hints on and I started looking at one Elbridge Gerry Pond last night. EGP is Raquel's great-great-grandfather. I knew I'd have a good shot with this portion of the family because they were in Massachusetts and Connecticut in the 1800's, an area with lots of coverage on the genealogy sites. This happens to be where large chunks of my family were as well. So naturally I've been looking for crossovers between our trees. Haven't found one yet, but I thought I'd pass this along - this is several generations back on the Pond and related families lines.

Pedigree of Elbridge Gerry Pond

I hope you can see this, it's a scan of a printout from and there's more to it than this. The Ponds and some of the other families go back much further, but I'm still working on them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Letter from Harry Conrad to Charles Conrad, 10/24/1914

This letter was passed along to me by Dick Conrad, who is a descendant of Charles E Conrad. It was handwritten by my great-great- grandfather Harry W Conrad (who was born Hendrick Coonradt). It and came along with two photographs, which I will attach to this posting if I am able. The letter is addressed to his brother Charles Conrad (who I believe was born Edgar C. Coonradt). I will include footnotes at the end because there are several family references that I’ve been able to identify but who were typically identified by Harry only by their first names.

HW Conrad, 49 North Hartman St, York, PA, 10-24-15

C. E. Conrad
Waterloo Ia.

Dear Brother:
Received your letter a day or two ago but am too busy days and too tired nights to write as I am getting pretty good again but will never be able to walk as I did before altho I can walk better than I did when I came here. As you will see by the card I am with a new concern here and shall put them on the map as I did Pullman and when I do shall have stock in the business. The Doctor who pulled me back from the brink of eternity is a part owner in The Bell Motor Car Co and it was thru him that I came here with the firm. We have moved over two miles from where we were so as to be near the office so I can walk to my work in the morning and back after dinner in about seven minutes and they take me in a car the rest of the time. Of course Grace (1) has to take a car when she wants to go to town but everything is brot to the door or she can order it by phone and we are very nicely located. I knew that you had attended to the papers as Joe (2) sent them to me to have me get Verna (3) to sign them as he don’t know where Bert (4) is and they did not know at Tunkhannock (5). Father (6) said that he had heard that Bert was in York State with another woman but he did not know where he was and seemed to feel terribly hurt that Bert had left him to shift for himself and did not seem to appreciate that Leon (7) and Allie (8) was giving him a good home. Of course I did not enjoy the trip as well as I would have as I was so weak and a Nervous break down unnerves one so that I thot the old man (6) would drive me mad. He seemed to think that I came purposely to see him but you just can’t make him hear a word. Went to mother’s (9) grave and found her buried just back of the old Brick burying ground in a piece they are adding on. He had put some small Granite head stones up but I thot if he missed her as much as he said he did that he might at least have kept her grave clear as it was grown up with weeds and little red sumach that you could hardly see it. As I was not able to do anything I just broke down and turned away. We are enclosing some small snap shots which Allie took while we were there. I don’t look as if I had fallen away much and even did not show it much when I first got around again but I never expect to be so near deaths door again and live.
I very much appreciated Clarence (10) signing the release as I felt that we owed that much to our poor old mothers memory and while I felt that you would cheerfully do so I did not know how we felt about the matter. Leon signed it and I have sent it to Verna and when she returns it all that will be left is Bert and I told Joe that he must look after Bert himself. All he seemed to think of was to paw over poor old mothers things and take what he wanted but he did have our own fathers (11) letters written to her when he was in the army which I brot away with me. Leon told me that I should look her things over and if there was anything I wanted to take it but I was not much interested in life then so did not bother them but Allie brot me the letters and asked me if I wanted them so I brot them home.
I well remember what you said when you came back from the east how much Leon had improved when I met him as he is a steady hard working man and certainly has done fine with Allie to keep them all together.
I saw by the Courier that your odd fellow gathering was there last week so presume you were pretty busy. Hope you had a good time. Grace is all worn out from moving and trying to get settled – in face she never has got rested up since I was sick as we just could not keep a nurse. I was irrational and wouldn’t have her around so it made it hard on Grace altho we had a man from the factory nights and all other times we needed help. Grace sends love to all and she will write when she feels better.
Love to all. Ever your Brother, HW Conrad.

Retyped by Kyle Dane, March 12, 2010.

(1) Harry’s wife Grace V (Greene) Conrad
(2) Joe appears to be the lawyer that handled their mother’s estate
(3) Verna is Laverna Rosengrant, the wife of Bert Rosengrant (see 4)
(4) Bert Rosengrant is Harry and Charles’ half brother
(5) Tunkhannock is a small town near Scranton, Pennsylvania where the Rosengrants and Harry and Charles Coonradt had lived when the boys were growing up.
(6) “Father” and “the old man” here refer to Harry and Charles’ stepfather, Charles Rosengrant
(7) Leon Rosengrant is Harry and Charles’ half brother and Bert’s full brother.
(8) Allie Rosengrant is Leon’s oldest daughter. Reading between the lines here, it appears that Leon’s wife died unexpectedly and Allie had to take over the mothering duties for her younger siblings.
(9) Cordelia Bailey is their mother
(10) Clarence Coonradt is Harry and Charles’ oldest brother.
(11) Daniel Coonradt, who was in the 107th Pennsylvania Infantry in the U.S. Civil War and died in a Confederate prison after being captured.

The attached snap shots
Harry and Grace:

Harry, Aunt Cass, Allie, Grace:

Allie, Aunt Cass:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

NBC Genealogy show

I watched the NBC show "Who Do You Think You Are" last night - the first episode with Sarah Jessica Parker. I watched online on my computer because I missed it when it was broadcast.

As I was watching the show, I was looking very carefully, knowing that the Danes have a connection to the Salem witch trials. So when the name "Dutch" went by on the screen, I immediately said to myself - "that's a family name of ours." I was poking around on Facebook and found the group to become a fan of the show, and while there, I found that someone had placed the genealogy of Sarah on Rootsweb . When I looked at that tree, I found that the Esther Elwell mentioned on the television show was born Esther Dutch, daughter of Osmond Dutch. A quick search of my Family Tree Maker database found that I have Osmond Dutch in my file, but not Esther. Instead, I had her sister Alice Dutch.

I also have a handwritten note in the Dane section of the genealogy book that I have that says John Dane, one of my ancestors was a cabinet maker in Salem and was a juror in the witch trials. It also says "Sorrow over mistake at shedding blood." It turns out that this John Dane's father, also named John Dane, had been married to Alice Dutch (they had no children together, and he died in 1683 before the trials. Alice remarried).

Pretty cool to find that my connection to this nationally broadcast show was so close. I am definitely going to keep watching. Pretty fun for a genealogy buff like me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Biography of Francis Smith "Duke" Dane

This is a biography of my grandfather. It comes from two sources. The first is an article from an Armed Forces newspaper clipping. Unfortunately, there is a continuation and I don’t have the second part, so there is going to be an abrupt end to that article. But I have a separate bio from a newsletter from the Tangley Oaks Educational Center, Duke’s last employer which appears to be an almost word for word reprint of the AFBAA article, and it has its own ending, so I’ll tack that onto the end. I will number my own footnotes and include them at the end.

Armed Forces Benefit & Aid Association Journal
August 1976, Volume 3, Number 24.

In days of old, men were bold

There’s an old line – “in days of old when men were bold…” which would apply to a new AFBAA Representative – Francis Smith “Duke” Dane. Here is the story of this most unique and worldly individual.
“Duke” Dane was born on July 8, 1908 in Lexington, Massachusetts. His father (1) was employed by the Hood Rubber Company and worked there for 48 years retiring as a Vice President. One of the three children in the family, Duke’s brother (2) is Dean of Classics at Bowdoin College and his sister (3) has been involved in religious work for many years.
As a 13 year old, Mr. Dane attended a Boys Camp and since he could out-scrap everyone in the tent he was given the title of “Duke of the Tent” and the name stuck.
In high school and college he participated in all sports and dramatics. As captain of his high school football team he played every minute of every game as Quarterback on offense and Linebacker on defense. His playing weight – 128 pounds. In college at Bowdoin he played football and hockey for 2 years. During summer vacations in high school Duke had his first job – selling with the Fuller Brush Company.

Adventures Begin
At age 12 Duke Dane went to sea as the first cabin boy on the maiden cruise of the schooner Bowdoin under commander Donald B MacMillan, an arctic explorer. Upon graduation from Loomis Prep in Windsor, Connecticut (high school) he again went to sea on the schooners Radio and Bowdoin and was on the MacMillan Expedition to the Arctic at age 19.
Following his return from the Arctic he worked his way from the East Coast to the west Coast and back on the Freighter Orleans as a seaman. This was before the dark days of maritime unions when hours were long and the food unspeakable.

Joins Byrd Expedition
In 1933, at the age of 25, Duke Dane joined the Byrd Expedition II in preparation for a trip to the Antarctic. He became head of the dog drivers and working 15 hours a day spent the summer of 1933 training 158 huskies and other drivers for the coming expedition. In October, 1933 they sailed from Boston on the Freighter Rupert with Duke doing double duty as a seaman and dog handler. In January, 1934, they arrived at Little America and off loaded the 54 members of the expedition along with the dogs and their supplies.
For one year the expedition remained in Antarctica. The Antarctic night last from May to October and conditions were unbelievably cruel. In all, Duke Dane and 6 other members skied over 3,000 miles while completing various missions before the winter night set in.
The expedition departed Little America in January, 1935 and had to sail through the roughest seas known to man. Winds in excess of 50 knots caused the ship to take 27 degree rolls through the pounding seas. Upon return to the United States, their ship was met by President Franklin Roosevelt who personally came to the dock to meet them. The Expedition members were sent to the Halls of Congress where they each received a Congressional Medal of Honor.
Duke does not talk about his medal, he feels he didn’t deserve it. But the Congress and the President disagreed so he accepted for his family.
Until World War II came along, Duke Dane had a varied career which included 12 years with Lederle Labs selling special products to Doctors, Veterinarians, Hospitals, Pharmacies etc. where he was involved with hiring, training, and working with men in the field, running periodic sales meetings and overseeing the office staff. As head of the Animal Health Department of Wyeth Labs, he called on dairy and poultry farmers, ranchers, feed lot operators, sheep and cattle men to provide training and conduct lectures. Duke has also had several years in Financial Planning – insurance and mutual funds.
World War II brought new adventures for Duke Dane. He joined the Army Transport Service and was immediate given the tough job as First Mate on a 100 foot schooner which sailed from San Pedro, California for Australia. The trip took 48 days and the discontentment of the crew made it a very rough crossing. After that trip, Duke served as Second Mate in the Merchant Marine on ships all over the South Pacific.

(This is the point of the continuation. The rest is from the Tangley Oaks newsletter “Educator News”, dated June 19, 1979)

When you add to all of this the fact that Duke is also a Kiwanian, a scout leader, sportsman, tennis and squash player, sails, camps, mountain climbs, does church work, gardening, acrobatics and expressive dancing, you know we’re talking about “one helluva man.” In his spare time, he also lectures before school and community groups and other organizations on his travels and incredible experiences with the Third Expedition. His pictures and slide presentations are considered priceless. We welcome you, Duke, to our organization. It’s a pleasure and privilege to have you break the ice with us with your first business during May; and we’re looking forward to many years of close association.

Retyped by Kyle Dane (grandson of Francis Smith “Duke” Dane II), March 7, 2010.

(1) Duke’s father was Francis Smith Dane I.
(2) Duke’s brother is Nathan Dane. Duke also attended Bowdoin, but did not graduate, much to his parent’s chagrin.
(3) Duke’s sister is Marcia Winter Anderson Dane (Aunt Marcia to most of our family).

Chapter II - Biography of Annie Lawrence Edmands

Annie Lawrence Edmands or Annie L Edmands Biography

This is part of a biography of my Great Grandmother, Annie Lawrence Edmands (“Gram”). It is titled only “Chapter II” so I assume there is a Chapter I which I don’t have and perhaps others. It was written, by Marcia W Dane, Annie’s daughter. I received it in an envelope that is addressed to Sarah Lucy Dane postmarked Apr 10, 1973. I’m not sure if that is when it was written.

Chapter II

Gram’s childhood was quite different from Gramp’s. She was the only child of a twice widowed mother living first in Newton, Mass and then, during Gram’s school days in Portland, Maine.

Gram’s father, Farwell James Edmonds (sic) was the ninth of ten children who grew up in Newton. The family were well to do and socially prominent. They owned a large estate called Woodfords. In 1877 Farewell fell in love with an married Marcia Winter Anderson, the middle of three energetic and determined sisters. All accounts indicate and Gram claims that Marcia was the better of the family – lovely to look at, gay and charming and outgoing and kind. Gram says her mother was always at the center of any gathering. Gram does not say, but I feel certain, that her mother possessed the determination to have things her way which was a chief characteristic of her sisters Annie and Frances. Both my great aunts were active in my childhood and from time to time I witnessed the demanding ways in which they controlled their grown children.

On September 11, 1878 Gram was born. Within a year or two Farwell became ill. Before Gram was six, her father died. Gram remembers nothing about him. It must have been some lingering disease like TB or cancer. Gram remembers living in the big house at Woodfords with five uncles. When she was three or four each day at noon she had to put on a clean dress and go to the dining room for dinner with them. Her mother was very strict about her manners. In those days children were to be seen and not heard. One day while the family waited for dinner to be served, Gram became angry and impatient, she doesn’t remember why, and began to cry. Her mother commanded her to stop and Gram threw a tantrum with all the uncles watching. Her mother grabbed a pitcher of ice water and poured it all over Gram. When Gram told the story, she said “That’s how Mother cured me of tantrums. I never had another.” I suspect that incident shows how Gram was disciplined and why she grew up thinking she isn’t as smart and as attractive as most people. Gram stood much in awe of her uncles with the exception of Uncle Lawrence, who is the only one I remember at all. Perhaps her mother did too. It certainly wasn’t a normal life for a gay young matron and a kindergarten child. So it must have been a great relief when Mr. Spring, one of Marcia’s old beaus came and carried them both off to live in Portland.

Gram soon made friends in school and was very happy. Although she had trouble with spelling and arithmetic, she did all right in school – a private day school.

Mr. Spring and his sister, Miss Louisa, were fond of Gram and she of them. Unfortunately he was not a good businessman and lost a considerable amount of the family fortune and two or three years after marrying, he died, leaving Gram and her mother without much money. They lived in two rooms in a boarding house. Marcia made the best of the situation and kept her charm and gaiety. Gram remembers that her own boy friends had as good if not better time talking with her mother as with herself (which increased Gram’s shyness with strangers). All the same, Gram’s high school days were full of fun. She belonged to a large “crowd” of boys and girls who did everything together. Gram tells of bicycling, swimming, tennis, dancing and dramatics, picnics on the beach in summer, sugaring off, and singing in their homes in winter.

It wasn’t customary to go steady by couples in those days, but they had special beaus and when Gram looks at old photos, she picks out the boys she liked best.

Those happy days ended with graduation and Gram faced one of the major disappointments of her life. Her dearest friends went to Smith College. If she had gone, her mother would have been alone and she was not very well. Besides that, it would have been difficult to manage financially. So instead of going to college, Gram and her mother moved from Portland to a boarding house on Beacon Hill in Boston. Gram attended a “finishing school” which she says was a complete waste of time and money. Her only gains were friendship with two girls, one of whom lived in Lexington. It was that friendship with Elsie Tyler which later led to Gram and Gramp settling there.

Another result of the two years in Boston was the strengthening of Gram’s allegiance to the Episcopal Church. All their lives the Andersons were church goers and when Gram was born, her mother wrote the great Episcopal Preacher Phillips Brooks for a blessing for her baby girl. I have the letter which he wrote in reply.

Living in Boston Gram and her mother had a rare opportunity to worship with leading clergy at St. Paul’s Trinity and Emmanuel Churches.

While Gram was in school, her mother spent many days in Newton where her mother lived with older sister Annie. Long before Annie had married a nice ineffectual man, Charles Lord, whom she bossed in fine style. Since he wasn’t good at it, she provided a generous share of their income by running a boarding house and later by dealing in antiques.

So after finishing school, Gram and her mother went to live with the Lords in Newton. Gram’s mother’s illness turned out to be cancer and in 1901 she died in Newton at the age of 52. Gram does not talk of how hard it was for her to help care for her mother. What she does say is that she felt all alone in the world. Aunt Annie and her daughter Bess were good to her and introduced her to their friends, but they weren’t Gram’s friends and she longed for the old Portland crowd.

One of the Anderson men who ran a hotel in Florida in winter and the Mt. Pleasant House in NH in summer, invited Gram to spend Christmas with him. Gram said it wasn’t like Christmas at all. Except Uncle John she didn’t know a soul and when they had their tree, everyone received presents and she didn’t get even one. She was never so miserable in her whole life. She never went back to Florida. But she does remember several happy summer visits with Uncle John in New Hampshire before her mother became ill. Her mother encouraged the young people to have fun. One Elsie Burke became a good friend and has told me how Gram’s mother entertained Elsie’s too strict father so she could join in the fun.

As you will learn in the next chapter, Gram had already met Gramp at Bowdoin and Gramp had begun to call on her at Newton before her mother died. You can imagine how glad Gram was to get back to Newton in January 1902.

Before we go on I’ll give a quick run down of Gram’s cousins as far as I know them. Besides Bess, Aunt Annie had two sons, Robert and J. Anderson. Rob, who died many years ago and left no children was a big, roly poly man – jolly and full of fun. He was a perfect Santa for the family Christmas parties when I was a little girl. I never really knew Andy, but had a teen crush on his second son, Bill, a well-built handsome Harvard student, when Gramp took me to see him play baseball. Today I only know that he lives in Lakeland Florida and has two daughters and a son, all grown.

Bill and her brothers, Jack and Philip Lord, owned and operated a successful tannery near Boston. When wages became too high to be profitable they were smart enough to sell the Massachusetts plant and move the operation to Maine. When modern synthetics reduced profits, they closed out with enough money to retire, when they were comparatively young. Jack and Florence and their daughter Ann live in York Harbor, Maine. Ann is very high strung and has been in sanitoriums more than half of her adult life. At the moment she is at home, planning to give music lessons.

Philip and his wife Priscilla Sawyer live on Marblehead Neck. They have two grown daughters. Priscilla has written several books about herbs, antiques and customs of Christmas, Easter, etc.

The boy’s sister Eleanor is married and has children. I don’t even know her married name or where near Washington DC they live.

Writing of her reminds me that I have not spoken of Windham where Gram often visited and joined in Anderson family gatherings. Windham is a rural community about 20 miles from Portland where the family owned a large tract of farm and wood land. There is a huge old house which in the old days had no conveniences. Gram tells of being scared to death when she had to go to the out-house at night. Of course, the boys especially Bob played all kinds of tricks on her. They had great times in the barn and orchards. In a grove behind the house is the family cemetery where her mother and Aunt Annie are buried. Across the street is another farm house where the family who ran the farm for them lived. Today Windham is just a summer place and Eleanor’s is the only family which spends much time there.

When I was growing up, Gram tried to take us for a day at Windham each summer. When I read Miss Alcott’s book, Little Men, I pictured the house at Windham as the Baer’s plumfield.

Besides those already mentioned, Windham parties included Bess, her husband Charles Beasom and their only child, Betty, who is about 15 years younger than Gram. They lived in Newton where I enjoyed visiting them as a girl. Betty was as independent and stubborn as her aunts and she loved a good time. She taught social dancing until she made a major mistake in marrying a naval officer. He was a fast character and there was a divorce before the year was out. A couple of years later she married another Annapolis man, Ralph Stephan. They had no children. After a few years her father died and Betty lived with her mother while Stephan completed his 20 years. Both women liked old houses and furniture. They bought a cottage at Kennebunk Beach where they spent a month each summer. Betty bought other cottages and amused herself very profitably by furnishing them tastefully and differently in old New England style. Then she rented or sold them. When Bess died and Steph retired, Betty and Steph bought an old house and settled in Kennebunkport. Now Steph is dead, the beach cottages and the old house have been sold. Betty and her dog Heather live in a smaller modern house with the beautiful family heirlooms. She smokes and coughs, enjoys her cocktails and sometimes uses unprintable words Navy style and she is kind and considerate of the ill and old. Since Gram went to Fairlawn three years ago, Betty has sent her a post card or a note every single week!

Aunt Fan (Frances Anderson) married an up and coming lawyer Charles Davis who became a judge. They had five children. One school vacation when I was 10 or 11 years old, I visited the family. What I had anticipated as an exciting week turned out to be the one time in my life that I was desperately homesick. The two older boys Thornton and John, who was in high school, were strangers to me as was the oldest girl, Mary. Marcia and Gardner were a bit older than I and I had played with and liked them. A couple of hours after my arrival, John and Gardner got into a big argument. John chased Gardner all over the first floor, finally fell over something and broke his arm. Aunt Fan, without getting at the cause of the quarrel, ordered Gardner to bed without supper and of course made considerable moan over having the arm set. Mary who became a trained nurse, took John’s part. Marcia and I thought John got what he deserved and that Gardner was unjustly punished. I thought Aunt Fan was very unfair. The whole thing ruined my visit. The interesting thing is that it turned out to be a prophecy of the family relationships.

Thornton who took no part in the whole thing went to Texas where he spent his life in big ranch deals, married late in life and had no children. John was indeed Aunt Fan’s and Mary’s favorite, very stuck on himself and selfish. He married and had four or five children of whom I have not kept track.

Gardner, who was Gram’s Godson, visited us from time to time and was a delightful guest. He graduated from Annapolis and became a commander. His Texas born wife and two children were with him in the Phillipines when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Gardner was not hurt. But he was at sea and the experience and anxiety were too much for Maude. She had to be committed to a mental hospital. Thornton took young Gardner as if he were his own son. Their daughter Maudie came to live in Massachusetts with Marcia who was married and had one son, the same age.

Upon completion of his 20 years in the Navy, Gardner brought Maude out of the sanitorium and set up housekeeping with her in Vicksburg. As long as he was with her Maude was manageable, but one never knew quite what she might say or what would upset her. She enjoyed riding and every year, they came north to spend a month or more always staying in familiar motels. Gardner had infinite patience with her and was thoughtful of us all. When he discovered he had cancer, he committed Maude for life to a fine mental institution in the south. She died there sometime after he had died. So the Davis men of Gram’s generation are gone.

Young Gardner is happily married and has several children and lives in Georgia.

Maudie is also happily married and lives in Belmont near us. They, the James Terrys, have a natural son, Jim and two adopted children, Mark and Beth, in grade school.

Mary took care of Aunt Fan through several difficult years of growing old after the judge died. She now lives alone in an apartment in Marblehead. In her late 70s or perhaps 80, she is a lonely soul who misses John the most.

Tother Marcia, as we call her, lives in a huge old house in Hopkinton, NH, where her husband, Francis Cunningham, committed suicide when growing old became too much for him. She also has an apartment attached to Maudie’s home in Belmont. Gram is very fond of her and is always pleased when she comes down. Her son, Dick, lives in New York City with his wife and two little girls. Having inherited his mother’s talent, Dick paints saleable pictures and teaches painting.

Of the Edmonds cousins, I keep in touch with only one – Frances Clark Thurber, who lives in Natick, Mass. Her mother Fanny Edmonds, and her sisters Helen and Rebecca, neither of whom are living were the only members of the family with whom Gram kept in touch.

So, out of all the many cousins of her own generation, Gram has only two left, Mary and Tother Marcia, both quite a bit younger.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One of my major projects in the last year was to scan and upload a bunch of old photos. I'm going to post some here. Let's see how this goes.

This is my grandmother, Edith Thacher on her wedding day (to Francis Smith Dane II), September 18, 1937.

This one is Leighton Conrad and Maude Sutton, my maternal grandparents. I don't have a date on this one.

Duke Dane (Francis Smith Dane II), my paternal grandfather. In his college years at Bowdoin, so late 1920's.