1913. The Means Family

Voices of Ancestors

This post has been updated with a full scanned copy of the Means Family notebook found here1913.Means

When I was in sixth grade, Mrs. Luce gave the class an assignment: write a story about our ancestors. When I got home that day, I told Mom about my homework project. I hoped to write about my grandparents and great grandparents. She retrieved a small brown notebook from a closet draw entitled 1913. Means Family. Compliments of John H. Means Boston to William G Means. William Means was my great grandfather. I knew the book existed for no one could grow up in my home and not hear stories about my mother’s ancestors but I had never read it, nor glanced at the pages.

I opened the little book and read the first page:

Our Ancestors

Our great-great-great Grandfather and family.

Robert Means born 1689 married Jeane Armstrong, daughter…

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Miss Means. Piano Instruction.

If you look carefully, you will see the sign below the shuttered windows upstairs on the right. Miss Means was my grandmother Harriet Means Johnson. Photo courtesy of Michael Hoyt.

A close up of the sign.

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There is a woman in the upstairs windows on the left. She is not my grandmother. I expect the upstairs was divided  – or perhaps she is a parent waiting for a child to finish their piano lesson.

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This is the first photograph I have seen of Harriet’s studio in Machias, Maine. Before today, I did not know the location of her studio above the Machias Lumber Company on Main Street. The building is still there.

Harriet studied piano under the renowned Frederick Mariner who had a summer home on the Penobscot River. Mariner’s studio was in NYC but he accepted gifted students at the Bangor Piano School.

Harriet Putnam Means 1906: Graduation from Bangor Piano School
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Later Harriet moved to Bangor, opened a piano studio there, then eloped with Ezekiel “Zeke” Johnson in February of 1908 – without telling her parents.

Read the Harriet stories, gleaned from her 1908 letters, here.

 

 

Find Your Maine Mason Ancestors

In Maine, when a man petitioned to join Freemasonry, a three by five membership card was created.  You will find links to the nearly 200,000 cards that record deceased members who joined between 1820 and 1995 at mainemason.org. There are some newspaper clipping obituaries included.

I found my great grandfather William Means Sr. who was initiated August 19, 1878. His eldest son, Otis, was initiated in June of 1906. His youngest son William Jr. (Billy) was initiated in November of 1918. William Sr. and his sons were all members of Lodge 91 in Machias.

Dates of death are included, as well as notations if your ancestor moved to another state.

A great resource!

My Great Great Grandparents’ Family

 

Otis Witham Means and Elsie Fuller Berry Means married in Blue Hill, Maine in 1837. They lived in Machiasport and had eight children, five survived beyond infancy. After their daughter Francis died in 1871, Otis and Elsie raised Grace Adele, their granddaughter. Recorded in the “Means Family” notebook written by John H Means of Boston and sent to William G. Means in 1913, their children:

Andrew Fuller born Bluehill May 6, 1838. Married Francis A Sawyer in Machiasport March 17, 1864. He was a physician in Boston. “In War Rebellion.” He died March 3, 1905. She is alive in 1913. They had one son, Harry F, born June 1867, alive in 1913.

Eliphalet Scribner born September 14, 1839. Married Machiasport June 1864 Helen of Robinston.“In War Rebellion.” He died March 10, 1888. They had two daughters, Charlotte K and Carrie A.

Harriet E born September 25, 1841. Married Nathaniel M. Putnam in Boston, August 28, 1864. He died September 5, 1891. She died July 29, 1892. Both buried at Forest Hill Cemetery Boston.

Francis Adele born January 14, 1844. Married J J Drew in Machiasport. She died October 29, 1871. [One daughter, Grace Adele.]

Henry and Henrietta twins died in infancy.

Otis W born August 25, 1853. Died in infancy January 4, 1854.

William Gordon born Machias January 15, 1855. Married Nellie B Getchell July 1, 1880. They had 4 children: Otis, Harriet, William, Elsie. William is my maternal great grandfather. His daughter Harriet is my grandmother.

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Related post:

Portraits of the Ancestors

 

 

 

My Great Grandfather’s Autograph Book. 1877 to 1891.

I hold the small book in my hand. I’ve sat down with it more than once, staring at the pages, reading the autographs accompanied by a few words, hoping the leather gold-embossed book will tell me its secrets.

The first page has a photo of a man that I do not recognize but must be a younger version of my great grandfather, William Means, age twenty two.

The first entry is a greeting from his father, Otis Means. The page is faded and hard to read. I take out a magnifying glass.

“May Heaven bless you is the wish of your Father.” ~ Otis W. Means. Machiasport, February 10, 1878. 

The next page, his mother Elsie writes: “There is a [no] friend that sticketh more than a mother.” Elsie F Means. Machiasport. February 9. The year is not noted.

I surmise the book was a gift from father to son. But, wait. Half way through the book, I find the earliest signature is that of William’s niece Grace, dated February 16, 1877.

“Grace A Means. South Boston. Celebrated Case,” she writes. Perhaps the book was her gift to her beloved uncle for she was raised as his little sister. Grace had a habit of giving gifts to document family history. And by now, I know she had a sense of humor.

A few blank pages before this entry, I find a mystery, a conundrum. It is the signature of Grace’s mother, Francis Adele Means. The Grace Means collection of ancestors’ photos and written documentation of family history clearly states that her mother Francis died in 1871 when Grace was small. Grace produced that collection and distributed it to family in 1924. She was likely in her 50s or 60s. Could Grace have made a mistake in her mother’s date of death? Anything is possible. It’s unlikely there is another Francis A. Means in the family at the time.

So it is possible that Francis Means lived at least seven years longer than I previously thought. I will need to do a search of death certificates.

Francis writes in her brother William’s autograph book:

“I’ve looked these pages through and through. To see what others have written to you. And now I write to thee. These simple words. Remember me.” Francis A. Means. February 28, 1878.

Her words sound prophetic to me, for I know Francis died young, leaving her daughter Grace to be raised by her parents, Otis and Elsie Means.

William’s eldest brother Andrew signed : “What’s in a name? Your Aff Bro.  AF Means. His sister Harriet Means Putnam wrote: “Honor Thy Father and Mother.” Your Aff Sister, HE Putnam. South Boston. February 24th, 1878.

By 1877, many of the entries in the book are to William and Nellie, my great grandparents who married on July 1st, 1880. Nellie’s brother Deola C Getchell writes:

“Nellie and Will. I hope the change that you are to make will be for the best.” Your brother, DC Getchell. Marshfield, 1887.

That entry sounds as though William and Nellie have announced plans to marry and her brother is not all that convinced about the impeding marriage. Or, I am unfamiliar with language from 130 years ago.

A few pages before these words, I find the writing of Nellie’s mother and father, my great great grandparents, Marshfield and Martha Getchell:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Marshfield S Getchell. Marshfield, Maine. March 1887.

“When rocks and hills divide us. And you no more I see. Remember it is – Mother. Who wrote these lines for you.” Martha J Getchell. Marshfield, Maine. March 16, 1887. 

On other pages, I see the signatures of Nellie’s sisters: Thirza Getchell Flynn, and Dora Getchell Flynn. Sisters married brothers, not uncommon. I know that Thirza had a millinery shop in downtown Machias and made women’s hats. By the early 1900s, Dora lived in Brewer. She was watching over my grandmother Harriet, just before Harriet eloped in 1908 without telling her family. Other members of the Flynn family and numerous friends also wrote greetings. They were from Machiasport, Cherryfield, Columbia Falls, and Pembroke, Maine, and as far away as Boston and Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts.

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A list of friends’ signatures from near and far:

“Ain’t she horrid.” Katie L Farrell. Columbia Falls, Maine

“Little Man.” Amy H Johnson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb 8,1878

“May you always be as happy as you are now is the wish of your true friend.” Fannie F. Crocker. Machias, Maine. Aug 22, 1881

Edward L. Lincoln. Jamaica Plains Mass [in] Machiasport. Sept. 22nd ’77

“Remember the clock winder.” Lizzie E. Tobey  1877-10-21

May there be just clouds enough in your life to make a golden sunset.” Your friend, Emma G. Nash. Cherryfield, Maine. February 24th 1880.

“Great thoughts, noble deeds, a life true and holy. Charity open-handed, constant and brave. Good to your fellows, kindness to the lowly. Is the mission of man this side of the grave.” Lydia Bradbury. Machias, Maine. December 22nd ’77

Your friend, Stella A Tarbell. Feb 6th ’91

“Remember me as your friend.” Mrs. OS Lowe. Machias 2-6-91

W. O. Merrick. Boston, Mass [in] Machiasport. Aug 3/79

Edward Merrick. Boston, Mass [in] Machiasport. August 3, ’79

W.E. Tarbell. Meddybemps, Maine.

Emma B. Stewart. Machiasport. Oct 27, 1877

Sarah E. Tobey. Machiasport. Sept 27th, 1877

Your cousin” Georgia J. Robinson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb 9 1878

“Sincerely your friend” Ida F. Warde. Machiasport, Maine Sept. 20, 1877

“That you many aspire to that which is pure and noble. Is the wish of your sincere friend.” Abbie A Grant. Machiasport, Maine. Sept. 17, 1877

Peanuts are nice.” Annie M. Thompson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb. 5, 1878

 

 

 

 

 

 

1913. The Means Family

This post has been updated with a full scanned copy of the Means Family notebook found here1913.Means

When I was in sixth grade, Mrs. Luce gave the class an assignment: write a story about our ancestors. When I got home that day, I told Mom about my homework project. I hoped to write about my grandparents and great grandparents. She retrieved a small brown notebook from a closet draw entitled 1913. Means Family. Compliments of John H. Means Boston to William G Means. William Means was my great grandfather. I knew the book existed for no one could grow up in my home and not hear stories about my mother’s ancestors but I had never read it, nor glanced at the pages.

I opened the little book and read the first page:

Our Ancestors

Our great-great-great Grandfather and family.

Robert Means born 1689 married Jeane Armstrong, daughter of James or John Armstrong. Robert Means died Saco Dec 29, 1769 aged 80 years. Jeane died aged 102 years.

They had six children.

“In the autumn of 1718, vessels came from Ireland via Boston to Portland (then Falmouth) Maine (from Drakes History of Boston). They were descendants of a colony [from] Argyllshire in Scotland and settled in the North of Ireland about the middle of the 17th century. They were rigid Presbyterians and fled from Scotland to North of Ireland (Ulster) to avoid persecution of Charles I. Among them was James Armstrong with his sons John, Simon and Thomas and Robert Means who married his daughter. This colony with Rev Wm Mc Gregor at its head left Ireland in 5 vessels containing 120 families and arrived in Boston August 4, 1718 part settled in Maine and part in New Hampshire. “This company of immigrants among other important services rendered to the land of their adoption, introduced the Potatoe plant which had not before been cultivated in the country: Also the Linen spinning wheel, and the manufacture of Linen.

The spinning wheel had not appeared [on] our shores until the advent of these strange people, and it produced quite a sensation in Boston.

Societies were formed and Schools established to teach the art of spinning flax and the manufacture of its thread. At the first Anniversary of its introduction  ladies with their wheels paraded on the Boston Common for a trial of skill in spinning and prizes were awarded. During four years this novelty held its attraction and then gave way to some new excitement.”

Robert and Jeane Armstrong Means.

They had

Thomas

John born 1722 our ancestor

Sarah

Mary

Dorcas

Jane

The little notebook went on and on. I was hooked. I had two weeks to complete the assignment. I began to transcribe the whole notebook for my own copy – or at least most of it – and wrote an essay about my ancestors. I remember counting how many people descended from Robert and Jeane Armstrong in the ensuing two hundred years. Hundreds. I was one of them.

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Related post:

My Great Great Grandparents’ Family. Otis and Elsie (Berry) Means.