My Great Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise

They lived in Lubec, Maine in the winter and on Indian Lake in nearby Whiting for the summer. My family had a camp at Indian Lake from the year I was born, so we visited each other often. I have many warm memories spending time with Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise. Since my grandfather Frank Rier died before I was born, his brother Uncle Charlie was special and so was Aunt Louise. They were my other grandparents, as my maternal grandmother Harriet died before I was born too.

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The summer home of Charles and Louise Rier at Indian Lake, circa 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

When Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise got older, they stayed at our family home in Zephyrhills, FL for the winter. Every day, Uncle Charlie went to town with other men in the neighborhood, sat, chatted, and watched the morning go by. Chairs lined the sidewalk outside a restaurant, especially for these men. I can see Uncle Charlie sitting there now, smiling in the sun.

The Rier family home in Zephyhills (L) and Uncle Charlie posing for a photo with a man I do not recognize but he may be from Lubec and visiting FL (R).

My family stayed at the “little pink house” for a month each winter from the time I was five years old until my brothers went to college. Mom collected our homework for the month, so there was school time, and lots of fun time. When we arrived, Aunt Louise and Uncle Charlie stayed in a travel trailer in the back yard so we could all be together for that month.

On my 12th birthday, they came to visit at our home in Machias. Uncle Charlie carried a chest to the dining room table. Aunt Louise smiled and said, “This is the family silverware. I want you to have it and take care of it. Happy Birthday, Sherry.”

I picked up the lid of the old chest and looked inside. My eyes grew wide. There was a beautiful antique set of silverware for 12, complete with forks in four different sizes, carving knives, and serving spoons. I thought of objecting to this large gift but knew that Aunt Louise and Uncle Charlie had no children. I was the girl they chose to keep that silverware safe for the future. I was honored. “It’s beautiful! I will always treasure this gift,” I said as I hugged them.

I still treasure that silverware as I am filled with memories of Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise, and my 12th birthday, when I bring it out for special occasions.

When I researched my grandfather Frank’s family history, I found that Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise (Thaxter) married in October 9, 1908. She was 17 and worked at the (sardine) factory; he was 20 and a laborer. Charles Rier’s parents were Burpee Rier, a merchant in Lubec and Emma Batron, a housewife there. Louise’s parents were Charles Thaxter, a laborer in Lubec, and Mary Preston, housewife.

I also found that Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise had a son on October 14, 1910, stillborn. How sad.

I had heard the name of Dad’s grandfather Rier, Burpee, when I was growing up. I thought it must have been a nickname, possibly dubbed on a baby with chronic colic. Evidently, it was his name legal name, at least as an adult, as shown by these records. Months ago, I had searched Maine vital records for more information on Burpee Rier. I could find no birth record, he was not listed in the 1910 Lubec census.

Yesterday, I searched again, but not in vital records of Maine. I found this site, which may or may not be accurate. It lists Burpee Rier’s parents as Ingraham and Mary Rier, both born in Nova Scotia. Dad always told me the first Rier to arrive in Lubec was Ingraham. He used to point at his tombstone in the Lubec cemetery as we rode by. Then there was the family story about the Rier brothers from Germany who fought in the Revolutionary War as Hessian soldiers and “jumped ship.” One brother went to Nova Scotia and one to Lubec. My theory was both brothers went to Canada after the war, along with other Loyalists, soldiers, and servants hired by the British. If this site is accurate, Ingraham came to Lubec long after the Revolutionary War.

Now I had a lead to search Nova Scotia records for the family of Ingraham Rier, that started with this story about Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise. Very exciting!

And now, there is much more research to be done to track down the Rier ancestors. I am not yet a member of ancestry.com so it will take awhile. I’m also a novice at obtaining census and vital records in the US and certainly in Nova Scotia. Any advice and tips are greatly appreciated!

Related post:

My Paternal Grandfather Frank Rier and the Rier Brothers from Germany.

The California Branch of the Getchell/Berry Families

In the third old, old photo album, there are many photographs taken at studios in California. According to this online document on Berry/Getchell genealogy, my great grandmother Nellie’s eldest brother Osgood Getchell re-located from Marshfield, Maine where he was born, to California. Osgood was a farmer, owned 109 acres along the Pacific coast in redwood country, and built a large family home overlooking the coastline.  This document also shows that Getchell members had lived in California or decades, from the time of the gold rush. I want to get in touch with the family that posted this online, and seek their documentation for this branch of the family.

The first San Francisco photograph that I found was in Thirza Getchell Flynn‘s album. I began to search for a connection between the Getchell, Berry or Means families to California. This is the photograph in Thirza’s album that may be Osgood Getchell. The photo was taken at Edouart & Cobb, a studio located at No. 504 Kearny Street, in San Francisco, California. In 1869, Alexander Edouart joined David Cobb and opened a studio on Kearny Street. Their partnership lasted until 1881. Thus, this photo dates between 1869 and 1881.

In the third album, the gentleman below was photographed at the Newark Gallery at 31 Third Street in San Francisco, L. Richardson, Proprietor. A Google search revealed no information about the photographer or studio.

This couple, perhaps husband and wife as they are side by side on a page, were photographed at Vaughan’s Photograph Gallery, 18 Third Street in San Francisco. This studio was established at that location in 1869 until 1878 when the photographer, Hector William Vaughn, died.

The Vaughan studio also photographed a child who may be this couple’s daughter or son.

This lady was photographed at the Charles Lainer studio at 31 Third Street, San Francisco. I featured her photo in a post about the mystery necklace found at my great grandmother Nellie’s home, since this woman wore a similar one. She may also be a member of the California branch of the family.

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The Wing & Allen studio at 342 Kearny Street in San Francisco photographed these two women and one child. One of the women and the child have names written on the back of the photo, Alice and Ethie Hamer. I can find no information on the relationship of the Getchell or Berry families with the Hamer family. It will require more investigation. But Alice Hamer and the other woman may be friends of the family. The photos date between 1873 and 1876 when Wing & Allen’s Ferrotype Gallery was at that location.

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Two boys were photographed at the Brown & Otto studio, 28 Third Street, San Francisco. I can find no information of the dates that studio was at that location.

The Getchell/Berry family document, mentioned above, notes that direct descendants of my ancestor Joseph Getchell III, who fought in the first naval battle of the American Revolution in Machias, Maine, relocated to California. How interesting! One new discovery, leads to more research…

Related post:

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

 

Old, Old Photo Album. Part III.

The first photo in the album is of Senator James Garfield, an Ohio Republican elected President in 1881 and assassinated 200 days later. I pondered why this photo was placed so prominently in the album in a previous post.

As I turn the pages of this album, there are images of men, women, children, and babies. I recognize no one – except this lady.

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She is Eleanor Berry Phinney, the sister of my great great grandmother, Elsie Fuller Berry Means.

Only three photos have names written on the back. They may be relatives or friends of the family.

Artie? Elizabeth Sanders. Eight months old. May 1898. Norman Studio. 39 George St. Halifax, NS. The name is curious, if I spelled it correctly, but Artie was a name used for a girl in the late 1800s.

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David Wentworth. Kimball & Ayer, Augusta Maine.

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J. Frank Robinson. October 31st, 1866. Richardson’s Ferrotype, Ambrotype, and Photograph Rooms. 120 Hanover Street, Boston. Another man, who resembles Robinson is beside him in the album, his photo taken at the same studio, no name noted on the back.

 

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There are many tintype photos that must date between 1855 and 1870s, such as J. Frank Robinson and the man beside him above. This woman and two children are other examples.

 

For a number of reasons, I believe all four photo albums belonged to generations of the Getchell/Means/Berry families, although I can’t be sure. One album belonged to Thirza Getchell, my great grandmother Nellie Getchell Mean’s eldest sister. More than one old, old album contains photos of my great grandfather William Means.

There are two soldiers in this third album. Placed in a photo slot beside one of the men, there is a woman who posed with the same chair, perhaps his wife. All three photos were taken at the studio of Keith & Ross Photographers, Machias, Maine. I can find no information on this studio and the dates it was located in Machias. I am currently seeking more information on soldiers uniforms, what regiment they served in, and their identities.

 

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There are many other photos from the studios in Machias, likely members of the Means, Getchell and Berry families located in Machias and surrounding towns.

The Machias photographer of these two girls was Ezekiel Vose, listed in the 1876 Briggs’ Maine Business Directory.

 

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One photo of a beautiful woman and child was taken at S. Wasgatt studio in Milbridge, ME. I can find no information on this studio as yet.

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The man on the left below was photographed at the same Chicago studio as my great grandfather William Means at age 21 (R).  JM Goins was located on State Street in Chicago for two years, 1875 and 1876.

 

The man, woman and children below were photographed in Boston by W. Shaw Warren at 41 Winter Street. W. S. Warren worked as a photographer at that location from 1870 to 1874. (Source: A directory of Massachusetts photographers, 1839-1900; research by Chris Steele & Ronald Polito; edited by Ronald Polito, c1993, p. 133.)

 

The Genelli studio in Sioux City, Iowa photographed this woman.

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There are photographs of men and women in this album, and others, taken by a studio in San Francisco, California. According to this online document on Berry/Getchell genealogy, my great grandmother Nellie’s eldest brother Osgood Getchell re-located from Marshfield, Maine where he was born, to California. Osgood was a farmer, owned 109 acres along the Pacific coast in redwood country, and built a large family home overlooking the coastline.  This document also shows that Getchell members had lived in California or decades, from the time of the gold rush.

I will focus on the California branch of the Getchell family in a future post. My head is spinning…

Among many questions and uncertainty, it is clear that my ancestors had relatives and friends spread across the US and the Canadian Maritimes in the latter part of the 1800s, from Downeast Maine to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Boston, Chicago, Sioux City, San Francisco and the Pacific coast.

 

My Ancestors’ Old, Old Photo Album and James Garfield.

I begin to peruse the third old photo album found in my great grandmother’s home where I grew up. I turn the page and find the first photograph is of Senator James Garfield taken by the G.W. Pach studio in NYC.

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Perhaps the James Garfield photo will give me a clue to the time period of this album?

According to the NY historical society, Gustavus Pach’s studio was located at 841 Broadway from 1877 to 1881. Between 1881 and 1890, the studio was listed under the Pach Brothers at this location. From the 1870s, the Pach brothers operated studios at Harvard, Yale, West Point, and Long Branch NJ also noted on the back of the photo.

From the 1870s, the Pach Brothers made portraits of elite families including George W Childs, Anthony Drexil and their close friend Ulysses S. Grant. Impressed with the brothers’ photographic work, Grant, Childs, and Drexel pooled funds to underwrite the Pach brothers’ first photographic studio built at Long Branch on the grounds of the United States Hotel, as well as their mobile horse-drawn darkroom. Long Branch was a shore town that was a favorite resort for wealthy Philadelphians such as Childs and Drexel.

I learn that the Pach brothers were photographers for elite families and Ulysses S Grant. It makes sense they also photographed James Garfield.

When was Garfield a US Senator? He was an Ohio Republican elected to the US Senate in 1859 until 1862, when he was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1881, Garfield was elected President after nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. His Presidency was impactful, but cut short after 200 days when he was assassinated.

The Pach photography studio was at this NY location from the 1870s when Garfield was not a Senator.  Another mystery.

Why did Garfield hold such a special place in this photo album? My ancestors were Maine Republicans. My great great grandfather Otis Means was a member of the Maine Legislature in the 1860s/1870s era.

I search for a connection between Garfield and Maine and find that his secretary of State was Maine’s own James G Blaine. Garfield and Blaine had both served in the US House of Representatives between 1863 and 1876, both had fought government corruption and opposed the powerful“stalwarts” faction that sought control of the Republican party.

Blaine stood by Garfield’s side when the assassin’s bullet struck.

I can only guess when this was inserted into the album, but perhaps it was in response Garfield’s horrific assassination with Blaine by his side in 1881.

This image may depict Garfield, his assassin, and Blaine. The man on the far left resembles Blaine.

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Last year, I watched an excellent PBS documentary on James Garfield. You can watch it here.

More on this photo album in an upcoming post!

Related posts:

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa late 1800s. Part II.

Dad’s Futuristic Car. 1935.

Lubec, Maine, the most easterly town in the US.

Dad liked to build (and fix) anything. When he was 20 years old, he and his best friend Bud McCaslin built a futuristic car in his father’s garage. Dad (R) and Bud (L) posed for a photo beside the car, the garage and Johnson Bay in the background.

How cool is that? Happy Father’s Day Dad!

 

On Father’s Day, Remembering My Dad James Eugene Rier — Voices of Ancestors

The Early Years: 1914 – 1942 Dad was born September 9th, 1914 in Lubec, Maine, the second child and first son of Frank and Elizabeth Keegan Rier. He had an elder sister Marion. As the years went by, Dad had four brothers: Francis (“Babe”), Julian (“Barney”), Paul, Raymond and three more sisters: Evelyn, Patrica and […]

via My Dad James Eugene Rier — Voices of Ancestors

Mom Hanging Out with Friends — Voices of Ancestors

Machias and Roque Bluffs, Maine. 1936 to 1942. What did girls do? Well, pose on a cool car. Hang out around their homes. Swing. What else? Hang out at the Cemetery, of course. Does anyone know Mom’s friend, dubbed “Tombstone Annie”? No one grows up in Machias without spending summer days at Roque Bluffs. You […]

via Mom Hanging Out with Friends — Voices of Ancestors

This is the most popular post on this blog in the past six months. Originally posted February 6th, the day 665 hits came in! Thank you Mom!