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.

dscn1885

dscn1886

dscn1888

dscn1889

argyll-and-bute-map

Related post:

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

Advertisements

November 1923. Grace Means Letter to My Uncle Bob

My grandmother Harriet’s cousin Grace lived in NYC far from Downeast Maine, never married and had no children of her own. It is obvious that she adored Harriet’s children, Warren  born in Oregon, Robert and my mother Louise born in Machias, Maine. In 1923, Warren was fifteen years old, Robert was five and Louise was almost four. Charles is two, the son of Harriet’s sister Elsie who lived with her parents William and Nellie Means at 24 Broadway after a failed marriage.

That year, Grace was struggling financially but she was sending gifts for the children. She had a story and some fine advice for little Robert.

It reminds me how important “old-fashioned” letters are in a family. And it is a reminder that I need to write letters to my six grandchildren more often. And talk on Skype to the four grands that live in other States and visit once every summer. Time is fleeting…

scan-1

scan-2

scan-3

scan-4

scan-5

scan-6

scan-7

scan-8-1

I don’t have a photograph of Uncle Bob as a child. But he was a handsome man. Robert Means Johnson, at graduation from Machias High School in 1936.

scan-13

 

The Maine Legislature In Augusta

Circa 1870. My great-great grandfather Otis Witham Means of Machiasport is standing far right, with his hands on the shoulders of the man seated in front of him. This portrait was sent to my grandmother Harriet’s sister Elsie, Christmas of 1924, with a portfolio of ancestors’ photographs by Grace Means in NYC. If anyone can identify the other men in this portrait, I would love to add their names. Perhaps they can be found in this book Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Maine.

On the back of photo, Grace wrote:

scan-9

 

My Great Great Grandmother Elsie Fuller Berry Means

She is the great granddaughter of Westbrook Berry one of the “original 16” to settle Machias, Maine and a direct descendent of the first white child born there. She married Otis Witham Means in 1837. This portrait is part of a collection made my great grandfather’s niece, Grace Adele Means. Her mother, Francis Adele died when Grace was a child and she was raised by Elsie Means, her grandmother. Grace sent this collection of ancestors’ photos to my great grandfather William Means, my grandmother Harriet Means Johnson and my mother Louise Adele Johnson Rier in 1924, when Mom was 4 years old.

The Berry family came from Devonshire England with the Mason colony in 1630, originally settled along the Piscataqua River that later divided the states of Maine and New Hampshire.

They eventually settled in Machiasport, Maine where Benjamin Berry took his land title from the Indians at “Berry Farm.”

“This colony brought the first cattle to New England and were looked upon with contempt by the Mass. Colony, for they came to fish not pray.”

“On this land I was born, land always owned by one of the Berry family.” ~ Grace Means

From Grace to William:

scan-1

From Grace to my mother:

“She was the perfect mother. I know for she was a mother to me when God took mine.” – Grace Adele Means

elsie-back

It’s nice to know that I am not the first to blog about Elsie Fuller Berry Means. After a summer family gathering a few years ago, my son Eric Snowdeal III was “photoblogging” about the ancestors!

My Great Great Grandfather Otis Witham Means

From NYC, Grace Means sent portraits of the ancestors to my great-grandfather William Means, Christmas 1924. She also sent the collection to my grandmother Harriet and my mother, Louise Adele Johnson. On the back of Otis Means’ portrait, Grace wrote to William:

otis-means-1

From Grace to Harriet. She packed in family history all along the margins. Grace wanted to make sure no one forgot the Means family and where they originated!

otis-back2

Grace entrusted the portrait collection to my mother and passed on a serious responsibility to the four-year-old.

…”Of Scottish (Clan Menzies) of English-Puritan lineage, his personality and bearing ring true….to the Gaelic origin of the name, Mein or bearing “of majestic expression.” See Red and White Book of the Menzies, Library of Congress, Washington DC. 2nd Edition. One look at his face confirms his origin…’

“Make it your duty and your pleasure, dear little girl to preserve your inheritance and pass onto others when you are as old as your grown up cousin of whom you may think all through the years as having much love for you her namesake…”

otis-louise

 

 

 

 

 

Portraits of the Ancestors

Francis Adele Means.

Often in the last years of her life, Mom asked me to retrieve precious items from upstairs that she could no longer reach, the stairs an obstacle for advanced osteoarthritis.

“There is a big, white plastic bag by the nightstand in my bedroom. The contents are valuable. I want to see it.”

I retrieved said plastic bag. Mom delicately pulled the contents onto her lap, one by one.

“These photos can never be lost. They contain your history.”

I helped her sort through the portraits and read the meticulous writing on the back.  I had never seen them before, never  knew that the Means family were descendents of an ancient Scottish clan, the Menzies from county Argyll. The portraits were a gift from my grandmother Harriet’s cousin Grace to family members, Christmas of 1924. She sent these portraits to my great-grandfather William, my grandmother Harriet, and my mother Louise Johnson Rier. Most survived at the ancestors’ home where I grew up.

Mom passed me the portrait of Grace’s mother, Francis Adele. Grace and Mom both shared her middle name. “Look what she wrote to me on the back of her mother’s photo,” Mom said. “I was only four years old.”

“To Louise Adele Johnson from grown up cousin Grace.”

“She was so fond of her little brother, Louise’s granddaddy that Louise must always love her and keep her picture renewed when it may fade after years. So her memory will be held sacred and coming generations may know and reverence her dear face.”

francis-means-2

The same portrait was sent to my great-grandfather William.

francis-means-1

This House Has a Soul

Appalachian Ink ~ Home of Anna Wess (and Granny)

Some folks will tell you that nothing lasts forever. They’ll remind you, without knowing for certain themselves, that everything that is will soon enough be what was. That dead men tell no tales, and ashes to ashes, and all those other warnings of ends. Those folks cannot see beyond the darkness of their finite assumptions.

IMG_6012

I endeavor to know and see that everything lasts forever. Everything. Me, you, those fabled ashes, all fallen down as they may be. And as for the dead not telling more tales? Oh, yes they do. You just have to know how to listen properly, and see with the right eyes.

And beyond such bold notions of everlasting everything, I am here to tell you one more tale too wild to be true, but is: some houses have souls.

Hearts, too. As broken as yours, and thrice as big, capable of entrapping memories…

View original post 680 more words