A longer version is published here.
This post has been updated with a full scanned copy of the Means Family notebook found here: 1913.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 great-great-great Grandfather and family.
Robert Means born 1689 married Jeane Armstrong, daughter…
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my second mother. I’ve known Muriel all my life. She and her husband Phil and their son, David, were always in my life. Phil is gone now, my Mom and Dad gone too, but my memories of our two families together are vivid.
Every summer, our families lived at Indian Lake in Whiting, Maine. We swam, we sailed, we fished, we spent hours/days boating. We started water sports on a surfboard behind the family boat. The first time Dad took me out on the surfboard, I was four or five. Soon after take off, Dad lost his grip on me and I slid between and under his legs into the water. I remember my surprise to see Dad’s legs fly by. When David and I were eight years old, we learned to water ski. We had to keep up with my older brothers. Soon we were slalom skiing.
David and I explored the woods, tented out, and built a tree house with my brothers, David and Jimmy. It was a fine treehouse on the point, with a porch and a great view out over the lake toward the island. The Watts’ lived in the next cove over. When David and I wanted to get together, we went outside and called like loons. It was the signal that breakfast was over and it was time to hit the lake. On rainy days, there were card games and puzzles. There was no phone and no TV. It was a glorious time in our lives.
Recently I visited Muriel at Avita of Stroudwater, in Westbrook close to Portland, with David’s wife Kate. Muriel has Alzheimer’s disease but her memories of life long ago are as vivid as mine. We talked about all of our antics and fun at the lake. In the photo of us together, I was talking about the old photos of Mom and her before they were married, out on a picnic with the Border Patrol guys. She grinned and said, “We girls were trying to get away with some fun without our parents knowing!” We cracked up laughing. Precious moments.
Mom, far left, Muriel on the right. They were picking cranberries with the Border Patrol guys some time in the late 1930s, or early 1940s.
I have so many photos of our families at Indian Lake. I shall have to pull them out of storage under my eves and scan.
But, for now, if you want to see the fun we had on Indian Lake, watch the old 8mm movies: Growing Up in the 50s and 60s, We Knew How To Have Fun!
The US census forms the basis of much of our family history research. It is often among the first things we search for when trying to answer a genealogical question. However, there are clues that are often missed. Let’s take a look at 5 hidden clues in the US census. […]The post 5 Hidden Clues…
In just under 16 months, there have been 10,718 visitors. Ancestor stories truly are universal.
A big thank you to all of you who have visited!
“Trinidad & Tobago”,12
“United Arab Emirates”,2
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.
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.
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
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.
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!