Me and Muriel Watts

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.

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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!  

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5 Hidden Clues in the US Census — Amy Johnson Crow

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…

via 5 Hidden Clues in the US Census — Amy Johnson Crow

Celebrating Over 20,000 Views From Over 50 Countries

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!

Country, Views

“United States”,18748

“Canada”,372

“United Kingdom”,143

“Thailand”,133

“Romania”,133

“Australia”,118

“Ireland”,72

“Japan”,48

“Spain”,40

“India”,32

“Germany”,27

“New Zealand”,16

“Netherlands”,14

“Trinidad & Tobago”,12

“Norway”,11

“South Africa”,10

“Poland”,10

“European Union”,9

“Kuwait”,7

“St. Lucia”,7

“France”,7

“Mexico”,7

“Brazil”,5

“Philippines”,5

“Greece”,4

“Turkey”,4

“Costa Rica”,3

“Serbia”,3

“Malta”,3

“Switzerland”,2

“Ukraine”,2

“China”,2

“United Arab Emirates”,2

“Egypt”,2

“Sweden”,2

“Suriname”,2

“Croatia”,2

“Russia”,2

“Pakistan”,2

“Denmark”,1

“Austria”,1

“Finland”,1

“South Korea”,1

“Morocco”,1

“Iraq”,1

“Italy”,1

“Malaysia”,1

“Hungary”,1

“Kenya”,1

“Saudi Arabia”,1

“Indonesia”,1

“Sri Lanka”,1

“Zimbabwe”,1

“Puerto Rico”,1

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!

Searching for a Connection Between Lubec, ME and Leominster, MA. 1911.

My grandfather Frank Rier was born in Lubec and lived there most of his life. My grandmother, Elizabeth Keegan Rier, was born in Trescott and moved to Lubec at age 13 to work in the sardine industry. Grammy married Frank Rier on October 12, 1911 in Leominster, MA. They lived in Leominster until around 1924 – 1926, when they returned to Lubec. Grandfather Frank had a garage in Lubec and was an auto mechanic. The family story told was that Grammy’s sister Mary lived in Leominster and her sister Teresa lived in Boston. I assumed that Mary married before Grammy did and lived in Leominster opening the door for my grandparents to re-locate there; Frank worked at the FA Whitney Baby Carriage Company in Leominster as a striper, a skill he learned while detailing cars, or perhaps it was the other way around.

Yesterday I found that Grammy’s sister Mary lived in Lubec in 1920 and worked in the sardine factory as a packer, as did Teresa (who I thought had moved to Boston by then). Mary and Teresa were single and in their 30s at the time.

Does anyone else have family from Lubec/Trescott area that re-located to Leominster, MA to work around 1911? I’m doing a little detective work to find out how my grandfather Frank found a job and married there. Just when one believes you have the family history coming together, something new turns up!

Featured photo: Frank and Elizabeth Rier circa 1940s.

Below: Circa 1920. L to R. Frank, Elizabeth holding their son, Paul, daughter Marion stands beside Grammy, and their son James “Gene” Rier, my Dad, is on the far right.

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