My Great Great Grandmother’s Sister Eleanor

My great great grandmother was Elsie Fuller Berry Means. Among the portraits of my maternal ancestors in the Grace Means collection, there is a photo of her sister, Eleanor Berry Phinney.

On the back of her portrait Grace wrote:

Eleanor Berry Means. Second daughter of Benjamin Berry and Sarah Fuller Berry – sister of Elsie Fuller Berry Means.

My grandmother always said “Aunt Eleanor as a girl was the beauty of the family.” This picture – between 70 and 80 – surely confirms that. 

To Will from Grace –

Christmas 1924

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Eleanor was born in 1816, four years before her sister Elsie, and died in 1893 at the age of 77. She was buried with her husband Mattias Phinney (1800 – 1880) in the Churchhill Cemetery, Machiasport, Maine.

Related posts:

My Great Great Grandmother Elsie Fuller Berry Means.

My Great Great Grandfather Otis Witham Means.

My Great Great Grandparents’ Family.

Grace Means Photo Collection. 1924.

Portraits of the Ancestors.

Grace Adele Means.

Andrew Fuller Means.

Eliphalet Scribner Means.

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Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

The cover detail of these albums is intricate. When I first pulled them from a trunk in the attic of my parents ten years ago, I didn’t recognize anyone. I wondered why no one wrote any names in these family albums. Who did they belong to?

I expect the owner/collector of these photos did not envision a time when no one would know the family members in the photos. It was a reminder not to make the same mistake in my lifetime. Have I written on the back of my memorable photos? Rarely. Are photos collected in my lifetime organized? Not yet. I’m working on it.

This year, I open the ancestors’ albums again while sitting in the old rocker my grandmother rocked me in. I gingerly remove the photos to look at the back. There are no names written there; some have the photographer’s stamp. I decide to investigate one album at a time, beginning with the smallest leather-bound one with the clasp, pictured in the front above.

In this album, I find photos of ancestors I now recognize for I have been immersed in them for a time now. The first two photos are of my great-great grandparents, Otis and Elsie Fuller Berry Means by photographer E. Vose in Machias, Maine. The same photos were in the Grace Means’ photo collection sent to the family in 1924. The next two photos are of a young woman that I cannot identify. I turn the page and find my great grandfather William, nearly the same photo is in his autograph book. The photographer was J.M. Goins, South State Street, Chicago. Was William doing business there I wonder?

Most of the album pages are empty, either never filled or distributed among the family. I do not recognize ten of the photos in the album. Are most of these men, women and babies William and his four brothers and sisters at different ages? Perhaps one of the women is William’s eldest sister Harriet, for she was not included in the Grace Means’ photo collection. Whoever she is, she does not resemble William’s other sister, Francis. The photos of this woman were taken in Boston where Harriet lived, as did William’s eldest brother, Andrew Means. I don’t see his two brothers’ likeness in these faces either, Andrew or Eliphalet. But then, I didn’t recognize William’s younger self in the autograph book at first. The elders in the album may be members of the Berry family.

I ask myself questions, think about the research required to find answers. I suppose it will help to just hold each album in my hands and ask whether I have spent enough time with my ancestors to answer these questions.

From the age of my great-great grandparents in the photos, I estimate the date as 1870s. The photographer, Ezekiel Vose, was listed in the 1876 Briggs’ Maine Business Directory. The photo of my great grandfather William is from 1875 or 1876 as the photographer, JM Goins, was located on State Street in Chicago for those two years. William’s age was 20 or 21 years old at the time, as he was born in 1855. The tintype photo of the baby in the carriage could range from 1855 to 1870s. My grandparents, William and Nellie Means were married in 1880. It seems likely that this one album originally belonged to William’s parents, Otis and Elsie Means of Machiasport, Maine and was handed down and stored in the attic where I discovered four old albums over 120 years later.

I’ve explored and documented one album. What might I discover in the other three?

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My great-great grandparents Otis and Elsie Means; My great grandfather William Means.

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Photos that I cannot identify. Yet.

Related posts:

1913. The Means Family.

The Means and Getchell Families.

Postcard Machiasport, Maine.

Circa Early 1900s. The back of the post card reads: The Hugh C Leighton Co. Manufacturers, Portland, ME, USA. Printed in Frankfort, O/Main. Germany.  Place the Stamp Here. One cent for United States, and Island Possessions, Cuba, Canada and Mexico. Two cents For Foreign. This side is for the address.

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The undivided address side of the post card indicates that it was sold between 1901 and 1907.

My great great grandfather, Otis Witham Means, lived in Machiasport and raised his family there. His home can be found in the 1881 Atlas of Washington County Maine, not far from the seashore, just up the hill from where the Gates House stands now. The home of Otis and Elsie Means was torn down years ago. A neighbor told me the house was expansive, had a wide porch with space to drive the lorry under the roof, and huge rosebushes grew around it.

On the 1881 atlas map, follow the seaside road through the village headed towards Bucks Harbor, turn left, O. Means house is the second house on the left.

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“The port” was a favorite place for the Means family in Machias to visit in their lorry in the summer. My grandmother Harriet wrote about it in her 1908 letters.

Related posts:

My Great Great Grandparents’ Family

My Great Great Grandfather Otis Witham Means

My Great Great Grandmother Elsie Fuller Berry Means

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Great Grandparents William and Nellie Means

 

William Gordon Means was born January 15, 1855. Nellie Bly Getchell was born February 15, 1857.

William Means married Nellie B Getchell July 1, 1880 in Machiasport. Their wedding attire is displayed at the Gates House, Machiasport Maine.

They had 4 children: Otis, Harriet, William, Elsie.

Otis Witham born September 22, 1883

Hattie Putnam born February 1, 1885

William Gordon born November 29, 1891

Elsie Getchell born April 30, 1893

My great grandmother’s bible recorded the births of her children. It is of note that Harriet married (and eloped the next day) on her mother’s birthday, February 15th. And, my mother (Louise Johnson) and father (James “Gene” Rier) married on the same day in Portland, Maine, 1943. Nellie, her daughter Harriet and her granddaughter, my mother, were all the same age when they married, 23 years old.

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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:

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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:

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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

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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!