Sunday, January 20, 2013

Just Like An Onion The Layers Peel Away

Dear Uncle,

Brother Bill and I have been on the road to discovering the depth of the ancestors that we've been focusing on.  Our Beal Boys of the Civil War.

Bill has made contact with folks and institutions all over the US. He's downloaded files and looked at documents and cross referenced and fact checked.  But one of the best connections that he made recently was with the historian in Natick, MA.

This very kind gentleman is also researching the veterans of the war and since Bill had information, a collaborative effort is now the result.

One of the pieces of info sent to Bill was the obituary of your nephew Eleazar Carpenter Beal, son of your brother Calvin and his wife Sally Franklin,  It tugged on my heart.  I knew very little about the man but his obit was just lovely and spoke of the character of the man .  There was even a minor, veiled reference as to his opinionatedness- which as near as I can tell must be genetic in origin as the trait runs true throughout the family.

Eleazars Obituary ran in the Natick Tab shortly after his passing.  Although I do not have a date or page to cite I hope you will bear with me as I have transcribed the obit in it's entirety because I do believe that it is worth reading.


ELEAZAR C. BEAL

Eleazar C. Beal died at his residence on West Central Street, Saturday morning at 2 o’clock.  He was a native of Lyme, New Hampshire, one of fourteen children of Calvin and Sally Franklin Beal of that town and was born August 4th 1825.  He followed the fortunes of the elder children of the family and came to Natick a lad of fourteen years and worked at making brogans attending school in the winter terms kept by Vice President Henry Wilson and Edwin C. Morse.  He was an earnest worker, a diligent and faithful student and from his coming here had always been a resident of the town.  He was an active athletic youth and in the various exercises of that character in Natick was the front rank of the young men of that period.
When Henry Wilson raised the Massachusetts Twenty-second Regiment of Infantry, he enlisted as a private, and was assigned to the teams of the regiment.  He served his full time, receiving an honorable discharge and with the regiment he saw some of the hardest battles of the rebellion.
After his return from the war he engaged in the jobbing and express business and was for fifteen years the local agent of the Adams and the Railroad Express companies, resigning his labors when the infirmities of age compelled him to relinquish active pursuits and manual labor.
He discussed public questions with the same earnestness that he performed big labor: clinging with firm faith to what he conceived to be right and believing in justice with his fellowmen in all his dealings.  His positiveness brought him some antagonisms, but his opponents knew that his heart was in the right place and his motives were for the general good of his fellowmen.  No person was better known in Natick or had a wider circle of acquaintances.  A good citizen, a faithful soldier of the rebellion: he has gone to his rest with his ancestors, brethren and comrades.  He was a member of Gen. Waraworth Post 63 Grand Army of the Republic.  He leaves a widow, a son, daughter and several grandchildren to mourn his departure.
And so Uncle, I am sure you see why I felt the need to  have you read what the citizens of Natick felt about your nephew.  It was a fine, fine tribute to a caring man.
Until the next,
Your Devoted Niece

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Civil War Ladies in Waiting

Dear Uncle,

Since last I posted you, brother Bill and I have spoken with each other nearly daily. The search for more information about our boys, telling their stories, investigating sources, comparing notes, verifying what I have and what he has for information, trying to get the military pages up to snuff on Ancestry has been exciting.  We found that we had so much information that it was beginning to get muddled up.  Ok...I was beginning to get muddled up.  Bill seems to have it all organized in his head.  I, on the other hand who has been living with over 2000+ individuals over the course of the years might have a slip or two when it comes to knowing offspring names at the drop of a hat. And I'm not as young as I used to be and my mind may suffer occasionally from C.R.S. (Oh please do not ask me to explain- you might blush).  But I think I've held my own for the most part.

As Bill writes about our boys during the war I am always aware of the ladies waiting at home.  My "Greats" as I have referred to them. Lucie Whitney Alden- wife of Selah B. Alden, Julia Russell Beal wife of George W. Beal,, Lucinda Barteaux Beal wife of Jesse Norris Beal, Abigail Fellows Beal wife of Eleazar C. Beal, even Delia Beal Gilson wife of Charles Estimer Gilson.

How did they cope with their men off to war? These are just some of my ladies in waiting. As I investigate another branch of our family- the ever mysterious Irish side - I'm pretty sure I have more ladies in waiting there also.  Did they know each other? Did they know of each other? Were they from separate worlds in a small town?  Had their husbands worked along side each other in the shoe factories? Did their men go to war?

The investigation takes another turn! Eventually the Irish side and the Beal side connect, the town was not so large, what are the possibilities?  Where are the clues? What, where , who or when or why?  Questions and answers to look foward to.

Should you have any suggestions I would love for you to let me know.

As Ever,
Your devoted niece

Friday, November 23, 2012

When A Number Isn't Just a Number

Dear Uncle,

As you know, brother Bill and I have been collaborating ( I use the word loosely) regarding our civil war boys. He going in depth and I assisting in research and making sure that the girls of the boys are not forgotten either.  That being said this evenings conversation with Bill had my stomach, at one point, turning into a knot.  We were looking at a PDF file that had documentation regarding the units that our boys were attached to. My reaction to the fact was so immediate, so painful that I literally clutched my stomach. What could possibly have caused such a visceral reaction?

As I have said before, I am so attached to these boys that hearing details about their time in service to the Union is heartbreaking to me and so when my brother said "see that number 1 in that column?" To which I replied "yes", he said "That's Merrill."  The pain was instantaneous.

A simple, single number 1 in a column showing killed in action on a particular date, in a particular battle, for a particular company.  1.  A number.  But you see, it's not a number, that number has a name and it's Merrill C. Beal.  A young man serving for the Union who was the only one of his company killed that day, at that battle.  Merrill, your nephew, another Uncle who belongs to ME.  But that was not all.

Bill then says "Scroll down til you see the next page.  See the date?  See the battle?  See that number 1?   That's George."  Again I felt the punch in the gut.  Two boys. My boys. A number.  Well, by God, not in my lifetime. George W. Beal , brother of Merrill, sons of Calvin and Sally are not numbers.

Page 73 of 119 of the PDF, Second Regiment, Company "M", Casualties By Engagement, 1864, Oct. 19, Cedar Creek, VA.  14th column from the left. That "1" is Merrill C. Beals.

Page 74 of 119 of the PDF, Third Regiment, Company "H", Casualites By Engagement, 1864, May 15 - 18, Yellow Bayou (Bayou de Glaize, LA), 14th column from the left.  That "1" is George W. Beal.

That's who the number "1" is. They stood about 5' 5", had dark hair, blue eyes, were of medium build and had ruddy complexions.  Merrill, 29, a single man, was a meat butcher, George,38, husband to Julia and father to son Lewis age 9, was a photographer. MY boys, MY uncles, YOUR nephews.  Two of THE Beal Boys.

As Ever,
Your Devoted Niece
PS Should you be so disposed just look at this book, this is the link I got from google:

  • [PDF] 

    t Camp Meigs,

    archives.lib.state.ma.us/bitstream/handle/2452/.../ocm39647539.pdf?...
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
    Camp Meigs or the Camp at Readville

  • Should the link not work:
    Reservations and Historic Sites
    Camp Meigs Playground and Fowler Reservation, Vol. I & II
    Preliminary Data Compilation, Cultural Resource Managment Program
    Metropolitan District Commission, Boston, MA , April 1990
    Specifically: Mass Volunteers pages 161 and 163



    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    The "Great " Ladies of the Beal Family - Sentimental Sunday

    Dear Uncle,

    I'm sure you are aware of the chatting going on between my brother and I regarding his latest finds of our Civil War boys.  His blog is fascinating.  http://bealfamilycivilwarstory.blogspot.com/  His latest find came in the delivery of documents  (78 pages) from NARA regarding the Widows pensions for Lucinda Barteaux Beals.

    Lucinda was the bride of Jesse N. Beals, one of our group of Civil War boys from the same Beal family. Lucinda was born in Nova Scotia, 23 March 1837, the daughter of George Barteaux and Eliza Williams.

    Lucinda and Jesse had not been married long when he was drafted into the Union Army.  Jesse came home a very, very ill man.  The pension files have many depostions as to Jesse's condition both during his enlistment and after his return home.  I mention this because it is of no doubt to me that Lucinda was a woman of strength and character who cared for her debilitated husband until his passing.  What is remarkable to me is that like other women of the time whose husbands did not return from war they were courted and won by those men who were available for matrimony

    Many of those men, older, widowed, established, had a field of young bereaved, vulnerable women from which to pick as wife number 2 or 3. Our Lucinda was chosen by a widowed,well established, well placed, politican  who in the end treated her shamelessly and because his actions were so callous, and the neighbors had witnessed and came to her rescue, this heinous individual gave her money to go away and keep the details out of court (and the public). Heaven forbid a scandal should taint this  man.  It was three years before a divorce was filed and granted.  The plaintiff being the degenerate husband, the cause being desertion by Lucinda!  It all seems very clear cut until in her deposition she states that she was advised by her family and close friends not to file a cross complaint because of the nature of her husband and the possible or probable repercussions.

    How many other stories similar to our Lucindas have not been told?

    Julia Russell was born about 1826 in Meridith, New Hamsphire, the daughter of Phineas Russell and Mary Leavitt. She was the wife of George W. Beal. They had been married about 10 years when George was called to duty.  His time with the army was a short 5 months as he was killed in action at Yellow Bayou, Louisiana.  Julia and her young son stayed in Natick.  Julia remained a war widow who ran a boarding house on Central Street.  I would imagine that there were more than a few "eligible" men who would have attempted to court the Widow Beal. That she never remarried is not so much a mystery as perhaps she was being prudent in hanging on to what was hers for the benefit of her son.

    Abby Fellows was born 1830 in Chesterville, Maine.  The daughter of Jonothan and Betsey Leavitt.  She was the wife of Eleazar Carpenter Beal who served in the Civil War for three years.  When Eleazar went to war Abby was at home in Natick tending to her children Abigail age 10 and Wallace age 3.  Abby was a lucky woman, her husband came home from war and together they lived to old age.

    It would appear that the women would be close, if not by affection for each other certainly geographically. They all lived in Natick. Would it be too much to assume that these women would bolster each other daily as news came from the war? Would they not have attempted to comfort each other when tragedy struck their families?  Would they not have held each other standing at the gravesite in Dell Park? Would they not have cried with one another when the news came home but their loved ones remains would be forever lost and an empty grave with a name on a headstone was the only record that they were once loved?  Did they visit one another? Attend church together? Did they ever laugh together?

    I think that these women of that time in our history who suffered so much loss not only from war but from childbirth and disease have gone unrecognized as heroines in their own right.  In the genealogical line they are referred to as "great", in my heart I refer to them as GREAT.

    Uncle, if you happen to see them please let them know that I admire their courage and strength.  Bless them all.

    As always,
    Your devoted niece

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Dad

    
    Dad and Mom 1948

    Robert W. Beale
    1923 - 1971
    
    Dear Uncle,

    Tomorrow is Dad's  89th birthday.  Every year since his passing his birthday is bittersweet.  As you know I was just 18 when he passed so unexpectedly.  The word "Sudden" doesn't even begin to describe how one moment can change so many lives. A wife and 3 children in shock, their world shattered, off balance, surreal, a nightmare all too true. But to dwell on that part is to do a disservice to a man who was so kind, funny, intelligent and yes, handsome. Oh, he was far from a saint...he could be stubborn and he had an opinion and he was a debator and he was a staunch Republican.  There was no "gray area" with Dad.  It was or it wasn't. There were rules, there were commandments, there were laws. You were one side or the other, for or against. And he could confuse us kids.  Many was the time when I'd hear "Look I was raised this way, believing this [that or the other thing] and it's wrong."  So yes, his mind could be changed with facts, statistics and just plain morality. But it wasn't easy.  To discuss subjects with Dad, to argue a point, to attempt to change his mind you'd better have the facts and you'd better be prepared to be aggravated, frustrated, angry, and ready for a "fight". And the satisfaction of winning him over to "your" side was a real accomplishment.  Needless to say all 3 of us children are very good debaters. We all learned, eventually, to stand our ground.

    He had the black hair and blue eyes of much of his line. He was taller than his ancestors at 5'11" and he had the ruddy complexion of the other men in the family.  He was of average build, not small of frame, nor large.  Like much of his family he loved music and played several instruments.  Trombone was his instrument of first choice but he also played Trumpet, Cornet, Violin, and Banjo.  He played well enough to play in the Coast Guard Band and travel with the USO during WW2 .  When he and Mom were married in 1945, Dad only had a few days off duty.  Their honeymoon was aboard a train with the Coast Guard Band and they were serenaded to their compartment by the other bands on board.  My Mom said it was quite an evening and she remembered that Cesar Romero, a very famous actor at that time, was among the group of singers.  He was on board as a member of the USO Tour.

    Dad was brought up in a multi-generational Irish household. The ladies, his Mom, her Mom and then her Mom, were women to be reckoned with. Dad and his father were outnumbered by the girls.  I remember though that there were laps to climb up on and hugs and kisses to be had when we visited. I suppose being grandchildren had it's advantages.

    Dad had a wicked, dry sense of humor.  He had a twinkle in his eye and an eyebrow that he'd raise in question which meant you'd done something surprising, wrong ( as in what were you thinking?) or WRONG - as in your backside was about to be reaquainted with the palm of his hand. Now let me state here and now that spankings didn't happen often.  We knew the rules, we knew the consequences and he suffered more than we did when forced to back up what he said he'd do.  Usually "The Look" was more than enough to keep us all in line, and not just us but the neighborhood kids also.

    As for his humor, well it was usually something totally unexpected that he would do or say that would have us all rolling on the floor laughing. Like the time Ed Sullivan had Rudolph Nureyev on his show.  I ooh and aaahed at his graceful dance.  Whereupon Dad , not to be outdone, leapt into the air, twirled and landed gracefully with a bow and smile on his face. My jaw dropped.  I sometimes wondered if he saved it all up and then just exploded because he just couldn't contain it anymore.  Nowadays it would be known as an OMG moment.

    The phrase "Now the bit here is..." was Dad's way of beginning the explanation of a circumstance.  A way of explaining how things are not necessarily what they appear to be, how one thing may seem one way but digging a little deeper would reveal the real purpose, the motivation.  Dad loved political discussions and election years.  He would have had quite alot to say about this election year.  Of that I have absolutely no doubt.

    I envy those who can describe their parents in depth.  Their various traits and quirks, the minute details, the shape of the face, the angle of a smile.  But I am not that clever.  To me Dad is a feeling.  Warm, protected, defended, laughter, seriousness, strength, intelligence and being loved to the very core of my being.  Happy Birthday Daddy. I miss you very, very much.

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    When Siblings Find Common Ground

    Dear Uncle,

    I'm sure you know brother Bill, my brother the history buff. Well, he has started a blog. Or rather he started one back in July but neglected to tell me about it. It's great! What Bill has done is to focus on our Civil War Boys, the Beal boys. Now Bill is one who reads voraciously and will spend untold hours doing research of an historical nature.  I shouldn't really be surprised that he elected to start this blog because in as much as I, the family historian, would LOVE to do in depth research on a particular person in the tree, I do not have that kind of time at present.  What Bill has done by focusing on our boys is to tell the tale as if he was an observer of the boys during their enlistment.
    Bill has scoured books and records and reports to find out what happened during those days when our boys put their lives on the line.

    Bill has called me on several occasions to relate his latest findings but I am so emotionally involved with these boys that I just could not listen to the gory details without becoming pretty upset.  You may think this silly as the boys are long gone but to me they are family and each time I discover something new it makes them even more alive for me. I can't read about their hardships without having nightmares.

    Bill tells the story so well citing his sources along the way.  If another person wanted to read what Bill has read then the link or source is right there. The story of the 5 Beal boys is an interesting one, not only from the perspective of the Civil War, but understanding what it must have done to their family as well.  The tragedy the family had to overcome.  It is fascinating.

    So my dear Uncle if you have a few minutes to spare please read what your nephew has written at http://bealfamilycivilwarstory.blogspot.com . Go ahead and click this link, it will open in a new tab, that way you can have us both at the same time.

    I must run now, enjoy Bills blog.  I did.
    As ever,
    Your Devoted Niece


    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Irish Eyes Are Smiling - Finally

    Dear Uncle Selah,

    Forgive me for not writing sooner, but surely you understand from all that has been happening these months. In any event I am writing to let you know of the discoveries that I've made on the Irish side of the family.

    You know that the lack of information has driven me to distraction and on more than one occassion has had me cussing like a sailor. It seemed like just when I thought that I had the right individual it was the wrong individual...again. 

    Uncle, you of all people know how much I value tradition and honoring ancestors, and how much I try to impart the feelings of love and devotion to all the generations but....ah yes, the BUT.  BUT the naming traditions along with the large families on the Irish side and the people marrying neighbors in their villages who both had cousins of the same name in another village and they married each other, not to mention the brothers and sisters of one family marrying the brothers and sisters of the other family, and the charts I did  just to keep them all straight, and I know you may be laughing but it didn't seem quite so difficult when I was doing the English side.

    Then again maybe it was.

    Well the discoveries are these: Patrick Morris and Julia McNulty [3rd great grandparents] were from county Mayo. Thank the Lord I've finally made the Mayo connection. Patrick Morris was actually Patrick
    Morrisroe from Swinford, County Mayo, Ireland. 

    Thankfully through the wonderful world of  Familysearch.org, and Ancestry.com and Google and the help of some new found "cousins" we have pieced together the Moran-Greene line of the family and it goes like this:

    Helen Mae Greene daughter of William B. Greene and Ellen  [Mary Ann] Moran.
    Ellen [Mary Ann] Moran was the daughter of Martin T. Moran and Ellen Morris.
    Ellen Morris was the daughter of Patrick Morris[roe] and Julia McNulty. Patrick and Julia had several children.

    Now I don't know if you remember the problem that I had a while back as all I knew was that a Patrick Morris had a wife Julia and some alluded to her last name as being Mac-something. Thanks to Familysearch and their records we've connected a few things up. Thanks to Google, which makes life so much easier, I know where Swinford in County Mayo is and a bit of the history. Thanks to Ancestry for the clues and connections to link "cousins" and things up. Oh and before I forget Uncle, having Brian Mitchells "A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland", has been fantastic!  I've been able to get right down into the townships and villages and parishes and Baronys and all the divisions therein.

    How I wish I had had all of this information 30 years ago. I need to be younger again to discover all that I seek to know. I know the Irish side is smiling now that we've made some headway. And it's very nice to know that when we stopped by the cemetery those many years ago and shouted out loud "Hello! We're here! We've come to find you all!" that I've kept that promise as best I could, that I've been relentless in finding the families and that they are now on our tree with names and dates and places and are not forgotten. 

    Until next time,
    Your devoted niece