Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

29 Oct 2016: Celebrate the spookiness of Halloween with the Wells vampires. October 29, 2016

For those of you who have read my blog long enough, you know that not only am I a genealogist, but I’m also an author.  Among my novels is a series I wrote where I used my real life Wells ancestors as actual characters, mainly Randall Wells (1747-1821) and his wife Lois Maxson (1748-1819) of Hopkinton, Rhode Island.   To grant myself my fondest genealogical wish of meeting my 4th great grandparents, Lois and Randall, I took the facts we know of their lives and weaved a story around them, breathing literary flesh over those dry bones of the dates of birth, marriage, death.  Then I brought them ahead a few hundred years and made them living people in the modern age we live in today.

How did I do that?  Well … I made them vampires.  Each book in the five book series reveals more of their story, like peeling back the layers of an onion. So for Halloween, I thought I’d share with you a little of how their story begins to unfold in book one of the series, The Purity of Blood.

To set up the quote below, I will introduce Sara Donnelly, the protagonist of my novels.  Like me, she is also the 4th great-granddaughter of Randall and Lois, at least the literary versions of them.  It is through her eyes that we enter the hidden world of vampires that secretly coexists with the humans of the Earth.  But these vampires are not like the ones of popular culture.  Vampires are not immortal.   They can walk in the sunlight.  For the most part the are solitary creatures that have an innate need to hide their existence from the world.

In this conversation, Sara is talking to Daniel Bennett.  Daniel is the adopted son of Randall and Lois.  He is also a vampire, but though he is well over a hundred years old, he has never killed a human.  He was raised by Randall to be as close to human as a vampire can possibly be, and because of this unique lifestyle, they have extended their lives well past the accelerated aging most vampires experience.

Now read as Daniel explains the beginning of Randall and Lois’ back story.

The Purity of Blood, Vol I, by Jennifer Geoghan. Available now on Amazon.com

Excerpt from The Purity of Blood, Volume I, by Jennifer Geoghan

“So, Randall and Lois. You promised to tell me their story when there was time.”

“I did, didn’t I.” His smile faded a little. “It’s not a very happy one, are you sure you want to hear it now?”

“Well, give me the highlights; you can fill in the details some other time.”

He settled back in his chair and began.

“I guess I have to go back farther than just when Randall became what we are now. You should know that their marriage was arranged by their parents. In those kind of small isolated communities like Hopkinton, most of the time marriages were partnerships more than emotional relationships. Randall will tell you he fell in love with Lois the moment he first laid eyes on her. She, on the other hand, was a sensible woman and only agreed to the marriage because she thought Randall would be a good provider and partner in life. She didn’t love him, but she also didn’t think it was important that she did either.

“He married her knowing this, but he was convinced that in time she would eventually grow to love him. Her sensibilities and his expectations were more common than you would think back then. The lifelong journey together often took two people from strangers to friends, and from friends to lovers. This was what Randall hoped would happen for them in the end.

“Years passed and Lois was an excellent wife providing for all his needs, raising his children and supporting him in every way she could. But he knew she still didn’t love him the way he wanted her too. Still he loved her with all his heart and believed that someday she would return his love with her own.

“Their life went on like this for many years so I’ll skip ahead to 1819 when he was bitten. Randall was an older man when it happened, seventy-four. He had gone out of town for a few days to settle some business up in Providence, I think it was. He was travelling back to Hopkinton in his carriage when he came across what looked like a body in the middle of the road. He got down to see if he could help, but the body was a vampire lying in wait for him. He sprang up, attacked Randall then left him for dead deep in the woods.”

He paused when he saw the look on my face. “You’re wondering why the trap. Why not just drag him down off the carriage and kill him.

I shrugged my shoulders as I chewed.

“Vampires are people too, Sara.”

Then he kind of chuckled when he realized what he’d said. “They get bored and find new ways to capture prey. I have to assume that was why. Anyway, there in the forest, Randall went through his transformation. It took a couple of days he thinks, but you can’t keep track of time when all this is happening to you. The pain is too excruciating.”

“Do you think his attacker meant to leave him alive?”

“He doesn’t know and there’s no way to say for sure now.”

“What do you think?”

Daniel paused for a moment then said “Yes, I think it was probably on purpose. But I’m the only one who thinks so.”

Then he turned to watch a couple at another table kissing in the corner. Although I had no clue why, I think it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, so I changed the subject.

“So what happened next?”

“When he regained his senses he knew something was wrong. He felt the remains of the bite marks on his neck and when he held his hand up to his chest, he couldn’t feel his heart. Even though his throat burned with an overwhelming thirst he didn’t understand, none of it mattered, his only thought was for Lois.

“He ran back to the house only to find her sitting on the back porch waiting for him. She took one look at him and knew something was terribly wrong.

“He told her what had happened, that he’d been attacked and had woken up in the forest. Of course at this point he had no idea what had really happened to him. Then he reached out, took her hand and placed it on his chest so she could feel that his heart no longer beat.

“Did he look younger then?”

“Yes.”

“That must have freaked Lois out.”

“Yes, I believe it did.” He sighed, I think uncomfortable with the subject.

“So what happened next?” I asked as I twirled my fork around in my pasta.

“She started to cry and told him she didn’t want to be a widow. I think part of her thought he was dead already – some kind of a ghost. She broke down and told him how she’d desperately loved him for years, but had kept it hidden from him because of her pride. She’d thought that if she ever told Randall how much she loved him, that things would change between them. She said she wouldn’t be able to stand it if he ever tired of her and looked at another woman. She knew that by denying him what he’d always wanted most, her heart, that she’d kept him all to herself. And here in the end, she finally realized she should have confessed her love for him years ago.

“Randall was stunned, he’d had no idea. He said in that moment of revelation, he could feel the warmth of her hand on his bare chest. Swept up in his lack of understanding of what was happening to him, he felt her blood as it surged through her hand faster and faster, her pulse quickening under her emotions. He could hear her heart beating so loud and so strong. And in that singular moment, he realized that after all these years, it finally beat only for him. He said he’ll never forget how his eyes stared at her hand on his chest, and how he followed the blood in it up her arm until he looked up to see the desperate emotion that filled her eyes. That was when he lost control. The thought of a life without her overwhelmed him and … he bit her.”

Daniel paused for a moment, waiting for me to take in the enormity of what he’d just said.

“Suddenly realizing what he’d done, he dropped her and ran off, leaving her barely alive. He still didn’t know what he’d become, but he knew what he’d done to Lois, and unable to live with the knowledge of it, he fled.

Totally wrapped up in the story, I stared at Daniel.

“You’re not eating, please finish,” he softly urged.

I cut up a meatball and took another bite.

“So then what?”

“I suppose you could say that’s where their story really begins, but let’s save that for another time.”

He reached over and gently placed his hand on mine, and for a moment ran his thumb across my knuckles. It was the smallest of contacts, but even this small sensation generated a tingling down deep inside me. When I looked up into his eyes, he smiled, then pulled his hand back to pretend to take a sip of water as our waitress passed.

I was satisfied for tonight, but I wouldn’t let him forget to tell me what happened next. It would give me something to look forward to. Of course, I was also wondering how I was going to translate all this new information into my genealogy program. I’d have to give that some more thought as well.

I hope you enjoyed this spinet of my novel.  If you’d like to read the entire novel and the four more that follow to experience the entire story of Randall, Lois, Daniel and Sara, go to Amazon.com to purchase the books as either paperback of ebooks:

https://www.amazon.com/Purity-Blood-I-Jennifer-Geoghan-ebook/dp/B00J142WK2

The Purity of Blood, Vol I, by Jennifer Geoghan. Available now on Amazon.com

The Purity of Blood, Vol I, by Jennifer Geoghan. Available now on Amazon.com

-Jennifer

 

16 Oct 2016: Wonderful Images from a Bygone Era. October 16, 2016

While sorting through my Dad’s postcard collection I came across this little packet of pictures from the Europa:

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I’ve always been fascinated by these old ships.  Perhaps because I used to work on one, perhaps because I always wonder if someone’s immigrant ancestor came to America on her.  Either way, the photos in this little package are a wonderful peephole into what it would have been like to sail on such a beauty as the Europa.  Here’s a little info I dug up on her history:  (From Wikipedia)

SS Europa, later SS Liberté, IMO 5607332, was a German ocean liner built for the Norddeutsche Lloyd line (NDL) to work the transatlantic sea route. She and her sister ship, Bremen, were the two most advanced, high-speed steam turbine ocean vessels in their day.

Europa was built in 1929 with her sister ship SS Bremen to be the second 50,000–gross ton North German Lloyd liner. They both were powered with advanced high-speed steam turbine engines and were built with a bulbous bow entry and a low streamlined profile.

Europa and her slightly larger sister ship were designed to have a cruising speed of 27.5 knots, allowing an Atlantic crossing time of 5 days. This enabled Norddeutsche Lloyd to run regular weekly crossings with two ships, a feat that previously required three.

Here are the pictures in the pack:

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The Europa

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Dining Room on the Europa

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Swimming Pool on the Europa. (At first I thought this photo was upside down!)

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Ship’s Interior on the Europa

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Ship’s Interior on the Europa

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Ship’s Interior on the Europa

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Ship’s Interior on the Europa

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Ship’s Interior on the Europa

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Ship’s Interior on the Europa

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Ship’s Interior on the Europa

Anyway, I thought I’d share these photos.  Maybe it will inspire you to watch Titanic tonight.  🙂

-Jennifer

 

15 Oct 2016: A postcard from the past October 15, 2016

A few weeks ago my cousin, Sharon, mailed me an old postcard she’d come across.  It’s from our great-uncle Frederick Kranz to our great grand father John Kranz.  The card  was sent from Cristobal, Panama on December 1, 1919.  Here it is:

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The caption on the front of the card says “Looking Through arches showing guard gates Pedro Miguel, Panama Canal.”

The note on the back of the card says “Monday 12/1/19 Dear Father, Have arrived safe at Colon, Panama and am leaving for New York Thursday Dec 4. I will expect to see you about the 12th of December.”  It is addresses to Mr. John Kranz, 194 Elizabeth Street C/O Empire Wagon Works, New York, U.S.A.

I don’t know as much as I wish I did about what happened to my Kranz cousins.  Unfortunately I never had to the opportunity to sit down with my Grandmother when I had the interest to know the answers to these questions.  Sadly now that she’s gone, I’m left with holes in my understanding of what happened to my greater Kranz family relatives.  When it came to my grandmother’s brother Fred, I suspected he was the Fred Kranz I found on this ships manifest/crew listing I discovered on ancestry.com, but was never 100% certain until Sharon mailed me this postcard.

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According to these papers, Frederick Kranz is listed an ordinary seaman, age 20, from America, height 5’9, weight 158, sailing on the General W.C. Gorgas arriving in the port of New York on October 13, 1919 from Cristobal, Canal Zone.  So these papers confirm that Fred was sailing on the General W.C. Gorgas at the same time as the postcard was sent.  It also confirmed that my great Grandfather did work at the Empire Wagon Works.  He was a blacksmith and made part for wagon wheels, or so my father always said.

Here’s a picture of the General W.C. Gorgas, the ship Fred was sailing back and from Panama to New York on back in 1919:

General W.C. Gorgas

General W.C. Gorgas

Ironically enough, I too have been through the Panama Canal, four times no less!  I used to work on a small cruise ship and we sailed through the canal on our Costa Rica/Panama cruises.  I even remember sailing through the Pedro Miguel locks, one of the three locks you pass through while sailing the Panama Canal.  Here’s some pictures I took of the Canal when I sailed through back in the mid 1990’s:

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The Panama Canal as seen from the deck of the Yorktown Clipper

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I doubt what I saw a I sailed through the canal was much different from what Fred saw.  It’s pretty old school technology.  I wish I’d known of his adventures on the canal when I was there.  I do remember wondering if I was the first in my family to go that far south in the world.  Looks like I wasn’t.  Fred died back in 1984.  I never met him so I have no memories of this man who led such an interesting life. The lesson to be learned here is to ask those questions of your relatives now, before it’s too late to discover the interesting life stories of the generations that came before us.

-Jennifer