Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

17 Aug 2017: Planning a trip to my homeland August 17, 2017

It’s that time of year again when I get to blow this pop stand and head north.  YAY!! I’ll be up in CT/RI on vacation the beginning of October and have started my list of things to do and places to see. HOWEVER, my list is incomplete.

Read to the VERY BOTTOM for things I need help/suggestions for.

Visit Randall & Lois Wells’ graves in Hopkinton, RI.  My annual pilgrimage to my 4th great grandparent’s graves back in the woods.  Let’s face it, not too many of us still can even find them. I usually visit John Rogers grave on the grounds of Connecticut College as well.

Take my favorite hike.  There’s a great Nature Conservancy trail up to Long Pond in Hopkinton. Super scenic, like something out of Lord of the Rings.  There’s a timelessness to the landscape there that seems untouched, like some native American tribe from long ago could come strolling around a boulder.

Visit Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT.  I know, the cheesiest and most wonderful of the chic flicks of the 80’s.  Not only that, the pizza is like … totally awesome (to quote the 80’s) Not sure how well it will fare now that I’ve had gastric bypass, but I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s worth a visit if for nothing but to inhale deeply and take in the scent of wonderful food.  Plus it’s a location I used a few times in my novels so it’s fun to visit.  I ever wrote some of my books sitting at the table in the bay windows up front.

Speaking of food …. I’m also planning meals at Abbots in Noank, CT and Ford’s Lobsters in Noank. I plan on being so tired of lobster by the time I drive out of New England that it will hold me for a long time!

Visit the Lighthouse Museum in Stonington.  Yes, the infamous lighthouse that is the setting for my third novel. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and knew I had to feature it in a book.  I’ll also spend time roaming the streets of picturesque Stonington.

Visit B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic.  Again, after my gastric bypass surgery, this should be an interesting experience.  I love their apple baked goods and plan on sampling quite a bit.

Visit Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway.  Not only my future resting place, but also the current resting place for a good portion of my mom’s side of the family.  I always stop in to pay my respects but also to inspect the condition of our stones and do any necessary cleaning of them that may need to be done.

Fulfilling any Findagrave.com photo requests that are online for the area. Need any photos taken of a headstone in the area? I’ll be checking them out while I’m up there to see who I can help out.  I also plan on updating FAG.com on new burials in Oak Grove and finishing adding photos of all the stones.

Visiting Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston, RI. I’ve never been to a grist mill before so I’m looking forward to learning something new. I’m also in the market for some corn meal to make me some Johnny Cakes upon my return to FL.  

Popping over to Stonington Vineyards to buy a case of my favorite wine of theirs. Sadly, I can’t get it here in Orlando. Also sadly, gastric bypass severely limits how much alcohol I can drink, so that case will last me a couple of year!

Shop Craigslist.com for cool stuff in people’s basements! Sounds odd, but I bought a cool old trunk off of Craigslist last time I was up there from some couple in Ashaway. I’m on the hunt for cool antiques. I’m also looking for some good antique stores to visit if you know of any you can suggest. Not the shiny, all cleaned up kind of antiques, but the paint chipping off, just pulled out of the barn kind. Will also be looking for yard sales and estate sales as well.

If time permits, I’d like to visit Mystic Aquarium.  Haven’t been there since I was a kid.

Pop into the Mystic Seaport Gift Shop.  I’ll be honest and say I’ve been to the Seaport enough that I don’t need to go again …. for a long time, but the gift shop is awesome! I love the book section up stairs too. Always worth a visit.

Get out on the water.  No plans finalized for this yet, but I will get out on the water for a few hours, if not longer. I did a sunset sail out of Mystic a few years back that I could do again, but ideally I’d love to take sailing lessons.  I’m just having a hard time finding a place to do that so late in the year.  Seems sailing season ends the week before I arrive!!!

A day at the Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, RI.  I can’t wait to spend some time here so I can do some research on farm life in the late 1700s.  Valuable info I can weave into my stories of the vampire, Randall Wells!!

St. Edmund’s Severed Arm.  Yes, you read me right. This one just has to be seen to be believed, at least by me.  It’s in Mystic and apparently on display.

CAN YOU HELP ME?

I’m looking for:

  • Good antique stores/malls. Ones that sell reasonably priced items of local origin. Items that are not all spit and polished, but need love and have chipped paint.
  • Scenic hiking trails (other than my favorite up to Long Pond in Hopkinton.)
  • Restaurants that serve good local cuisine.  Rhode Island Clam Chowder?  Johnny Cakes?
  • How can I get out on the water?  Boat tours you can suggest.  I’d even be up for whale watching. Ideally I’d love to take a sailing lesson or two.
  • Know of any places of local history interest like Kenyon’s Grist Mill? I love to learn about local history.
  • If you know where I can buy a courting candle, you’re my new best friend!!!

-Jennifer

UPDATES:

From Bruce: “Know you are connected to the Crandall family. Think about a trip north of Mystic to Canterbury, CT (Windham Co.) to the Prudence Crandall museum. Check their hours – I don’t think they are open every day.”  Thanks, Bruce.  I’ll add the museum to my list of possibles.  I’m sure a trip there would make a nice subject for a blog post.

From Wayne:  “Hi Jennifer – I too am a direct descendant of Samuel Hubbard (my mother is a Burdick), living now in southern RI. We are distant cousins. If you haven’t been, you might consider seeing the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in Saunderstown, and maybe taking the Francis Fleet Whale Watch out of Galillee. BTW, white corn meal is ubiquitous here! Wayne”  Thanks Wayne. I’ve added the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace to my list. Looks really cool. Sadly, Frances Fleet Whale Watching closes in September so they won’t be open.  Too bad, they looked ideal.

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13 Aug 2017: A walk in 1937 Philadelphia August 13, 2017

I discovered this mini pack of photos among my father’s possessions.  It’s dated 1937. Published by  K.F. Lutz of 441 North 32nd Street, Philadelphia.  Not really knowing what to do with them as our family doesn’t have any ancestral ties in the Philly area, we’re going to be selling this item in an upcoming yard sale.  But before that, I thought I’d share them with you.

Philadelphia, 1937: Capital Hall and Independence Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall Liberty Bell

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall Judicial Chamber

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall Declaration Chamber

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall

 

Philadelphia, 1937: Benjamin Franklin’s Grave

Philadelphia, 1937: Washington Monument

Philadelphia, 1937: Pennsylvania R.R. Station

Philadelphia, 1937: U.S. Mint

Philadelphia, 1937: Carpenters Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Interior of Carpenters Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Art Museum and City Aquarium

Philadelphia, 1937: Benjamin Franklin Memorial Museum

Philadelphia, 1937: Delaware River Front and Bridge

Philadelphia, 1937: City Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Christ Church

Philadelphia, 1937: South Broad Street

Philadelphia, 1937: Betsy Ross House

Philadelphia, 1937: Flag Room Betsy Ross House

Philadelphia, 1937: View from Art Museum toward City Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Convention Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: New Post office and Pennsylvania R.R. Station

Philadelphia, 1937: Old Swedes Church

Philadelphia, 1937: The Rodin Museum

Philadelphia, 1937: Masonic Temple

I hope you enjoyed this stroll through 1937 Philly!

-Jennifer

 

22 Jan 2017: It’s here! Get your copy today! January 22, 2017

Yay!!!! My latest book is up for sale on Amazon.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that I finally took the time to gather together my genealogy knowledge in a user friendly how to book for those just beginning their genealogical journey.

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Check it out at: https://goo.gl/eSSZwa

Here’s what it’s about:

Every generation needs a family historian.

Where do we come from and how did we get here? To answer these questions you’ll need to sit down and piece together the story of your family. For over thirty years Jennifer Geoghan has tirelessly traced not only her own family tree, but also assisted many others in doing just the same. Now she brings her wealth of experience to you with this easy to read guide to help you jump-start your family research.

Some of the topics covered are …

  • Interviewing your relatives
  • Understanding Vital Records
  • Making sense of the US Census
  • Uncovering Military Records.
  • How to cite your sources.
  • Top websites for genealogy research.
  • Getting the most from you internet searches
  • Cemeteries
  • Genetic DNA Testing
  • Preserving your family memories

Intended for those just beginning to trace their family history, this Quick Start Guide includes an abundance of useful worksheet, templates and other tools to help you organize your research all in one convenient place.

  • Individual Person Worksheets
  • Family Worksheets
  • Pedigree Charts
  • Family Heirloom Inventory
  • Family Medical History
  • Research Logs
  • Family History Questionnaires
  • Activities to get your kids excited about family history

My book is now available in paperback on Amazon for $4.99.

-Jennifer

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17 Dec 2016: Don’t believe everything you read … on a death certificate. December 17, 2016

As part of my research for my new genealogy “how to” book, I ordered copies of my great grandparents (John and Amalia Kranz) death certificates from the City of New York Department of Records.  What I received in the mail, quite frankly, shocked me.  Amalia’s wasn’t surprising but what was listed on John’s is nothing short of baffling.

Death Certificate of John Kranz

Death Certificate of John Kranz

What is so disturbing is the names listed for his parents, Safaya Kranz and Elizabeth Schmidt.  These are not the names of John’s parents.  His parents were Francisci Xaverii Kranz and Elizabeth Hahn.  Yes, this is the correct death certificate for John.  It has his correct dates of birth and death, has his place of birth and profession correct.  It even has his correct address.

So who are this Safaya and wife?

I can only think that at the time of his death, no family was around to provide the correct information to the doctor about John’s parents. We know that John and his wife, Amalia, were estranged and didn’t have contact for long periods of time.  The back of the certificate says that his daughter (my grandmother) Elsie was the one who hired the undertaker to take his body.  His wife was still alive at this time so I have to assume that if she left that task to her daughter to handle, she was not on speaking terms with her husband when he died. I’m thinking the names of his parents on this certificate are nothing more than the result of the doctor wanting to fill in the blanks.

I really wish I was able to make out his cause of death. There is a family story that John died from the result of injuries he suffered while falling out of a cherry tree while picking cherries to make wine.  I heard he hit his head, but the certificate says that he was admitted to Kings County Hospital on June 28th 1920 and died there on September 13th.  That’s a long stay for a head injury.

Here’s John’s wife Amalia’s death certificate:

Death Certificate of Amalia Kranz

Death Certificate of Amalia Kranz

Nothing too surprising here.  Says she died of stomach cancer, sadly that seems to run on both sides of my family.

If anyone is able to decipher the cause of death on John’s certificate, I’d love to hear from you!

-Jennifer

 

5 Nov 2016: You Should Write a Book About That! November 5, 2016

Since I’m not only a novelist, but a genealogist as well, over the years I’ve had several friends tell me I should write a book about genealogy.  Well, I’m taking their advice and doing just that.

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I’ve started to write a guide for those just starting out on the journey of tracing their family tree.  I’ve helped dozens of friends over the years do just that so I really just have to write down what I’ve been telling people over the last decade or so.

But it’s never that easy.

My “Step One” so to speak is to have the reader gather up as much information as they can find, things they have scattered around the house, littering the back corners of the attic.  My list of suggested items to look for includes:

  • Newspaper clippings
  • Birth certificates or Baptism records
  • Adoption paperwork
  • Marriage records
  • Military records
  • Immigration records
  • Death Certificates
  • Obituaries
  • Family Bibles
  • Old letters or other correspondence written to or from you ancestors
  • Photos of each family member

vital-records

From these items, most people can begin to gather enough information start with before they reach out to relatives and the dreaded internet to fill in the blanks.

Can you think of any other items to tell people to be on the look out for?

Yes, I’m looking for suggestions, so please comment on this post if you feel so inclined.  🙂

-Jennifer

UPDATE: 22 Jan 2017

The book is now available on Amazon.com at https://goo.gl/eSSZwa

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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