Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Memories - What We Did On Our 2006 New England Summer Vacation

 I have found more of my memoirs that I wrote after some of our summer vacations, and many of them include genealogy highlights. So I'm going to share these memories in a series of posts.  I will try to find some photos to illustrate the posts.


What We Did On Our 2006 New England Vacation 
(August 2006)

I reported about our summer vacation in New England, and was happy to report that New England is still green, a bit soggy, full of stones (many of them in walls), and a great place to visit family and friends and do genealogy research. Especially if all of your ancestors on your father's side are buried there.

The trip was fun, informative and frustrating. We were in Salem NH for 5 days with cousins, then 3 days in Augusta ME to visit my elderly aunt and uncle, a day of travel through ME and NH to eastern VT, and two nights in Chelmsford MA to visit friends and more cousins. We did a bit of sightseeing in Portsmouth NH (Strawbery Banke), Salem NH (American Stonehenge) and Hanover NH (Dartmouth College), plus all the driving in between stops (700 miles or so). I took some of the advice of New England genea-bloggers Chris Dunham and Janice Brown for driving, sightseeing and researching.

Aunt Gerry and Uncle Jim Remley in Augusta, ME

The "fun" and "informative" part was seeing the family and sharing with them. My 89-year-old aunt is the only living sibling of my father, and while she has shared many memories of my dad and their family, I always hope for more detail. 

The cousins knew my dad when they were children, and have a perspective from their own experiences and what they heard from their parents. I passed out my CDs with the "ancestral books" (12 generation ahnentafel reports with notes of my father's parents - in the present state of research; an archive of my family newsletters; and my photo collection of the families) to the cousins. I also took along some 8 x 10 photos of some of the old pictures to stimulate discussion.

cousins Diana, Beth, Virginia and Debby in Salem NH

            cousins Barby and Judy (and her husband Peter) with Linda and Randy in Westford MA

The "frustrating" part was my own failure to take with me enough information about my ancestry - so my trips to cemeteries and libraries were hampered. Hopefully, I'll have a laptop soon and won't make that mistake again.

One of my goals was to get good digital pictures of the family homes and gravestones in Townsend, Ashburnham, Gardner, Westminster and Leominster MA. I went out on the one day it rained to do this, without a jacket, and was generally happy with the results (although my shoes were soaked) - there were no shadows and the flash worked every time. 

The Norman Seaver house in Westminster, MA

The Frederick Walton Seaver family home at 290 Central Street in Leominster MA from 1912-1930

The Frank Walton Seaver family home at 149 Lancaster Street in Leominster MA from 1880 to 1923

I blogged about my NEWTON family mystery before - Thomas J. Newton born in ME, married Sophia (Buck) Brigham about 1832 in Southborough MA, had two children in Cambridge VT, and left absolutely no records. There were two early Maine NEWTON families - Levi Newton and sons in Dixfield ME and Nathan Newton in Andover ME, both in Oxford County.

At the Maine State Library in Augusta, I found a self-published book about the Newton families of Maine - mainly the Levi Newton line. I also visited the Archives to look for Oxford County ME deeds and other court records, but there were no Newton or Seaver records listed in the early indexes. Our trip from Augusta to Vermont went right through Dixfield and we stopped at Newton Brook and Riverside Cemetery in Dixfield for pictures.

We stayed one night in White River Junction VT, near Hanover NH, home of Dartmouth College. My dad attended Dartmouth for two years in the 1930's, and I wanted to see the campus and the town. We drove around, then walked a bit, and had dinner at Molly's right on the main street. We enjoyed talking to our table neighbors and our funny and cute waitress.

In Chelmsford, we visited two cemeteries and took pictures of some stones, but I couldn't remember the ancestors names - hence my "frustration." The highlight here was finding Kimball Farm - the ice cream was excellent!

I did check my email three times and reduced my 100 emails a day down to a manageable number for when I got home. The Gardner MA library has moved to a larger and modern building (local history room is open only on Saturdays). The Chelmsford MA library has a small genealogy room with MA VR "tan books" and some local books, plus some manuscripts. The Maine State Library in Augusta has a wonderful collection of surname books, locality books and periodicals. All three had modern computer hookups and free access, with no waiting.

One of my favorite hours was spent at Merrill Books in Hallowell ME - a great used and rare bookstore with lots of first editions at exorbitant prices. They had a book about Dixfield ME that even the State Library didn't have. I didn't buy anything, but enjoyed the hour while Linda was shopping for angels.

All of our hotels (we travel semi-cheap - Super 8, Econo Lodge, Best Western) had wireless Internet available for free in the rooms - but I don't have a laptop computer so it didn't matter this time.

All in all, it was a good trip!!! We got to see many family members, did some sightseeing and cemetery wandering, and had fun.


While I used a digital camera for photographs of people and places, in 2006 I wasn't smart enough to take photographs of documents.  


Copyright (c) 2024, Randall J. Seaver

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