Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dorothy Stewart Broadfoot, mom

Dorothy Frances Stewart Broadfoot
Mom with boyfriend Bob McClosky before marriage
to my father, Thomas Broadfoot
#52ancestors #16
Two Obits sent in by funeral home, 2002
Before my mother passed away in 2002, I had moved her to a local nursing home from the Rhode Island Hospital where she was admitted for pneumonia and dementia. While she was only there a month or so, she never really recovered from the pneumonia and like many women of her age, she fell and was taken to the Brockton Hospital for treatment.

Fortunately, we had paperwork in hand that stated she did not want heroic measures taken to save her life and she had a clear, lucid moment and talked to the hospital doctor about it. They moved her from intensive care to a regular floor and she passed away soon after. I gathered a few photos from my collection to show the nursing staff and one nurse told me that was a great thing to do because they can't imagine what an elderly patient must have been like when they weren't ill and dying.

I was in the process of working with a local funeral home to be ready. I filled out a form and typed up the information they needed and cut out the resulting obituaries from The Providence Journal and the local (to me) newspaper. The one on the left is from the Brockton Enterprise and the two on the right were from the Providence Journal. Notice the typeface difference. The Providence Journal one I can match to other obituaries in my collection whether they are labeled or not.

In Rhode Island, it was still customary to print the "death notice" (in this case "deaths reported") for free and for a fee, the obituary.  I made this one page sheet for her lawyer to add to the death certificate for the probate court to declare me the executrix of her estate. When all of the paperwork passed, all her property and her bank accounts (already in my name) cleared. This enabled me to sell her home. I often tell people to gather as much evidence as possible because grief is so crippling that you can't think clearly.

Writing an obituary is harder than you think.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Tattie, maternal great aunt, queen of the pop-beads

Dorothy Palmer Barber Bliven
#52ancestors #15

Dorothy Palmer Barber Bliven was born on 7 April 1895 in New London, CT where her father, J. Fred Barber took a job as a barber (hairdresser) and moved his wife Ellen (Nellie) Schofield Barber and his other two children, H. Josephine Barber (my grandmother) and Harold Schofield Barber (my great uncle) from their native Westerly, Rhode Island where he had also been a barber.

My grandmother told me that her first memory of living in New London, was of a parade for returning soldiers from the Spanish American War. (April 1898 – August 1898) She was such a pretty brunette haired, brown eyed little girl that one man stopped and asked her father if she was Spanish! J. Fred's store was on State Street which was probably shut down for the parade. By 1900, the family returned to Westerly. 

Dorothy was petite and blond in contrast to her siblings. As the baby of the family, Dorothy was not "rough and tumble" like her brother and my tomboy grandmother. 

Dorothy was smart, outspoken and good at math, and was the scholar of the family. She lived the rest of her life in the Westerly area.  Her eyesight and hearing were poor but it didn't hold her back. For a time, she did the bookkeeping for her father's automotive business, J. Fred and Son, she also was a stenographer for the Red Cross. Always employed, she was an office manager for the Narragansett Electric. I attended her retirement party hosted by her co-workers.

She was married and divorced from Henry (Harry) Bliven, a young man from nearby Stonington, CT who was an automobile parts salesman. They had one child, Gloria Josephine Barber who died at the age of ten. 

My mother told me that her brother, Evans Stewart, Jr. couldn't say "Aunt Dot" and it came out Tat, so she was known from then on to family as "Tattie". I was also told that she had an out of wedlock child, before he married Harry, a boy, given up for adoption.

I can't prove this and had to coerce this information out of my mother. I asked my father if her knew about this but he shook his head no. He looked surprised. It is a mystery.

After selling the house she lived in, Tattie lived in two apartments before she died. Her friends, Harry and Mary helped her move and as he was an attorney, he took care of her estate. My mother, her niece, was not named in this obituary so I assume a non family member or the funeral home wrote this all too short obituary.

She always came to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with us. When we had the beach house at Bonnet Shores, she would vacation with us. When she gave up driving, my father's family would bring her from Westerly to Cranston and for that I am grateful. My husband and daughter remember her and we say out loud on her birthday, "Oh man, Oh boy it's Tattie's birthday!" as it was her favorite saying and beige was her favorite color. I remember her fondly as a fun, talkative, friendly person.

On 16 Dec 1981, she died in the Westerly Hospital at the age of 86. She is buried at River Bend Cemetery with her father, mother, brother and his wife Martha and of course, her little girl. My parents are buried in the same section along with the paternal grandparents I didn't know.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Anne Crompton, godmother and aunt

Annie Broadfoot Crompton
#52ancestors #14
Not only did I not have an obituary for my godmother and aunt, I didn't even know she died because my mother had passed away and my doctor advised that I take a vacation to relieve my anxiety. My cousin tried to call me but she only had my home phone number and I didn't even know she had called because she called me from her cell phone. If she hadn't called me back a week later, I might have tried to call the nursing home listed and found out from a stranger.

I have searched all the newspaper sites but as I knew she died in Warwick, the obit would have been placed in the Providence Journal. I was so surprised that GenealogyBank had this partial listing because I thought I had no hope of finding it.

When my father, Annie's brother died in 1998, we seated her in the front row with us. My mother and Annie sat side-by-side and it suddenly came to me that the only one of the four children of my paternal grandparents left alive was Annie and she was the oldest. I was appreciative of my now deceased cousin who put her had on my shoulder from the row behind us to let me know to turn around and see that she and the rest of my father's family was there. It was a comfort.

Monday, April 02, 2018

The Widow Bliven

The Widow Bliven
#52ancestors #13
13 May 1971 The Day
Although this person, Mildred Alice Britton Bliven is not my ancestor, she is important because she was the second wife of Harry/Henry Manuel Bliven, the husband of my late great aunt, Dorothy Palmer Barber.  

Through records, I have determined that my great aunt and Harry must have divorced sometime between 1924 and 1929 because he married this woman Mildred Alice Britton and they had their first child in August of 1930. I found that child's birth date from his obituary. I have not found the date of divorce or the second marriage date in many searches.

Mildred was from New York and Harry was a traveling salesman who sold automobile parts. My great aunt must have met him because her father was in the automotive business with his son, Harold Schofield Barber in Westerly, Rhode Island.

My late mother told me that my great aunt had an illegitimate son born to her and given up for adoption when my mother was a toddler. I can't prove that. I think maybe someday, a descendant of that son may find me through DNA, so I keep researching.

My family was not so wild about Harry. He liked fast cars and he scared my mother.  I have found that Harry may be buried in Elm Grove Cemetery because this wife is listed in this obit as buried there in 1971.

The best part about this obituary is that I did not find it by searching for it. It was on the same part as one of my Broadfoot relatives.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Necrology: Rev. Frederic Denison, 2nd great uncle

Necrology: Rev. Frederic Denison, 2nd great uncle
#52ancestors #12
presented by:

One of my most famous relatives was my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza Fish Denison Stewart's brother, Frederic Denison. Born the second child and second son, into a large family of nine children, Frederic was a prominent figure in both Connecticut and Rhode Island history. This necrology is the only obituary that I have located of him and it does contain information that I didn't know before.  This article lists all the churches he ministered at and a list of the books and articles he authored. 

It is the personal information that I couldn't prove (beyond his childhood and marriage) was quite unknown to me. 

He was born in 1819 "in the Old Denison Homestead", which was the home of John Borodell Denison and his wife Phebe Lay and that house was torn down in 1883. The family moved into a house at 6 Willow Street in Mystic in 1839. (Grace Denison Wheeler's book Old Homes in Stonington, p. 99) When he retired, he moved to Providence and rented a house at 28 South Court St. with his surviving single daughter to live a quieter life and finished his writing career.  

Monday, March 19, 2018

H. Josephine Barber Stewart, my beloved grandmother

H. Josephine Stewart
my maternal grandmother

The Providence Journal, prob 28 Jan 1992
found in my family Bible, now in my possession
Like many obituaries in most families, clipped newspaper articles have eliminated the name of the newspaper and the date it was published. This time, I was lucky to find this same obituary (in typed text format) at the subscription site, GenealogyBank on 28 Jan 2018. My mother must have provided the information as it is accurate but quite sparse. My grandmother lived a long time after both her husband (1955) and her son (1951). She also outlived all of the people on her Barber side, including her siblings and her niece. She was 98 years 3 months 15 days old.

My grandmother lived with my parents for a number of years until she began to fail and fall even though she had a walker. The nursing home mentioned is where she fell asleep and did not wake up. I was glad that this obituary mentioned the clubs she belonged to as, like her daughter, my mother, she was an artist.

She would have been pleased to know that her great granddaughter would have two sons. 

Hannah was her first name and she hated it. Even her gravestone, says H. Josephine on it. She was named for her grandmother, Hannah Josephine Taugee/Tourjee/Tourgee (1847-1881) wife of James Albert Barber. That Josephine was said to look just like my grandmother and that's why she was named for her, plus she was almost born on the same day of the month of October and also died at the end of January. She was only 33 years 3 months 9 days old at her death.

Jo rests at Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, CT with her husband Evans and her son, Evans Stewart, Jr.

Not a day goes by that I don't miss her and am grateful that my daughter remembers her. 

#52Ancestors #11

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Evans Stewart, grandfather and business leader

Evans Stewart 1886-1955
beloved grandfather
founder of Victor Cleansing Co. in Providence

Obituary and death notice from 1955, glued into my family Bible
probably the Providence Journal, Providence, RI
The death notice at the bottom of the obituary gives the date of the funeral and burial of my maternal grandfather. I was too young to attend but I remember that my father's sister, Ann Broadfoot Crompton stayed with me until everyone returned from the funeral and the burial. It was a very long day.  My aunt and I sat on the couch on the sun porch at my grandparents home at 205 Wentworth Ave. When the hospital called to say my grandfather had died, my mother and grandmother took the train to Boston and my father stayed behind to confirm the arrangements. My mother told me that that was the only time she saw my grandmother cry. 

From these two newspaper accounts, I gained the name of the funeral home and the date of burial. They misspelled my grandfather's first name which was Evans, not Evan. This is the first obituary in which I am mentioned as grandaughter. My mother's brother died previously in 1951 and I am not mentioned as survivor.

All of the rest of this, I knew except that he was the former director of the National Institute of Dry Cleaners. I might be able to find out which year.
#52ancestors #11

Monday, March 05, 2018

Thomas H. Broadfoot, my father, my hero

Thomas H. Broadfoot, my father, my hero

cross posted with The Highly Caffeinated Genealogist
Obituaries and Death notice for Thomas H. Broadfoot
collection of Hannah Champlin Broadfoot, now in my possession, 2018
Thomas Harcomb Broadfoot (1917-1998)

My dad died in his chair in my parent's living room, comfortable in his pjs, slippers and bathrobe, after enduring the pain of lung cancer for many months. He slowly stopped breathing, just after midnight, with my hand on his arm. Late that afternoon he was talking and ate some food before becoming quiet and unresponsive. That's when the hospice nurse was called and arrived quickly with the pain medication and she called us to come right away. 

After he passed, I called his best friend (now deceased) who lived not far away and he kindly offered to write his obituary and fax it to the funeral home listed in the obituary. Many of the details are incorrect but neither my mother or I thought to correct what was sent. After some months, I sat down and asked my mother which parts were incorrect and we agreed. Now, it is time for me to correct these mistakes in my family tree so my daughter and grandsons won't wonder why what is "in print" was wrong.

The funeral home placed the notice in the Providence Journal and in the Cranston Herald and the Cranston Mirror. I don't think anyone put it in the Westerly Sun which was Dad's hometown paper. Dad was not born in Bradford. He was born at home at 7 Vose St. in Westerly. I continue to research his wartime service.

Many people came to his funeral and my family came to the graveside ceremony.

#52ancestors #9

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Uncle Bill: Family Croquet Champion

From the Family photo collection of Hannah Champlin Broadfoot
given to me by Barbara Trowbridge, now in my family collection, 2018
Little girl was a neighbor and playmate of Bill's.

Uncle Bill
Family Croquet Champion


Obituary from the  Providence Journal Wed. 2 Jan 1991

William B. (Beveridge) Broadfoot [Richmond, RI]
William B. Broadfoot, 71, of 16 River St. Alton and employee of the former Richmond Lace Works, died Monday at Westerly Hospital. He was the husband of Hannah (Champlin) Broadfoot.
Born in Westerly, he was a son of the late Thomas and Annie (Aiken) Broadfoot.
Besides his wife, he leaves a brother, Thomas Broadfoot of Cranston, and a sister Annie Crompton of Providence.
The funeral service will be held Friday at 2 PM at the Avery Funeral Home, Main St. Hopkinton. Burial will be in Pine Grove Cemetery, Hopkinton.

My dad and Uncle Bill's wife Hannah were with him at the Westerly Hospital when he passed away. My dad told me that Uncle Bill gave a little sigh and was gone.

Dad always called him "Brother Bill". Bill was only 15 when his mother died and as the picture of the family has emerged though the years I have been researching, I think Bill must have missed his mother the most.

Dad told me that my Uncle was not expected to live when he was born. He was small and fragile. But, he did live and my dad carried him on his back to elementary school for years. I wondered if his mother had a difficult pregnancy or if she didn't get enough rest because she worked on her feet so hard with three other children to care for.

I knew Uncle Bill had a car accident some time ago and I thought it was that accident that disabled him but no it was not. It was because he was an epileptic since birth. My cousin sent me the newspaper articles about the accident and I think he was lucky to have survived the car wreck.

Quiet spoken and of few words, Bill always said, "Can't complain" when asked about his health. With his red hair and Rhode Island accent, Bill was a good listener. He embraced his love of his parents by learning as much as he could about the places where his parents came from.

Being disabled from the accident, didn't slow him down when it came to playing croquet. Nobody let him win either. When I think about him now, I realize that he most epitomizes what both my Broadfoot and Aiken ancestors looked like and how their mannerisms were in everyday life.

His wife was an angel. She catered to his every need and I don't know what we would have done without her to care for and love Bill. 

#52Ancestors #8

Monday, February 19, 2018

Jack Crompton: Coal Miner's Son

Uncle Jack: Coal Miner's Son

Death Notice and Obituaries from the family collection
of Hannah Champlin Broadfoot, now in my possession, 2018

These words do NOT do justice to the great man that was my Uncle Jack. He is the most interesting person to research and because he was born in the UK, it was fun. His parents came to America and moved back to their home area making the geographic area easy to find. My first cousin 1x removed, lives near there and was interested in what I discovered.

Jack was not only my paternal aunt Anne's husband and my godfather but he was my Dad's favorite person because he actually helped raise my father and was his friend after his parents passed away. We all loved him and enjoyed his English accent. He had some great slang sayings. 

To quote my cousin's wife, "He made the best highballs in the world." Truth.

Because of his days being in the coal mine, he liked things clean. He painted the walls in his house all of the time. You never knew what color it was going to be next. Everyone called him Jack and the information in his obituaries is correct except that he collapsed on the kitchen floor and died instantly. 

In the obituary on the right, probably from the Providence Journal, it says he retired in 1970 after being plant superintendent. I used that information to help me be sure of the date that grandmother closed and sold the business (from the property card 31 Dec 1971). I do think he worked at Victor for more than 20 years and he may have been the first person in my paternal family to work for my maternal family.

He did what was called "wet wash" and the area he worked in smelled strongly of the clean smell of bleach. He monitored the boiler and kept it working during the week and my father checked it on weekends. 
Notice the full date on the death notice. If I hadn't known when he died, the obituary didn't give that information. I will never forget you, Jack.