Travel:  Genie and Tom Go To Nova Scotia

This week’s #52Ancestors prompt is “travel”. My paternal grandmother, Eugenie (Atwell) Pleau, told me the following story when I was an older child or young teen:

As discussed in these previous posts, my great-grandmother, Eva Christina (Lipsett) Atwell, came from Manchester, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia and eventually settled and started a family in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. Just about every summer, the family would visit Eva’s family in Manchester.  Apparently, the place in Nova Scotia was pretty rustic, which meant going to the bathroom in an outhouse.  Eva made sure to bring extra rolls of toilet paper with them on the trip.

Aug 1952. Manchester, Nova Scotia. Author’s collection.

Example of the plumbing situation at the family cottage. Author’s collection.

One time when my grandmother and her brother Tom were young (it had to be during the 1930s), the family made the long drive up to Nova Scotia.  The two of them must have gotten bored, because they took the toilet paper & let it unravel out the car window, streaming behind them as the car went along.  They must have been really quiet in the back seat, because my great-grandparents didn’t notice anything was amiss until they saw cars pass them, with the passengers pointing & laughing.

Eva turned around and saw what Genie and Tom were doing.  My great-grandfather pulled over the car, and the kids got in DEEP trouble for wasting all that toilet paper!  Yet my grandmother laughed the whole time she told the story.

Family cottage in 1952. Now imagine a car 20 years prior with the family in it! Author’s collection.

U-Turn:  Augusta Eugenia Atwell

Newspapers.com had a free weekend last weekend, so I mined the free goodness as best as I could.  Searching was a little tricky, but eventually I got the hang of it, inputting ancestors names in quotes both normally and with last name first (which was good to find obituaries, by the way).  I decided to search on my grandmother Eugenie Atwell’s name, even though the website didn’t have any Lynn, MA papers. Who knows what would come up?

I was surprised–I came up with an obituary for Eugenie Atwell Paulmier , daughter of William A. and Altie Atwell.  I’d found Augusta under a variation of her middle name (so I’ll refer to her that way from here)! As I mentioned in this blog post, I couldn’t find her after 1913, so I didn’t know if she died, married or what.  Now I have some answers!

The obit said she died on September 12, 1927 in Edgely, Bucks County, PA.  She left behind a husband, Louis S. Paulmier and she was buried in Vail Memorial Cemetery in Parsippany, Morris County, NJ.  No children are mentioned.  I checked out her grave on FindaGrave and her husband’s grave and found that Louis died later in 1950.  I also saw that he had a previous wife (Edith) who died in 1921 (according to her obituary, in Montclair, Essex County, NJ).  So Louis and Eugenie could not have been married very long before she died!

Vail Memorial Cemetery. Courtesy Google Earth.

Now I have more questions:  How did Eugenie meet Louis? Did she meet him in New Jersey or Pennsylvania? Where was she between 1913 and their marriage? When exactly did they marry? And how did she die, anyway? I don’t have these answers yet, but at least I have better questions to research now.

Paternal-Side Christmas: Party!

Growing up, we lived in the next town over from my paternal grandparents, George and Eugenie (Atwell) Pleau. My sister and I saw them often, and every year our family was invited to their annual Christmas party.

Actually, everyone was seemed to be invited to their party, which was held on or right before Christmas (I can’t remember). It was an early exercise in genealogy, as many members of my grandmother’s family were there: Great-grandfather Thomas Atwell, Great-great Uncle Claude Lipsett and his wife Clara, Great-Uncle Thomas Atwell and his second wife Helen, Uncle Tom’s two adult children (both of whom are still living) and my second cousins, who were a little younger than my sister. I remember my grandmother’s cousin, Carolyn Lipsett and her mother Marion. There may have been – no, there probably were – others at the party as well.

An early incarnation of the Christmas party – my first! Pictured are Uncle Claude, myself and Great-Grandfather Tom. Author’s collection.

My grandparents’ house was always decked out in 1960s Christmas kitsch. Giant glowing electric candles at the front door, orange-light candlesticks in each window, a choir of red-robed ceramic angels on the mantle over a fake fire, pretty curly ribbon candy in Christmas dishes on the end-tables. Their small fake tree, decorated with sparkly red and gold balls, stood in the corner where my grandfather set it up under my grandmother’s changing instruction.

At some point in the evening, us kids (me, my sister and the second cousins) got to open our presents. Perhaps it was early in the evening, to keep us occupied for the rest of the night. It was clear that the presents were from my grandparents, not Santa. No matter what the toys were, we’d always get a net sack of chocolate coins in our stockings (which I later learned was a popular Hanukkah thing). I can still hear the sounds of the empty gold foils hitting each other.

Then the grown-ups would talk and talk. There were probably appetizers on the dining room table that they’d eat. For my immediate family, this continued until I was ten, and then we’d moved away the following summer, too far to visit at the holidays. I wish I could time-travel back to the parties to hear what the grown-ups talked about; I bet I’d pick up a lot more family stories!

Third Great-Grandparents John Wesley and Mary Elizabeth (Randall) Williams

Normally, I would go on to write about my great-great grandmother Altie May (Williams) Atwell, but much of her story is covered in my post about her husband. I can say that prior to marrying William Armstrong Atwell, she was employed as a boxmaker. She also has the distinction of being doubly enumerated in the 1880 Census: first boarding in Providence with the Denison Reynolds family, then later in June with her own family in Johnston, Providence County, RI. So I will move on to her parents, who may give a better background on Altie’s life.

The only source I have for the origins of John Wesley Williams is the book Randall and Allied Families, which states that he was born on April 25, 1837 in Cambridge, Washington County, NY to Jason and Lucy Williams. The 1840 Census does show a Jason Williams in Cambridge whose household does have a male under the age of six, so I have no reason to doubt this source.

Randall and Allied Families also states that John married Mary Elizabeth Randall on December 5, 1859. This fact, too, is supported by their presence in the 1860 Census, marked as having been married within the year. Mary was the oldest child of Gorton Bailey Randall and Mary Ann Gardiner. She was born on August 7, 1837 in Providence, Providence County, RI. Although the 1860 Census states that John was a painter, every other record I’ve found (directories, censuses) shows him to be a mason. This has made it easier to pick him out from other John Williams in the area.

The Williamses ended up having three children:

  • Altie May, born November 30, 1863 in Providence.
  • Charles Weston, born February 26, 1869; married Mary Elizabeth Pilou (or at least, that is the only spelling I’ve found) on June 19, 1890; occupied as a house painter; died April 21, 1926.
  • Harry Clinton, born January 13, 1874; married Catherine _____ in 1897; occupied as a sign painter.

Sometime between 1880 and 1885, John and Mary separated. The a885 Census seems to indicate that Mary had custody of Charles and Harry (although that census does not list family units – just individual names – Mary is listed as head of household). As I’ve written before, Mary lived for a time with her daughter’s family during the 1890s.

In the 1900 Census she lived with her son Harry and his wife, and her marital status is shown as widowed. At first I thought that John had died, but the 1903 and subsequent city directories show him as living with his son Charles and his family. In fact, the 1910 Census states that he was divorced! (The truth comes out!) I later found out that stating that one was widowed kind of avoided the social stigma as being known as divorced, so that explains Mary’s status.

Just these little bits of information raise so many questions for me: Why divorce after about twenty-five years of marriage (especially in the 1800s)? How did this impact Altie May and her later divorce from William? Since John and Mary each were living with different sons, how did that affect Charles’ and Harry’s relationship?

John passed away on October 14, 1918 (I assume in Providence). So far, I haven’t been able to tell where he is buried. Mary died on June 20, 1919 in Providence and is buried with her parents and other ancestors in Woodlawn Cemetery, Johnston County, RI.

Fourth Great-Grandparents William and Ann (Armstrong) Atwell: At the Corner of Bleury & Dorchester

As we go back further in time, the data on the Atwell family becomes less direct and more scant. The following is the best of my knowledge.

William Atwell was born around 1804 in England. Supposedly his father was also named William, who had a brother named Richard. According to Aunt Genie, this Richard lent money to my fourth great-grandfather to immigrate to Canada. There, William met Ann Armstrong (born circa 1807 in Canada) and married her on October 14, 1831 at the Holy Trinity Church Anglican Cathedral in Montreal, Quebec.

William and Ann had at least three children:

  • Richard, born February 9, 1833 (whose life I wrote about here).
  • William, born June 14, 1838 in Montreal and baptized on July 1, 1838 at Christ Church in Montreal. I have no other records naming him (I wonder if he may have immigrated to the US?).
  • Ann (or Anna) Jane, born June 3, 1841 in Montreal and baptized on June 8, 1841 in Memorial Trinity Anglican Church in Montreal. She immigrated to the US and ended up in Providence, Providence County, RI (claiming 1860 as her immigration date, though I can’t find her in US censuses until 1900). She never married and worked as a dressmaker (I wonder if she taught her niece Caroline this trade). Anna Jane died on September 2, 1903 in Providence and is buried in the same plot as her brother Richard at Oakland Cemetery in Cranston, Providence County, RI.

There may have been an additional child, for the 1842 Census indicates six people in William’s household; however, I have no other data as to who the sixth person might have been.

For as long as I can tell, William worked as a grocer on the corner of Bleury (now Park Avenue) and Dorchester (now Rene-Levesque Boulevard), and I assume the family lived in the same building. Today this busy intersection includes modern office buildings, so I have no idea how big the grocery store may have been.

Corner of Bleury & Dorchester today.  Courtesy Google Earth.

Corner of Bleury & Dorchester today. Courtesy Google Earth.

Ann died on November 12, 1850 and William followed on September 7, 1858. Both were buried in the graveyard of Christ Church in Montreal. I can’t seem to locate a graveyard at today’s Christ Church, so I don’t know if burials are underneath the church, have been reinterred, or if the church itself relocated when it was rebuilt in 1859.

Third Great-Grandparents Richard and Margaret (Patterson) Atwell

Richard Atwell was born on February 9, 1833, the oldest child of William Atwell and Ann Armstrong. He was most likely born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, although some later censuses say “English Canada” (implying Ontario). He was definitely christened in Montreal that February 17th at the Cathedrale Anglicane, with Robert and Martha Graham as his godparents.

Although Richard isn’t named in records until his marriage, he grew up with at least a younger brother (William) and sister (Ann Jane). He may have helped his father with his grocery business on the corner of Bleury and Dorchester streets.

Margaret Patterson was born around 1831 in Ireland. Much of my information about her comes from her daughter Victoria Eugenie’s (“Aunt Genie”) 1932 letter to my great-grandfather. Margaret’s parents were named Thomas and Margaret, and the family immigrated to Canada in 1841 on the Marchioness of Abercorn. They lived in Matilda, Ontario, Canada (which is now known as South Dundas).

I don’t have any idea how Richard and Margaret might have met. I believe that Margaret herself may have moved to Montreal (perhaps for work?), based on the fact that they were married at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church there on April 27, 1852. I assume that Margaret was the Presbyterian, since Richard had been christened in the Anglican church.

St. Andrews Church, circa 1852, in the left center.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

St. Andrews Church, circa 1852, in the left center. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The earliest record of the Atwells living in the United States was the 1860 Census. Aunt Genie’s letter also states that they moved to the U.S. just that year. They were living in Lowell, Middlesex County, MA. There, Richard worked as a machinist and Margaret took care of baby William Armstrong, born on June 11 that year. To me, the eight years between their marriage and the birth of William seems like a really long time for a nineteenth-century couple to go childless. However, I cannot find any records of any previously-born children (yet).

On September 3, 1864, daughter Caroline L. was born. Some records refer to her as “Carrie”. According to Aunt Genie’s letter, Richard was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1867, so Margaret, by virtue of being married to him would have become a citizen as well.

The following year, the Atwell family moved to Ballard Vale, Essex County, MA (which is part of Andover today). This is where Aunt Genie, the youngest, was born that same year. If it weren’t for her letter, I never would have known that the family spent time in Essex County.

Aunt Genie related how the family moved in 1873 to Charleston, Suffolk County, MA, somewhere near the Bunker Hill Monument. They did not remain there long and moved to the Union Market area of Watertown, Middlesex County, MA. The Atwells moved again in 1874 to Taunton, Bristol County, MA. They stayed there for a while as Richard worked as a clerk in a foundry and machine company.

Finally the family moved to Providence, Providence County, RI in 1881, where William would meet his future wife, Altie May Williams. Although the family lived in various homes in Providence, Richard’s job situation was stable, as he worked as a shipping clerk for Brown & Sharpe for the rest of his life.

Brown & Sharp factory, circa 1896.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

Brown & Sharp factory, circa 1896. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Margaret passed away on October 26, 1898, and Richard followed on June 27, 1902. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery, Cranston, Providence County, RI.

Caroline and Genie never married, but supported each other throughout their lives. Carrie was a home-based dressmaker and Genie, who started as a clerk, became a stenographer. Carrie died in 1927, but Genie lived much longer until January 9, 1940. Both are buried in the same plot as their parents on Oakland Cemetery.

Great-Great Aunt Ida Elizabeth Atwell: On the Move

Ida Elizabeth Atwell was the second living daughter of William Armstrong Atwell and Altie May Williams. She was born on January 20, 1890 in Providence, Providence County, RI. Like her sister Winifred Margaret, she completed four years of high school, then entered the working world. The 1910 Census showed her as a bookkeeper at an “installment co.”. From 1911 until 1914, she worked as a cashier.

On February 11, 1914, Ida married James Garfield Dilworth, a manager from Worcester, Worcester County, MA. I’m not sure how they met; perhaps his business worked with hers? In any case, this was the beginning of their lives together, travelling across the country.

Ida and James remained in Worcester at first for the birth of their first child, Richard A., on January 10, 1915. By 1919, the family had moved to Colorado, first to Denver, then to Aurora, Adams County (which is right next to Denver) in 1920. Here is where their second child, James Garfield, Jr., was born on October 30, 1920.

1923 found the Dilworth family back in Denver, but by 1930, they moved to their final state, California. They lived in various locations in the Los Angeles area throughout the 1930s and in 1940, always in a cute little house. I have to wonder if Ida’s sister Margaret Armstrong was instrumental in getting them to move to this area. Perhaps the sisters had plenty of get-togethers.

Just three short months after the 1940 Census, James died on July 21. Eventually, Ida made her way to San Diego. There she remained until her death on December 3, 1970.

Having lived so recently, I don’t know whether Ida’s sons ever got married or had children. I do know that Richard died on May 7, 1991 in Prescott, Yavapai County, AZ. James, Jr. died August 7, 1990 in Pacific County, WA. He is buried at Fern Hill Cemetery in Menlo, WA.

So why did the Dilworths move around so much? It’s hard to tell, as James, Sr. held down a variety of jobs, such as manufacturing, sales, insurance and real estate. Perhaps he was simply taking opportunities as they presented themselves.

The Dilworth's moves spanned the continent!  Courtesy Google Earth.

The Dilworth’s moves spanned the continent! Courtesy Google Earth.