16 June 2014

Happy Father's Day

When I think about my dad, it's not my biological father that comes to mind. The man I call 'Daddy', Alfred Bruce Shepard, was my step-father. He raised me and loved me as if I were his biological child and I am forever grateful for it. When I discovered I was pregnant with my first child, I called him first - weeks before I told the rest of my family. He did not live to see Erica, his first granddaughter, though. He died of cancer two short months before her birth at the young age of 48.
Muriel Hazard Shepard, Alfred Bruce Shepard, and my mom sometime in the 1970s.
Shep, as he was called, was born on 6 August 1939. (Fifty years later, my second daughter, Morgan, was born on that same date.) He was born in Worcester, MA to Muriel Rebecca Hazard and Peter Shepard. He lived in Worcester for most of his life. He served in the Air Force and the Air Force Reserves and spoke fluent Greek. He learned that language while serving in Greece although I only heard him speak it while ordering in the local Worcester pizza shops.

He loved to fish - I used to help clean the mackeral before he fried it up in the pan. He liked to cook and did it often. He worked in construction when we were young but eventually went to work as a guard at the local jail. We took long drives in the country nearly every Sunday and visited relatives every weekend. His favorite deep sea fishing spot was up in New Hampshire near Seabrook. And that's where my siblings and I sprinkled his ashes after he passed on 23 January 1988.
All of us in 1973.
Peter Shepard was born on 14 August 1910 in Coffeeville, Kansas to Anna Bell and Peter L. Shepard. He left Kansas as a young man and made his way to Chicago. At 19 years of age in 1930, he was working as a pin setter in a Chicago bowling alley. He enlisted in the US Army on 9 September 1942 and was discharged honorably on 8 February 1946. He settled back in Worcester with his wife and son and lived there until his death on 16 February 1967.
Peter Shepard
Muriel Rebecca Hazard was born in Worcester on 28 March 1919 to Ruth Ellen Dominis and Charles Sumner Hazard. She taught me how to crochet, how to cross-stitch and embroider, and how to make cookies. Knowing how to cross-stitch kept me sane through many trying years. From those tiny stitches grew my love for beading, quilting and nearly every piece of art I've ever created. She outlived both her husband and her only child - passing on 7 February 1995. I still have her cookbook with her hand-written recipes inside the covers. I still remember all those embroidered pillowcases and handkerchiefs.
Muriel Hazard Shepard
So Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there and to all the moms who do double duty as dads. If you still have your dad with you, give him a kiss for me.


02 June 2014

Suicide by Drowning in the Charles River

While collecting vital records on my Storms ancestors, I came across

The above is from the Massachusetts death records. The date of death was February 18, 1884. The town of Boston records included his burial site which was Mt. Hope Cemetery in Boston. There was no indication of who his parents were or where he was born in either record. I also couldn't find any newspaper articles referencing the drowning. The records state that he was married but no mention of his wife's name.

According to my family genealogy database, Charles is one of my Storms relations. But is this Charles Storms the son of Philip Storms and Rebecca Williston of Vergennes, VT?

Charles H. Storms enlisted in Company K, 55 Reg't Mass. Inf. (Col'd) on 10 December 1863. He was 29 years old and born in Vergennes, VT according to his military records. This would put his date of birth around 1834. By December 31st, he was assigned to Colonel Hartwell as the colonel's private cook. At the time of his enlistment, he had already married Jane Jackson, also of Vermont. "Mrs. Charles H. Storms No 2 Sands' Yard in rear of 880 Washington St Boston Mass." is listed on Charles' military service record as Jane's then current address. I've not located a marriage record for Charles and Jane - not in Vermont or Massachusetts. The 55th regiment mustered out in August of 1865 and Charles along with it.

Charles, Jane and their daughter, Emma J., were living in Boston in 1865 according to the Massachusetts State Census of that year. His occupation was still cook. It looks like the census was taken in January of 1865 when Charles was supposedly still in the service. Charles and Jane and their children continue to be counted in the 1870 and 1880 censuses in Boston.

I was unable to find a death record for Jane Jackson Storms, or a marriage record after Charles' death. Charles and Jane had two other children - George Henry, born in 1865 Boston and May R. born in 1869, again in Boston. I have no further information on Emma Storms or May Storms but son George married twice in his life. His first marriage was to Mina Cota on 8 July 1890 in Haverhill, MA. They had one son, Daniel. George's second marriage was to Fall River Wampanoag Rachel E. Crank, the daughter of Thomas Crank and Julia Simmons. There were no children from this marriage. George Storms died on 9 February 1926 in Providence RI. His parents were listed as Charles Storms and Jane Jackson.

Philip and Rebecca had several children and there is a Charles among them. Philip Storms was born in 1795 in Vermont (most likely Ferrisburg) and died on 25 February 1854. He and his family are included in the federal censuses for Vergennes, VT in 1830, 1840, and 1850. Rebecca Williston Storms and three of her children can be found on the 1860 federal census living in different households in Vergennes and Panton, VT. Charles was not found in Vergennes, Ferrisburg, or Panton, VT. All of these towns had several of the extended Storms family living there. Rebecca Storms died on 15 March 1865 in Panton, VT.

The 1840 census does note a male child that could be Charles. But Philip Storms' probate record does not mention Charles nor do any of Philip's land transactions. There are many other avenues to research however. I have been able to uncover quite a bit about George Storms, Charles and Jane's son. My next steps will be to further investigate Charles and Jane's other children, Philip and Rebecca's other children, Philip's siblings and their children and expand the search beyond Boston and Addison County, Vermont.