Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mary (Woodman) Haskell Portrait

This portrait of Mary (Woodman) Haskell has been handed down through the generations and is a family treasure. Mary was the wife of Eliphalet Haskell, my fourth great-grandfather. Mary Woodman was b. 30 Mar 1755 to Joshua and Eunice (Sawyer) Woodman in Kingston, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. She d. 29 (or 23?) Sep 1839 in New Gloucester, Cumberland County, Maine and is buried in the Lower Cemetery in New Gloucester. Mary's gravestone indicates her death date as 29 Sep 1839. The New Gloucester Vital Records indicate her death date as 23 Sep 1839. Based on my grandmother's notes, this portrait was painted by an "itinerant artist, probably about 1800".Additional source information is available upon request.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Recipe Friday - Holiday (or Anytime) Prune Bread

Family Recipe Friday – is an opportunity to share your family recipes with fellow bloggers and foodies alike. Whether it’s an old-fashioned recipe passed down through generations, a recipe uncovered through your family history research, or a discovered recipe that embraces your ancestral heritage share them on Family Recipe Friday. This series was suggested by Lynn Palermo of The Armchair Genealogist.

 I am not sure when this tradition got started or where the recipe came from, but my family has been making and giving prune bread as gifts at Christmas for some time. Maybe this does not sound appetizing to some, but this is a really tasty quick bread. I am making three loaves this morning. Here is the recipe

1 cup uncooked prunes
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg beaten
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

Cut prunes into small pieces. Add shortening, water, sugar and spices to prunes and boil for 15 minutes. Cool. Stir in egg, flour sifted with baking powder. Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar Day 24 - Christmas Eve

Prompt for December 24 – Christmas Eve
How did you, your family or your ancestors spend Christmas Eve?

Christmas shopping! And wrapping presents. Well, sometimes. We did not do much different on Christmas Eve while I was growing up. Mostly we spent time preparing for Christmas day - cooking, last minute shopping, wrapping, making, etc. Once I got married, we celebrated Christmas Eve with my wife's family with a mid-afternoon meal and then opening presents around the Christmas tree.

I don't have any information on how any of my ancestors spent Christmas Eve.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

image source: http://www.openclipart.org/browse

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (Almost) - Typical Japanese Shop

My grandfather, Merrill Haskell, was on his way back from Vladivostok, Russia in February 1920 and stopped at Kyoto, Japan. This photograph was labeled "Typical Japanese Shop, Kyoto Feb. 1920"

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Current Research - Haskell, Holbrook and Goodhue lines

I am currently documenting and sourcing birth, marriage and death dates for my Haskell, Holbrook and Goodhue ancestors and their spouses and children. Since I am a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) , I am taking advantage of their online databases at www.americanancestors.org. Their website was updated and enhanced earlier this fall and it is one of my favorites for online research. Since many of my ancestors are from Massachusetts, I have been using the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 database a lot. This is incredibly handy and saves me a great deal of time from having to travel to a library that has hard copies of the Massachusetts Vital Record books. I start out using the advanced search, but if I cannot find my ancestor that way, then I can view the scanned pages of the original records and scroll through page by page to see if I can find the person that way. This works well, especially since some of the names had interesting spelling variations. I have a lot of information that was compiled by my grandmother, so I generally have a good idea of where the specific event took place for many of my ancestors.

I have also been having success with some more recent ancestors in the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841 - 1910 and 1911 - 1915 databases. Both of these databases also have scanned copies of the original records.

If you are not a member of NEHGS, I highly recommend joining to take advantage of these great online databases.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar Day 21 - Christmas Music

Prompt for December 21 – Christmas Music
What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? 
 We listened to it all. Some of us even played it. I liked playing Christmas carols on my trumpet and sometimes on the piano, although I was not very good on the latter. As I noted in an earlier post, my Mom enjoyed Amahl and the Night Visitors which we had on a record.

Did you ever go caroling? 
 I remember going caroling the first year we had moved to New Gloucester and one neighbor came out with a gun. They never had carolers before and were suspicious. We became good friends with those neighbors after that. We only had three neighbors that lived close enough to walk to, so I don't remember going caroling very often.

Did you have a favorite song?
I like them all but if I have to choose, then I would say "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing".

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 20 - Religious Services

Prompt for December 20 – Religious Services
Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?

We generally did not attend church when I was growing up and we still do not. That being said, we periodically attended Christmas Eve midnight services until I was about 8 years old or so. I do not remember much about the services other than getting to stay up later than usual and hoping to get a glimpse of Santa Claus on the way home. He had never eaten the cookies I had left out or left any presents before we got back...

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 19 - Christmas Shopping

Prompt for December 19 – Christmas Shopping
How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?

I rarely get my Christmas shopping done early. More often my shopping was/is done by making a trip to LL Bean the day before... My Mom was better, but I don't think anyone in my family ever did their shopping before Thanksgiving. These days we have reduced our purchased gift giving significantly, so now I struggle to find time to make gifts. Not sure which is more difficult.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 16 - Christmas at School

Prompt for December 16 – Christmas at School
What did you or your ancestors do to celebrate Christmas at school? 
 I vaguely remember Christmas parties at school in grade school, but I don't remember the specifics. From 4th grade through 7th grade I remember playing my trumpet in the school band and we always did an annual Christmas concert. Of all the family history artifacts and photos that have been handed down to me, I have very little that indicates what my ancestors did for Christmas or other holidays.

Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?
I do not remember ever being involved in a Christmas Pageant.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

New Gloucester Universalist Church - 100th Anniversary

 More history from New Gloucester, Maine. This article is about the 100th anniversary of the Universalist Church and was published on June 24, 1905 in the Lewiston Evening Journal. I found this article on the Google News site. Surnames in this article include: Albion, Andrews, Barnes, Barton, Byram, Fletcher, Forbes, Gowell, Hamilton, Hammond, Hitching, Locke, Markley, McAllister, Murray, Osgood, Paige, Perkins, Richards, Rogers, Scoborin, Snow, Titus, Wellington, Woodman.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Newspaper Clipping - 58th Wedding Anniversary

Transcription of newspaper clipping in Grace Ware (Holbrook) Haskell's scrapbook. Handwritten in pen at the top of the clipping is "1911". Handwritten at the bottom is "12/11/11.

     Mr. and Mrs. N. F. Cabot quietly observed their 58th wedding anniversary at their home on Terrace street Wednesday. As the family is scattered this year no attempt was made to celebrate the event. Their health is excellent for persons of their advanced years.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Wordless Wednesday (almost) - Apples from Scott Farm

Here are a couple undated photos from my grandmother's collection showing some of the excellent apples grown on Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont. My guess is that these photos were taken in the early 1900's.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 14 - Fruitcake

Prompt for December 14 – Fruitcake – Friend or Foe?
Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?

Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes?We used to get a brick of fruitcake in the mail every Christmas when I was growing up. I don't remember who sent it to us or what company made it, but it was the worst. I'm not sure why but that box of fruitcake lived in our refrigerator for several months before we took it to the compost heap. Some archaeologist may uncover those discarded cakes sometime in the future and they will probably still look like they did when we received them. Aside from those fruitcakes, I actually like some homemade fruitcake. 

Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake?
I don't think we ever wanted to regift the fruitcakes we received because we did not dislike anyone that much.

Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?Maybe a doorstop...

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 13 - Holiday Travel

Prompt for December 13 – Holiday Travel
Did you or your ancestors travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?

I have not done much traveling during the holidays, but what I have done, I sincerely disliked. The times that I did travel was when I was going to graduate school in Colorado and having to fly back to Maine at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think holiday travel increases the normal travel stress by several times. I remember spending far too much time in the airports in Denver, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois because of weather delays. These days we drive about 20 to 30 minutes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to our parents' house in a neighboring town. That is perfect!
© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 12 - Charitable/Volunteer Work

Prompt for December 12 – Charitable/Volunteer Work
Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

 I have no idea. In recent years we have donated money to local food pantries to assist with holiday meals. I do not remember volunteering or doing charity work around the holidays.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Gloucester's Big Ones!

Here is another interesting bit of history about the local New Gloucester and Danville, Maine fair. This article was found on the Google News site in the Lewiston Evening Journal, September 29, 1898 paper. The article is about the "Big Ones", cattle and other things worth seeing at the New Gloucester and Danville Fair. Looks like they grew some big cows, oxen and top-notch veggies back in the day!

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar - Other Traditions

Prompt for December 11 – Other Traditions
Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa?  Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions from their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?

I do not remember celebrating other traditions during the holidays. The closest thing I remember to another tradition was visiting our neighbors who were German and eating Marzipan candies and singing O' Tannenbaum.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Gifts

Prompt for December 10 – Christmas Gifts
What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

My family spent a lot of time outside and I always enjoyed giving and receiving outdoor gear. My favorites were sleds, cross-country ski equipment, snowshoes, fly fishing gear, outdoor clothing, backpacking equipment and books.Tools are another favorite gift to receive and give. I remember saving and buying an high quality set of screw drivers for my Dad one Christmas. I often received some item related to cross-country skiing because that was/is one of my favorite sports.

I don't recall any specific gift-giving traditions in my family or by my ancestors.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Gloucester Proprietors - Chapter 4

Here is the fourth chapter of New Gloucester Proprietors continued from my previous post. Lots of surnames in this article, including: Allen, Anderson, Bradbury, Brooks, Browne, Chandler, Deane, Ellery, Fairfield, Foxcroft, Fuller, Harris, Haskell, Hooper, Longfellow, Mason, Merrill, Milliken, Mitchell, Morrill, Noyes, Pike, Smith, Stevens, Stinchfield, Stirling, True, Tufts, Tyler, Warner, Willis, Woodbury. This article was written by Anson Titus in the June 27- July 1, 1908 edition of the Lewiston Journal Illustrated Magazine and was found on the Google News site.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar - Grab Bag

Prompt for December 9 – Grab Bag
Author’s choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!





© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cookies

Prompt for December 8 – Christmas Cookies
Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

Christmas cookies are the best! Spritz, gingerbread, pecan tassies, fudge, jam thumbprints, sugar, molasses crinkles - all my favorites. How can you pick just one? I remember helping to decorate the cookies with frosting, colored sugar, raisins, cinnamon candies, silver dragees.Cutting out the cookies was always fun too.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Wordless Wednesday (almost) - Turnverein

My great grandfather Frank Owen Haskell was a member of a turnverein in Portland, Maine. He is the one in the lower right of the photo. I would be interested in hearing from others who might have information on this group.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Calendar - Party Time!

Prompt for December 7 – Holiday Parties
Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

 Our family did not throw Christmas parties. We did have New Year's Eve parties for several years. These parties usually involved sledding on our hill out in the hayfield or skating on the ponds near the house. We always hoped for a clear night with a full moon for these events. These events were a blast! Lots of food, mulled cider and family and friends. The first year we did this was 1971 after we moved to our farm in New Gloucester, Maine. I remember the house was undergoing major renovations and it was cold. I'm not sure anyone made it to midnight at that event because the house was so cold. We had a woodstove in the kitchen and it could not keep up. Over time these get-togethers disappeared. My sisters and I have talked about reviving this event, but it is one of those things that never seems to happen. It seems that in many recent years we have not even had snow or ice on New Year's.

My wife and I just attended my company Christmas party last Friday. This is the only holiday party that we attend regularly these days. For the past few years, this party has taken place at a local restaurant and is generally a pretty low-key event.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Harris Family of New Gloucester

Here is some more interesting New Gloucester, Maine history and genealogy news from an April 12-15, 1911 article in Lewiston Journal, Illustrated Magazine Section titled "Maine Families, and their Genealogies". The article is about the Harris Family of New Gloucester. This article was found searching the Google News site. Surnames in this article include: Allen, Bacheldor, Bradbury, Cook, Davis, Foxcroft, Gower, Guptil, Harris, Harrison, Haskell, Hersey, Johnson, Megquire, Merrill, Otis, Parsons, Record, Roberson, Tobie, Tyng, Waterman, White, Witham, Yetton.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar - Santa Claus

December 6 – Santa Claus
Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

 You bet! Here is one from 1973 when I was 7 years old.

I don't recall getting anything on that list! I know I sent lists to Santa. Here is a letter that I received from Santa.

This is a little tough to read, so here is a transcription:

P.O. Box 1923
Portland, Maine 04104

Dear William,
     Thank you for writing to me. I know you've been good most of the year so I'll see what I can do for you. My elves and I have been very busy lately trying to get toys made for you. We even work after supper each night.
     Mrs Claus is helping out this year by dressing all the dolls. Her sewing machine has been going WHRRR-RR for weeks now. She has my red suit all set for me to wear.
     My reindeer are in top shape and all ready for the trip. Rudolph also tells me he's ready to lead my sleigh in case it's a foggy night.
     I flew down over Maine a few nights ago to pick up some toy making supplies. From the looks of all the bright lights, I'd say you people in Maine really have the Christmas spirit this year.
     I hope you'll all remember that Christmas is more than just presents, candy canes, and beautiful trees and decorations. It is also sharing, helping others and being nice to everyone all year long. And most of all, it is the birthday of baby Jesus.
Merry Christmas
Santa Claus

Seems kind of interesting that based on this letter the North Pole address was in Portland, Maine! I wonder if I noticed that before...

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Calendar - Outdoor Decorations

Prompt for December 5 – Outdoor Decorations
Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?

We were minimalists when it came to outdoor decoration. Homemade wreaths on the house doors and sometimes a large 5-foot diameter wreath on the barn was the extent of our outdoor decorations. It was probably because we lived on a rural dirt road and our nearest neighbors were 1/4 and 1/2 miles away.   I see many more people going "all out" today than back when I was growing up in the 1970's and 80's.  

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Gloucester Proprietors - Chapter 3

Here is the third chapter of New Gloucester Proprietors continued from my previous post. Lots of surnames in this article, including: Allen, Bradstreet, Chipman, Collins, Dennison, Foxcroft, Hammond, Harris, Haskell, Hayes, Herrick, Marston, Parson, Prince, Riggs, Sturgis, Thompson, Tyler, Ward, Warner, Whitney. This article was written by Anson Titus in the June 13-17, 1908 edition of the Lewiston Journal Illustrated Magazine and was found on the Google News site. Enjoy!

New Gloucester Proprietors - first page

New Gloucester Proprietors - second page

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cards

Prompt for December 4 – Christmas Cards
Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?

 My mother was always very good about sending out Christmas cards, although I think it was always a chore. We always displayed up the cards that we received - usually hanging them around the doorway into the living room where we had the Christmas tree. I still send out a few Christmas cards, but the number has reduced significantly over the years. I remember making linoleum block print cards one year which was fun. I saw some copies of these cards at my Dad's house, but I don't have any images of them.

If nothing else, these Advent Calendar blogging prompts make me realize that I have not done a great job documenting some things in my life for future generations...

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Gloucester Proprietors - Chapters 1 & 2

As I have indicated previously, several of my Haskell ancestors were early residents of New Gloucester, District of Maine. I have found several articles published in the Lewiston Journal Illustrated Magazine in 1908 that provide a very interesting account of how the town was founded. These articles quite interesting to me, as I grew up in New Gloucester and lived there for 15+ years. There is a lot of great genealogy information in this article. The article "The New Gloucester Proprietors: Their Days and Descendants Chapters 1 & 2" written by Anson Titus in the May 16-20, 1908 edition of the Lewiston Journal Illustrated Magazine was found on the Google News site.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar - Christmas Tree Ornaments

Prompt for December 3 – Christmas Tree Ornaments
Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?

We had several old ornaments - mostly glass balls and a couple glass bird shaped ornaments. We never had a star that went on the top of the tree, but we did hang a small comet-shaped metal ornament near the top. I do remember stringing popcorn several times, but we did not do it every year. We made paper chains and often added to them year after year. When I was young I remember large multi-colored lights, but when I got older we bought small multi-color lights for the tree. We now use small white lights on the tree. There were many homemade ornaments made by various members of the family. There are many homemade ornaments on our tree now. My wife has made many cross-stitched and tatted ornaments that fill the branches. I remember making ornaments with my Mom out of dough. These were often farm animals, but they usually broke after a year or two. Some of the older ornaments may have come from previous generations, but, if they were, the history was never passed along to me.

The one thing I like the best was not a tree ornament but a decoration. We had a village consisting of little wooden houses and buildings, farm animals, people, cars, trains and trees. I would spent hours arranging and rearranging this village into different configurations. Some years I would get something new to add to the village.

Unfortunately, I don't seem to have any photographs of the village or of our Christmas tree from when I was growing up.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar - Holiday Foods

Prompt for December 2 – Holiday Foods
Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

 My family generally ate what I would consider as traditional foods at our holiday meals. Christmas dinner usually included turkey or ham, salad, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, assorted vegetables and homemade bread or rolls. Dessert was often a variety of pies. While I was growing up we rotated holiday meals between my aunt and uncle's house and our house. I remember at our house always having to polish the special silverware before the meal. I don't remember any unusual Christmas meals. However, one Thanksgiving we had Japanese food prepared by several Japanese exchange students that were friends with one of my sisters. I'm not sure this was a big hit with most of the family, but it is certainly something I will always remember.

 Today we have two Christmas meals. On Christmas Eve we go to my wife's parents house. This meal consists of many finger-type foods, such as shrimp with cocktail sauce, lil' smokies, veggies & dip, bugle snack chips, crackers & cheese, various holiday cookies, pies, etc. On Christmas day we go to my Dad's house for a more traditional mid-day meal.

My Mom always made a variety of Christmas cookies and sweet breads to distribute to neighbors and friends and of course for our own enjoyment. spritz cookies and pecan tassies were always my favorites.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Goat at Upper Dutton Farm

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell

Advent Calendar Day 1 - The Christmas Tree

My family always had a real Christmas tree - usually a balsam fir tree. There is nothing better than a real balsam fir tree smell to make you get excited about Christmas! One year we tried a blue spruce tree instead, but it had a very pungent smell and was not very pleasant. It was typically a family event to walk out into the woodlot and pick out the Christmas tree. This expedition was often made while carrying sleigh bells and singing Christmas carols. My Dad's woodlot is full of mature trees, so it seems that we always cut down a 50-70 foot tall tree and lopped the top 6 feet off of it for our tree. The downside to this is that often several branches broke off as the tall tree came down to the ground and sometimes we had to drill holes in the trunk and wire new branches on to avoid having a gaping "hole" in our tree. Other times the trunk was so crooked that we had to wire the tree to the wall to keep it from tipping over. We always lugged back many of the extra boughs for making wreaths, swags, etc to decorate the doors and those of our neighbors. It always took a day or two to get the sticky pitch off of your hands and clothes after the Christmas tree expedition. We always got our tree the Sunday before Christmas and it usually came back down the Sunday after New Years. Before my Mom died in 1980 the whole family participated in decorating the tree, often while listening to Amahl and the Night Visitors on the record player. When we took the tree down, we always put it out back near the bird feeder for the birds to enjoy.

We have continued the tradition of making the annual trek out into the woodlot, although we now try to cut shorter trees. Sometimes I try to scout out some good trees prior too, or else it may take a long time to find one. When I lived out west while going to graduate school and during my first job, we considered getting an artificial tree, but I just never could get myself to buy one. I really enjoy the smell of a real balsam fir tree (the blue spruce I can do without!). Lately we have been considering the possibility of a live Christmas tree.

© 2010, copyright William C. Haskell