Posts Tagged ‘Rome New York’

A Cousin Story – Cecelia “Celia” “Kess” Perry/Parry Stevenson

When my g-grandmother Georgianna (Hughes/Clough) Hall passed in 1964, a Cecelia Stevenson sent condolences from Indianapolis, Indiana.  Next to her name, in my grandmother’s handwriting, was written “relative”.  Something about this intrigued me.  I searched for cousin Cecelia “Celia” Perry/Parry for years and am finally able to share a small part of her story.

In Georgianna’s address book was written:

• Mrs. L.A. Stevenson – Celia Cynthia [address crossed off] Indiana.
• C.K. Stevenson – 1320 N. Delaware Indianapolis Indiana

I never put two and two together! I hadn’t realized this was my missing Celia Parry!


Cecelia “Celia” was born 12 August 1899 in Galeton, Pennslyvania to George Perry/Parry and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Phillips.  She was a first cousin to my g-grandmother, Georgianna.   Georgianna’s mom, Kittie (Perry) Hughes/Clough/Shipman, was a sister to Celia’s father George.

celia's tree

Lizzie (Phillips) Parry
Lizzie Phillips

Celia’s mother gave birth to at least eight children (censuses indicate nine), three of whom died in 1891 of diphtheria.  At the time, Celia’s father, had deserted the family, to marry another woman (story here). Her mother’s sister, Miss Alice Phillips, cared for the family. Celia’s mom and eldest brother Daniel, age eight, recovered, but the younger children—George, Alice, and Arthur—died.  When George’s second wife learned he was a bigamist, he disappeared.

By 1893, George and Lizzie reunited and relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota where their children William “Will” and Elizabeth “Bessie” were born. George’s mother Ann (Jones) Perry Evans passed in 1896 and her obituary places George in Oregon (no other evidence places the family there).  By 1897 the family removed to Galeton, Pennsylvania, near George’s sister Cordelia (Perry) Palmer/Spoor, where their last two children, Celia and Frederick “Fred” were born.  By 1910, they were living in Westmoreland, Oneida, New York.

When Celia was thirteen (5 April 1913), her 50 year old mom died in Oriskany, Oneida, New York, cause unknown.

It seems the family then returned to Pennsylvania.  On 30 March 1916, at age sixteen, Celia gave birth to  baby boy  in Williamsport, Lycoming, Pennsylvania. She named him Richard [side note: my Autosomal DNA matches that of Richard’s daughter]. The name of the boy’s father is unknown, but based on family lore, it is possibly something like “Schwartz”.

The boy was adopted by Henry and Jennie (Dykeman) Seltz of Galeton, Pennsylvania. Perhaps Celia selected the adoptive family, as they were neighbors to her aunt Cordelia’s step-son, Leland Spoor (she likely thought of Leland as a first cousin; his mother died when he was two and Aunt Cordelia raised him).

Celia’s photo album (now with her granddaughter) includes photos of little Richard and Mrs Seltz.  The Seltzs must have kept in touch!

seltz nd dick

By 1920, Celia was a “roomer” in the home of Eugene and Laura McKee in Jamestown, Chautauqua, New York.  She was employed at a garment company as a machine sewer.  On 1 March 1920, she married her fellow roomer, Phillip Lee Kessler, a street car railroad conductor, son of Charles Kessler and Nellie Phillips (no known relation to Celia’s mother). The marriage was short lived; the pair divorced 12 Aug 1921. Despite the divorce, Celia’s nickname “Kess”, stuck for the remainder of her life.

When Celia’s dad passed in 1923, she signed as the informant on his death certificate, listing her residence as Galeton, Pennsylvania.


Her father’s obituary, however names Cincinnati, Ohio as her place of residence.

She was enrolled at the Good Samaritan Nursing School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated in 1924.  After graduation, she took a position in the same town as a nurse for a private family, rooming with fellow classmate and good friend, Marie Barlow and a 59-year old widow named Mary Sohngen. The three paid a total of $75/month rent.

Celia next married Lincoln Augustus Stevenson, son of Frank Stevenson and Catharine Freil.  In 1932 they were living in Columbia, South Carolina.  They had a daughter, Mary Cynthia Stevenson, born 12 Sept 1933 in Indiana. She was likely close to Lincoln’s 10 year old son by a prior marriage, Richard Lincoln Stevenson, as he was named in her obituary.

Although Celia and Lincoln were divorced by 1940, she continued to use the name Mrs. Celia K Stevenson for the remainder of her life; Celia appears in the 1940 census as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, Marion, Indiana. She worked 48 weeks that year and made a total of $660 (she also received more than $50 from other unnamed sources).  Eight year old Mary Cynthia was not found in 1940, but when her father died in 1950, she was listed as resident of Indianapolis.

Stevenson death

Cynthia’s daughter offers the following detail:

Due to WWII, my mom Cynthia “Cindy” was sent to a Catholic boarding school, St. Joseph’s Academy, in Tipton, Indiana.  She became a Nun but never did her final vows.  She went to St Mary ‘s Notre Dame and then to St Louis University where she met her husband (“my dad”).

Cindy has another half brother-  Young Stevenson, of Montgomery Alabama.  He has five kids and lots of Grandkids!

Cecelia never drove a car and lived for years at 1320 N. Delaware, Indianapolis ( I still remember that address); a studio apartment.  She inspired me to become a nurse.


On 10 September 1946, Celia’s eldest brother Daniel died in Wellsville, Allegany, New York. 

In 1947 Celia’s aunt Alice E. Phillips (her mother Lizzie’s sister) died. Alice had never married and did not have children.  There was a four year court proceeding over her will – numerous newspaper notices offer details of her sister and brother arguing over the inheritance – A number of them named “Cecelia Parry Stevenson” as a heir (she was not one of those directly involved in the suit).

Heirs of Alice Phillips

In Summary:

Celia’s mother Lizzie (Parry) had siblings Alice, Arthur, Lena (Hatcliffe), Mary Ann (Valentine), Rose (McBride) and Fred.  At the time of the trial, only Lena and Fred were living.  Alice never married, worked hard, lived frugally and left a sizable estate.  She had changed her original will, which was essentially a 50/50 split between Arthur and Lena (with Arthur’s portion in a trust, paying him income for life) to one which left the majority of the estate to Arthur.
Lena contested this, saying he forced Alice to revise the will,  utilizing his attorney  (just six months after the initial will was written) and supplying his own associates as witnesses. She further claimed Arthur was a drunk who rarely worked, who physically and orally abused Alice, forged signatures on checks to draw money from her bank account and threatened her with “the bug house” if she didn’t modify the will to be in his favor.  Alice feared him; he kept her isolated from friends and family as she was not mobile in her last years.
The testimony of the witnesses tended to prove these facts. Arthur admitted that he threatened Alice with the “bug house”.  Lena won the case, the jury having found that the will was procured through undue influence. Arthur appealed and lost. According to newspapers, the case was settled in 1951.
Read details here, type Alice Phillips in the search box

In 1953, Celia served on a panel at St. Vincent’s entitled “The Nurse as the Priest’s Assistant in the Spiritual Care of the Sick”.


In 1954, Celia’s picture was in the local paper, as an attendee at a private duty nurse’s brunch (likely on the far right).


In 1968, she was a prize winner at the Grand Opening of a local shopping center!


On 1 May 1977, Celia’s brother Fred died in Conneaut Lake (shore), Pennsylvania.  She never mentioned other siblings to her grandchildren.  Although one grandchild, while in college was in touch with her brother Daniel’s daughter, Elizabeth I. “Bette” (Parry) VanDurme in New York.

The whereabouts of Celia’s sister Elizabeth “Bessie” Parry (who married John Burge) and brother William “Will” Parry are unknown.  The last source mentioning them was in probate notices, related to their Aunt Alice, in 1951. Her sister might be the Elizabeth Burge who died 8 Dec 1966 and is buried with John Burge (d. 1978), at Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Hammondsport, Steuben County, New York.

 Celia died 2 December 1997 in Greenwood, Johnson, Indiana at the age of 98. The inscription on her tombstone reads: “MRS SANTA CLAUS”.  The cemetery office and local historical society could not provide further information about this title.

UPDATE: Celia’s granddaughter writes:  “We called her Grandma Cel”….”By the way, ” Mrs. Santa Claus” was because she always sent cards at Christmas signed that way.  I think I was a teenager before I realized it was her!”




Celia’s children

  • Son Richard Dykeman Seltz, who she gave up for adoption, married Mary Johnson and had four children. He died 12 March 1996 in Kissimmee, Polk, Florida.

Richard Dykeman Seltz, 79, of 728 Yucatan Court, Poinciana, died March 12. Born in Williamsport, Pa., he moved to Poinciana from Galeton, Pa., in 1986. He was a self-employed glove manufacturer and a member of the Masonic Lodge of Couldersport, Pa., and the Elks Club of Kissimmee. Survivors include his wife, Mary; sons, Richard H., Houston, Texas, Scott J., Chatham, N.J.; daughter, Jeanne Wenzel, Jacksonville, Anne Seltz, Rockville, Md.; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Fisk Funeral Home, St. Cloud, was in charge of arrangements.

  • Daughter, Mary Cynthia Stevenson, married a man named Charles Ford and had three children.  She died  9 July 1989 in Sarasota, Florida.

Mary Cynthia Ford, 55, Sarasota, died July 8, 1989.  She was born Sept. 12, 1933 in Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. and came to this are three years ago from Pelham, NY. Survivors include two sons, Christopher of Northport, Conn., and Carl of Westport, Conn., a daughter, Cathleen of Richmond, Va., two brothers, Richard Stevenson of Sarasota and Young Stevenson of Montgomery, Ala., her mother Cecelia Stevenson of Indianapolis, and a granddaughter. Services will be at 11 a.m. today at Toale Brothers Funeral Home, Gulf Gate Chapel. Memorial donations may be made to The American Cancer Society, 3807 Bond Place, Sarasota, 34232.

Cynthia Obituary

  • Stepson Richard Lincoln Stevenson died 19 April 2010 in Sarasota, Florida

Richard Lincoln Stevenson, 87, of Sarasota, formerly of Fort Wayne, Ind., died April 19, 2010. Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Sarasota National Cemetery.

He is survived by his son, Alan; children by marriage Mark and Marian Kennell, Karl and Becky Kennell and Kathleen and Jon Sutter; grandchildren Lydia Mortensen, Michelle Sexton, Erin Stevenson, Alex, Katie and Trevor Kennell; four great-grandchildren, sister Patricia and Ed Epperson, brother Young and Susan Stevenson; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Shirley; a son David; a sister, Cynthia Ford; and a brother, Sherrad Denley.

Richard was just 19 when he enlisted in cadet school and became a World War II pilot flying in the Pacific. He flew a C-47 called “Gooney Bird” as a member of the legendary Jungle Skippers in the 317th Troop Carrier Group, which later became the 375th. He followed his retirement from the Air Force Reserves in 1956 with a 30-year career as an accomplished jeweler and gemologist. He was also an award-winning gardener, who could literally make anything grow, especially his beloved orchids. He will forever be remembered for his stories that touched the hearts of so many.


Celia kept in touch with her college roommate, Marie.  Marie’s son recently shared  his memories and photos:

I knew her (1950s – 1990s) as a very caring, wonderful person. She was very close friend, originally to my parents.  Kess trained with my mother, Marie Barlow (her maiden name), at The Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing in Cincinnati, OH.
My mother, before she met my father, came from Grafton West Virginia, to Cincinnati to become a nurse.  Kess, my mother and another nurse actually shared an apartment near the Hospital/ school for several years in the 1920s.
Unfortunately, much of my info about her is from memories now. My older brothers, who have all passed, may have had pictures and a more complete history of her. But the pictures they had did not survive the years. I have little knowledge of the marriages, or children. (Back in the 30, 40s and 50s, children did not talk unless a parent said okay)  So the adults kept private issues among themselves. Later in life, she did talk about a daughter and son-in-law and their children, but I don’t recall details now. I believe Kess actually survived her daughter by a year or so. The daughter had a difficult medical condition, I believe. Kess died at a Convalescent Retirement home near Indianapolis.

Over the years, Kess came to visit when she could, but the last 20 – 30 years of her life were very difficult. Her mobility was very difficult due the pain, arthritis, I think. From about 1940s to 1990s, she lived in a modest apartment on N. Delaware Ave in Indianapolis, IN with a major hospital nearby. She worked there at one time, I think. I visited her a few time over the years. She came to Cincinnati for various holidays and events, including the funerals of my mother and father, for my college graduation, 1968, and later for my wedding in 1978.

She is buried in Section J, Lot 576, grave #8, Washington Park East Cemetery.

Kess’ grand-children could be still living. I am thinking also that they are part of the reason for Mrs Santa Claus. I believe, there were times when Kess would send small gifts or notes to children and others, anonymously.
Another thought about Kess, relates to her Garden. I believe she was a volunteer at the President Harrison Home. Volunteers would help with the Gardens, among other things, there. That home was nearby on N Delaware Ave. –



UPDATE: And the COOLEST part of this whole story???  After this was posted, Celia’s six grandchildren, three by her son Richard “Dick” who she gave up for adoption and three by her daughter Cynthia “Cindy” have  met online!!  Happy dance!  The best part of genealogy – connecting cousins!!

Error in Online Trees and FindAGrave

Several online trees have Celia linked to Curt Stevenson and Lydia Fullmer.  These are the wrong parents!  This Celia’s maiden name was Stevenson.  She married Frank Meals and died in 1978 in Pennsylvania.


Censuses (right click and open image in another tab to see a larger version)


celia 1900


celia 1910


celia 1920


celia 1930


celia 1940




George family group sheet

George was my second great grand uncle on my dad’s side – uncle to my g-grandmother Georgianna (Hughes/Clough) Hall and brother to her mom, Kittie (Perry) Hughes/Clough/Shipman. Was he a Bigamist or were there multiple George Perry’s in the same place/time?

[Click on photo to see a larger version]

george perry disappearance

In February 1891, after nine years of marriage, George Perry of East Dominick Street, Rome, New York, deserted his four children and wife. They came down with diphtheria.  His wife’s sister, Miss Alice Phillips, cared for the family. George’s wife and eldest child, an eight year old son, recovered, but the others—George, Alice, and Arthur—died.  A few months later George Davis’s new wife, of January 1891, learned of a public notice exposing her husband as George Perry. When confronted, George fled from their residence in Dunkirk, New York to Syracuse, New York and lived under an assumed name.

There is speculation that George married Nettie Hickson (originally of Syracuse) under the assumed name Henry Lincoln Perry, born in Rome to George Perry and Elizabeth Jones.  The groom’s description, according to the pastor who officiated the marriage in January 1891, matched that of George. When the couple later settled in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, Nettie wrote her brother in Rome and referred to her husband as a wealthy “George Perry”. Prior to his disappearance, George was said to have been “infatuated” with 20 year old Nettie.

Were there rumors that he ran off with Nettie when he actually ran off with an unsuspecting woman (who’s name is not given in newspaper accounts) under the alias George Davis? Or are Nettie and the woman known as Mrs. Davis one in the same?  We don’t know.

A decade prior, in 1880, a man of the same name, George Perry, whose siblings included Kittie, William and Cordelia, lived with his mother, Ann and stepfather, James Evans on East Dominick. In 1895 George, wife Elizabeth, and sons ages twelve and three resided in Minneapolis. The youngest was born in Minnesota, though the remaining family members were born in New York. A year later, when Ann died, George resided in Oregon, Cordelia in Galeton, Pennsylvania, and William in Rome.  In March 1900 Arthur Phillips, born in Ireland, died, naming daughters Mrs. Lissie Perry of Galeton and Miss Alice Phillips of Rochester.

In 1900 George, of Welsh parentage, and Elizabeth L., of Irish descent, lived in Galeton.  With them was a son, seventeen, born in New York, children ages seven and four born in Minnesota, and an infant born in Pennsylvania. Four children died previously.

George Perry 1900 census

Cordelia lived nearby. Between 1900 and 1920, Cordelia, George and their children often visited William who remained in Rome. When George died in Galeton in 1923, his late wife, who he married 40 years prior, was recorded as Alice Phillips of Rome [this is likely a typo and his wife was Lissie, Alice’s sister]. 

These sources leave little doubt that the George born to Ann and the bigamist are the same man.

– Both had fathers named George Perry and mothers with a maiden name Jones (one Ann, the other Elizabeth)

– George of Galeton had a father-in-law Arthur; the bigamist had a son named Arthur:

– Both married in 1882–3 a woman of Irish heritage, with the surname Phillps, and a sister Alice.

– Each fathered three or four children who died before 1900 and a son born about 1883 in New York.

– Neither had living children born between 1884 and 1891.

– Each lived on East Dominick Street, Rome, NY, and left the area by 1892.

[1] Year: 1920; Census Place:  Galeton Ward 2,  Potter,  Pennsylvania; Roll:  T625_1648; Page:  16A; Enumeration District:  117; Image:  820.
[2] Utica Observer Dispatch 5/22/1923,  Note – Footnotes need to be redone in the format of Evidence Explained – there were other newspaper articles and documents examined that supports the case, but are not included here in order to keep the article to 500 words.
[i] Year: 1870; Census Place:  Rome Ward 1,  Oneida,  New York; Roll:  M593_1059; Page: 543A; Image:  404; Family History Library Film:  552558.
[ii] “New York, State Census, 1875,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 June 2012), Ann Perry in household of Ann Perry, Rome, Ward 01, Oneida, New York, United States.
[iii] Rome NY, buried Wright Settlement Cemetery, Rome, NY, Perry, George 1828-1862 , teries/Rome/WS3.html & gravestone photo e-mailed to Linda Hall-Little by Sam Kuntz 20 Jun 2010
[iv] Year: 1880; Census Place:  Rome Oneida New York; Roll:  903; Family History Film: 1254903; Page:  29C; Enumeration District:  109; Image:  0060.
[v] Ibid
[vi] These are common Welsh names in the area , albeit similar to those of George Perry’s family, a search produced no couple of this name and/or George Perry with these parents in Oneida County – NY vitals , census records and other records on, FamilySearch, Fold3, newspapers & online trees in April 2012.
[vii] Feb 18, 1891, Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen (page # unknown) & Rome Semi -Weekly Citizen. SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 1891.Fultonhisto
[viii] Feb 21, 1891, Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen (page # unknown) & Feb 24, 1891 Utica Weekly Herald (page 4, column 5),
[ix] Same name as Alice and Lissie Phillips’ father.
[x] None of these children are found in the records of Wright Settlement Cemetery where this family was typically buried from mid 1800’s to the mid-1900’s –
[xi] Feb 21, 1891, Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen (page # unknown),
[xii] August 21, 1891 Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen (page # unknown) entitled “The Wife Deserter”, Fulton
[xiv] A year prior, in 1895 George Parry, wife Elizabeth and children Daniel (all born NY) and Willie (born MN) all of the appropriate age are found in the Minnesota territorial census, living in Minneapolis.
[xv] Cordelia’s 2nd husband Charles Spoor in 1900 was a “master car builder” probably for the railroad had expanding to this area in 1893:
[xvi] Ann Jones Perry Evans obit, Utica Morning Herald, November 4, 1896, page 2, column 3,http://www.fultonhistor  – “PUSHED INTO THE CANAL. Sad Death of Mrs. James Evans of  Frankfort”.
[xvii] The Utica morning March 31, 1900 (page # unknown),
[xviii] These same daughters are named in the 1870 census: Year: 1870; Census Place:  Kirkland, Oneida,  New York; Roll:  M593_1058; Page:  323A; Image:  652; Family History Library Film: 552557.
[xix] Working as a RR Mechanic, the railroad had expanding to this area in 1893: – George had many jobs over the years ranging from farmer, blacksmith and rolling mill worker – while he cannot be linked from place to place by occupation, his sister Cordelia lived nearby in Galeton, and names/ages/birth places of himself & family members tie to records from other areas.  
[xx] The 1910 census has her listed as giving birth to 9 children, 7 whom are living (their last child was born in 1903 – in 1910 only 5 were living). Year: 1910; Census Place:  Westmoreland,  Oneida,  New York; Roll:  T624_1053; Page:  8A; Enumeration District:  0176; Image:  973; FHL microfilm: 1375066.
[xxi] Year: 1900; Census Place:  Galeton Potter Pennsylvania; Roll:  1482; Page:  25A; Enumeration District:  108; FHL microfilm:  1241482.
[xxii] Anne Jones & George Perry’s son W.C. Perry remained in Rome, lived on 414 West Dominick for years and became Postmaster, he is named in 50+ articles linking him to his parents, siblings and multiple other family members.
[xxiv] Year: 1920; Census Place:  Galeton Ward 2,  Potter,  Pennsylvania; Roll:  T625_1648; Page:  16A; Enumeration District:  117; Image:  820.
[xxv] Utica Observer Dispatch 5/22/1923,  Note – Footnotes need to be redone in the format of Evidence Explained – there were other newspaper articles and documents examined that supports the case, but are not included here in order to keep the article to 500 words.

Stranger Exchanger!

My husband supports my genealogy efforts but does not comprehend why I seek out online 3rd, 4th & 5th cousins.  He emphatically exclaims “They are STRANGERS! Didn’t your mother ever teach you about “Stranger Danger!”

Yes, but strangers have family bibles, photos, letters and diaries! I have become good friends with many of these “strangers”. We exchange information to aid each other in breaking through brick walls, while adding color to ancestors’ lives. Many times the stranger is not even interested in genealogy. I send a bit of family history to pique their interest and get them looking through those old boxes stored in the attic.

In 2013, my long lost “stranger” cousin Sam, visited New Hampshire with a suitcase of photos, letters and scrapbooks.  His 2nd g-grandparents and my 3rd g-grandparents were George Perry and Ann Jones of Wales who later settled in Oneida/Herkimer Counties, New York. This was Sam’s second visit after our meeting through, when I posted  a “mystery photo” of my g-grandmother Georgianna (Hughes) Hall with her Grandma Ann (Jones) Perry Evans and 4 others who I later learned were Georgianna’s cousins Anna Belle Palmer, Kitty Mae Palmer, Leland Spoor [cousin by marriage only] and George Spoor. A 5th cousin, born after this photo was taken, was Gilbert Spoor.

d469af59-3e5b-4cc1-aa14-90d8592a6716 32fa15e8-2527-4425-bcfa-377b58f034de

Sam was thankful to locate a photo of his grandmother, Kitty Mae Palmer (who he knew as Katherine) with her grandmother. I was a genealogy “newbie” and overwhelmed with the amount of information he shared in exchange for one photo!  He had visited Ann’s birthplace in Llanfaelog, Anglesey, Wales; had the ship manifest for Ann, her parents and siblings arrival in New York, in 1849, on the Julia Howard and had taken photos of the family graves at Wright Settlement Cemetery  in Rome, New York!

Sam “organized” letters he had inherited from his grandmother.  Upon arrival, he said something like “I have a letter, that your g-grandmother Georgianna wrote to my grandmother’s sister, Anna Belle, just after Christmas, in 1918.  I thought you might like it, since it mentions a cat, and you are a crazy cat lady”.

What a surprise!  My grandfather’s 14th Christmas!

My grandfather, Dr. Charles “Charlie” George Hall, a veterinarian, was my first “best friend”.

grampa and nana and me

Grampa with his mom (left) with Nana (right).


year bookgrampa college35a10208-b083-40c0-a6ea-e346979f7aa0014cefda-186a-46aa-a4cb-f478191cf3a07e22934a-7f49-4d4a-a656-2cd05e5eb21e1cc41fc5-613f-46da-b0ff-6e5d298e6b9f6925779788_37a9347142_o

0dd77cee-3403-4693-9de8-9689c195653e25760e6b-2429-47c2-a029-d723a2c84652grampa 1960.pngLawr st pic.png

I knew Grampa, but didn’t know him.  He was born 08 Dec 1904 in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, to Charles “Garrie” Milton Hall and Georgianna “Georgie” Hughes [who used her former step-father’s surname, Clough], of 17 Dale Street. His only sibling, David, was premature, and died one day after birth on 3 Jan 1914, just after Grampa’s ninth birthday

Grampa was blessed to have known three grandparents and his step-grandfather Mr. Shipman.  At age seven, he traveled with his mother and grandmother to their Rome, New York birthplace to visit his Uncle.

August 1911 The Utica NY Herald Dispatch: “Mrs. F. M. Shipman of Lynn, Mass and her daughter, Mrs. C. M. Hall, and son Charles of Malden, Mass[achusetts], are spending two weeks with Mrs. Shipman’s brother. W. C. Perry, 414 West Dominlck street, [Rome]”. [Mrs. F.M.  Shipman aka Kittie Perry, was Grampa’s maternal grandmother].



3 generations

Grampa and Roxanne

Grampa had appendicitis at age 17.  At 18, his aunt, Ellen Maria Sophia (Hall) Nichols, bequeathed $500 (about $6,800 in 2015 buying power), a small fortune for a teenager.

He attended the Faulkner school, graduated from Malden High (1922), attended the School of Ontario (1922-1926) and Veterinary School at Ohio State College (1926-1929). As a member of Omega Tau Sigma, he resided at the fraternity house (1928/9). His inheritance likely covered the $27 -$32 quarterly tuition, and much of his living expenses.(Student_Fees_1874-1967). He graduated in June of 1929 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

He met my grandmother, Edith Anna Haines, daughter of John Glatis Haines and Edith Bernice Lansil, at a dance at the Congregational “branch church” on Forest St., Malden (my grandmother asked the minister to introduce them). They married on 18 July 1930, without his mother’s approval; Georgianna considered her son’s marriage a social step in the wrong direction (she had selected another woman, with whom she had hoped he would connect).  Grampa visited his mom daily, until she died in 1964, despite her disdain.

In 1933, Charlie and Edith took a $5,000 mortgage, and purchased their home at 228 Main Street, Malden. They had two boys, the later being my dad, Robert “Bobby”, born on their wedding anniversary in 1935.  Grampa was strict with his children and frugal, a result of the Great Depression.  My grandmother was an active church member, but my grandfather, a non-church goer, jokingly proclaimed himself a “Holy Roller”.

For over twenty years, Grampa raised, trained and raced greyhounds (a tradition started by his parents) on a farm in Wilmington, Massachusetts until it was taken by eminent domain in 1964 (at it’s height, the business had just over 100 dogs and puppies, most with the surname Matron or Guide); the farm was purchased in 1945, perhaps with the winnings of the family’s famous dog, Hi-Guide.

After graduation, Grampa worked at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston for four years, then in 1933, began a veterinary practice in Malden. His rates were low and he excelled at his craft.  He never took a vacation and clients adored him.  As a young adult, everyone I encountered from Malden, knew my grandfather.


animal hospital


Grampa inside of his operating room at 228 Main Street “fixing” my apparently very sick toy dog in the 1960’s.  The rear of the photo says that I paid a penny to have the dog operated on…

His best buddies were Hy Goldberg, the local Jewish druggist, Leo Norton who owned a Malden funeral home and Dr. Cornelius “Connie”  Thibeault, a fellow colleague, also an Ohio State graduate, of Wakefield, then Ipswich who had his own horses (a home I loved to visit with Grampa)!

In 1939, he purchased the home next door, as a birthday gift for Nana, their rental property until his death.

Middlesex land deeds to 1950 CG Hall.png

There were hardships. As a young man, Grampa had a breakdown which resulted in the newlyweds temporarily residing with Georgianna. His young wife battled cancer and lost a breast at a fairly young age. One of her arms swelled and stayed that way (doctors never discovered the cause). In 1942, Grampa rushed to his dad’s bedside in Florida, and watched him die at the age of 61.  He nearly lost his youngest son, my dad, to illness, while he was stationed in Germany in 1958 (his friend, Hy Goldberg, arranged a $513.20 ticket, “economy”, so Nana could fly to Frankfurt. On Bob’s 23rd birthday, also her 28th anniversary – she writes in her journal, “miss Charlie something terrible”).

charles milton died

Grampa was a “meat & potatoes” guy who ate on a TV tray most nights. He collected old coins, enjoyed the television show “Let’s Make a Deal”, introduced us to the board game “Oregon Trail”and taught me to play competitive chess.

He gave my dad our house (his parent’s home, which they purchased in 1930, three months prior to his marriage) for $1.00 in exchange for a promise to take care of Nana, when he was gone.  There was a gigantic pine tree in the back yard planted by Grampa as a young man, which he confided was “no taller than me”.  When I was a child it was a great place to play; the ground was covered with a deep bed of comfy pine needles, a small space protected by the heat of summer.

tree tall

When Grampa hugged me, his face was “scratchy”.  He seemed to always be wearing a leisure suit and a fedora hat. In bad weather he picked us up at school in his big green truck (my mom didn’t have a car) and when Nana was with him, we would sing things like  “Daisy, Daisy / Give me your answer, do….” on the short ride home.  Likely how my very first kitten, a gift from Grampa, was named Daisy.

For as long as I can recall, my brother, sister and I (and later my baby brother) spent every Saturday with Grampa and Nana, at their 228 Main Street home and veterinary office (except, according to my mother, one week each summer, when my cousin visited, and reportedly cried if she didn’t have them all to herself). My grandparents stopped by our house, just two miles away, several times a week. On the rare occasion my parents had a social engagement, Nana and Grampa were our babysitters.

I was six years old when my Grampa described his desire for my future. “You will become a medical secretary!!” he stated emphatically on a number of occasions.  I was not sure how a medical secretary differed from a regular secretary but based on what I had heard from my mother (a secretary prior to marriage) a job as a typist did not sound like much fun.  But…I loved Grampa’s attention and worked diligently to make him proud.  In first grade instead of “run Jane run,” I learned to spell and define words like castration, hysterectomy and expectorate. Grampa would administer verbal quizzes to test my retention.  I passed with flying colors and begged for more. Weekly Grampa would present one or more books covering every imaginable topic. He introduced me to the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew.  My father’s office became a small library. On most days, after school through bedtime, my nose was buried in a book, in lieu of watching the popular kids shows.

In addition to being my first teacher, Grampa was a genius. He was a life long learner who in 1975 cured cancer in a greyhound through a diet of raw fish and selenium.


By 5th grade, I traveled alone on Saturdays, catching the 6:30 AM public bus to my grandparents home on the other side of the city. My grandfather, who was semi-retired, would begin operations at 7 AM. I observed closely as he skillfully performed surgeries on cats and dogs. I held the animal’s legs while Nana would moisten a giant cotton ball with ether and place it a cylinder like contraption over the animal’s face, speaking softly to the little guy until he went under.

Grampa’s second love was raising greyhounds and racing them at Wonderland and the Topsfield fairgrounds where he moonlighted as the track’s veterinarian. I was the eldest local grandchild and my grandfather’s sidekick. He let me name some greyhounds, always bet $2 on the dog of my choice and bought me jelly donuts at a fair food stand when we arrived early on crisp fall mornings. The dogs’ winnings went to a college fund for his five grandchildren.  Grampa was happiest when he was with family and animals, he lived what he loved.


doc hall

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One Saturday, Grampa and I were in the operating room alone (Nana was upstairs instructing my siblings on the art of baking).  He was struggling to untangle a cat’s matted coat, with a giant metallic comb.  Suddenly, Grampa drew his hands to his heart, and withered back in pain.  He soon recovered; looked me in the eye and sternly said, “DO NOT tell your grandmother”.  I was in the 8th grade.  I kept his secret.

My dad drove him to the hospital later that night. He died a day later, on Monday, 1 March 1976.  It was leap year; I often thought he might have lived, had there been no 29th day of February that year.


Grampa was buried at Forestdale Cemetery, Malden alongside his parents and paternal grandparents.  Nana joined them in 1999.

Grampa left me a clock, saying he had planned it to be my wedding gift, it is a treasured possession of mine.



To have a letter from a “stranger” that gives me some insight into Grampa’s childhood is a wonderful gift!

It reads:

Christmas Day

First excuse paper as I didn’t want to go upstairs, being pretty tired. I am awfully lame and no strength but am in hopes to be better soon.

Glad Aunt Delia was better as sickness makes it awfully hard for everyone.  We had a nice day. Mamma and Mr. Shipman were up. Ma came up yesterday about noon and Mr. S. today. We all received our share of gifts.

Little Charlie got everything he asked for. His father got him a Rifle which will worry the life out of me but I guess he won’t use it yet awhile as last year he got a dandy air rifle. I gave him a Receiver + Sender of a telegraph set. Suppose the whole house will be wired all up now, and a belt.  Ma gave him a Compass + Pedometer, two batteries, 4 books, $2.00 and then he got several other things from friends.

Suppose you received lot of pretty things. Tell me about them. Thank you very much for my pretty handkerchief. They are always needed and I love pretty ones and I have quite a few that I am very choice of and among them are yours.

I received a lonely long letter from Gilbert yesterday saying he was well and he wanted to go to Germany. He also said he was going to visit us when he gets back in the USA more [?] when he comes. Don’t forget to come with him. We have beds for everyone and always have plenty to eat.

Glad you liked Chas. picture. That is his dog, the first good one he has ever taken to and they are Pals [Grampa’s father raised boxers for show and greyhounds for racing]. He has a cat that he likes and that raises the deuce with everything. He has been up the Xmas tree about a dozen times so far and has tried his best to get everything off.

Mamma sent her love to all. She was quite lame but outside of that feels pretty good. She has had us all playing cards all day. Little Charlie is going to take after her I guess as he wants to play with everyone he can get to play. He has only just learned.

Sorry Leland’s folks had the flu.

Well Anna Belle, I have written a long letter to Gilbert and this one so I guess now I am ready to go to bed. Hoping it will find all well also wishing all a Happy New Year.

With love to all.


P.S. Hoping Gilbert will be home soon.




In summary, don’t be afraid to look for some Stranger Exchangers who may hold a piece of your family history!!

PS: For those of you wondering about Gilbert, he was honorably discharged about six months later on July 3, 1919.  I don’t know if he ever made the trip to Malden to visit his cousins.

Gilbert discharged

An Unexpected Source

My favorite free newspaper website is which has 12,698,000 Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages, all searchable.

Your direct descendants don’t come from New York?  Read on.

My 4th g-grandparents Robert Jones and Catherine Owen immigrated from Llanfaelog, Anglesey, Wales to Oneida County, NY in 1849 on the vessel Julia Howard. Manyof their children (possibly 8), grandchildren and their hundred or so first and second cousins, remained for a number generation in Oneida County.  However there were a few who left the area.

My 2nd g-grandmother Kittie Perry headed off to Massachusetts. I had surmised that she had gone directly to the town of Lynn since that is where she appears for many years in census records, city directories and a few obituaries.  Her sister Cordelia (Palmer/Spoor) Perry and brother George headed to Galeton, PA.  Luckily (for my research) her brother William remained behind in Rome.

Most newspapers in that era had a “social section”, Rome was no different.  You can learn who was out of town and why and who was in town and with whom they were staying.  You hear of who was sick, who had a dinner party and who cheated on their wife. And of course you find the usual birth, marriage and death notices.  Here are a few of the many articles that I found mentioning my Jones/Perry family:

  • Utica Morning Herald, August 24 1895 or 1896: Miss Georgiana Hughes (my g-grandmother) of Frankfort, who has been visiting her mother at Lowell, Mass. has returned, and accompanied by Miss Kittie May Palmer of Frankfort, is a guest of Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Perry of 414 West Dominick Street.
  • Rome Semi Weekly Citizen, September 1, 1896: Miss Georgianna Hughes of Lowell, Mass., and Miss Kittie A. Palmer of Frankfort, NY , are visiting their uncle, W. C. Perry, 414 West Dominick street.
  • The Utica Observer: Wednesday, Sept 4, 1895 W. C Perry, delivery window clerk at the post office, left yesterday afternoon on a bicycle trip of 275 miles to Lowell.
  • Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen, Friday September 24, 1897: WC Perry general delivery clerk at the post office received on Tuesday from his Uncle Owen R Jones of Clipper Gap, Placer County a box of four varieties of grapes. They excel anything in the grape line ever seen in this city.
  • Tuesday, Feb 21, 1891, Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen: The family of George Perry of East Rome, who eloped some time ago with Miss Nettie Hickson, is in a pitiable condition. On Wednesday afternoon three of the four children died with diphtheria, George, aged 4 years, 11 months and 18 days; Alice, aged 6 months; and Arthur, aged three years and one month. The remaining child, a son, about eight years old, has recovered from the disease. The mother is in bed, sick with the same disease, and is unable to do anything, but seems to be recovering. The only one present, aside from the family, and who is able to do anything, is a sister of Mrs. Perry, Miss Alice Phillips, who is now threatened with the disease. The family is not destitute, but they should receive the attention and aid of the Charitable people of the community. 
  • Utica Observer, October 19, 1904 – William C Perry has received a telegram announcing the death in Galeton, PA of his nephew George Spoore.  His mother, Mrs Charles Spoore was formerly Miss Delia Perry of this city.
  • The Auburn Bulletin, Friday, October 21, 1904 – Killed at Play, Game of Cowboy and Indians cost 16 year old boy his life – Corning, NY, George Spoor, aged 16 years of Galeton, PA was shot and instantly killed at that place by Carl Cartson a friend, Cartson was and Indian and Spoor a cowboy in a Wild West show.
  • UTICA HERALD-DISPATCH THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 3, 1911 Mrs. F. M. Shipman of Lynn, Mass and her daughter, Mrs. C. M. Hall, and son Charles (my grandfather) of Malden, Mass. are spending two weeks with Mrs. Shipman’s brother. W. C. Perry, 414 West Dominick street.
  • Utica Herald-Dispatch, Thursday Evening October 3, 1918, Page 13 Whole Families Dying: Mrs. F. M. Shipman of Lynn. Mass., who spent a month with her brother and wife. Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Perry.414 West Dominick street, returning home last week In perfect health. Mr. Perry has received a letter from his niece. Mrs. C. M Hall of Malden, Mass.. daughter of Mrs. Shipman stating that her mother had been, stricken with influenza and was confined to the bed, but the doctor says that she is improving. The letter says” The State Guards were called out tonight to do duty putting up tents and caring for the sick. Family after family are dying. They are having over 50 funerals a day here in Malden.
  • Utica Daily Press, September 11, 1909; Their Silver Wedding; Rome, Sept 10 – Mr. and Mrs. William C Perry 414 West Dominick street were married in this city 25 years ago by the late Rev James H Taylor, then pastor of the Presbyterian Church, and they have since lived here….During the afternoon and evening refreshments were served under the direction of Mrs. Fuller by 6 ladies attired in white, cousins of Mr. Perry. Margaret Jones and Jennie May Roberts of Floyd, Olwin Jones of Utica, Jennie May Palmer of Galeton, PA, Anne Hughes of Rome and Irene Jones of Rome, who were presented necklaces by Mrs. Perry.


  • Utica Morning Herald, November 4, 1896, page 2, column 3; FRANKFORT. PUSHED INTO THE CANAL. Sad Death of Mrs. James Evans of Frankfort (my g-g-g-gandmother).  Nov. 3.-About 7:30 o’clock last evening, as Mrs. James Evans of this village was walking along the towpath of the Erie canal she fell into “the canal. With her three grandchildren, the oldest about ten years of age she was returning from a visit to her sister. They met a team of horses drawing a canal boat and turned to pass them, taking the side near the water. After the team had passed the tow line brushed Mrs. Evans into the water. She was taken out as promptly as possible by the boatmen and removed to her home, where she died in a short time from the effects of her Injuries, at her age being unable to withstand the shock. Mrs. Evans was about 65 years old. She was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones and was born in Wales. She came with her parents to this country about 45 years ago. They settled in Oriskany and afterward removed to Floyd, where the deceased was married to George Perry. Mr. and Mrs. Perry came to Rome about 35 years ago, and lived on the Lynch farm in East Rome. Mr. Perry for some time conducting a milk route. He died 33 years ago. His widow married James Evans of Rome for her second husband:—Eleven years ago they removed to Frankfort…

To date I have found some 70 articles on this family.  Not only did it give me better insight into the lives of these family members, but many led to more discoveries.  I hadn’t known that my 2nd g-grandmother Kittie had resided in Lowell, MA.  This led to my discovery of her request for an annulment from her husband Frank Clough (for bigamy) in the Middlesex County Court records.  Which in turn led to me finding a copy of their marriage record at the Frankfort, NY county clerk’s office.

My g-grandmother Georgianna’s maiden name was thought to be Clough based on her marriage and death certificates, her handwriting on family photos and social security application (there were no recorded births in Rome, NY until 1882 and she was born in 1881).  These articles led to my discovery that her birth father’s name was probably Hughes. Which led me to the following newspaper marriage transcription on a GENWEB site:  “Perry, Kitty E. – Rome & John Hughes – Ilion. At residence of officiating clergyman Rev. Albert F. Lyle 8-4-1880. (HD 8-11-1880)”.

My point today is don’t overlook unlikely sources; you may find your ancestors. As with all documents, there may be errors, so you should always seek to uncover primary sources to strengthen your case.

A word about the search functions on this site.  It uses optical character recognition (OCR). OCR is not perfect, for example r n is often read as m,  l is often t and vice versa,  p can be read as a y.  I try to look for letters that look similar to each other or that perhaps look like another letter when close to each other.  For example, Thorn could be interpreted as Thom.  So a search for “John Thorn” may come up null, but by changing the search to “John Thom” you may get some hits.

Sometimes the OCR technology doesn’t work , especially if the paper is dark or the letters smeared.

Try searching on something other than a name.  For example I knew that Uncle William Perry lived on 414 West Dominick Street in Rome.  I searched on 414 AND Perry, then just on “West Dominick”  and also on “post office” AND Rome (since that is where he worked for 29 years) . I got lots of hits that I hadn’t found previously.

I have had similar luck with Newspaper Archives (although it is a pay site)  They have old copies of the Lowell Daily Sun.  My 3rd great uncle David Brian Pinder Hall lived for a time in Lowell, MA.  His grandson Joseph Edward David “Frenchie” Thibeault had16 children with 5 different women, most born in Lowell, MA, many of whom I uncovered using newspaper sources.

Seek out some online newspapers and see what you can find of your ancestors!  We’d love you to share some posts of your finds and suggestions for sources.  Remember that there are offline searchable newspapers as well. The Malden Public Library in Massachusetts has old copies of the Malden Evening News on microfilm.  While not searchable, I was able to find birth, marriage and death notices by collecting vital records and searching newspapers a week before and after those dates.

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