Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

PreMemorial Day Visit May 31, 2017

On the weekend before Memorial Day I was visiting home territory in Boston Massachusetts.  While there I visited the cemetery in Winchester where my father and my maternal grandparents and great aunt are buried.  I had been wanting to do this for a long time.  My last and only previous visit to the Winchester cemetery had been 60 years ago in August 1957, the day of my grandfather’s funeral.



My Grandmother Mary Elizabeth Murdock, Another Snippet April 11, 2017


In 1882 at age 19 my grandmother married Major Charles Dana Miller.  There was a big difference in their ages.  At 46 he was old enough to be her father.  They went on to have 5 children – Myrtle in 1884, Ruth in 1886, Dana in 1887, Joseph in 1891, and Roy in 1893.  Major Miller, though in ill health as a result of injuries incurred in the Civil War, was an active member in their local community of Mt. Vernon Ohio.  For health reasons, they spent a certain amount of time in Florida.  Was this an asthmatic condition?  But it was in Mt. Vernon where he died at the still young age of 61 in 1898.  Mary became a widow with 5 young children.

I recall being told that he had an encounter with a burglar in the cellar of their home in Mt. Vernon.  Gun shots were exchanged and a bullet shattered a glass jar used to preserve fruits and vegetables.  He was cut by a piece of glass, blood poisoning developed, proving to be fatal.  That’s the story in my memory.

Alternatively I have subsequently read that his death was due to skin cancer.  Quite different.  That is the cause of death given in the book about his service in the Civil War – Struggle for the Life of the Republic.

Reading the obituary published following his death, the writer indicates that Charles was a man of small stature/light frame and nervous temperament.  This implies that he was not 100% healthy at the time of his enlistment in 1861, at age 25.  Despite this he served valiantly until his honorable discharge in 1964.  Over the years  he went on to father 7 children.  In later life he spent time in Florida, for health reasons.  Near the end he returned to Newark and failed  more rapidly.     I think this sounds like cancer.  Or possibly his problems with asthma and chronic bronchitis just lead to an early death.

Questions – family mysteries.


May 1 – My Maternal Grandmother’s Birth Date May 1, 2016

My maternal grandmother was born in Boston Massachusetts on May 1 1872 and was accordingly named May Belle.  Sounds as if her parents, James D. K. Willis and Ellen Cummings, were delighted.

  May Belle as a young mother in Minneapolis Minnesota, April or May 1912

May Belle and Auntie with Betsy and JanetGrandmother May Belle (on the right)  in Spring 1940, shortly before she died in July 1940 – Winchester Mass  The 2 little girls are her grand daughters, and the other woman is her sister-in-law “Auntie”

  my grandmother May Belle in later years, the 1930’s, in Winchester Massachusetts


Mary Fithin 6x Great Grandmother January 11, 2016

Mary Fithan Murdock Old Burying Ground Westbrook Conn  Mary Fithin Murdock, Old Burial Ground, Westbrook Connecticut

6th Great Grandmother

Did she spell her name Fithin or Fithian?

Old Burying Ground Cemetery Westbrook Conn

Old Burying Ground Cemetery Westbrook Connecticut



Genealogy – Blog 3A – Reflections on the Life of Grandma Miller July 10, 2015

Filed under: Grandmothers,Grandparents,Mary Elizabeth Murdock — Janet @ 1:23 am

Grandma Miller – Mary Elizabeth Murdock, 1863-1954      Her life spanned nearly a century.  Born a farm girl in Crown Point, New York, on the shores of Lake Champlain – not far from where I went to college in Middlebury Vermont.   Born shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation in the middle of the Civil War.  She grew up in Crown Point and after finishing high school, she went away to Albany New York to attend the Normal School/College there, a distance of a little over 100 miles, an estimated 2 hour drive in 2015.  In the l870’s how would Mary have travelled?  Was there train service?  She pursued a 2 year course of studies so she was probably only 16 or 17 when she graduated with her teaching qualification.

Back in Crown Point, Mary Elizabeth’s mother, Lucy Anna Warner, died on March 2, 1878.  She was only 35 years old.

Mary had a younger sister, Isabella born in 1869.  Isabella had a short life – sadly she died at age 11 0r 12 some time after the U.S. Census in June 1880.

Mary was trained to be a teacher, about the only occupation for educated women, at that time.  Family rumour has it that Mary responded to an advertisement for a woman to look after the 2 children of Charles Dana Miller, a widower in Newark Ohio.  The children were in their early teens.  Presumably the advertisement was for a tutor and the teaching duties could be combined with housekeeping.  The father in question had been a widower for some time since 1867 or 1868.  The 2 infant children were subsequently looked after by one of his sisters.

IMG_0014     Mary Elizabeth Murdock, 1880?

to be continued


My Grandmothers April 29, 2015

Filed under: Family,Genealogy,Grandmothers — Janet @ 5:05 pm

IMG_0014  Mary Elizabeth Murdoch, my grandmother age 19?,  1882?

 Mary Elizabeth Murdoch Miller and her son Joseph Buckingham Miller in North Carolina (? or Florida) in 1943.  This picture might have been taken around the time of her 80th birthday, October 30th 1943.

   Mary Elizabeth Miller – self published book of poetry, Late Flowers, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1940’s


My mother’s Great Aunt, Eunice Augusta Friend, my Grandfather Friend’s sister, is included here as she was part of my grandparent’s household.

IMG_0004  Auntie with my cousin Rusty, 1939 approx

 May Belle Willis Friend, Hennepin, Minneapolis, Minnesota, approx. May 1912, the baby is my mother Dorothy Friend, and looking on is Dorothy’s older sister Elizabeth age 5

  Gussie – Eunice Augusta Friend, Alfred William Friend, May Belle Willis Friend, 45 Wildwood Street, Winchester Mass,, 1939 (?)

IMG   Auntie (Eunice Augusta Friend, 1873-1952), my cousin Betsy, me, Grandma Friend, 1872-1940,     photo taken Spring 1939?