When writing my last post, I missed an event that Granduncle Fred (Ross W. McCurdy, that’s for you!) mentioned briefly in the many notes he had made. While Fred was “hoboing” his way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, he and his pals happened to be sitting on a coal car in the freight yard at Marion, Ohio, when the body of 29th U.S. President Warren G. Harding arrived for burial in Marion, Harding’s hometown. The President had died suddenly on 2 August 1923 at age 57 while on a speaking tour to San Francisco. Seeing “the entire train draped with black bunting” was a somber moment for Fred and his companions. Continue reading Back to the sea
When the money Fred had earned on the tanker Gulf King ran out, he started hanging around the hiring hall in Port Arthur, Texas, to find another ship that was sailing to someplace more exotic than Jacksonville, Florida. In the spring of 1923, however, jobs on board the Texas and Gulf Oil Companies’ ships were scarce. Fred met another out-of-work seamen named Jim who was headed back home to Denver. This piqued Fred’s interest, since Fred was born in Colorado, so he decided to tag along. Jim explained that with no money, the way to go was to hitch a ride on a freight train. Continue reading ‘That beacon’
As I wrote in A Telluride story, my maternal grandmother Thelma and great-uncle Frederick MacLean were orphaned at ages 3 and 1, respectively, when their parents died six months apart in 1905–6. Their father’s unmarried sister, Cape Breton-born Christine MacLean, brought the children from Telluride, Colorado, to raise them in Boston.
Great-Uncle Fred married four times to three women but never had any children. Perhaps that’s why he was very close to his sister Thelma’s four children: my mother Thelma Jr., her two sisters, and their baby brother, Andrew Jr. Fred’s poor marital track record may have been the result of his career choice. According to his official American Export Lines work record, between 1937 and his retirement in 1968 he spent an average of 38 weeks a year away from home. He also kept a list of the forty-seven countries on six of seven continents that he visited over the course of his career. Continue reading ‘He thinks we’re his crew’
After my photo album puzzle was solved within what seemed like minutes of being posted (thank you, everyone!), I did some quick research: Monhegan records around 1900 contained none of my husband’s family names. Seems likely his ancestor was just another visitor to the island – a tourist who was also a talented photographer, or who appreciated the skills of a photographer who, like many artists, was drawn to the beauty of Monhegan. Still, the images in the little album drew me in. I wanted to know more about this island situated twelve nautical miles off the coast of Boothbay, Maine. Continue reading Monhegan puzzle pieces
Our house has lots of dusty boxes that came from the houses of deceased family members. There’s the box of stuff from my father’s bachelor brother, William “Bud” Buzzell, who served on an LST during World War II and who sold me my first car for a dollar. There are several boxes from my mother’s mother, Thelma Jane MacLean, about whose Telluride parents I have written before.
Not to be outdone by my family’s packrat tendencies, we also have boxes from my husband Scott’s Inglis, Milne, Munroe, and MacCuish ancestors. The Inglis family hailed from Galashiels, south of Edinburgh; the Milnes were from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The Munroes left Scotland to settle in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We believe the MacCuishes emigrated from the island of North Uist in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides to Newfoundland. Continue reading A photographic puzzle
When I first started working at NEHGS in November 2015 and was introduced to Gary Boyd Roberts, he shook my hand and said, “Tell me about your family.” I told him my mother was half Cape Breton Scottish and Yorkshire English, and half Croatian (see my previous posts). His eyes glazed over. When I said my maiden name was Buzzell and my paternal grandmother was an Ordway from Medford, I could tell that little wheels started turning in Gary’s head: Yankees!
When my father was alive, I often asked him where his family was from. His response was usually “nowhere,” but sometimes he filled this void of information with a romantic genealogical fantasy: perhaps they were Huguenots banished from France? Continue reading The man from nowhere
Concluding the story of my great-grandparents’ years in Telluride, Colorado:
During her second pregnancy, my great-grandmother Alice (Pheasey) McLean suffered from a kidney ailment then known as Bright’s disease. Alice’s eyesight and her health in general seemed be on a downward spiral following her husband’s death. A December 1905 news item stated: “Mrs. Alice McLean has been real sick for a week.” In February, the paper described Alice’s condition as “very serious” and said that “Doctor Hadley [was called] several times yesterday and last night.” Continue reading ‘Day from night’
Life marched on for lawman Kenny McLean and his wife Alice as their daughter Thelma was growing up.
The heat of summer was making for a lot of shady dealings in Telluride, Colorado. In June 1905, Kenny went to a nearby town to collect a miner who had left “without going through the formality of liquidating” bills he owed; the man was jailed for eighty days for refusing to pay. There was also a story about a self-described “big, wealthy sheep man” who was writing bad checks to unsuspecting townspeople. Marshal McLean threw the man in jail “just as though he were a common sheep herder instead of a sheep owner.”
There was one wholesome event that July in which Kenny took part, however: a baseball game between employees of the Smuggler-Union and the Liberty Bell mines. Continue reading ‘Hard to go’
In the first year of Kenny and Alice McLean’s daughter’s life, labor strife at the Telluride mines was affecting the community.
On 1 September 1903, difficult and scary times came to Telluride. Union members demanding an eight-hour rather than a twelve-hour workday walked out of Telluride’s ore processing mills. This shutdown caused the closing of area gold and silver mines. When the Tomboy gold mine tried to reopen with nonunion workers (strikebreakers or “scabs”), the union posted armed picketers to prevent the new workers from entering. Continue reading Turbulent times
Amongst the family papers I inherited from my grandmother and great-uncle (orphans Thelma and Fred McLean in my earlier A Telluride story post), I found several old shiny Xerox copies (remember these?) of news articles my great-uncle Fred had made. He must have kept his local library swimming in copy revenue judging by the many such copies I found amongst his papers.
Fred McLean was our family genealogist. He dutifully typed up family stories, transcribed census records and letters, and then sent copies to his sister and her four children, one of whom was my mother, Thelma Jr. I wish Fred were alive today because it was due to him that I have an interest and now gainful employment in the field of genealogy. Continue reading In the news