Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blog Fade

Walt reminds me daily to write, least my site suffer from "blog fade." Rather than summarize the past two months of research, I thought I'd post a couple of paragraphs from a letter from my great Aunt Margaret about her mother and father's family.

"I was born Margaret Joiner Barrie on December 23, 1915 to Alfred Barrie and Ellen Hold Barrie in West haven, Conneticut. My father was a machinist who was born in Patterson, New Jersey, but had moved to Canada for a while where he went to trade school two or three years. I did not know my grandfather Barrie, but I do vaguely remember my grandmother, who spoke with a real Scottish "brogue" -- I could hardly understand her. My father came from a large family -- four sisters and four brothers. One of her sisters, Margaret, was a teaher of special education children and had lost her arm as a young girl climbing under a train. She never married, nor did her sister Anna May, who was also a teacher. These two sisters were very good to their mother and I remember that they bought her a house in later life.

My mother had four brothers (Harry, Tom, Bill and Donald) and two sisters (Lillian and Mildred). Lillian was married and had two children: one son (Billy) and one daughter (Anna). Mildred was my mother's twin sister and was married but never had any children.

My mother was born in Coventry, England and her father came to America to work and then sent money for his wife and seven children to come to America. My mother (Ellen) was only about seven or nine when she made the trip across the Atlantic. They all lived in a very crowded five-room flat in Paterson, New Jersey. One day, her mother was cooking with a frying pan and the pan and stove caught fire. Somehow, she threw the pan down the stairs and the fire spread quickly through the house and she was trapped and died. Her father married again a few years late, but most of the kids had to be taken in by other families. My mother had to leave school in the fifth or sixth grade and went to work as a maid in an ice cream parlor. The family was very good to her and helped raise her."

This letter arrived on the heals of my finding a 1900 census for "Nellie" Barrie, her father William and stepmother of one year, Lizzie. On a hunch, I sent a copy of the record to my cousin Barrie Lee who responded yes, that could very well be Ellen. Yesterday, he called and said that he'd run across Aunt Marg's letter.

Yesterday, I also met a cousin in Australia. Alfred's (Ellen's husband) grandmother is also my cousin Lou's 5th grandmother. I'll write more about the Joiners in my next post.

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