Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Talented Tuesday - A builder in the family

My great great grandfather was a carpenter. A great carpenter from what I hear. Louis Deschamps was born 21 Jul 1842 in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, but lived in Nashua, NH for a large portion of his life. A carpenter and builder by trade, Louis built the house he lived in and the house his son and his family lived in. The addresses for the houses are 65 Kinsley and 43 Kinsley Street Nashua, NH. Built at the turn of the 20th Century, they are both still standing. I know he built other houses in the area as well, but I don't have any records of where they were located. Though the houses may not be in the best condition now, I have a lot of pride for what my grandfather was able to accomplish. The craftsmanship is evident even if the facades are slowing deteriorating. And they may no longer belong to the family, they are a part of our family story.

The first two pictures are of 65 Kinsley Street and the third is 43 Kinsley (Nashua, NH)




Monday, March 28, 2011

Military Monday - George Washington Huff

This is becoming an all too familiar theme in my research, but not a lot was known about my great great grandfather George Washington Huff. Other than his name and that he was in the military, my family couldn't recall too much about him. One of my aunts said that he was a tailor in the Army. I haven't actually found any documents describing him as such. I do have many of his enlistment papters (which I will post tonight) and they list him as a soldier.

George Washington Huff was born in Morris, Illinois in 1861 and began enlisting in the Army by the time he was 18. Records I have show that he served in Kansas and New York, but since one of his children were born in California, I will assume that he also served in CA. While serving at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, his daughter, Nellie Huff, met a soldier of her own, George Arthur Fields. They would marry and are my great grandparents.

However, George W. Huff, a career soldier in the US Army, died due to a fracture at the base of his skull from an accident (supposedly getting run over by a horse) on 16 Sep 1902. Though the record doesn't state whether it was on base or off, I'll keep searching. I've been able to find out a lot about my great great grandfather, but there is still a lot to uncover.

(I want to post the documents I have, but the image size is too large. If anyone has any advice, please don't hesitate.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Family Folklore

My wife's grandmother, Alice Nawfel, nee Langley, is going to be 83 this November. She's a brilliantly healthy woman that sometimes looks after my daughter so my wife can run errands or go to the gym. Her father was from Canada (English) and her mother was born in Gloucester, MA, and was Portuguese. However, the family story that has been passed down the generations, is that her father, James Edward Langley, came to the United States from Canada like a lot of families at the turn of the Twentieth Century. However, this Langley family story has yet to be confirmed. Alice says that her father came to the United States on a ship from Canada at about 15 years old...dressed as a girl. What would someone gain by crossing the border in drag? Did they not question women as much back then? If he came her at 15, was it a question of age and he thought that being a girl would lead to fewer questions? I haven't a clue. And even though I have likely found their legal and correct border crossing information, the story is priceless. I can only imagine what it would be like growing up thinking that this is how your father entered the country. And this is why I started this blog; to get stories like this on record. I'll find the truth in the documents that are available, but this is family folklore and these stories will live on. And why shouldn't they.

Does anyone else have stories of family folklore that they know is likely wrong, but are still proud of the story nonetheless?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Barresi Family Line

I intend to list the heritage of all the lines in mine and my wife's family. And I actually know/have the least information on my Barresi line. I can only make it back a few generations and if any fellow genealogy bloggers and researchers have advice, please don't hesitate.

Michael Stephen Barresi Jr (b. 5 Nov 1978 Malden, MA)
   m. Courtney Kathleen Evans (b. 3 Jan 1978 Gloucester, MA)
Michael Stephen Barresi (b. 5 Oct 1952 Revere, MA0
   m. Elizabeth Fields (b. 1 Jan 1953 Everett, MA)
Michael (Mario?) Joseph Barresi (b. 25 May 1924 Revere, MA d. 13 Mar 2010 Melrose, MA)
   m. Carmela (Camille) Belmonte (b. 28 Aug 1926 Revere, MA)
Francesco Barresi (b. 10 Mar 1880 Catania, Sicily, Italy d. DATE UNKNOWN Revere, MA)
   m. Caterina Nolfo (b. 7 Mar 1881 Mineo, Catania, Sicily, Italy d. DATE UKNOWN Revere, MA)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Michael Joseph Barresi

Michael Joseph Barresi (b. 25 May 1924 Revere, MA d. 13 March 2010 Melrose, MA) My grandfather was born Mario Barresi, but his family always called him Michael. When he got a little older, he supposedly legally changed it to Michael Joseph, but I've never seen anything that stated his name was Mario. I wonder if my grandmother has his birth certificate?

Like so many men and women of his generation, my grandfather served in WWII. He proudly served as a Seabee in the US Navy stationed in Hawaii (post-Pearl Harbor) and Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. Hawaii = beautiful weather and Aleutians = 5 feet of snow. Yet, my grandfather used to say that he hated serving in Hawaii with everyone in their dress whites, having to salute officers and taking part in the 'show.' He said he enjoyed his time in the Aleutians much more. It was probably because he felt he was actually doing something, adding to the war effort.

The Aluetians are a strategic group of islands off the coast of Alaska and their proximity to Japan and the Pacific theatre made them valuable for Japan and the US. While in the Aleutians on the island of Adak, my grandfather's unit was tasked with building airstrips for US planes to land so they could refuel and rearm. He was an electrician in the unit and his job was to build the generators that would light the airstrip and until the day he died, he was proud of what he did. I have many pictures of my grandfather from his time on Adak and he was a good looking kid. Always smiling, always laughing, and posing for the camera. I try and think of him this way, but it's not how I always remember him. However, as I get older and now have a family of my own, I am able to look over some of his faults and personality traits that may have caused problems in my life. Instead, I think of my grandfather as an 18 year old kid from Revere, repairing shoes in green canvas tents with snow four feet high piled up outside. I think of him as a card player, making lists of people that owed him money. Sixty years later, he'd still be saying, "oh, him? he still owes me $20."

I think of my grandfather as a young man returning from war, to a young girlfriend waiting for him, that he would marry and stay married to for over 60 years. When I think of my grandfather I remember his stories. How his mother sold the family vineyard in Sicily because she thought he was going to die in the war, when in fact, he never fired a shot, unless it was for fun during the downtimes on that Alaskan island.

My grandfather passed away less than a year after my daughter Ava was born so she'll never know her great grandfather. He was at  the hospital the day she was born and my grandmother says that when he would be home on the couch, watching his Westerns, he'd wave at her picture, and my niece Chloe's picture, and say hi to them. This is the man I want my daughter to know. This the man that my father was named after, and therefore whom I was named after as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future.” - Alex Haley

For years, I’d been interested in my family’s history. Trying to listen to as many stories as possible to put together some sort of understanding of where my family came from. It didn’t take long to realize that no one really knew much. My mother didn’t know last names of grandparents or where they were born. My father only remembered snippets of his grandparents and aunts and uncles from when he was growing up. Then a year and a half ago, my daughter Ava was born. And though she may never care to know about her family’s history, I made it my mission to piece together as much history, factual or otherwise, as I could. She will never get the chance to meet her grandmother or many of her great grandparents, but that doesn’t mean she should know about them. She should have every opportunity to hear stories about them, so their story continues on.

This will be her story, a story of all of us.