MV Obsession

My obsession with Martha's Vineyard.. phototography..genealogy and life in general and this and that…


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Maine – Cemeteries and Meanderings Part I…

My daughter Deb and I made a recent pilgrimage to Maine, not only to enjoy the beauty and crisp autumn weather but to visit the graves of our relatives.

Our first night was spent in Ogunquit at the beautiful Colonial Inn.

 

You cannot go to Maine, or Ogunquit and not do these two things… have lobster roll and maybe blueberry pie too, which we did at Barnacle Billy’s.  Yum.

 

…and walk on Marginal Way and down on the beach.

 

One of the main reasons for our trip was to visit this tiny little cemetery in Rome, Maine where my great-grandfather Joseph P Littlefield, my great-grandmother Martha Jane Ellis and their 3 oldest children (they had 8), Margaret, Adison and Atwood are buried.

My great grandfather Joseph P Littlefield was injured in the Civil War at the Battle of Cold Harbor, he was sent home to Maine to die, which he did, not only of his massive injuries but also of typhoidal pneumonia. His wife and the 3 oldest of his 8 children died within months of him from it as well leaving my grandfather Charles G Littlefield at age 9 the oldest of the five remaining children. A tragic story and once we learned about it felt compelled to find their graves and honor them. Their small plot is off the beaten track in Rome, Maine but Deb found it and we traipsed through the brush to get to it. Worth the trip indeed.  This was very emotional in that Joseph, Martha Jane, Margaret, Adison and Atwood have become very real to us and we feel very close to them.  We weren’t able to bring them flowers but left 5 pennies to indicate we were there and remembering them.

That’s Deb’s car parked on the side of the road by the telephone sub station box, the path to the cemetery is where the flag is.

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From Rome, Maine we headed to Waterville, Maine where my mother was born and where my above mentioned grandfather, Charles G Littlefield is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery. Although my grandmother’s name, Albra Mae Littlefield is on the stone she is actually buried on Martha’s Vineyard with her third husband.

Also in this plot is my mother’s sister Tessa Mae Littlefield Robertson Poulin,  her husband Joseph Ezra Poulin, one of their daughers, Helen Brown and her husband Laurence Brown.

 

Thus ends our first full day in Maine and our cemetery visits.


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Memorial Day 2018…

Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.In 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and as a federal holiday.

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On my mother’s side of the family, my paternal great grandfather, Joseph Littlefield fought in the Civil War and died because of his wounds. He was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. He was sent home to Maine to die. He died of typhoidal pnemonia on Sep 30, 1864, he is buried in Rome, Maine. Unfortunately his wife and his 3 oldest children died of the same thing shortly thereafter, leaving my grandfather, Charles Littlefield at age 10 the oldest of the four remaining children.

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Below is a photo of the veteran’s section in the Fairmont Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey, where, on my father’s side of the family my great great paternal grandfather, Stephen Freeman is buried. Stephen did not die in the Civil War but was wounded in the battle of Antietam in 1862. He was sent home, lived another 29 years and died on May 30, 1891, which ironically was Memorial Day.

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Take a moment to remember the original reason for Memorial Day and the men and women who fought for, and gave their lives for our country.

Have a great Memorial Day and enjoy the weekend whatever you’re doing.

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Downtown Newark, NJ Walking Tour…

What a fun thing to do on a gorgeous April Saturday.  A walking tour of downtown Newark, NJ with Have You Met Newark tours.  Newark is where I was born and grew up and it’s exciting to see what’s going on there.  Here are some pictures of our tour.

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Pictured below is the Prudential Center arena (The Rock) and the NJ Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)

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The Old First Presbyterian Church was established in 1666 by the founders of Newark, NJ.  My 10 times great-grandfather was one of the founders of Newark and he, along with some of my other ancestors were buried there.

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The City Hall, and Broad and Market streets, known as the 4 corners.

 

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The Prudential buildings. The Prudential came to Newark in the late 1800’s, the original building was demolished in 1956 to make way for Prudential Plaza which opened in 1960.  A few blocks away in July 2016 the Prudential Tower opened.

Prudential Plaza                                                          Prudential Tower

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Right in downtown Newark are three lovely parks.  Lincoln Park, Military Park and here is Washington Park.  The Newark museum and library are located on one side of the park.

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Newark always had lots of department stores.  Pictured here are Bamberger’s (which became Macy’s).. and Kresge (which is the K in K-Mart ), there was also Orbach’s and S. Klein all within a two block radius.

But the department store that was always a bit above the others, literally and figuratively was Hahne & Co Hahne’s closed its doors in 1987 and sat empty for 30 years, it has been totally renovated and is gorgeous.  In addition to retail space the new renovation includes 160 apartments.  Note the original Hahne & Co sign.

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I’m a big fan of Newark, not just because I was born and raised there but because it’s a terrific place to visit.  Learn about what Newark is planning for the future, like this beautiful new park. IMG_4200 But also learn about Newark’s place in our history. A fun way to do that is with a group from Have You Met Newark.

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Ups and Downs Of The Vineyard…

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The eastern half of Martha’s Vineyard is called Down-Island and the western half is called Up-Island. Why you ask? To confuse you, that’s why. Not really, at least not on purpose. There is a very logical reason and here it is according to the MV website.

” Up-Island is the western area, which comprises the three rural towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Down-Island is the eastern portion, home to the larger historic villages of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury). The two terms come from the rich seagoing tradition of Martha’s Vineyard, which once sent its whaling ships circuling the globe heading “up” in nautical terms takes you “west” because it’s further from zero degrees of longitude in Greenwich, England, home of the Prime Meridian.”

Well then, according to the Guide to Martha’s Vineyard we have this explanation. “When a ship sails in an easterly direction, it is decreasing or running “down” the degrees of longitude toward zero at Greenwich, England. A westbound vessel, on the other hand, is running “up” its longitude. Thus the Down-Island town are those on the eastern and northeastern end of the Island. The Up-Island communities are at the western end. A ship moving through Vineyard Sound sails “up” to New York and “down” east to Maine.” Ah ha.

OK, I’m still confused but I do know how to get from Down-Island to Up-Island and not get lost… it’s an Island, how lost could one get anyway.

Got all that… me neither 🙂

But that’s not the only confusion about the Vineyard … she had an identity crisis at one time involving Massachusetts and New York.

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Martha! Martin! New York! Massachusetts! How many aliases and states have claimed this 100 sq mile island? The Wampanoags named it Noepe and that stuck until Bartholomew Gosnold came along in 1602.

No one seems to know who the Martin was whose name was once attached to the Vineyard… so let’s move ahead to Martha whose identity is still shrouded in myth. Was she one of Gosnold’s daughters, or his mother, or the name of an English royal. Whoever she was her name stuck and in my opinion has a nicer ring to it then Martin’s Vineyard.

According to the book “The History of Martha’s Vineyard” by Arthur R. Railton, in 1664 Charles II gave NY, NJ and the islands to the east to his brother, the Duke of York. In 1670 Thomas Mayhew, Jr and his grandson Matthew of Massachusetts traveled to NY to ask Gov Lovelace which colony his Island was under… New York or Massachusetts. Gov Lovelace made Thomas Mayhew “Governor for Life” of Martha’s Vineyard and gave him the authority to collect rents from all who lived within its bounds. Voila, Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts. History lesson over. 🙂

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Remembering My Great-Grandfather…

On this Memorial Day I am remembering my great grandfather, Joseph P Littlefield

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The following is copied from post my daughter Deb wrote … I couldn’t have said it better.

“Remembering: JOSEPH P. LITTLEFIELD of Rome, Maine. 40-years-old and father of eight children, my great-great-grandfather joined the Union army in the summer of 1864, just as the Civil War was grinding to its bitter, violent end. He was in Company C of the 9th Maine Regt, and badly wounded in the battle of Cold Harbor, shot through his left hand into his lower back. He was sent back home to Maine where he died two months later on 30 Sep 1864. According to his 24-year-old doctor, he died of “Typhoidal Pneumonia induced by wounds received in the Battle of the Wilderness, VA … the deceased soldier came to this death by reason of disease induced by a wound through the hand, contusion in his back, and subsequent exposure and fatigue in the field of battle, causing fever or “Typhoidal Pneumonia” from which he never recovered.” The pain must have been horrible.

Worse, adding insult to grievous injury, within a month of Joseph’s death, his wife and three oldest children also died, presumably from Typhoid or some other contagious fever. This left my 10-year-old great-grandfather Charles Littlefield the oldest of the five remaining children. I know how desperate both sides of the Civil War were by 1864 for men, but the idea that a 40-year old father of eight would sign up is appalling. And the fact that he not only died—horrible, but not unexpected for a soldier–but that he took his wife and three of his children with him?”

On this Memorial Day, remembering all who gave their lives for our country.


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Newark, New Jersey Adventures…

Newark, New Jersey is where I was born and grew up.  As you can tell by the clock it’s a timeless city 🙂 Last week my daughter Deb, our cousin Kris, our friend Dawn and I went off on our adventure

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Our family, the Freeman’s go back to the original founding fathers of Newark.  My 8th times great grandfather (not sure of the number), Stephen Freeman, along with Robert Treat and a host of other men from Milford and Branford, Ct founded the city of Newark in 1666.  It has just celebrated its 350 birthday in 2016.  I am the last of our particular Freeman line to be born in Newark as was my father, my grandfather etc.

The monument to the founding fathers fell into disrepair and actually disappeared for many years.

(The 9-foot-tall monument, which weighs 13,000 pounds, was lying on its back underneath a tattered blue tarp in a city lot at the city’s Division of Traffic and Signals. Without further inspection, you’d think it was discarded junk.The marble base was detached. The wooden pallet that held the monument was in standing water between a trash bin and a gaggle of inoperable traffic lights.Not exactly what Newark’s stakeholders had in mind when they gave it to the city in 1916 to celebrate its 250th anniversary.) You can read more of that article by CLICKING HERE…

Thankfully it was restored and put in its new location in 2016 for Newark’s 350th anniversary.

There is also another founding fathers statue which is located in Fairmont Cemetery.  Just so happens many of our ancestors are buried there but that will be in another blog post.

My daughter Deb, myself, our cousin Kristan.

We headed to the Court House to see the ‘Seated LIncoln’ statue of Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Gutzon Borglum who was the creator of the Mount Rushmore sculpture of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.  CLICK HERE to read about the Seated Lincoln statue in Newark.

The main reason I wanted to visit this sculpture was to try and recreate a picture my mother and grandmother had taken in the 1920’s.

My grandmother and mother                      Me with daughter Deb.

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Surprising to many who don’t know much about the city of Newark, it has some beautiful parks in it.  Washington Park, Lincoln Park and the newly revitalized Military Park.  CLICK HERE PLEASE…

Military Park

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The newly revitalized park reopened in June 2014.  There are outdoor tables, walking paths, statue of John F Kennedy, ping-pong tables, nice umbrellas which my group utilized to get out of the 87 degree heat the day we were there, and the Liberty Pole.

*From Wikipedia —  Military Park is a 6-acre city park in downtown Newark, New Jersey.  From 1667, when the city was planned, until 1869 it was a training ground for soldiers.  In 1869 it became the town commons.*

The most impressive thing in Military Park is the ‘Wars Of America’ sculpture by Gutzon Borglum (who also sculpted the above mentioned statue of Lincoln).

*From NJ.com -The bronze masterpiece consists of forty-two human beings and two horses and commemorates America’s participation in the Revolution, War of 1812; Indian Wars; Mexican War, the Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I.

It is in Military Park, which dates back to 1667–when the park was a training ground for soldiers and, later, a drill field for the Colonial and Continental armies–where the colossal Wars of America statue stands in striking relief. It is the centerpiece of the park.

CLICK HERE to read about this beautiful sculpture…

Thus ends my latest trip back to Newark.  Since we’ve been delving into our family ancestry and our connection to the city I come from we’ve been back to Newark more times in the past two years than I had been in the last maybe 30 years.  I have a feeling we’re not done yet 🙂


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Newport, RI continued …

Believe it or not, no more mansions 🙂  just a little of this and a little of that.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame.

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Portuguese Discovery monument

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Sunset at Breton Point

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And this and that…

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This concludes my posts about the trip to Newport, RI … I think 🙂

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)


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Newport, RI – Part 3 – The Elms…

 

The Elms…

The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d’Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris.

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pizap.com14637846840792The original Elms circa 1897.

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I think the Elms might be my favorite…I mean they’re all beautiful in their over the top ornate way but somehow the Elms seems to be more cozy if that’s possible. Or perhaps it’s the fact that this piece of history came within weeks of being torn down !

The Elms was the summer residence of Edward and Sarah Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. In 1922 Mrs. Berwind died, and Edward asked his youngest sister Julia Berwind to move in and become the hostess of The Elms. In 1936 when he died he willed the house to Julia who lived there until she died in 1961.

This according to Wikipedia: Childless, Julia Berwind willed the estate to a nephew, who did not want it and fruitlessly tried to pass The Elms to someone else in the family. Finally the family auctioned off the contents of the estate and sold the property to a developer who wanted to tear it down. In 1962, just weeks before its date with the wrecking ball, The Elms was purchased by the Preservation Society of Newport County for $116,000.  Since then, the house has been open to the public for tours. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996.

Let’s take a look around the house and gardens before heading off to my favorite part of the tour !!!

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The conservatory… I could spend all my time in here…

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The back lawn and gardens…

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Julia A Berwind, sister of Edward Berwind.

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According to Wikipedia: Edward asked his youngest sister Julia A. Berwind to move in and become the hostess of The Elms after his wife died. In 1936, when he died, he willed the house to Julia, who  was well known in Newport. She would invite children from the nearby Fifth Ward (a working-class immigrant neighborhood) to the estate for milk and cookies. She had a love for cars and would drive around Newport every day in one of her luxury cars. This was somewhat shocking to the rest of Newport society where it was considered “unladylike” for women to drive themselves.

Now let’s get around to my favorite part …  the Servant Life Tour.  It’s 82 steps up to the 3td  floor. A balustrade around the roof of the mansion hides the entire dormitory-style third floor where single female and male servants lived in 16 rooms with 3 bathrooms. Married staff lived offsite. The back staircase kept the staff very much behind the scenes as they went about their duties,

pizap.com14639572316861There was also access to the roof and a beautiful view of Newport..

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From there we headed back down the 82 steps to the basement to view the coal-fired furnaces and the tunnel from which the coal is brought into the basement from a nearby street, there’s a little coal in the corner to give you an idea of how massive this coal storage area was. Seen here is also the laundry room and kitchen.

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That concludes the tour of the three mansions we visited.  But that’s not all so stay tuned for more.   In the meantime let your imagination take you away to a midnight stroll in the garden… happy dreaming.

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New Port Preservation Society, The Elms CLICK HERE

Wikipedia The Elms CLICK HERE

Servants Life Tour CLICK HERE

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)


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Newport, RI – Part 2 – The Breakers…

The Breakers – if you only have time to see one mansion/summer cottage, this the THE one to visit.

From wikipedia: ” The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. The Breakers was built as the Newport summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The Breakers is the architectural and social archetype of the ‘Gilded Age’ a period when members of the Vanderbilt family were among the major industrialists of America. Vanderbilt was the President and Chairman of the New York Central Railroad, and was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The Commodore made the family fortune in the steamship and railroad industries.In 1895, the year of its completion, The Breakers was the largest, most opulent house in the Newport area.”

CLICK HERE to read more….

This was the original Breakers which was destroyed by fire in 1892.  A modest summer cottage…

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Vanderbilt commissioned famed architect Richard Morris Hunt to rebuild it and  insisted that the building be made as fireproof as possible and as such, the structure of the building used steel trusses and no wooden parts.

And this is the Breakers in 1895… somewhat different from the original, wouldn’t you say.

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Great hall …

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Around the ‘cottage’… 2 sitting rooms – music room – library – bathroom – dining room.

In the library the fireplace, taken from a 16th-century French chateau  bears the inscription “I laugh at great wealth, and never miss it; nothing but wisdom matters in the end.”

mosaic2d3c178bc4b28b48496f16dc95b9f9c94d6d87e4Back of grand staircase – ceiling – gilded door – portrait – platinum wall paper – chandelier.

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‘The kitchen, unlike others in the time period, was situated on the first floor away from the main house to prevent the possibility of fires and cooking smells reaching the main parts of the house.’ You can understand why after the original Breakers burned down that they’d want the kitchen further away. This kitchen is gorgeous, it could even tempt me to whip up a cake or something.  Maybe.

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The grounds … you never know what you might see out there 🙂

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The Breakers is amazing… not just in its beauty and opulence but in the thought and foresight that went into building it.

Just a few more pictures, really, just a few 🙂

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If you haven’t been to the Breakers I hope you get to go.  In the mean time CLICK HERE for the Breakers and HERE to find out more about Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Coming next … what mansion came within weeks of being torn down !!

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)


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Newport, RI – Part 1 – Marble House…

As you may have guessed from the clues in the previous post ‘April Road Trip’.. our trip was to Newport, Rhode Island to visit the mansions of the Gilded Age.  And gilded they were.

Mansion #1- Marble House.

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According to Wikipedia :  “The mansion was built as a summer “cottage” retreat between 1888 and 1892 for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt. It was a social landmark that helped spark the transformation of Newport from a relatively relaxed summer colony of wooden houses to the now legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. The fifty-room mansion required a staff of 36 servants, including butlers, maids, coachmen, and footmen. The mansion cost $11 million ($260,000,000 in 2009 dollars) of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet (14,000 m³) of marble.”

The tours are audio guided which lets you progress at your own speed…  also now photos are allowed with smart phones.  You can use SLR’s without flash with written permission when you get there.  I used my SLR digital camera as well as my smart phone.   Let’s step inside now and begin the tour of Marble House…

Foyer and staircase….

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Around the house..

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kitchen

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Alva was big in the Women’s Suffrage movement, you can find this ‘Votes for Women’ china in the gift shop.

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One cannot leave Marble House without walking around the grounds and visiting the Chinese Tea House on the back lawn.

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pizap.com14624870194831This is only a sampling of the many pictures we took.  This house, escuse me ‘summer cottage’ is incredibly beautiful and interesting.  To read more about it and the original owners, William Kissam Vanderbilt and his eclectic and interesting wife Alva… CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE

Coming next… the ultimate ‘summer cottage’.  Can you guess which it is ?

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)