#52Ancestors Week 11 March 12, 2018 Lucky


By Marilyn Sears Lindsey

Claire Lavina Sanders (b. 1927) and Leslie Ray Sears, Jr. (1928-1985) were certainly lucky to meet on a blind date in college and then hit it off so well that they were married just a few years later on Saturday, March 17, 1951 at the Upton Methodist Church in front of God and all their family and friends.  I know because they are my beloved parents.

02.1951 Harriet, Claire & Mabel at Mom's Wedding Shower with my grandmothers.jpg
February, 1951 Harriet Sears, Claire Sanders and Mabel Sanders at Claire’s Bridal Shower
03.17.1951 44 C 44 Claire & Les Wedding.jpg
March 17, 1951 Les and Claire

DEF V1P01 03.17.1951 R Leslie & Claire's Wedding Day

03.17.1951 Mabel Sanders, Harriet Sears on Leslie & Claire’s Wedding Day

Dad had started college in 1945, served in the Navy for 3 years and came back to finish college in 1950.

1947 Q&P Dad & Jack David Stanley & Friends
Circa 1947 Les, Jack David Stanley & Friends who served on the aircraft carrier the USS Boxer CV-21.

The luck of the Irish was evident during the years of their courtship as they partied with friends, went on picnics and joined Dad’s fraternity brothers and their dates at dances.

1945 Q&P Claire
Circa 1945 Claire Lavina Sanders

1948 Q&P Claire & Les

Circa 1948 on the Esplanade by the Charles River

06.1945 Q&P Leslie Ray Sears, Jr.
06.1945 Leslie Ray Sears, Jr.
04.23.1949 Q&P Scabbard and Blade Spring Dance.jpg
April 23, 1949
1949 Q&P LambdaChi
Circa 1949

DEF V1P01 1948 Les & Claire.jpg

They were lucky again to have 3 healthy children in 6 years and have the blessings of everything that a close family brings to life.

Living in Germany.jpg
Circa 1953 Leslie Ray Sears III and Leslie Ray Sears, Jr. in West Germany
Marilyn, Claire, Pam and Ray
Circa 1958 Marilyn, Claire, Pam and Ray at Springfield Armory

Dad’s career in the U.S. Army was another blessing.  We got the chance to move around the country, enjoy the splendor of this great land while getting to visit relatives as we went.  Dad was able to serve his country with more than a quarter century of service – something that was so important to him.

1952 Q&P Dad with the 91st AntiAircraft Artillery in Grafenwohr, Germany (umlaut
1952 Les and another soldier with the 91st AntiAircraft Artillery in Grafenwohr, Germany
07.18.1960 Les receives Army Commendation Medal from Gen. Mayo
7.18.1960 Les received the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service on the mechanization of military pay project from Major Gen. Mayo
Brig Gen Leslie R Sears Jr & Col. Jerry Butler at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IND
2.27.1973 Brig Gen Leslie R Sears Jr and Col. Jerry Butler at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IND

Les and Claire were also lucky in the lifelong friends they made.  Bob Duke was Les’ Best Man.  Les met Jerry Butler in Germany and even lived nearby when they retired to Treasure Island, FL.  Russ Chapin and Les bought a boat together – the Taipan – and worked weekends to restore it.

02.1983 Q&P Jerry Butler and Les in Treasure Island house
02.1983 Jerry Butler and Les help Angelica read the mail.
08.1973 Q&P Pam Sears & Russ Chapin
08.1973 Pam Sears and Russ Chapin at a party
03.17.1985 Bob Duke at the Treasure Island House
03.17.1985 Bob Duke at the Treasure Island House for Les & Claire’s last anniversary (34 years of marriage)

Buying and selling so many house (more than 15) was also a financial blessing as we continued to be able to afford more spacious homes for our growing family.

1968 Q&P Harriet's House - The Cedars
1951 Les and Claire lived at the Cedars on Cape Cod after they were married.
JB Springfield Armory Building#5 - building is sole example of Second Empire Sty
1958 Springfield Armory Building #5 Duplex
07.09.2009 Q&P Marilyn & Alissa at Ft. Leavenworth
1963-1964 We lived at #26 Artillery Road (a quad-plex) at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. This photo is from 2009 when Alissa and I re-visited Ft. Leavenworth.
John Marshall Drive
1967 2611 John Marshall Drive, Arlington VA
Beautification Award at Treasure Island House
1986 Claire won this Beautification Award for all the work she and Les had done on the Treasure Island house.

Since our parents had graduated from college, they knew the importance to us kids about following in their footsteps.  We all 3 graduated from college with degrees in our chosen fields that we were able to build careers from.

Dad was lucky again when he retired from the Army in 1976 and transitioned to retired life. How lucky can one family be!

Les retires from the Army
1976 Les retires from the Army



Mabel Arilla Payne Sanders: A Strong Woman Whose Courage Has Been Passed Down in Our Family (In honor of Women’s History Month) #52Ancestors

Mabel Arilla Payne

By Marilyn Sears Lindsey

March 5, 2018 – Week 10

One of the strongest women I know is my maternal grandmother, Mabel Arilla Payne.  When she was young in the early 20th century, she told her mother that she wanted to become a nurse.  Her mother replied: Become a mother and you’ll be an excellent nurse.  So she followed in the footsteps of mothers everywhere and became the extraordinary matriarch of our family.

11.25.1950 Mabel & Paul's Wedding
Mabel and her 5 daughters on November 25, 1950 at Mabel & Paul’s Wedding; Back row: Jean, Phoebe, Flo; Front row: Claire, Mabel Arilla and Mabel Eunice.


Mabel Sanders, Mabel Adams, Claire Sears, Phoebe Glaze and Flo Hightower and pos
Mabel Arilla, great-grandson and 4 of her 5 daughters – Mabel Eunice, Claire, Phoebe and Florence circa 1995
1953 Lee, Bob & Jim Life and Times Disc 3 Contents
Leland, Bob and Jim circa 1953

All 3 of Mabel’s sons served in the military – Lee joined the US Navy in 1944; Jim was in the US Army in 1948 in the Korean War; and Bob joined the US Navy.

Mabel Arilla Payne lived from 1904 – 2005.  The extraordinary women mentioned here were her contemporaries.

MABEL’S CONTEMPORARY: Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972) was a mother and Industrial Engineer who had 12 children.

1904 at 1 day old

Elizabeth (1901-1991) was 3 years old when her sister Mabel was born.  Mabel was one of the strongest women I know because she only weighed one pound when she was born prematurely.  Her parents had her sleep on a pillow in an open dresser drawer so they could keep an eye on her.

Mabel & Lizzie
Mabel & Lizzie circa 1905

Then her father died in a sawmill accident when she was only 1 month old.  She had to be strong to survive.  Mabel was the 4th oldest of 8 kids (her 2 older brothers Alfred and Albert died before they were 1 year old).  When Mabel was 3, her brother Arthur (1907-1962) was born and when she was 4 her brother Austin (1908-1909) was born but only lived one year.  She had one more sister Ethel (1917-2005) and one more brother James (1921-1995).  Five of the 8 siblings lived to adulthood.

Circa 1915 at 11 years old

Mabel was an animal lover and enjoyed having dogs…just like Claire’s 3 kids – Ray, Marilyn and Pam and all 7 of Claire’s granddaughters.

1915 Lizzie, George Nelson Trask, Lizzie, Arthur and Mabel
Minnie Greene, Dog, George Nelson Trask, Lizzie Payne, Arthur Ballou and Mabel Payne (age 11) Circa 1915
Charlie O'Connell, who, Mabel Payne, Dennis O'Connell and Alice Delmonico
Charlie O’Connell, Baby, Mabel, Dennis O’Connell and Alice Delmonico & Dog c 1922

MABEL’S CONTEMPORARY: Dixy Lee Ray (1914-1994) who was a zoologist and the first female governor of Washington State.

Mabel Arilla Payne was not only strong; she was lucky.  She survived a car crash, a broken leg and some surgeries.  She could spot a four-leaf clover the minute she walked out the door.  She gave so many away to family and friends.  Her grands and great-grands remember her for that.

5.5.2018 Jill's Bowlful of Four-Leaf Clovers
Jill collected a bowlful of four-leaf clovers while I was writing this tribute to Mabel Arilla 5.5.2018

1916 at 12 years old

She was christened on August 20, 1916 at the First Baptist Church in Mendon, Massachusetts and supported the Salesian Missions.

Mabel Aurilla Payne Baptism Certificate.jpg

03.17.1951 62 C&L 62 Claire & Les Wedding
She also attended the Upton Methodist Church where Claire and Les were married on March 17, 1951.
Alissa at Genesis Internship
Alissa Marie Lindsey at a Genesis Fundraiser on November 10, 2017

Alissa followed in Mabel‘s footsteps and has made the church her passion.  She will graduate from Perkins School of Theology with a Master of Arts in Ministry in May 2018.

MABEL’S CONTEMPORARY: Mary Slessor (1848-1915) was similar to Mabel in 2 ways.  Mary was a mill girl in Scotland where she spent her leisure time volunteering to teach the children at church.

1918 at 14 years old

She was an artist as she wove cloth in the 1920s at a cotton mill, did needlework – mostly crochet- in her spare time and made afghans for as many children and grandchildren as asked for one.  Her entire apartment was decorated with crocheted toaster covers, pillows, afghans, slippers and vests. She even made her own coat.

Mabel Sanders
Mabel Sanders Day at the Sylmar Branch of the LA Public Library 12.11.1974;
Afghan Donation 2003

Every week at the mill Mabel had to give her wages to her stepfather Javan Everett Ballou, a florist.  After that she learned how to be a financier and business manager as she raised her children with Roy’s paycheck from his brother‘s auto shop and her wages from the hat shop.

Alice Lynn Sanders, Katie Sears, Valorie Sears Mantle, Pam Sears Cooper and Marilyn Sears Lindsey love to draw, design and do needlework.  Pam, Angelica Leal Johnson, Ray Sears and Neil Adams followed in her financier footsteps.

Mabel’s Contemporaries: Aline Bernstein (1881-1955) Costume designer

Muriel Siebert (1928-2013) was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.  During World War 2 she said: American business will find that women executives can be a strong competitive weapon against Japan and Germany and other countries that still limit their executive talent pool to the male 50 percent of their population.

1925 at 20 years old

Mabel married Clarence Leroy Sanders on the 20th of October 1925.  She said they didn’t have a wedding cake.  They had an apple pie.

JB Mabel and Clarence
Mabel married Clarence Leroy (Roy) Sanders.


JB Mabel Payne Marriage Cert.jpg

JB Mabel and Roy's Wedding Certificate.jpg

JB Mabel & Roy in Wagon
Two kids, Mabel and Roy circa 1926

1926 at 22 years old

Mabel had 8 children in 15 years and breastfed all of them.

Sanders Minus Bob
L to R: Jim,  Phoebe, Claire, Mabel, Jean, Flo and Lee Circa 1940
Bob, Dog & Jean
Bob, puppy and Jean Circa 1948


Babies were her passion.  She even wrote a poem about them.

Starring the Baby

By  Mabel Arilla Payne (Spitfire)

Baby eyes and baby face

They are such a treasure

Just to look and watch them smile

Gives me such a pleasure

Dimpled cheeks and dimpled hands

And the sweetest little voice

Of all the nice things in this world

I know I’ve got my choice.

Little fingers softly twine,

As you rock them to and fro

Their little eyes almost speak

And say, “I love you so,”

At night when they go to sleep

All tucked in nice and warm

They know that you will guard them

From all danger and all harm.

1930 at 26 years old

My Grandpa Roy was a cracker jack mechanic before World War I and a Private in the US Army Ambulance Company 304 301 Sanitary Train Unit where he was an ambulance driver in France.

JB Private Clarence Leroy Roy Sanders
Private Roy Sanders circa 1917

He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), what used to be called Shell Shock.  He was treated for this disorder in the Veteran’s Administration Hospital for over 2 decades and he passed away there at the age of 71.

One of the early signs of this disorder was probably when he took the family for a Sunday drive around 1930 and kept right on driving from Massachusetts to Upper Jay, New York.  They lived there near his family for 3 years during “The Potato Years” which was what Mabel called them.  They ate only potatoes.

Lee, Minnie and Claire
Lee, Minnie and Claire   circa 1928


Minnie Levinia Greene Payne, died when she was only 44 years old from myocarditis.  Minnie was Mabel’s mother.  Mabel was only 26 and had to learn how to be a mother on her own; without the help of her own mother.

1926 Lee and Mabel
Lee and Mabel circa 1926


MABEL’S CONTEMPORARIES: The Founders of La Leche League (LLL) – a breastfeeding support group- remind me of Mabel.  Marian Tompson, born in 1929 and Mary Ann Kerwin, born in 1931 are two of the Founders of LLL.  Claire, Pam and I had the pleasure of meeting them in 2015 on an LLL Alumnae Trip to Charleston, SC.  What inspirations they are!

11.07.2015 DAY 4 Founders on 1st LLL Alum Trip to Charleston
Marilyn, Marian Tompson, Claire, Mary Ann Kerwin , Pam 11.7.2015


Mabel did become like a nurse as she raised her children.  She had 1 sheet of paper with all their names and the dates they contracted childhood diseases like measles, mumps, chicken pox and diptheria.

Five of her seven great granddaughters on Claire’s side have careers in the medical field.  I wonder if this is where they get the inspiration from.

MABEL’S CONTEMPORARY: Mabel Keaton Staupers (1890-1989) of Barbados, West Indies who was a nurse during World War II.

DEF V1P01 07.26.1963 Leslie R. Sears, Jr. receives the Army Commendation Medal
Les received the Army Commendation Medal July 1963

Luckily Ray, Marilyn and Pam had lifelong examples from Claire and Les on how to be parents; we didn’t have to do it by ourselves.

Neither did Angelica, Valorie or Hannah; they had their parents examples too.

Day 9 Angel's Camera
Ryan, Angelica and Marilyn February 27, 2012


12.05.2017 Val, Aria, Ray and Vickie Arrive on Florida Family Reunion.jpg
Valorie, Aria, Ray and Vickie in Treasure Island FL Dec 2017
uncrop 04.07.2018 Pam, Hannah & Cooper
Pam, Cooper and Hannah March 2018

1933 at 29 years old

Mabel was an author/poet just like Ayn Rand (b. Russia) 1905- 1982 and even had one of her poems printed in the Boston Globe in 1933…


By Mabel Arilla Payne Sanders 

They say we are tied

We never can go

To a ball or a dance

Or a good movie show.


We have few pleasures

Much work and worry.

Every day it’s just

Hustle and hurry.


There’s always a little

Shoe to tie

Another to love

So they won’t cry.


The baby needs to

Be picked up

One just broke

Another cup.


That’s what we mothers

Get every day

Mixed in with work

It is our play.


But I wouldn’t

Change a thing,

Would you?

Instead of a show

I’d rather tie a wee shoe.

Her daughter Claire and her great granddaughter, Alissa Marie Lindsey, are following in her footsteps; they are writers too.

 Mabel didn’t graduate from high school herself but she made sure her 8 children did and they all made their way in the world using their education.

Her daughter Jean and her granddaughter Marilyn are teachers.

MABEL’S CONTEMPORARY: Grace Abbott (1878-1939) was a teacher who ensured that child labor was limited in contracts with the US government.

1942 at 46 years old

She was a volunteer – a philanthropist as president of the Mission Belles of the World War 2 Women’s Auxiliary #2285 for 2 years.

Mabel and the Mission Belles WWII
Mabel and the Mission Belles circa 1942 during World War 2

Alissa is a philantropist like her great grandmother as she is interning at a women’s shelter in Dallas and wants to make that her career – social justice.

MABEL’S CONTEMPORARY:  Mabel may have gotten philanthropic ideas from Olave Baden-Powell from England who started the Girl Guides there as her role model.

1976 at 72 years old

Mabel was a traveler and an adventurer. When she got bored with one house, she re-positioned the staircase while the children were in school for the day.  She moved almost 30 times in her life and vacationed in Hawaii when she was 72 years old.  She was a romantic – her favorite movie was Dr. Zhivago (1965) with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. I wonder if she had notions of even more international traveling than just Hawaii.

Mabel Sanders visits Hawaii from  Life and Times Disc 3 Contents.jpg
Mabel in Hawaii 1976
Mabel and Bird_0001.jpg
               Mabel 1979

She traveled from New York to Florida in a pickup truck to be nearby on my wedding day in 1993 when she was 89 years old. We felt so honored.

Life and Times Disc 3 Contents.jpg

All 7 great granddaughters in Claire’s line love to travel.

Mabel’s Contemporary: Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-1993) who surveyed the Orient by way of the Arctic Circle and wrote Gift from the Sea, her most enduring work.

2003 at 99 years old

Mabel A. Sanders' 99th Bday.jpg

2005 at 100 years old

She was a historian when she told the stories of her 7 siblings, her 8 children, her 21 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren, 22 great-great grandchildren and 1 great-great-great granddaughter (for a GRAND total of 88 descendants).

Many of her descendants have been named for Mabel and Roy’s ancestors, for example, her daughter Claire was named after Jasper Sanders and Phoebe Ann Kinney’s daughter Elizabeth Claire (1886-1941) and Mabel’s daughter Florence was named after Jasper and Phoebe’s daughter Florence Ellen (1889-1976).  Mabel’s daughter Phoebe Anne was named after Henry Kinney and Vienna Horton’s daughter Phoebe Ann (1855-1927).

Mabel Sanders is 100_0001.jpg

Ray at Shawnee during Pam & Gram's Visit for Alissa's OU Graduation.jpg
Marilyn, Ray and Pam in Shawnee OK on 5.9.2016

Her 3 grandchildren on Claire’s side are Family Historians doing genealogy and making family photo albums.

Mabel’s Contemporary: Mary Ritter Beard (1876-1958) who was a historian and whose major work was Women as a Force in History.

Mabel meets Violet Morris – her most recent great-grandchild circa March 4, 2005

Gramma & Violet Order 4xd & 3x5 (Last known picture of Gramma)

With a role model like Mabel, we were all bound to succeed.   But that’s another story…


#52Ancestors – Week 12 March 19, 2018 – A Great Misfortune

Personal Connections in a Story: Hymn of Promise (2017)
By Marilyn Sears Lindsey
When we look at the hymnal used at the First United Methodist Church of Seminole, Oklahoma, we see the date 1986 listed for Hymn of Promise. But I know the story behind this hymn.
It really began in 1985 in St. Petersburg, Florida where my family and I attended church at the Pasadena Community Church which was part of the United Methodist Church. It’s where my dad and mom retired after his being in the military for 28 years.
Rev. Edward Norman was our head minister and Rev. C. Frederick Harrison was the Music Director. We had an annual spring concert and during the planning for the 1985 extravaganza, Fred expressed a hope that Natalie Sleeth might write an anthem to be premiered at our church’s music festival weekend of her work.
Natalie arrived prepared to teach the choirs at Pasadena the new hymn she’d written: Hymn of Promise. My mother,

Dad and Mom.jpg
Les and Claire in March, 1985 

Claire and father Les Sears were in that choir. And would you believe that the festival fell on their 34th wedding anniversary? They learned the anthem and performed it for its premiere at the music festival in March, 1985. It was immediately a new favorite hymn for everyone involved; especially me.
A few weeks after that, Dad fell while playing tennis with his 3 buddies from the neighborhood and had a huge bruise on his chest. Not much could ever stop my Dad! So he kept on with his usual activities.
Then it was Holy Week and the choirs at Pasadena were preparing for Easter Sunday service. At their usual rehearsal on Thursday nights (Maundy Thursday in this case), Dad helped move the huge wooden altar pieces and was surprised that the “young guys” always seemed to disappear when there was heavy lifting to be done.
At home that night, he and Mom moved a bookcase so he could continue painting the living room the next day. She noticed him wince in pain as he lifted.
The next morning, which was Good Friday, he continued his painting and when he took a break to look out on Boca Ciega Bay from the back porch, he took his last breath. It was April 5, 1985.
Family and friends were called…a wake was planned and then the funeral was on Easter Monday. We were all in such a state of shock that the details are foggy but the reassuring words from Hymn of Promise gave us just that – PROMISE. So we requested it again during Dad’s funeral. How could a man who enjoyed life so much and who was only 57 years old be gone? We didn’t know but were sure that God would explain it all to us one day.
Believe it or not, Pasadena Community Church is one of the only drive-in churches in the U.S. So on Easter morning we drove to church but never got out of the car. We heard the service from the huge loudspeakers mounted in the grassy areas that served as parking lots. That was the best we could manage under the circumstances. And we knew in our hearts that God had called Dad home for his eternal rest.
Our family roots are on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I am 10th generation in America – descended from Richard Sears who arrived here about 1630. We’d spent some years living on the Cape and many years vacationing there. So that’s where we buried my Dad on a cold, cloudy morning in the Bourne National Cemetery in Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts which is just west of Camp Edwards. There was an honor guard and a 21-gun salute and my Mom was presented with the flag that had draped Dad’s coffin.
We returned to the cottage where we were staying and my Mom remembered with such joy the Hymn of Promise that she and Dad had been practicing just a few short weeks ago. She taught the song to my brother and they both kept singing the hymn over and over.
On my 37th birthday in 1991, I had asked my guests to bring a poem as their gift to me. I told them it could be an original one or one they loved. My sister-in-law Rosanne pulled a book off my shelf entitled Adventures for the Soul by Natalie Sleeth and God helped her open the page to Hymn of Promise. As Rosanne read the lyrics to me, tears ran down my face. How wonderful to feel the presence of my Dad at my birthday party again. I had been missing him.
On March 21, 1992, Natalie Sleeth died – almost exactly on the anniversary of the premiere of her famous hymn. She was only 61 – another person taken from us too soon. I can just hear the choir singing this anthem to her.
We are approaching Good Friday and Easter Sunday again and this hymn comes to mind – as it does every year.
I am writing my Dad’s personal life history and while assembling all the facts and stories, I came across this video online of the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Hymn of Promise being sung by the choir at Pasadena Community Church again. We’ve come full circle – as life always does.


#52Ancestors Week 11 March 12, 2018 “Lucky”

Claire Lavina Sanders (b. 1927) and Leslie Ray Sears, Jr. (1928-1985) were certainly lucky to meet on a blind date in college and then hit it off so well that they were married just a few years later on Saturday, March 17, 1951 at the Upton Methodist Church in front of God and all their family and friends. I know because they are my beloved parents.

03.17.1951 55 WP 55 Claire & Les Wedding
Upton Methodist Church, Upton MA – March 17, 1951
DEF V1P01 03.17.1951 R Leslie & Claire's Wedding Day.jpg
Mabel Sanders, Harriet Sears, Claire and Les Sears

Dad had started college in 1945, served in the Navy for 3 years and came back to graduate from Boston University in 1950 – just one year ahead of Mom.

dup 1946 Les Sears in Navy Uniform Service No. 752-03-83
Les circa 1946

The luck of the Irish was evident during the years of their courtship as they partied with friends, went on picnics and joined Dad’s fraternity brothers and their dates at dances.

06.1945 Q&P Leslie Ray Sears, Jr..jpg
Les Circa 1945
1945 Q&P Claire.jpg
Claire Circa 1945


They were lucky again to have 3 healthy children in 6 years and have the blessings of everything that a close family brings to life.


Claire and Ray
Claire and Ray 1953





1957 Ray, Claire & Marilyn
Ray, Claire & Marilyn Circa 1957


Marilyn, Claire, Pam and Ray
Marilyn, Claire, Pam and Ray 1958

Since our parents had graduated from college, they knew the importance to us kids about following in their footsteps. We all 3 graduated from college with degrees in our chosen fields that we were able to build careers from.


Dad’s career in the U.S. Army was another blessing. We got the chance to move around the country, enjoy the splendor of this great land while getting to visit relatives as we went and Dad was able to serve his country with more than a quarter century of service – something that was so important to him.


1952 Q&P Dad with the 91st AntiAircraft Artillery in Grafenwohr, Germany (umlaut
Les in Germany 1952


1953 Q&P Isabelle and Jerry Butler, Claire and Les Sears
Isabel and Jerry Butler with Claire and Les Sears in Germany 1953.  They became lifelong friends.






02.03.1956 First Lieutenant Leslie R Sears Jr.jpg
First Lieutenant Les at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indiana 1957


DEF V1P01 07.26.1963 Leslie R. Sears, Jr. receives the Army Commendation Medal
Les receives the Army Commendation Medal 1963


1964 Dad in Vietnam.jpg
Les in Vietnam 1964


Brig Gen Leslie R Sears Jr & Col. Jerry Butler at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IND
Brigadier General Les Sears with Col. Jerry Butler in Indiana 1973


Les retires from the Army.jpg
Major General Les Sears retiring from the Army in 1976.























Dad was lucky again when he retired from the Army in 1976 and he and Mom transitioned to a more leisurely life. How lucky can one family be!











An Heirloom: Harriet’s Cedar Chest #52Ancestors Week 8

#52Ancestors Week 8
February 19, 2018
An Heirloom

The Gift that Starts the Home: Harriet’s Cedar Chest
By Marilyn Sears Lindsey

Over the course of human history many possessions that were used every day are now only found in museums, antique shops or landfills. Wash tubs, straight razors and fancy hats are rarely found in American homes today.

For centuries, young women learned to do needlework and cook as part of their everyday education. They didn’t always learn to read, write and cipher (that was often left for the young men) but they learned how to keep a house and family in good health and warm clothes.

Harriet Ruth Thurston, Harriet’s “Avona” Model Hope Chest
My Dad’s mother from Jordan Marsh Store,
June 16, 1923 Boston MA

For the working girl, a hope chest was the equivalent of planning and saving for marriage. “The bridal ‘trousseau’ (meaning ‘small bundle’) contained all the bride’s dowry items, including the clothes and property she took to her new home and new life. It is not clear exactly when the tradition of the wedding, or “Hope Chest” started, or where, but it is certainly one that has survived the centuries.” From HistoryOfTheCedarChest.com
Handmade chests were given to young women as a symbol of good luck in preparation for their new lives. Many of the items placed in a hope chest were made by these women to show their skillfulness in sewing. This was a practical way to prepare for marriage and their new homes.

I’m so glad that Harriet Ruth Thurston, my paternal grandmother, had a hope chest and that it was handed down in the family to me. I wonder if the chest was purchased when Harriet was young and if she was allowed to choose the items that accumulated in her trousseau. Or maybe it arrived already full of heirlooms that had been handed down from her parents and grandparents.

On her father’s side, her grandparents were Charles Pleamon Thurston (1844-1920) and Harriet M. Downs (1849-1890). John Archibald Leaman (1815 – 1900) and Charlotte Berry (1824-1895) were her mother’s parents.

Her parents were Charles Henry Thurston (1874-1921) and Lucinda Catherine Leaman (1866-1942) and her siblings were Elizabeth “Bessie” Beaman (1893-1968) and Roy Earl Thurston (1903-1966); she was the middle child – just like me.

Harriet was born in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts on 2 Jan 1901 and grew up in Auburndale, Newton and Waltham, Middlesex County, MA. After my grandfather, Leslie Ray Sears died, she lived out her years in East Dennis, Barnstable County, Massachusetts where she worked at the Cape Cod Cooperative Bank.

Even her name may have been an heirloom. There were 2 Harriets among her ancestors: Harriet Downs (1849-1890), her paternal grandmother and Harriet Emma Thurston (1862-1941), her first cousin once removed, both from New Hampshire.

When she married my grandfather, Leslie, on 16 Jun 1923, the ceremony was held at her mother’s house in Auburndale. Her grandparents had all passed away and so had her father by this time. Her father died from tuberculosis when she was 20 years old. There were many other relatives present, among them Uncle Fred Thurston and an uncle from Quebec according to the newspaper article.

Lucinda was a domestic after her first husband died and Charles, her second husband, was very ill for years with tuberculosis until his death at the young age of 47.

“Wealthy families, on the other hand, saw other reasons to educate their daughters and this translated into forms of home education as well as the development of elite boarding schools mainly within urban areas. Access to learning was not just contingent on access to schools, however. In general, the growth of girls’ education depended a great deal on contemporary attitudes about the relationship of the sexes and on women’s place within society. Initiatives that favored girls’ education were always buttressed by arguments about how this education would serve to create better, more pious families. Rarely, if ever, was girls’ education seen as a liberal right contributing to the development of the individual in the 1800s.” From WorldHistory.biz

The Victorian Era was all about what was right and proper. So the “Dear Abby” of the time received requests regarding:

“What shall I put in my hope chest?” asks the girl in a letter. “We had an argument about it last night, my sweetheart and I. He says house linens, towels and things — and I say personal affairs for my trousseau. Which is correct? There are four of us girls all filling hope chests and we want to know what is the proper thing to put into them.”
“Put in linen, my dear, and muslin and soft embroideries. Put lace in and lingerie and pretty filmy materials. Put the art of needlework in, fine stitches carefully taken, gay colors, gaily embroidered, bright ribbons.

Left: Lemon Verbena Center: Camphor Rose Right: Lavender
And day by day your chest will fill and fill, and hour by hour your heart will warm and warm, and by the time you have finished with your hope chest, anyone who would try to persuade you to live in a hotel or to board in somebody else’s house, even in that of your own parents, would be no friend of yours.
With every stitch you take, write “Home” upon your heart.
“H-o-m-e” spells home, and it doesn’t spell another thing on earth.
Home for tired hearts , home for weary brains, home for restless nerves — peace, comfort, the joy of living, the delight of little pleasures, the bright fire on the hearth, the plant in the pot in the corner. The books on the shelf and on the table — your chair on one side and his not too far away on the other. Moonlight or starlight, sunshine or rain — foggy or windy, old or young — careless or careful — beautiful or plain — H-O-M-E. And put, too, in your hope chest, first of all — love. True, honest, faithful, trusting love.

from What You Should Put In A Hope Chest 1920
Families have many influences from different parts of the world just like hope chests do. According to my DNA Results, I have ancestors from:
• Great Britain (58%)
• Ireland (18%)
• Western Europe (15%)
• Eastern Europe (7%) and West Asia (2%).
As far back as the ninth century, in the Middle East, these chests were called “dower chests” because dower means: to give a dowry to. Cedar chest is the name often used in Europe and “glory box” is used by women in Australia. Isn’t it interesting that the concept of women taking items to start their new homes is common worldwide? Maybe a ninth century Greek woman took her dower chest with her when she got married and this started the tradition in my family.
This custom changed over the centuries because when the Colonists made the great oceanic crossing to the Americas, they put all their possession in one piece of luggage for the entire family. Mahogany, cherry or walnut was used in the US if cedar wasn’t available but a cedar lining was used because of its natural protective qualities; it can repel insects and fungus. The Ancient Egyptians also used cedar to protect their golden treasures and papyrus documents.
This design shows a Portuguese influence. This particular motif suggests fertility and good luck – from Europe into East Asia – and it is particularly appropriate for weddings. These trunks were usually secured with a hasp and padlock. While locks and keys were a Portuguese and Dutch innovation, another locking device, one that uses 3 rings and a padlock, came from China.
The hope chest dates back centuries, revealing a rich and fascinating history. It originated at a time when marriage included the exchange of property between families. The idea of the hope chest was brought to America in the 18th century by waves of European immigrants, including the German settlers that would come to be called Pennsylvania Dutch. Amish settlers had a long tradition of simply crafted chests with ornately painted decorations.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, cedar chests were also used as pieces of furniture to sit on because chairs were so scarce. With no space for closets or wardrobes, cedar chests helped colonists use space wisely and efficiently. Traveling light was essential, and entire lives were crammed into a single cedar chest. The contents represented hope and the foundation of a new beginning.
Nowadays we could purchase a hope chest on EBay.com like Harriet’s for anywhere from $90-$545 depending on the condition. It doesn’t have to be for women only or brides only. It could be filled with graduation gifts or inspirational books or family photos.
Long gone, for most in the western world, are the day when a woman was expected to go from her parents’ house to her husband’s home with nary a five minute pause in between. These day many women go onto post-secondary education and/or join the workplace, often living on their own, with friends or a partner before settling down (if they so choose).
I like to imagine Harriet’s 1920s photo album, Dad’s school paper, photos and certificates, her recipe box, their Army Air Force Aircraft Warning Service Reserve certificates, the Brag Book of photos of her 6 grandchildren, her music box that has seen better days and her Seth Thomas Grandmother Clock gracing the insides of her hope chest.
In preparation for this blog post, I contacted my siblings and cousins for any tidbits they may have known about Harriet’s cedar chest which got my cousin, Steve thinking about the olden days. He remembered a ring full of keys that Ray had sent him. After seeing this photo of her hope chest, he went to find them. One in particular had him curious. Lo and behold, he found it, mailed it to me in Oklahoma and it fit!
The key went from the store in Boston to all these Massachusetts addresses from Needham, to 19 Central Southwest in Weymouth, to 39 Hilldale Road in Weymouth, to 42 Belvoir Road in Milton, to the Cedars and the “Little House” in East Dennis, to Oklahoma, to Delaware and now finally back to Oklahoma. That’s a lot of mileage for just a key.

What else would Harriet’s Hope Chest have in it nowadays than blank albums that are waiting for the Family Photo Historian (me) to fill with stories and photos of new heirlooms and family traditions? But that’s another story…



Where There’s a Will – #52Ancestors

Where There’s A Will From 1707, It’s Complicated

#52Ancestors – Week 9

By  Marilyn Sears Lindsey on March 19, 2018


Richard Sears (b abt 1590- d 1676 at 86 years old), also known as Richard the Pilgrim, came from England in 1630 and became one of the founders of Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony (present day Massachusetts) in 1639.  We have searched the ship manifests but don’t know where he came from in England or who his parents were.

His property is marked #4 on the photo below.

1630 Richard & Dorothy Sears' Property.jpg

Dorothy Jones (b 1607- d 1678 at 70 years old) was born in Queen Camel, Somerset, England.  When she was about 25 years old, she lived in Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony and married Richard Sears.  They had 3 children.  Paul Senior (b abt 1635- d 1707 at 72 years old) was the first.  Silas (b 1637 – d 1697 at 59 years old) in Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony, was the middle child and Deborah (b 1639-d 1732 at 92 years old) was the youngest.

Paul Senior and Deborah Willard (b 1640 – d 1721 at 81 years old) had 10 children: Mercy, Bethia (63), Samuel (78), Lydia (82), Paul Jr (69), Mary, Ann (70), John (61), Richard (38) and Daniel (74).  We don’t have a death certificate for Mercy or Mary.

Paul was the first to adopt the present spelling of Sears.  Some of the previous variations were:  Cyr, Sayer, Sayers, Sayre, Sayres, Sear, Seare, Seears, Seere, Seir, Sias, Sier, Siers, Soares, Syar, Syars, Syas, Syer, Syers, Zaher, Zier.

My line is Richard>Captain Paul>Paul>Edmund>Elkanah>William>Elkanah>Leslie Sr>Leslie Jr>Marilyn, Angelica, Ryan.  So I am 10th generation in this country.



Paul’s younger brother, Silas and Anna Bursell (b 1642- d 1726 at 84 years old) married in 1661 in Eastham, Plymouth Colony and they had 8 children: Silas (71), Richard, Richard (54), Hannah, Josiah (52), Joseph (75), Elizabeth and Dorrity.  We don’t have a record of Richard’s, Hannah’s, Elizabeth’s or Dorrity’s deaths.

The baby of the family was Deborah, who was the 1st female, European child born on Cape Cod.  In 1659, she married Zachary Paddock and they had 8 children: Ichabod, Zachariah (53), Elizabeth (24 ), John (48), Robert (64), Joseph (58), Nathaniel (78), Judah (88).  Ichabod’s life remains a mystery.

So there were 26 children in the 3rd generation of my family and most lived to adulthood.  It is easy to see how my family tree grew to more than 10,000 descendants in over 350 years by 1992.


My brother, Leslie Ray Sears III (Ray) wrote: “Paul Senior took the oath of “Fidellyte” in 1657, held a commission as captain in the militia, and made claim for a horse lost in the Narragansett War.  On 30 Oct 1667, he was one of the grand jury in an inquest held on the child of Nicholas Nickerson.  He was also one of the original proprietors of lands in Harwich, Plymouth Colony, between Bound and Stony Brooks, known as ‘Wing’s Purchase.’ As appears by deed of John Wing et als., to Paul sears et als., dated 16 Apr 1677, recorded at Plymouth.”

“He left property valued at 467 pounds 03 shillings and 03 pence to his ‘loving wife Deborah’ and to his sons, Samuel, Paul Jr and John.”

“In the ancient cemetery in Yarmouth lies a stone slab, removed from its place to make room for the granite monument to the Searses, which bears the following inscription, surmounted by a cherub’s head and scroll work:

Here lyes the

Body of Paul

Sears, who

Departed this

Life February ye

20th 1707, in ye 70th year of his age.”

“It is the oldest dated memorial in the cemetery.  His wife was doubtless laid by his side, but there is no stone to her memory.” Page 2.1 Sears Genealogical Catalogue

In the first paragraph of Captain Paul’s will, he wrote: “First, and principally, I comitt my soul to God, most humbly depending upon the gracious Death and merits of Jesus Christ my only Lord and Saviour for Salvation, and to the free pardon of all my sins.  And my Body to the Earth to be buryed in such Decent Christian manner as to my Executors hereafter named shall be thought fitt.” (I used Paul’s original spelling and capitalization here.)  Indeed how fitting that he should commit his soul to God, his creator, who gave him this remarkable life.

After Paul Senior had passed away, his property was inventoried exactly 310 years ago today on March 19, 1708.


Final Will and Testament of Paul Sears 1637-1707 

  • BIRTH: 20 FEB 1637/1638, Marblehead,,Plymouth Colony
  • DEATH: 20 FEB 1707/1708, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Province of Massachusetts Bay

I, Paul Sears, Senr. of yarmouth, in ye County of Barnstable, in New England, being at this time ill and weak in body but of Disposing mind and memory, Praised be God, Do make, Constitute, ordain and Declare this my Last Will and Testament, in manner and form following: First, and principally. I Comitt my soul to God, most humbly depending upon the gracious Death and merits of Jesus Christ my only Lord and Saviour for Salvation, and to the free pardon of all my sins. And my Body to the Earth to be buryed in such Decent Christian manner as to my Executors hereafter named shall be thought fitt. And as for my outward Estate, as Lands, Chattels and Goods, I do order Give and Dispose in manner and form following;

First, – I will that all those Debts and Duties that I owe in Right or Conscience To any perosn whatsoever shall be truly paid in convenient time, after my Decease by my Executors hereafter named, out of my movable Estate. Item,- I do give and bequeeath to my eldest son Samuel Sears, all that my land and meadow in the township of Harwich upon part whereof his house now stands as is comprehended within and between the boundaries now following: (that is to say ,) bounded on the east by Kenelm Winslows Land at ye known and accustomed bounds and on the west side beginning at a remarkable rock, (lying about four Rods eastward from Yarmouth bound Rock at bound brook,) and from the sd Remarkable Rock the line runs Southerly over the Swamp and up ye hill to a great Pine tree marked in sd Yarmouth line: and thence up ye same straight line Southerly to the highway: and thence eastward as the way runs to ye said Winslows Land, (the sd highway being the bounds on ye south side) And the beginning again att ye sd Remarkable Rock the line runs norhterly to a stone sett in ye ground: and thence easterly to the edge of ye marsh by a straight line to another stone sett in to the ground, and so bounded by the marsh to another stone sett in the ground northerly on a straight line to a bend of ye main Creek at a stone sett in the Maresh, and on the north side tis bounded by tyhe known and accustomed bounds and of my interest in the undivided lands in sd Harwich, viz.: that is my sd son Saml. shall sixteen acres to himself in ye next Division(ye proprietors make of the undivided Lands) and the one half of all the rest of my interest there. All which sd Lands and Meadows shall be to my sd son Samuel Sears, and to his heirs and assigns forever, he yielding to his mother, my wife, one third part of ye proffits thereof during her natural life, and also paying to his two brothers Richard and Daniel, forty and two pounds in money towards the paying their purchase at Manamoy. I do give him my Try pott and Kettle. It.- I do give and bequeath to my son Paul Sears and to his heirs and assigns forever, one piece of fresh meadow called the Green Meadow which lyeth on the north side of my old house and is bounded eastward at ye Well or Spring, then westward taking in all ye Marsh or ground to ye old cartway (which leads into ye neck) on Joseph Sears fence: thence northeastward as the old sd cartway and fence runs to Zachariah Paddocks fence or line which is ye bounds on ye north side to bound brook, the sd bound brook and well or spring being the bounds on the east side, and also one quarter part of my interest of the undivided Lands in sd Harwich (besides the above sd Sixteen acres given to my son Samuel,) and for the rest of my son Pauls land is in ye neck where he now dwells, and by me confirmed by Deed of Gift formerly, and my Will is that he shall yield to his mother, my wife, one third of the proffits or income of all I have given him, during her natural life, and that he shall pay to his two brothers Richard and Daniel, forty and four pounds in money towards the paying their purchases att Manamoy. My will further is that the Ditch which hath been the accustomed bounds in the in the marsh betwixt my son Paul, and my kinsman Josiah Sears shall remain for- ever; beginning southerly att ye upland and running straight northerly to the Creek which did run on ye north side of ye island, which creek shall be the north bounds: And my Will is, and I do give all that slip of meadow on the West side of ye sd ditch unto the said Josiah Sears, his heirs and assigns forever. It.- I do give and bequeath unto my son John Sears, and to his heirs and as- signs forever, all the rest of my Homestead, both housings, lands and meadows, also one quarter part of all my interest in the undivided lands in ye sd Harwich, excepting the sixteen acres before given to my son Saml.-he my sd son John allowing and yielding to his mother, my wife, the one third part of my Housing, and the third of the proffits of ye lands during her natural life, and he paying to his two brothers Richard and Daniel, forty and four pounds in mon- ey towards their purchase att Manamoy. It.- I do give and bequeath all my movable Estate as Cattle, sheep, horses, swine and household stuff &c, unto my loving wife Deborah, (my Debts and Funerall charges being first paid.) She shall have the rest for her comfort while she lives: and what she leaves at her death to be equally divided amongst my daughters to whom I have each of them given such parts or portions as I was able or thought fitt. Lastly,- I do nominate and appoint my sd son Saml Sears and my Loving Wife Deborah executors to this my last will and testament. In witness whereof, I have hereunto sett my hand and seal ye day and year in ye other side forst above written.

Signed, sealed & declared in The mark and seal of presence of Paul (=) Sears, Senr. (seal) John Thacher Zachariah Paddock Samuel Howes

Barnstable, ss. April 14, 1883. A true copy of the record, Attest, Freeman H. Lothrop, Register of Probate Court

A true inventory of all and Singular ye Goods, Chattels, Housing, Lands and Credits of Paul Sears, yeoman, deceased, prised at Yarmouth, ye 19th day of March 1708: By Peter Thacher & Kenelm Winslow, as followeth: L s d Impr. –

[Money was written in this order: pounds, shillings and pence.  So these first 3 numbers mean he had 1 pound note, 17 shillings and 6 pence in cash.  In shorthand, it’s written L1, 17s & 6d.  The 2017 value of this money would have been 200.59 British pounds or USD 281.31]

his money L1 17 6
his apparel of all sorts 11 18 6
It.- Two feather beds, two other beds, bedstead, curtains and valence with bolsters, pillows, and all ye coverlids and sheets 21 13 6
It.- Table and chairs 1 4 0 andirons, trammels iron potts & pot hooks …………………………………………. 03 08 06
Tongs, & fire flue, iron kettles, skillets, frying pans …….. 03 02 06
It.- Brass kettle, warming pan, hitchell, stillyards, chest & boxes 02 06 00
It.- Spinning wheels 10s pewter platter, plates cups & potts … 01 17 00
It.- Koolers, pails, trays, trenches & spoons, table linen & towels ………………………………………. 01 02 00
It.- his saddle, bridle, pilyon, & cloth, flax & linen yarn …. 02 00 00
It.- Cash, candlestick, lamp, draving knife axes, sickle & hoes 00 17 00
A sifting trough, wool, five washing tubs knife, scissors, looking glass …………………………………………. 00 09 00
It.- Salt & feathers, and iron wedge, ye iron belonging to ye cart, and plows and spade a staple and cap ring, & caps & ring 02 19 00
It.- 4 bushels Rye, 24 of Indian, 3 of Wheat and 1/2 his books 05 00 00
Tobacco, 10s
pitchforks, powder horn, bullets, and sword ….. 00 17 00
Grindstone, and tin ware, 2 oxen, 5 cows, 2 steers ……….. 23 05 00
It.- 2 yearlings, a bull and one horse, 3 swine, 25 sheep …. 11 05 00
It.- his housing, lands, and meadows at 350 ……………… 350 00 00
more about 3 acres of English corn upon ye ground not prised.______________
The total ………………. 445 07 09

[So L445, 7s & 9 p would be L47,649.02 in 2017 British pounds or USD 66,829 which is a sizeable estate.]
now due to ye Estate about …………………………… 21 15 06

This took some studying on my part before I could understand such an old will with so many unfamiliar terms.  I’d never heard of trammels, stillyards or bushels of Indian.  So it was off to Bing.com to find photos and meanings for these inventory items.


Trammel from 1700s-antique-fireplace-trammel-hand_1_aa3641548e25dfe8e2b53689430f
A trammel is a sawtooth metal device to hang a cooking pot on.  This one is obviously handmade because the teeth are all slightly different sizes.


When a colonist wanted to weigh the turkey or butchered animal, a stillyard (steelyard) was used.  This one could weigh up to 150 pounds of meat.


A quarter of Indian was simply a bushel of multi-colored corn.

Captain Paul made sure his debts would be paid first.  Then his eldest son, Samuel, inherited his land and the meadow in Harwich where Samuel’s house was and then gives very specific landmarks to make sure everyone knew what Samuel had inherited.

Paul made sure to take care of his wife, Deborah, by instructing Samuel to give her one-third of the profits from his farm.  Samuel also had to pay his younger brothers, Richard and Daniel 42 English pounds (cash) which would equal 4,493.30 British pounds in 2017 figures.


Deborah = 1/3 of Samuel’s profits + 1/3 of Paul Jr’s profits + 1/3 of John’s profits

= all moveable estate (cattle, sheep, horses, swine and household stuff

(When Deborah died, her daughters inherited her property.)

Samuel =   Current residence and land in Harwich (16 acres)        An acre of land in Harwich in 2017 equals approximately $100,000.

=  1 Try pott and kettle

Paul Jr = Green Meadow property

John = ¼ interest in undivided lands in Harwich

Richard & Daniel = 42 pounds*                                                 4,493.30 British pounds (2017)

44 pounds**                                             4,707.27 British pounds (2017)

44 pounds**                                              4,707.27 British pounds (2017)

*4,493.30 pounds could have bought 7 horses, 10 cows, 70 stones of wool, 21 quarters of wheat and 466 days’ wages in the 1700s.

** 4,707.27 pounds could have bought 8 horses, 10 cows, 73 stones of wool, 22 quarters of wheat and 488 days’ wages x 2 (From Paul and John) =

16 horses, 20 cows, 146 stones of wool, 44 quarters of wheat and 976 days’ wages.

For a grand total of 23 horses, 30 cows, 216 stones (3,024 pounds) of wool, 65 quarters (520 bushels) of wheat and 1442 days’ wages (almost 4 years’ wages).

Captain Paul Sears was a wealthy man indeed to be able to leave all of the above to his family.

Ray traced the headstones in the Ancient Sears Cemetery and charted each one.  Paul Junior is #10 on the list.  His grave is at the bottom of the photo on the next page.02.17.1940 Paul Sears died 1739 or 1740.jpg

1724 Ancient Sears Cemetery, Brewster, Mass.jpg
I wonder how much Richard and Dorothy’s grandchildren’s estates were worth by the time the next generation had had a chance to work the land.  But that’s another story…

#52Ancestors – Week 6 A Favorite Name By Marilyn Sears Lindsey

#52Ancestors – Week 6

A Favorite Name

By Marilyn Sears Lindsey

Miranda Freelove Trask (1869-1893)

What a name!  So different…so special…the name of one of my ancestors who, unfortunately, lived a very short life.  She was my Great-great grandmother on my mother’s side.

“This year, more than 120 million babies will be born on earth. Those who survive will sooner or later undergo the initiation process of receiving a name. Names are a part of every culture and they are of enormous importance both to the people who receive names and to the societies that given them.

Despite their universality, there is a great deal of difference from one culture to another in how names are given. Among most preliterate peoples, names are determined according to very definite and specific rules. Generally, in cultures with a keen sense of ancestry, children get their names from the totems and family trees of their parents. In some cultures, names are taken from events which happen during the pregnancy of the mother or shortly after the birth of the child, and in others, names are divined through magic and incantation. In some cases, the name given at birth is only the first of several names a person will bear throughout life.”  ~ H. Edward Deluzain at BehindTheName.com

Miranda Freelove’s parents’ names are George and Susan – very common names around the time of Miranda’s birth in 1869.  By then our Civil War was over and our country was pulling itself back together from the atrocities of bombings and illnesses.  What was the situation in Uxbridge, Worcester County, Massachusetts where Miranda was born?  The north hadn’t been ravaged as much as the south had but still… “During the American Civil War, Union and Confederate commanders made the capture and destruction of enemy cities a central feature of their military campaigns. They did so for two reasons.  First, most mid-19th-century cities had factories, foundries, and warehouses within their borders, churning out and storing war materiel; military officials believed that if they interrupted or incapacitated the enemy’s ability to arm or clothe themselves, the war would end. Second, it was believed that the widespread destruction of property—especially in major or capital cities—would also damage civilians’ morale, undermining their political convictions and decreasing their support for the war effort.” ~ Megan Kate Nelson from AmericanHistory.Oxfordre.com  There must have been a lot of building and re-building in Uxbridge.

Miranda’s father, George Nelson Trask, was born in 1846 in Cumberland, Providence County, Rhode Island.  Cumberland was peaceful from its founding when settlers purchased land from Indigenous Americans and then continuing with William Blackstone (Blaxton) who preached a brand of tolerant Christianity.  George was only 18 years old at the end of the Civil War and on a later US Census he stated that he hadn’t served in the military.

Susan Hardy, his wife, had 4 children from her first marriage when she married George on 24 Nov 1868.  Miranda Freelove Trask was born on 6 Nov 1869 and was only 7 months old at the time of the 1870 US Census.  She was one of 63 babies registered in Uxbridge that year and the records were haphazardly placed in the register.  It seems people registered a child’s birth as they were able to get to the town office.


(Miranda’s record is #3 in this register.)

Miranda means Miraculous… Freelove means Peace and Trask is a form of Thirsk which comes from a place in Yorkshire, England called Thirsk.  Was it possible that these names gave her the feeling that she was a miracle and gave her the peaceful strength to:

  1. help raise three younger siblings (2 brothers and a sister)?


  1. take on a job as a servant as a young woman?
  2. get married at 15 years old on 25 Dec 1884 to Embert Reuben Greene?
  3. give birth to 3 daughters, Minnie, Bertha and Freelove, by the time she was 19?
  4. become a seamstress and then?
  5. watch her youngest die of meningitis at the age of 5 months?


(Embert and Miranda’s Marriage is the last one on this page.)

Miranda had Bright’s which is a kidney disease that was described as having symptoms of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney failure and convulsions and was often found in patients with diabetes.  It often is a response to an infection such as strep throat or an abscessed tooth.

She was 23 years 3 months and 27 days old when she passed away on 5 March 1893 – just 4 years after her youngest. Her daughter, Minnie, was only 7 and her younger daughter, Bertha, was only 5 when Miranda died.  Their father Embert married Annie Arthur in 1896 and 4 more children.


(Miranda’s death is listed on Line 14 in this register.)

Maybe Miranda Freelove’s strength was passed down to me through DNA and I have them to thank for being alive today and all the blessings that I’ve been given.  It’s so strange to realize my life depended on so many people before me but as I study genealogy, I’m beginning to realize it’s true.

There were lots of other Trasks – certainly more than a beginning genealogist can count.

There were other Freeloves in Miranda’s family tree too.  Freelove Weatherhead her great grandmother, Merribie Freelove Weatherhead her other great grandmother, Freelove Amanda Greene, her daughter, and Ethel Freelove Ballou who was her granddaughter.

There was another Miranda in her family – her Aunt Miranda who was her father’s sister.  But that’s another story…

#52Ancestors Week 7 “My Valentine”


Week 7 February 12, 2018

“My Valentine”

By  Marilyn Sears Lindsey

There are millions of men named Charles in the world.  The name comes from the French meaning “free man” and from the German where it is spelled Karl and means “man or army warrior.”  Charlemagne took this last meaning very seriously.  There are 87 men named Charles just in my family tree.

There are many Charles Davids.  David means “beloved.”

There are even some Charles David Lindseys.  Lindsey is from the Scottish and means “Lincoln Island or Lincolnshire or the place of the linden trees.”  It also means “from the Island of Lime Trees.”

But there’s only 1 who stole my heart, who makes me laugh and when I ask him for some help who responds “That’s what I live for.”

I love you, Charles David Lindsey.

#52Ancestors Week 5 “The Census”

#52Ancestors “The Census”

Week 5 – Jan 29, 2018

By Marilyn Sears Lindsey

The Census

What does Chatham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, only finishing the 9th grade in high school, the American Civil War, being a schoolteacher, World War I (the Great War),  marrying at 31 years old, the Depression, and moving to Santa Clara County, California in the 1920s  have to do with each other?

Map of Chatham, Massachusetts 1858


They all happened in the lifetime of 1 person – Lelia Tabitha Eldredge – (Wed. 7 AUG 1850 – Sun. 16 JUN 1940) – my paternal great-grandmother.

Lelia Tabitha Eldredge on her wedding day 22 DEC 1881


She was the youngest of 5 in the family; she had 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters.  Her name comes from Greek and means “well-spoken;” it is a variant of Eulalia and is the name of a Mexican orchid.

A Lelia Orchid

Chatham, incorporated in 1712, is a town in the southeastern corner of Cape Cod, Massachusetts on what some people call the “elbow” of the “arm” that is the Cape.  Chatham is known as the “dreaded landmark for the sailor with all its shoals and currents.”

Lelia’s future husband, Elkanah Howes Sears, was born a year before her in Dennis, Massachusetts which is also on the Cape, lived his whole life there and died in the same town.  They grew up just 15 miles apart.  Lelia, on the other hand, lived in several homes and traveled across the country several times.

Lelia’s father, James Eldridge, was a sailor who died on Fri. 2 JUL 1858 when she was only 8 years old.  Her brother, Uriah, who was a 22-year-old mariner, came to live in the Chatham house on Highway 28 to take care of her and her mother, Esther.   He married Eliza Moody Nickerson in 1861 and must have moved to a different location because he’s not listed with them in the 1870 US Census.  Lelia lived in the Chatham house from the time she was 3 until she married Elkanah.


Map of Chatham 2007

So in many ways, the Census just gives us a peek into a world from centuries ago but leaves many mysteries unanswered.  It provides a skeleton of a story but leaves us to research from newspapers, diaries, yearbooks, wills and personal letters to flesh out the tale.

On the other hand, our American Civil War is one of the most written about events and one of the most horrific things that happened to this country.  We only had 30 million people in the US then and 2 million of them were soldiers in the North; 1 million of them were soldiers in the South.  620,000 of them died and countless civilians died too.  Lelia lived through it all.

At that time, women took jobs in the factories and on the farms and their children had to pick up all the chores left undone at home.  Lelia was only 10 when the war started.  She probably witnessed children going door-to-door selling portraits of President Lincoln to raise money for “the cause” or picking lint to deliver to surgeons to use to staunch wounds.  The women having sewing bees to make uniforms and sending care packages to soldiers were commonplace.

Many American children took a very active and often extremely dangerous role in our Civil War.  Some worked in hospitals, buried the dead, carried water, ammunition and messages to the front lines, were musicians in military bands and some were even soldiers.  After the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia and hostilities were finally stopped, more than 48 boys under the age of 18 were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery on the battlefield.  How could we have done this to our children?  Never again.

The US Census doesn’t show when a certain event was accomplished, for example, moving to a new house; it just shows that an event happened between the date of the previous Census and the new Census.

When my sister, Pam, told me about the US Census Reports on Ancestry.com, I couldn’t believe it.  How could all that data be available to anybody and everybody?  It was miraculous that I could find and follow my ancestors across the centuries and across the country.

I looked up a few ancestors and saw how many radios the family owned, how much their wages were and who lived in their homes – sometimes lodgers.  There were so many generations under 1 roof; it was just like the Waltons.

So we know that Lelia was a 19-year-old schoolteacher in 1870 but we don’t know when she started her career.  It was common for women to become teachers when they were quite young by today’s standards, but it was the norm then.  The house she and her mother were living in jumped in value from $500 to $800 between the 1860 and 1870 Census reports.  What a nice bit of luck for them!

In the 1880 Census report we find the situation of Lelia and Esther unchanged.  Lelia was still the breadwinner and Esther was still the “housewife.” In other documents we find out that Lelia’s mother, Ester, died in 1903.

Elkanah Howes Sears & Lelia Tabitha Eldredge Sears circa 1910

In just one year’s time though, the situation would change.  Elkanah Howes Sears (Wed. 25 APR 1849 – Fri. 26 JUN 1914) a carpenter and mechanic in Dennistown (as it is called on the Census report) married Lelia on Thu. 22 DEC 1881 and they moved to Dennis.

They had 4 children – 3 boys and 1 girl.  James William “Uncle Billy” 1882-1945; Lewis Elkanah  1885-1962; Lelia Estelle 1887-1970 and Leslie Ray 1892-1954 who was my grandfather.

The results of the 1890 Census was mostly destroyed by a fire in the Commerce Department in 1921 so we don’t have any records for the 20 intervening years from the US Census Office.

The 1900 Census shows that 3 of Lelia and Elkanah’s 4 children are still at home; James William had gone off to seek his fortune and the others were in school.

By 1910 Elkanah and Lelia still lived in Dennistown in a home they owned with their 2 youngest sons – only Lewis and Leslie were still at home.  James William married Mabel in 1906 and they were living in Somerville, MA by 1910.  He was an accountant.  Elkanah and Lewis were carpenters and Leslie was a high school student.  The report showed that Lewis had been out of work half of the previous year.  How hard that must have been for Lewis and the whole family.

In 1920, James William and his wife, Mabel, who was 44 years old, lived at 3 Boston Avenue in Medford, MA in a rental house.  He was a purchasing agent for an asbestos company and Aunt Mabel was a “housewife.”

On Tues. 10 JUN 1913 Lelia Estelle married Harvey Emmonds Dorr.  Tragically, Elkanah died on Fri. 26 JUN 1914 from a pulmonary embolism following surgery because of diabetic gangrene and by the 1920 Census we find Lelia Tabitha (68), living with her daughter, Lelia Estelle (32) and her granddaughter, Lelia Josephine (4) and Harvey (41) all living together in their rented house on Beal Place in Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.  How wonderful that Lelia Estelle’s family took Lelia Tabitha in after her husband’s death!


Then the records show a huge change in Lelia’s life.  By 1930 Harvey and the 3 Lelias are all living on S. 14th Street in Santa Clara County, California.  Lelia’s brother, Uriah, who helped raise her died at 95 years old in 1931 in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

There are some photos of Lelia Tabitha back on Cape Cod in the 1930s standing in front of “The Cedars” – the Smalley homestead – in East Dennis.  So Uriah’s funeral might be one of those times.

In 1938, James is an acoustical engineer and they live at 611 High Street in Cambridge, Mass.  By 1944 Mabel is a secretary at W.T. Roberts Construction in Cambridge but they live in Medford.

For a beginning genealogist, the Census Reports are a simple tool that share a lot of social information about families in addition to what town people lived in.  Lelia Tabitha finished the 9th grade in high school.  Lelia Estelle completed the 2nd year of college and Lelia Josephine graduated from college.  Each generation of Lelias finished more schooling than the previous one.  Isn’t it amazing the strides that women have taken so far!  We learn this in the 1940 Census along with the fact that the 3 Lelias live on Cherryvale Avenue in Santa Cruz but Harvey does not.  Every 10 years when a new census comes out, we see more and different questions asked.  1940 is the year we find out about education and jobs.  Lelia Josephine is 24 years old now and a grammar school teacher who earns $1,350 a year working 30 hours a week.  The number of hours that a teacher is said to have worked has always been a sore subject for me.  There’s no way to quantify all the parent/teacher conferences, hours spent designing lessons, grading papers and attending staff meetings.  But we’ll let that subject rest for now.

Harvey turns up on the City Directory in 1939 at 165 N. 6th St, San Jose, CA.  So far I haven’t found any documents explaining this situation.

This great lady, the matriarch of the family, Lelia Tabitha Eldredge Sears died on Sunday, 16 JUN 1940 in Santa Cruz, California from myocarditis.  She was buried on Cape Cod in the Quivet Neck Cemetery next to her husband, Elkanah which brought her full circle in her life- from East Coast to West Coast and back again.

Naming children after their parents seems to run in my family.   Leslie Ray named his son Leslie Ray Jr. who named his son Leslie Ray III. Lelia Estelle was named for her mother, Lelia Tabitha and Lelia Estelle also had only 1 daughter who she named Lelia Josephine but that’s another story…






























#52Ancestors Dinner Invite


Week 4

By Marilyn Sears Lindsey

I invited my 8th Great Grandparents on my mother’s side to dinner last night.  Their names are Duncan Stewart (23 Aug 1623 – 30 Aug 1717) and Anna, who prefers to be called Ann Winchurst (10 Dec 1642 – 9 Jul 1729).  Ann insisted on doing the cooking because Duncan only ate his salmon and potatoes really well-done but he would eat his broses however it turned out since it was just barley, oats, beans and peas.

After I set the table, I had so many questions for him that he said he would start at the beginning.  Duncan explained that his first name is from the Gaelic /Donnchadh/ and means “brown-haired man” or “chieftan.” Stewart is from the Old English /stigeweard/ meaning “hall” and “guardian.” So he is a brown-haired chieftan who guards the hall.

Duncan regaled us with many yarns of his parents and his early life in Scotland.  His father had told him the ancient Parochial Registers listed the births in the parish starting in 1623 so he could get a copy of his birth certificate if I needed it for my genealogy.

He told us that his father had required all of his children to memorize the history of their country and said that in 1583, James VI escaped from his Protestant kidnappers, and resumed the throne of Scotland.  When Elizabeth I died in 1603, James was her only heir; thus he became James I of England, as well as James VI of Scotland.  James’ most lasting legacy is the King James Bible; the translation of the Bible into English is still favored by many Protestants.  The union of the crowns did not; however, put an end to struggles in Scotland.

Duncan went on to explain that the civil war in England in 1642 pitted the Cavaliers fighting for King Charles I against the Roundheads of Oliver Cromwell’s parliament.  When the victorious Cromwell forced the execution of Charles I, the Scottish proclaimed Charles’ son as their king.  Cromwell, incensed, invaded Scotland, uniting the two countries under a strong, central, civil government.  Upon Cromwell’s death, the English Monarchy was restored to the throne.  Many Scots felt they had lost their independence, and the stage was set for uprisings in 1715.  But he was safely out of the country by then.

He had espoused the cause of his kinsman King Charles II however, and in supporting him, at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, was captured by the army of Cromwell, and, with the other prisoners taken in those battles, sent to the American Colonies, and indentured as servants to the Colonists.

Duncan was landed at Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1654 and soon met and married Anna Winchurst of that town. They removed to Newbury in 1659 and for thirty years occupied a farm in Byfield Parish near the Rowley town line.  They later removed to Rowley.

With a wistful smile on his face, Duncan said he was born in the Highlands of Scotland; in Kilmadock, a parish, in the County of Perth or Perthshire, 9 miles northwest of Stirling, Scotland.  He related that he was sad to find out that the church where he’d been baptized, with the exception of the eastern gable, was taken down in 1744.  The area derives its name from the dedication of its ancient church to St. Madocus or Madock, one of the Culdees which means “Companions of God” who were members of a Christian monastic community and who lived there in sequestered solitude.

It’s a land of steep craggy hills, winding rivers and lots of grassy fields for the Angus coos (cows), black face sheep and Highland cattle he went on to say.  The River Forth runs along its southern boundary, and the River Teith runs south-eastward through the center. A flat tract of considerable breadth lies along the Forth Valley, flanked on each side by a hill-ridge. The valley is traversed by the Teith, and an upland tract, part of the Braes of Doune, ascends to the summit of Uamh Mhòr on the northern boundary.

Uamh Mhòr (older spelling Uaighmor, also anglicised Uam Var) is a summit in Kilmadock parish in Stirling council area, Scotland, north of the River Teith between Callander and Doune. The name means “Great Cave”, referring to a large cave in the cliff face which was a hideout for brigands into the eighteenth century.

As I listened, I glanced down at Duncan’s sword which had the Stewart crest on it showing the white unicorn with a golden horn and the blue and gold ribbons around the shield with 3 gold stars.  The motto at the top of the crest – “O’er the sea yet home” – answered the Scottish question – /Quhidder will zie/ which translates as “Whither will ye.”  It showed up so well against the Stewart tartan he was wearing of a bright blue, green, red and gold plaid.

Ann Winchurst Stewart said dinner would take about another half hour to cook and sat down with us to drink a glass of perry, which is made from fermented pears, and told us her story.

She said her first name is a form of Channah/Hannah from the Old Testament and it is mentioned briefly in the New Testament belonging to a prophetess who recognized Jesus as the Messiah.  It was a popular name in the Middle Ages and it became common among Western Christians due to veneration of Saint Anna (usually known as Saint Anne in English), the name traditionally assigned to the mother of the Virgin Mary.

Her surname is a rare and unusual English surname; it has been recorded as Winchurch as well as apparently Wincehurst and Winchurst.  There are several suggestions for the origin and meaning.  These include ‘windy wood’ from the pre 7th century Olde English ‘win-hyrst’ or ‘The white church’, that is to say a church probably built of limestone from ‘winn cherche’, and just possibly Windy Church or even ‘winch wood’, a place where a winch was used for moving trees.

Ann was born in Rowley, Mass but she had a hard time remembering the year.  She said after giving birth to 12 children in 22 years, her mind was a bit foggy.  She also showed me how she’d lost a tooth for each birth – quite a dedicated wife.

While we ate our delicious dinner, Ann said they had 12 children – 6 girls (Jane, Catherine, Martha, Elizabeth, Mary and Anna) and 6 boys (Charles, John, Henry, Solomon, Samuel and Ebenezer).  All of their children lived to adulthood and she said that was common in her family because of the healthy food they ate and all the fresh air they got from working outdoors.  Ebenezer and his wife, Elizabeth Johnson, even followed in his parents’ footsteps and also had 12 children.  Their youngest Richard Stuart who lived until 1808 would have been in the 1790 Census, but that is another story…