Monday, August 31, 2015

An 1839 Antislavery Petition Signed by the Legal Voters of West Brookfield

Harvard University has a collection of Massachusetts Anti-Slavery and Anti Segregation Petitions available online.  One such petition was Senate Unpassed Legislation 1839, Docket 10525, SC1/series 231, Petition of Seth Field .  This was a petition against the admission of Florida or any other slave state to the union.  It was signed by the legal voters of West Brookfield. The eighty-five signatures included such names as Alanson Hamilton, (for whom the GAR chapter was named,) Ebenezer Merriam, Eli Chamberlain, (father of Daniel Henry Chamberlain, who commanded colored troops in the Civil War and served as governor or South Carolina during Reconstruction). Other signers were Alfred White, Seth Field, and Francis Stone (the father of Lucy Stone who was an abolitionist and suffragette.) 

Those researching West Brookfield families or town history should find this interesting. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Notice the Shamrocks on this headstone.

 Shamrock from Wikipedia
   A transcribed entry from the Balinakill Roman Catholic Church Registry shows that James Welch was baptized in May of 1832.  The youngest of seven known children of William and Elizabeth "Bessie" (Cahill) Welch, James came to the United States in 1852, according to information recorded when he was enumerated in the 1900 U. S. Census in West Brookfield, Worcester County, Massachusetts.  Possibly James traveled from Queens County (now Laois County), Ireland with his older brother William who also arrived in 1852.  Brothers Thomas and Michael had arrived in previous years, and had settled in Worcester County, Massachusetts.  Eventually James' parents and all of his known siblings came to Massachusetts.
   James married Catherine Moran probably in 1859, although I have been unable to locate their marriage record.  Catherine, also born in Ireland, was the daughter of John Moran and Katherine Carey.  A daughter, Mary Ann followed in 1861, although, again, I have found no birth record.   Mary Ann married John Ducey on 1 July 1882 in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. 
  James Welch died in Worcester State Hospital on 7 August 1909.  Catherine died 13 February 1926 in West Brookfield.  They are buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery in West Brookfield.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Historical Brookfield Area Newspapers, 1872 - 1953, available online

Dan Hamilton's Brookfield Research Website now hosts Brookfield Area Historical Newspapers 1872-1953 in PDF format.  These files do take a long time to load, but if you research families from Spencer, the Brookfields, Leicester, or Charlton, they are worth waiting for.  A rich source of obituaries, and information about town and family events, you will need to set aside some time to peruse digital copies of the Spencer Sun, Weekly Times, and Spencer Leader.  Take some time from shoveling snow and browse some old newspapers while you relax in front of the fire. You are likely to find something of interest that is relevant to your genealogical research.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Clifford L. Pratt - Veteran of World War I

   Clifford L. Pratt was born 20 April 1892 in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.  He was the fourth child born to James H. Pratt and his wife Martha "Mattie" Emma Potter.
  Clifford served in Yankee Div., Co. H. 104th Infantry during World War I,  and was cited for his bravery at Chateau Thierry in France.  He was gassed at Argonne-Meuse receiving burns on his legs.
   Mary Cora Boutin became his wife at St. John's Church in East Brookfield, MA on 19 August in 1919.  A daughter Evelyn Doris was born in 1920, and a son Leon was born in 1924.
   Clifford was a Charter Member of American Legion Post 244 in West Brookfield, and its first Associate Commander.  He was Post Commander in the 1930's.  (This American Legion became the Adams-Coney-Frew Post #244 after World War II.) 
   He died suddenly at the home of Douglas Lyman in West Brookfield on 2 January 1958.  Burial was in Sacred Heart Cemetery after a requiem mass at Sacred Heart Church on the fourth of January.

 1. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910, online image,  Copyright 2001-2005, New England Historic Genealogical Society;
 2. Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841 - 1920, online image,
 3. Spencer Leader, Clifford L. Pratt, 9 January 1958, p. 10, copy from microfilm, Boston Public Library
 4. Springfield Daily Republican; Location: Springfield, Massachusetts; Etta M. C. Boutin and Clifford L. Pratt Marriage Announcement Date: 12 August 1919, online image,
 5. State Library of Massachusetts, World War I Soldier Photograph Collection, online images,

William E. Gilinsky - World War I Soldier

   William E. Gilinsky was born 1894 in Worcester, Massachusetts to William E. Gilinsky, a Lithuanian immigrant, and his wife Josephine (Stone.) He enlisted in the Army from Worcester, on 26 May 1917, and served in Battery E. of the 102nd Field Artillery, during World War I.  He was honorably discharged on 17 January 1919.
   William married Mary Emma Snyder in Worcester in 1923.  Two children soon followed, Mary Frances, in 1924, and a son who is still living.
   On the night of 20 January 1935, while freeing sand from the back of a state highway department sanding machine ,William was fatally injured when a car crashed into the rear of the sanding machine pinning him between the machine and the car. The accident occurred in Brookfield near Lone Oak Lodge. He was rushed to Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, where it was determined that both his legs were broken, and his lower body was crushed and mangled.  He died later that night. 
   A military funeral was held in Sacred Heart church in West Brookfield on January 23rd with members of the American Legion Post 244 serving as bearers and color guard. The procession included the American Legion Auxiliary, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Ware, a delegate from the Battery E. 102nd Field Artillery Association of Worcester, and a representative from the local fire department.  The organ music for the mass was provided by Mrs. Milton Fountain, and soloists included Mrs. Walter Skiffington, Napoleon St. Denis, and Thomas Hamel. The funeral procession proceeded to Notre Dame Cemetery in Worcester for a committal ceremony following the mass.  Members of Worcester Post 5 fired a volley, and Thomas Hamel, bugler of Post 244, sounded taps

Jeffrey H. Fiske, A History of West Brookfield, 1675-1990, West Brookfield Historical Commission, 2009.
Spencer Leader, 31 January 1935, p.16 William Gilinsky Killed.  Copy from microfilm, Boston Public Library.
Springfield Daily News, 24 January 1935, p. 6, Gelinsky Accorded Military Funeral. Online image,
State Library of Massachusetts, World War I Soldier Photograph Collection, online images,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Edward F. King - World War I Soldier

   Edward F. King was born In Chester, Hampden, Massachusetts, on 15 December 1898.  He was  the third of four children of Edward W. King, born in Washington, D.C., a railroad section master, and his wife Mary Power who had come from Ireland as a young girl.  The King family moved to West Brookfield, MA, sometime between 1910 and 1920 and Edward is said to have attended school there.  He received his secondary education at Warren High School before moving to Hartford, Connecticut where he was employed by the Chase Metal Co.
   Edward enlisted in the Army in Hartford, Connecticut on June 30, 1917, and received training in Sparta, Wisconsin.  He served in Headquarters Division, Battery C. of the 17th Field Artillery, of the 2nd Division, A.E.F. and saw action in France during World War I.  He was also a part of the Army of the Occupation of Germany.
   The French Croix de Guerre with star was awarded to Edward for bravery in action in the Champagne battle during the attack on the famous Blanc Montridge.  He wrote a letter to his parents, dated March 20, [probably 1919], from Coblenz, Germany, relating his thoughts on his service, and an account of a review of the troops by General Pershing.   The letter was published in a local newspaper (probably the Worcester Telegram) as was common during that era.
   One quote from this letter reads, "The 2nd Division won its glory by releasing the doomed city of Rheims.  We lost men so rapidly that it was literally a slaughter.  All one had to do was just close one's eyes and fight like hell, and trust in the Lord.  We lost more men than any other division over here.  Some of the men are buried in the poppy fields of Flanders and in the fields of Picardy."
   Another quote says, "I know I joined the army to fight and I did it every chance I got.  I know one thing, the old 2nd division never retreated, they always lead the attack."
   Edward returned to the United States after the war, and sadly became ill with Tuberculosis.  He died December 5, 1933 in Madisonville, Kentucky after nine years of illness.  He was buried with full military honors on Dec. 9, 1933 in Sacred Heart Cemetery, in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.

Sources available upon request.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Are you interested in West Brookfield World War I and World War II Servicemen?

   Recently I received some war time scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings.  Included are articles about local servicemen (some with photos), and also activities of local organizations in support of the troops, and the war effort.  There a some articles about war time rationing, and some recipes, as well.  There are handwritten dates on some of the articles, but the newspaper they came from was not identified (probably Worcester Telegram.)
   I hope to share the information contained in these scrapbooks in future blog posts; but in the meantime, I will be happy to answer requests for lookups.  Please leave a comment requesting information about a particular soldier of interest, or fill out the Information Request Form available by clicking on the tab above.