Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Now on YouTube! - Beauregard Brothers in their Nineties, Relate Stories of Growing up on Ragged Hill

   Rachel Faugno interviews Paul and Bob Beauregard as they share their experiences as part of a large family growing up on a farm in West Brookfield. Paul died on January 2, 2017, just weeks after this interview. Their parents, Joseph and Ida (Provencal) Beauregard moved to West Brookfield from Gilbertville in 1906.  The Beauregards first leased the 235 acre farm on Ragged Hill belonging to Henry Jordan. They purchased it in 1911.  Ida Beauregard sold the farm in 1945, three years after the death of her husband.
      Learn about their chores on the farm, and their schooling in the one room school house they attended in the days before they had electricity and running water.  Listen to their description of social life in Wickaboag Valley including barn dances in their barn, and programs held by the Wickaboag Valley Association. They describe entertainment including swimming in the pond in summer, and sliding down the hill in winter.
   Paul sadly recalls the accidental drowning of his sister Elsie who, at age six,  had been sliding across an ice covered pond on her shoes. She was accompanied that day by Paul, and a sister Edna.
   Tools used by their father for leather work were shown, as they talked about the necessity in those days for being resourceful.
   See the video filmed in October 2016, by Dan Hamilton and Warren Tirrell, at: Ragged Hill Memories of Paul and Robert Beauregard
   For more about the Beauregard family see

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thomas Carey - From West Brookfield to Chicago

The broad ax. (Salt Lake City, Utah), 04 Jan. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. a( : accessed 12 January 2017.)
Thomas Carey was born in West Brookfield, Massachusetts to poor Irish immigrants. He moved with his family to Worcester, MA between 1860 and 1870, and attended school there according to the 1870 US Census. Thomas left Worcester and travelled by rail to Chicago, Illinois, where despite his humble beginnings, he became a successful businessman and politician. Known for his hard work and dogged determination, he became a skilled politician, advocate for African Americans and immigrants, and a champion for the causes of poor and downtrodden. Michael Harrington, who descends from Thomas Carey's half-brother, has very kindly offered to share this tale of an Irishman from West Brookfield who became successful and added color to the political landscape in Chicago.

A copy of  his work at Tom Carey - Chief of the Wampanoag may be obtained on request. Use the Information Request  Form tab at the top of the page.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Finding Baptism and Marriage Records for West Brookfield Catholics from 1830-1950

  Years ago Ed O'Day wrote to me about the challenges of finding church records for West Brookfield Catholics. This information has been helpful in my research and may be helpful to others.
St. John's Catholic Church, Worcester, MA
By Pvmoutside - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
  West Brookfield did not have a Roman Catholic Parish of its own until 1950.  The Catholics in town were served by priests from other areas, some of whom visited West Brookfield and recorded baptisms and marriages.  One priest in particular, Father Fitton, who founded Holy Cross College in Worcester,  kept records of his visits in town.  He was succeeded by Father Gibson, who first visited West Brookfield in 1845, and continued his missions to the town even after railroad construction ceased.  Father Gibson recorded baptisms is a special book he kept for rural areas in the county.
   Early Brookfield area baptisms and marriages from about the mid 1830's to the mid 1850's, may be found in the parish records of St. John's in Worcester. Records for a few of the ensuing years may be found in Webster or Chicopee, as the priests from those communities ministered to Catholics in the rural areas of Worcester County. 1860 brought another change, as priests from St. Mary's in Ware administered the sacraments.  St. Joseph's in North Brookfield took over that responsibility from 1867 to 1892.  Finally, in 1892 St. Mary's Church in Brookfield became responsible for ministering to Catholics in West Brookfield.  Priest's from St. Mary's continued to serve West Brookfield parishioners until 1950.