October 8, 2018

Twisty Turny Genealogy Research

So, here's how I had fun on a cool, grey, damp Saturday afternoon.

I’m taking the next step in the research into the names on a quilt that was most likely made in Melrose MA, in the late 1890s.  The story of all the previous work is on this blog, starting with Part 1 and linking along for several more posts.  (The full list of links in below.)

Alanna Nelson, a Melrose fiber enthusiast and community builder, has taken it upon herself to plan a "homecoming" for the quilt in December, with all sorts of creative associated programming.  The quilt and I will be there, of course! 

Now, I'm looking up other people who have listed these folks on their family trees.  I'm writing to them in hopes that they'll be excited to learn about the quilt, and that they might have some cool old photos or family stories to add to the info I've found.  And I hope some of these folks I contact will be able to come and be guests of honor alongside their ancestors' names on the quilt.

Anyhow, here's the Story of the Day.  I looked up Sarah Lavender.  (Such a great name!)  At the time the quilt was made, she was nearing 70 years of age, widowed, and living with her married daughter.

I found one family tree with Sarah Lavender on it, but her spouse doesn’t match up with the spouse (John) I had found.  All of the other trees that showed up, 16 of them, are for a Sally Mayo Dyer, who did indeed marry a John Lavender.  

Wrong first name, right?  No, right first name!  I looked it up, and Sally was in this era a common nickname for Sarah.  (Similarly, Molly was a nickname for Mary.)

But the really stunning thing is that the Mayo and Dyer names are super familiar to me, because they are two of three or four Melrose families who were huge and hugely intertwined.  This includes one of my favorite people on the quilt Eunice B. Phinney, who had married a man named Erastus Phinney late in their lives.  Her maiden name was Dyer.  Sally Mayo Dyer is already on the tree I’ve built while identifying them, purty as you please, and is apparently "my friend" Eunice’s sister!!!

(I haven’t explored further, because the names aren’t on the quilt, but Sarah/Sally and John had a daughter also named Sarah Lavender, so I’m guessing that first entry is about her and her non-John husband….)

A small world in Melrose, MA, in the 1890s wasn't it? 

Here are all the previous posts:
Part 1 describes the quilt and the initial research.  Part 2 details how I narrowed down the dates, and relates some of the interesting family stories I began finding.  Part 3 tells the story of the Phinney, Dyer, and Hersey families.  Part 4 has general observations on life in the late 1890s.   Part 5 sums up my research.  Part 6 shares the first information from librarians and historians in Melrose.  I wrote a little aside about the fun of being able to look at original records online.  And, since the quilt did initially come to me for repair, and I did eventually stop reading census forms and do the repair work, and wrote up the techniques and choices involved.  After the events, I described the homecoming experience and the exhibits, and wrote about the little quilt I made that was inspired by the historical quilt.  A set of summaries of the data and stories that brought the quilt to life.  And a very astonishing coincidence with another quilt and a family tree.  I was given a photo of one of the people named on the quilt. 

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