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These are the graves of my 6th great-grandparents, Lieutenant Richard Haseltine and his wife Abigail Chadwick.   They are found at the Ancient Burying Ground at Bradford, Massachusetts.

They left Bradford and were founders of the town of Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire; but both bodies were returned to the family plot and interred in Bradford, Ma. 

Richard’s father was Abraham Haseltine, and his grandfather was Robert Haseltine, who arrived in Salem aboard the John of London in 1638, led by the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers.  They were Puritans who left their homes in England to pursue religious freedom in the new colony.

Richard’s son, Amos, had six sons who fought in the Revolution.  One of his younger sons, Ebenezer Haseltine, went on to found the town of Moretown, Vermont, by way of one of the Benning Wentworth New Hampshire land grants

So that’s a quick and dirty family history, to put these ancestors into some historical perspective.

“Here Lies Buried the Body of Lieut Richard Haseltine who Died the 8th of March 1755 and in the 76 Years of his age.”

“Hear lyes buried the body of Mrs. Abigail Haseltine the wife of Lieut Richard Haseltine who died July the 24th 1743 in the 60th year of her age.”

Thanks for these images goes to Harlene Soper-Brown, a distant cousin, who put these pictures on the Find a Grave website for all to share and appreciate.  Thank you, Harlene.  I myself have been to Bradford looking for these graves, but I apparently was barking up all of the wrong trees.


Jessie Maria (Morse) Haseltine,  1860-1918


The tombstone reads:  Infant, son of E. (Ebenezer) & L. (Lydia) Haseltine.  Died Jan 23, 1862, age 27 days.  He is buried in the Haseltine or Fairmont Cemetery, just outside of Waterbury Vermont.

Ebenezer Haseltine and Lydia (Marshall) Haseltine are my 3rd great-grandparents.  This infant was their 8th child, born when Lydia was in her 38th year.

I wonder why a baby that lived 27 days wasn’t given a name.  I don’t know if it was common practice at the time to not name a baby that was obviously not going to live, and I am assuming that was the case.  If the death came as a surprise, he surely would’ve had a name.

Was he born extremely premature?  Did he have a birth defect?  It must be one of these two things, it’s the only way to explain that he lived almost a month and wasn’t given a name. 

Can anyone help me figure out an answer?

As someone who is interested in all this genealogy “stuff,” I know the names well.  I’ve poured over documents and then poured over them again.  My brain is stuffed with thousands of names of people long dead and people far away, and with bits of fact that I’m sure they themselves never thought anyone would care about 100 years later.  I think you have to share the interest to really understand what I’m talking about.  My grandmother once told me that it was a family obsession, and that’s good news for me.  That means there’s a lot to be found about the Haseltines, thanks to generations of genealogy hunters who came before me.

So imagine how thrilled I was when someone stepped off of the list of names in my head and left a comment on my blog!  And a great comment at that.  Jerry Benedict is my father’s cousin, my grandmother’s nephew, the son of her sister, Ann Haseltine, and her husband, Gerald Benedict. 

He left this comment about his grandfather, Robert Ingersol Haseltine.  It’s a personal memory, and that makes it the most priceless kind of treasure; irreplaceable and  priceless.  Thank you, Jerry!

I remeber “Pop” Robert I. Haseltine well. I spent many summers going down to the Palisades and spending time there. At age 15 He and I walked the property line and He told me some of his times as a child growing up. There was a stack of bark between two trees that had been there for at least 60 years and He said it was tanning bark. they used to butcher cattle and use it for tanning the hides. he used to ride on top of the wood on the sleigh that would be towed up by horse or oxen and ride full speed down the hill. He talked about his grandfather getting drunk and hollering “the Recuts (redcoats) are coming” that was the war of 1812 he was talking about. I think He knew he did not have much time left as we walked and he told me stories. He left us in November of that year. Had some good times with your grandparents and fun? times babysitting your Ants as they were wild little girls.

your dad’s cousin Jerry Benedict

Thank you, Gran, for taking the time to mail this picture to me!
Farm House Destroyed by Fire
The farm house and wood shed of Holden Haseltine, about two miles south of Waterbury town, on the Montpelier highway was burned early Wednesday morning.  Mr. Haseltine arose about 6:30 o’clock and before going to the barn to do the chores, built a wood fire in the stove in the dining room.  After the fire had been built, he went to the barn, where he did the chores.  On returning about an hour later he found the floor around the stove ablaze.  As he was alone at this time in the house, he immediately set to work to extinguish the fire but was unable to do so as it had gained rapidly.  He then obtained the assistance of several of his neighbors.  They succeeded in saving the henhouse which adjoins the wood shed which in turns adjoins the house.  The barns, some distance from the house, were not harmed.  Mr. Haseltine said that his losses, which consisted of a great many of the household furnishings, were partially covered by insurance.  The house was considered an old land mark in this section, having been occupied by the Haseltine family for three generations or more.
St. Alban’s Daily Messenger, 02/17/1921
The spiritualists of Duxbury and vicinity met at the house of Eben Haseltine, in Moretown, last Thursday afternoon and evening.  There was good music and singing by the Duxbury choir, and speakin gby Mrs. Paul, of Stowe.  Supper was served and all enjoyed themselves “tip top.”
Argus and Patriot  Feb.12, 1879

My ancestors have a firm hold on my imagination.  I gather small facts, or those stories which seem to be fact, and store them away, creating fiction to fill the gaps in what might have been the stories of their lives.

I keep coming back to this particular photograph.  In my imagination it captures a moment in time that would soon slip from the grasp of not only my great-grandfather, but of an entire nation.                         

My great-grandfather was a professor of the natural sciences at the Baltimore City College in Maryland.  Last year I found a copy of the 1925 issue of the City College year book, The Green Bag, and my father spotted this picture of his grandfather.

So here is that snapshot in time.  Serious boys and serious professors, with one man quite out of place:

If I could thank G-G Haseltine, I would, for giving this gift to his progeny.  Instead of the pat smile found in other photos, in which you have to strain to imagine something personal behind the facade, he has given us this; a glimpse of his humor and kindness.

Here he is in his element at City College, in a space affectionately called, “Hazy’s Hothouse”:

In 1925 The White House was occupied by another Vermont native, President Calvin Coolidge.  The economy was transitioning into an era of mass consumerism.  By the end of the decade 40% of the population would own their own automobile, and radio waves were reaching even the most isolated of rural Americans.

It was the era of decadence and of the celebration of masculinity; with some of the most popular American authors of the time being Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, and Faulkner.  The Great Gatsby, with its critique of the American dream, was published in 1925, the same year these photographs were taken.

The year 1925 saw Darwin put on trial in Tennessee, defended by the agnostic super-lawyer,  Clarence Darrow.  I’m quite certain that it was this that led to the following tongue-in-cheek statement written by the City College Natural Science Club, pictured in the photograph with the skeleton:  “At our first meeting Dr. Leslie H. Ingham, head of the Science Department, gave us a wonderful lecture on “Science and its Relation to the Bible.”  Those of us who were present can testify as to the worth and educational value of this lecture.”   

On a personal front, some miracles were happening in Baltimore.  My great-grandparents were to be blessed with the birth of their fourth child, my grandmother, Marian.  It had been more than eight years since their last child had been born, and Anna had passed her 40th birthday.  I have to imagine they were surprised to find out they were expecting. 

Yet I keep returning in my mind’s eye, to this snap shot in time, of Robert I. Haseltine sitting stoically with the skeleton and his other colleague, Leslie Ingham.  In my fiction these few years must have been some of the happiest in his life.  But it isn’t the happiness that draws me back to gaze into the photographs, it’s the fast transition that his life would take, a sharp contrast to the humor we see in this old black and white.

Around the time of this photo, the family homestead in Vermont would burn to the ground.  Through WWI and up into the twenties, Robert and his wife Anna, along with their young children, were calling this place home, at least occassionally.  This would have been the home where my G-grandfather was born, along with his father, and his father’s father. 

This must have been the reason Robert’s father, Holden Haseltine, moved to Baltimore to live with his oldest son.  Not long after, Holden would pass away in that city, in July of 1928. 

I do not know when my great-grandmother, Anna (Lewis) Haseltine, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, or how serious the condition was.  What I do know is that by the end of the year 1930, my great-grandfather would surrender his employment with City College, and permanently return to the family lands in Moretown, Vermont.  There he would take care of his four children, my grandmother being just a young child, and in September of 1933, he would lose his wife to breast cancer.  She was only 49 years old.

In that same year, Adolph Hitler would become the Chancellor of Germany, bringing the Nazi party into official power, and bringing the world head-long toward a terrible war. 

The year also sees the inauguration of FDR, an unemployment rate of over 24%, and a top tax rate of 63%.

This is why I keep coming back to the photo.  Time stands still there, in the library of Baltimore City College.  Time stands still in that light-hearted moment, seemingly just before the world falls apart.  In the following eight years RIH would lose his home, his father, his job, and his wife.  He would see his children lose their mother.  He would see his country fall into the depths of the worst depression in its history. 

As he watched Hitler rise to power, how long was it before he wondered if he would have to send his own young son to fight this rising evil?  Could he imagine that loss that was still 11 years in the future?

Some part of me would like to stop time at the place it was when that photograph was taken with the skeleton.  Could we stop, go back, and fix what was about to happen?

The shadow of loss is cast on all of us in this life, but some lose more than others.  In what ways do such losses leave an indelible mark even on the generations that possess no memory of the actual events?  In what ways has it shaped or even created us as a family? 

My father was only 5 years old when his grandfather passed away on November 20, 1955, in the 70th year of his life.  Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers do shape us none-the-less, even for not having known them, or having known them only a little.  For that I will one day have to thank Robert I. Haseltine Sr.

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