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I was browsing old Vermont newspapers, mostly articles I’ve already looked at, trying to find something new that I haven’t seen before.

That’s when I came across this small bit of information in the Argus and Patriot from April 11, 1883:

Of course, this refers to the birth of my great-grandfather Eugene, and his twin brother, George, who were born on March 28, 1883.  There are two things in that sentence, however, that make me scratch my head.  The first is that the oldest boy would have been 17 at this time, that being Patrick Grace born in 1866.  The second is that the twins were the 10th and 11th sons born to Edward and Catherine, and that’s counting baby Michael, who was born and died in Canada in 1870.

My first theory is that the source of the information was most likely Edward or a family friend.  It is quite likely that after that many kids, you might start slipping and saying 12.  I also find it completely believable that the source of this information was a little unsure about the age of the oldest Grace boy. 

The other possibility is that there is another child that we don’t know about, that didn’t live very long.  Someday soon I’ll make a trip to the records in Waterbury and try to find out for sure.  However, I do strongly lean toward the conclusion that it was an error in counting on the part of the source of this information. 

That being said, I was pretty excited about finding this little sentence about my grandfather’s dad.  It’s almost like finding a needle in a haystack.

My grandfather, Walter V. Grace, was raised by Charles Grace and his wife, Ethel (Hall) Grace, in the house at 21 C Street, in Barre, Vermont.

Ethel and Charles Grace on the front porch at 21 C Street

Charles and Ethel were my grandfather’s parents.  By birth, Grandpa was the son of Charles’ younger brother, Eugene.  When Eugene died in 1925, Charles and Ethel became his father and his mother.  Charles’ daughters, Catharine, Agnes, and Julia, were my grandfather’s sisters. 

Agnes, Walt, Catharine, and Julia

Charles died in 1951, about 7 months after my father was born and given his grandfather’s name as his middle name.  

By all accounts and stories, and by all evidence, the house at C street was a loving home, that fact having much to do with Ethel, her loving kindness is remembered fondly by anyone who knew her. 

I enjoyed hearing from my Aunt Alice recently, who told me that her grandmother told her that Charles would always, “tip his hat to the Lord,” upon passing a Church. 

In 1930, almost 20 years after the passing of the family patriarch, Edward, and after most of the family’s children had left Vermont for work (many of them having gone to Bristol, Connecticut),  C St. seems to have become the last existing center for the family to come together in times of crisis.  The death certificates of Charles’ brothers, Patrick, John, and Edward, all list 21 C St. as their place of residence at their time of death.  Of course, the same goes for Charles, Ethel, and Julia.

My father took me to the house a couple of times growing up, usually on the way to or from Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Burlington.   I can remember Agnes and Catharine, and one time, a very sick Julia who would soon pass away from cancer. 

From lft to right: My dad's sister, Susan; Dad, Julia, Grandma Ethel Grace, at 21 C St.

My father showed me a big boulder in the backyard beside the detached garage on which my grandfather carved his name as a little boy.  I went to the house last year after seeing on-line that it was for sale.  I knocked on the door and three young, giggling teenagers answered and gave me permission to look at the big rock beside the garage.  I pushed through the weeds that grew over it, only to find it so covered in moss that it made my search impossible.  It was a hot and humid day, so the search ended pretty quickly.

Grandpa at 21 C Street, Barre. You can see the number by the door.

The house is off the market for now, I’ve found no public records of a sale.  It’s a small house in what is now a crowded, small-city neighborhood.  Its existence is nondescript, it could be any house, in any town, built for an industrial boom now almost a hundred years gone-by.

Grandpa at C St. with his childhood dog.

Most people wouldn’t think about the family that was born, lived and died, and were thankful to call these walls home.

Jessie Maria (Morse) Haseltine,  1860-1918

My 3rd great grandfather was apparently a unique man.     He was born on Sept 12 in the year  1801 in the town of Waterbury Vt.  He died in Stowe 88  years later, and here is his obituary,  found in the Argus and Patriot:

Chester Marshall, a long time resident of the town and vicinity, died at his home in Stowe last Thursday night, and was buried last Sunday in the cemetery at Duxbury Corners, by the side of his first wife, who died many years ago.  Mr. Marshall was in the 88th year of his age, and until a few years has been an active and hard working man, performing the duties of life as he understood them in a way peculiarly his own, for he had a marked individuality and much natural ability.  His second wife and two daughters survive him.

This is one of my favorite obits so far due to the remark about his peculiar way of doing things and individuality.  Sounds just like my family to me.

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

 

 Graceless Graces.  (Printed in the Argus and Patriot, September 27, 1905)

Waterbury, Sept. 26–Robert and Charles Grace, brothers, were up before Justice Dale this morning and answered to several charges.  Charles Grace came from St. Albans a few days ago to visit his brother and last evening they filled up on booze and made so much disturbance at the Waterbury House, of which J.C. Farrar is proprietor, that he sent for Officer C.C. Graves who made the arrest.  Both men interfered with the officer and were arraigned for resisting an officer.  Robert was fined $5 and costs for intoxication and $2 and costs for breach of the peace.  both fines amounting to $19.46, which he will pay.  His brother was fined $10 and costs of $6.15 for a breach of the peace while the intoxication case against him was not pressed.  Each waived examination on the charge of resisting the officer and were placed under bail of $100, which was furnished by C.C. Graves in both cases.

The men in question are my Grandfather’s Uncles, Robert and Charles.  Charles is the man who raised Grandpa after his father, Eugene, passed away in 1925.  Trouble making Grace brothers!

Charles Grace:

Charles Thomas Grace

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.

Census Links

Other sources:   http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/coolhtml/coolhome.htmlhttp://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/connections_n2/great_depression.htmlhttp://fcit.usf.edu/HOLOCAUST/TIMELINE/nazirise.HTM

Edward Grace, known as Ned, and known to his children as the Governor. 

My great-grandfather, Eugene, looked so much like his father.

This man was father of 12 boys and 1 girl, all but one of whom safely survived their childhood. 

No mean feat in the late mid to late 19th century.

Edward Grace is my great-great grandfather.  He was born in St. Columban, Deux Montagnes, Quebec, the son of Irish immigrants, in December of the year 1835.  He was one of 11 known children of Patrick Grace and Honora McEvoy, both of County Kilkenny (Honora was most definitely from the town of Freshford).

Here Edward is the older man standing in the back.  This is a photo taken with the family of one of Edward’s sons, Robert Joseph Grace, standing here beside his father.

Sometime before 1866 Edward met and married Catherine Warren Travers, another child of Irish immigrants.  The connection between the Travers and the Graces is one that is tightly woven, but one that’s origins remain unclear to this generation*.  No one is sure yet where they met, perhaps in Vermont, perhaps in Canada, perhaps somewhere else altogether.

This photo courtesy of Cynthia Grace

One distant relative believes they were married in Canada, which is probable, since their first son, Patrick Henry, was born in that country in the year of 1866.  Their second son, Robert Joseph, was born in St. Columban, Quebec, and their third son, Michael, was born and died in that same town at the tender age of 5 months.

After burying their young son, Edward and Catharine did move on from St. Columban.  There is some evidence that they may have moved to Montreal, in the form of a birth record that can be found with the LDS.  This record lists Edward Victor Grace, son of Edward Grace and Catherine Travis, pretty compelling evidence that they at least passed through Montreal.

They arrived to stay in the USA in 1876, with 6 young son in tow, the youngest of which was just an infant.  They found their way to Moretown, Vermont, where Catherine’s parents were living, and where she had spent a good deal of her childhood.

The Graces in Moretown, Vermont, 1880

The Graces in Moretown, Vermont, 1880

Again, we don’t know exactly what brought them back to the US, but this is where they stayed for the remainder of their lives.

*Catherine Travers had a brother, John Travers, who married Martha Kinsella.  Martha Kinsella was also born in St. Colomban, the daughter of Thomas Kinsella and Honora Grace.  This Honora Grace was Edward’s aunt, making Edward and Martha cousins.  So, two Travers siblings married two cousins from St. Columban, Quebec.  What I’m unclear on is what connection the Travers’ may have had to St. Colomban, or what the connection was between St. Colomban and Moretown/Waterbury, Vermont.