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?


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

Since having written this post about Edward and Catherine (Travers) Grace, new evidence of their life in Montreal has come to light. 

Ancestry has published both baptism and marriage records from various parishes in the province of Quebec.  These records include St. Columban and Montreal.

The first record we find of Edward and Catherine is from St. Patrick’s Basilica in Montreal:

I can just imagine Edward walking through the doors of this Cathedral, holding in his arms the tiny first-born son named for his own father, Patrick Grace.   The day was 24 March, 1866, the baby was just one day old.

He must have been proud to show his son to the world and present him to be entered into the Faith of his parents and grandparents. 

I wonder if my great-great grandmother, Catherine, was left at home to recover from giving birth, waiting anxiously for her new family to come back to her side; her baby wailing and hungry.

St. Patrick’s was the center of Montreal’s fast-growing Irish Catholic population.  The Gothic-Revival Church was less than 20 years old on the day that Edward and Catherine had Patrick baptized.

The Priest was Fr. John Chisholm, the Godparents were Alexander Woods and Catherine Grace.  Catherine was Edward’s sister, married to Joseph Phelan.  Edward’s profession at this time is listed as “police man.”

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

“Doubtless, however, either of these stern and black-browed Puritans would have thought it quite a sufficient retribution for his sins, that, after so long a lapse of years, the old trunk of the family tree, with so much venerable moss upon it, should have borne, as its topmost bough, an idler like myself.  No aim, that I have ever cherished, would they recognize as laudable; no success of mine–if my life, beyond its domestic scope, had ever been brightened by success–would they deem other wise than worthless, if not positively disgraceful.  “What is he?” murmurs one gray shadow of my forefathers to the other.  “A writer of story-books!  What kind of a business in life, –what mode of glorifying God, or being serviceable to mankind in his day and generation, –may that be?  Why, the degenerate fellow might as well have been a fiddler!”  Such are the compliments bandied between my great-grandsires and myself, across the gulf of time!  And yet, let them scorn me as they will, strong traits of their nature have intertwined themselves with mine.” —from “The Custom House”, the introduction to The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

From Burnt Norton, written in 1935
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.  My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
                           But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
                       -T.S. Eliot

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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