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Plum Island History
Herbert Maycock

 

 

MORE THAN YOU WANT

TO KNOW

A Brief Family History

by

William James McDonnell

(click above for picture)

May 26, 1994

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Introduction 1

Narna 5

Bamby 10

The McDonnell's 23

The Minichiello's 33

William J. McDonnell 39

"Just Do The Best You Can" 48

 

 

INTRODUCTION

A family history? Why a family history?

Let me try to give you an answer to my reasons for writing one. First, sooner or later, every one of us asks -- What is this life all about? Why are we on this earth? Where did we come from? Where do we fit into the scheme of things? Eventually all these questions are asked, and while we do not have all the answers -- maybe we will never have them -- a family history might help to supply an occasional insight into some of these questions.

But before I go any farther, let me tell you about George. George is my alter ego, my conscience, my impish friend who tells it like it is, no pretense, no sham, just the truth.

When I considered a family history, George and I had a little chat. "What the hell are you gonna write a family history for?" "Well the kids might like it."

"Who do you think you're kidding? They couldn't care less about ancestors and all that crap."

"Well they might some day."

"You know it takes a real fathead to write a family history, a real nut who is overly concerned with himself and his ancestors."

"Well maybe the kids will be a little nutty that way, too.

"I doubt it. Well anyway, good luck to you and the Boston Red Sox." So that's how it all started. Even so, a family history should give some information about the background of each of us, and that includes my children and grandchildren. A family history might help to explain how each of us fits into a small segment of the universe.

Someone once said we must study history or we are doomed to repeat it. (I had George look up that quotation in Bartlett's but he could not find it anywhere, so he says I made it up.) Perhaps if we know a little of our history we may get an inkling as to how we got here, and what part our ancestors play in what we are and what we may become.

Which is the most important factor in the development of human personality --Heredity or environment? A family history can not completely answer this question, but it may shed some light on your own heredity allowing you to have a more enlightened opinion on the subject.

This will be, then, an effort to sort out the heredity of one family to help it acquire some knowledge of its heritage. Please notice that heritage is spelled with a small "h."

This is not an attempt to connect the family with kings or royalty. Nor will it try to gild the lily. If it is successful it will give you some explanation of who your ancestors were, where they came from and what they did. I hope this will include the unpleasant things as well as the good, for a family cannot live and develop over hundreds of years without plenty of both.

Fairness will be my goal. I will try to pass on to you bits of knowledge which have accumulated by word of mouth over the years as well as a close look at what records actually exist. However, we know more about some parts of the family than we do others.

For example, we know much more about the Maycock branch because we have records dating back to 1821. However, the McDonnell branch kept no records we can find so the information is much more sketchy and must be dredged up from memory and from recollections of old members of the family, long since dead.

In the same way, the Minichiello story depends upon what individual people can remember. In particular, the Savastano family history has to be pieced together by what Narna told us while she was living, and her death prompted me to put in writing what I could remember while it was fresh in my memory.

As we grow older, we come to realize with each death a link with the past is broken. When we are young, we listen with boredom to tales told by the older generation. We groan as the same stories are told over and over again and we run from their telling as soon as we can.

Then one day, we suddenly become interested in where we belong on the family tree. We want to know who our relatives are and what their relationship is to us. Then we realize there is no one to ask. All of those who knew the answers are gone. Then all we can do is guess and improvise. That is how fictitious histories are created. They are estimated and embroidered until sometimes they have no basis in fact.

With the family separated as it is, I feel you will miss the word of mouth history that, in the older days, you would have received at home. For that reason, I have put into writing what I know of all the branches of the family so there can be a more or less permanent record which you can refer to when and if you become interested in your heritage and heredity.

Originally, I thought a chart of the family tree would suffice. But such a chart can be pretty bare. It is the foliage which gives character to a tree, so I decided to add some leaves to the family tree with as many details as I can gather of the lives of the members of the family who preceded you.

And that is the reason for my title --- "MORE THAN YOU WANT TO KNOW." In writing it, I know that I will be telling you more than you want to know. Right now, the relationship of some distant cousin means little to you. But there may come a day when you will begin to wonder, and perhaps it will be important to know, just what the relationship is. For that reason, I am going into much greater detail than you may think is necessary. However, unless those things are told now, they may never be known.

Time moves along so rapidly that today's well known facts are quickly covered by a dusty mantle of history and can seldom be recalled.

Then, too, as your own children grow and become older, they will have questions about the relationships between members of the family. Perhaps this family history will help to explain these things.

So please bear with me, even ifI am telling you "more than you want to know."

In trying to bring everything into perspective, I am going to use "Narna" and "Bamby" as points of reference. You knew them both, Nama better than Bamby because you lived with her for a longer period of time, but you knew them and understood their idiosyncrasies, just as you know your mother's and mine.

 

Now let me tell you of your relatives and ancestors and of their backgrounds. We'll begin with Narna.

 

NARNA

Narna, more properly known as Rosina Savastano, was born on August 15th. That much we know, but the exact year is in doubt.

On her gravestone, her year of birth is listed as 1886. But there is reason to believe that while this was a perfectly honest guess by the family, it may not be entirely correct.

In later years, when she was applying for United States citizenship, although she never followed it through to completion, it was necessary for her to give the details of her arrival in this country. These papers show that she arrived in Boston aboard the S.S. Canopia, a ship of the White Star Line, on September 30, 1907.

Many years later she always said she was "going into 17" when she left Italy. We took this to mean that she was 17 years of age. This is further complicated by the Italian way she sometimes had of figuring age. For that, read on; we can't be sure whether she was 17 years old, or in her 17th year, which, would make her 16 years of age. Most likely she meant that she was 17 and if this was so, and the year was 1907, she would have been born in 1890, on August 15th.

Her place of birth is listed as Canella-Santa Lucia, but no map of Italy or tourist guide contains any notation of such a place. We must assume that it was a small section of another larger town, as Ward Hill is a section of Haverhill.

She always told us she was born in "Provincia Caserta." Now, Caserta is not a province but a city of about 55,000, 19 miles north of Naples in the province of Campania.

In describing her home, or her "country" as she used to call it, she always said it was agricultural and there were gardens everywhere. She never was able to understand the miles of unused and unplanted land in America. In her "country" they used every bit of available space for gardening.

She also said her home was not too far from the ocean..."about from here to Groveland" she would say. In looking at a map of Italy, at that section between Caserta and the ocean, we find the town of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, population 13,347 and listed as a busy agricultural market. From what she told us, she didn't live in a town but on a small farm on the outskirts.

To make a calculated guess as to the location of "Canella-Santa Lucia" where she was born, I would say it is somewhere on the road between Santa Maria Capua Vetere and Aversa. This would be at about the proper distance from the ocean and this area is full of market gardens which would correspond with her description of her "country" and would also explain why she liked to ride to Lawrence through the Pleasant Valley section which is also a market gardening center much like her home in Italy.

By way of further explanation as to the type of country she came from, let me add that this section of Campania has been farming country for centuries. Santa Maria Capua Vetere is the site of the ancient town of Capua where Hannibal came in 216 B.C. It also had the second largest amphitheater in ancient Italy, second only to the Coliseum in Rome. Alongside this amphitheater was a school for gladiators from which a slave revolt started, led by Spartacus.

This is the country where Narna was born. It is as old as civilization itself and from what we can guess she came from a long line of peasant stock, used to working hard at fanning the fertile land, handling small farmyard animals and performing all the other chores which go along with farm life. From what we remember of her, these are the things that she did easily and which she enjoyed doing most.

As to her immediate family we can only fill in what we have heard from her.

Her grandfather's name was Gaetano DiGundo and he married a woman whose first name was Luigelo. They had a daughter named Sabatina, who after she married Antonia Savastano gave birth to Pasquale, Angeliel and Rosina.

Her mother, Sabatina, died at an early age so her grandmother Luigelo brought her up. We also know nothing about her sister Angeliel. As far as we can remember, Narna never mentioned her other than to provide her name. She might have died young or have been left behind in Italy after Nama came to this country. We just don't know.

In recreating a family history such as this, one of the most striking discoveries is the large number of deaths at an early age, which occurred less than one hundred years ago. They occur on both sides of the family with a regularity that was accepted at that time, a regularity we find difficult to understand today. In those days, death an early age was a fact of life.

Her father, Antonio Savastano, was a tailor and she insisted he was a good one. That is all we know of him. Whether he had a shop in the small town or worked in his own home to supplement his farm income, we don't know. Her grandmother was the one who had the responsibility of raising Rosina. She saw that the chores were done and that she was taught the essentials of farm life but she was never taught to read and write.

In later years, this was sore point for Narna. She would always say that had she had a proper mother to bring her up she would have been taught to read and write. It was a void of which she was most conscious and while she tried to learn when she applied for her citizenship papers, it probably was too late. She was just too old to be able to master something which should have been taught her when she was young.

Of her growing years, we know practically nothing. But we can assume she had the normal amount of fun and gaiety, which goes with such a life. At the very least she learned to dance and enjoy a party and a good time, which was so evident in her later years.

At about the time she was fourteen, her brother Pasquale, left home to come to America. He must have promised to send for her as soon as he had saved enough money, because after settling in Lawrence, MA. and working for a few years, he finally accumulated enough money and sent her the fare so that Rosina could follow him to America.

Pasquale had settled in Lawrence and he had also married. The wife was a complication and from what we can gather, he had to save the money for Narna’s passage without letting his wife know.

At any rate, after the money had been sent and Narna was on her way to America, the brother became sick and died. Here again we have no way of knowing the reason for his death. Narna hadn’t arrived when it happened and probably was able to determine the exact cause of her brother’s death. Death of a young person was more common then than it is today and not unusual enough to prompt questions from a young immigrant who didn’t even speak English.

Meanwhile back in Lawrence, Pasquale’s wife evidently had found out about sister Rosina coming and since the last thing she wanted was a "greenhorn" sister-in-law to care for, she took off for parts unknown and was never heard from again.

So Narna landed in Boston in September of 1907, not knowing the language and without a soul to lean on or provide a friendly word of welcome or encouragement.

Luckily, brother Pasquale had evidently told friends of his sister’s coming because a man named Fantini, to whom Narna was ever grateful, took her in his rooming house in Lawrence. Here she was given a room of some kind and provided with food while she made the big adjustment between life as she had known it in Italy and the way it was in this strange land of America.

She worked for Fantini, helping with the household chores of cooking, housekeeping, etc. In trying to reconstruct the house where she worked, we believe it was a large rooming house where new arrivals from Italy lived and made the transition to the new American way of life. The Irish had places like this for their new arrivals and we can assume it was to this kind of a waystation that Narna came.

After she had been there a while, she got a job in the Wood Mill in Lawrence. In later years while driving through the town she would tell of walking from her home on Common Street across the bridge to the huge Wood Mill with other girls and boys of her age.

In the normal course of events, she met and was courted by Peter Tomasino. He was a barber and from what we can gather may have lived in the same Fantini boarding house.

They were married at the Holy Rosary Church in Lawrence and eventually she became pregnant. However, she continued to work in the Wood Mill because in our conversations she also talked about walking across the bridge to work, now with her "big belly" as she called it.

She gave birth to a baby girl who was christened Gilda at the Holy Rosary Church. Shortly after the baby was born, husband Peter was taken sick and died suddenly, another case of death at an early age. His death was caused by pneumonia, which was much more common then than now.

To put things in perspective, Gilda was born in August of 1911 so that Narna had been here for a period of almost four years. In that time she had arrived here in a strange land, practically an orphan, with no relatives to depend upon, and now four years later she was a widow with a young baby to care for. She continued to live in Lawrence, just where we are not certain, but it must have been on Common Street as she never mentioned any other Lawrence address.

Meanwhile she had made friends other than Mr. Fantini and with the typical closeness and cohesiveness of newly arrived groups, they began to look for a solution to the problems of this widow with her new baby. Remember at this time there was no Aid to Dependent Children or Social Security.

In the course of their search, someone mentioned a newly widowed man in Haverhill with four small children. He was having problems running his home and needed someone to take over the care of the house and the children. These friends suggested that if these two people could be brought together they might provide a solution to each other's problems.

So they were introduced and after a while Rosina agreed to come to Haverhill and provide a home for the new widower with his four small children and her daughter.

His name was Giacomino Minichiello and he eventually became your grandfather on your mother's side.

 

 

BAMBY

Bamby, or Annie Kiffaria Cunningham, was born in North Vassalboro, Maine on February 28, 1879. The name is correct: Annie, not Anne; Kiffaria, supposedly after a town in Ireland. North Vassalboro, a small village, is just south of Waterville and even now has less than a hundred houses. Its principal distinction when Bamby was born was its woolen mill which eventually became part of the American Woolen Company and which gave employment to Bamby's father, John.

Her mother, Mary Maycock, died two years after Bamby was born and she had no recollection of her at all.

Bamby was the youngest of four children -- Mary Alice, later known as May, Catherine Louise and a brother John.

After the death of his wife, John Cunningham must have panicked as to how he could bring up his brood. It is not known how long he lived with his family in North Vassalboro but the Maycock family had moved to Amesbury, Massachusetts. There was an unmarried sister of the children's mother there and John must have considered her a most likely prospect for bringing up his family. So John took his young family to Amesbury to live with, and to be brought up by, the Maycocks.

If the Maycocks play such a large role in the family history it is because Bamby, at a very young age went to live with the large Maycock family, and their influence and their independent way of looking at things left its imprint on her character. She and her brother and sisters were orphans or refugees living on the goodness of the Maycocks and this also colored her way of looking at things in her later life.

The maiden aunt, known with considerable respect as "Aunt Annie" brought up the Cunningham brood.

We shall return to the Maycocks in greater detail later.

However, both families lived on Lincoln Court, an alley off Sparhawk Street in Amesbury. The brothers worked as blacksmiths and carriage makers to provide the money while sister Annie made a home for the Maycocks and cared for the Cunninghams.

The father, John Cunningham, stayed a short while but then left for Ballardvale, Massachusetts, another mill town, where he eventually married again and brought up another family, one of whom was Belle Cunningham. In later years, we were very friendly with her, and her husband, Bernard McArdle, owner of the T.C. Lee Insurance Company in Lowell. Further research has shed new light on John Cunningham, my missing grandfather, who I never saw. He was born in Ireland in 1843. His father, also named John Cunningham, and his mother, Catherine Moriarty, were both born in Ireland.

We have no record of him being in the Civil War so we may assume that he came to this country during or after the war. John Cunningham's name appears in the Lowell directory for the first time in 1901. In 1911 and 1914 he is listed as a wool sorter living at 22 West 4th St. He died February 9, 1917 at 47 Whitney Avenue in Lowell of intestinal paresis and is buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Lowell.

As Bamby always said, the Cunninghams were as poor as church mice. Not only were they poor but they had to be cared for by a loving aunt in a strange family where the rest of the family tolerated them.

Somehow or other they were able to survive. Bamby attended St. Joseph's School where she graduated from both grammar and high school. Her older sisters, May and Katherine, were both interested in clothes and opened a millinery shop on Main Street in Amesbury. How well it prospered, if at all, I don't know. While both sisters knew styles and clothes well, their ability on the financial side left something to be desired and though they may have had a living for a short while, they never became rich.

Let's return for a while to the father, John Cunningham. With the great Irish immigration ending in 1855, he probably came to this country when he was quite young, most likely at the age of ten or twelve. If he had come at a later age, he would have had a strong Irish brogue and been a "greenhorn."

Nowhere in Bamby's memory does she mention his Irishness, so we can assume that whatever "greenhorn" veneer he had had worn off. Also we know nothing of his family.

As to how he arrived at such an unlikely spot as North Vassalboro, Maine we must again put our imaginations to work. Most of the Irish immigrants landed in Boston and slowly spread throughout the country. While most of them stayed near or close to Boston, some migrated west. The likelihood of a trek to a small village in Maine seems farfetched. However there was a mill there and since he was a millworker, perhaps he went north from Boston.

There is another possibility. During the latter stages of the Irish migration, many ships came from Irish ports to Quebec in Canada. Perhaps he and his family landed in Canada and wanted to make their way to America, started towards Boston, got as far as North Vassalboro where the mill provided work and where they eventually stayed.

Which, if any, of these stories is correct is unimportant. Somehow or other he landed in a small Maine village and married Mary Maycock. We know much more of the Maycocks than of any other branch of the family because of the Maycock Bible which is in the hands of Aunt Mary Kelleher. Included in this family record is a copy of the entries from that Bible which help us to keep things in their proper sequence.

The first two entries are: "James Maycock, born May the 10th in the year 1821 --- Ann Maycock born September the 15th in year 1824." The first record of death is of Mary Maycock, evidently the mother of James in 1832 and Thomas Herbert evidently the father of Ann Herbert in 1838.

To digress for a minute, let's consider the Herberts. They came from Dublin but since the father died in 1838 and the Irish immigration didn't begin until 1845 we must assume they were among the earlier arrivals of the Irish.

To be sure, there were others, some of whom fought in the Revolutionary War, but the point I am trying to make is that the Herberts were not driven out of Ireland by the famine. They had other reasons for coming; perhaps a spirit of adventure, perhaps at the request of the authorities, but not necessarily because of the famine.

The Herbert family is interesting because they were perhaps the only Catholic family in North Vassalboro. Whether the Maycocks were Catholic originally is unknown. Perhaps they were brought up Catholics by Ann Herbert the mother. To illustrate what might have happened, let me tell you what I heard in North Vassalboro many years ago.

Thomas Herbert, who was your great-great grandfather, had a brother (name unknown) who married a woman by the name of Williams. Now the Williams were Methodists, and good ones, and the Herberts were Catholics, and good ones. There was no church of any kind in North Vassalboro at that time. So in the ecumenical spirit which was 150 years before its time, the Catholics priest or the Methodist minister would come to town, on alternating Saturday nights. Each would stay at the Herbert household and either say Catholic mass or conduct Methodist services in the Herbert house on Sunday and leave to return again in two weeks.

As to how the children were brought up, I am not sure. I believe that the boys were brought up Catholic and the girls Protestant with the right to change when they grew old enough to make up their minds. However, I can't be sure of this last part.

A further boast of the Herbert and Williams family was that, on the female side, for seven generations there had been a Sarah or a Jane.

"Every Jane had a Sarah and every Sarah had a Jane for seven generations." I met three of them Jane (Jennie) Herbert, Sarah (Sadie) Ferrin and her daughter, Jane. The last Jane was about my age and I am not sure that the cycle has continued. However, she was a nurse in Waterville and I am sure that if she married and if she had a daughter, her name would be Sarah.

To continue with the Maycocks. We must wonder how the English name of Maycock came to an Irish family and at this we can only conjecture.

We do know that the James Maycock who was born in 1821 died in 1895 and on his death certificate his father is listed as James Maycock, born in England and his mother as Mary Hilton, born in Ireland.

Since at the time there were always English soldiers stationed in Ireland we can hazard a guess that the original James Maycock was an English soldier sent to Ireland in the late 1700's or early 1800's and while there met and married an Irish girl, Mary Hilton. They became the founders of the Maycock clan.

The younger James Maycock was born in Ireland but came to America and was married to Ann Herbert on the 10th of September 1843. Nine children were born to them.

The oldest, Thomas, born in 1844, lived just 22 days. Mary, born in 1846, lived until 1880, married John Cunningham and became your great-grandmother.

Herbert was born in 1848 and at the age of 15 he enlisted as a Union soldier in the Civil War. He enlisted in the Second Massachusetts Cavalry and served during the entire war as a bugler. Your uncle, Frank McDonnell, had his bugle in his San Francisco home.

After the war, he returned to Amesbury where he worked as a blacksmith in his own shop until he died in 1896. In addition to blacksmithing, he wrote poetry and at least one of his poems were published in the Hartford (CT.) Times.   (Click here for additional information on Herbert Maycock.)

The next of the Maycocks was Ann, Jr., born September 9, 1850 that was to become Bamby's "Aunt Annie," the woman who raised the Cunninghams after the death of their mother. She lived until 1904 and died when Bamby, the youngest, was 25 and after the work of raising the orphaned family had been completed.

Samuel Maycock was born in 1853 but lived for only 14 months.

James Maycock was born in 1857 and when he was eleven years old his father took him by clipper ship to California. The Panama Canal had yet to be built and the trip had to be made around Cape Horn, which could take from 90 to 117 days.

His daughter remembered stories he used to tell of the trip and of the wild life in the Napa Valley of California.

In 1891, when he was 34, he married Mary McHugh in Amesbury. They had four children. Gertrude became a schoolteacher in Brookline and returned to Amesbury to marry Michael Howard, owner of a manufacturing company in town.

He died some time ago but she still lived in Amesbury until her death. Another daughter, Margaret, married and lived at Lake Attitash. Mary Maycock also became a teacher in Medford, Ma. She married a teacher by the name of Mitchie and lived in Harwich on Cape Cod until her death in 1975.

The youngest boy, Herbert, had a fondness for music and good living. As a young man he produced musical shows in Amesbury, however he finally settled down and went to the University of Kentucky where he graduated from Dental School. He later became a well-known oral surgeon in Worcester, MA. with a summer home in Seabrook, NH He died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of about 50.

Next in line of the descendants of James and Ann Maycock was William Alfred Maycock. He married a woman by the name of Abbie Meagher in 1888. They moved to Hartford, CT. where they raised their family.

In 1921, your Uncle Frank McDonnell and I were put on a tram in South Station in Boston and enjoyed a two week vacation in Hartford with the William Maycock family.

"Uncle Will" as we used to call him was one of the most memorable people in the family. He had a lively sense of humor, told a good story, had a tremendous love of life even when he was past 80, loved to play cards and was always ready for anything unusual. He was interested in everything, could argue politics or sports for hours and as they say in the Maycock family, was "good company." He was never dull. When he won at cards he attributed his success to superior skill and dexterity. When he lost, it had to his opponent's "bull luck."

His wife died before I met him but we met and lived with his family during our visit to Hartford. The only surviving member is Helen McCormack, who was a dancing instructor in Hartford for years but who is now retired and living with her husband in Pompano Beach, Fl. She had one daughter, Jean, who visited at Plum Island, and is married with a family of five and lives in Florida.

George Maycock was the next to be born in 1861. He was a handsome man but, as people used to say in describing the mentally deficient, he was not "quite right." He was probably retarded but to what extent, I don't know.

In later years he was a patient at the State Hospital for the Insane in Danvers and I remember visiting him there with his sister, Elizabeth, my Narna. He was a big man as were all the Maycocks, but very quiet and gentle. He was not locked up as were some of the others but had the run of the place and worked as a gardener or laborer on the hospital grounds. He died at the hospital in 1937.

The youngest of the Maycocks, Elizabeth A., born in 1866, became the first Roman Catholic to be graduated from the Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport. No one suspected that the name Maycock could be Catholic and if it had been known that she was Irish and a Catholic she would never have been allowed to enter the hospital, let alone graduate. She used to tell of Irish girls being stoned on High Street in Newburyport.

With the name of Maycock, she was never bothered but if she had she would have thrown the stones back and with great accuracy because she was a very determined woman. Shortly after I was born she came to live with us and became a "Narna" to all the McDonnells.

After graduating from the Anna Jacques Hospital she went to work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. Later she returned to Haverhill and during the influenza epidemic of 1918 she was a Red Cross nurse doing volunteer work in the tents set up in the city to handle the huge number of "flu" cases.

Elizabeth Maycock was not a very good-looking woman. She had a rather masculine look about her with large features. But in addition to all that, she was not particularly interested in fashion and "all that junk" as she called it. Aunt May was just the opposite, up to date with all the latest fashions.

But not E.A. Maycock. She thought such things were vain and not worth bothering about.

Her hair, which is supposed to be a woman's crowning glory, did not help her appearance. When she was younger and had recently graduated from nursing school she had nursed a patient with typhoid fever. She caught the disease from her patient and eventually recovered after a close call, but in the process she had lost all her hair. She was as bald as a billiard ball.

To cover up her appearance she wore what was called a "transformation"---nothing but a mass of human hair held together by a hair net which was perched on the top of her head. There was nothing to hold it and she was continually touching it to make sure it was in place. But despite her efforts, every once in a while it would become askew and we could see more of her baldhead than she liked.

In addition to all this she had very large feet and they pointed outward at an ungainly angles as she walked. And as she walked she always kept her head down as though she was in deep thought as to what she was going to do.

But with all of this she was a very organized woman. She could be depended upon and whenever anyone needed her she was always there.

When my brother and I were young, she once came to help my mother. It seemed that she always lived with us, so much so that we called her "Narna." She always encouraged us with our studies and our music and even though she had no children of her own, she was proud of us.

When I began to stutter it was Narna who gave me a soft cuff on the side of the head and said "Start over."

While she lived with us she worked in the Bradford Hat Shop for a while. But I remember her most sitting around the house forever knitting, tatting or crocheting. Her hands were always busy with some sort of needlework.

After we were older, she received a call to help another relative and she went to Lowell to help Dorothy McCarthy.

Dorothy Devine had married Jack McCarthy and they had three children. Dorothy was a sheltered girl of a fairly affluent family who was taken in by McCarthy, who was called a "fortune hunter" by my father and other men who knew him. Perhaps they were right because he left her and it was then that E.A. Maycock responded to the call for help.

She stayed in Lowell for many years and became as attached to the McCarthy family as she was to us. But after they were older, she returned to our house on Bedford St. She developed cancer and after a long illness died in her room at our house.

At the time of her death, my father was also sick and neither he nor my mother were able to attend the funeral.

So Aunt May and I accompanied the body to North Vassalboro, Maine where was born and where she now is buried.

Aunt May and I visited with all the relatives, caught up on our family history and, in short, had a very nice time. And now E.A. Maycock rests contentedly in a beautiful tree-shaded cemetery overlooking the village where she was born.

To return to the Cunninghams, we must now take up Mary Alice, or as we used to call her Aunt May. The story of Aunt May would fill a complete book.

When we left her she was running a millinery store with her sister, Katherine. It is difficult to judge what happened from this distance in tune, but from knowing her in later years, she probably soon tired of the drudgery of the daily operation of a millinery shop and yearned for a more exciting life style.

She met Timothy P. Linehan, son of a State Senator from New Hampshire and evidently well off financially. They were married in a ceremony at St. Joseph's Church in Amesbury, which must have been lavish for that time and for the impoverished Cunninghams. He was a hotel manager so they went to live at the Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport's most fashionable hotel and at her disposal was a team of horses and a proper carriage.

In looking back we can only imagine the gossip that such a match engendered and we might wonder how she was able to get away with it all. We must remember that she was an astonishingly beautiful woman, with tremendous presence, a flair for the dramatic and the most stylish clothes...all this coupled with what would now be called plenty of "chutzpah."

In due time, a son was born to her and christened John C. She and the baby were still living at the Wolfe Tavern as far as we know.

Some time later she took her baby son and left her husband to live in New York City. We don't know the exact time nor what really happened but we can guess there were financial problems, and the marriage which she had dramatically entered into had begun to so lose its lustre she decided to chuck it all for a fling in New York.

Her husband disappeared from the scene and as far as we know went back to live in Concord, NH Years later, he was admitted to the State Hospital for the Insane where he died.

Meanwhile in New York, May put to good use her knowledge of the millinery trade and went to work in the more fashionable shops in the city. Eventually she went to work for Giddings and Co. on Fifth Avenue which catered to a distinguished clientele. Among some of the customers she told of serving was Marion Davies, of the silent movie era and the mistress of William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst newspaper chain.

Aunt May lived in an apartment on 125th Street and St. Nicholas Ave. (right in the middle of Harlem, but which was quite fashionable then) for over 30 years bringing up her son.

As might be expected from Aunt May, she entered into the social life of the city and soon met a distinguished looking Englishman by the name of Charles Goodman. He had a wife and family back in England but worked in New York City as the manager of a men's club.

Men's clubs in that day were an integral part of the life style of the era and were havens away from home for the wealthy member. Charles Goodman's job was to see that the club was run properly much as an English butler saw that a British household was functioning smoothly. It was during the 1920's, the time of the rising stock market, and Charles used the information he received from club members to good advantage in accumulating some good stock holdings.

He was an impeccable dresser and would never venture out in public unless his shoes were glistening and his clothes precisely brushed and pressed. I can remember him telling me to use plenty of "spit and polish" when I was shining my shoes.

Whatever the attraction between him and Aunt May, they got along well and were soon living together in the apartment on 125th street.

While their way of life was rather unorthodox for that time, they lived together most happily and after their relationship had been firmly established, he frequently accompanied her to Haverhill on her annual vacation. She spent two weeks there every year and at least one year they spent at Salisbury Beach.

As he grew older, he developed cancer and was cared for by Aunt May who had given up her work. His cancer developed into a terribly long illness, which dragged Aunt May down close to a physical and mental breakdown. However, she cared for him tenderly and faithfully until he died in 1930. In his will, he left Aunt May well cared for financially.

Meanwhile her son, John, had grown and been married to a New York girl, Ann McFadden. Aunt May immediately bought a beautiful English estate-type home in Haworth, New Jersey for them all to live in. But it wasn't like Aunt May to stay in any one place for long, so after moving to several homes in New Jersey she finally ended in Napanoch, N.Y. where your mother and I went for our honeymoon.

I am sure that you remember the movies we took at that time. The man in the work clothes was Aunt May's son, John, and the girl with the kitten was his daughter, Nancy.

Nancy attended the University of Tennessee where she met and married a sportswriter for a Tennessee paper and as far as I know they still live in Tennessee.

John Linehan, Aunt May's son was brought up in and around New York City but developed a liking for outdoor life and physical fitness. He performed well in skiing, sailing, speed skating and swimming, but achieved his best results in canoeing. He was National single blade (racing canoe) champion many times during the '30's and was on the U.S. canoeing team in the 1936 Olympics.

In later years, he moved to Caracas, Venezuala where he ran an $18 million transportation system for the Creole Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey. He had 1500 people working for him, all but nine of them Spanish.

After he had been there for a while, Aunt May went to Venezuala to live with him and seemed to like the life there. She corresponded faithfully with Bamby and they made plans to visit each other again, but she never again returned to the United States. Finally, she went blind and died at the age of 90 in Caracas.

Her son, John, meanwhile had divorced his first wife and married a woman from San Francisco named Annabelle Teller. They were married in a fancy ceremony at a Newbury Street apartment in Boston that your mother and I attended and after their marriage visited Plum Island at least once.

After his retirement in 1961, he and his wife moved to California where they raised two children. He continued with his physical fitness regimen and was active in scouting but in 1966 he a heart attack and died suddenly.

His widow and his two children, Malcolm and Victoria, lived at 897 Bauer Drive, San Carlos, California and probably knew very little of their long heritage from North Vassalboro, Maine; Amesbury and Newburyport, Mass; New York and Haworth, New Jersey.

Katherine Louise was the next of the Cunninghams, born in 1874, also in North Vassalboro. Although she helped to run the millinery store in Amesbury, her chief love was music and she was an accomplished pianist and violinist. She lived with us for a while on Bedford St. and attempted to steer the McDonnell boys into music. It was because of her that I took piano lessons at an early age and learned to detest the monotony of it all.

Katherine was never a robust woman and it was suggested that she have her tonsils removed to improve her general condition. She was operated on at the Hale Hospital for a tonsillectomy in 1919 and died shortly thereafter at the age of 45.

Bamby's only brother was born in 1876. Like all of the Cunninghams, he was never robust and when he was young he developed tuberculosis. He was sent to Aiken, South Carolina to strengthen his health and Bamby went along to be near him. However, in those days there was no cure for the disease and he returned to Amesbury where he died in 1905. He was just ten days less than 30 years old.

To pick up Bamby's story once more, we find her in Amesbury at the age of 26. The Maycock family had dissolved. Her Aunt Annie, the woman who raised her, had died in 1904. Her brother had just died and she and Katherine lived alone in Amesbury.

At that time, her Aunt, Elizabeth Maycock, was working at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and she suggested that Bamby take up nursing as a career, and with her help she entered the Nursing School of the University of Maryland. She entered in 1905 and graduated in 1908. She was listed as an alumna of the University of Maryland, Class of 1908, and was invited to the 50th reunion of her class.

While attending Nursing School she had been corresponding with a former classmate of hers at St. Joseph's School.

After graduation she returned to Amesbury, the romance was renewed and they were married. His name was William James McDonnell, and he was to become your paternal grandfather.

 

 

 

THE McDONNELL'S

The history of the McDonnell family is more difficult to reconstruct, because, although I have the old McDonnell Bible, there are no entries of births, deaths or marriages and since all of my father's generation are dead, I must rely on memory and on random dates taken from gravestones in the Amesbury cemetery.

Michael McDonnell, my grandfather and your great-grandfather was born in May of 1839 at Ballinrush, parish of Killarney, County Cork, Ireland. That information is on his gravestone.

He was married to Hannah O'Connell, but the date of her birth and the date of their marriage is unknown, however she died in 1924 at the age of 84. She lived at the family home, 14 School St. in Amesbury. I remember seeing her and we have pictures of her taken in the yard. She looked something like Queen Victoria of England, always dressed in black and ruling her house with an iron hand from her rocking chair throne near the window which looked out onto School St.

Going back one generation, Michael's father, Patrick, married a Mary Maher in Ireland on a date unknown. But it was this marriage which is listed in the records at Ballinrush, parish of Kilworth, County Cork, Ireland as being between Patrick O'Donnell and a Mary Maher. We know that my great-grandmother's name was Mary Maher and that is how I discovered that the family name should be O'Donnell and not McDonnell.

To further confuse things, her death certificate shows that she died of apoplexy on March 26, 1899 at the age of 87 and her name was given as Mary McDonald and her maiden name being Mary Maher.

So much for names.

Patrick and Mary also had one other son who also came from Ireland. His name is listed at Thomas McDonald and died on October 17, 1913 of a cerebral hemorrhage and arteriosclerosis. The place of his death is listed as Lionsmouth, Rd, Amesbury, which happens to be the town Poor Farm.

Now back to Michael McDonnell and his wife Hannah.

How they traveled to America and whether they were married in Ireland or in America is not known. However, since we have noted that the Great Irish migration ended in 1855, it is safe to assume that he arrived about that time or shortly afterwards at the age of 16 or 17.

After they were married they moved "out west" to Fort Dodge, Iowa. There must have been some sort of homesteading deal that prompted such a move. They lived in a log cabin and I remember listening to their stories of adventures with the Indians. They stayed in Fort Dodge for several years because at least three or four of the children were born there and the family was divided between those who were born "out west" and those in Amesbury.

To reconstruct with much guessing, Mary the oldest, was born in 1861 or 1862, Elizabeth in 1863 and we are sure that Patrick was born in 1865.

Not much is known of their life in the west but since it was before and during the Civil War, life must have been difficult because after a while they returned and settled in the old house in Amesbury.

Actual dates are hard to come by, but for the record, here is a quick sketch of each of the McDonnells. Mary, the oldest, married a man named Ford and lived in Chicago for many years. As far as is known, she had no children and returned to Amesbury after the death of her husband. She had a caustic, down to earth humor, and that, along with her practicality and realistic outlook, helped her to live in to a ripe old age. She was 95 when she died in 1956 and although she was the first of the McDonnells to be born, she outlived all but one of them.

Elizabeth, the second child, married a man named Duignan and had one child Mary (Marne) who died in her early forties. Elizabeth was a shoe worker in Haverhill most of her life and lived on Cedar St. before returning to Amesbury where she ended her days in her early seventies. Elizabeth was the recognized authority on the McDonnell history and relationships and when she died she took all of the knowledge with her.

They first boy to be born to Michael and Hannah McDonnell was named Patrick. We know from the date on his gravestone that he was born in 1865 and I remember him as a tough-talking, physically big man who worked all his life as a plumber.

He made his home in Peabody, Mass. with his wife whose proper name was Mary E., but she was always known as "Aunt Doll," a wonderful lady whom we enjoyed visiting more than most of our other relatives. She could neither read nor write but had a knack of putting youngsters at ease by instinctively understanding their curiosity and knowing that they were full of "hell," as she would say.

They had four children who survived -- Edward, Mary, Henry and Arthur. However, there were at least three of four other children who didn't survive. They contracted diphtheria, a much more common illness then, and all of them died and were buried in a single week in the McDonald family lot of the Amesbury cemetery. More of the "McDonald" later.

Mary, the oldest of Pat's children married a man named James Ward and they had one son who, when last heard from, was serving as an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy. Her husband died some while ago but Mary, when last reported, was living in Salem, Mass. but since she must now be over 80 years of age she may have passed on, unreported, since she was the last remaining member of the family and was living alone.

Henry McDonald was a truck driver who lived in Peabody before he died, many years ago. He had one son but nothing is known of him.

Another of Patrick and Doll's sons, Arthur, was mentally retarded and spent all of his life at the state school in Waverly, Mass.

However, Edward, the oldest had a distinguished military career. During World War I, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as an infantryman and served some of his enlistment in France. After the war, he was discharged and spent some time in civilian work, but eventually decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy and make it a career. He chose the Navy over the Army because of his experience with mud and grime while serving in France and by the inconvenient locations of the Army kitchens.

It was his observation that when a crisis occurred in the Army it could be magnified by having the kitchen detachment five or ten miles away. In the Navy, no matter how critical the situation became, a cup of coffee was never far away and good food was as close as the galley which was never more than a few yards from where the fighting was taking place.

So, he made the Navy his lifetime career and served during the 1920's and 1930's all over the world. He spent considerable time in China and made many trips around the world gradually working his way up from Apprentice Seaman to Chief Petty Officer.

During that period, however, the U.S. Navy was reputed to be a Masonic stronghold and an Irish Catholic name of McDonnell did not carry as much weight as the possibly Scotch name of McDonald. So he, and in the end, his entire family changed their family name to McDonald and the family gravestone in the Amesbury cemetery where many of them are buried is engraved "MC DONALD".

Whether this strategy worked or whether his natural ability rose to the surface, the fact remains that he won his commission and eventually rose to the rank of full commander.

He was on the bridge of the heavy cruiser, the USS San Francisco, in 1944 when it was attacked by the Japanese Navy and kamikaze pilots in a furious naval battle of World War II. He was severely injured and after the San Francisco limped into the Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington he was placed in the Naval Hospital there where he died of injuries sustained in the battle.

While in the Navy he married a woman from California and I believe they had two sons. She came to Massachusetts once to visit his family but returned to California and since then she hasn't been heard from.

Next of the McDonnell's to be born was Timothy.

I don't remember ever seeing him but I do remember the feud between my father and him. I never knew the reason for it but we were definitely not encouraged to be friendly with that branch of the family. Nothing specific was said but a child senses these things without being told.

At family wakes, which were the only time we met, I was careful to keep my distance. This was utterly foolish because later on, I met his two children and found them to be fine people who admitted to having strange feelings when they were around OUR branch of the family.

However, feuds such as this are common to all families. In looking back, the entire affair probably began from some misunderstanding or imagined slight which wasn't settled immediately and which was allowed to grow until it affected not only the two brothers but their children as well.

Timothy moved to Thompsonville, Connecticut where he brought up two children, another William who never married and who has dropped from sight, and a daughter, Helene.

After graduating from the Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Ma., she became a nurse and married a school teacher by the name of J. Benedict O'Connell. They had one daughter and three sons and all of the sons graduated from Fairfield University in Ct. One became a medical officer in the US Navy, and another son, Daniel, became a priest serving in the Hartford diocese. However, after many years he left the priesthood and at last report was working for a brokerage house on Wall Street. When last heard from the O'Connell's were living in Windsor, Ct.

Next in the McDonnell line was Annie who came to Haverhill and married Dennis Driscoll. They lived in a two family house at 14 Cedar Street that they owned. Her older sister, Elizabeth, lived downstairs in the same house. After the First World War when the shoe business was booming in Haverhill, Annie and her husband ran a small restaurant at 214 Winter Street where they catered to the prosperous shoe workers. They must have made some money from that endeavor because after they closed shop Dennis never worked again and they continued to live well on whatever money they had accumulated and from the sale of a small amount of home brew -- an illegal kind of beer made popular during Prohibition.

Dennis was a character, short on couthe, who always had a cigar in the comer of his mouth and a cap on his head, whether he was in or out of the house. During the Prohibition era, he made his home brew in the back hall of the house on Cedar Street and the brewery smell could be detected even as you approached the house.

Annie was proud, hardworking woman and after the death of her husband worked as a cook for a family in the Highland section of the city. In later years, she sold the home on Cedar St. and moved in with the McDonnell's in Amesbury where she died in 1948.

Annie and Dennis had one son, Donald R. Driscoll (original complete name --Joseph McDonnell Driscoll) who attended St. James School and married Nancy Aimaro, the present City Clerk in Haverhill. However, they are now divorced. Donald worked for the Gas Company for 37 years. During that time he was actively involved in the Democratic Party and served for years on the Democratic City Committee. Donald and Nancy had three children: Joan, who died at the age of four; Jean, who died a particularly tragic death when she 15; and Dennis, their only son. Donald has been hospitalized for years at the Glynn Memorial Hospital with hopeless physical and mental ailments.

Next of the McDonnell's was Julia who lived all her life unmarried in the house on School St. and who ran a small corset business from the family home. She was active in the Democratic Party in Amesbury at a time when there were few registered Democrats and she worked at the polls during elections. When she was in her fifties, she developed cancer of the breast and died after a long illness during which she received the newly discovered radiation treatment at Boston hospitals.

Another brother, John, was the black sheep of the family. I am not sure where he belongs on the McDonnell family tree but he was probably before or after Julia. I remember seeing him at the family homestead but my only memory is of him sleeping on the living room couch. Later I found out that he was an alcoholic.

Naturally I didn't know about such things when I was young but perhaps that explains why most of the McDonnell's were teetotalers. My father and his closest brother, Tom, never drank or smoked in their lives. That is until Prohibition became law.

When an Irishman is told that he can't do something, he gets his Irish up and does it anyway. That is probably the reason why both my father and his brother, Tom, began to make Elderberry wine in their later years.

When my father was being examined by our family doctor and the illness which killed him, high blood pressure, was discovered he bragged to the doctor that the never smoked or drank in his life.

The doctor replied, "Perhaps it might have been better if you had."

Brother Thomas was the next to the youngest of the McDonnell's and also lived all his life, unmarried, in the Amesbury homestead. He and his sister, Julia, ran the house. Tom was a silver worker at the Towle Silver Company in Newburyport and was one of the active members of the group attempting to form a labor union there. He was fired from his job because of this activity and never worked again. He developed pernicious anemia, which gradually crippled him, so that he needed a cane to walk with great difficulty.

In the late years of his life, he was made a member of the Board of Trustees of the Amesbury Hospital. He was the last of the McDonnell's to live in the old homestead and remained there after all the others had died. Finally he was hospitalized in Amesbury Hospital, where he had once been a trustee, but his greatest dread was that he would spend his last days in a nursing home. After spending over two weeks in the hospital he was told that it would indeed be necessary to transfer him to the nursing home which he detested. He died quietly, the night before the transfer was to be made, on January 19, 1961.

With his death an end came to the McDonnell's on School St. They had lived there for over 100 years and the house and everything in it was sold to pay a lien held by the Bureau of Old Age Assistance which had subsidized their existence for many years.

Your grandfather, William James, the youngest of the McDonnell's, was born on December 24, 1878 in the old family home. He attended St. Joseph's Grammar and High Schools where he and your grandmother were in the same class and were taught the same subjects by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

After graduating from High School, he came to Haverhill to work in the shoe factories as a shoe cutter. He lived in a rooming house there and occasionally took the electric car to Amesbury to visit and to court Annie Cunningham.

They were married in 1909 and lived in an apartment at 39 Cedar St., where I was born. In that same building, were other newly married couples, including a pharmacist named Harry Barker and his wife Margie. The families became very friendly and maintained their friendship long after they had moved from the Cedar St. house. When I was in High School and later in college, I worked for Harry Barker and his sons who were both pharmacists and owned a drug store in Central Square, Bradford. Later my son, Bill, worked for Joe Barker who was the grandson of Harry Barker whom Bill and Nan McDonnell had met when they moved into 39 Cedar St.

In 1911, my father was offered an appointment as a letter carrier in the Haverhill Post Office and he took the job despite the fact that his salary of $600 per year was considerably less than he was making as a shoe cutter. However, he wanted the security of a government job for his wife and young family.

He was assigned to a route in the Ward 5 area which included Bedford St, a newly developed section where several two family houses were being built.

In the meantime, we had moved from Cedar to Webster St. where the landlady was continually complaining of having children in the apartment (my brother Frank had been born in 1913). So my father, with a recklessness, prominent in his personality said, "The hell with her" and after considerable financial juggling, made arrangements to buy the two family house under construction at 37-39 Bedford St. We moved there in 1914 and lived there until I was married. Bamby sold the house and moved to California to live with my brother Frank.

My brother, Francis Thomas McDonnell, was born in Haverhill on May 26, 1913. He attended St. James Grammar and High Schools. However he had no desire to attend college and went to work selling insurance for John Hancock Insurance Co. On May 26, 1937 he married Gladys Blanchette also of Haverhill. Their first child was born on July 27, 1938, but died on the same day. A son, Francis Thomas McDonnell Jr., was born May 25, 1940. Constance McDonnell was born in Haverhill on November 3, 1942.

When both children were young, their mother Gladys developed tuberculosis and was hospitalized at the Essex County Sanitarium, Middleton, MA. for a period of about two years.

At that time they lived in the McDonnell house on Bedford St. and were cared for by Bamby, and Frank's sister, Mary. In the meantime, Frank had been appointed a letter carrier in the Haverhill Post Office, a job he never particularly liked.

In 1949, for many reasons including Gladys' health, he applied for a transfer to the Post Office in South San Francisco and went there by bus. Gladys and his family followed him to California by train later and they eventually bought a house on 278 Delores Way of that city.

Frank worked as a carrier but moonlighted as a real estate broker, a job he liked much better.

The love of Frank's life was music and he was good at it. He had taken xylophone lessons when he was young and also studied harmony with his teacher, Gerry Goodrich.

While he was still in Haverhill, he belonged to a quartet singing barbershop harmony. They loved to sing and eventually received an audition with the Horace Heidt Orchestra, a famous traveling vaudeville and radio band. They were accepted and given a contract to perform and travel with the orchestra. They were so excited they all went out on the town in Boston to celebrate. They celebrated so well that they never returned to sign the contract, which was probably just as well as they all had jobs to report back to and families to support. But they were all happy to know that they sang well enough to be accepted by the famous orchestra leader, Horace Heidt.

In California, Frank continued to work but developed macula deterioration, a disease of the eyes. Eventually, he became legally blind and was unable to drive a car or play golf, a game he loved and which he was good at.

He retired from the Post Office in the early 1970's and his health gradually deteriorated. He lost his zest for life and after a long illness died on January 22, 985. Your mother and I went to California for the funeral along with Aunt Mary Kelleher. his children and grandchildren have all become Californians and Frank was continually bragging about the beauty of the state. However, at the end, I am firmly convinced that he longed for New England and for the friends he had left behind.

He was also very close to Bamby who lived with him for so many years in Haverhill and also in California. She had died in 1964 and between his blindness and her loss he had become depressed.

Frank's son, Tom, works for the state of California as an environmental consultant for the Highway Department. He married Marilyn Ross, who at one time was a very capable secretary for a Postal Inspector. They have one daughter, Karen, who was born about 1970 and who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.

Frank's daughter, Constance, married a Gene Brown and had two sons by him, Daniel and Timothy. She was divorced and later married James Barker, a dentist by whom she had one son, Geoffrey, born about 1972. Later Connie's two sons by Gene Brown were adopted by James Barker and are now known as Daniel and Timothy Barker. Daniel was born about 1964, and Timothy about 1965.

My sister, Mary Evangeline McDonnell was born August 15, 1917. She also attended St. James Grammar and High Schools graduating in 1935. She went to the School of Nursing at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Ma. and became a Registered Nurse. On July 17, 1949 she married Francis V. Kelleher of Plaistow, N.H. She worked for many years in the pharmacy at Hale Hospital in Haverhill, retiring about 1977. Her husband Frank was the Postmaster at Westville, N.H. until his retirement. They continue to live in Westville, but spend six months of the year in Fort Myers, Florida.

And that takes care of the McDonnell's of my generation.

 

 

THE MINICHIELLO'S

Giacomino Minichiello was born in 1885 at Grottaminarda, Italy, a town of about 8,000 people located 80 kilometers east of Naples on the Autostrada, midway between Benevento and Avellino.

He was the youngest of a fairly well to do family. His father, Aurelio Minichiello, had married Giulia Forgione from the neighboring town of Gesualdo. Evidently they had large land holdings in and around Grottaminarda.

However, the father Aurelio died at the age of 37 leaving Giulia with six sons to raise and care for.

Let me stop here for a minute and do some explaining. In this entire history, I have tried to piece together all my information so that what I have written was as close to fact as I could possibly make it. But when it comes to putting the Minichiello family into perspective the task is made exceedingly difficult because of the distances involved. What I write now is true to the best of my ability but someone who knows more about the Minichiello side of the family could probably make some minor changes. But I'll tell the story as I have found it otherwise it will probably never be written.

The law of the land in Italy and in most European countries is that after the death of the father all land holdings go to the oldest son. It is called the law of primogeniture and the oldest gets everything and the others get nothing or next to nothing.

The Minichiello sons were Aurelio, the oldest, Oreste, Cesare, Vittorio, Berardino, and Giacomino. Since things didn't look too promising for the younger sons, four of them set out to America to seek their fortunes. They were Berardino and Giacomino and probably Vittoria and Cesare. The exact date they came to America is not known but it is most likely about 1906 or 1907.

Berardino and Giacomino stayed in America but Vittoria and Cesare returned to Italy after a short while. We don't know why they chose to return but when your mother and I went to Italy and talked with one of Vittorio's sons, Roberto, he told us that America was too cold.

After the death of their father Aurelio, and in order to raise her family and keep it intact, Giulia (Forgione) had to gradually sell much of her land holdings.

On our last visit to Italy, your mother and I saw the old family homestead in Grottaminarda and while it is now dilapidated and rented to many families, it still appears to have been the residence of a well-to-do family.

All of Giacomino's generations are now dead.

As for the relatives still living in Italy, here is what I know of them but their exact lineage may be questionable.

However, this I can be sure of - Roberto Minichiello, the son of Vittorio, lives at Via Enrico Fermi 49, Roma, Italia. He is addressed as "Doctor" and he graduated from the University of Naples and is a lawyer. He does not practice law but is employed by the Italian government as member of, or head of, the Retirement Board. He lived with his wife Flora in a comfortable apartment in the residential section of Rome. They have no children.

His brother Remo, is addressed as "Doctor Engineer" and lives in Grottaminarda in a beautiful new home not far from the site of the family homestead. He is an architect and has an office in his home equipped with the latest architectural requirements. When we were in Italy he showed us many of the apartment house complexes which he had designed and built. He lives with his wife Rosaria and their three children: Clementina born in 1958, Vittori born in 1966 and Giulia born in 1971. Their address is Via G. Marconi 10, Grottaminarda, (Avellino) Italia.

Also in Rome lives another daughter of Aurelio named Maria. She is married to Candido Bonanno, who is also a "Doctor Engineer" and who is also employed by the Italian government. They live at Via Della Marranella 23, Roma, Italia, with a daughter, Margarita, who is studying for her doctorate in Archaeology.

We have met all of the above relatives but I believe there is another daughter of Aurelio named Virginia who lives at Castello de Mare. It is probable that Oreste had at least one child but nothing is known of his family.

That is all that is known of the Minichiellos in Italy. There must be other children of Cesare and Oreste over there somewhere but the distance and the language problem makes further investigation difficult.

However, to get back to Giacomino, after he had been in this country a short while, he married Rosina Fasulo his first wife. She was born in 1887 and died in 1913 after giving birth to Aurelio (1907), Antoinetta {Dee} (1909), Henry (1910) and Virginia (1911). They are half brothers and sisters to your mother and therefore are your aunts and uncles.

We must now return to Giacomino and Rosina Minichiello so that we can provide some information on your mother's early life.

Giacomino, like many Italian men of his time, had a distrust of the Catholic Church. In later years Father Pallotta, the priest who eventually married your mother and me, put Giacomino and Rosina's marriage in order by blessing it, but when they started housekeeping it was an arrangement of convenience.

Rosina brought her daughter, Gilda, to the household and Giacomino brought Aurelio, Antoinetta, Henry and Virginia. So in an attempt to put things in perspective, Gilda and Giacomino's first children were of no blood relationship, even though they were brought up in the same household.

Born to Giacomino and Rosina were Tom (born Emilio), Bessie (Pasqualina), Mary, Bennie (Berardino), and Julie (Giulia).

Originally the Minichiellos lived on Temple Street but moved to the house at 13 Grove Street as the family grew larger. To complicate things further, Giacomino's brother Berardino, an agent for the Prudential Insurance Company, lived in the house in the rear at 13 1/2 Grove Street. His wife's name was also Rosina and they had five children. The oldest, Ann, became a school teacher and is now retired from a supervisory position in the Salem, New Hampshire school system. She married Bennie Emilio and they have one daughter, Susan, who attended the University of Massachusetts and now teaches in Lawrence, Mass.

Carmela also became a teacher and is now a school principal in Newton, Mass. She married Emery and they have a summer cottage at Plum Island but have no children.

Samuel Minichiello, the oldest brother, became an accountant and established an insurance agency in Bradford, Mass. but lost the business after financial problems. He married to Marjorie Thibodeau and lived for many years on Fernwood Avenue with one daughter, Sandra. However, he is now separated from his second wife.

Patrick followed in the father's footsteps and has worked all his life for Prudential Insurance. He was elected to the Haverhill School Committee and lives on Golden Hill Avenue in Haverhill. He had two daughters, one a teacher who married another teacher, and the other daughter, who graduated from Boston College.

Berardino's youngest daughter, Dorothy, married a man named Strassen and they live in Lewiston, Maine where he is employed as a manufacturing supervisor. They had several children.

Now back to Bessie's brothers and sisters. Aurelio, the oldest, was the most ambitious. He worked for the A & P Food Company and at one time owned a restaurant in Hyannis on Cape Cod where many of the Minichiello family went to assist him. However, he had a serious accident while cutting meat, which severely injured his foot and leg and made him partially crippled, and caused him to walk with a limp for the rest of his life.

He married the former Connie Chinchiolo and they soon moved to Boston where he worked in the offices of A & P Food Company until he retired about 1972.

They had five children. The oldest, Robert, graduated from Harvard, continued his studies until he received his doctorate in Marketing and is presently a full professor in the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University in Boston. He is married and lives in Milton with five children.

The second son, William, entered St. John's Seminary and became a priest. After being assigned to several parishes he left the priesthood and attended the University of Massachusetts where he specialized in Psychology. While there he met a student from Ayer, Mass. and married her. They have two children.

He has a doctorate in Psychology and is presently a psychologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

The third son, Edward, married a woman named Gloria from Everett, Mass. He is employed by the Commonwealth Edison Company in Boston and lives with his wife and one child in Plymouth, Mass.

The oldest girl, Cynthia, worked in the offices at the A & P Food Company, but married an Edward Parfumorse several years ago. They have three children and live in Falmouth, Mass.

Carol, the youngest, hasn't married and lives with her mother in Milton. Next in Bessie's family was Antoinette (Auntie Dee) who married Vincent DiBurro. They had four children. Ernest, the oldest, is a CPA and owner of the Academy Bowling Lanes in Bradford. He and his wife, Kay, and four children live at 131 Carlton Street in Haverhill.

Richard DiBurro also studied accounting and is office manager and probably part owner of the Lawson Yeo Chevrolet Agency in Amesbury. He and his wife, Kathy, live with four children at 147 Carlton Street in Haverhill.

Rose Maria DiBurro married Harvey Shain and they had two children, Holly and Keith. However, Harvey met his death in an automobile accident in Colorado and later she married Gerard Connelly, a salesman of rugs and furnishings, and they live with her two children, Holly and Keith, at 54 Hoyt Road in Bradford, along with Kerry, a daughter born to Gerry and Rose.

Henry is the only son to stay in the father's restaurant business. He is employed at the restaurant on Boston Road. He and his wife, Carol, live with three children, Jeff, Jane and Thomas, at 76 Hoyt Road.

Bessie's brother, Henry Minichiello, after much hard work as an agent for the Prudential Insurance Company and going to law school at night, was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and has law offices at 191 Merrimack St. where he conducts a law practice. He was also counsel for the Town of Groveland. He married the former Delma Bordolazzi and they have no children and live at 285 Main St. in Groveland.

Sister Virginia moved in with the DiBurro family as the children came along and devoted her early life to caring for them. After they had grown she met and married Walter Wierzbicki, a much-traveled Polish immigrant, who, with Virginia's help, operated a shoe repair business in the Bedford Shopping Center. He died in 1985 and she has returned to live with Antoinette DiBurro at 54 Hoyt Road.

The oldest of Bessie's full brothers was Tom. He was born in 1915 and worked most of his life as a sheet metal worker at the Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, until he died of cancer in 1972. He married the former Edith Bordolazzi of Groveland in a double wedding ceremony when his brother, Henry, also married her sister, Delma. Tom and Edith had one son, Tommy, owner of the Minichiello Insurance Company. He and his wife, Charlotte, live with three children in Atkinson, New Hampshire.

There is no need to go to great lengths about Mary (Maddie) and Julie. They lived in the same house with you for years and I am sure that you know as much about them as I do.

However, Berardino (Benny), their brother was killed in an automobile accident when he was four years old. He was playing in his yard on Grove St. when the brakes of a parked automobile failed to hold and the driverless car rolled down the hill, over a curb and crushed him to death. He died in Narna's arms as she was taking him to the hospital in an ambulance.

Your mother attended Tilton School and Haverhill High School. She was evidently well liked with many friends because in her junior year she was elected class secretary, a position which she held until graduation and which, incidentally, she still holds. She is still active in class reunion plans for the Class of HHS 1935.

After school she went to work as a sales clerk in Mitchell's Department Store working mainly at the hosiery counter. It was at that time that I had been appointed a letter carrier and one of the stops on our nightly collection rounds was the branch post office in Mitchell's store which took me directly by the hosiery counter. We saw each other, eventually met and after a stormy courtship were married.

 

 

WILLIAM J. McDONNELL

My father, William J. McDonnell, worked most of his life as a letter carrier in the Haverhill Post Office. He was one of the charter members of the Postal Carriers Credit Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers and served a term of office as president of the Local Branch #26. He took great pride in his house on Bedford St. and devoted practically all of his time to gardening around his house so that it would present a better appearance. He managed to buy a lot on either side of his house so that we wouldn't be cramped into a small space and be bothered by the closeness of the neighbors.

He always had a garden on one of the house lots, which provided plenty of fresh vegetables throughout the year. Harvest time was a particularly busy season with my father and us kids doing the picking and Bamby doing her best to can most of the surplus so that we could eat well during the winter.

I can remember her cellar being full of hundreds of jars of vegetables and fruits which had been "put up" by Bamby. Cucumbers were made into pickles by being put into large stone crocks that had been filled with vinegar and the proper condiments. They were stored there until they became 'thoroughly pickled and were ready to be eaten. Cucumbers and green tomatoes were made into various forms of piccalilli which were also used as seasoners for our winter meals.

In 1924, my father bought his first automobile, a brand new Chevrolet touring car, an open affair with a top, which could be folded down much like a convertible of today. However, it was a completely manual operation and could be accomplished only with much grunting, swearing and detailed instruction from everyone involved in the operation. It had glass curtains which could be attached in case of rain but which took so long to install that the rain had invariably ended at about the time the operation was being completed.

The total cost of the car was $500, an enormous price for that time but that was only the initial cost because delivery of the car did not include such luxuries as a spare tire, a hand windshield wiper or a jack with tools to change tires.

In those days automobiles were a luxury which we really could not afford but since we were continually taken out for a ride by our rich uncle, Bernard McArdle, from Lowell and since we the children were continually teasing for a car, my father finally gave in and bought it. He never really liked to drive although he was proud as punch at being seen at the wheel of his new automobile. I think that his dislike of driving stemmed from a small accident while he was driving in Smithtown, New Hampshire on our way to Hampton Beach. I was riding in front and my head broke the windshield causing only minor damage but the accident had a traumatic effect on my father and as soon as I was old enough to drive and receive my license I was not only allowed to drive but encouraged to do so.

With the coming of the auto our lives changed. It is my sincere belief that the falling away from the church began as the automobile came into people's lives. I saw it happen in my case.

In 1924, the most important facet of our lives was the Catholic Church. We all attended parochial schools where we were brought up strictly by nuns and priests who tried to have us lead their types of lives, sometimes by scaring us to death. One of the requirements of that time was that in addition to going to Mass on Sunday mornings, it was also required or at least actively encouraged that we attend Vespers on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. I remember being in the choir at the time and if we failed to show up for services, it was required that we provide a note from our parents explaining the absence. With a new automobile and a Sunday afternoon at the beach as an alternative, I soon was missing Vespers regularly. This caused such a reaction from the nuns that I believe they actually thought we were well on our way to Hell and we were looked down on as decadent, back-sliding Christians who would prefer an afternoon at the beach for the Catholic service of Vespers.

In later years that small crack in active Church going had widened to the huge gulf which now finds good Catholics deciding they won't attend Mass on Sundays unless they feel like it. But, I believe it all began when the McDonnells got their first automobile in 1924.

Our childhood on Bedford Street was normal for that time. I was encouraged to be a student and unless I brought home report cards in the 90's I heard about it from my father. My marks were most always good and I probably developed into a grind with traces of a sissy thrown in. While I played ball, skied and participated in all the other sports of the time, I was never the best. My brother, Frank, for example could run faster, play better, and make more friends than I could and, while he never knew it, I had a slight inferiority feeling about sports when I was with him. On the other hand, he thought that I was a brain and he felt inferior to me when it came to studies. My sister, Mary, was almost five years younger than Frank and I and being a girl she was barely tolerated.

We had the usual normal life for children of that era. In addition to the garden, my father also kept about 45 hens in a shed in the backyard and then care involved some work on our part. We had to collect the eggs which was a pleasure and also try to sell the surplus to the neighbors, which we didn't like. but the real chore of keeping hens was cleaning the drop-boards.

The drop-boards were the section underneath where the hens roosted and on which they left their droppings. It was our duty to keep the drop boards clean.

In the summer the droppings were soft and gooey and smelly. But in the winter they were so hard that they had to be removed with a crow bar. But the job had to be done because the collecting of the droppings provided fertilizer which was used for the garden and which could also be sold to other gardeners who weren't fortunate enough to have hens. In those days all gardening was organic. There was very little chemical fertilizer.

In addition to our household chores, we had paper routes and were allowed to give up the paper route only when we began to caddie at the Country Club. This was allowed because caddying provided as much money by working Saturday and Sunday as delivering papers did by working all week. I caddied while I was in grammar school and high school and even as a freshman in college.

In my sophomore year in high school, my father received a call from Harry Barker asking if I would like a job afternoons after school in the drug store. I went to work then and worked every weekday afternoon from 2 until 6, all day Saturdays, and every other Sunday. This provided some revenue and I continued there through high school and college and worked for a short time as a drug clerk in Mitchell's Drug Store on Merrimack St.

In 1924 I graduated from St. Gregory's Grammar School and in 1928 from St. James High School.

Education was very important to both my father and my mother and they encouraged me to go to college although they didn't know how they would pay for it. The Sisters of St. James also encouraged me and after receiving special attention from them I took and passed the entrance exam for Boston College. In those days there were no SAT's; the College Boards were just beginning and each college had its own examination for admission.

I entered B.C. in the fall of 1928 at the age of 16; I would be 17 the following month. Boston College was chosen for several reasons. First, the Sisters actively propagandized it because it was a "good Catholic College," but secondly, its tuition rate was slightly lower than the other colleges and that was a most important factor.

Financially, we were not in a position for me to go to a boarding college. Tuition at B.C. was $200 per year which seems small now but which was ten per cent of my father's gross income. In addition, I had to pay for books, some of which I accumulated by combing the old bookstores on the Cornhill Section of Boston near Scollay Square and close to the Old Howard, probably the nation's most famous burlesque theater.

Besides the books, there was my train fare, which amounted to $8.32 a month and my subway fare which was twenty cents per day. My lunch was generally two egg sandwiches carried in my briefcase with my books to conceal the fact that I was poor. These lunches were eaten in the lower rotunda near the cafeteria where on cold days, I was able to buy coffee or milk to wash down my lunch.

In my junior and senior years by thumbing to The Heights we could save twenty cents a day. With that money we bought English muffins and coffee at Foster's cafeteria, a small place on the lower end of Beacon St. near the State House frequented by second-rate lawyers and sometimes legislators and where we eagerly lapped up the atmosphere of intrigue and importance which they tried to convey.

My career at Boston College was undistinguished but my diploma at graduation time showed me to have graduated "cum laude". Studies were Latin, Greek and all the Jesuit Scholastic Philosophical subjects such as Philosophy, Psychology (The Study of the Soul), Ontology, Cosmology, Epistemology, Logic, Ethics, etc.

The Jesuit theory at that time was that a college education should teach a man to be a Catholic gentleman and that principally included the ability to think clearly and to express himself forcefully. It was not a place to learn a trade or profession. The profession or trade could be acquired after graduation in a graduate school where law, medicine, dentistry, the priesthood, or other crafts were taught. The only concessions to the professions or trades were the pre-medical or pre-legal courses, which steered the student into the correct courses and frame of mind so that he could succeed in his chosen profession.

All courses through the sophomore year were required and no "electives", as they were called, were allowed until the junior year. To my best recollection, I had just three electives during my four years at B.C.: business law, economics, and sociology.

As you can probably understand, the student body was almost entirely Irish Catholic boys from middle to lower class family backgrounds. There were quite a few Italians, French, and a few Polish students, but only an occasional Protestant.

There were however, always two or three Jews in each class which was unusual, the reason being that Jewish parents wanted to expose their sons to a good Jesuit education which for hundreds of years had been looked upon as one of the best forms of education ever devised.

Protestants or Jews were not obliged to attend Catholic services or studies but these were required for all Catholics.

Commuting daily to college does not leave much time for developing friendships as four hours each day were spent traveling to and from school, but some friends were made. Most were in connection with our commuting. We played bridge each day on the way in and out when we didn't have to spend time cramming for an exam that we were worried about.

I also joined the band and the orchestra and played the saxophone in each. Because of the commuting which cut onto the rehearsal time, the B.C. Band was probably the most poorly organized in history. Musically, it wasn't bad because most of our rehearsal time was spent in playing but when it came to marching and spelling out school letters, which was just coming into vogue, we were miserable. We did well to march in a straight line and even this was accompanied by loud shouts from the ranks to straighten out the line and to "dress right," "dress left," and all sorts of instruction which we knew little about.

By the time the Holy Cross game came on the Saturday after Thanksgiving we were as well trained as we ever could be but we were overwhelmed by the more sophisticated band from Holy Cross. Of course, they were a boarding school with time to practice and rehearse and it showed in their maneuvers, which by today's college standards would be quite amateurish but which we considered to be as good as West Point's Cadets.

Then too, we always felt seedy in our maroon and gold blazers and we invariably froze in our white flannel trousers while the Holy Cross band swooped onto the field in great precision and with their purple capes swirling smartly in the cold wind. I think that could play better than we could too.

But the band did provide an occasional trip out of town to some of the games. We went to Philadelphia twice and once to New York and since these trips were made on the old Eastern Steamship Line which sailed overnight to New York they sometimes involved considerable high jinx and adventures.

Band and orchestra rehearsals were held after class in the afternoon. When they were over I had to take my saxophone and brief case, run down the hill to Lake St. where I got the subway to the North Station, dash into the station hoping to catch the 5:54 train which arrived in Haverhill at 7:00 so that I could finish my supper and be ready for study at about 8:00. If I missed the 5:54 train, I had to catch the 6:55 which set my whole schedule back another hour. For this reason, much of our studying had to be done on the train and subway to and from school.

In the last days of my college career, after the collapse of the stock market in 1929, we all became interested in trying to make money out of the wildly fluctuating stock market. We had no money but each of us commuters played the market on paper to see who could make the largest killing. No one did well but we did develop an interest in Wall Street and the world of business.

For a while, I thought I would like to attend Harvard School of Business Administration and went to visit the school with Dan Cahill, a classmate from Lawrence. However, financially it was out of the question for me to attend.

We all graduated in the Class of 1932 and set out to make our impression on the world. What we didn't realize was that the entire world was in the middle of a depression and that jobs were almost non-existent.

I made the rounds looking for work and tried to sell magazines and water faucet washers house to house with little success. I also attempted to sell aluminum cooking utensils from the Wear-Ever Aluminum Company. The gimmick was that the crack salesman and I would put on a meal for a housewife and her friends. The meal would be provided by the salesman after which he would give his sales pitch to the assembled ladies.

As you might imagine, putting sales pressure on a bunch of ladies wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I did sell one set of aluminum to my mother which she used all her life and which is now being used by Aunt Mary Kelleher in Westville.

I tell all this so that you may know some of the difficulty the graduates of college in 1932 experienced.

After my unsuccessful adventure with aluminum, I finally latched on to a selling job with a salary. This was for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, a growing casualty company in Massachusetts. I went to work as an insurance salesman in Lynn for twenty dollars a week and I had to provide my own automobile for transportation to and from my sales prospects, with no mileage allowance. I went to work for the company during the week of March 4, 1933 and that is the date when Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as President and one of his first duties was to close all the banks in the country.

However, I began my selling career, which was selling automobile insurance. We would visit City Hall and procure a list of drivers who didn't register their cars on January 1, but waited until April 1. We would then call them on the phone, give them our sales pitch and follow this up with literature through the mail and a personal visit. Somehow or other, I did sell quite well probably because the big sales pitch was the 20% dividend which the company paid to all policyholders.

After about six months, I was told there would be an opening in the Gloucester office where the one chosen would work alone out of his own office. I applied for the job and was given it. What happened then, I am not sure of, but perhaps it was my age or perhaps I was given the business by another of the unsuccessful applicants but I was told that not only would I not get the new job but they would have to let me go.

With jobs as scarce as they were, perhaps it was decided to give it to the family man and while I was selling fairly well, I was not exactly setting any new records. For whatever reason, I found myself again without a job and sour at the world in general.

For a while, I took it easy and rested. But then I had to get going again. During the summer of 1932, my father had been anxious for me to get some sort of a trade. Since I showed no special interest, he had talked me into taking a few lessons in civil engineering from Lewis Tarr, a man whom he knew and who was employed in the City Engineer's office in Haverhill.

By late 1933 and early 1934, Roosevelt was instituting his WPA projects which involved some civil engineering. I went to see the City Engineer and through the help of my teacher Lewis Tarr was put to work as a rodman for the City of Haverhill in lining up works projects. Eventually, I was put on the Federal payroll and the WPA system. I stayed there until the spring of 1936 when these projects began to fade out and I was transferred to the WPA office in Beverly, Ma. At that time I worked three days a week for $24, one of the most comfortable jobs I ever had.

However, I had to find something more permanent and my father suggested I take the examination for letter carrier which would at least provide some permanence and security, if not much money. I took a course to brush up on such exams and got the highest mark of the 250 who took the exam. My mark was 98.6 and I was appointed a substitute carrier in the Haverhill Post Office in October of 1936. I took the position until something better could develop and went to Suffolk Law School at night hoping that I could develop a better career. My marks were good but I never could get worked up about law and gradually lost interest after completing one year at Suffolk.

 

 

"JUST DO THE BEST YOU CAN"

And now it's time to wrap up this family history. I'm afraid it's not what I had hoped it would be but it will have to do.

But before I finish perhaps a few words about family medical history and problems might be of some value. Illnesses can be hereditary and someday it might help to know which occurred more frequently and so might give a warning of some extra precaution needed in treating new family members.

In looking over family records of long ago, I found that many of the death certificates showed the cause of death to be "Apoplexy." That is a word that is seldom heard nowadays but was common one hundred years ago.

It was a blanket word used to describe the death of a person who simply collapsed and died "in the prime of lie" as they used to say.

Today we would probably call it a stroke or a cerebral hemorrhage and attribute it to high blood pressure, which in those days was unknown.

Both of my grandfathers died of apoplexy as did a granduncle whom I never saw. If I am not mistaken my grandmother McDonnell died of the same cause but at an advanced age.

Since the discovery of high blood pressure and the problems it causes, the word apoplexy seems to have disappeared from the vocabulary of today's doctor.

High blood pressure does figure prominently in the family history. My father died of a stroke in 1940. He was two weeks short of his 62nd birthday and was being treated for high blood pressure. However the pills which are so common today had not reached the market and so it might be said that he died before his time.

After my father's death, my mother also developed high blood pressure but since medicine was now available to treat her symptoms, she took her medication and lived to be 85 when she died of a stroke in Burlingame, CA.

Cancer is the other illness, which occurs more frequently and worries everyone.

The first I ever heard of cancer was when my Aunt Julia McDonnell, who lived in Amesbury, died of breast cancer. I remember driving her into Boston to some hospital off Huntington Avenue near the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy where she received her radiation treatments, which were then in the experimental stage. I am not sure of the exact date but it was in the late '20's or early '30's.

 

The treatment was not successful and she died shortly afterward.

Elizabeth A. Maycock, my great aunt died of cancer to the stomach at our house on Bedford St. after a long illness.

Bessie's brother, Tom, developed internal cancer and died at a relatively young age.

Bessie's sister, Maddie, developed cancer of the uterus or ovary and died after a particularly sad illness. Dr. Taffe, her doctor, told us of the cancer but suggested that we not tell Maddie, and so we went through the game of trying to convince her that she would get well in time, even though we knew that she had a limited time to live. It was very traumatic for everyone involved and her death was the beginning of the end for Narna and a complete change of life for Julie.

It was a very tragic time.

The other disease, which comes up in the family history, is tuberculosis. My uncle, John Cunningham, died of this disease before he was thirty years old but TB was much more common then than it is now. It was cause by poverty, poor nutrition, and was highly contagious.

My brother Frank's wife, Gladys, contracted TB around 1941 and was sent to a sanitarium in Middleton where she stayed for at least two years while Bamby and my sister, Mary, looked after her children Tommie and Connie.

Her treatment consisted of having a lung removed. Not long after returning to her family, they moved to California for health reasons but mostly to get away from the foolish stigma, which was then attached to anyone who had TB.

Then, too, I had an experience with TB.

When I returned from Eniwetok in December of 1945 and was at the Fargo Building awaiting my naval discharge, I called Bessie and told her that I would be back on the following day. But shortly after making the call I was called back to the medical department for a second X-ray.

Later I was told that they had discovered a spot on my lung and that I wouldn't be discharged but instead would be sent to Ward 80 of the Chelsea Naval Hospital -- a TB ward.

I was devastated but could only do as I was told.

At Chelsea, I was with hundreds of other TB patients and part of our regime was to be given "gastrics." This consisted of putting a small rubber tube up the nose and by swallowing the tube allowing it to settle in the stomach. Gastric juices were then pumped out and put into a culture where the TB bacillus would grow and so prove that it was TB that caused the spot on my lung.

I was given these tests regularly. They were most uncomfortable but they all turned out to be negative. However, they couldn't account for the spot on my lung and so after four months at Chelsea I was transferred to the Sampson Naval Hospital in Sampson, N.Y.

After four more months at Sampson, the Navy threw up its hands and decided to give me a medical discharge of arrested tuberculosis.

And so I was sent home.

Naturally I was concerned about myself. When I returned from overseas my weight was down to 120 pounds, but gradually I put on weight and began to look like my normal self.

However I was anxious to get a civilian diagnosis of my condition and I went to the Middleton Sanitarium where Gladys had been and told them my story. Dr. Pettingill, the doctor in charge gave me an examination and a series of X-rays and told me to return in a week.

This I did at which time he told me that my problem was a tuberculoma. It was the tuberculoma, which was causing the spot on my lung.

And what was a tuberculoma?

"Well," he said, "it's sort of a tubercular cancer."

When he told me that I was dumbstruck but gathered myself together and asked what I should do about it. I was 35 and not quite ready to die.

He replied that they had great success with cutting through the ribs and removing the entire lung thus completely eliminating the cause of the trouble.

I told the doctor that I would think it over. After all, the spot had been there or at least eight months and in that time had never become larger or smaller. I told him that I would wait until there was some change in my X-rays.

That was in 1945 and the spot is still there because whenever I have a chest X-ray the lights begin lashing in the doctor's minds and they want to take desperate measures.

However I still have an occasional X-ray and the spot and is still the same size as it was in 1945 and I am healthier than ever.

So much for TB.

I can think of no other illnesses worth mentioning.

Allergies we have. I had hay ever when I was young and many of the children have the same symptoms but although hay ever is an annoying condition I wouldn't call it a serious illness.

And I hope that covers the medical portion of the family history.

Now with the medical portion out of the way perhaps we can really wrap this up. I started this soon after I retired in 1973 and years would pass between writing spasms. Maybe that is why parts of it are so uneven. In re-reading it I have found many changes that should have been made. There were deaths, births, marriages and divorces, which have happened since I began. To keep up with all the changes is an almost impossible task.

Even since I gave this to Peter to edit and put in his computer there have been more changes so all I can say is that it is almost accurate at sometime between November of 1973 when I started and March of 1993 when I finished it.

I wish that I could be more dependable when it comes to accuracy but I guess that is the way I am.

Back when I was in grammar school, the good Sisters off St. Joseph used to say, "William, you're just careless."

So please take it for what is, an amateurish attempt to ease the transition from one generation to another and to assist new arrivals in coping with the family they have been born into.

I'm sure that I should end with a compendium of all the advice I have tried to pass through the years, from "Fool's Hill" to "be civil but strange," to the wonderful "chi-chi" toasts that we use to salute each other at our family gatherings.

That's what I enjoyed the most, sitting around the table at Plum Island with all the family present and having one of the younger grandchildren start with the "chi-chi."

Maybe I should add the advice that my mother always gave me when things were not going well and I was feeling dejected and unappreciated. She would always say, "Just do the best you can." Nobody can expect any more.

Since I began this epistle with a corny reference to my alter ego, George, maybe I should end it with an equally corny phrase.

When I was about 22 I thought that this quotation from the Rhubayait of Omar Khayyam was just about the most profound piece I had ever read. Now it has become corny and even banal but somehow or other it seems to fit perfectly into the imperfect family history.

 

Here it is:

"The Moving Finger writes

And having writ moves on,

Nor all tour piety nor wit

Can lure it back

To cancel half a line."

Just remember that whatever any of you do will be an addition to this family history, but someone else will have to write the sequel.