Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Patriot's Day ~ 19 April 2000, the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Concord Bridge

After observing the Battle of Lexington at dawn (click HERE to see that post), we jumped in the car and raced to Concord to see the re-enactment of the Battle of Concord Bridge.  It didn't take long for the British troops we had just seen in Lexington to make it all the way to Concord.  The unit above was a fife and drum corps from Williamsburg, Virginia.  

There were many people at the Lexington dawn event, but even more at the Concord re-enactment.  The event takes place on the bridge across the river, so it was more difficult to get a good view.  

After the mock battle, all the tourists trooped across the bridge to celebrate.  The re-enactors portraying the British troops began a long retreat back to Boston, stopping to remake all the skirmishes along the way.  We did not follow them, but we saw a bunch of people on bicycles who were planning to follow the British actors all the way back to Arlington. 

The Concord Minuteman

This re-enactor was relaxing on the front porch of the Concord Inn, where we stopped for lunch. 

I was surprised by the large numbers of re-enactors who came to portray the British troops.  When I asked them, they appeared to have come from quite a long ways to have the chance to be in this anniversary event.  It was much easier to find local people to portray the minutemen than the British! 

The same day we photographed these scenes, we were at the Lexington Green at dawn.  Click here to see the post of that re-enactment:

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, April 20, 2015

Patriot's Day ~ The 225th Anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, 19 April 2000

“On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year”
                                From The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The original Battle at Lexington Green took place at dawn on 19 April 1775.  On the 225th anniversary of this battle, we lined up extra early that morning.  It's very cold in New England in April, so we had warm clothes and blankets.  It was still dark when the actors began to assemble. The men of the town militia lined up on the common, and the women and children withdrew to the sidelines, and we could hear the British advancing down the road from Boston toward us... very scary, even though we knew it was a re-enactment!

Here are some old images from our family slides that I digitized.  The quality is poor, but it brings back memories of that event…

The two sides exchanged some words. 
Suddenly, we heard "the shot heard 'round the world" and the battle had begun!

I knew that the first two men to fall in battle were the brother and brother-in-law of my 5th great grandfather, Andrew Munroe (1718 - 1766).  His brother, Robert Munroe (1712 - 1775) and Jonas Parker (married to his sister Lucy Munroe), were in the front lines.  This was a position of honor because they both were veterans from the French and Indian war.  Both were bayoneted.  I was surprised that my reaction to seeing their re-enactors "killed" was to burst into tears.

The Lexington militia withdrew to the woods, and the "dead" remained on the common. 

The women and children ran over to their "dead" family members.

The British fired a round before marching on to the town of Concord...

My daughter, only 13 years old at the time, covered her ears during the gun fire.

Then, a "miracle" happened!  The dead re-enactors rose up from Lexington Green, with applause from the audience.  We could hear the British marching away to the west towards Concord. 

The actors above and below were portraying Robert Munroe and Jonas Parker.   
Both are my 5x great grand uncles.  They were both the first two men killed in battle. 

I have a previous blog post about this experience (without photos)  at this link…

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Catch up on all the NERGC 2015 Blog Posts!

Providence, Rhode Island at night

Pre-conference posts:

Kathleen McCracken

Jake Fletcher

June Butka

Jennifer Shoer – Scrappy Genealogist -  Ambush Cam  31 March 2015

Laurie Desmarais

Kathleen McCracken

At the conference reporting
From Maine to Kentucky by Elizabeth Pyle Handler

Jake Fletcher

Nutfield Genealogy by Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Pam Carter

Dear Myrtle’s “Ambush Cam” at the conference:

Origins Connector (Michael Maglio)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpMpXAh2fwI 

Blogger Interviews of conference speakers:

Lori Lynn Price – Bridging the Past – Judy Russell

Linda Hall Little – Passage to the Past -   Michael J. Hall

Pam Carter – My Maine Ancestry -  Josh Taylor

Beverly Fieg – Knit Genealogist  - 

Cynthia Shenette – Heritage Zen -  Lisa Louise Cooke

Sara Campbell – Remembering Those who Came before us – Marian Pierre-Louis

Jennifer Shoer – Scrappy Genealogist – Dr. Blaine Bettinger

Elizabeth Handler – From Maine to Kentucky -  Harold Henderson

Pam Carter – My Maine Ancestry – Casey Zahn

Bill West – West in New England – Michael Tougias

Melissa Berry – Ancestory Archives – Lisa Alzo

Bill West – West in New England – Michael Brophy

Melissa Berry – Ancestory Archives – David Allen Lambert

If you know of more NERGC 2015 posts, please let me know and I’ll add them here!

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Patriot's Day - 18 April 2000, the day before the 225th Anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord

Lexington Common, 2000

This re-enactor was portraying Ebenezer Munroe, a cousin to my 5th great grandfather, Andrew Munroe.  There were many Munroe family members at the Battle of Lexington, you can see the list of those I have identified HERE.  

Of course, we had a long conversation about the Munroe family.  He had researched his role very well, and knew the family history.  (I was in a wheelchair because of a badly twisted ankle - but I didn't want to miss this event, no matter what!)

This monument (seen at the top of this blog post) lists the names of the men killed on Lexington Green, and is the final burial spot of the fallen.  My daughter (13 years old at the time) laid flowers on this gravesite.  We do this whenever we visit Lexington. 

There were a huge number of re-enactors at this anniversary event of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  They were encamped in the fields next to a school a block away from Lexington Common.  We saw sutlers, militia units, and all sorts of great period equipment and costumes. 

At the Munroe Tavern, there were re-enactors demonstrating the medical equipment used in the field during the Revolutionary War period.  After the Battle of Lexington, and before the retreat to Boston, the British used the Munroe Tavern as a field hospital. 

I enjoyed seeing what interesting items the sutlers had for sale! 

Stay tuned!  Tomorrow I will post photos of the Battle of Lexington re-enactment from 19 April 2000, the 225th anniversary. 

Munroe Cousins at the Battle of Lexington -  A blog post from 2010

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What did you miss at the 2015 NERGC conference?

Providence, Rhode Island, as seen from our hotel room

For those of you who missed the 2015 NERGC conference in Providence, Rhode Island, all I can say is “Wow!”   At least you are all well rested and don’t have sore feet.  We were busy running around from dawn until well after dusk learning, socializing, and networking.  Here is my list of highlights:

1.  If you leave New Hampshire at 5am you will beat the traffic to Providence, Rhode Island only if you DON’T take Route 128.  

2.  The best part of NERGC is meeting old friends as soon as you step into the hotel lobby.  The first friend I met was Jen Baldwin of Find My Past  and the Ancestral Breezes blog – all the way from Colorado.

3.   The first thing I checked out at the conference center was the query board.  Did you know there was a “Northeastern Smith DNA Project”?    http://smithconnections.com/index.cgi   There are over 600 participants and 67 groups in this project, and special interest in descendants of Ulster Presbyterian (Scots Irish) Smiths to New Hampshire.  Contact N. Smith at cheman207@yahoo.com  

Jennifer Zinck, Yours Truly, Rev. Blackstone
and Marian Pierre-Louis
4. Rev. William Blackstone (1595 – 1675) gave the opening keynote address.   Did you know he was the first settler at Boston, and also an early settler at Providence, Rhode Island?   Read all about him at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blaxton

5.  The local repositories and archives in Providence and nearby were open extra hours while the NERGC conference was in town.  Smart move with over 900 genealogists in town!
6.  Frugal Yankee genealogists find ways to attend conferences without spending big bucks.  Half of my genealogist friends were doing the following:

                a.  Staying with friends, relatives, and relatives of relatives near Providence

                b.  Commuting by car, train and commuter rail from the Boston area.  One drove four hours to and from upstate, New York arriving in time for the first session at 8:30am and leaving after the last session at 5:45pm. 

                c.  Many folks were packing  food bars, sandwiches and  water bottles for the duration instead of buying the overpriced (and definitely not tasty) cafĂ© sandwiches from the convention center.

                d.  Volunteering and going to the free events, but still sharing the social fun and excitement

7.  Newly minted conference speaker (and blogger) Dave Robison not only gave his first major conference talk (and it was terrific), but on the first day, with just a moment’s notice,  he also filled in for another speaker who couldn’t make it.  So he got to practice his talk twice!  Yay, Dave!

New England "Pirate Expert" David Allen Lambert with Yours Truly

8.  The Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts, which is kept at the Massachusetts State Archives, contains the early records of the laws against piracy in the 1700s.  Was your ancestor a pirate?  I have Thomas Tew of Rhode Island in my family tree, or is it just a myth?  Click here to read more about him, http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2012/02/pirate-thomas-tew-guest-post.html    David Allen Lambert of NEHGS gave a talk about pirates, and he wants to consult with anyone who has researched the Tew family.  You can contact David at the New England Historic Genealogical Society http://www.americanancestors.org/index.aspx    

9.  There is a definite lack of diversity at NERGC.  There were very few faces of color in the audiences, or among the speakers.  I was happy to see fellow blogger, Cheryl Holley, speaking about Native Americans in New England, and one African American genealogy society in the expo hall.  Where were the other people of color, Hispanics, and religious genealogy societies, attendees and speakers?

10.  A class on Canon law was incredibly interesting, especially since I’m not Roman Catholic, but I've been working on my husband’s Spanish ancestors, and my new son-in-law’s family tree is all Irish, Italian and French Canadian.  If you ever have a chance to take this class by George Findlen, take it!

11.  There is a definite need for a genea-singles mixer or cocktail hour at genealogy conferences. 

The Genealogy Blogger Special Interest Group
12.  Our Genealogy Blogger Special Interest Group was a big success!  Here are six “new to me” New England bloggers:

Jake Fletcher-  Jake Fletcher's Genealogy Project  https://fletcherfamilytree.wordpress.com/  

Connie Billy of New Jersey – “Genealogy Journeys”  www.genealogyjourneys.com

Janice Hamilton and others, from Montreal, Canada   http://genealogyensemble.com/

Kate Lowrie   “Kate’s  Kin-nections”, from Massachusetts     http://kateskinnections.blogspot.com/

Genevive De Haan,  “Massachusetts Backwards”  http://minniehowe.blogspot.com/    

Kathleen McCracken, of Virginia “Pine Trees and Pedigrees”  www.pinetreesandpedigrees.blogspot.com   

Best of all!  At the luncheon today, sponsored by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, Judy Russell challenged everyone to throw a $1 bill on the table to be collected for the "Preserve the Pensions Project".  This project benefits efforts to digitize the pension records from the War of 1812 to be put online, at a cost of 40 cents per page.  Ancestry.com had pledged to match all donation, and there were about 200 people present.   The Federation of Genealogical Societies would also match all donations, making this a win-win proposition.

What was the final donation?

Well, over $1,300 was collected, making the final donation, after matches, over 20,000 pages!
This is just some of the genealogy bloggers who were at NERGC this week.
Do you recognize these faces?

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A Game of Cat and Mouse

Weathervane Wednesday is an on-going series of photographs I post weekly.  I started by publishing weather vanes from the Londonderry area, but now I've been finding interesting weather vanes all across New England.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting. Often, my readers tip me off to some very unique and unusual weather vanes, too! If you know an interesting or historical weathervane, please let me know.

Today's collection of weather vanes is from New Hampshire.

Do you know the location of weather vane collection #204?  Scroll down to see the answer!

This weather vane is located in Bedford, New Hampshire on the Daniel Webster Highway.  It is on the cupola above the Daniel Webster Animal Hospital.  This adorable weather vane features a hunting cat trying to catch the curly tailed mice perched on each of the cardinal points.  I love the detail of the tails, whiskers and the ears of the cat which are folded forward as he concentrates on catching the little mice!  

The mice aren't visible from the highway, or even from the sidewalk, and Vincent only noticed them from the camera while taking a closeup image.  We had to zoom into this digital photo so much that you can even see the bees buzzing around the weather vane.   

Daniel Webster Animal Hospital website:  

Daniel Webster Animal Hospital on Facebook:

Click here to see the entire series of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Robert P. Dinsmoor, soldier of the War of 1812

These tombstones were photographed at the Cemetery on the Plain, Windham, New Hampshire

Wife of
Robert P. Dinsmoor
Died Mar. 15, 1877
Aged 72 yrs
&7 mos

Aug. 28. 1861
Aged 64 yrs.
& 2 mos.

Robert Park Dinsmoor was the son of Robert Dinsmoor "The Rustic Bard" and Mary Davidson Park, born 27 June 1797 in Windham, and died 28 August 1861 in Windham.  He married Sarah "Sally" Greg on 19 April 1827 in Windham.  He was one of many soldiers from Windham to serve in the War of 1812.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shhh! A Secret list of Reasons to Attend Your Local Genealogy Conference

This week I’ll be taking a few days off to attend the NewEngland Regional Genealogy Consortium’s conference (NERGC 2015)  in Providence, Rhode Island.  I’m ashamed to tell you that for many years I did not attend this conference.  I had many pre-conceived notions about genealogy conferences, and so I ignored attending.  Let me show my list of “excuses”, and why they were all wrong.

1.  Too expensive -  Boy ,was I wrong about this one!  Every year there is a FREE all day conference held in New Hampshire for genealogy sponsored by the LDS church in Concord.  There is also one in Massachusetts, and probably one near YOU.  No excuse.  Then I found out that there were many workshops, classes, lectures held nearly every week for FREE nearby, click on this link to see what is going on for FREE in New England this month.  You can’t use the “expensive excuse” anymore.  (By the way, at NERGC 2015, the exhibit hall is FREE every day, with many presentations going on in the exhibit hall.  The “Special Interest Groups” and “Society Hour” on Thursday, April 16th are FREE to the public.  See you there!)

2.  Conferences are only for the professional genealogists -  Many years ago the NERGC conference was held in Manchester, New Hampshire right down the street from me.  I went to the “Society Hour” to sit at a booth promoting the New Hampshire Mayflower Society.  When all the conference attendees started to troop into the exhibit hall, I was amazed to meet all kinds of people.  Some admitted they were there out of curiosity and hadn’t even started their family research yet.  Some were newbies who had only recently started their family tree.  There was a young mother there with her 11 year old son because he wanted to learn more about genealogy.   I was very wrong to think that only professionals attended genealogy conferences.  Two years later I registered to attend the NERGC 2011 conference in Springfield, Massachusetts and I fit right in.  There is something for beginners, intermediate and advanced researchers, from part time to professional genealogists.

3.  All the conferences are too far away -  Conferences are held all over the country and all over the world, even on cruise ships!  There will be one near you, even if you have to wait until next year. Some conferences are annual events, and some, like NERGC are held every two years.  Some rotate around a region, like NERGC which switches to a different New England state every rotation.  Smaller one day conferences are held at genealogy societies, libraries and museums, probably one is near you.  Use social media to find out if you can carpool, or check with your local genealogy society to find a room-mate to share a hotel room.  

4.  Whoops!  I forgot to register ahead of time!  Is it this weekend? -  No worries, most conferences accept walk-ins and almost all have day passes if you can only make it for one day. 

5.  I can do everything online-  You might think that is true, but even if most of the sessions are videotaped you are missing the exhibit halls, the workshops, the chance to schmooze with famous genealogists and speakers, sitting at lunch with people who share your passion for genealogy, bumping into your favorite geneablogger in the elevator, exciting discussions in the hallway on the way out of a session (where you learn the “real stuff” the speaker forgot to mention), collecting business cards, freebies and giveaways from vendors, after hours coffee or adult beverages with your geneabuddies, special interest groups,  book signings, etc. etc.  Plus it is much, much more fun to be there in person! 

6.  I’m disabled – Here’s a secret not many people know-  I have a walking disability, too.  Sometimes I can find a big conference daunting, but there are tricks to attending without encountering problems.  First of all, nearly every conference has a special volunteer or staff member to help you with any assistance you might need including providing sign language interpreters, finding a power chair, ordering special meals, mapping places to potty your service dog, etc.  If you can’t find the contact information for this assistance, just contact the conference staff and ask questions.  Often, just pairing up with a buddy for the day or weekend is helpful.  Maybe you just need an arm to help you up and down, or someone to carry your bag? Be prepared and buddy up with a friend or bring a family member.  Maybe they will become your genealogy buddy for other excursions in the future if they get hooked, too!  Don’t worry about being the only one with special needs at a genealogy conference.  Since many family history enthusiasts are of “a certain age”, there are lots of walkers, wheelchairs and power chairs at most genealogy conferences.   I’ll admit I’ve taken a break in the middle of the day, too.  Don’t feel you have to attend everything from 8am to 10pm.  Pace yourself.  Take a break for a nap or a relaxing swim in the hotel pool.  Walk outside and take a coffee break. 

7.  I don’t have vacation time -  Many conferences are held on weekends.  Nearly every conference also has a reduced fee for a one-day pass if you can’t attend the entire two/three/four days so you can go for just a Saturday or a Sunday.  DVDs or YouTube might carry the sessions you miss on the other days to help you catch up on the entire event.  Ask ahead of time since not all conferences allow walk-in registrations.

8.  I have vacation time, but I don’t want to spend it inside a conference room for two days–   Some conferences organize tours to attractions for attendees and their family members, so everyone can have fun.   Try one day in the lecture halls, and spend the other day seeing the city or the nearby sites.
9.  My spouse/family member/ significant other doesn’t want to go to the conference -  How about a genealogy vacation that combines the fun of a tour or a cruise with short workshops and lectures?  Genealogy cruises offer something for the whole family, and then during days at sea, or other off times, the genealogists meet up for short sessions.   Attending a conference in another city can be a compromise, where perhaps one adult and the kids go to the beach or theme parks when the other goes to the lecture hall.    Being willing to share together time with a little bit of research or conference time can make the whole trip work out!  And your family member doesn’t have to step inside the lecture hall at all.

10.  I feel funny going alone -  Going alone can be fine!  You can use social media (Facebook is a great example) to find out who else is going, and look for them once you arrive.  Plan a few meetups with your Facebook friends. Look for a room mate to share a hotel room on Facebook or through your local genealogy club.  If you chat up the people sitting near you in the lecture hall, you’ll make friends to meetup with for lunch.  Everyone has a name tag, so use it to introduce yourself.  Look for people from your own town or state (it’s usually under the name on the name tag), and ask them about their own research.  If you know genealogists, we love to talk about our own families, so you now have the perfect ice breaker for making new friends at a conference.  Look for special interest groups (SIGs) where you can sit down and chat with people about certain themes or topics in genealogy.  I guarantee you will have a good time even if you go alone.

NERGC 2015   www.NERGC.org

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo