Monthly Archives: August 2011

Granny “O’s” Husband Edward S Taber

The United States Census can tell you a lot about your ancestors and often time records of such are the only means of getting to know them. Edward S Taber is the father of Howard S Taber, Linda Ellen’s and sibling’s grandfather. At age 20 Edward still lived with his parents in the census year 1910. As a young man he took up the trade “painting houses” with his father Edward Luther Taber.

Edward Steven Taber

Over years of records I watched as Edward Luther his father transitioned from farming to painting. Edward S followed his father’s footsteps. As many others gained employment in the nearby factories Edward S remained dedicated to his trade.

In 1917 Edward S signed a US World War I Draft Card. At the time he was married to Granny “O” (Johanna C Donahue) and had three children. They lived in Windham County. This doesn’t surprise me because his son Howard was born in Plainfield, Windham County, Connecticut. Edward’s mother Isabella Hay lived in Westerly Rhode Island when Edward signed the card.  She was a widow of Edward Luther by 1911.

In 1942 Edward S signed the US World War II Draft Card, his new place of residence was in Norwich, Connecticut residence at 10 Garfield Street.  By then both his parents had passed. This draft card reveals that he Edward S was born in Warwick, Rhode Island. Edward was about age 54 when he signed the draft and his children were all grown and most living out on their own.

Prior to the children growing up and living on their own in 1930 Edward and Granny “O” resided at 10 Garfield. They had moved into the house in 1929, and according to city directories they were residing at 58 North Main Street prior to this address. Their children in order of birth were Florence who was 19 at the time, worked at the cotton factory, Charles E age 16, worked in shipping, Howard S 14, Mary E 12, Edward R (Uncle Eddie) 8, and Harry J, 9. Also living with them was Granny “O’s” father Charles Donahue age 76 retired, and her sister Nora V Donahue who was a nurse at a prviate hospital.

I vision Edward watchng his children grow while living at the house on 10 Garfield. A visit there helped bring to life what he would have seen over the years. The American Thermos Bottling Co was right across the street. Edward’s children Charles and Mary E both worked there. Charles met and married Helen and Mary married David Goepfert and Edward likely watched them as they left the house and walked to worked long wretched hours at the American Thermos. Edward passed away in the house on 10 Garfield in 1947.

American Thermos Bottling Co is now a residential building.

Later his son Charles had a heart attack in the American Thermos Bottling Co building bathroom and died there.  Many other life stories about his children transpired… marriage, grandchildren, death, military service, etc. Edward S seemed a simple man making a honest living, raising his family, and passing away at home.

Edward S Taber born 21 August 1889, died 1947. Buried with his wife Johanna C Donahue at St. Michaels Cemetery off Stillman Ave. Pawcatuck/Westerly, Rhode Island.


Virgie Marie

Sometimes things can get a little confusing when looking over records of past ancestors. The life of Virgie Marie Strider was such a case. Virgie was William Franklin Simpson Sr’s (Bill’s) mother, my great grandmother. She married William Gilbert Simpson in Alexandria, Virginia. I found her living in the household of the Bardens in 1910 at age 16.

What led to confusion was the history of her mother Mary Jane Barden. Mary was born Mary J. Beach, daughter of James W and Mary E Beach. Mary loved first James Strider born 1864 and died 1897. Together they had James Strider born 1891 and died 1892 at age 1, and Virgie Marie Strider born 1893. Mary J Beach Strider then married second Clarence Wells and had three more children, and third to Henry Barden and had at least one more child.

Virgie Marie Strider, son of James Strider who  died at age 33, and he was the son of Capt James Strider Sr. It was deemed an accidental death after falling from the building of Henrick’s (Heurich’s) Brewery.  His body was taken to the home of his father James Strider on South Fairfax Street (Alexandria Gazette). Virgie was about age 4 when her father passed. In 1910 after her mother married second Wells and third Barden, and while living with Henry Barden, mother and siblings, Virgie gained employment at the shoe fatcory. She met and married William Gilbert Simpson at age 17, he was 22. By 1920 they had children Jennett, Edwin, , and Doris, and in 1923 my grandfather William Franklin Simpson Sr.

Turns out she has a rich family history, information I longed to learn. I have one memory of her having only seen her once as I recall at age 13 in Alexandria, Virginia. The year was approximately 1974. Virgie was up in age and seemed to be confused. She kept calling my brother “Frankie” which was my father who passed about eight years prior. She was sweet and spoke softly or maybe even frail. She lived alone in a small apartment. Strange how something so important to me now had not so much meaning then…guess I was too young to know. Though, I wonder what it was about her that remained in my memory of that one visit.

Virgie Marie Strider Simpson born 31 May 1893 and died Jan of 1976, widow of Wiiliam Gilbert Simpson who died suddenly at their residence at 609 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia on 19 Nov 1955.


Alexandria Gazette 1897,, Public Trees

Memories of Granny “O”

Last week I traveled to Connecticut with my mother and her siblings. The goal of the      trip was to visit old homesteads of theirs and their family, as well as cemeteries. First stop was that of Granny “O’s” house, pictured. The new owner, of which name I will keep private was gracious and allowed us to enter her home after we explained why we wanted to take a picture of us on her front porch! It was a memorable experience for my mother and siblings.

Granny “O” as they call her was warm and inviting. Memories of her expressed by our small group as we walked through the house was softly revealed little by little. “Granny “O’s” kitchen was downstairs,” they said, “We used to walk down the sidewalk to the back to enter through the kitchen door. She sat right there in that corner in her rocker chewing her tobacco.” 

Chewing her tobacco? I turned and looked at the corner and quickly took a picture.

“She used to spit in that sink,” one said. “No, she had a spittoon,” they other said. Spittoon?

Having seen one picture of Granny “O” I envisioned her in a plain dress, light in color, hemmed about midway between knees and ankles, sitting in the corner with snuff packed in her cheek as she smiled at her grandchildren coming through the door. Priceless!

Johanna C Donahue born 1 Oct 1885 and died 28 Nov 1963, buried at St Michaels Cemetery, in Pawcatuck, Connecticut, United States with her husband Edward S Taber.

My Search

I can’t pinpoint how I got here. But I’ve spent many hours searching the past. I read, most likley, on that to begin, you start with what you know. So I did. I asked family members about their parents and grandparents. I listened to stories of their childhood. I walked cemeteries and took pictures. I visited the old homesteads and took pictures there too. It seems odd that I can’t remember what jolted me into action. It’s not at all odd that I want to tell the story of my ancestors.

It’s was said to “ask them before they go.” I say tell them before they leave. It is my goal to collect all I can and share with my family. A short time ago they knew little about their heritage, but through my efforts they have learned of past generations and have been shown where some resided and where some are buried. I hope they share it with their children.

A good place to start is with Ancestry. com for very little cost one can build their family tree and search for records, such as census, birth, death, marriage, civil, newspaper articles, archives and various databases. The site is very easy to navigate and has features like having your hard work put in print, or sending you little hints of records that might match, and more often than not, your ancestors. With that said there are many other sites in which anyone can build their family tree.

I have not completed my search and therefore will share some achievements and difficulties as I contniue to move forward.