Monday, February 21, 2011

Hyde Park history in February

The following is a small round-up of Interesting dates in Hyde Park history during the month of February:

Before the town's incorporation, Mason residents of the area in the proposed town of Hyde Park petitioned and were granted dispensation of form a lodge.  On February 15, 1866, the first meeting of the Hyde Park Lodge was called to order in a hall on Fairmount Avenue.  Meetings were held here for a year until a hall on the corner of River Street and Hyde Park Avenue could be leased and fitted to Masonic purposes.

The Hermit of Hyde Park, James Gatly, was a native of England who eventually settled in Grew's Woods and was a skilled taxidermist, a profession stemming from his interest in ornithology.  He died on February 2, 1875, at age 65, and his large collection of prepared birds, animals, and reptiles were sold to various buyers near and far.

On the same date of February 2 in 1885, the Young Men's Christian Association was organized in Hyde Park and comprised 13 members.  Last year the YMCA reopened its newly renovated building at 1137 River Street.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago last week on February 15, 1886, massive flooding devastated Hyde Park.  Swollen by snow melt and very heavy rainfall, the Neponset River and Mother Brook overflowed their banks.   Of those situated near these water courses, some eighty or so families had to vacate their homes and many manufacturers and businesses suffered thousands of dollars in losses.  The wooden bridge on Bridge Street was also swept away.

The Norfolk County Gazette published its first issue on February 26, 1870.  Comprised of the Dedham Gazette (est. 1813) and the Hyde Park Journal (est. 1868), the newspaper continued publication in Hyde Park until 1877.

Source:   Memorial sketch of Hyde Park, Mass....  Joseph King Knight, Edmund Davis, and Henry B. Humphrey, compilers.  (Boston: L. Barta and Co., 1888)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Known leads to the Unknown

Whatever happened to so-and-so who used to visit when I was a kid?  Why did the grownups never talk about a certain relative or skirt the conversation around a  family event?  Where did I come from?  Curiosity sparks the imagination and determination to search for family. 

Getting started may seem daunting, but any family history project can begin very simply with paper and pencil.   Begin by listing everything you know about all your living relatives or that specific family member or event.  Record dates and places of birth, death, and marriage for each person.   Organize your notes by family groupings.  When one generation is recorded, step back to the previous generation to record their information.  As the recording progresses, information gaps will become apparent: a birth or marriage date is unknown but the couple definitely has children or is married, a person disappears after a certain date. 

As you make your lists and notes, you may want to contact family members who might fill in some of these information gaps.  Jot down, or better yet, record in audio or video everything--fact or anecdote--no matter how trivial or mundane sounding.  Those little tidbits may be the clue that ends in a Eureka! moment leading to a new branch in your family tree.

Search for records and resources that will fill in the information gaps.  Get copies and make notes of where you find your information, in case you need to revisit those record sources again or someone wants to cross check your source to help their own family history project.  Where you can't find a single record, look for other sources that will provide corroborating information when taken together as a whole.  In compiling and analyzing all your data, you can answer your original question, using what you know to discover the unknown. 

Go, get started!