Sunday, August 12, 2018

Nicaragua 1988, part 2

The Witness for Peace travelers began to see a little of the city of Managua on their first day on the ground. I found that a group of Benedictine Monks also chronicled a similar trip in 1988. A photo on this site, unidentified for location, looks like the "violent murals" that my mother refers to in her notes. This is what she said about that Sunday:

Sunday a.m.
Up early and no water. A man brought me a can full and a plastic bowl, my shower for today.

General orientation with Don:
  •        Buddy system, I am paired with Kate Adams
  •        Clayton and I to do daily health checks
  •        Ask to take pictures of people
  •        Shake hands, hello and good by
  •        Water is ok in Managua
  •        Water is off here on Monday and Thursday about 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. from two tanks, may get some
  •        Carry passport and yellow paper visa at all times

Breakfast of rice, two fried eggs, hot bread, and mango juice. Off to the Cardinal’s church. Bad streets, houses have open doors but barred windows, loud music, abject poverty to our eyes.

The cathedral was destroyed in the earthquake of ’72. This church is used by the Cardinal (Abano). He did not say this Mass. Church was nearly filled, all doors wide open. The music was surprisingly up-beat, a structured liturgy with communion on the tongue. The sermon was on the Gospel, but somewhat political with applause at the end, anti-government (so say those who understood.) It was a medium sized church, not at all ornate.

Lunch at a restaurant, then a city tour. No real sense of “city,” very spread out, many shells from the earthquake, grassy spots then normal looking buildings. None are very tall, only two hotels and a bank are.Videotaped by a TV crew on us TV added to push to get rid of Samoza. Huge statue of a peasant/soldier, gun in one hand and ? in other. Children’s park, a memorial for 12 year old boy martyr. Many families in the park, food vendors, rides. We walked through to the Grand Plaza. National on one side, Cathedral, memorials, graves of ?, eternal flame. Also a Buddhist monk from Japan on a 40 day fast in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and in memory of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, begun on August 6th. When it began to rain he covered his shrine and continued to sit there.

Then we went to a new church for the 5:30 Mass. Music was quieter than I expected. Church is almost round, with violent murals, people coming and going, crowded. Again the homily was on the reading and the priest was applauded but his reflection was different, then two women and a man spoke. At the offertory the congregation went to the altar with their contributions. We sang “We Shall Overcome” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Back to the hotel after for supper of chicken, rice, and beans with yucca, tomato, coleslaw salad and a fruit drink.

Reflection turned into a wrangle over the man we took from the cathedral to Mass and sent home in a taxi.

Last night was punctuated by a thunder storm, then the roosters. Another long day.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Nicaragua, An Experience Like No Other

This is more introspective than most of my posts that deal with the more distant past. I grew up in a small town where my parents associated with like-minded people and supported anti-war causes during the Vietnam War. Dad ran for U.S. Congress in 1970 against a long time “hawk” in a conservative, rural district and was defeated soundly. We followed the Watergate hearings on our small, black and white TV during the summer of 1973 and cheered when Nixon resigned. 

My mother enjoyed being socially conscious. She demonstrated for peace at a nearby air base. A letter to the New York Times that was printed in the Sunday Magazine was one of her greatest achievements. When she traveled to Nicaragua with Witness for Peace from August 20th to 29th, 1988 she was 64. She wrote a diary that I read now with my own 60-year-old eyes. We are in strange times these 30 years later. How will I, how will each of us, make a difference?

Brief background: Daniel Ortega was President of Nicaragua in 1988, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front which had successfully overthrow the dictatorial Somoza government. While supplying economic aid to Ortega’s government, the U.S. under Regan continued to back the opposition right-wing Contras in the continuing civil war. Daniel Ortega was reelected in 2006 and rules today. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Level 3 advisory issued 6 July 2018 by the U.S. State Department lists crime, civil unrest and limited health care availability as significant deterrents to travel. Non-emergency U.S. government personnel have been brought home. My son wisely decided against crossing into Nicaragua this summer as he toured nearby countries.

These are the words of Betty Simmons as she entered this war zone as a Witness for Peace:

This was an experience like no other. I answered a notice in the Sun in May. Went to a planning meeting in June where I met many of my fellow travelers. It seemed like a real mixed group: two Syracuse University students, a language teacher, a photographer, a Maryknoll priest and a nun, a social service worker, two retired men, a Witness for Peace young man; one or two who plan to go were not able to attend. We hope for 16.

Joe is supportive; Hugh thinks I am insane; representative of reactions. Solidarity from true friends. 

July and August, time for preparation: shots, ordering medications, thinking of what to pack and what not to pack. Collected antibiotics, soap, pens, etc. to leave there. Many well wishes, calls, just before time to leave.

Final meeting at Larry Tetler’s in Fayetteville on Friday night. Joe took me. Proud to have two carry-on sized bags and my small backpack. We talked of money – I am to carry ¼ of our funds for Nicaragua. We labeled a number of cartons: dental, medical, and school supplies.

The participants:

Sharon Souva
Sr. Chris Slomiliski
Barb deFrancqueville
Bonnie Windfield
Kate Adams
Mary Sopchak
Sophie Oldfield
Dennis Nett
Rev. Ted Sizing
George Burton
Ben Tupper
Clayton Koontz
Peter Wirth
Larry Tetler
Sim Doherty
Jack Pelletier
and me!

August 20
Overnight with Clayton. Fitful sleep. Good hot shower. Coffee and fresh peaches for breakfast. His wife drove us to the airport where (all but Sophie) met. Boxes checked through. Off at 7:00 with a stop in Cleveland and long wait in Miami. On to Honduras. Two stops for fuel. Then at Tegucigalpa to change planes. Can see many U.S. helicopters and planes and many armed soldiers at the airport, a duty-free shop, a woman selling drinks from a make-shift bar and sitting on a carton. In less than an hour aboard our second TAM-Sasa flight for about ½ hour flight to Managua. Too dark to see much of anything. Took quite a while to change our money ($60 each, 380 c. to $1) and get our yellow visa. We all adopted a woman and her baby (months old) coming from Miami to visit her family in Managua. No soldiers here!

We were met by Michelle, a long-term Witness for Peace, and Don Reasoner, Center for International Dialogue. Our bus is far from new. The owner and a driver go with it. Off to our hotel Colibri. Bonnie, Mary, Sophie and I volunteer to sleep next door. Introduction to the third world: dim light, people at a table near the entry, clothing drying, shower and latrine, stationary tubs. Down the hall to our room: four cots, no window, very warm (like Hong Kong). It was a long, long day. Paper thin walls: two young men talking over their evening.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Transcription, Handwriting and a Queen

Compiling the list of the Galveston 1900 Storm dead by GTHC has been a herculean task that continues to this day. It is understandable that inconsistencies persist. Several individuals with the surname Terrell are found on the on-line list: "Mrs. M.E.," "Queen age 33," and "Mrs. Q.V." with four children, all African American.

The entry for this family in the 1900 census in Galveston has been indexed incorrectly, but close reading of the names reveals their identities. The Terrells are indexed at Ancestry as Manny and Susan Terrall. At first look, it could be "Maurice."

Cross-referencing with the 1899 City Directory, we see that Manny is Morris E. Terrell, pastor of St. Luke's Missionary Baptist church at 1510 15th Street. This corresponds with the location of the family shown on the census. 

St. Luke's Missionary Baptist Church is still active in Galveston. The "history" portion of their web site at reveals that this church was established in 1894 by 36 members of the Union Baptist church located at 11th and K. They name Rev. E.M. Terrell as their second pastor. The early church is described: These faithful members saved nickels, pennies and dimes to purchase property where they could assemble together for worship. Over a period of time, a lot and two buildings were purchased at 15th Avenue and Avenue N. One building served as the house of worship; the other was used as the parsonage. In 1900, a storm destroyed both buildings. 

The marriage of M.E. Terrell and Queen Alexander took place in 1890 in Waller, Texas, northwest of Houston. This corresponds with the births of the children listed in the 1900 census, born between 1892 and 1898. If the pattern of births every two years continued, Queen may have been pregnant when the storm hit.

Although "Susan" may be a more common name and the transcriber can be forgiven for the error in identifying Queen, the origin of her name can be better understood by reviewing the 1870 census.

Philip and Harriet Alexander, living in Hempstead, Texas, named their daughter Queen Victoria during the reign of Victoria in Great Britain. Queen named her oldest daughter Beatrice, the name of Victoria's youngest child and companion after the death of Prince Albert. In 1880 the Alexander family was enumerated about 10 miles away in Waller. The name of Philip's second daughter, Proserpine, also had royal origins, being  a daughter of Zeus and Demeter in classic mythology. In 1880 she was enumerated simply as "P."

Morris E. Terrell can be found in Galveston's tax records in 1894 as paying his poll tax. No records in Morris' name are found after 1900, leading to the conclusion that it is not Mrs. but Mr. M.E. Terrell who should be in the list of storm dead, and that his wife was counted twice as Mrs. Q.V. and as Queen, age 33.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jennie Summers Livingston

In many cases, large families were lost as their homes washed away in the 1900 Storm in Galveston. However, a single line entry in the 1900 census at an address in the "danger zone" near the Gulf has another story to tell.

Jenny, or Jennie, Livingston was a widow at 26, and working as a music teacher in 1900. She lived in a rented home on Avenue T at 39th Street and had been employed consistently for the past 12 months. She had been married for 9 years, which corresponds with a marriage licence filed in Harris County by William G. Livingston on 27 October 1891. He swore that he was over 21 years of age, and that his bride, Jennie A. Summers was over 18.

In the 1891/2 City Directory for Galveston, William G. Livingston was listed as a fireman for the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad. His residence was at 3202 Avenue R, with a Frances E. Livingston, widow of Edward. These appear to be his parents, based on their entry in the 1880 census in Galveston. In 1893 William paid his $1.50 poll tax in Galveston. In 1895/6 he resided at 4308 Church Street and was again employed as a fireman at or by Santa Fe.

The 1896/7 directory lists Jennie A, widow of W.G. Livingston, living at the southeast corner of 40th Street at Avenue T. where she was still living when the 1899/1900 directory recorded her as a teacher at a private school. A listing in the Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston at Find-a-Grave has W.G. Livingston dying in 1895 at Alvin.

Although Jennie states that she had two children who were both living when the census was taken in 1900, they did not live in her household. Between her husband's death about 1895 and 1900 she must have found herself unable to care for her children. After five years of marriage she had to earn a living, which may not have been enough to provide for three. Her mother-in-law Frances, age 48, was supporting herself and her 17-year-old daughter by teaching as well.

Jennie's boys are likely the Livingston children listed in 1900 among the 43 "inmates" in the Galveston Orphans' Home at 21st and M. Willie was reported on the census to have been born in October of 1892, about a year after Jennie and William's marriage. Next in the listing is Stanley Livingston, born September of 1894. Although she must have been pained to place her sons in the care of others, this action saved their lives. The orphanage, now the Bryant Museum, was damaged in the hurricane of September 1900, but suffered no casualties. The children were moved to Houston during reconstruction, to the Buckner Baptist Children's Home.

Young Willie may have been living independently back in Galveston in 1910, when a William G. "Levingston," age 17, was boarding on 24th and H, and working as a laborer on a ship. There is a Stanley Livingston whose Baltimore WWI draft registration states that he was born in Galveston. At that time, he had a wife and child. Frances Livingston is on the list of the storm dead, but not her daughter, Frances. The younger Frances does not appear to be in Galveston in 1910, but if she survived, she may have married and changed her name by then. The rest of the Livingston legacy is as yet undiscovered.

Jennie's short life had its joys and sorrows. She deserves to be remembered.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018 - Wendell War Memorials

Wendell's war memorial sits on the old town common. Bronze plaques have been affixed to millstones as uniform monuments to the 20th century conflicts. I will check back in the future and see if the fourth stone will also hold names from the earlier wars. This transcription is part of The Honor Roll Project

The first plaque reads:

In Memory of Those Who Served in The World War from Wendell, Massachusetts

*Frank E. Richards
Edwin D. Austin
Clarence C. Begor
Frank Betters
Edith F. Bowen R.M.
Webster M Brown
John E. Burkhardt
George A. Cogswell
Frank H. Day
Marvin N. Ellis
Jesse L. Haskins
Gustoff A. Hook
Ralph L. Jennison
Arthur Parent
Carl J. Sandberg
Gustav L. Sandberg
Leon O. Taylor

Erected by Wendell Grange 1930
On the 150th Anniversary
Of the Incorporation of the Town

World War I Monument

In Memory of Those who Served in World War II From Wendell Massachusetts

*George H Gardner
* Calvin P. Merchant
Raymond E. Avery
Edward J. Bezio
Clayton J. Bezio
Leon Bezio
M. James Bowen
Kenneth W. Clarkk
Adam Drozdowski
Joseph Drozdowski
Robert E. Ellis
Andrew J. Fox
Myron A. Gibbs
Rubert V. Goddard
Avery H. Harrington
Eugene A. La Valle
Arthur B. Lewis, Jr.
Dale W. Lewis
Donald G. Lewis
Ralph E. Lewis
Ruth V. Lewis
Albert H. Hulholland
Merrill A. Noyes
Lewis E. Powling
Merle O. Powling
Clarence H. Pratt
Jesse W. Pratt
Charles F. Reed
John L. Van Rensselaer
Earl E. Sabot
Sherman W. Sadler
Roland L. Sears
Charles M. Wetherby
Francis E. Wetherby
Clarence O. Wetherby
Raymond C. Wirth

Erected by Town of Wendell and Grange

World War II Monument

In Memory of Those Who Served in the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts from Wendell, Massachusetts

Elmore Andrews
Richard Bezio
Edward Duhaime
Donald Ellis
Harry Lewis
Roy Sampson
Merrill Wetherby
Robert Ashley
Kenneth Clark
Theodore  Lewis
Edward Wirth
Stephen Clark
Richard Hurtle
John Peettit
William Starkey
Myron Bowen


Joseph Bagdonas
John Carey
Donald Cornwell
Gary Cornwell
David Hisdreth
Arthur Taylor
David Wilder
Leonard Wirth
Anthony Diemand
Joseph Diemand
Ray Chevalier
Edward Chase
Robert Durkee
Kenneth Wing, Jr.
Dennis Lewis

Erected by the Town of Wendell and Through the Generous Donation of Many Private Citizens

Friday, May 25, 2018

Allison Update - Good News

The Allison family of Galveston and New Orleans, profiled earlier, was not completely wiped out in the 1900 storm. The eldest son, Walter, survived!

Walter was born in December of 1881, according to the 1900 census of Galveston, recorded just a few weeks before the storm. At 18, he was employed as an apprentice machinist at a foundry. We can speculate that he was at his job when the storm began, and was prevented from returning to his home near the Gulf. Several iron works were listed in the city directories, the largest being Lee Iron Works, near the railroad station on the north side of the island. He may have been the informant that enumerated eight children of his parents among the storm dead, including his two uncles, Edward and Archie Reagan.

In 1910, Walter can be found still living in Galveston, in the household of Lewis Cook on Avenue F near 12th Street. He married Katie Beagor(?) soon after and had a daughter Ethel in 1911, and a son, Walter, jr. in 1914. Walter Allison died in San Antonio on 19 October 1918 of influenza at the peak of the epidemic there. The disease had spread very quickly through the city. and its Army installations. See more details here.

Walter was buried in the Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston, near the Gulf. His wife, Kate, returned to Galveston and remarried to Gustov Hoff, a German tailor. They moved to Washington, D.C. by 1930 where they had a shop. Ethel married and had a son whom she named Walter. Her brother, Walter, had married and was working for the Treasury Department, but had no children at the time of the 1940 census. Several more generations of Allison descendants could be alive today, far removed from the horrific storm of 1900.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Helen and Wylie Smith

Included among the Galveston storm dead from 1900 are Wylie Smith, with his wife and child. They are designated as African Americans with the notation (c) next to their names on the Galveston and Texas History Center list. We can add a few details that characterize them beyond their listing among the many Smiths who died that day.

The 1900 Galveston census names Wylie's wife, Helen, whom he had married four years earlier. She was 45, born in 1855 in Texas. She states that her parents were born in Virginia and Alabama, respectively. She didn't give a month for her birth, although Wylie did: February of 1848. He was a "drayman" in 1900, transporting goods with a horse and wagon. He was born in Alabama, as were his parents. Although both Helen and Wylie could have been born into slavery, in 1900 they owned a home without a mortgage at 3314 Q Street. They were older parents of one-year-old Helen F. who was approaching her second birthday.

This snapshot in time on 8 June 1900 cannot give more than a hint of their past lives. Had they raised or lost more children or spouses in their younger years? Carrying a surname like Smith makes further investigation even more difficult.