Interesting Story About the Portland CT Quarries

Portland CT Quarries

The Middlesex Quarry, Portland, albumen print – Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery


Members of my Ratcliffe family from Cheshire, England traveled to the US in the 1880s and worked at the Portland Quarries. In the 1880 Census for Portland, Thomas Ratcliffe, my Great Great Grandfather, and his brother in law, John Lewis, were boarding in a home in Portland and working at the quarries. Shortly after that, Thomas’ wife, Jane, and his children joined him in Connecticut. The family ended up settling in Middletown, Connecticut, in about 1889, however, the Portland Quarries are a big part of my family’s history.

Portland Quarries PostcardConnecticut History.org has a great post today about the history of the Portland Quarries and the places  the infamous Connecticut Brownstone was used.

You can read the story here: Portland Puts Its Stamp on an Architectural Era

You can find more info on my Ratcliffe family here: The Ratcliffe Family of Cheshire, England. It’s not totally up to date. Contact me if you are interested in a PDF copy of my family history for the Ratcliffes.

 

Gettysburg’s Lost Love Story: The Ill-Fated Romance of General John Reynolds and Kate Hewitt Release Date

Gettysburg Lost Love CoverAs some of you will recall, I did some research for Historian Jeff Harding awhile ago that resulted in some never before discovered details about the fiance of General John Reynolds. We had an article in “Civil War” magazine before Jeff decided that this story needed a book. You can read my first post about the discoveries here: Genealogy Research Helps Solve a Civil War Mystery

He’s been working on it over the last couple of years and it will be released on February 7, 2022! Here is the short blurb….

 

Union general John Reynolds was one of the most beloved and respected military leaders of the Civil War, yet beyond the battlefield, the captivating true story of his secret romance with Catherine “Kate” Mary Hewitt remains etched into his legacy. Clandestinely engaged before John marched off to war, the couple’s love remained a secret. Kate made a poignant “last promise,” a commitment to enter into a religious life if her beloved were to be killed. Tragically, Reynolds lost his life leading troops into action during the opening phases of the Battle of Gettysburg. Within days Kate was embraced by the Reynolds family and soon began to honor her promise of a religious life. Yet a few years later she seemed to disappear. Author Jeffrey J. Harding unveils new findings on Kate’s life before and after John’s death as he recounts Gettysburg’s saga of star-crossed love.

 

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New Answers to Old Questions on Bannon Family

There have been other times in my years of genealogy research when re-visiting the records for a family turn up something new that answers some long standing questions. This happened recently with my Bannon family from County Fermanagh, Ireland and New Haven, Connecticut.

The Bannon family emigrated to New Haven in the mid to late 1850s. They settled in a block of buildings on what was first called “Governeur’s Lane” and later renamed to “Madison Street”. I started calling the area the “Bannon Compound” as there were so many Bannons and relatives living in the houses over the years. My direct ancestor, James Bannon and his wife, Bridget McHugh, lived on Madison Street for the longest amount of time, into the  1880s.

Madison Street 1868

The star marks Madison Street, New Haven, CT in 1868.

In the 1860 census there was a Catherine Bannon living on Madison Street. I originally thought that she was the widow of a Bannon male, although I never found a husband for her. I eventually made the connection that the Joseph Bannon, who was living there and who had immigrated with James and Margaret Bannon earlier, was actually Catherine’s son.  At that time I still thought that Catherine was the sister in law of the younger James Bannon. My original report on the family lists her as such. I was aware that Joseph Bannon’s death record only lists his mother as Catherine Bannon, but figured that could just mean that the informant had no idea what his father’s name was.

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