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.
Connecticut 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.
As 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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I love finding these interesting stories that help round out what can be very boring genealogy research. In my current project of double checking and expanding my past Burnham research, I was looking in to the family of Wolcott H. Burnham who was born in Vermont in 1820 and whom moved his family west. Wolcott settled in Wisconsin, however, his son Col. William A. Burnham settled in South Dakota. William’s son, Harry, is the subject of this amusing tale.
Harry was married around 1890 to Edna Dean Foster. They lived in Groton, Brown, South Dakota where Harry was in the “Druggist” business with his father. They had two children, William Audley Burnham, b. 1891, and Marie, b. 1894. On July 4, 1894, while Edna and the children were away visiting in Wisconsin, Harry made the horrible decision to run away with a 17 year old girl. Harry and the two Hayes sisters (they never name either sister) checked in to a hotel in Aberdeen, South Dakota as “Mr. H. Wallace, wife and sister, Minneapolis”. Supposedly, the younger sister drove the carriage back to Groton. The article goes on to describe both fathers heading out in search of the couple. The term “fire in his eyes” is used. Continue reading