This picture is of my grandmother, Justine (Fusco) Frost with her husbands’ grandmother, Minnie Smith. The picture was taken in Minnie’s garden at 51 Hammond St. in Bridgewater, MA, probably in the summer of 1941 when Justine was “with child”. I plan on doing a more in-depth post on Justine later, but I just came across this picture and had to share it.
Minnie is the woman of many names mentioned in the post on Leon Petralis, her first husband, so far I’m up to 10 different names used on various records.
In the late 90’s we visited my great-aunt Betty (Lucey) Bedard and her family in Toronto. She knew I was interested in family history and she had a number of old family photos and documents to share, she gave me some, others I photocopied (no cell cameras at the time). One of my favorite photos she gave me was of Patrick Joseph O’Donoghue.
On the back of the photo is written “Patrick Donohue Ireland next to Montana” and ” Mary Corson’s grandmothers brother Hanna Donohue Lucey”. I don’t know about Montana, but I do know that Patrick was not Hanna Donohue Lucey’s brother, he was her nephew. But I understand the confusion, you see, both of Patrick’s parents were Donoghue’s.
His father was also named Patrick, his mother Catherine was Johanna (Donoghue) Lucey’s sister, which makes Patrick my first cousin 3 times removed.
Patrick was born 16 February 1874 in Glenflesk, County Kerry, Ireland and came to America around 1895. In 1905, he was in San Francisco, CA where he married Nora Williams. They had 5 children, Catherine, John, James, Thomas and Bernard. According to census records Patrick was a car inspector for the street railroad there for many years. He died 7 April 1958 and is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA [which is known as “the city of the silent”, the dead outnumber the living 1000 to 1!].
A side note, Patrick’s brother Florence stayed in Shronaboy, Glenflesk, the family homestead of Catherine and Johanna’s father John (Sean Con) O’Donoghue [link is to a transcription of an 1896 letter from John to Johanna], thus keeping the farm in the O’Donoghue name, although not in the same patrilineal line. The descendants of Florence still live there today.
My 2nd great-grandfather Leon Petralis (or Petrolis) is still a bit of a mystery. I have multiple documents on two events that he was involved with, his marriage and the birth of his daughter (my great-grandmother). Beyond that I have a family story about how he died, a possible death record and a potential passenger list entry from when he came to America, but those are speculative and naturally, the names aren’t all the same. I’m guessing that most people with Eastern European ancestry run into the near constant changing of names. I have so far documented 10 different names for Leon’s wife, Petrusia.
This passenger list shows a Lewen Petralis leaving Hamburg, Germany for Boston on 7 May 1889 aboard the ship Coblenz. He is a native of Rademanz, Russland, as is the passenger directly above him, Michal Aschzin who is also traveling to Boston. The dates fit both the age and arrival of Leon, but I’m not sure if this is him.
The Marriage Certificate
This baptismal certificate was obtained by my great-grandmother in 1952 and lists her name as M. Helen Petralis. After Leon died in the late 1890’s, Petrusia married a man who went by John Frank Smith. Helen grew up thinking he was her father and didn’t find out he wasn’t until later in life. She went by Helen Smith, but did occasionally use different last names.
Civil Birth Record
This Greenfield, New Hampshire birth record has no first name listed for the child, but lists Wilno, Poland as the birthplace of Leon and Petrusia. This is the same date as Helen’s birth, 31 Aug 1894 and most of the details match the Massachusetts Birth Record below.
On this Massachusetts Birth Record for Helen, it lists her first name as “Lena”, place of birth as Greenfield, NH and says the parents (Leon and Bertha? Petralis) live at 104 Garden St in Lawrence, MA.
The family lore about Leon’s death was that he was killed in an accident with a runaway horse when his daughter Helen was just 2 years old. These two records certainly are about the same person, but I’m not sure if it’s my Leon. The date of this Leon’s death, 19 Feb 1896, fits with both the family story and the birth of Helen’s half-sister Mae in 1898.
This Leon is the right age, is married and is from Russia. The mother’s first name is the same as the marriage record (Mary) but the father’s is different: Michael here, Mathew on the marriage record. Of course, Leon wouldn’t have been the one providing the information for the death record, so an inconsistency is not surprising. He died of Typhoid Fever and Peritonitis.
Leon does not appear in any other city directories that I can find and his widow is not listed in any later Worcester, Massachusetts directory. In fact, if this is my Leon, these would be the only records that I’ve found that show him in Worcester.
Nashua, Lawrence and Worcester are not all that far apart and as a laborer he likely just went wherever the work was. Also, all 3 cities had strong Lithuanian/Russian communities at the time. If this is Leon, then his mother’s last name is possibly Balcute, which would be a new name to me and another line of possible investigation.
I’m hoping I have a cousin from the old country that knows all about “Cousin Leon that went to America”, are you out there?
Last night on Who Do You Think You Are some movie person that I’m not familiar with found out that her 5x great-grandfather was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. It reminded me that I too have a Loyalist ancestor, although I hadn’t done much research on him.
Stephen Fountain, my 6x great-grandfather, was born in Stamford, Connecticut around 1745 to Matthew Fountain and an unknown to me wife. Some online trees have Elizabeth Hoyt as the mother of all of Matthew’s children, but there is some conflicting information and I’m pretty sure that the first four or five children where from a different mother. More investigation is needed there.
In 1775 and 6, Stephen is married to Sarah (Scofield) and is a blacksmith/gunsmith in either Brookhaven, NY or Stamford, possibly both. And apparently, he is assisting the British ships in Long Island Sound with arms and supplies, and recruiting those sympathetic to the crown.
On 13 May 1776, the Joint Committee of Brookhaven hears “evidence being called to discover the secret plots and misconduct of sundry evil-minded persons”, namely Captain Jonathan Baker and blacksmith Stephen Fountain. Stephen’s apprentice Henry Hulse, Jr. testifies of secretive behavior:
a number of New-England people had staid in that neighbourhood, being to him strangers, who were often in private conference, in private places, with said Fountain, and would not let him (the deponent) come near them, nor hear what they said;
In all, 22 witnesses testify against Baker and Fountain and they are convicted “as persons that have acted inimical to the liberties of America in a most glaring manner”. The committee asks Lieutenant William Clarke to take the prisoners to the Provincial Congress in New York for disposition. On 8 June 1776, Congress confirms what the Brookhaven Committee had decided and sentences them to prison.
Jonathan Baker and Stephen Fountain, charged and convicted by the Joint Committees of Brookhaven, Manor of St.George, and Patenship of Meritches, of being enemies of their country, and, as such, of having taken up arms and held correspondence with our enemies on board of the Ministerial Ships of War, and very much promoted discord amongst the inhabitants, and seduced many to forsake the cause of their country, were sent to this Congress.
Resolved, That the said Jonathan Baker and Stephen Fountain, be committed to close custody.
And Ordered, That Daniel Goldsmith, the Jailer, he, and he is hereby, directed and requested to receive and keep them in safe custody until the further order of this Congress.
Details are sketchy on what happens next and how long he was imprisoned for, but it seems that Stephen escaped and joined the Royal Army.
In late 1780 through early 1781, Stephen was a member of the Queen’s Rangers. Fans of the TV series “Turn” might recognize the Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of his unit, one John Graves Simcoe, Esq. I’m hoping Stephen makes an appearance next season!
In April of 1783, Stephen, wife Sarah and 207 other Loyalists boarded the ship “The Union” and were resettled in Nova Scotia. The Loyalists were granted land there and Stephen established a blacksmith shop and lived in Sandy Cove, Digby, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia until he died in 1818.
Special thank you to cousin Linda Drake, who worked with UELAC to document that Stephen Fountain was a Loyalist and to past president of UELAC Vancouver Branch Wendy Cosby who called this to my attention.
Testimonial quotes taken from this source:
AMERICAN ARCHIVES: Fourth Series containing A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY of The English Colonies in North America. By Peter Force; Volume VI.; Published by M. ST. Clair Clarke and Peter Force. Available here: