Poem to Helen Written by Bertha L. Watts

At the age of eighty-eight, my adoptive grandmother, Bertha L. Watts (Gra Gra) wrote a poem about her dear friend Helen L. (Sykes) Woolsey (1907-1998). I have mentioned in previous blog postings that Gra Gra was a poet. Her mind was sharp as a tack right up to the end. To be able to write such a poem at an advanced age shows how clear her mind was. However, she was legally blind well before that point; so, it meant that she would have had to dictate the poem to someone else and then someone typed it up for her.

Bertha was born on September 12th, 1891 so I thought it would be a fitting tribute to display her poem on this day. My featured postcard was one given to Bertha for her birthday in 1908. The card was blank on the message side but I think it may be from her cousin Martin James as he commonly sent postcards with the glitter writing. The postcard is embossed and was copyrighted in 1907 by R. Sander, in N.Y.

I remember Helen very well. She was a kind and gentle soul and always seemed to have a calm demeanor. I have spent some time researching a little bit of her genealogy and had originally intended to incorporate that into this writing. But, I was able to find out some interesting things particularly about her father and have decided to break that information into one or more additional postings.

One of the church groups that both Helen and Bertha belonged to was the Congregational Church Club at Riverpoint Congregational Church, in West Warwick, RI. I have included a photo of that group taken between 1970-80, shown at the end of this blog following the poem. I possess two separate written histories of Riverpoint Cong’l Church. One of them was written by Wilton Hudson who was the editor for many years at the Pawtuxet Valley Times–his wife is also in the photo. There is information in that history that includes Helen and her mother, as they were both involved with the church at various points. I want to include some of that information in my future stories.

Here is the poem, shown below in image form taken from a scanning of the original sheets. I worked on typing the poem into the body of the blog but I was having issues with the technical end of things and I could not get it to present correctly in the form of a poem and I was getting too tired to figure it out. That said, I hope the words in the images are large enough to read or can be zoomed in to make large enough to read.

To HELEN

Below is the photo of the CC Club. Helen Woolsey is the second from the right, in blue.

Shown left to right, Ruth Rose, Marian Allen, Edith Hudson, Bertha Watts, May James, Helen Woolsey, unsure of far right

The information I have on the reserve side of the above photo says that the lady on the far right is Elizabeth James. Aunt Elizabeth was sister-in-law to Bertha–wife of Uncle Lionel but she died in 1971 and I don’t think this photo is quite that old. And it is very difficult to tell in this picture if it is her for sure, I think it is possibly someone else but I am not sure. The reverse of the photo is stamped as developed in May 1980 but that was back in the day of film which was not always developed right after a picture was taken. Or, it could have been a copy made from a negative. That is why in the early part of the blog above I said the photo was some time between 1970-80.

I hope that you have found the poem interesting.

Until next time…

A Thanksgiving Greeting from 1908!

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I will briefly introduce you to our young (Martin) Leroy James and a postcard greeting he sent to Aunt Etta, postmarked from Buffalo, New York on November 24, 1908. To learn more about Aunt Etta, please see my previous post: Intro to Aunt Etta And Her Great Adventures.

Martin “Leroy” James was born in 1897 and died in Boston 1914–at the young age of 17, due to a heart issue resulting from rheumatic fever. He was the son of Martin Royal Van Buren James (born 1864) and Mary “Mollie” (Pease) James (born 1864).

Martin and Mollie, Leroy’s parents, were married on November 20, 1895, in Boston, Mass. The parents of Mollie were William and Catharine (Hickey) Pease.

Leroy, sender of the postcard.

My featured postcard was sent by Leroy to Aunt Etta (Henrietta James Hooper) sister of Martin, the father of Leroy. The paternal grandparents of Leroy were Charles and Julia Ann (Moore) James. To learn more about Grandma Julia, please see my previous post: Intro to Grandma Julia and the Bitgood’s Pine Knoll Laboratory.

The message reads: Dear Aunt Etta, We are all well and hope you are moved. So goodby(e). From your loving Nephew Leroy. This card was addressed to Mrs. William Hooper (Aunt Etta), in Plainville, Mass. “with” care of Mrs. Julia James. So we learn that Aunt Etta moved during this time, probably from Franklin to Plainville to be with, or near, her mother Julia.

In future posts, I will explore more of Leroy (sometimes known as Roy) and his parents as they all corresponded with family on a regular basis so I have many postcards to be able to share. At the time Leroy sent this card, he was 11 years old. He and his parents were living in Buffalo, New York at that time.

Shown below are some pictures of Leroy as a baby and as a young boy:

 

 

Shown below is one picture of Martin, Leroy’s father. In the future, I will share more pictures of Martin and perhaps his wife Mollie if I can correctly identify her.

Martin Royal Van Buren James, father of young Leroy.

At this time of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for this opportunity to share my family history via this blog and postal history exploration.

Wishing all of you a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time…

Works Cited:

Family Bible Records

“Massachusetts Marriages 1841-1915” Database with Images, Family Search.

“Massachusetts, Town Clerk Vital and Town Records 1626-2001” Database with Images, Family Search.