Featured

GRANT/LILLEY FAMILY REUNION – Part 1

Going through the three pages of names, I decided to research each family in the order they appear on the list, and try to determine just how they are related to each other and to me. This required searching a number of different genealogical sites and sources, as many of the families were unfamiliar to me.

  1. Mr. & Mrs. Henry Vivian Grant

The first family listed is “Mr. and Mrs. Vivian Grant of Patten, Maine. It turns out that according to Ancestry.com Henry Vivian Grant was the stepson of my 1st cousin 3x removed (May Viola Gerrish Grant)

Henry Vivian Grant was born on the 21 August 1899 in Readfield, Kennebec, Maine, to Leon Miles and Caroline “Carrie” (Knights) Grant. He was the eldest of 4 children.

Record of a birth for Henry Vivian Grant

His parents having been married on the 22 of October 1898 in Readfield, Maine, the family moved to Peru, Oxford, Maine prior to the 1900 US Federal Census. Here the family lived on a acre farm with Leon as the primary farmer.

By the 1910 US Federal Census, the family had re-located again, this time to a farm in Crystal, Aroostook, Maine. By this time the family had grown to include 3 children, Henry V., John Harold and Corrie May. There had been born a fourth child, who did not survive.

The 1920 US Federal Census finds Henry as a 20 year old, still living with his parents, brother Harold and sister May. The family has yet again relocated, this time to Patten, Penobscot, Maine. No longer living on a farm, both Henry and his father are listed as Laborers, performing general work.

On 26 Dec 1921, Henry Vivian Grant took Mildred Rachel Boynton as his wife. They were married in Patten, Maine by I.H. Lidstone, Clergyman. It was the first and only marriage for each of them. Mildred was the 4th child and 2nd daughter of Ernest and Mary A. (Seales) Boynton.

On the 26th of August 1922, the newlyweds attended the Grant & Lilley Family reunion.

2. Mr & Mrs. Charles Grant

The next family listed is “Mr & Mrs. Charles Grant of Oakfield, Maine. I did not find them on my family tree and had to research to learn the family connection. Ancestry.com has listed Charles Cleveland Grant as the brother of my 7th cousin 1x removed, which seems like a strange connection to me. I have a feeling that he is related to me in a closer connection, so I set out to learn what I could about Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cleveland Grant.

Charles Cleveland Grant was born the 25 May 1887 in Oakfield, Aroostook, Maine. He was the fourth of 21 children born to George Washington and Alice (McGinley) Grant. (note: several of his siblings appear later on the list of names)

Not much can be found on Charles Cleveland prior to his marriage to May Annie Clark on 5 Jun 1912. They were married by the Rev. H.G. Kennedy in Oakfield and by the time of the 1920 US Federal Census, they were settled in a home in Oakfield with Charles working at first as a farm laborer, but later obtaining a job as a mechanic.

Charles and May were the parents of 3 children: Priscilla, born in 1923, Catherine, born in 1925 and Robert, born in 1928.

At the time of the Grant / Lilley family reunion in 1922, they were still living in Oakfield, without any children.

3. Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Leavitt & family

The third family on the list is Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Leavitt & family of Smyrna, Aroostook County. Before I could determine how they are related to me, I needed to determine what was their Grant /Lilley connection.

Lewis Leavitt was born on 18 May 1882, the son of Artemas Moses and Mary Anne (Clement) Leavitt. Pauline Soule was born 25 Aug 1885, the daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Angie F. (Grant) Soule. Pauline, also known as Polly, is listed in Ancestry.com as my sister-in-law of my 1st Cousin 3times removed (Nellie Orlend Gardner-Lilley) and is the apparent connection to the Grant / Lilly families.

Another fun fact is that Mr. & Mrs. Leavitt employed a young woman by the name of Nancy Ella Gerald as a live-in housekeeper for several years. It was during her time as their housekeeper that she met her future husband, LeRoy George Gardner. My maternal grandparents remained in the Smyrna/Merrill area their entire married lives.

As stated earlier, Pauline “Polly” Emma Soule was born on 25 August 1885 in Oakfield, Aroostook County. She was the 6th child of Benjamin Franklin and Angerona “Angie” (Grant) Soule.

The 1900 US Federal census is the first one Polly appears on. She is living in Oakfield, Aroostook County with her parents and 7 siblings on the family farm. She is listed as having attended school 6 months of the previous year. It was not unusual for the elder children of a family to also work on the farm, as seen by the fact Polly’s younger brother Clinton is listed to have only attended school for 4 months.

Polly and Lewis were married on 16 Jan 1903. They went on to be the parents of 8 children, all girls: Alva, Arleen, Helen, Erna, Winnifred, Joyce, Anita and Gloria.

Ranging in age from 9 years (Alva) to 4 years (Anita) it is safe to assume that all of the children were also in attendance at the reunion.

4. Miss Evelyn Lilley

The fourth name to appear on the guest list is Miss Evelyn Lilley of Smyrna, Aroostook County. She was the niece of Pauline (Soule) Leavitt, the daughter of Jessie A. Soule and Ray Orsoe Lilley. My connection to her is strong: her paternal grandmother, Nellie Oreno (Gardner) Lilley was my 2nd Great-Grandaunt, making her my 2nd Cousin 2x removed.

On the 1910 US Federal Census, you will find Evelyn and her sister Aleda living with their maternal grandparents, Benjamin and Angie (Grant) Soule. This is because Jessie A. (Soule) Lilley passed away on 05 November 1905. Her cause of death is listed as Septicemic sore on face. Evelyn was only 2 years old and her sister Aleda was only 3.

Ray Lilley went on to marry twice more, to Martha Etta Bolstridge and Winnfred I. Labbe, but his 2 daughters by his first wife remained with their maternal grandparents, as seen on the 1920 US Federal Census.

On 26 August 1922, Evelyn was still single and most likely living with her grandmother, Nellie. She attended the family reunion alone.

5. Harrison G. White

The fifth name on the Guest List is Harrison G. White of Dyer Brook, Aroostook County. According to Ancestry.com he is the paternal 1st cousin of the husband of my 2nd great-grandaunt. In other words, he is the cousin of George F. Lilley, who was married to my 2nd Great-Grandaunt Nellie O. Gardner.

Harrison G. White was born on 20 Dec 1859 in Littleton, Aroostook County to Charles and Elizabeth (Lilley) White. He was the 4th of the couple’s 9 children and the first to be born in the United States. His parents and three older siblings emigrated from Richmond, New Brunswick, Canada in 1858.

The 1860 US Federal Census shows the family living on a farm in Littleton, Maine with Charles & Betsey White and their four children. Also living with the family is Aaron Lilley, Betsey’s younger brother, who is working as a laborer on the farm.

By 1870 the White family had grown to include 7 children. Although they are still living in Littleton, it appears that they have moved from their farm. Charles is no longer listed as a farmer, simply a Laborer.

Between 1870 and 1880, the family relocated to Dyer Brook, Aroostook County and again are living on a farm, with Charles’ occupation listed as “farmer.” Harrison, now 20 years old has the occupation of “working on farm.” Harrison’s younger sister Lucy has married and she and her husband are living on the family farm. Enoch White, their eldest son is shown living with his family on the farm next door.

Charles White died 15 May 1894. The 1900 US Federal Census reflects this and his 2 unmarried sons, Harrison and James are now shown as running the family farm in Dyer Brook. William, also unmarried, is working as a Carpenter, but still living with his mother and brothers.

In 1910 on the US Federal Census, Harrison is again shown as the Head of the family, still single and living on the family farm with his mother and elder brother, William. James, who has married Jennie M. Parker in 1901 has moved to his own farm in Dyer Brook.

The 1920 US Federal Census shows no change; Harrison is listed as the Head of the family, working as a farmer. Living with him is his 87 year old mother Betsey and his brother, William.

Neither Betsey nor William appear on the list of Guests at the Grant / Lilley Family reunion.

Featured

26 Aug 1922 – Grant & Lilley Family Reunion

On 26 Aug 1922 in Dyer Brook, Aroostook County, Maine a Grant & Lilley family reunion took place. Attending this reunion was 60+ families who were related to either the Grant Family or Lilley Family, or in many cases, both families!

A Little History

I’ve been given a number of boxes containing photographs that belonged to my Aunt Ellen, my mom’s elder sister E. Ellen Gardner, who was the family historian of her family. I periodically go through these boxes and wonder if I recognize some faces, guess at others and find unseen photos of my parents and siblings. Sometimes I also find other documents, such as birth records, newspaper articles and occasionally a hand-written family history document.

Such was the case when I found the Guest List from the Grant & Lilly Reunion, held on 26 Aug 1922. Some of the names I immediately recognized as cousins. Some names I recognized as names I had encountered in the building of my family tree and yet others I had never seen before.

This is a small portion of the photograph in question, cropped from a photo my Aunt took of her Sitting Room wall.

I remember a photo that used to hang on the wall in my Grandfather LeRoy’s sitting room – a photo that had to be at least 4 feet wide. It was of a LARGE group of people of varying ages. Seeing it as a child, I marveled at the size. I didn’t realize until I found the Grant/Lilley Reunion Guest List that most likely the photo was taken on 26 Aug 1922 and everyone in the photo was a Grant/Lilley relative. I never found my grandparents in the photo, but then again, they are not listed on the guest list.

I’m not quite sure if I am directly related to the Grants and Lilleys (and I am actively searching to confirm/deny connection) but I do know that several of my 2x Great Grandfather’s siblings married into both the Grant and Lilley families.

Why would my Grandfather have this photograph?
How am I related to the Grant / Lilley Families of Maine?
Where is the photograph today? – The last time I saw the photograph was at my Aunt Ellen’s funeral, where it was displayed next to her coffin. That was in June of 1999.

Over the course of the next few months, I hope to answer these and other questions I have regarding the Grant / Lilley Family reunion.

This wasn’t one of my Childhood Family Stories

Back when I first started researching my family genealogy, I created a list of the “family stories” I could remember my Mom telling me when I was young. There were items on the list that included :

  • Great Aunt/Uncle that died as a child and buried in the Mediterranean Sea, along with a red ball.
  • Xth Great-grandmother (unknown which one) was supposedly captured by Indians and raised as an Indian princess.
  • Grandma Liz [Christina Elizabeth (Nicolle) Vincent] wanted to live to be 100
  • Cecilia (Still) Vincent’s first husband died on the Titanic – his name was unknown.
  • There was an Irishman who was a horse thief, came across on the Mayflower (or Mayflower II) as a stowaway, changing his name when he arrived in the new world (dropping the Fitz- from FitzGerald)

In my 25+ years of research, some of the stories have been easily proven true. For example, my Great Aunt Florence Vincent, second child of Charles and Christina Elizabeth (Nicolle) Vincent [my Dad’s aunt] died of a fever on board the R.M.S. Crocodile, while her father and his family was traveling from Gibraltar to East India. She was buried at sea in the Mediterranean and her death reported when the ship arrived at port.

Frederick and Cecilia (Still) Ware on their wedding day

Another story I was able prove, was learning the name of Cecilia (Still) Vincent’s first husband – Frederick Ware, who did indeed die while traveling back from England to New York, when the Titanic sank. His body was never found, but evidence of his passage is found on the ship’s manifest.

Grandma Liz probably did want to live to be 100, but actually died at 94, not 97 as my Mom used to say. She lied about her age on every record I have for her, except one – her birth record! She was born in 1855, not 1852-3, as stated on her marriage record, death certificate, headstone, Census forms, etc.

Christina Elizabeth Nicholls (Nicolle)’s Birth Record


Other stories will most likely never be proven, such as the Great-grandmother who was captured and raised by Indians. I do know that no Native American DNA appears in either my AncestryDNA sample or my 23andMe sample, but the story was she was captured, not born, so there wouldn’t be DNA present.

But the one story I have worked on the longest is the Irish stowaway – did he arrive on the Mayflower / Mayflower II?
Maybe, maybe not. One thing is very certain, I have Mayflower ancestors on my Mom’s family tree – in fact, at last count, I have FOUR of them: Elder William Brewster and his wife, Mary Wentworth Brewster and John Alden and his wife, Priscilla Mullins Alden. I am a descendant of the Brewsters via my maternal grandmother (and namesake) Nancy Ella (Gerald) Gardner and a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden via my maternal grandfather, LeRoy George Gardner.

Nancy Ella and LeRoy George Gardner on their wedding anniversary

I’ve known about the first Mayflower Ancestors since August, 2018, when I learned that my newly discovered 4th Great-Grandmother, Lydia (Burrill) Gardner was a descendant of John and Priscilla. The brick wall separating my family tree from the Burrill family took me many, many, many years to break through. I was overjoyed when I learned the connection via Lydia to the Mayflower.

My discovery of my connection with William and Mary Brewster is much more recent – March 28th of this year, when I learned due to a potential ancestor on the new
ThruLines feature on Ancestry.com – of my 5th Great-Grandfather Joseph Greenleaf and his wife Dorcas (Gray) Greenleaf. Subsequent research on that line gave me the connection between my Grandma Nancy and the Mayflower.

Since none of these four Mayflower ancestors are of Irish descent, I can’t say that this answers the question about my Irish horse thief. I’m still trying to find the elusive connection between my Gerald Great-grandparents: Rose Ellen (Gerald) Gerald and her husband Orrin Fitz Gerald. I have a new hypothesis that asks if Rose’s Great-Grandfather George (1748-1825) and Orrin’s Great Grandfather David (1740-1820) were brothers, who separately came over the the USA from England in the 1770s and fought in the Revolutionary War? Could one of them be my Irish horse thief, since they both emigrated from the Emerald Isle?

Only Time (and a lot more research) Will Tell.