Quilt for Amanda

A quilt made for Amanda Treadwell by family members, now held by the Daughters of the American Revolution

The 19th century memory quilt made by the family of Amanda Treadwell and donated to the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, DC.

Amanda Treadwell (1836-1854) was the daughter of Walter Treadwell (1797-1870) a farmer who lived on Lyons Plains Road in Weston, CT, and was the brother of my 3rd great grandfather Ebenezer Nichols Treadwell.  (Walter and his neighbor Hanford Nichols donated the land and built the Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Lyons Plains Road next to their houses).

After Amanda’s early death at age 18 in 1854,  over a dozen relatives contributed to a quilt in her memory. It possibly took them from 1854 to 1870, according to the quilt’s listing on the Quilt Index, a compilation of historical quilts.

The cotton hand-sewn quilt is red, green, and yellow, and is designed in the traditional “turkey tracks” pattern. Each relative contributed some of the squares and then signed their names on the back in indelible ink.  Her sister Louisa wrote, “And the dead for Christ shall rise first / In memory of Amanda Treadwell / who fell asleep March 11, 1854.”

The signatures of my 2nd great grandfather Aaron Treadwell and my great-grandmother Selina “Lina” Elida Treadwell Gould‘ (1852-1934), are among those preserved on the back of the quilt. The date 1864 is next to Lina’s name; she was 12-years-old at the time. (I recently received this photograph of Lina Treadwell at a young age from a distant relative on Ancestry.com. )

Selina Elida Treadwell Gould


The quilt, known as the Treadwell Family Quilt, was donated to the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, DC.  The next time I’m in DC, I’ll try to see it.

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Red Cross Volunteer

My great-aunt Marjorie Gould joined Bayonne’s Red Cross Woman’s Motor Service Unit (see her photo, top right below)  in the spring of 1918 to help victims of the rampant flu epidemic.  After a busy summer with this and other activities,  she caught the flu, herself, and died within days on Oct. 22, just over a month after her 26th birthday. family-marjoriegould-bayonneredcross09142016


Marjorie Gould, age 25, Bayonne, NJ, 1918

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family historian


What a pleasure to be able to connect with someone who has first-hand knowledge of family history. One such person is Virginia (Ginny) Black Dietz, who spent  her life on Northfield Road in Watertown CT. The daughter of Raymond and Hazel Black, who took over Elnathan Black’s Birch Farm, she spent her early years in the Brick House.

Later, after she married and had a family, she and her husband, George Dietz, built their own house (with a tennis court) across the driveway. Ginny and George were regular visitors to the Gould’s on Monte Vista Avenue in Ridgewood, enjoying croquet games, picnics on the back porch, formal meals in the dining room.  I recently connected with Ginny and she took the time to write me letters, send photographs, and sit down over cookies in her living room, as I asked endless questions and she recalled memories of Grandma Black and other family. I treasured her warmth, sharp memory, and good heart.


Doris Gould Malaspina, Ann Malaspina, Virginia (Ginny) Dietz (Watertown CT, 2014)

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Cousin Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr, Jr.


Alexander Hamilton

With all the hoopla over the Broadway show Hamilton, it is worth remembering that U.S. Vice-President Aaron Burr (1756-1836), who shot founding father Alexander Hamilton in their July 11, 1804 duel in Weehawken NJ, was a member of our family.  He is the son of my seventh-great uncle, who is the brother of my sixth-great grandfather Joseph Burr (1700-1745). In short, he is my 1st cousin 7 times removed (according to Ancestry.com). Here are two of the show’s songs that relate to cousin Burr: The World Was Wide Enough and Ten Duel Commandments.


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Fought at Bunker Hill?

Dr. Henry Skilton (also known as Skelton), my sixth great grandfather, was born in St. Michael’s, Coventry, England on Nov. 19, 1718. According to the book Doctor Henry Skilton and His Descendants, published by the Skilton family in 1921,  he left England on a naval ship on April 1, 1735 and sailed to Boston.  In 1741, he married Tabitha Avery (1717-1793) of Preston, Connecticut.  Her father gave them land and they would have seven children.doctorhenryskilt1921doct_0005

Around 1750 Skilton bought land in Southington, CT. He studied medicine on his own and began to practice in that town. His house at 889 Main Street in still stands today. It was named to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1989.  thumbs_dr-henry-skelton-889-s-mainFamily.Dr.Skilton3

Skilton was the second physician in Watertown. He had two sons, but one died at age six, and he wanted to leave an heir. During the Revolution, the story goes, he took the place of his surviving son, Avery, and fought at Bunker Hill. He was a commissioned officer and surgeon, stationed at Roxbury Neck. At least that’s what’s in books and family documents–but I have not found official documents about his service.


Daughters of the American Revolution document


Henry Skilton gravestone in Old Town Cemetery, Watertown CT

Skilton died on June 7, 1804, and was buried in the Old Town Cemetery in Watertown. His grave is listed in Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots.

His descendants included many physicians, including three (Spiros, Peter, and Chris) in my generation alone!

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James Black in Montreal

We visited Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History this weekend–and were reminded of James Black‘s arrival from Ireland in the 1840’s. Thousands of Irish and other immigrants from the British isles emigrated to Canada during that troubled decade. James Black met his wife, Mary McNally, in Montreal and they were married on April 4, 1845, in the St. James Methodist Church, which later burnt down and was replaced with a new structure. The couple had two children, Jane and John, in Montreal before moving to Washington CT where they joined the rest of the Black family who arrived in NY from Ireland in 1849.
IMG_1712 IMG_1711

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Meads and Treadwells

George and Lina Gould

Lina Treadwell and husband George Gould

I have always wondered how my great-great grandparents Aaron Treadwell (1828-1896) and Lois Mead (1830-1888)  happened to meet. Aaron was born and grew up in Redding, Connecticut.  Lois grew up in Cadiz, New York, a rural upstate community some 350 miles (a long journey by horse and carriage) from Redding. Back in the mid-19th century, people didn’t go far from their homes, unless to visit family.

While reading old letters from Aaron’s and Lois’s daughter (my great grandmother), Lina Treadwell (1852-1934), in my mother’s dining room this month, I discovered letters between Lina and Sophia Mead, granddaughter of Rufus Mead, who was the brother of Lois’s father, Merlin Mead. Rufus and Merlin Mead were both born in South Salem New York, where their father was a Presbyterian minister. As adults, Merlin headed north to Cadiz and Rufus went north to Redding.  In Redding, a small farming and industrial town, Rufus may have become acquainted with the Treadwells, an established Redding family.  Could Lois have visited her uncle in Redding and run into Aaron Treadwell?  It seems, at least, a possibility. Sophia Mead wound up as a teacher in Orange NJ, near Bayonnne, where Lina lived after she married George Gould.

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