Tag Archives: Mysteries

For Those Who Made The Sacrifice

I recently received a number of surprise emails with attachments from the sister who happily dives into piles of old photos and documents, sending me anything that she thinks might catch my fancy.  Louise had turned up a number of WWII era letters to and from Alvin D. Saucier (my father’s younger brother) after his enlistment; the kind of letters that say a lot without saying anything at all.  The folks at home trying to make out like things were normal, and the son in the service so obviously lonely for news of home and family.

I’ve had a wonderful time working through the letters; simple, everyday chatter of babies getting heat rash because the summer had been so very hot that year, the menfolk getting in quality fishing time, but who didn’t catch a lot because the summer had been so very hot that year, and recent overnight showers that cooled things down a bit and will do the garden good because the summer had been so very hot that year.

There was even news of Mrs. Sweeney returning home after an extended and mysterious absence, and that piece of news prompted me to ask myself a few questions:

  1. Who on earth was Mrs. Sweeney?
  2. I wonder where Mrs. Sweeney went for a number of weeks in June & July of 1943?
  3. I wonder if Mrs. Sweeney went to Chicago and took her cow along?  No. Wait. Back up. That was Mrs. O’Leary along about 1871.
V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier from his mother, Ida Hoffmann Saucier

V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier, from his mother, Ida (Hoffmann) Saucier, wife of James Garfield Saucier

(Note: You can click on any of these items for an embiggened view.)

The answer to my first question was buried in the pile of email in another letter to Al, this one from Bill Sweeney, dated 21 September 1945.  My best guess is that Bill was the son of the much-travelled Mrs. Sweeney, and in his letter, Bill made no mention of the weather.  His talk was all soldier-to-soldier, mostly concerned with daydreams of life after mustering out.  He did, however, mention that he was just back from “a typical sailors’ leave, one that he wasn’t much proud of, but had to admit it was fun”.  Okay.  A period can be put on that topic.  Moving along.

letter from Bill Sweeney to Alvin D. Saucier dated 21 September 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier - 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier – 1945

More letters, more news from home, and the very last attachment included assorted photographs that Al had saved – one photo in particular caught my eye, it was older than the WWII items – and then I realized what I was seeing…

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier near Nancy, France

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier

And For Those Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

The photo was a burial registration photograph for Charles Clide Saucier, who on 27 September 1918, died of wounds received during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  This photo managed to reignite my search for great-Uncle Charlie’s final resting place, and allowed me to close another mystery – the date on great-Uncle Ben’s letter home during WWI.

Along the way, I’ve discovered a few more documents and newspaper clippings that not only shed a little light on Charlie’s time in the Army, but from his draft registration, we know a bit about his physical characteristics as well: tall, gray-eyed, with light colored hair.

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

From the clipping above, I think that it’s safe to infer that Ben’s letter home was one of the letters written on September 25, 1918.  In the letter, Ben wrote of being bivouacked outside of Nancy, describing his surroundings along with non-battle related experiences in a very general way.  The American Expeditionary Forces had liberated Nancy September 16, 1918, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began ten days later on September 26, 1918.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6. The Mrs. Thomas O’Donnell referenced in the clipping was Louise (Lulu Saucier) O’Donnell, one of Charles’ sisters.

Application for Military Headstone/Marker - Charles Clide Saucier

Application for Military Headstone/Marker – Charles Clide Saucier. The application was made by Mrs. Wm. Pace of Washington, Missouri aka Henrietta (Hattie Saucier) Pace, another of Charles’ sisters.

St. Anthony's Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

St. Anthony’s Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

I’d long assumed that Charlie’s headstone at Stanton, Missouri was a cenotaph, no remains, simply a marker for family members to take comfort in.  I’ve been through every database I could find, the final say coming from the American Battlefield Monuments Commission – there is no record of Charles Saucier being interred in any of the recognized cemeteries overseas.  Which brings me to the conclusion that Charlie was, after all, brought home.  The one unchecked item remaining on my to-do list is to apply to the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center for Charlie’s repatriation records.

Wish me luck that the records survived the fire of 1973 at the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis (records for Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912 through January 1, 1960 equaled an 80% loss).

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Sturgis Union School

Sturgis Union School

Here’s a brick wall that I’ve been taking a semi-masochistic pleasure in butting my head up against.  A single photo found among other family photographs that has no identification other than the imprint on the left: Sturgis Union School.  Is this a keepsake from a cherished friend?  Or is there (fingers crossed) a family member here?  So far, all research has ended in a null result.

Date?  1860-ish.  The original size of the photograph is not known to me, and the only other clue is the sepia toned albumen print on thin paper that has been mounted on card stock – it could be either a carte de visite, or a cabinet card – both were popular in the 1860’s.  I dislike being ambiguous, so for starters, let’s put this one in the late 1860’s.  I arrived at that date through the details and hints in their clothing, and by keeping in mind that these people were almost certainly school staff and would dress conservatively to set a good example for their students…

Nearly bandbox fresh:  Bodices of the 1860’s fastened down the front with buttons, and the buttons got progressively larger as the decade drew to a close.  Small white collars often fastened by a brooch were considered fashion forward.  Shoulders were long and sloping, with sleeve openings that circled the upper arm.  Bishop sleeves, jockey waists with belts, full skirts with a slightly flatter front, hints of braid and bodice trim, and quietly prominent jewelry, all suggest the early part of the decade had been left behind and trends were moving towards the more flamboyant styles of the 1870’s.

Coiffures: Crimps were worn in a girlish and playful style, but the conservative fashionistas often wore their hair center-parted and pulled back into a bun, with a hair net, then let the bun release to fall down the neck.

Birds of a different feather: Let’s not exclude the less showily dressed – and perhaps more telling members of the group.  These two men seem to be dressed in a transitional style; the jackets are baggy (sack jackets), with large flat lapels and low collars, a style very popular in the late 1850’s, but both men sport single-breasted vests, high shirt collars with narrow silk ties, and not the double breasted waistcoat and two-inch wide and knotted silk ties of the previous decade.  On the other hand, neither one wears the wide and squared-ended neckties worn low on the throat that were so popular in the 1870’s.  Their coats and vests are made from contrasting fabrics.  Ditto suits – where all components are made of the same material – were still a novelty in the 1860’s.

The latest from the tonsorial parlor: Hair is cut ear-length in the back, parted on the side, and combed smoothly back with neatly trimmed sideburns and whiskers – a huge departure from the longer, over-the-ear style with a high front wave and the smoothly shaven face of the 1850’s.

I’ve spent so much time being fascinated by the details found in the photograph – from the obvious (that carpet!), to the not-so obvious (is that a pelisse or a paletot?), that even if there is no family connection, I still have a piece of history that has given me a lot of enjoyment.  I adore the nearly matching plaid fabrics that two of the young women are wearing, and the older gent with the far-seeing eyes blows me away.

And the poses; one man’s hand placed on a woman’s shoulder, another woman has her hand on a chair back, the two women in the back row turned slightly inward, one posed in 3/4 profile, and the favorite; the young woman seated in front – yes, the one who is wearing the jacket – fingertips resting on her face, and lounging with an elbow braced on the central figure’s knee.  All of this seems to suggest the idea of a casual family group, but I don’t see any similarities in the faces, and that leaves me firmly in the camp that says this is a group of coworkers (note the bands worn on the ring fingers of the two women in plaid – they weren’t students).

But… there is one young woman, center row left, whose features bear a certain family resemblance, and teaching as a vocation keeps popping up in the Saucier family – could we be connected to one of the people in this photo, after all?

The Saucier Family: One Last Word

The Saucier Family circa 1900

Top Row: Wayne, Gertie, Hattie, Lulu, Clara, Flo, JoJo, Jim

Middle Row: Stumie, Eugene Saucier, Louise Saucier, Ben

Front Row: Gene, Ethel, Mabel, Cack

It’s been over a year now since I posted a call for help on the photograph of the Saucier Family, and at last I feel that I can put a “period” to this topic.  My thanks go out to everyone who’s contributed gentle advice, corrections, family stories and anecdotes in the process of sorting out the facts.  Thanks specifically to generous cousins of the Cowan, Howell, Tappel, Fanconi, Saucier, Thomas, Cotrufo and Goodin variety, we have photos of each of the children later in life.  Some you’ve certainly seen before, but there are a few that may be a surprise.  There is one photo that I’ve cropped out of a group shot for lack of anything better, but over on the sidebar you’ll find a gallery where you can see the original photo prior to my snip-snip with digital scissors.

I’ve put the photos in the same order as they appear in the photo above, not in order of their ages.

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Regarding Stories of the Saucier Family by Louise T. Saucier

Louise T Saucier

Louise Theresa Saucier

I’ve been having the most wonderful ongoing conversation with Claire Saucier, who stepped forward a few weeks ago and generously shared information she received from her aunt, Louise Theresa Saucier (1916-2012).  Louise Saucier was not only the daughter of Anthony Wayne Saucier (1885-1926), but she was a family historian.  Louise faithfully recorded both the hard data and the family stories we’ve heard since we were children… plus a few more items to be treasured.

Anthony Wayne and Charley Saucier, Washington, Missouri 1923

Anthony Wayne and Charley Saucier

Claire has gathered and organized this information into a book titled: Stories of the Saucier Family by Louise T. Saucier.  How many times have I read it cover to cover, or referenced back to a particular photo or piece of information?  Couldn’t begin to say, but I will say that the book is a delight mainly because much of the focus is on the day to day life of Wayne and Theresa (Walz) Saucier; and their three children, Louise, Charley and Bill.

I’ve been given permission to include a few photos from Claire’s book.  The first is the photo at the top: Louise costumed for either a high school or college production (both of which are mentioned in the book).  The second photo is of Uncle Wayne and his son, Charley Saucier, taken at Washington, Missouri in 1923.  I’ve also added several photos to the new photo gallery located on the sidebar (as if you hadn’t noticed it already), two of which are photographs of Aunt Clara and a more recent photo of Louise.

As a result of this new info, I’m going to reopen the topic of the key for the Saucier Family photograph.  Those lucky enough to have corresponded with Louise will recognize the writing.

Saucier Family Photo Key by Louise T. Saucier: courtesy of Claire Saucier

Saucier Family Photo Key by Louise T. Saucier: courtesy of Claire Saucier

 

The Saucier Family

The Saucier Family

Another cousin and I were discussing the family photo only yesterday, and my conclusion was this: in my experience, a family portrait taken around the beginning of the 20th century was a very big deal.  Not only was every family member included, but also at times, horses and buggies, cats and dogs, prized furniture and sometimes even a quilt or two.  Louise’s key makes so much sense to me, not only because she was Uncle Wayne’s daughter (and in Claire’s words, a daddy’s girl), but also because she grew up in close association with her aunts and uncles.

John Wayne Always Got The Best One-Liners

It seems forever since I did anything besides paddle around in the deep end of my genealogy pool.  Some people may think that I’m ruthlessly single-minded at times, and that could be a good thing if we were faced with something along the lines of a zombie apocalypse.  But as of this moment in time, in my particular version of reality, that’s not even a blip on the radar.  I do try to journal about things that interest me, and hopefully others as well, but lately I’ve been fully immersed in the whole Ghosts of Family Past thing – fairly heady stuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving along… Stitchin’ Witches Mystery Quilt-Along is complete and I hope she leads another one soon.  The big reveal with assembly and border instructions hit my inbox last month, so I shifted into D (after spending a couple of late winter months in N).  I was already two blocks behind in the project – plus, I’d never gotten around to finishing the signature block.  For those that are interested in how I completed the siggy block, I let my heart make the decision.  I embroidered it by hand, and I’m mightily glad that I did.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Quilt The Stitching Witches Quilt AlongAs for borders… since I was working strictly out of my scrap bin I didn’t have the option of a whole cloth border. So I asked myself what kind of pieced border could I make for a quilt made almost entirely of half-square triangles.  The answer was obvious – more half-square triangles, of course.  I had a few ‘reject’ HSTs left over, and with the aid of the Magic 8 method, the remaining 240-plus went quickly.  I found an alternate method – after the fact, of course – to make 4 perfect HSTs at a time in a Craftsy video.

The pattern for this quilt, minus the HST borders, is Kaye England’s Civil War Legacy.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the way the quilt top turned out, especially since I managed to hold myself to the absolute bare minimum as far as tweaking or modifying blocks.  That’s a very hard impulse for me to control, and in most cases I never-ever try to rein in those “how would it look if” thoughts that go blasting through my brain.  For this one, single, quilt, I managed to follow most of the instructions (yay!).

Finished dimensions: app. 60″ x 78″ (152cm x 198cm).

civilwarlegacy

 

Hot Diggity, Dog Ziggity!

Sometimes I wonder about myself.  Sometimes it seems like I’m more than just a little slow.

A few weeks ago Tom Saucier sent me the cabinet card of Pelagie Roussin Saucier.  Attached to his email, Tom included a bonus, a photograph of a lovely but unknown woman.  I’ve marveled over the details in the portrait, the silk dress, ear-bobs, wedding ring, and brooch; this well-dressed woman was posed with her right hand resting gracefully on a book that perches on a side table draped with a piece of tapestry.

zoeBut the woman’s name written at the bottom… I read it as Mrs. Zoeda Beaumer or perhaps Beaumen.  I’ve been through my files over and over again, confirming what I already knew – there is no Zoeda in my family tree.

My aha! moment came this morning while staring at the writing – it’s not a “D”, it’s an “L”.  Not Zoeda… Zoe La.  Seriously.  Imagine an old Disney animation, maybe something along the lines of Snow White… the clouds parted, the sun beamed forth, the air was filled with trilling and tweeting birds – all of that happening around me when I realized who the lovely woman was.

Mrs. Zoe La Beaume, wife of George Hammond La Beaume, born Zoe Pelagie Saucier in 1839.  Daughter of Eugene Frederick and Pelagie Saucier, older sister of Eugene Felix Saucier, my great-grandfather… which makes her my very own great-grandaunt.

I recalled that there was a La Beaume mentioned in the 1943 Roussin Roundup Bulletin, where Madeline Roussin writes of Zoe (La Beaume) Steffen, whose sons Jack and Paul were serving in the armed forces during WWII.  Zoe Clotilda Steffen was Zoe Pelagie La Beaume’s daughter.

Roussin Roundup FragmentAnd just for grins, I confirmed the link again in a letter from Louise T. Saucier to Glen Cowan.

I think that I’ll need to start my own gallery soon, a collection of family photos seen at-a-glance.  For now, there’s Kith & Kin, where I’ve begun indexing links to specific posts containing family photos.

Toodles for now… I’m off to work on the next mystery.

Winter, Say Sayonara… Please

My apologies for the month-long silence.  So what exactly have I been doing?  During my absence I’ve been mostly holding a lot of incredibly boring and one-sided conversations with myself and sleeping through an amazing number of movies.

Con·va·lesce: to become healthy and strong again slowly over time after illness, weakness, or injury.

One quick snip during an emergency surgery rid me of a bothersome appendage, my appendix. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to peruse the statistics that I didn’t fit neatly into – appendicitis can affect anyone, but it most often occurs between the ages of 10 and 30 years of age.  My best guess is that I’m simply a late bloomer in the extreme.

I was happy-happy when I was released to go home – in my opinion, a hospital is no place for a sick person.  What with the constant chuffing of the IV machine, and the liberal visitation policy (the woman in the next room, 92 years young and quite hard of hearing, still had visitors at 11pm), and the inflating of the automatic blood pressure cuff every five minutes, and the certified nurse’s assistant waking me up at 2am to ask if I wanted to get up and brush my teeth (seriously?), or to record my vitals, and the quick bursts of cackling from the night nurses who were apparently holding a hen party in the hall just down from my room… I couldn’t get home quickly enough.

Oh, I’ll just fess up and admit that I’m probably not an easy patient – at least not until I’m told that I can go home – then it’s smiles for everyone.

Washington's Sidewalk Kaye Egland Civil War Legacy Stitchin' Witches Quilt AlongFeeling much better, thanks, but I find that I now have a whole lot of catching up to do.  As of this morning, I was officially two months behind on Stitchin’ Witches Mystery Quilt Along.  I’ve not done the February segment yet, but I did get the March segment, Washington’s Sidewalk, knocked out – it really was a lot of fun to plan and piece.

North Star Sawtooth Kaye EnglandHere’s my January segment, a sawtooth North Star.  So glad that the instructions for this block arrived before the February interruption.  I’m still waiting for my quilting mojo to return, and I don’t think that I could have done justice to all of those points just yet.  We’re getting so close to a finish, and I’m very excited to see how this mystery quilt will come together.

Barbara Brackman’s newest Civil War quilt along, Threads of Memory, began in late January.  The blocks for this project are 12 inches finished, and when that information was released the crazy woman decided to do two versions, sadly neither is in Civil War reproduction fabrics.  Okay, so I’m more contrary than crazy.

portsmouth star Barbara Brackman Threads of MemoryLike a lot of quilters, I’ve got a scrap bin that’s turned into a bit of a beast.  As a matter of fact, it’s grown so much that it’s overflowed onto what I now term “the scrap table”.  Something needed to be done, and done quickly, so I shopped my scraps and came up with a nice assortment of appropriate bits in red, black and ivory/cream.  Wish me luck on my quest to vanquish the scrap monster, but please note that I never-ever said that I wouldn’t purchase new fabrics while I was trying to reduce the pile o’scraps.

portsmouth star Barbara Brackman Threads of Memory Perhaps I was needing relief from a seemingly never ending winter when I spied the fabric line, Honeysweet by Fig Tree Quilts.  It is so outside of my comfort zone, but I was absolutely smitten from the first moment I saw it.  Whatever the reason, I’m now the proud owner of a layer cake plus some yardage of my favorite prints, and I have the next ten months to make the fabrics work in my world.

That’s it folks, I’m mostly caught up except for a mountain of email.  Toodles for today… this crazy woman is signing off.