Just When I was Thinking that My Genealogy was Getting a Little Ho-Hum…

…what do I discover?

That my 7th great-grandmother, Sarah Hood Bassett, was accused, convicted, imprisoned, and eventually released in the hysteria that was the Salem witch trials.

I had seen her name in some family papers several times, but because of how the information about was worded, I made the (faulty) assumption that she was an in-law, cousin, or another very distant relative.

But, no. Direct ancestor. When the penny finally dropped, I was stunned, to the say the least. The witch trials had been an interesting, if sad, bit of ancient history to me. But, now… this was my family.

This is what genealogy does: makes distant history suddenly very real and very personal.

Photo Credit:Sanford History Education Group

Here are the generations between Sarah and me:

Sarah Hood Bassett, born 1657, died 1721

Her daughter, Ruth Bassett Allen, born 1690, died 1756

Her daughter, Ruth Allen Breed, born 1724, died 1811

Her son, Abraham Breed, born 1752, died 1831

His daughter, Eunice Breed Thompson, born 1788, died 1869

Her son, William Dimond Thompson, Jr., born 1823, died 1911

His daughter, Lydia Ann Thompson Keene, born 1850, died 1938

Her son, Charles Lawrence Keene, Sr., (the mariner) born 1883, died 1959

His son, Charles Lawrence Keene, Jr., born 1919, died 1996

…and then me.

When Sarah was 35, and the mother of six children, she was brought from Lynn for trial in Salem May 23, 1692. A servant girl in her brother-in-law’s household had accused her of giving her an “ointment.” She was immediately convicted and sent to the Boston jail, taking with her her little 2-year old, Ruth.

She was jailed with her brother-in-law, Richard Proctor, and his wife, Elizabeth, who were both sentenced to hang. Both Elizabeth and Sarah were pregnant. Richard was sent to his death in August, but Elizabeth’s sentence was postponed until after her baby was born.

However, during Sarah’s 7-month imprisonment, the hysteria calmed down and cooler heads began to prevail. Sarah was released December 3, 1692, and her son, Joseph, was born two weeks later. She had a daughter in August 1695 and named her Deliverance. Appropriate, I think.

Sarah was later paid £9 in recompense.


Salem Village Witchcraft Victim’s Memorial, Danvers, Mass, 2013. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks

My Grandfather, the Mariner: Part 3

If you remember, I have been sharing with you the items that my cousin Beth had sent me, items from our common grandfather’s time as a ship’s cook.

Today, I have two menus from 1935, while Grandpie was working on the Matson S.S. Malolo.

From Tuesday, July 9, 1935, en route to Honolulu:



Hummm… Tonight, I think I’ll have the Fresh Lobster Cocktail, Fried Monterey Bay Abolone Steak, and Butter Cream Slices for dessert.

From the voyage en route to San Francisco, Saturday June 15, 1935:


Again, I am amazed at the amount and the variety of the foods offered: fresh Colombia salmon, “Chop Suey sundae” (raisins, dates, vanilla ice cream, flaked coconut, and chow mein noodles),  Hawaiian poi, casaba melon, caviar, and Newfehatel cheese.

I can imagine that Grandpie and the crew ate very well!

I have to imagine, as Grandpie passed away from cancer when I was only six months old. I wish I had known him, but I like to think that his two sons, my dad, Charles Jr., and my dad’s brother, my Uncle George, are something like him. If so, he was a bit of a scamp with a twinkle in his eye.

But, there is a bit of a family mystery around him, too. But, more about that next time.


My Grandfather, the Mariner: Part 2

As far as I can tell, my grandfather, Charles L. Keene, Sr., began as a chef/steward with the Matson Line sometime in the 1930s.

Among my files, I have a newspaper clipping from a distant cousin’s scrapbook of Charles Sr. at work. From the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wednesday, May 11, 1938, aboard the Matson SS Manulani:

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If you give just a cursory reading of the headline, you might have gotten the impression that Charles Sr. was a former chef to the King of England. But, no. Charles was just cooking the menu that was planned by the chef to royalty. I think this is where the family legend that Charles Sr. was a chef to the royal family began.

In the bundle of ephemera sent to me by my cousin, Beth, were several menus from his days at sea.

This is the luncheon menu from the Matson SS Lurline, for Wednesday, May 27, 1936:



I am impressed with the variety of items available for lunch! I can’t imagine that I’d want to order sardines in oil, herring salad, or pickled pigs’ feet, but I am happy knowing that they are available should I get a hankering.

The front of the dinner menu the same day:


The inside left:



The inside right:



Not as much variety as there was for lunch, but it all sounds delicious.

The Roman Punch intrigued me, so I did a Google search. This is a quick list of the ingredients: Champagne, dark rum, triple sec, egg, sugar, orange juice and lemon juice. Yum!

Below is the luncheon menu for Saturday, May 30, 1936. Again, I am impressed with the variety of dishes available.


Maybe I’d start with the Chilled Watermelon, followed by the Lamb Curry and Rice, Bombay Style, for my main course. And, definitely, the Red Cherry Pie for dessert.


‘Til next time!

My Grandfather, the Mariner: Part 1

If you remember from my last post, my cousin Beth has sent me some fun family ephemera. (Just try to say that three times fast!) In addition to my parents’ wedding notice, she also sent me several menus and other items from our grandfather’s days as a ship’s chef.

Charles Lawrence Keene, Sr., my dad’s dad, began his working life as a chef in hotels. He sent postcards and letters back to his parents in Massachusetts from all over the United States, as he traveled to where ever he could find work. Eventually, he was hired as a chef for the Matson Line, working aboard both passenger liners and cargo vessels. From what I have found, it seems that most of his voyages were between the West Coast and the Territory of Hawaii.

During World War II, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Merchant Marine. During the war, he sailed to Europe at least once, as we have a Christmas card sent to my grandmother from Palermo in 1943.


The photo above is of my father, Charles Jr., and his father, Charles Sr., both in their wartime uniforms, taken about 1944. From his WWII registration card, Charles Sr.’s age at enlistment was 59.

This was actually my father’s second enlistment, the first being in 1938, as a young single man. He had sailed to the Territory of Hawaii, where his short stature wasn’t a deterrent to his enlistment, as it was on the mainland.

Dad was stationed at Schofield Barracks, and my grandfather would often meet up with him when his ship was in port. One of the items Beth sent me was a menu from The Post Exchange at Schofield. I imagine that they walked over to the Exchange, ordered a nice sandwich, and caught up on the news.

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I can also easily imagine my dad enjoying either a roast beef or liverwurst sandwich, followed by a scoop of ice cream, and washed down with a cup of strong black coffee, all for about .30!

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And, then my grandfather would return to his ship and sail back across the Pacific to California.

I have a few menus from those voyages, but I will save them for my next post.

“Til then…

My Parents’ Wedding Notice

A few days ago, I got a lovely little gift in the mail from my cousin, Beth.

Our fathers were brothers, and Beth is just a year older than I am. We grew up seeing each other several times a year, and our parents would always compare our height and weight.

I hated that.

These past few years, we’ve been able to see each other a little more often, and we’re the ones comparing now! But, it’s cholesterol levels and hot flash severity.

Beth and her sister, Sue, are beginning to help my aunt and uncle to sort through their things. And, Beth found a few items that she thought I’d like to have. And, she was right.

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This is the newspaper account of my parents’ wedding from 1941, in the East Los Angeles Gazette. I learned quite a few new things about them reading this.

  1. My mother wore an heirloom veil of French lace that was 136 years old. I have no idea where this is now, and I don’t remember ever hearing my mother talk about it. My hunch is that it came from my dad’s side of the family, through my French-Canadian grandmother.
  2. I didn’t know that my father’s sister, my Aunt Bea, was my mother’s maid of honor. My mom was an only child, and so had no sister who would have been an obvious choice. My dad had four sisters, and I’m so curious as to why Bea was chosen for this honor.
  3. I don’t recognize any of the names of my dad’s  attendants, except Randal Cooper. He married my dad’s sister, Virginia.
  4. I didn’t know that my mom had been a secretary for the Native Daughters of the Golden West. Her mother, my Nanna, was a member and an officer.

On the back side of this clipping is an advertisement from a local store.

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2 pounds of fig bars for 17 cents!

Ice cream for 15 cents a quart!

A pint of gin for 77 cents!

But, I’m really curious about why, oh why, would there ever be a need for 250 brewer’s yeast tablets???

Thanks, Beth!

“Pooch Finds a Home”

I’ve been thinking about, pondering, mulling over, etc., writing a new blog post. Everything but actually writing it. I was at a bit of a loss as to where to begin, as I didn’t expect to be in this place.

To be frank, my love of genealogy took a few hits over the holidays. I am still in a bit of a slump. Reassessing why I’m doing this and for whom. I think it’s beginning to feel fun again, in fits and starts, but there’s just not very much wind in my sails.

So, I think I’ll ease back into things and tell you about the story of Pooch…

A while back, my mother gave me a stack of notebook pages clipped together, with a story written in my grandmother’s hand. It was the beginnings of a children’s book about the dog that came to my mother’s family one Christmas Eve, when Mom was still a little girl.

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I thought it was pretty cute story, and I remember my Mom talking about Pooch often, so I thought it would make a fun gift for my grandchildren.

Nanna Wells didn’t finish her book, though; she only completed Chapter One and had a sentence or two of Chapter Two. What she did have, though, was enough, so I ran with it.

The work on the story was fairly straightforward. I’ve read a LOT of children’s books in my life and knew where I wanted to take the story line.

But, then things nearly came to a stand-still. It only took about five minutes to realize that I was woefully inadequate to the task of illustrating a children’s book. And, what’s a kids’ book without illustrations?

Boring, that’s what it is.

I didn’t even know what illustration style to use! Just go look at any random handful of kids’ books, just look at the illustrations, and you will quickly see exactly what I mean. There is a HUGE variety of styles of illustrations, from simple line drawings to complete landscape scenery paintings, and everything in between.

So, I did what I always do when confronted with my ignorance: I checked out a few books from the library and dove in. Chibi-style illustrations seemed the easiest style with the shortest learning curve, so that’s what I decided. After all, I wanted this book done by Christmas and didn’t have an endless amount of time to make that happen.

I drew out my little doggie poses on paper, scanned them, and then used Photoshop Elements to clean up the drawings and add watercolor effects.

Here’s the cover:


And, here’s the first page:

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And, here’s a picture of its debut:

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I think they liked it; I know I did.