What's in a Name?

This post represents the triumph of persistence over relevance.  Our family tree has been pretty much fleshed out to 5 generations for most of its branches.  Beyond that, well, it's all gravy and not very important, except to the extent that it fortifies or debunks a family legend.  So, for example, my 15-year search to determine whether our Andrews branch does indeed go back to the Mayflower:   As I noted in a previous post, the legend that we do go back that far was partly verified.  In the end, it depends on how you define "Mayflower."  We put that baby to rest a year or so ago.  Our Andrews line would make us legit in the eyes of the current arbiters of good taste in immigrants these days. (ha ha)

But, of course, we also must deal with those swarthy middle-eastern genes, whose toils and troubles of a lifetime have made us acutely aware of what coming to America has meant not only for personal survival, but also for the need to adapt to a harsh economic reality in the "welcoming" arms of the new country.  We are glad for this injection of fresh immigrant genes and proud to be descendents of our wiley Great Grandma Bakalian, who managed to fool the Turkish soldiers about her Armenian identity and thus saved our great uncles and aunts from the genocide.

One last geneological nut has remained uncracked -- until yesterday!  Our "Scotch-Irish"  Lovell roots.  By all family accounts, Grandpa (JF) Lovell was a man to be reckoned with.  A mover and shaker, who started out the son of shop keepers in Springfield Mass, became a physician and radiologist, founded a hospital in NJ and served as its chief of staff for most of his career.  He served as Mayor of Irvington NJ, in the late 1920's, only to be booted out of office in 1932 for the obvious reason that he was a Republican in the age of Roosevelt.

Now, Doc Lovell was not very welcoming to the swarthy immigrant girl when his only son met her at the age of 11.  He made life difficult for Alice, who nevertheless went on to snag the WASPY boy down the street.

Doc Lovell's son, Bill, was an honest soul who shared what he knew of his family tree with us mongrels.  His mother's side -- the Shutes -- was pure...puritan.  Massachusetts back to Salem, 1629.  (See earlier post).  His father's side -- the Lovells -- was half French Canadian (Grandma Rosalie) and half Scotch-Irish.  So, we grew up thinking of ourselves as mostly British on that side, with a smidgen of French Canadian.

Bill was careful to describe to us the deep discrimination facing the French Canadians who migrated down from Quebec in the 1800's to work in the factories of Massachusetts.  He explained to us children that they were called "Canucks", a derogatory word akin to the racial/ethnic slurs of present day.   Bill knew that his grandma Rosalie was French Canadian.  Though she died when he was 11, he loved her greatly and described her as a feisty matriarch who pushed her husband (FH Lovell) to become a doctor.  Because of his admiration for his Grandma, and his deep love of his Grandpa (FH) Lovell, who married her, I cannot imagine that Bill knew what I am about to reveal when he presented  his ancestral background as largely (3/4) British, with a smidgen (1/4) French Canadian.

Now, here is the October surprise:  (I'm writing this in October.)  It turns out that WE ARE NOT LOVELLS.. we are LeVeille's.  FH Lovell was NOT the son of Scotch-Irish descendents, but the son of 100% blue-blooded French Canadians.  Yea!  He (they) may have tried to hide it -- to pass as British -- but Canucks we are, and Canucks we proudly be!

Here is how I found out.  As a member of the  New England Historical Geneological Society in Boston, I searched their online records in vain for years to find the birth records of Doc Lovell's father, FH Lovell.  Passports and other family records, as well as Bill's own testimony, had him born in Salem Mass on May 23, 1860.  I never found any records in Massachusetts vital statistics;  not for Salem or any other town in Mass.  A 1900 US Census showed him living with his family (Rosalie, sons John and William) in Springfield, Mass.  But ALSO, with his mother, Lesbille. (A crossed out entry was a tell-tale sign of tall tale.) Here it is, the 1900 US Census entry.  Notice the name, NOT Lovell, but





The Travels of Wedding China

During their married life, our parents Alice and Bill did not do much travelling together outside of the USA. They went to Europe once, late in their life.  That's it.
But, their wedding china has made up for it.


They were married in the Spring of 1940.  They eloped to Virginia, so there was not a big wedding with registries for china and the like.  Yet, somehow they ended up with a complete set of a  pattern by the Japanese "made-for-export" company "Renwick".  It looked sort of Bavarian, but with that Japanese Satsuma-like red color that made it lively and friendly.


We lived with it throughout our childhoods and beyond.  In fact, it is the only "good china" that Alice and Bill ever had.  Over the years, pieces died and went to heaven, so it was harder and harder to set a good table with them.  But the bulk of the set stayed nice and stationary in New Jersey.
When the parents passed away, we had to decide what to do with the remains of the set.  Nobody wanted the whole thing.  We kept it in various garages for a few years, and finally, as one of us was about to downsize and leave NJ, she convinced me to store it in my basement.  So, about 70 years after its arrival in NJ from Japan, the China set found its way to the state of Maryland.

But it was abused in Maryland:  kept in the dark inside a cardboard  box, except for one serving piece (shown here) that I still have as a memento.
About 3 years ago it was my turn to clean out my  basement. As I was preparing to load the box into the car for its final trip to Goodwill, our friend Felicite took a look and admired it.  Felicite IS a world traveler, having begun life in Burundi, received her higher education in Montreal, and landed  in Washington in 2008 with husband and kids.  Because she liked it, I offered it.  She took it, and I felt good.  She told me she uses it for entertaining and that it looks great on her table.

The lucky transfer to the home of world travelers has given a new life to this now almost antique set.  For, early this year Felicite's husband was transferred to the Democratic Republic of Congo where he is responsible for a World Bank program on electrification.  They took it along with them.

So, our Japanese Renwick china is now experiencing life in Africa, with African cuisine piled on to keep Graciella and Noah well fed and happy.  The family's house is close to the Congo River.so Our little Japanese china set is having an adventure!

Here it is on their table, all ready for an African feast.  And there is Noah, contemplating the Congo River from a spot near their home in Kinshasa, the capital city. 



I hope Felicite and the family comes home soon -- there are still years to go --because that serving dish is feeling deprived of adventure.