Thursday, March 24, 2011


I am so jealous!  My brother-in-law, Rick Lee, has this great family wheel.  It traces his family back to the 1500's in England.  His 12th great grandfather, Sir James Prescott, was a Knight in Standish, England.  He lived from about 1510 to 1583.  It's pretty well detailed, some are mising dates, but the mother's maiden names are there, it's pretty complete.  He had it copied a few months back so that I could add his family to our tree, but I just got around to really looking at it.

This is the crest that is drawn on the wheel, I found a digital version online...looks a lot like this, a little less detailed.

Sir James' Great Grandson, John Prescott (who was a founder of New England) of Massachusetts had "one son was Jonas P (b 1648) whose son was Benj P who was the father of Col. Wm Prescott (b Feb 20 1726 - d 1795) who commanded at the battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolution of 1776   Wm H Prescott  His Historian was his grandson"

And so, even though it's not my direct family, I will share some other information that I have found in future posts.  It's fascinating!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 8: Diary or Journal

Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

I don't have a diary, but I do have scrapbooks from both of my grandmothers.  They just collected some special newspaper clippings and things like that.  My Granny Smyczynski had a lot of cards and cute little notes from Grandpop.  Also some clippings from my mom's school papers and her brother, Lenny's military and work achievements.  Then later stuff from and about my siblings and I.  Grandmom Robinson had a lot of girl scout items, some work papers and military papers for my Grandfather and my Uncles.

This is from Granny's Book:

This is a clipping from the newsletter for my mother's high school, Nazareth Academy.  They were very proud of her achievements.

This is from Grandmom Robinson's Book:
This is a War Service Certificate for my Grandfather, Samuel Raynor Robinson.  He served in WWI, from 1917 - 1919 in the Navy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 7: The Best Potato Salad you've ever had!

Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

This is a tough one to share, but I'll do it.  My mother made, by far, THE BEST Potato Salad...EVER!  My mother taught me how to make it.  There are no precise measurements.  There is a lot of "feeling" and taste to it.  But it's worth the work!  It was originally my Grandmom Robinson's recipe and my Mom learned how to make it from her. 

5 lbs Red Potatoes (try to get them all about the same size)
A dozen eggs
1 onion
3-4 Stalks of celery
a little more than half a jar of regular Hellmans Mayonaise
Salt and Pepper to taste.
a little Milk (can use 2%)
  1. Boil the potatoes until a fork easily pierces them, but doesn't break them apart.  Usually at least 20 minutes.  Remove them from the pot one at a time as they are done.
  2. Hard boil the eggs.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut them into slightly larger then bite size pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Use an egg slicer in 2 directions on 10 of the eggs, select 2 pretty ones to set aside.
  5. Add half a jar of mayo and a little milk.
  6. Chop the onion and celery (I use the cuisinart like my mom did, she didn't like large pieces in there).  Add them to the pot.
  7. Mix gently, trying to keep the mixing to a minumum so that the potatoes don't mash.
  8. Add salt and pepper.  I usually do a couple palm fulls of salt and 1ish of pepper.
  9. Add extra mayo if needed, or just milk if it seems too thick.
  10. If you make it the day before, which I recommend, since it takes a couple hours to complete, you can add a little mayo and milk to loosen it up when you are ready to serve.
  11. Sprinkle it with paprika, slice the remained eggs with the slicer and lay them decoratively on top!
  12. YUM!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 6: Heirloom, Granny's Ring

Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

I have inherited many beautiful things from my mother.  When she and my father moved, right after I got married, she passed along quite a few pieces of her furniture.  I have her very old china cabinet and buffet in my dining room.  I believe she acquired them when they had their vacation home in Ventnor, NJ.  I also have a lovely set of Amber Patrician Depression glass that she collected over the years.  I have enough to serve about 20 people!

However, when I first read this prompt, I immediately thought of my Granny's beautiful sapphire and diamond ring that my mother gave to me on my wedding day.  I knew that it was going to be mine.  My sister got Granny's engagement ring on her wedding day and my mom told me I would get the anniversary ring.  I absolutely love it.  I was 30 when I was married and I remember having asked her, years before, "What if I never get married, then when do I get the ring?"  It's a good thing Chris wanted to marry me, because the answer was that I wouldn't get it! 

The photo doesn't do it justice, but that's it.  My grandfather, Zigmunt, gave it to my Granny, Helen, on their first anniversary.  I get the impression that he was a very sweet and sentimental man.  My Mother had a framed hanky in her bedroom that on which he had written a cute poem for my Granny.  Plus, I've come across many other sweet little notes and cards from him.  So, this ring was purchased in about 1933.  I really need to take it to the jewelers to have the shank strengthened, it's very thin. So, I don't wear it a whole lot, just on special occasions.  But, I absolutely adore it!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 5: Meeting

How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

Raynor Elmer Robinson meets Constance Helena Smyczynska

I will never forget a conversation that I had with my father shortly after my mother passed away.  We were going through old photo albums as I was putting together a slideshow to play at the viewing.  He and my mother met in the mid 50s.  He said he walked into my grandparents (mom's parents) candy store. There was a girl playing pinball.  She was pretty and she could play pinball better than most guys.  He said "She was the girl for me."  That girl was my mother.

Raynor Robinson and Constance Smyczynski

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 4: Marriage

Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

For the marriage installment, I'll be featuring my Great Grandmother, Antonina Nowak Smyczynski, 1878 - 1965.  In the pictures that I've seen of her, she seems like a happy woman.  My dad would have known her, I'll have to ask him about her. 
This is the Marriage Certificate of Peter (Piotr) Smyczynski and Anna (Antonina or Antoinette) Nowak.  These were my mother's grandparents on her father's side.  They were married in Philadelphia, PA on August 4th, 1895.  She had only been in this country for 5 years when she married Peter.  They went on to have 6 children, one of whom was my grandfather, Zigmunt, or James, or Sigmund, or Sonny Boy.  These people went by many names.  I had always been under the impression that my Polish family would be easy to research, since their names were pretty unique as compared to the Robinsons.  Boy was I wrong, their names got butchered over and over.  In the end, the Smyczynskis used the name Smith to fit in and get work.  I am lucky that my Mom had saved a lot of this stuff.  The original is falling apart, since it's been folded for about 115 years.

Anna and Peter's Wedding Picture, 1895

Peter and Anna in 1932 with my Grandfather, James (or Sigmund or Zigmunt).

Anna, circa 1958, at my Mom's bridal shower.
She is about 80 years old here.

Anna, circa 1959, at my Mom's baby shower.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 3: What's in a name?

Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

I was not named for any of my ancestors.  I was named after Rebecca in Vanity Fair.  Yes, Becky Sharp, the slightly evil one!  My mom was reading it while she was pregnant and just decided she liked it.  My siblings didn't make fun of it, so it worked.  Her first pick was Priscilla, but my brother began referring to me as Prissy.  Then she liked Melissa, but he morphed Prissy into Pissy Missy, so Rebecca it was!  The worst that I ever got from my brother was Reba Reba, ondole...and I was OK with that!  So that's the story with my name.

As far as interesting female names, there are a few.  Our family has a little tradition of female naming.  It's the Maes and Raes.  My sister is Donna Rae, that is her first name, Rae is not her middle name.  My nieces are Samantha Rae and Julia Mae.  My grandmother was Lettie Mae as was her mother.  One of my favorite names is Julianna, she was my Mom's grandmom.  And on my husband's side there are some beautiful Italian names, like Splendora, Angelina, Maria Christina and Michelina.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 2: Photo

This is "Mom Kuster" along with my Aunt Norma and Uncle Sam.  Her name was Ida Alice Mason Robinson Kuster.  She was my Great Grandmother.  My Father's Father's Mother.  This was taken at the house that my Grandfather, Samuel Raynor Robinson built in Fox Chase. She is one of my favorites!  PS - The names were written on by my late Mommy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fearless Females: Day 1: Favorite Female Ancestor

Once again, in honor of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor?

I think it's safe to say that I have several favorites.  But, for today, I'll mention the one I've been researching this week.  (She's actually my husband's ancestor.) 

Angelina Marrone Parlante was my hubby's Great Grandmother.  She was his Mom's Mom's Mom!  I am actually working on a mini-bio for her already. 
From what I've been told, she was a lovely woman.  Here are a few quick facts:
  • She was the daughter of Italian immigrant parents. 
  • She lived in South Philadelphia. 
  • She was the oldest of 7 siblings. 
  • She married Rocco Parlante, who was born in Italy. 
  • They had six children. 
  • She lived from about 1888 until July 27th, 1961
For more on Angie, look for her bio later this month!