Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google Your Way to a Quilt


Google your way to a Quilt

Sometimes after I’ve tried the library, the archives, ancestry.com and NEHGS- I next resort to finding genealogy information by just Googling names to see what comes up. Now, with the addition of Google Books, I’m often surprised at what happens. And sometimes names that didn’t draw any hits six months ago suddenly have interesting results. This is what happened to me last week.

My Munroe lineage was one of the first lines I ever worked on, and it was easy to do when I found the book “The History and Genealogy of the Lexington, Massachusetts Munroes” by Richard S. Munroe. I was only sixteen years old when I started researching my own genealogy, with a night school class under my belt and the American Antiquarian Society within bicycle riding distance of my house in Holden, Massachusetts. I used this book to fill out the obligatory family tree chart, but for thirty years I’ve been filling in the missing stories.

The name I was interested in researching was Luther Simonds Munroe. His father had fought in the American Revolution, and his great, great grandfather had been a prisoner of war under Cromwell in Puritan England, and he had been sentenced to indentured servitude in New England. There were plenty of interesting Munroes, and fascinating stories, but Luther Simonds Munroe had a big blank next to his name in the book. I knew the basics: he died of diabetes at age 46 in 1851; he was listed as a church sexton on his death record; His children were in the Danvers and Salem vital records. Period.

There are three Luther Simonds Munroes in the Massachusetts Vital Records: 1). The sexton Luther Simonds Munroe, 2.) his son, Luther Simonds Munroe, Jr. and 3.) a nephew with the same name. I couldn’t find anything interesting about any of these Luthers. Suddenly, when Googling the name, there were several hits, and all pointed to an exhibit at the Lowell Quilt Museum in 2008. Imagine that, just down the road from here in Londonderry, New Hampshire!

The Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project was established in 1994, and over time is has recorded 6,000 pre-1950 quilts from this state. A book, “Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth” edited by Lynne Z. Bassett and others documents the stories of 112 of the most historic quilts, with beautiful photography and detailed histories. One of these featured quilts was sewn by Emily (Wiley) Munroe, the wife of the nephew named Luther Simonds Munroe of Lynnfield, Massachusetts.

Emily Munroe’s quilt was sewn sometime in the civil war era. It is made of 54 woolen blocks from the simple farming clothing of the family. Each block shows country designs of flowers, trees, horses and a central block with a house scene, complete with a dog and horse. The colors are mostly earth tones, brightened up with touches of red wood cloth. Emily passed the quilt down in her own family, and through descendants, until it was ultimately donated to the Lowell Quilt Museum. It is a simple, yet elegant design, and somehow it made its way into the commemorative book. The book contained the story of Emily, her family, the quilt’s provenance and how it was donated.

Well, I was so excited to find this on Google; I immediately emailed the curator at the Quilt Museum. Connie Colom Barlow, the executive Director emailed me back and explained that the exhibit was over, and the quilt was put into permanent storage in the collections area. However, we were welcome to contact the curatorial assistant to find a mutually agreeable time for an appointment to see the quilt up close and personal!

Right now, the plan is for all the cousins, aunties, daughters and me to get together for a family field trip to see the “Munroe Quilt.” We are still in the middle of emailing a flurry of messages back and forth, from Maine to Rhode Island, to find a time. After our quilt field trip, I’ll blog another story, and include some more photos of our generation with the quilt. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, I’m still searching for more about Luther Simonds Munroe, 1805 – 1851, Danvers.

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The Munroe family Tree:

Gen. 1: William Munroe, born about 1625 in Scotland, died on 27 January 1717/18 in Lexington; married about 1665 to Martha George, daughter of John George and Elizabeth, born about 1636 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, died about 1672 in Lexington. William was married three times and had a total of fourteen children.

Gen 2: George Munroe, born about 1672 in Lexington, died on 17 January 1746/7 in Lexington; married to Sarah Mooer, daughter of Jonathan Mooers and Constance Langthorne, born about 1677 in Newbury, died on 4 December 1752 in Lexington. Nine children.

Gen. 3: Andrew Munroe, born about 4 June 1718 in Lexington, died on 16 September 1766 in Lexington; married on 26 May 1763 to Lucy Mixer, daughter of Joseph Mixer and Mary Ball, born on 21 November 1727 in Shrewsbury, died on 3 September 1783 in Woburn (now Burlington, Massachusetts.) Lucy remarried on 6 December 1774 in Woburn to Caleb Simonds as his second wife- he was married three times.

Gen. 4: Andrew Munroe, born on 31 March 1764 in Lexington, died on 7 August 1836 in Danvers; married to Ruth Simonds, daughter of Caleb Simonds and Susannah Simonds, born on 13 April 1763 in Woburn, died on 29 January 1840. Eleven children, including the Luther Simonds Munroe who is my ancestor, and Uriah, his brother, see below. Andrew and Ruth were step siblings (see mother Lucy’s remarriage above)

Gen 5: Uriah Munroe, born 27 Oct 1793 in Danvers, died 12 Mar 1841 in Lynnfield; married on 20 October 1819 in Danvers to Esther Eleanor Twiss, daughter of Jonathan Twiss and Esther Bruce, born on 16 July 1803 in Danvers. Three children.

Gen 6: Luther Simonds Munroe, born on 2 May 1823 in Danvers, died 29 Jan 1885 in Lynnfield; married on 10 April 1851 in Boston to Emily Louise Wiley, daughter of Robert Wiley and Rosetta Benton of England, born 25 August 1832 in Boston, Massachusetts, died 16 August 1894 in Lynnfield. Seven children, including Harry Wingate Munroe, born on 20 May 1859, who inherited the quilt.

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See also:

www.massquilts.org/MassQuilts_Book - for more information on the Book project, and a link to the chapter with the story and photographs of the Munroe Quilt

www.nequiltmuseum.org - the webpage for the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell

http://books.google.com - the search engine that helped me find the quilt and story
“History and Genealogy of the Lexington, Massachusetts Munroes” by Richard S. Munroe, 1966

“Munro: Sketch of the Munro Clan; Also of William Munro who, Deported from Scotland, Settled in Lexington, Massachusetts, and some of his Posterity” by J. P. Munro, 1900, out of print, yet available in a custom bound photoduplicate of the original on acid free paper through the bookstore at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

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Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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