Friday, July 19, 2019

Squeezed into a VW Bug! Photo Friday

In the late 1960s my Uncle Richard Wilkinson, my grandfather Donald Wilkinson, and my cousin Ricky all drove from Long Beach, California to our house in Beverly, Massachusetts in this little Volkswagen Beatle.  They were met by my grandmother, Bertha (Robert) Wilkinson, my aunt Luanne and cousin Debbie, who had flown to Boston.  Can you imagine driving all that way in a little car with luggage strapped to the roof?  What an adventure!

Here we all are in our house at 7 Dearborn Avenue in Beverly.  My uncle Richard is in the rocking chair, and that's me (with the braids) sitting on the floor.  My cousin Ricky is in the blue shirt, with his Mom, Luanne, my aunt Shirley Wilkinson, and my Mom in the nurses cap (she must have just arrived home from work at Beverly Hospital.  My Dad's head can be seen from behind in the foreground. 

Here are the three Wilkinson brothers.  They all grew up in this house at 7 Dearborn Avenue, Beverly, Massachusetts.  From left to right, Robert Munroe Wilkinson (1927 - 2005), Richard Albert Wilkinson (1932 - 2015), and my Dad, John Warren Wilkinson (1934 - 2002).  I don't have many photos of them all together since Uncle Richard lived in California. 

Thank you again, cousin Steve, for the digitized images from your photo collection!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Squeezed into a VW Bug!  Photo Friday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 19, 2019, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Weathervane Wednesday - A Church in the Pyrenees

 Another Weathervane Wednesday photo from Spain!

This week's weathervane was photographed in Ochagavia, Navarra, Spain while we were driving to the village where my mother-in-law was born up in the Pyrenee Mountains.  Ochagavia (or Otsagavia in the Basque language Euskera) is near the border of France, and where the Irati National Forest is located.  Many tourists visit this area in the summer for hiking.  It is a very picturesque village of about 530 people.

This weathervane is an ancient two dimensional weathercock with a large lightning rod next to it.  In 1794 the French invaded this region and destroyed 182 houses, and tried to destroy the church of San Juan Evangelista.  This church dates from the 11th century, and was rebuilt in the 16th and 17the centuries.  I'm not sure when the weathercock was placed on the tower, but it appears to be ancient.

Click here for another weathervane we spotted in Ochagavia, which reflects the history of a witchcraft hysteria in the 1500s: 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday - A Church in the Pyrenees", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 17, 2019, ( accessed [access date])/

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

July 20, 1969 - Remember the Alamo?

On July 16, 1969 Apollo 11 launched from earth to the moon and a few days later on July 20 Neil Armstrong became the first human to ever step foot on the lunar surface.  Do you remember what you were doing on that day?

That date was in the summer between kindergarten and first grade for me. I don't remember the moon landing at all. But my husband was a little bit older than me and he grew up to become an aerospace engineer, so of course he remembers this historic event!

Vincent was spending the summer with his grandparents in the little village of Miraflores de la Sierra outside of Madrid, Spain.  They didn't have a TV, so they went, with many other villagers, to the pub in the main square of this village called "El Alamo" (translation "poplar tree") because of the big, ancient tree that grew in the middle of the street.  When I visited the village of Miraflores with him in 1986 this is what the tree looked like.  It was during this visit that I first heard him tell me the story of watching the moon landing under this tree.  He told me that the TV was inside the pub and he watched the astronauts through the plate glass windows from the outside plaza.

1986, Miraflores main plaza under the Alamo tree

Several years later, when we returned to the village in 2010 we learned that the alamo tree had died and had been cut down.  However, new growth was emerging from the top of the stump, so we are hopeful that this landmark still exists! 



Another family story about July 20, 1969.  On that very day of the Apollo Moon Landing my first cousin was stationed in the Army in Mexico City.  He had to visit a local doctor due to "Montezuma's Revenge", and there was a very pretty receptionist. He ended up marrying her.  They have been married more than 45 years!

1970 Mexico


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "July 20, 1969 - Remember the Alamo?", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 16, 2019,  ( accessed [access date]). 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Happy 150th Birthday to the Mount Washington Cog Railway!

Cog Railway 2009

In the 1850s Sylvester Marsh almost died while hiking on Mount Washington.  While musing about a better way to reach the summit of the North East’s highest mountain, he thought about building a railroad.  Marsh designed a unique kind of cog railroad called the “Marsh Rack System”, the first mountain-climbing cog train in the world.  His plan was ridiculed in the state house and in newspapers, but he persevered.

Sylvester Marsh finally received a charter in 1858 to build a railroad which opened on 3 July 1869. It has brought a new kind of tourist to the summit of Mount Washington for the last 150 years.  Thousands of people ride the cog railroad every year, and it is estimated that over 5 million have ridden “The Cog” in the past 150 years of its existence.  One of the first passengers was President Ulysses S. Grant. 

The ownership of the railway has changed hands from Marsh to the Boston and Maine Railroad, to Henry Teague, to Dartmouth College and then back again to the Teague family until 1983.  Now it is operated by the Presby family. 

You can hike Mount Washington, or you can drive up the auto road, take the snow coach or snow cat in the winter, or take the cog railway.  At the summit there are many great views of four states and Canada, and even the Atlantic Ocean and Boston on clear days. There are several races including a bike race to the summit, an auto race, and a motorcycle race to the top.   The top of the mountain has an observation deck, the weather observatory, and the granite Tip Top House museum built in 1915.

About 150 people have died attempting to climb Mount Washington since 1849.  You can read all about these tragedies in Nicholas Howe’s book Not Without Peril, published in 2000 and republished in 2009.  Our beloved “Cog” remains a favorite, safe, and fun way to reach the 6,288 foot summit, with only two accidents in it’s entire 150 year run.  I'll bet your relatives, family members, and ancestors have visited Mount Washington, too.

1955 Mount Washington, with the railway visible.
Photo by Jack Wilkinson, my Dad

This image was digitized from a slide purchased at the
Cog Railway giftshop in 1969 by Don Wilkinson, my grandfather

For the truly curious:

The Mount Washington Cog Railway  

Mount Washington Observatory 

Mount Washington Observatory Webcams:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Happy 150th Birthday to the Mount Washington Cog Railway!", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 13, 2019, ( accessed [acess date]).

Friday, July 12, 2019

On top of Mount Wachusett - Photo Friday

This photo was from about 1970.  It shows my Dad, and my cousin Steve, with his sister Susan, myself (with the long braid), and my little sister.  We were on top of Mount Wachusett in the fall.  I can just see a few leaves with color just behind the stone wall.

We moved to Holden, Massachusetts in 1969 and taking visiting relatives to Mount Wachusett was big deal.  In those days we could see Mount Wachusett from our back porch, and that view was later blocked by growing trees and new housing built behind us.  I have lots of other photos from the summit with other cousins, like these photos HERE.

Thanks to my cousin Steve for digitizing this image from his family photo collection!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "On top of Mount Wachusett - Photo Friday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 12, 2019, ( accessed [access date]).

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Weathervane Wednesday - A Spanish Witch

This weathervane was spotted in Spain...

We visited Spain earlier this year, and took our mother-in-law up to the province of Navarra to see the village where she was born in the Pyrenee mountains. You can read all about that trip HERE.  On our way through the mountain valleys we passed through the village of Ochagavia (Otsagabia) and decided to stop for lunch.  The restaurant we first stopped at was closed. While turning the car around in the parking area we spotted this weathervane over a residence.

I didn't know why there was a witch weathervane here until I got home to New Hampshire and Googled the history of this little village.  It seems that in the 1500s the Inquisition was investigating cases of witchcraft in the Valley of Salazar, particularly in the village of Ochagavia, which culminated in 1539.  The mayor of Ochagavia was accused of holding meetings of witches.  I suppose that this history is as much a part of local lore as witches and witch weathervanes in Salem, Massachusetts!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday - A Spanish Witch", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 10, 2019, ( accessed [access date]).

Friday, July 5, 2019

Photo Friday - First Communion Boys in Spain

When Vincent's cousin in Spain let us photograph a large stash of vintage family photos, we found a lot of first communion photos from 100 years ago to today.  I was fascinated by the photos of little boys, because in Spain they dress them up in military uniforms instead of suits.  These little uniforms range from very fancy to sailor outfits, complete with formal white gloves.  What a curious tradition!

José Manuel García, Madrid, Spain
late 1930s

Cousin Chemari, Madrid, Spain circa 1960
Cousin Gerald Zato, Barcelona
circa 1930
I love the lace and white gloves! 
Cousin Jesus Caravantes, dated 1958 on the back
It is the only communion photo without a
military uniform


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Photo Friday - First Communion Boys in Spain", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 5, 2019, ( accessed [access date]).

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Weathervane Wednesday - A Weathercock in Spain

Another special edition of "Weathervane Wednesday"!  This weathervane was seen in Spain.

Weathercocks are ancient weathervanes that have their origins in a papal edict.  In the 9th century Pope Nicholas I ordered the churches in Europe to place a rooster symbol on their roofs or steeples. This was to remember the bible story where Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed. Many of the roosters were placed on weathervanes since they were on top of the steeples.  You see many weathercocks on old churches, especially in Europe.

This weathercock was photographed on the top of the steeple of Santa Engracia church in Uztarroz, Navarra, Spain.  This village is high in the Pyrenee mountains that separate Spain from France.  We were visiting Uztarroz specifically to bring my mother-in-law to see the church where she made her first communion on 4 May 1941. You can read more about that trip HERE.

The church of Santa Engracia was built in the 1500s.  The wood in the choir has been dated to 1591.  There is a pipe organ in the church that was built by Matias Rueda in 1738 and it is considered one of the best Baroque period organs in the world. 

The village of Uztarroz has only 160 people according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica in Spain.

A blog post about our trip to Uztarroz:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday - A Weathercock in Spain", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 3, 2019, ( accessed [access date]).