Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Fire Axe! Weathervane Wednesday


This fire ax weathervane is located above the Ould Newbury Fire Museum on Morgan Avenue in Newbury, Massachusetts.  It is across the street from the Newbury Fire Department at 3 Morgan Avenue.   The city of Newburyport has experienced many devastating conflagrations over the centuries (including 1811 and 1934), so this must be a very interesting museum.  Unfortunately, the museum is temporarily closed to the public.  The fire of 1811 destroyed about 250 wooden buildings, but resulted in a new law for only brick or stone structures downtown. This resulted in the charming brick neighborhoods around Market Square that draw so many tourists today. 

This unusual weathervane features a bright red axe, which identifies it as a firefighting tool.  The axe head and cardinal points are brightly gilded.  The weathervane appears to be in excellent condition, and newly painted and gilded. It is installed over a cupola with a fire bell. 

For the truly curious:

Click here to see over 450 other weathervane blog posts from New England and all over the world:    


To cite/link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A Fire Axe!  Weathervane Wednesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted May 25, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Damaged Weathervane! Weathervane Wednesday

Mesón de Cándido weathervane 2022

The same weathervane photographed 2010

A few weeks ago we were in Segovia, Spain with our family.  Segovia is famous for many things, including a Roman Aqueduct in the middle of town, the Alcazar castle (built for Queen Isabella I), fine dining on suckling pig and lamb, and it is very high at an elevation of about 3,300 feet (over 1,025 meters) above sea level.  It is one of the highest towns in Spain, after Avila, Cuenca, Guadarrama,  and Soria. The weather can be extreme.  It was raining the day we visited, and there were heavy snows a few hours after we left (in April).  

In 2013 I featured the two weathervanes above the Mesón de Cándido tavern.  You can see that blog post HERE.   One had a piglet, and the other weathervane was a rooster.  This year we photographed the restaurant and the two weathervanes, thinking that they were different.  But, at home and seeing the images close up, we could see that they were the same weathervanes but one was damaged and missing the piglet.  

This year we ate lunch in the Mesón de Cándido and saw the famous ceremony where the roasted suckling pig is displayed with a poem, and then cut with a plate (to show how tender it was) and served after smashing the plate on the floor.  It was quite fun, and surprised my six year old grand daughter!  The restaurant is under the aqueduct built by the Romans.  We had spent the morning exploring Queen Isabella's Alcazar, and were very hungry.

Is the pig missing due to extreme weather and wind? Was it stolen? Did it run away to avoid being roasted, cut with the side of a plate, and served as dinner? 

UPDATE!  May 11, 2022 12:20 pm  -  An observant reader, Simon Loughe, noticed that the pig is still attached to the weathervane, "but it has slipped down and it's ear is now below the vane wing?"  I think he is correct.  Poor piggy is hanging on for dear life up there above the tavern! 

Mesón de Cándido

The suckling pig being cut with a plate

This is the second weathervane above
the restaurant

Mesón de Cándido

Yours Truly, in the rain, by the aqueduct and Mesón de Cándido

For the truly curious:

Mesón de Cándido website: 

My previous blog post about these weathervanes:   

To see over 450 other weathervanes, click this link:   


To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A Damaged Weathervane!  Weathervane Wednesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted May 11, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Please Contribute to The Honor Roll Project for Memorial Day 2022

Bartlett, New Hampshire Honor Rolls

Please join me in the 12th annual round up of Memorial Day contributors for The Honor Roll Project.  Volunteers are taking photos of war memorials and honor rolls, posting them on their blogs and websites, and transcribing the names of all the people listed.  These transcriptions make the names available for search engines, and the names will be available for people searching for family, ancestors and friends.  It is a good way to get out of the house into the fresh air after a year long "safe at home" quarantine during the pandemic. 

I started this project in 2010 with the photos of the Londonderry Civil War monument, and then followed with the other war monuments on the town common, Derry’s MacGregor Park and other local honor rolls.  Other bloggers and photographers were invited to participate.  We now have contributions from nearly all the United States, and from five other countries.  The email and comments I have read are truly inspiring, and it makes it well worth the effort to transcribe names when you read how family members found their fathers and grandfathers online, or how families searching their family trees find ancestors who served in the Civil War or World War I. 

"I never knew my ancestor was in the Civil War until I Googled his name and found it on your blog! Thanks so much for your project - Charles Chase" 13 Dec 2011

" Thank you! Aina Bernier- daughter of Ernest Albert Bernier, Jr." 27 Jan 2011

If you would like to participate this year, I will be posting a compilation post of all the participating volunteers on Monday, May 30th.  All contributions will be permanently available on the Honor Roll Project website at    Every November for Veteran’s / Armistice Day I publicize this project for more volunteers and contributors, and again every May I publicize the project for Memorial Day . 

To participate, leave me a comment below or an email at   All you need to do is photograph a local honor roll or war monument, and transcribe the names.  If you have a blog, post the story, photos and transcriptions and send me the permanent link for the Honor Roll Project.  If you don’t have a blog, I can post the photo and names for you and add it to the Honor Roll Project, giving you full credit for the photography and transcription.  Or contact your favorite genealogy blogger, and they would be happy to post your photo and transcription, too. 

This is a simple way of saying “Thank You” to all the veterans in our communities- past and present. 

The Honor Roll Project Page:

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Conway, New Hampshire Public Library - Weathervane Wednesday

 This quill weathervane sits atop the public library in Conway village, New Hampshire.  It is located at 15 Greenwood Avenue, on the intersection of Routes 16, 113, and 153.  This lovely building was a gift to the town from Lydia Jenks Stevens and her daughter Sarah, and it was dedicated on 13 June 1901.  Dr. Thomas Stevens, Lydia's husband, had left the money to establish a village library in his will. At first the  There is a copper dome, a clock with four faces and this interesting weathervane.

Quills are unusual weathervanes, but I have photographed several around New England.  You can see a list of those blog posts featuring quills below. 

This weathervane is a three dimensional quill, with a lovely greenish patina. A quill pen is an entirely appropriate choice for a library, don't you think? 

For the truly curious:

The history of the building from the Conway Public Library website:   

Conway Public Library Facebook page:  

Other quill weathervanes posted at this blog:

Falmouth, Massachusetts 

Cooperstown, New York  

Windsor, Connecticut 

Derry, New Hampshire 

To see over 450 other weathervane posts, click here:   


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Conway, New Hampshire Public Library - Weathervane Wednesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 20, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Dominic Ianetta "The Hurdy Gurdy Czar" of Boston, 1900

 In March I started a series of blog posts on my son-in-law's musical ancestors, including Dominic Ianetta (1865 - 1952), his great-great grandfather.  Dominic and his wife, Maria Carmella Grosse, were musicians and performers at the turn of the 20th century.  Maria was especially famous as a dancer - but I'll be blogging more about her in the future.

In the past few blog posts I transcribed some interesting news articles about the semi-annual inspection of street musicians in Boston.  Anyone who played an instrument on the street (violins, hurdy-gurdies, street pianos, tambourines, etc.) needed a license.  These inspections were regularly featured by reporters in the Boston newspapers.  Dominic was hired by the city to assist the police inspectors. 

This article below tells an interesting history of Dominic Ianetta's immigration to Boston from Italy, and how he met his future wife.  It also describes how he acquired his position as an inspector of street musicians. 


Domenic Yanetta

Keeps Hand Organs in Tune

Husband of Marie Grosse,  Whose Playing

is a Jolly Boston Feature


His Compensation is the Fee Received

For Repairing Wheezy Machines


Do you know Domenic Yanetta?

Domenick is the English of his name, and, though a great deal depends upon his word, his name as a city official of Boston is now published for the first time.

Probably when you were a child you met Domenick and had the one wish of your babyhood days granted by him, to turn the crank of a hand organ.  But, as is well known, children forget names, even though they never forget their first attempt at hand organ playing.

If you do not know Domenick you ought to, for if your hand organ man, and most everybody has some favorite in this line, has not had his machine inspected within three months, it is to Domenick that you must look to for redress.

There are hand organs without number, but there is only one to whom you can complain with any degree of satisfaction, and he is Domenick, and his headquarters is not at city hall, but 213 Hanover st.

When a lad of about 16 years Domenick came to Boston from sunny Italy.  Soon after his arrival in this city another Italian family by the name of Grosse came here, and the elder Grosse, seeing that money could be made by introducing the hand organ into this country, became the first importer of that instrument.  

In this way Domenick, with a male partner, was the first to launch in to hand-organ playing on the streets of America, and since then he has traveled all over the United States and Europe.

When the "hurdy-gurdy" was first introduced it was the talk of the town.  Money was made as fast as could be expected, and the result was that the elder Grosse, whose place of business was on Battery st., North end, increased the number of machines in use.  At that time all machines had to be imported, and this fact led Domenick to learn the art of tuning, which might be called a business in itself.

After enjoying a year of prosperity in the hand-organ business people began to tire of its then few tunes.  It was hard to get new music, and to make the business a success for any length of time, Domenick says, a person had to keep moving from one city to another.  This ate up a great deal of the profit, and soon the business was abandoned.

A few months after he had given up hand-organ playing, Domenick was being consulted by the elder Grosse as to the best means of disposing of the organs he had in stock.  As it were, they were deadwood on his hands, and as the young player had much experience in traveling, Mr. Grosse was willing to allow him a stated sum for the disposal of the organs.

Among those interested in the consultation was one of the younger daughters of Mr. Grosse, then attending school in the North end.  In a joking way she suggested to her father that now that the men had given up the business as a nonpaying one, why not hire girls to play.

This was a startling suggestion to her father, but it was just what was running in Domenick's mind, for since his becoming a player he learned to look with favor on Marie.  In reply to her father's remark that none could be found who would be willing to undertake the job she offered herself as the first volunteer.

Of course Domenick overcame whatever opposition the father offered, and later, to show his appreciation, "he married the girl", and today is the father of a large American family, while he himself is taking care that those who pay for the music that comes from the hand organ will get what is coming to them without a discordant not.

The appearance of "Happy Marie," as Marie Grosse was styled, was a success, both "financially and socially" and today both man and wife can be seen at parties just as they were seen when they were boy and girl.

About one year ago, when it was legislated that hand organs must be licensed, officer Patterson of station 1 was assigned to look after those desiring to let people hear them play on the streets.  the selection was a good one, but what is an every-day policeman to do when it comes to deciding upon what is what in a hand organ.

If he did not like the way the pipes responded to the popular air he said so, but it is very hard to make a member of the hand-organ fraternity understand anything but complimentary remarks upon the ability of his or her machine.

His advice "to get it tuned" was met with a statement that it had been tuned that morning, and if he happed to contradict this, where was his proof?

Then again a man with any degree of sympathy in his makeup and who is unfamiliar with every fiber of hand organ and language of the player, has no need of passing judgement upon a hand organ.  This Mr. Patterson soon found out, and in order that everybody concerned would be given all that belonged to them, a side partner for himself was looked for.

Domenick all this time was grinding out the latest music, which by the way, had improved considerably since his joining hands with his "Sweet Marie," and his long residence in the North end made him known to everybody in station 1.

One fact well known to all is that there is not a more honest man in the North end than is Domenick.

Church fairs, benefits for disabled persons, and concerts for other charitable purposes have time and again received the use of his instruments free of charge, and only the fact that he realized that the new position would place him where he could be of benefit to many of his poorer but honest countrymen and women, was the reason why he accepted the position, which is not a paying one, when it was offered him.

According to the agreement made he must inspect all machines when required to do so by the music commissioner.

When a machine is found defective and its box is considered sound, he is authorized to charge not more than $1.50 for repairing it.

This is the only compensation coming to him.

What does this mean?  It means that every hand organ and street piano must be inspected by him at least four times a year. It also means that every applicant for a license must have his or her instrument examined and passed upon before the papers are granted.

Besides this it means that the inspector must be a man always ready to assist a person in distress, while at the same time doing his duty, for those under whom he is serving.  he can repair machines free of charge if he so desires, and it is needless to state that often he does so without a murmur.

Then there are those who wish to impose on the public.  There are persons who can afford to hire better instruments.  But in Mr. Patterson Domenick has a man who needs no second word as to the condition of a machine. 

People may try to give pointers to the inspector, but "Come now" from Mr. Patterson is sufficient.  The officer has confidence in Domenick, an so has everybody with honest intentions.  Of late it was found necessary to hire the building at 213 Hanover st., near station 1, to accommodate the large number of applicants seeking permission to play on the streets.

Here everybody desiring to do so can see the transformation of old played-out music boxes into machines whose music would make a shovel dance."

The Boston Globe
12 August 1900
page 25

For the truly curious:

Links to past IANETTA family blog posts:

"Little Musical Performers in Boston 1905"   

"Street Organs, Hurdy Gurdies, and Dominic Ianetta of Boston 1900"   

"Boston Police Give a Hurdy Gurdy Party 14 September 1900"  


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Dominic Ianetta "The Hurdy Gurdy Czar" of Boston, 1900", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 12, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

New Bedford Whaling Museum - Weathervane Wednesday

This weathervane was photographed over the dome at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.


This is a large two dimensional weathervane of a sperm whale, the most lucrative whale to catch for the whaling industry.   Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales on planet Earth, with males measuring about 52 feet in length (some more!).  Sperm whale oil was considered the finest oil for lamps and lubricating machinery.  Whaling became a major industry in the 1700s and 1800s, with sperm whales the number one target for fishermen. Today sperm whales are a protected species. In the book Moby Dick, it was a sperm whale that attacked and sank the whaleship, based on the true story of the sinking of the Essex in 1799.  

The New Bedford Whaling Museum was established in 1903 as the Old Dartmouth Historical Society to collect the history of the city and surrounding area.  Since that time it has expanded the collections to showcase New Bedford history, art, the history of whaling, and the preservation and conservation of the whales and the natural environment.  The museum moved to the current location in 2002.   It features several large buildings, lecture series, a theater, special exhibits (in person and online), and an archive.  There are five complete skeletons of whales hanging in the main hall, and a half scale model of the Lagoda whaling ship. 

The library and reading room are open by appointment only now during the pandemic.  The archives charge a flat fee of $10 for digital photography to be used for personal reference only.  Photocopies are $0.25 each sheet, limited to 20 sheets.  You can search the library catalog through the museum link below.  The collections include manuscripts, maps, charts, log books, and journals.  Many of these have been digitized and available online. If you have an ancestor who was a mariner or whaler, you might want to check out the collections here!  You can send queries to the archivist via the website below. 

For the truly curious:

The New Bedford Whaling museum website:   

18 Johnny Cake Hill

New Bedford, Massachusetts


The New Bedford Whaling Museum blog:  


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "New Bedford Whaling Museum - Weathervane Wednesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 6, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Boston Police Give a Hurdy Gurdy Party 14 September 1900

September 14, 1900
Boston Evening Transcript
page 4


Yesterday I posted a story from the September 1900 Boston Globe which had a colorful description of the Boston police department and my son-in-law's great-great grandfather, Dominic Ianetta (1865 - 1952), doing the semi-annual (March and September) inspection of street musicians in the Italian North End of Boston.  Dominic Ianetta (also known as YANNETTA)  was known as "The Hurdy Gurdy Man" of Boston, and he was helpful to the police inspectors during their examinations of the street musicians because he was born in Italy and spoke Italian.  The Boston Globe article was very colorful in it's descriptions, and had a sketch of the street organs and their musicians being examined.  It was also racist in tone.  This article from the Boston Evening Transcript is a bit more level headed.


Annual "Try-Out" of Street Machines

Today in a Hall on Hanover Street

Proves Very Interesting

Between twenty and thirty Italians with their hurdy-gurdies, street pianos and hand-organs gathered in a hall on Hanover street this noon, and for two hours the people of that immediate section were treated to a feast of music that was unusual to some of them at least.  This "hurdy-gurdy" party was given under the auspices of the Board of Police, although none of the commissioners personally was present, the concert being conducted by Special Officer George W. Patterson, who has charge of the itinerant musicians, assisted by D. Yanetta and Benetto Barlone, two expert tuners.  there seems to be no one in the department who is qualified to pass on whether or not an instrument is in tune, so outside assistance has to be utilized.

The gathering today was due to the fact that the licenses for the coming year have just been granted this month, and every instrument played on the street has to be inspected and adjudged in tune before its owner or lessee can travel about with it.  It was interesting to watch the players as they came forward at the word from Mr. Patterson to give a sample of the qualities of their instruments.  Few were allowe dto play more than three or four bars, when the "tuner" either told them it was all right, or else to have the machine tuned before the next "try-out" occurred.

One aged Italian approached timidly with a handorgan, which, perhaps, in some period of the dim past might have been in tune.  For an up-to-date, 1900, machine it would hardly do.  The owner was told that if he sent the organ to New York it might possibly be put in shape so that it would pass muster, and when this statement was translated to the Italian his grief at the thought of the expense which he must incur in order to meet requirements was touching.

There was another son of Italy who came forward at the word of command as though he realized fully that he had a machine of which any owner might be proud.  The tuner said that this hurdy-gury, made by Presarese, was the only one of the kind in Boston, and it certainly was a treat to listen to it after some of the others.  Most of the music played is of the "ragtime" order, and the owners of the machines say that this particular class of music seems to appeal to the people generally rather than the music of a classical nature. 

According to the present laws no monkeys are allowed with organs in the city limits, and some of the owners of these interesting little animals appeared very much disappointed when told that they must no carry their "friends" about with them any more.  Mr. Patterson told them that if they wished to go outside the city limits it was no concern of his, but if they persisted in displaying the monkeys in boston, they (the owners, not the monkeys) would be taken into court.

The new forms of licenses differ from those issued before, in being printed in both English and Italian, so that no licensee can allege as an excuse for an infringement of his license that he could not understand its terms."

For the truly curious:

Previous blog posts about Dominic Ianetta, the "Hurdy Gurdy Man" of Boston:

"Street Organs, Hurdy Gurdies, and Dominic Ianetta of Boston 1900"  March 29, 2022   

"Little Musical Performers in Boston 1905"  March 16, 2022  


To Cite/Link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Boston Police Give a Hurdy Gurdy Party 14 September 1900", Nutfield Genealogy, posted 31 March 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Street Organs, Hurdy Gurdies, and Dominic Ianetta of Boston 1900


The Boston Globe, September 9, 1900

My son-in-law's 2nd great grandfather, Dominic Ianetta (1865 - 1952) was a well known musician in Boston's Italian North End.  He lived on Hanover Street, and was listed in various census records and city directories as a piano tuner, musician, and "hurdy gurdy man".  He must have been one of the more talented and famous organ grinders in Boston because the city set up a semi-annual inspection process for street performers, including street organs, and Dominis Ianetta was part of the team.  

Several Boston police officers along with some city musicians were part of the inspections for street organs.  This process must have been intriguing to the public because I was able to find newspaper stories about the inspections every year in the early 1900s.  This one digitized below is one of the earliest.  WARNING:  this article contains language that would not be considered politically correct today, but absolutely racist and offensive. 


They Play for Prof. Patterson and Mr. Yannetta With Their

Organs and Pianos and Receive Certificates

Prof. Patterson, Mus. D. (doctor of music), left police headquarters in Pemberton square yesterday morning and went down to the North end.  He was neatly clad in a suit of blue, shirt with broad pink stripes and brown derby hat.  His path was strewn with the solemn salutes of the piccolo soloist, the aged violinist, and the picker of a harp who had not yet joined the angel, all of the school Italian.

The professor had advertised a musicale by his pupils, to be held at 213A Hanover st, up over a cigar store, and the inhabitants of the neighborhood were anxiously waiting for the first strains of a fuge to strike their listening ears.

The writer, with a lithograph ticket for the show, arrived at the opera house on time, but failed momentarily in locating the entrance to the auditorium.  The alley was chock full of hurdy gurdies, but not an artist in the whole lot was able to direct the inquirer either to the family circle or the office of the manager.  At station 1, next door, the man behind the rail could give no information concerning the concert, notwithstanding that it was to given under the auspices of the city of Boston.  He referred the reporter to the tobacconist.

The trail finally led to the upper floor at 213A, where Mr. Patterson was found sitting at a small table, a pen in hand and a bottle of red ink within reach.  He was engaged in filling out official blanks with figures which made them look like this:




Approved 9 -7.       Approved __________________

When Mr. Patterson is not busy with instrumental music as a teacher and critic, his duties as a special policeman attached to headquarters cause him to ........ pality on the lookout for gentlemen and ladies who beg for a living.  He is equally successful in both lines of his profession, detecting an unworthy solicitor for alms, even more quickly than a false note emanating from a barrel organ.

Inspection Semiannually

Twice a year the street musicians are compelled by the police department to line up for an inspection of the instruments of melody that grind out classics and ragtime from door to door.  June and September are the months in which their machines are put to the strenuous test, and this is September.

"We do not expect symphonic strains," remarked the professor, "but we do insist that the tunes that are played shall not cause distress to the public because of lack of real harmony.  Technique is not necessary.  But monkeys are barred."

Mr. Patterson was joined by Mr. Yanetta, a musical inspector, who has an expert knowledge of the vitals of a hurdy-gurdy, and together they descended to the alley where itinerant musicians and their decorated boxes on wheels were gathered for the first grand musicale of the fall of 1900. 

"Numero!" shouted the professor to one of the Italian artists. Or perhaps he exclaimed "Numera!".  The pronunciation either was not quite distinct, or else the writer, being unacquainted with foreign languages, did not catch the sound correctly as uttered.

Absolute silence - and a wide opening of eyes.

Mr. Patterson, so it seems, is a linguist in addition to his other qualifications as a valuable servant of the municipality.  But he had to admit that he couldn't just follow all the dialects that are in vogue around station 1.

At last Antonio Somebody got it into his head that the doctor of music from headquarters desired to know the number of his old license, and furnished the information that it was 206.

"Play away", ordered the professor.

The French organ, worked by an Italian, threw out into the air a concerto in F that would have sent a thrill of exquisite delight through every fiber of Philip Hale.  In the windows of the station house, facing the alley, just as the bejeweled ladies sit in the boxes at the grand opera, sat the gold-laced officers of the force, drinking in every note as it rose toward the roof and fell back with a thud on the pavement.  It was all free to them.  What the night patrolmen, who were trying to sleep upstairs, thought of the musicale, would probably not be fit to print.

"That will do," said the professor.

Mr. Yannetta repeated the phrase in a foreign tongue.

"Get out of the alley," added the professor, and out went the man and machine without any translation of those words.

"You're Flat"

An Italian with a street piano took off the cover which hid the works, being extremely careful not to mar the picture of a fight between the Chinks and allies which adorned its surface. 

"Play away," said Mr. Patterson, as he dropped on one knee beside an empty fruit box, and with his pen and red ink proceeded to fill out the certificate for the French organ that had passed muster and was licensed to make music for another six months in Boston.

Sousa's march was rattling around in the alley.

"Out of tune," exclaimed Mr. Yanetta.

"You're flat!" broke in Mr. Patterson with energy.

The artist at the handle of the crank simply stared in amazement.

"Tell him he wants to get some new wires," added Mr. Patterson.

Mr. Yannetta explained in Italian to the man, who temporarily failed to secure his card, that the piano would be all right when tuned a bit.

"Get out of the alley," said the professor.

Thus a dozen or more pianos and organs were critically examined, and the new certificates numbered, were pasted on the instruments, where they can be seen day or night, on the streets, for purpose of identification.

Mr. Patterson, special office, M. D. hunter of hoboes and linguist of no mean ability, declared that he must hurry up and get to court, and the musicale in the alley came to an abrupt close with his sudden departure.

There are some 500 hurdy gurdies in the city which are inspected semi-annually.  The inspection of street bands, fiddlers, harpists, and piccolo players, takes place in the office of the professor, up at headquarters, in Pemberton sq." 

Photograph of a street organ by Andrzej Barabasz (Chepry) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,  

For more information on Dominic Ianetta and his family, see this blog post from earlier this month:   


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Street Organs, Hurdy Gurdies, and Dominic Ianetta of Boston 1900", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 29, 2022, ( accessed [access date]).  

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Seaman's Bethel, New Bedford, Massachusetts - Weathervane Wednesday

 This weathervane was photographed in New Bedford, Massachusetts. 

Last year I visited New Bedford, Massachusetts and saw the Whaling Museum and the Seamans Bethel.  I was excited to see the weathervane atop the Bethel's short steeple!  It is quite intricate even though it lacks the cardinal points, and it is a rare painted weathervane.  

The weathervane depicts a whaling ship at sea, with rough waves painted along the hull.  It is strung with metal wire rigging, and painted to show the portholes and the sails. There is even a flag waving from one of the masts.  This weathervane appears to be wooden from a close up view of the photograph, which revealed what looks like wood under the peeling paint. 

The Seamans Bethel includes a chapel and a mariner's home built in 1832, and is operated by the charitable organization The New Bedford Port Society.  Itis located in the New Bedford Historic District, and is a National Historic Landmark.  This area is now the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. 

The Seamans Bethel is a popular historic site for events such as weddings and corporate receptions.  It has been used as a location for in the 1851 novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and is in movies such as the 1956 film version of Moby Dick which starred Gregory Peck and Orson Welles, and in the 1922 film Down to the Sea in Ships.  It is located across the street from the Whaling Museum complex.  If you take a peek inside the chapel you will see the pulpit shaped like the bow of a ship.  This pulpit is featured in the 1956 movie, with Orson Welles as the preacher.  

Seamen's Bethel
A non-denominational church
Dedicated 1832
New Bedford Port Society
The Whalemen's Chapel

Seaman's Bethel
"In the same new
Bedford there stands
a whalemans chapel
and few are the
moody fishermen
shortly bound for
the Indian or Pacific
Oceans who failed
to make a Sunday
visit to this spot"
               Moby Dick

The Whalemans
Herman Melvilles
Moby Dick
Mariners Home

For the truly curious:

The Seamans Bethel website:   

The New Bedford Port Society/Seamen's Bethel and Mariner's Home
15 Johnny Cake Hill
New Bedford, Massachusetts

Click here to see over 450 Weathervane Wednesday posts!


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Seaman's Bethel, New Bedford, Massachusetts - Weathervane Wednesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 23, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Little Musical Performers in Boston 1905


from The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 22 March 1905, Wednesday, page 7


Give Marked Evidence of the Instruction They Have Received

    The pupils of Miss Isabel Florence gave an excellent entertainment for their friends last evening in the Children's theatre, Huntington chambers.  Many of the little artists have had only a limited number of lessons, yet their first public appearance on the stage gave evidence of much careful training, and brought forth much well deserved applause.

The program was varied, including character sketches, instrumental music and fancy dances.  Without exception all contributing to the program proved to be possessed of an artistic spirit.

The opening number was a merry circle of little artists, that gave the admiring parents and friends that comprised the audience, an inkling of the instruction the children were receiving.  Those who appeared were Baby Helena, Dorothy Nolan, Helen Jolly, Celia Deutschmann and Marjorie Boyd, the Jarvis sisters, Estelle Seeley, Helen Sylvester and Little Gladys and Helen, as Sambo and Dinah, the hit of "Humpty Dumpty."

Josephine Kirkland gave a dance, and Matilda Yannetta, 10 years old, executed two difficult harp solos.  Bonnie and Hazen Jarvis danced the minuet in a delightfully graceful manner. Eva Lee, aged 8 years, played two piano solos, and then Hermia DeLisle danced a hornpipe, followed by Stella Rothwell in a lively Irish jig.

Matilda and Adelaide Yannetta gave a skirt dance, and Gladys Gilbert executed a jocky toe dance that won much praise. The program closed with an amusing little sketch, which served to introduce Baby Goldie, a 4-year old pupil."


I found this article online recently during a recent, free weekend of access to  My son-in-law has some interesting ancestors from French Canada, Ireland, colonial New England and Italy.  His Italian ancestors were particularly musical, and included his great-great grandparents Dominic Ianetta and Maria Carmella Grosse.  I have not done much Italian genealogy research, but the first thing I learned about the Ianetta family was that there are dozens of spellings of this surname.  This little article appeared in my search at only after I tried every variation I could think of, and then a few more! 

Dominic Ianetta (1865 - 1952) of Caserta, Campania, Italy married Maria Carmella Grosse (1871 - 1921) of Belmonte Castello, Frosinone, Lazio, Italy on 10 December 1893 in Boston, Massachusetts.  They had eleven children, all born in Boston's North End:

1.  Matilda Angela, born 7 March 1894, died 1993, married Vincent DiPersio

2.  Adelina Laura, born 21 March 1895, died 1977, married Albert Don Safallo

3.  Salvino Angelo "Jimmy", born 29 November 1897, died 1991, married Teresa Marie Galiano

4. Marie, born 28 March 1899, died young 28 August 1899

5. Florence Rose, born 17 November 1900, died 1939, unmarried

6. Alfred Raffaele, born 10 October 1902, died 1947, married Mildred Nuzzolo

7. Lawrence Blasio, born 3 February 1904, died 1981, married Marian Stowe Harris

8. George, born 22 February 1907, died 1934, married Helen 

9. Stella Marie, born 3 February 1910, died 1997, married Anthony Debenedictis

10. Pietro Michael, born 29 Sept 1912, died young 17 October 1912

11. Margharita Louise, born 4 June 1915, died 1976, died unmarried

For the past few years the New England Historic Genealogical society has been conducting a digitization project for the Catholic records of churches in the Boston Diocese. These documents show the records of the seven sacraments (including baptism, marriage and burials) for hundreds of parishes across New England. These are handwritten records with over 10 million names, browsable, searchable (members only) and downloadable.  Best of all, these records are available FREE, even to non-members.

By searching these records for all the variations of the Ianetta name (Janetta, Jannetta, Iannetta, Iannetti, Iannetto, etc). I was able to construct the family you see listed above.  Here is a sample record, showing the baptism of Matilda Ianetta, our little harpist and dancer.  It is recorded entirely in Latin, including her name Matildes Annam Angeles Jannetta, daughter of Dominico Jannetta and Maria Grossi.  Her marriage in 1910 to Vincenzo Di Persio is in the right margin. You can see that the Catholic records give lots of genealogical information, including the birthplace of the parents and the names of the witnesses (who might be kin?). 

I'll be doing some future blog posts about the Ianetta family, and will include some very interesting stories about Dominic, the immigrant ancestor, who was known as the "Hurdy Gurdy Czar" of Boston, and Marie Grosse, who was a famous dancer who performed for Queen Victoria, for Boston theaters, and society events such as soirees at Isabella Stewart Gardner's palace in the Fenway. 

For the truly curious:

Catholic Records at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:    

The New England Historic Genealogical Society  


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Little Musical Performers in Boston 1905", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 16, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

History For Ukraine


A big announcement for genealogists and historians!

Natalie Pithers from the Curious Descendants website  in the United Kingdom has been announcing some exciting news over on Twitter.  

A big event to assist Ukrainians called "History For Ukraine" will be held on March 26th and 27th, starting midday UK time and running for 24 hours.  The event will benefit the DEC/Red Cross Ukrainian Humanitarian Fund.  There will not be any archived videos or replays, it will all be LIVE. 

This event will be live streamed across social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) and a QR code will be on screen at all times, with regular reminders (ticker tape on screen and videos between speakers) for viewers to please donate!  This reminds me of Live Aid back in 1985 which benefitted the victims of the famine in Ethiopia.  That was a successful event, and we can make this a successful event, too!

Many historians and genealogists from across the globe will be speaking at this event.  Stay tuned to see the line up of famous names! 

Natalie still needs assistance hosting, manning chat boxes, videographers to create videos, social media, and other tasks to get this event off the ground.  Since the date for "History For Ukraine" is coming very soon, please contact her ASAP to get involved!  

Stay tuned for more updates and the official press release!

Natalie Pithers has established a twitter account for History For Ukraine at for you to follow along, and you may contact her at her Twitter account  @geneastories and use the hashtags #History4Ukraine #HistoryForUkraine 

The email for this event is 

A Dolphin in Plymouth - Weathervane Wednesday

 This weathervane was photographed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. 

This adorable dolphin weathervane is very visible from the road, silhouetted against the ocean and sky.  It must be a very large weathervane since it is easy to spot from the road, which is very far from the house.  The weathervane is located above a very large cupola with a metal roof, and it appears to be two dimensional with a very ornate version of the cardinal points below the vane.   

Keep your eyes out for this weathervane if you are visiting Plimoth-Patuxet (the former name of the Plimoth Plantation museum) and downtown Plymouth.  You will pass right by it!


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A Dolphin in Plymouth - Weathervane Wednesday", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 9, 2022, ( [access date]). 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

How two 18th Century New Hampshire Parents Redeemed Their Kidnapped Daughters

First Parish Church
Dover, New Hampshire

My great uncle, eight generations removed, was named Joseph Ham, son of John Ham and his wife Mary Heard. Joseph was the brother of my 8th great grandmother, Mercy Ham who married Richard Nason.  Joseph was married in August 1704 to Tamson Meserve, the daughter of Clement Meserve of Dover, New Hampshire.  They lived in Dover, New Hampshire until there was a raid by the local native Abenaki on 29 August 1723 when several colonists were killed including Joseph Ham. Several residents, including two of his daughters Tamson and Abigail, were marched to Canada to be ransomed by the French. 

The family did not see the two daughters for many years. In those days the French Canadians tempted the indigenous people with ransom money for capturing English settlers.  In the meantime, the widow Tamson Meserve Ham remarried about 1725 to John Tibbetts, the son of Jeremiah Tibbetts and Mary Twombley.  Tamson had a similar experience during her youth, when she was scalped and left for dead during a raid in 1704.  She survived, married and had ten children.

The local indigenous people were the Cocheco Indians, a sub tribe of the Abenaki.  This part of New Hampshire was known to the Abenaki people as Newichawannock, which was the original name of the Salmon Falls River.  This land included Dover, and originally included the communities of Durham, Madbury, Newington, Lee, Somersworth and Rollinsford.  Dover is the oldest permanent European settlement in New Hampshire, and the site of many conflicts between the indigenous people and the new English settlers. The first conflict between the native and European people took place in 1676, then again in 1689, 1704, 1723 and in 1724.  

Tamson must have been a very strong woman to survive two massacres in New Hampshire.  Obviously, she must have missed her kidnapped daughters very much, too. Tired of waiting for a ransom letter from Canada, she petitioned the Governor of New Hampshire for information on redeeming her children.  The governor sent an emissary to Canada on behalf of many families, but the Ham girls were not released.  

So in 1728 John Tibbetts and Tamson, his wife, went to Canada themselves and ransomed the two young girls with funds and loans raised from family, friends and the community of Dover.  This was a very expensive and long expedition across the mountains west to New York, and then north to Canada. This journey left the family destitute and poverty stricken. 

In 1729 John and Tamson Tibbets petitioned New Hampshire again to cover the cost of the ransom, and the expenses of the expedition.  If you read the petition below, you can see how they traveled west to Albany, New York, across Lake Champlain to Canada, and returned back to Albany, then to New York, and by ship to Boston and then home to New York.  They carefully listed all the expenses. 


from The New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers 1725 - 1800, Volume 18, pages 15 - 16 [2 - 170]

[Petition of John and Tamson Tibbetts, relative to two of their Children who were taken Prisoners by the Indians, 1729]

"To his Exelcie William Burnet Esqr Capt. Genll & Commander in Chief in and over his Majties Province of New hampshire in New England, & To the hoble the Councill, & House of Representatives Conven'd in Genll Assembly -

The Humble Petition of John Tibbets & Tamson Tibbets his wife Most humbly Sheweth -

That your Petitioners hath been a Verry great Expence besides their Trouble & Travel in Going to Canada for the Redemption of Tow of th Children of yor Petitioner Tamsen Tibbets, (formerly Tamsen Ham) That were taken Captives by the Indians in the late Warr, and Sold to the French, And whereas your Petitioners Did formerly Petition the honble the liut Govornor Wentworth for a Brief: and the Good People of this Province were so Kind that there was given on hundred and Eleven Pounds, or very neare it: Yet so it is That your Petitioners being verry Poore; and there REmaines yet to be paid for the Ransom of their Children the sum of two hundred & fifty pounds this Money, which they are unable to pay, If they should sell all they have in the world, And therefore they most humbly Pray help and Relief: in the premises as yor Excellency & honors in Wisdome shall see Most meet: (the accompt of our Charge & Expence being Ready to be shown if Desired.) And your Petitioners as in Duty bound shall Ever Pray &c-

aprill the 30th 1729


In the house of Representatives the above Petition was Read:  and voted that it be Dismis'd May 2d 1729: - for that ye Petr has had a Brief* allready: & the accompt is verry Extravagant -

           James Jeffrey Clr assm


[2-171]  A Count of my Charges of a Jurny Canade -

1727 April 30

To my Charg from home to albany                             10 pounds  - shillings   NE pence

To my Charg 6 Days at Albeny of Thatt money             2 pounds

To my whole Charg of Going over ye Lake and mons  19 pounds   17 shillings  

To Shomble fort Confind 4 Days                                  1 pound

To Pilets from Shombele to Canade                             2 pounds   11 shillings  NE pence

To firridge over Laprare                                               0 pounds   10 shillings

To our Bording 2 monts at 30 Livres Each

          Canedy money 12 Livers                              10 pounds

To Bording 2 Children 21 D att a Livr                            3 pounds    10 shillings

To Interpators 42 Livers                                               1 pound       18 shillings

To Pasport 6 Livers                                                                        10 shillings

To Provisons for our Return 40 Livrs                            3 pounds     6 shillings   8 pence

To Clothing our Captives 30 Livrs                                 2 pounds    10 shillings

To Paid for Coming ovr the Lake 54 Livrs                      4 pounds    10 shillings

To our Charg at albeny                                                 2 pounds      4 shillings

To our Pasg to new york                                               2 pounds     10 shillings

To our Charg in New york                                             6 pounds

To our paseg from york to Boston                                 4 pounds      

To our Charg at Boston                                                2 pounds     10 shillings   NE pence

To Ransom of our Two Children from the Indians

    1270 Livres                                                            105 pounds   10 shillings 0 pence


page 17

Miscellaneous Provincial Papers

Provc: of New Hampshr  -  Mr. Jno Tibbetts and his wife Mrs Tamson Tibbets personaly appering made oath that Thay had advanced the Several Sums above mentioned, on there Jorny to Caniday for the Redemption of Two of There Children as Allso for the Ranson of the Same

aprl 30: 1729   - R. Wibird Just. p."


The government of New Hampshire had given 100 pounds to the Tibbetts family, and dismissed the petition.  The family had redeemed their daughters, but was left in poverty and unable to pay back the loans to their neighbors. The two girls, Tamson and Abigail,  eventually married men in New Hampshire.  


Joseph Ham 3, (John 2, Matthew 1), son of John Ham and Mary Heard, was born 3 June 1678, Dover, New Hampshire, died 28 September 1723, married in August 1704 to Tamson Meserve, daughter of Clement Meserve and Elizabeth Unknown.  She was born about 1680 in Dover. 


1. Elizabeth, 22 February 1704, d. 17 August 1788, married Benjamin Libbey

2. Mary, 28 December 1706, married Shadrach Hodgden

3. Tamson, 19 July 1708, married Thomas Drew and Thomas Spinney

4. Abigail, 15 November 1710, married John Leighton

5. Anna, 12 December 1712, married Mr. Young

6. Daniel, 24 July 1714, married Sarah Downs and Mary Horne

7. Joseph, 25 April 1716, married Mary Ham

8.  Clement, 16 December 1718, married Patience Unknown

9. Jonathan, 8 June 1720, married Elizabeth Ham

10. Jane, 26 June 1722, died young

Tamson and John Tibbetts had one child, Sarah, born 18 August 1725 in Dover. Tamson lived until about 1774.  John Tibbetts was previously married to Sarah Meader and had three children.  

For the truly curious:

A previous blog post "A Counterfeiter Named Tamsen Meserve" 

A previous blog post "Surname Saturday - Ham" 


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "How two 18th Century New Hampshire Parents Redeemed Their Kidnapped Daughters", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 1, 2022, ( accessed [access date]).