In her own words: A poem by Hazel B. Thompson

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I Know – It Happened To Me

Hazel B. Thompson, March 31, 1956


Hazel at one year with her dog Nero

Hazel at one year with her dog Nero

On a recent trip home to Detroit, my cousin, Arthur, presented me with a trove of photos of the Thompson’s from around 1906 until the middle 1950’s. He also gave me some of the manuscripts that Aunt Hazel had written during the time she was a graduate student at Wayne State University.  One of the manuscripts stood out to me, and it is this manuscript which I present to you today. It is a long, free verse poem, chronicling the Thompson’s life together, from the earliest part of the Twentieth Century until 1956. It is titled: TOGETHER – THE FAMILY CAN. with a subtitle: I Know – It Happened To Me.     I have used her poem as a structuring device that allows photographs taken of the Thompson family to have some chronology and context. After reading this poem, I understand better why the Walter Thompson’s left Manistee when they did.  I know a bit more about how the depression affected Hazel and how much the Second World War affected the entire Thompson clan.

Remember, you can click on any of the photos and they will become larger. You will find “galleries” of photos on most of the pages.  Although these photos are not captioned, if you click on an individual photo it will become larger.  In the upper left hand of each larger photo there appears a caption.

Some of the lead photos are taken from historical collections that are now in the public domain. Most of the photos are “snapshots.” Some are damaged, and others are showing their age by becoming faded.  This is a long blog with several pages.  At the bottom of each page is a small section with page numbers.  Select the page you want to look at and it will appear. Also, please let me know if there are any mistakes or discrepencies. This was a complicated blog to compile and took several weeks of editing to arrive at the stage that you are now experiencing.  What started as a sack full of old photos now has some meaning and coherance. Please read the poem.  It gives insight into Aunt Hazel’s feelings and passions. Enjoy! [Continue Reading…]

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The Goodenow’s

Goodenow Thompson photo

Goodenow Thompson

Uncle Goodenow, as we called him, carried the Goodenow surname as his first name. I remember asking my parents why Uncle Goodenow had such a funny name.  They said it was a “family” name, which satisfied me until recently, when I began to explore the endless spiral of genealogy. For the purposes of this blog, I have limited my research to names directly associated with my family, and have stopped the research at the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.  In other words, I am not attempting to present any information concerning family history before its arrival in America.  In the case of the Goodenow’s, this research spans a long, long timeline.

By the time the Goodenow name and lineage became associated with Uncle Goodenow, it had travelled through at least ten generations, beginning with Edmund Goodenow and family, who arrived from Bristol, England on the Confidence in 1638, making land at what is now called Sudbury, Massachusetts. Sometime when you care to, type the name Edmund Goodenow into your search engine and you will be surprised at the information that is available. Below is a photograph of Edmund and Anne Goodenow’s tombstone, located in Sudbury, Massachusetts, along with a transcription of the markings on the tombstone.
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Stacy Webb Thompson: Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Stacy Web Thompson photo 1870

Stacy Webb Thompson

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

J.R.R.Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring

My great great grandfather, Stacy Webb Thompson left what appeared to be a stable household in Curwinsville, Pennsylvania to venture westward. By 1869 he had moved all five of his sons (Ambrose, Byron, Edwin, Stacy and John) to Michigan.  Later his only daughter Lilly and his wife Elizabeth would follow.  With the exception of Edwin, who moved southward to Ligioner, Indiana, and John who moved first to Colorado and later to New York, all of his family remained in Michigan for the rest of their lives.

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Grandma Elizabeth stays home – Grandpa Stacy moves westward

Missouri Comp Map

Missouri Compromise Map

Between the years 1819 and 1824 the world changed in many ways:

In America, slavery was very much a part of our society.  In 1820 the Congress of the United States passed legislation known as the “Missouri Compromise” where the state of Missouri was admitted as a slave state and the state of Maine was admitted as a free state.

That same year 18,951 black slaves left Luanda, Angola bound for the United States of America.

In 1821 Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile on the island of St. Helena.

Luanda Angola Slavery

Luanda Angola Slavery

Napoleon Death


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Mabel Annetta Smith Thompson

Mabel earliest photo

Mabel in front with her cat

Happy Birthday Mom!

Although no longer with us, today, July 2, 2013, marks the 102nd. birthday of our mother, lover, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, sunday school teacher, high school bookkeeper, friend, caregiver, citizen and many other names known and unknown.  In each and all of these capacities Mabel excelled. In fact, if asked where she would rank in any of the aforementioned capacities, I am sure that she would be ranked as “the best”. Perhaps the only criticism that  could be made about my mother: She over-cooked the vegetables.

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Brothers: Goodenow and Ellsworth

In 1904, America had just re-elected Theodore Roosevelt as President and commenced building the Panama Canal.  In 1906 the World’s Fair opened in America’s Gateway-To-The-West City, St. Louis, and the great Earthquake wiped out San Francisco, California.  In between those two years, Einstein introduced his theory of Relativity.  It was a world full of change and development, and that was the world into which brothers Goodenow and Ellsworth were born.


Goodenow and Ellsworth with Grandpa Michael Kowalski

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Ellsworth’s Cousins: Ray & Grace Randall

Randall family_0002

Ray and his sister Clara

As a kid, the concept of a “second-cousin” was difficult to comprehend.  Ray & Grace Randall were of the same generation as our parent’s. They came to the same family gatherings as Uncle Goodenow and Aunt Hazel, but they had a different last name and called our grandparents “Uncle Walter and Aunt Blanche.”

Later I learned that “Uncle Ray” was the son of Grandpa Walter’s older sister Claudia who had died a long time ago. I was their “second cousin.”

Family whispers said that they were “Christian Scientists” and didn’t believe in doctor’s. Some of my first inquiries into religious beliefs centered around Christian Scientists and Mary Baker Eddy.

Uncle Ray was a plumber by vocation.  He and Aunt Grace had no children.  They lived on the West side of Detroit in a suburb called Dearborn. Aunt Grace was a big woman with a big laugh.  Uncle Ray was smaller with a laugh made without opening his mouth.  Both were kind souls to their “second cousins.”

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Four Generations: Stacy, Walter, Ellsworth And Herbert

Four generations 1_0001

Ellsworth, Stacy C., Herbert and Walter Thompson

Today we look at four generations of Thompson’s:

Stacy Clay Thompson, my great grandfather,  born in 1856 and died in 1944

Walter Stacy Thompson, my grandfather, born in 1877 and died in 1960

Ellsworth Walter Thompson, my father, born in 1906 and died in 1989

Herbert Walter Thompson, my brother, born in 1936 and still very much alive

These two photos are the only ones I have of the four generations of Thompson’s in a single photograph. I believe these photographs were taken in 1939 in the back yard of my Grandfather’s house in Detroit, Michigan.

A lot has transpired since Stacy accompanied his father Stacy Webb Thompson and three of his brothers on foot from central Pennsylvania to southwestern Michigan.[Continue Reading…]

The Isaman’s – Grandma’s cousins from East Jordan, Michigan

It seems strange to think about Grandma having cousins, yet clearly she did. Some had the last name “Isaman.” Allow me to attempt to explain.

Grandma’s mother, Emma Kowalske , grew up in East Jordan, Michigan during the middle years of the 19th century.

Her father, Michael Kowalske had immigrated from Germany to America, along with his wife, Minnie and their five children.  They settled briefly with his parents, who had immigrated to America in 1847,  near the town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, then travelled by sail boat to the eastern shores of Lake Michigan where they disembarked with farm animals and began their new life in the wilds of Northern Michigan. There is a lot more to write about Michael and the Kowalske’s, but that is for another entry. Today we are visiting the Isaman’s.

The following is from the Charlevoux County Genealogical Society.

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A Day In The Life: Walter, Blanche and Hazel – World War ll

WWll-Walter & Blanche_0001

Walter & Blanche Thompson

They lived together on Piper Blvd. in Detroit, Michigan:  Walter (my grandfather), Blanche (my grandmother) and Hazel (my aunt). The time was 1945 (more or less). I can guess at the date because there is a picture of my cousin Ed on the mantle, and he looks to be five or six years of age. The War was coming to a close. Detroit was getting ready to resume making the cars which guaranteed its existence.

Photographic images, now so old, remind me of my grandparent’s home: the clock with it’s hands stopped at 7:40; the iron figures on the mantle;  the pipe holder; the ash tray, close to wherever my grandfather sat; the sewing basket placed behind my grandmother’s chair; the doily’s on the arm rests of the chair; the old Zenith radio with the globe of the world on top; grandpa’s Spanish-American War momento’s framed and hung on the wall behind his rocking chair; Mickey, their dog, held close to my grandmother or aunt – all were a part of their every-day life.[Continue Reading…]