This past Christmas my mother passed along to me a few little treasures that I hadn’t seen yet. One was a small booklet made when my grandfather was very small called “Teddy Baldwin’s book”. When she had described this to me we assumed it was a little book of his sayings penned by perhaps his mother or possibly, later, his grandmother. She mentioned there were some fabric samples in it.
I was surprised to see that the book was from Newton, Mass., during the period when Teddy’s mother Bessie Blanche (Martin) Baldwin had passed away and his father had recently remarried. At that time, I guess Bessie’s sisters still had a large role in his life.
The book contains some of Teddy’s sayings and ends with about 5 pages of cloth snippets with handwritten labels identifying them as “mama’s dress”, etc. I suspect this was produced during the period after Bessie’s death in March, 1897 and Miles, Sr.’s removal from Newton, Mass in late 1899. He remarried in 1898.
People mentioned in the book:
- Teddy – my grandfather, Miles Edward Baldwin Jr.
- Mama – Bessie (Martin) Baldwin, 1870-1897
- Papa – that is Teddy’s father, Miles Sr.
- Aunt Hazel – she is Bessie’s sister; she was 14 at the time
- Mrs Ferguson – I don’t know who this is; I suspect she was the landlady or a neighbor
- Mama Mabel – the new wife and stepmother. Was it generous of the sisters to include her in the booklet, or were they all genuinely friendly?
- Charles Henry, who is obviously a baby – this baby seems to be living with Teddy. Teddy’s brother, born one day prior to the death of the mother, is Blanchard, known as “Jim” – so this is confusing. But it’s possible no one ever liked the name Blanchard – given for the deceased mother, according to family stories – but if you were going to give a baby nickname would it really be Charles Henry? Jim’s birth record on FamilySearch is confusing and was apparently amended, so I need to see the local record myself. Jim has no descendants.
Who is the unnamed author?
I suspect this was sister May. Since sister Clara married and was living elsewhere by 1896, I believe Clara is not the author. May (see below) was maid of honor at her sister’s wedding, so I am guessing she was the attentive aunt who made this booklet for Teddy. The next year, Teddy went to live with his paternal grandmother, Grandma Ross, in Providence while Miles Sr. and the new wife spent the year in Connecticut where I assume he was improving his watchmaking skills. The baby Blanchard may have been sent to board with a local family – not relatives. Much of this is a mystery to us.
In my recent visit to the Boston Public Library, I found some articles about Bessie in the local newspapers on microfilm:
- Miss Bessie B., daughter of Mrs. Marston Martin of Milton, and Mr. M.E. Baldwin of Newton were married on Thursday evening of last week at the home of the bride’s mother in Milton. The ceremony occurred at 8 o’clock in the presence of relatives and near friends, Rev. Mr. Sherman of Mattapan officiating. The bride’s sister, Miss May Martin, was maid of honor, and Mr. James Carson of Boston Highlands was best man. Following the ceremony a reception was held, at the close of which the newly wedded couple departed on their wedding tour. Upon their return, Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin will reside on Erie Avenue, Newton Highlands. –from The Milton News/Dorchester Advertiser, v. XII no.24, Milton, Mass., Saturday, Sept. 10, 1892, p. 5 (unnumbered), “Local Department – Milton”.
- “DIED.” - BALDWIN – At Newton Hospital, March 15, Bessie, wife of Miles E. Baldwin, 24 yrs., 8 mos. — from The Newton Graphic, Friday, March 19, 1897, p.2.
- The funeral of Mrs. Baldwin, wife of Mr. M.E. Baldwin, whose death occurred at the Newton Hospital on Monday, took place at the chapel of Newton Cemetery on Wednesday. Rev. Mr. Bonner officiated. — from The Newton Graphic, Friday, March 19, 1897, p.6, “Newton Highlands.”
All of this leads me to know a little more:
- Bessie’s mother was still alive in 1892 and was apparently separated from her husband, and living in Milton. I have no further record of her but there is more for me to explore in Milton, Mass.
- Aunt Clara, whom I have pictures of, was not the maid of honor, it was May.
- The family were not church-goers; the funeral was held in the cemetery chapel across the street, where Miles Sr.’s stepfather was a supervisor.
- Bessie’s family obviously cared about Teddy and spent a lot of time with him before he moved from Newton.