Archive for the ‘Baldwin’ Category

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.

Teddy Baldwin's Book, October 1, 1898

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.

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Recently, we discovered two additional letters written by my grandfather, Miles E. Baldwin, during his service in the Ambulance Corp in France, 1917-1919. I am adding these to the previous post series on this subject.

The first letter was written during the period when Miles was recovering from illness, and enduring a long convalescence. He was exposed to mustard gas and also suffered hearing loss from artillery blasts; the mustard gas caused some serious respiratory problems.    He was unhappy being away from his company and the men he had trained with, and was trying to be reassigned to his unit.

April 12/18

Commanding Officer

104th Ambulance Co.

Sir: – I greatly desire to return to your command and since it is only through your insistence that my return is possible, I appeal to you again.

It has been my misfortune to be separated from the company by sickness; now that I am well I desire to be back with my comrades, with the company that I esteem above all others.

Application to the Div. Surgeon and Headquarters of the 41st Div, also applications sent to the 161st Field Hospital have returned some men to their original companies.

I am now in good health and feel great confidence in my ability to carry out everything in line of duty.  Please give me a chance to play the game like a man, and not remain here like an unfit, entirely out of it all.

I have done everything possible to effect my return, but it’s only through your effort that it can be brought about.

Will you please notify me if you desire my return to your command so that I may act in conjunction with your wishes.


Pvt. 1/cl Miles E. Baldwin, Jr.

161st Field Hospital


The letter has a typed heading along one side: HQ1 26th DIV. AEF. 705. (Dis. from Hosp.)  May 9, 1918.

Miles "Ted" Baldwin

The last letter was written about a year later, to Aunt Jennie, and contains some more details of his stay. He never was returned to his unit, and endured a variety of random assignments in the year before his departure back to the states.

March 1, 1919

Dear Aunt Jennie, I am in Brest, on the sailing list and expect soon to be on the way back to the States.

I feel pretty fair considering the manner in which I spent my time convalescing.  During that time I did everything from administering an anesthetic to digging drainage ditches.

Do not send any more mail to France for I will probably be on my way home before it arrives here, besides I haven’t received any mail since January 12, anyway.

The rain here is continuous and after you take a breath of the air here, you need a bellows to blow the fog off your chest.

I suppose most of the boys in my old unit are home or in the States by the time you receive this letter.  I expect that it will be rather rough crossing at this time of the year.  I send love and best wishes to you all and I hope the days will be few before I am back in little Rhody again where the sun shines once in a while and New England boiled dinners are obtainable.

Love to yourself,  Ted.

Pvt. 1/cl Miles E Baldwin Jr

Casual Company #979

Censored by: [blank]

Combined with the earlier letters and pictures these letters give me a better idea of his two-year experience.

I close this series with the last memento I have:


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In the last two posts we learned that my great grandmother Bessie was from Nova Scotia and that she married and passed away in Newton, Mass.

My grandfather saw little or nothing of the Martins after Bessie’s death.  When I began researching them I figured out a bit about Bessie’s mother’s family, the Shipleys.  I was stuck on Bessie’s father Marston Martin and getting nowhere.

Then an Ancestry.com thing happened

Marston has been in my Ancestry.com tree for a couple years.  One day, I noticed that someone had saved Bessie and Clara’s pictures to another family tree.  Although I’ve had some false alarms in the past, of thinking there might be a connection only to find something was wrong, I looked through the other tree carefully.  What I found astonished me.  Marston’s parents were there, James and Margaret Martin, just as advertised in the Nova Scotia marriage license.  Margaret was an Anderson.  As I clicked way back through the Martin tree I was amazed to see the birthplace of  “Lebanon, Connecticut” and, even earlier, “Edgartown” (that’s on Martha’s Vinyard, Massachusetts).

I wrote to the tree owner and we began a correspondence.  He’s very nice and a good genealogist.  Years ago, his wife’s mother told him some family stories and, in consultation with her, he began to research her family and document the tree.  His mother in law knew of Marston, who “had gone down to the states”.  The family called him Mars. The tree owner actually lives in Wolfville, which he said was a pleasant college town. I was looking for Marston’s life before leaving Nova Scotia.  He was looking for Marston’s life after leaving Nova Scotia. We met on Ancestry.

Meet the Martins, Andersons, Coldwells and Bartletts

He told me that the original Anderson settlers, James and Mary Anderson, were Loyalists from Baltimore.  I have since learned that a number of other descendants have tried to trace him further, with no success.  It’s been fun connecting with those distant cousins, though.

Then he explained that the Martins were New England Planters.  They were recruited in southern New England in the 1750’s to come to Nova Scotia and take over the Acadian land that had belonged to the French before they were expelled by the British in 1755.  Marston’s gg-grandparents Brotherton and Betty Martin were among those that settled in Horton Township.  They are buried in the Old Burying Ground in Wolfville.  The original grant of land stayed in the family for over 200 years although it has now been sold.

My ancestor Brotherton Martin was born to a family of early settlers on Martha's Vinyard

Brotherton Martin was born in Edgartown, Martha’s Vinyard in 1719 but moved as an adult with his brother to Lebanon, Connecticut.  He married Elizabeth Bartlett in Lebanon and they moved to Horton Township around 1761.  My research is preliminary but the Bartletts are part of a group that moved from Duxbury in Plymouth County, Mass. to Lebanon, Connecticut.

So far, I suspect that Betty Bartlett is a Mayflower descendant many times over; her great great grandparents include John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, and her ggg-grandparents include Mayflower passengers William Brewster and Richard Warren.

In closing I can only imagine that Grampa would have been very, very interested in this story.  I can easily imagine him researching these places, people and events.  He knew more about the Baldwins than I have yet found, however I am sure I know more about the Martins.  There was a distinct lack of history and roots in Miles’ life; little did he know his own history was all around him in southern New England.


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When we left off in Part One, we found that Bessie married in 1892 in Milton, Massachusetts but had Wolfville, Nova Scotia roots.

Bessie (back) and sister Clara ... hopefully having fun at a fair (those hats can't be for real!)

From an old family photo, and the census records, I know that Bessie had a sister, Clara.  Did the two sisters come to the U.S. on their own?

A little more about Aunt Clara

I had good luck finding some records for Clara.  She married Arthur Beaudry in 1896.  In 1897 (per the Springfield Union, on GenealogyBank.com), she was called back to Springfield to testify about a sad little incident where a neighbor accused her of spending the night in the bedroom of the local homeless shelter keeper (well THAT doesn’t sound tempting).  Clara acquitted herself well; it turns out although she lived down the street, she was out of town during the time in question, but the whole thing makes me wonder how chaotic and difficult their lives were. In that article Clara mentioned visiting a relative, “Mrs. Hendrickson”.  By researching Hendrickson records in Springfield at that time, I discovered that Clara’s aunt, Deliah Shipley Cameron, was living in Springfield and had a daughter who married a Hendrickson.

Combining this knowledge with a Massachusetts birth and death record for Maria and Marston’s youngest child, Daisy, I now knew that Maria and Marston’s whole family, and indeed some extended family, had immigrated to the U.S.  Clara reported in a later census that the immigration year was 1888 but it must have been by 1887, when Marston and Maria’s youngest child was born in Massachusetts.

Clara ... could she be holding her nephew, Miles? or was it a later picture with a child of her own?

Clara went on to have what seemed like a happy life, moving from place to place with her husband Arthur Beaudry, who built church organs.  They eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where I suspect Arthur was employed by the early Holtkamp Organ Company.

Bessie marries

So Bessie Martin arrived in the U.S. as an 18 year old and married Miles Edward Baldwin about four years later.  She was living in Milton, Mass. (no occupation – “at home”) before her marriage and then took up residence in Newton, Mass. where her husband was a watchmaker.  His shop was on Beacon Street opposite Sumner in Newton Center, and “Mr. and Mrs. M.E. Baldwin” were boarding at 85 Erie Avenue in Newton (thanks and a tip of the hat to the folks in Newton who placed a number of old city directories online here).  A peek at Erie Avenue on Google Maps shows it to be quite a nice tree lined street with modest Victorian houses that might pre-date 1893.

Baby Miles "Teddy" Baldwin

Their first child, Miles Edward Baldwin Jr., was born 30 April 1893.  We have a beautiful, faded portrait of grampa as a baby.  When you look at it, you can only think, someone loved this baby very much.

A sad ending

On 14 Mar 1897 their second son, Blanchard Baldwin, was born in Newton.  One day later, Bessie Blanche Martin died.  I had always thought complications of birth caused her death so I was surprised when the death record, found via FamilySearch.org, listed Cancer of the Stomach as the cause of death.

My grandfather was not quite four when she died.  He didn’t remember her.  I suspect Bessie’s mother was gone by this time, Clara had moved west, and so Grampa lost touch completely with this family. He was raised by his father and a stepmother, although he wasn’t particularly welcome in their home.


Next time, the surprising history of the Martin family and the heritage that Grampa never knew about. 

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Miles Edward Baldwin returned to Providence after his discharge in April, 1919 just in time for the Roaring 20’s.  His Army training and injury in France  while serving as an ambulance driver were, seemingly, behind him, although the injury would affect his hearing for the rest of his life.

Of the few things that Miles brought back from the war, the one that I think expresses the horror of it best is a postcard from France which he labelled, probably years later.  I find it hard to look at this postcard of all those new graves, and his caption seems very poignant to me.

American Cemetery in Romagne near Verdun (France)

And yet I can also imagine the desire to live the life that all those soldiers were deprived of.   An early stop upon his return must have been Aunt Jenny and Uncle Will’s house at 107 Prospect Street, Providence. They took some pictures of the returning soldier:

Miles “Ted” Baldwin at Aunt Jenny’s house, 1919

I know he was looking forward to returning to Providence and starting work.  At some point, his uncle who was a trustee of the Narragansett Electric Company used his influence to get Miles a job there. He did different jobs for them over the years, two of which were appliance salesman and coal quality tester.

An ink drawing from 1920 shows that Miles clearly aspired to some of the grandeur of Europe

In the 1920’s, Miles married.  But it wasn’t my grandmother, it was a first wife who I can only identify as “Mary C.” from the 1925 Rhode Island Census.  My memory of this marriage goes back to my childhood when I was within earshot of Grampa’s rendition of the story of his divorce. This was spoken of so seldom that I have remembered it all these years.  Grampa knew that Mary was cheating on him, but divorce in those days was difficult and required actual evidence of infidelity.  He managed to know the location of a tryst his wife was planning — whether it was his own apartment or a hotel, I’m not sure.  He hired a photographer and they burst into the room, snapping photos.  The man jumped up from the bed yelling “I’m sorry!  I’m so sorry!”.  Grampa replied: “Buddy, you’re the best friend I ever had.”  And so ended that marriage.

Miles enjoyed his Yankee Division, Veterans of Foreign Wars activities in the years that followed.  During WW2, he served as an air raid warden. Taps was played at his funeral.  I’d like to think that he never forgot those that couldn’t be saved on the battlefields of France.  I hope that we don’t either.

A few remaining letters are covered in part 4.

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When we left off in part 1, Miles Edward Baldwin was stationed in the Argonne, France, serving as an ambulance driver in U.S. Army.

During the course of his duties he moved many dead or wounded soldiers, from both sides.  This postcard is a sad souvenir:

German postcard with bullet hole

At some point Miles was exposed to a nearby bomb blast and mustard gas.  Later in life, he developed hearing problems, but at the time, he suffered from prolonged chest and lung problems which landed him in a military hospital.

We have several letters he wrote during that time.  I’d like to include those here.  I suspect there were many more letters, but these are what we have.  From the Part 1 blog entry we learned that Miles’ mother died when he was tiny, his grandmother died in 1907, but he was close to an elderly aunt and uncle, Aunt Jennie (there is a post about her) and Uncle Will.

The first letter describes the Christmas, 1918 festivities at the hospital.

We had a corking good dinner here to-day, the best I ever had in the army


Name: Private M.E. Baldwin Jr.

Field Hospital #161

American E.F.

Christmas, 1918

Dear Aunt Jennie, I’m wishing you and Uncle Will a Merry Christmas to-day in my thoughts.  I hope you will pardon the pencil for I am “sans encre” at present.

Yesterday evening I received all my September mail and the photo of you & Uncle Will & Jennie May.  It is a dandy and it came just in time for Christmas.  I also received the letter from the Cape and it was bully to hear from everyone.  I certainly do remember West Harwich and the dandy trip we had in the summer of 1917.

The letters I received were of the following dates Aug 30, Sept. 2, Sept. 10, Sept. 12, Sept. 16, Sept. 22, Sept. 27 and Sept. 20 and the photo.  All this mail was delayed with my company in the Argonne sector where there was bound to be more or less confusion.

back of Christmas letter

[back] We had a corking good dinner here to-day, the best I ever had in the army.  We had turkey, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, grape jelly, brown gravy, bread and BUTTER, coffee, raisin pie, pumpkin pie, cake, figs, oranges, grapes & apples, and to top it off a real, honest to goodness cigar.  There was plenty for all, more than we could eat and believe me, us boys did it justice.
I feel pretty fair now, not withstanding the dinner. Was examined again yesterday & my lungs & bronchii are O.K.  Heart is quite rapid but there is no leakage and it is a good deal better than it was a week ago, so I will come out of the war but a little worse for wear.

I expect to be either on the way to the Rhine or to the States very soon.  I will write often and keep you posted.  I send my best regards to Dr. Davenport and was very glad to have him write.  Tell Uncle Will I hope to reach the Rhine and see a little of Germany.  I send lots of love to you all and thank you for the photo very much.  “John Hopper”.

Pvt Miles E Baldwin, Jr.

Field Hos. #161


I guess “John Hopper” is either a private joke or a WW1 expression.  I don’t know.


Letter #2 Allerey, France

January 6, 1919

Dear Aunt Jennie, I am going to be here for a few more days, probably two weeks, until my heart is O.K.  Then I will probably start on the next steps towards the states.  I am feeling O.K. now but am a little nervous, the effects of gas are very slow to disappear, but I’m getting along fine.

We are happy for we know that we will get home for certain, it is only a matter of time and a few weeks don’t matter after a year and a half of it on the line

At present time I am doing light duty in an ear, eye, nose & throat clinic.  The work is interesting and I am glad to be able to help out a little.

It will probably be quite a long while before we all get home for there are so many of us and we have to avoid congestion of transportation and it is hard to find quarters for us all near the seacoast, besides, the weather is fine rain, rain, rain and the mud is awful, half way to ones knees on many much traveled roads.

We are happy for we know that we will get home for certain, it is only a matter of time and a few weeks don’t matter after a year and a half of it on the line and of course now the uncertainty of our ever getting back is removed.

Lots of love to Judge and yourself, I will write again when I move on from here. Ted.

Pvt Miles E Baldwin

Field Hospital #161


And the last letter:


14th Co. 152 Depot Brigade

Camp Upton N.Y.

April 2, 1919

I will be a "civi" toot sweet

Dear Aunt Jennie, I have looked over the situation here and have been examined by two medical boards.  My lungs are O.K. and bronchitis improving.  I will not be operated on for hemorrhoids or sinusitis and will be discharged in about 5 days and ready to go to work as soon as I arrive in Providence.  I shall still hold my insurance for $10,000 and if I can will change it for an endowment policy.  I certainly will be glad to leave here, about the only way to get compensation in the war was to lose a leg or some other part of one’s anatomy essential to earning a livelihood.  I will be a “civi” toot sweet.  Lots of love to you and Uncle Will.

As ever.  Ted

n.b.  Blanchard was here to see me Sunday.  He is well.


Camp Upton, Long Island

“Camp Upton” was a military camp on Long Island  that, after WW2, was turned into Brookhaven National Laboratory.  “Blanchard” was his brother, who was serving in the Navy.

In Part 3, Ted returns to Providence.

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