52 Ancestors #7: Love: Thomas Barth & Carol Mandigo

 

My parents in Moab, Utah, in 1998

 

This week’s topic of the 52 Ancestors Challenge is Love, and there is no one in my family tree that I can think of who have demonstrated love more so than my parents. Married for 46 years, they were the quintessential high school sweetheart couple who began dating as 15-year old sophomores; Dad was an athlete who played football and swam, and Mom was a cheerleader. In 1969, they graduated high school together. My mother headed off to nursing school at the Burbank School of Nursing in Fitchburg, MA, while my father headed off to Castleton State College in Castleton, VT, to pursue a double major in chemistry & math and a minor in French.

High School Prom

Wedding day September 4, 1971

They married on September 4, 1971, in their hometown of Windsor, VT. My mother began working as a nurse at a local hospital while my father worked as an engineer at a local factory. Their first child, a son, was born on December 5, 1972. My brother was a very precocious child who was reading at the age of 18 months and was known for his massive temper tantrums. My parents were dealing with a highly gifted child who didn’t have much support or guidance for what to do with such a gifted child in the public school system, but they were willing to do whatever they could. My brother was such a handful that my mother often told me how she didn’t want any more children after my brother because of how much of a handful he was.

Fortunately, they did decide to have another child in 1977–me. Apparently, I was quite the easy baby compared to my brother, and it sounds like that was a much-needed blessing in their house at that time. Finances were tight for the two of them, let alone as a family of four now. We lived in a single-wide mobile home during the first few years of my life before my parents purchased their first home, a small cape-cod style home for $25,000. During that time my father was laid off from his job as an engineer and took a job teaching high school science and math. My mother was working as a nurse at the V.A. Hospital. Unfortunately, the salary of a teacher wasn’t enough to help my father provide for his family. He left teaching for the United States Postal Service which immediately doubled his salary.

In 1987, my parents sold the house and we moved to the next town to the north where they built a new house. My father continued working for the post office for the next 20 years, and my mother continued her career as a nurse at the V.A. Hospital. They continued raising my brother and me, carting us all over the country helping us fulfill our dreams. They loved their children and all the pets that came and went, but most of all, they loved each other. They loved vacationing together on Marco Island, FL.

They grieved the loss of two of their beloved Bernese Mountain Dogs in just two months’ time (In May and June), but nothing would prepare them for what happened within days of losing their second dog. My mother was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, and it had already spread to her bones, pancreas, and liver. As my mother put it, “I was fine one day and then I wasn’t.”

The cancer was very advanced, and my mother lasted only a few weeks after diagnosis until she passed on July 28, 2018. The image of my father holding my dying mother’s hand at her bedside is one that I will never forget. This past September should have been their 47th wedding anniversary, and they would have been together a total of 50 years. My mother would have turned 67 years old in December. Her death shattered our family, and we are still picking up the pieces just six months later.

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52 Ancestors #5 At the Library

 

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Windsor Public Library, Windsor, VT

This week’s topic is ‘At the Library,’ and isn’t about a particular ancestor. If I was being completely honest, this week should probably be called ‘At the Veterinarian,’ as I ended up having to take our almost 5 year old Bernese Mountain Dog to three different vets in three different states in three days for epileptic seizures, which was on the heels of 17 inches of snow followed by torrential rain resulting in minor flooding in the area.

The library in my town holds a special place in my heart. I would often tag along with my grandmother as she returned and took out more books to read every couple of weeks. My grandmother lived just up the street from the library and we would walk together.

As an adult, I recently discovered and joined a local genealogy group that meets at the library once a month. I’ve only been to a couple of meetings so far, but I’m really enjoying myself. It’s a very welcoming group with people of all different genealogical experience. I don’t consider myself to be a very social person; I work from home and don’t get out much. In fact, I consider myself to be quite socially awkward. This genealogy group has been a fantastic way for me to try and push the boundaries of my own comfort zone and share the genealogy tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years with others.

The library building itself is not large by any means and has stood there since 1904. It is a one-story Georgian Revival structure, 60×28 feet with an annex 26×16 feet in the rear. The structure itself is composed of Ascutney Granite for the foundation, with the exterior walls being red brick. The cornices and exterior trimmings are made of Fitchburg Granite. The roof is made of the “finest Maine slate.”

I’m looking forward to the next genealogy group meeting that will occur in a couple of days at the same small library I grew up going to.

(And yes, the dog is okay now, but will need some additional follow-up testing and medication 3x a day for the rest of his life.)

Edmund W. Mandigo

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Edmund Walter Mandigo

Edmund Walter Mandigo was born on April 5, 1926 in Tinmouth, Vermont. He was the third of eight children born to Mabel D. Griffith and Francis J. Mandigo, and the oldest male child. Ed, or Eddie as some called him, was a wonderful, loving man. He was my mother’s father. To me, he was Papa, and he was the only grandfather I ever knew.

He was strikingly handsome, with dark hair, high cheekbones, and a smile that would melt your heart. His youthful appearance caused him to even be mistaken for my mother’s husband a few times.

Papa also had quite the sense of humor and loved playing practical jokes on people, especially his mother. Ed would call her on the telephone, put a handkerchief over the receiver to disguise his voice, and claim to be calling from the Republican Party asking for donations and her support at the voting polls come election time. Mabel, a staunch Democrat, would yell back into the phone, “I wouldn’t vote for GOD if he were Republican!” Continue reading

DNA Testing: A Pandora’s Box

I received an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas this year. I mailed it back to Ancestry on 12/29/17, and the results are expected to take 6-8 weeks or longer due to the high volume this time of year. Both of my parents have also taken the Ancestry DNA tests, as well as two of my father’s siblings. I’ll post my results when I receive them, but for now, I’ll share each of my parents’ DNA results from Ancestry.

My Mother (C.M.)

I was eager to see the results of my mother’s Ancestry DNA test because we thought she may have some Native American heritage. She is also an only child, so there are no siblings of hers we can test. As it turned out, she didn’t, and the results were pretty much as we expected:

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My mother’s paternal grandmother was born in Wales, and her paternal great-grandmother was born in Ireland.  On my mother’s maternal side, her great-great grandfather was born in Canada.

My Father (T.B.)

My father was the first in our family to take the Ancestry test back in 2014, and his ethnicity results were what we expected be based on the paper genealogy trail we had at the time:

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Here’s the thing with DNA tests: They are very much a Pandora’s box. They can be very helpful in confirming all of the paper trail research you’ve done and help find new relatives you didn’t know you had, but they can also reveal secrets and surprises.

And this is where things get complicated on my father’s side… Continue reading

The Beginning

My passion for genealogy began at a very early age, well before the internet revolution. As a young child, I would often sit at the table and watch my father write and mail letters to the vital records departments of various cities such as New York, Hartford, CT, and Bristol, RI. He was meticulous, organized, and took the time to answer every question I asked. If he didn’t know the answer he would tell me so, and then ask me how we should go about finding the answer to the question I asked.

By my teens, I was accompanying my father on genealogical field trips. Many were to out of state big city libraries, and to the state of Vermont’s vital records center. We even drove down to Tarrytown, NY, and went to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in search of tombstones for relatives. The trip to Tarrytown, NY is one I’ll never forget.

Continue reading