Monday, October 31, 2016

Notes From My Grandmother | Potwin Lineage and Genealogy, Beulah's Letters

Somehow, much of my grandmother's hand written and (badly) typed notes and research wound up in my possession. Traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles and back to Chicago again. It sat, in the dark of my mother's closet, until my dad passed and my mom decided to begin her great purge. Knowing I had picked up the torch, the next generation to pursue the Greatest Hobby on Earth, the papers came to live with me. Unsure for many years on just what to do with them, I have decided to bring them out and share them with you - transcribed, of course - no one can read my grandmother's handwriting! But in her own words; mistakes, rambling sentences, and all. I think she will be pleased her work and her writing are once again out in the light.

Dear Friend,

Glad to hear from you so soon - your visit to Iowa was short or was the weather too bad -

I want to talk about Iowa - I was born in Shelby Co at Portsmouth - 83 years, next April. Not long ago I asked for a birth certificate from Iowa and got it back immediately - Surprised me as I never could get my oldest daughter's birth certificate from Pierre S.D. - just shows you - some states keep better records.

My father was a Sims (and I have now a wonderful record way back for my family too - from England to America and down to the present) - 

To go back to Iowa - The Sims boys (6) came to Iowa from Penna - settled on farms in Jackson Co. - My mother (a Marlow) came west from a Maryland Plantation (that is, her grandmother did before the Civil War) also had 14 children - all died before she did. She lived to be 97. My father's mother lived to be 93 spent her last days at Portsmouth Ia.

My father had gone to Ames Ia. to school. My mother had the first square piano in Iowa, became a brilliant pianist so I started too at 5 to play - At 5 years of age I was attending kindergarten in Marion, Ia. then we moved to Savanna Ill where we lived til I was out of High School - went fishing and hunting with my father - had a nice horse to care for in High School days. Then went to Oberlin to college while my two sisters went to Northwestern in Chicago. Then after college we all moved west - and lived in Aberdeen S.D. for schools - I had two smaller brothers by then.

I met my future husband at Aberdeen - He had graduated from Yale the year before - came west - got on a newspaper and never left the job of being an editorial writer

We finally came west and I certainly would not live any place else!

See how I wander! I was telling you about Iowa - I spent many summers with relatives in Jackson Co - in Harlan Ia - they were my mother's relatives - Stewarts at Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids. My grandfather sold cattle to Henry Wallace who had a newspaper in Des Moines - I still have the old letters they wrote each other - but no one liked Henry Jr the boy much - look where he got! Vice President to Roosevelt, but Presidents seem to want weak men around them.

Enough for Iowa now - Tell me where you lived in Iowa, what did your husband do - I want your children's names, birth dates, their children, if any, etc.

Now - last week at the U of Wash graduate dept where Inez, my youngest daughter, has a wonderful job - she writes brochures and other matter for the Pres - the deans, etc - interviews the entering graduate students - One young man from Massachusetts was named Potwin, so I explained to Inez he was a Scandinavian, and he looked like one, she said. That doesn't mean that he is not of that family clan - the Potevines - history says the Huguenots (in 15th century) were Protestants and as we all know much of that foreign world was Catholic - even the Kings obeyed the mandates of the Pope and bishops etc - Well, there was a King Chas. in France who vowed to kill all the Huguenots off and proceeded to do just that - so many fled - to Scandinavian countries - to England - to America.

Also a girl from Iowa told Inez she had a teacher in Iowa named Hildegard Potwin. Do you know her - perhaps your son's daughter? Don't forget to give me your children's names - where they live - their children etc.

Another thing - as I am making a copy of the genealogy - one point comes up. Was it Augustus Monroe or Monroe Augustus? (son of Benjamin) On page 17 of the original genealogy he is listed as Augustus Monroe. Let me know which is correct and I will make a change -

You asked when John (2) went to Yale, but it says he was there.

John(2) - gold and silversmith - his work is in museums in Boston - New Haven (at Yale) one of the best of early craftsmen - work is sought after by collectors. Moved to Hartford 1740 where he had a store selling fine merchandise. His wife Mary - daughter of Thomas Jackson of Boston, a family who has many prominent Boston descendants buried in East Windsor, Conn.


I have a tablespoon made by Paul Revere who worked with the Potwin craftmsen at one time in Boston. I think I have a picture somewhere of the Potwine homestead - I'll send it for you to see and please send it back - Ann my married daughter has 2 daughters, one in college - she was here the past weekend and she is most excited with all this history.

Wrote Random House and asked them if they would comment on some discrepancies I found. And also have asked for Amy Kelly 's address in Miami - She went to Lake Erie College in Painesville Ohio where Ruth Potwin was a teacher a long time - she taught sports - horseback riding, tennis, etc. Wonder if she knew Amy?

I miss Ruth very much - we wrote so often. She was always begging me to come back there and I was so afraid of their muggy summers - their terrible winters, but I should have gone. She was alone - her husband died a year after they were married - left her a lovely colonial home just down the street from her parents. She was just  my age - seemed afraid of old age. Well, no one believes I'm 83 - and I never act it either - sprier than I was 20 years ago.

In Magnificent Century they gave Elinor a different father and mother and a group of sisters. In Conquering Family she had a brother (letter mentions) and a sister (Petronella) who married a Saraceu who became King of Jerusalem, etc. I am reading "Three Edwards" now - Edward I was John's son and tried to be a good king - 

So it goes.

If you have read this far, please forgive me for being so garrulous - I shall now work a puzzle - a hard one - to rest my nerves.

Do write me. Oh, by the way there are some Potwins in Oregon I know about. Some in Portland I know belong. I knew their father - he was a railway detective and looked like a P. too, but he is dead. Told me his father David came from Canada -

Tell me all the towns you lived in in Iowa. I had a wonderful childhood running about in Iowa - the farms of both my grandparents. Remember my great grandmother well - never saw her ill - she came west with a Blakeley Family who had 14 children.

My grandfather was a young man then - negroes on their plantation in Maryland so he was not used to work - he married one of the Blakeley girls so the Marlowes and Blakeley's were closely knit as one of my father's sisters married the only Blakeley boy and with all those loving sisters he had - he was a spoiled brat - his progeny live in Butte Montana and I correspond with them - they too keep up the family history.

What do you think of Chicago? I was there a lot - when we only lived 135 miles west at Savanna on the Mississippi - It was wonderful those days - my mother's sister had a lovely big home in Austin (near Oak Park) we went to the parks for nightly band concerts - to operas, etc - I have never seen Chicago since the advent of skyscrapers!

I see by the genealogy there was a Henry Potwin went to Chicago - back when! My aunt told of meeting two very nice young Potwin girls - I know my husband wasn't interested in the genealogy - he thought his sister Bess thought too much of family - and they didn't split up any valuable antiques either - 

All for now - 

Rest up - 

Beulah E Potwin

to be continued ........

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved
©1965 Beulah E Potwin - Private Collection

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