Happy Landings from Kansas to the Cape

There and Back Again

Two weeks ago, bags and books packed, I set out on a 3000-mile journey from Kansas to the east coast and back again. My next book talk was in Barnstable, but there’s a lot of country between Kansas and the Cape, and I took advantage of the opportunity.

Books are packed!

Virginia and Maryland

I stopped at the western Virginia home of fellow biographer Martha Wolfe. It’s so pastoral there, the perfect, green home for grazing sheep… which was amusing, because I went next to my son and daughter-in-law’s home, and what was on the agenda? The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! Alpacas, sheep, spinning, weaving, and more varieties of wool and yarn than I thought possible.

Middletown, Connecticut

Next up was a full day of research at the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, Connecticut. What a lovely town that is! I had corresponded with the library before, seeking a reference from the AGBI — the American Genealogical-Biographical Index–which documents millions of people who lived in the 17th through 19th centuries.

I was raised in Arizona and live in Kansas, but some of my paternal ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, and others came in the 1630s to Boston and Providence. My Thomas Dewey and Emilie’s Richard Baker both lived in Dorchester in 1635, but if they were neighbors, it didn’t last long. The Deweys headed to Connecticut, and the Bakers remained in Dorchester for three more generations before Emilie’s great-great-grandfather moved to Portland.

I copied a bunch of documents to read later and laughed when I saw this title on the sale table: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived. Anyone who gets deep into family research feels that they’ve embarked on this at some point!

East Greenwich, Rhode Island

The traces of most people who lived four hundred years ago are long gone, but I walked the Village Green at Lebanon, Connecticut and drove slowly through Scituate, Rhode Island, both places where my ancestors remained for more than one hundred years.

In East Greenwich, I walked on my 8th great-grandfather’s land. George Vaughan lived along this pond and stream in the late 1600s. (The falls were built up in the 1840s.) I tried to remember what kind of clothing people wore in the late 1600s. How would George have looked, walking along here, I wondered.

Then to the Cape and Happy Landings!

Falmouth, Massachusetts

Take a minute to gaze out at this view, put yourself in this place.

When I arrived at Falmouth, I gasped to see the view from my room. This is definitely my kind of place. I love being where I can look out to blue water and blue sky–all the better, if it comes with sunny skies and maritime breezes.

I had work to do, and could there be a better place to do it?

Barnstable, Massachusetts

It was nice to drive into Barnstable and already have my bearings. I stopped to see the Old Schoolhouse, the Unitarian Church, and the blacksmith’s shop.

New friends Elissa and Nancy met me at the library, and we walked to pinpoint the location of the Odiorne Place, where Emilie lived from August 1889 to August 1890. (Elissa lives on the same street, and Nancy Shoemaker co-wrote Women of Barnstable, which profiles 200 women who lived in Barnstable in earlier times. There is no substitute for local knowledge when you want to find something!) Old photos and maps suggest that present-day foundation ruins are from a separate structure at the end of the house. What do you think its purpose was?

May 13th, Sturgis Library: “Emilie Loring Returns to Barnstable”

My presentation on Saturday began with a 1928 home movie of Emilie and Victor Loring descending the steps of their cottage across the road from Stone House. It’s amazing to see her alive and moving–so much more real. Eighty-four slides later, we were ready to take a walking tour of Barnstable places with connections to Emilie.

The walk actually began in the Sturgis Library itself. Of course, the Bakers would have gone to the library! Circulation records show a full page of books checked out–several at a time–by Emilie’s sister, Rachel. Were they all for her, or did she pick up books for each member of the family? Poignantly, the record stops two weeks before George Baker’s death.

Next came the courthouse where Victor Loring tried a sensational divorce case in 1889. Was Emilie among the many who filled the courtroom to hear testimony? Or did she just read about it in the paper?

β€œDon’t think that I am not thrilled by your legal victory, I am. Read of it in the paper just before you came.”

Fair Tomorrow

We took the Bakers’ homes in reverse order and went next to the “Flint” residence where Emilie’s father died and where the family remained until they had performed his final play at Masonic Hall. Then we turned around and went in the opposite direction to find the aforementioned ruins of the Odiorne house.

When Emilie lived at the Odiorne place, the home “commanded a fine view of the shore from Plymouth to Provincetown.” To get the same view now, you’d have to climb to the top of one of those trees.

I had a great time in Barnstable. Only one of the attendees at my talk had read Emilie Loring. The rest were people who just thought it might be interesting and were game enough to traipse around their own village with an outsider pointing out places of interest. My kind of people!

West Yarmouth, Massachusetts

Before I left town, I made a stop at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth. The last time I came to the Cape, I was with my friend Lynn whose ancestor was the pirate William Downs, but we missed seeing the museum. I have no pirate ancestors (that I know of), but my ancestor Sylvester Sweet was a vintner in the same town at the same time as Captain Downs. I’m going to make a wild guess that they knew each other.

My next post will cover Boston… and yet another will show you Wellesley Hills. (Did you attend the virtual/online presentation from Wellesley? If so, let me know in the comments below. I want to hear how that went.)

Until then, keep reading Happy Landings, and let me know, if your book club or library would like me to do an in-person or virtual presentation. I have a little break before I head back east to scheduled events in Maine.

Happy Landings, everyone!

I want this for a writer’s cottage! (Can we put it by water?)

12 thoughts on “Happy Landings from Kansas to the Cape

  1. Wow, looks like a great tour. Thanks for taking us along virtually! πŸ™‚
    I grew up in Arizona also, and now live in Arkansas. I would so love to attend one of your presentations, but it is hard to get away from our farm. At least is in nice to know that there are others who love Emilie!! I’m really enjoying your book and all the wonderful tidbits you put in it. Kudos to you for all your hard work! I hope you get your dream cottage. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aloha! Sounds like you are having a wonderful journey! I’m happy that you have such great support. I continue to read and find sparkling gems in your words. Keep smiling, aloha pam

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Pam. It’s sure keeping me busy! And yes, having the support of the Lorings, fellow biographers, readers here, and people who just think it might be fun to hear about someone new is heartwarming.

      Like

  3. Congratulations on an amazing journey covering so many areas and interesting places where Emilie walked and stayed. There is more meaning to the writings in your book when you can actually record your adventures. I am so proud of you and how you have turned your talks and visits to so many fabulous places into another story. It should be your next book on your journals as you record your tours and your stays in those places where she did stay too. Looking forward to your next journeys as I continue to enjoy your book and visualize the places and characters along the way. Love and have a wonderful time, Raqui

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to have missed you Patti. I have been distracted by school work and a very ill dog. It would have been nice to meet you in person. I would like to order a copy of the book. Glad you had a safe journey.

    Rich Monahan

    Liked by 1 person

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