Saturday, October 31, 2009

Assateague Island :: Sunrise

One of the things I had promised myself that I would do while at Assateague was to get up early enough to watch the sunrise over the marsh. The first three mornings had already gone by and I hadn't gotten up in time but when Friday morning (October 23rd) rolled around, I awoke before the sun was over the horizon. The clouds in the sky were bathed in streaks of orange and pink. It turned out to be a spectacular sunrise. One of the best. Ever. Mother Nature outdid herself that morning.

7:00 a. m. Walking over to the marsh boardwalk.
It was cold. And Dark.
But I just knew it would be worth the effort.
That was an understatement.

7:07 a. m. From the middle of the boardwalk.

7:13 a. m. From the far side of the boardwalk.
Looking just a little to the south of the sun.
The sky and marsh were completely bathed in wonderful light.

7:18 a. m. From a distance, using the telephoto feature.
Looking directly into the rising sun. Magnificent.

7:22 a. m. From the same spot as the previous photo.
Longer telephoto setting.
The sun rising over the horizon.

7:24 a. m. The morning has risen.
Breathtakingly beautiful. Quiet. Tranquil.
All mine, and mine alone. Until now, when I share it with you.

7:32 a. m. My only companions were the birds.
A small flock of Snowy Egrets.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Assateague Island :: More Wild Ponies

Stopped traffic was a common sight whenever ponies were spotted along the roadside. I wasn't immune to their allure either, almost always stopping when I saw a group. This day I was riding my bicycle out to the bridge, which was a little over 3 miles from my campsite. This is at the intersection to the main road out to the Island.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Assateague Island :: The Wild Ponies

For many people, the only reason for going to Assateague Island is to see the Wild Ponies. If so, it could be a little disappointing for them, especially if they only spend a few hours on the island. A 20-minute video shown at the visitor center provides a good, if somewhat romanticized view, of the little ponies that have roamed the beaches, pine forest, and salt marsh of Assateague Island since the 1600s. There are two theories regarding the stout little ponies: one is that they arrived on Assateague's shores when a Spanish galleon ship, with a cargo of horses, sank offshore. The other is that they are remnants of the herds of early colonial settlers who grazed their horses on the Island. Apparently a Spanish ship wreck was discovered recently in the waters off Assateague which gives credence to the first theory.

Both the Maryland and Virginia sides of Assateague Island have wild ponies; each has a herd of about 160 and a fence at the state line keeps the two herds separated. They roam the island in bands of 5-10 ponies so you aren't going to see a lot of them all at once. I did see a group of 10 or so one day sauntering through the main parking lot on the beach side of the island. They were there long enough to stop traffic, then moved on down the road.

Although there are 30+ miles of beautiful white-sand beach, the part that is easily accessible to visitors is only about 5 miles long. Undoubtedly, the ponies roam the beaches too but I never saw any on the beach though they were grazing along the road on the beach side of the Island. I did see quite a few ponies on the bayside - in the marsh areas and in the campgrounds. My suspicion is that there were one or two bands of ponies that roamed those areas and I kept seeing the same horses over and over ;-)

These guys followed me around for quite awhile one day. I'd back off and they'd keep coming. Eventually they tired of the game and went off looking for better pastures.

The grass must have been pretty good alongside the marsh boardwalk. On this day there was a group of six of them. Three were on the boardwalk and the other three were off in the marsh. The ponies aren't very big. Short and stout is an apt description. In the background there is a woman standing next to two ponies, she towers over them. The tallest ones that I saw were maybe 5 feet tall.

There are signs posted stating that you are not to feed, touch, or even approach the horses. I never saw anyone feed them but did see a few people touching and petting them. I didn't go searching for the ponies. If they were in the same area where I was I'd go see them but I really didn't get too close. They are considered to be wild animals but they are definitely not afraid of humans. The ponies are left on their own, to fend for themselves. They are not cared for or treated if they become sick. The only food they get is what they find for themselves: marsh and sand dune grasses, rosehips, bayberry twigs, persimmons and even poison ivy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Assateague Island :: The Beach

Seeing these hoof prints in the sand gave me hope that I'd actually see the "wild" ponies on the beach.

But those tracks were from horses brought in by some campers. The big black ones are Percheron horses. Really big ones.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Assateague Island :: The Marsh

Amongst my favorite spots at Assateague was the marsh boardwalk. It was almost as though it was my own domain. Seldom did I see more than two or three other people there at the same time. Peaceful. Quiet. Serene. Relaxing. Different at different times of the day. I spent many hours walking the half-mile pathway and simply sitting, watching the birds and animals and soaking up the sunshine. The weather, quite remarkably, got better with each passing day. Clear blue skies. Cool to warm temperatures. Sunshine.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Assateague Island National Seashore

It was as if I had entered a different country. Indeed, I had. Driving south on Route 213 on Sunday morning (October 18th) from Elkton, Maryland, the land became more rural and flat. No more big hills. Traffic was nearly non-existent. A welcome relief from the hustle and bustle driving of the past few days. It was still raining but from the weather reports I was hearing on the radio, I had missed the worst of it. By early afternoon the rain stopped, the clouds were clearing though the sun had yet to make an appearance. There were reports of flooding in the low-lying areas along the eastern shore so I stopped early for the night.

Monday morning brought clear blue skies and sunshine, a glorious morning though cold with temps in the 40s, but at least it wasn't raining! In just a few hours I arrived at the Assateague Island National Seashore south of Ocean City, Maryland. There were areas that were flooded due to all the rain they had received and some of the campsites were affected. I drove around the “loops” in the bayside campgrounds managed by the National Park Service and located the “perfect” spot. It was a relatively large site with a view of the bay and just a small low area, close to the bay, that was filled with water.

That afternoon there were several visitors in the area where I was staying...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boston :: No Go

Well, this will come as no surprise to some of you and I'm sure that my Joslin cousins will be somewhat disappointed, but I didn't make it to Boston.

Time was running out when I left Maine to go visit my Aunt in Maryland. In Coastal Maine :: Part One I alluded to the fact that I might return to Massachusetts. However, when I left my Aunt's place in Silver Spring, Maryland on Thursday morning (October 15th) it was raining, not a heavy rain, but raining nevertheless. The 35 miles that took me 2 1/2 hours to navigate the previous Friday only took about 45 minutes this time! It didn't take long to get around Baltimore either and soon I was on US 40 heading towards Havre de Grace.

In 1969 I went to Boot Camp at Bainbridge Naval Station, just a few miles away and was also stationed there in 1971-1972. As I drove around the area, nothing looked familiar. Except the road that leads to the entrance to the base. The hills and curves of the road were the same. And the spot where I totaled my car when someone came up over a hill on my side of the road. It's funny the things you remember.

The gate leading into the base was open but “No Trespassing” signs were posted all over. And it was raining. And it looked so very desolate. I drove a short distance down the road but chickened out and turned around. It was just too creepy for me, being alone there.

The entrance road to Bainbridge Naval Station.

No Trespassing! Especially on Sunday...

It was early afternoon and I figured I'd better get going so I headed north. In the rain. The weather forecast wasn't promising. They were calling for rain for the next few days and snow in the higher elevations in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. My Aunt had suggested that I stay at her place for another day or so, but I was ready to hit the road. I was thinking perhaps I should have taken her up on her offer!

As I drove further North, the rain was taking it's toll on my nerves. Intermittently pouring, then drizzling. And the mist thrown up by the other vehicles, especially the semi-trucks, made it difficult to see clearly. I wondered if all those drivers passing me could somehow see any better than I. It was getting dark as I stopped for the night.

The weather, along with the fact that I still wasn't really prepared for research in Boston and still wasn't in the “research frame of mind” and the thought of driving all the way there (and then having to return) and just dealing with the heavy traffic in general and driving in Boston in particular - were all factors which lead to my decision to not go any further North.

Checking the weather forecast I saw that the rain was supposed to let up some by the end of the weekend, so I slowly headed south towards Maryland's Eastern Shore.

To my Joslin cousins, I apologize for not following through on the research as promised. But just think, we'll be able to find that proof together – when we go on our Joslin Heritage Tour!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Warnings Out in New England

When I first found out about the Warning Out of Jonas Joslin from a distant cousin, I had no idea what a “Warning Out” was. After having read various articles online and the introduction in “Vermont Warnings Out” by Alden M. Rollins (Picton Press, Camden, Maine, no date) I've decided that the basic premise seems to be that town selectmen were taking precautions so that they would not be held responsible for caring for new inhabitants coming into their town.

An article on Wikipedia states that warning out was a widespread method for established New England communities to pressure or coerce "outsiders" to settle elsewhere. It consisted of a notice ordered by the Board of Selectmen of a town, and served by the constable upon any newcomer who might become a town charge. When a person was warned out of a town, they were not necessarily forcibly removed.

The article on Wikipedia cites Warning out in New England by Josiah Henry Benton as a source. Published in 1911 and digitized in 2006, it is available on Google Books.

There was a distinction between a resident and an inhabitant of a town. Apparently, simply living in an area made you a resident, but to become an inhabitant required being a resident for a year. If, within that year, the person was not “warned out” they would then become an inhabitant and would thus be allowed to remain in the town. By warning out residents, the town would be spared any future liability for the resident in case of poverty.

According to Warning Out by Darrell A. Martin, A "warning out" was simply a legal formality. Regardless of whether the person or family departed, the warning served to absolve the town of any future responsibility, and so whether the person warned out actually left made no difference. Some warnings really were issued to transient indigents, and some went to folks who were just passing through on their way somewhere else. On many occasions, perhaps even in the majority of cases, the person warned out settled in town, bought property, and in all respects became a productive member of the community.

Also according to Mr. Martin, the warning “frequently included every member of the family, by name” but in the records I saw in the Charlotte Town Records, very few entries, if any, included names of other family members – they simply listed a single individual, presumed to be the head of household.

An interesting article by Brian Deming is Warning Out – Casting Out the Poor. Mr. Deming states:
In Colonial New England, each town was responsible for the care of its own widows, orphans, elderly, disabled, hungry, and sick. Every town seemed to make some effort to see to it that no one starved or froze to death. Some towns arranged to pay willing citizens to take in the destitute. To be eligible for charity, a person had to be a legal "inhabitant" of a town. An inhabitant was anyone born in the town. One could also become an inhabitant by acquiring land in the town, by completing service as an apprentice to a master in the town, or by marrying an inhabitant. Anyone not a legal inhabitant was not eligible for welfare and could be warned out.

A person could be warned out without being forced to leave a town. Many towns had a policy that, if you had not been warned out in more than a year, you were officially an inhabitant and therefore eligible for welfare. So some towns would routinely warn out “outsiders” that they thought might be likely to fall into poverty and even those doing well. Those individuals could remain in the town even after being warned out year after year. Some even established businesses. It was thus possible for a person to pay taxes in a town for years to help others in need, but then after bad luck be ineligible for welfare in that same town because they themselves had been warned out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jonas Joslin :: Warning Out 1814

On September 29, 2009 I visited the Town Clerk's Office in Charlotte which lies on the east side of Lake Champlain in central Vermont.

According to the book “Vermont Warnings Out” by Alden M. Rollins (Picton Press, Camden, Maine, no date) there was a record of a “Warning Out” for Jonas Joslin in the Charlotte Town Records dated March 1, 1814. Apparently, occasionally, some town records for Warnings Out include additional information, including names of other family members. So I was hoping that the record for Jonas would contain more than just his name, but it was not to be. As a result, although I think it is, I don't know for sure if this is “our” Jonas Joslin or not.

By 1814, warnings out were generally issued by the town selectmen to poor people - those who, for whatever reason, could not take care of themselves or their families. They apparently had a year to prove otherwise. Mr. Rollins states that in Vermont, many were warned but few were expelled.

According to family tradition passed down by descendants of Jonas Joslin Jr., he and his older brother James (my ancestor) left Vermont in 1816 by canoe, via Lake Champlain, and went to Delaware County, Ohio. Charlotte is located on Lake Champlain. Could they have left from Charlotte?

Is the Jonas Joslin mentioned in the warnings out record the same one who purchased land in Delaware County, Ohio in October 1818? It is doubtful that we'll ever know for sure.

Town Records. Volume 2. Charlotte.

56.) Chittenden County. To either Constable of Charlotte in Said County Greeting

You are hereby commanded to Summon Jonas Joslin now residing in Charlotte to depart said town hereof fail not but of this precept and your doings thereon due return make according to law. Given under our hands Charlotte March 1st 1814

Sheldon Wheeler, Nehemiah Lowrey } Selectmen

Chittenden fs. I served this precept on the within Jonas Joslin by putting into his hands a true copy of this Summon. Charlotte March 1st 1814 ~ Ezra Halt Constable

Received March 3d 1814 and recorded from the original.
Attest Zadock Wheeler Town Clerk

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Joslin-Dyer Marriage 1794

On September 25, 2009 I visited the Town Clerk's Office in Franklin which lies about a mile or so south of the Canadian Border in the north-central portion of Vermont. I knew that the marriage record for Jonas Joslin and Ruth Dyer, my 5th great-grandparents, was recorded in the Franklin town records. I was also hoping (but not very optimistic) that there would be a mention of them in the land or other records for the town. I did find the marriage record, but no other mention of them in the Franklin town records for the time period in which they would have been there.

Their marriage record is the second entry on the first page of the Town Records for Franklin, Vermont (the spine is labeled “Vital Records – Cattle Marks 1794-1854”).

Of course, their entry had to be the faintest one on that page! And the right side of that page is missing. Nearly illegible, just their names and the date can be deciphered. The Town Clerk wrote down September, crossed it out, and wrote February above it.

A certified copy of a transcription of the record was found in the Delaware County, Ohio Pioneer Families files the week before. It was dated August 9, 1988 and states that Jonas Joslin and Ruth Dyer were married on Feb. 6, 1794 and the marriage was recorded in the Franklin Town records by Samuel Peckham, Town Clerk.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Arlington :: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Changing of the Guard.
Impressive. Meticulous. Solemn. Ceremonial.
Photos taken Sunday October 11, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Greetings from... Maryland!

It was about 3:30 Thursday afternoon (October 8th) when I put Leominster behind me, picking up I190 a bit to the south. I think I've mentioned this before, but I really do not enjoy driving on the Interstate highways! But I said I'd be at my aunt's place in Maryland (just north of Washington D.C.) by Friday evening. I wanted to avoid the New York City area so the projected route (I190, I90, I84, I81, I83) would take me through Massachusetts, western Connecticut, the southern tip of New York state, central Pennsylvania, and into Maryland.

My timing couldn't have been worse. I got into Worcester at the beginning of rush hour! And got to Hartford, Connecticut a bit later but still during rush hour. Nearing Danbury, Connecticut at 7 pm I was thankful that I wasn't heading east on I84 – there had been an accident and traffic was backed up for miles! Four hours driving on the Interstate was enough for me and I stopped for the night.

Friday morning saw a thick layer of clouds totally blocking out the sun and sky. About an hour after heading out, the rain started falling. A steady drizzle that lasted all morning. It didn't take long to get through the southern tip of New York but I was glad when I did. Gasoline in New York was $2.79 a gallon and though the tank was getting low I was hoping it would be less expensive in Pennsylvania. I made it to Matamoras PA with two gallons to spare where gas was only $2.45 a gallon.

Road construction and heavy traffic near Wilkes Barre created a delay of more than an hour. I've been pretty lucky thus far and this was the first really long traffic delay I'd had. Then going through Harrisburg was just awful. Stop and go traffic for about half an hour. But by then it had stopped raining and the sun came out once again. All in all the rain and traffic made for a long and horrendous drive through Pennsylvania. The delays meant that I arrived in Baltimore at about 5 o'clock – the height of the rush hour. Ugh!

About five miles north of the I695 interchange, traffic came to a screeching halt. It was essentially a very, very slow moving parking lot. It took about an hour and a half to travel the few miles to I95. Eventually though I did make it to my aunt's place – at about 7:30 Friday evening. And I must say, I was quite relieved and happy to get here!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Hampshire & Massachusetts

My earlier experience with New Hampshire on this trip lasted about 45 minutes – traversing it to get from Vermont to Maine.

Rather than simply adding it to the list of states I've been in, I figured it would be nice if I spent more than an hour there but I didn't really have the time to spare. At least I drove through it again. The weather was pleasant – sunshine and blue skies - and it was mostly a nice drive. I spent the night in Concord. The next morning, Thursday (October 8th), was also a very nice day for traveling although there was quite a bit of traffic and congestion through Dover, Manchester, and Nashua.

By noon I was in Massachusetts and, 30 minutes later, at Pine Grove Cemetery in Leominster, where Joseph and Sarah (Tarbell) Joslin and his grandfather Peter Joslin are buried. Joseph and Sarah are (probably, most likely) my 6th great-grandparents which would make Peter my 8th great-grandfather. Photographs of their tombstones are posted on find-a-grave but I wanted to visit their graves myself.

Pine Grove Cemetery, established in 1742, is the oldest of the four cemeteries in Leominster. It was closed to burials in 1937 and is on the National Register of Historic Places – there are nearly 100 veterans of the Revolutionary War buried there. It took me about half an hour to locate the Joslin gravesites. It was a pleasant walk through history. I recognized other surnames that had married into the Joslin line – Wilder, Whitcomb, Gardner – undoubtedly some very distant relatives. But how they were related I knew not. I haven't done enough research on those lines to make the determination.

Did I mention that black slate tombstones are really, really hard to photograph! Particularly when they are in the shade.

That's me at the gravesites of Joseph and Sarah (Tarbell) Joslin.

In memory of
Lieut. Joseph Joslin
who died
August. 18. 1829
Aet. 86

In memory of
wife of
who died 28 Aug. 1810
aged 69

Inscription at bottom of Sarah's stone:
The happy soul that conquers sin;
Shall everlasting glory win.
Shall see the end of war & pain.
And with the King of glory reign.

By far the oldest tombstone of an ancestor (or probable ancestor) that I have personally photographed is that of Peter Joslin/Joslyn (below). I was delighted to find that it was out in the sun. The lighting was perfect!

In Memory of Capt.
who Died April. ye
18th Domini 1759
Aged 94 Years.

O Death Thoust conquered me
by thy Dart am Slain.
But CHRIST has conquered thee
And I shall rise again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coastal Maine :: Part Three

Again, reluctantly, I left. But I didn't get far. Just 'round the curve was a road with public access to a private beach. Parsons Beach provided yet another view of the homes on the southern part of Kennebunk Beach.

Looking north near Parsons Beach.
The homes on the southern side of Kennebunk Beach.

Looking south on Parsons Beach.

It was a little after 3 o'clock. And this time I really did leave the beach, and Maine. Following Route 9, which headed west, I arrived in Somersworth, New Hampshire – just across the Piscataque River from Maine - about 4 pm on Wednesday, October 8th.