Category Archives: Clifford

Possible Thomas Family Photo – Winooski, Vermont

I purchased this vintage “cabinet photo” on eBay from a man in Pennsylvania because the woman in the photo reminded me of my great-great-grandmother Anna Clifford.

Unknown Couple - Winooski, VT c1895

Unknown Couple – Winooski, VT c1895

I only have one photo each of Anna Clifford and her husband Horace Luther Thomas, and both photos were taken in the 1920’s when they were older.  This photo seems to have been taken about 1890-1900.  Anna would have been about 45 or so, and Horace would have been about 50.


At first glance there is a resemblance in both cases, but not so much that it’s a “slam dunk” at all.  The man has the same exact hair style as my grandfather did, with the part on the left, the swoop over the right eye and the exposed patch of forehead by his temple.  The nose is also remarkably similar, as is the cheek/jawline and the distinctive almond-shape of the eyes.  The feature that is most dissimilar is the thickness of the nose between the eyes.  Horace’s nose is very narrow there, and the other man’s is a bit wider.  Obviously, Horace’s eyebrows are very dark in the later photo which is different from the other man’s, and in the bottom photo it looks like Horace’s eyes are perhaps brown, where the man in the top photo looks like he might have hazel or even blue eyes.

Apart from the hairstyle and the wire-rimmed glasses, there’s not a lot that’s exactly the same between the two women.  But as women age their faces can change dramatically, especially during those hard times.  I’ve seen photos taken 10 years apart that you would never believe were the same person.  I have four or five photos of my great-great-grandmother Wilhelmine Winkelmann and she doesn’t like like the same person in any two of them.  At all.

The other factor is, of course, that this photo was taken in Winooski, Vermont which is where Anna and Horace lived for 50 years of their lives.  And it wasn’t exactly a huge town.  My thinking was that there are certain odds of someone looking like Horace, and certain odds of someone looking like Anna, so the odds of people who look like both of them being together are much steeper.  When you calculate the odds of a couple about the right ages who look like Horace and Anna and live in Winooski…  it becomes more improbable still that it’s someone else.

So what do you think?  Personally, I’d give it a reasonable chance of being them.  If it’s not, maybe someone will see this and be able to positively identify these people and we’ll have saved one more couple from being “lost”.

Father’s Day – 2013

As I did on Mother’s Day this year, I put together a collection of photographs of all the fathers in my family tree who contributed to making me the person I am.

Happy Father’s Day, my ancestors!


Mother’s Day – 2013

For Mother’s Day this year I decided to pay tribute to all the mothers in my Family Tree who contributed to making me who I am.  Of course there are tens or hundreds of thousands of women in my direct line of ancestry, if you go back to the beginning of our species.  My family tree goes back to the 1500’s in some places, to my 11x or 12x great grandparents.  As I’ve said before, that’s about 20,000 grandparents in your entire family tree to that depth.  Obviously there’s no way I can pay meaningful tribute to 10,000 women, so I decided to put together a collection of all the mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers that I have photos of in my tree.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Happy Mother’s Day, my beloved ancestors!

The women who made me who I am.

The women who made me who I am.

Clifford Family in Winooski, Vermont

I just noticed this today:

In 1900 Sarah Clifford and her sisters Margaret and Elizabeth all lived together in a house on River Street in Winooski/Colchester, Chittenden County, Vermont.  All three are working as weavers in the wool mills.

In 1910 Elizabeth and Sarah are still living there together at 93 River Street.  Sarah doesn’t seem to be working, but Elizabeth is listed as working in the wool mills as a weaver.  Margaret is living separately in Bridgewater, Windsor, VT and working as a weaver also.

In 1920 all three are living together again back at 93 River Street.  Sarah isn’t working, but Elizabeth and Margaret are still weavers.

Elizabeth died 6 February 1929 from a heart condition.

In 1930 Sarah and Margaret are living at 93 Water Street together.

Sarah died 18 March 1935 from a fractured femur.

Margaret is still living there in the 1940 Census, so she must have died sometime after that.  She was 74 in 1940.  Haven’t found a death cert yet.

As far as I know none of the three ever married or had any children.

Today I just noticed that the house they lived in is on the corner of River Street and Clifford Street.  It was called Clifford Street even in 1900, so I suspect it was the family home where they lived with their parents Robert Clifford and Agnes McWhirter.  The family moved there from Alburg, VT sometime around 1872.

93 River Street, Winooski, VT

I might just write to the current residents and request a photo.

Family Photos… When It Rains, It Pours

Kind of an unprecedented day today in terms of family photos.  Three cousins simultaneously sent me photos today, so I thought I’d just throw them all up here with some brief notes.

The first batch is from John Burrell, who is the son of my grand-aunt Elizabeth “Betty” Forrest.  It’s a photo of John Prescott “Red” Forrest (1923 – 2004) and his mother, Lulu Cairns Coutermarsh (1888 – 1975), which looks like it was taken about 1974, shortly before Lulu’s death:

John Forrest and Lulu Cairns

The next one is my grandfather Fred Thomas Jr (1918-2006) with his sister-in-law, Betty Forrest Marshall.  It looks like John Burrell in her lap, and my father and his two brothers Dick and Dave on my grandfather’s lap.  Probably taken about 1949:

Thomas and Marshall families.

Next is a photo of my grandfather, Fred Thomas Jr. that was sent to me by Tom Forrest.  Looks like it was taken about 1947.  He’s holding a sapling:

Fred Thomas and Sapling

The rest of these were sent to me by Martha “Marti” McDonald Benz, who is the daughter of Grace Thomas, my father’s “Aunt Grace”.  I called Marti out of the blue and she was just amazingly kind to me and very interested in the family history work I’ve been doing.  I’m so glad we connected!

The first photo is of Anna Clifford (1851-1929), which is from a pair of photos with her and her husband Horace Luther Thomas (my 2x great grandfather).

Anna Clifford, about 1910.

The next is of Anna Thomas (1876-1971), her daughter, who later married William McBride.  Anna and her husband Bill took in Aunt Grace after the death of their mother in the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic:

Anna Thomas McBride

Here is Anna and her husband William McBride much later in life.  Probably taken in the mid-1940s:

Anna and William McBride

Finally, here is a picture of Grace Thomas (1916-1999) herself on her wedding day, 11 June 1941.  Grace was the sister of my grandfather, Frederick Thomas Jr.  She married James McDonald (1914-1982).  I’ve been meaning to write more about her, but haven’t managed to get around to it yet.

The photo was taken in front of the family home at 186 Summit Street in Burlington, Vermont.

Grace Thomas McDonald, Wedding Day.

FHC Records

I spent a few hours at the Madison Family History Center (this is a branch of the Mormon Church) going through some films I had ordered.  Just noting here that I did that.  The two films I had ordered were:

Film: 2027350
Methodist Church of Canada. South Stukely Circuit (Québec)

This was ordered before I realized that these records are already online.  I had already found everything I needed from South Stukely (Robert Erwin Clifford’s family records).

Film: 245492
Kirchenbuch – Evangelische Kirche Weißenhöhe (Kr. Wirsitz)

I had hoped to find records from Wilhelm Schmidt’s family since Weissenhöhe is very near where he was born and might have actually been the town in which he was born.  I only found one record I would consider a “possible” hit.  It’s puzzling and I still have to have someone who speaks German take a look at it for me.  I’ll post about that separately.  There were many “Schmidts” in the records, but since it’s a name about as common as “Smith” here, that was not surprising.  Nobody that I could identify as being from my family definitively was found.

Robert Clifford and Agnes McWhirter – Church Records

I’ve been trying to get my hands on church records for Agnes McWhirter and Robert Clifford. I started with Rev. Craig Smith from a church in Winooski I basically selected at random. He referred me to Anne Brown, the communication minister for the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. I had written to her:

I’m researching my family history. My great-great-great-grandmother, Agnes (McWhirter) Clifford was a member of Trinity Church in Winooski. She lived in Winooski, Burlington and Colchester. Her obituary says “Mrs. Clifford was a member of Holy Trinity Church, being one of the organizers of the society”. Her funeral took place there about July 26, 1898 after her death in her home on Clifford Street in Winooski.

I’m really hoping that some church records might be available to tell me more about her and her husband Robert Clifford. They both immigrated here from Ireland, and without definite birth dates, or places, or names of parents it can be almost impossible to track their families across the ocean. Sometimes churches have little biographies or other information on members, especially founding members. I’m wondering if such a thing exists.

Ann wrote back to me to apologize for the delay in responding, then said:

I am not sure what church that might have been — there is no Holy Trinity now in Winooski. The only one we have is in Swanton, quite a ways north. I have forwarded your note to our diocesan historiographer, who may be of more help. Her name is Elizabeth Allison, email: She is in the office a couple of days a week, so you may not hear from her right away. Feel free to write back to me if you don’t hear anything from her in a week or so.

Elizabeth wrote back:

There was a mission in Winooski – Trinity, not Holy Trinity. The only Holy Trinity is Swanton. Off the top of my head, I don’t know what we have on Winooski but will check and try to provide an answer to the query.

Anne assures me that the records should be there in Elizabeth’s collection. We shall see!

Update: 29 Mar 2012

Heard back from Elizabeth. No good news:

Dear Charles,

Your request followed a circuitous route in getting to me as Historiographer of the Diocese.

Unfortunately, while Trinity Mission, Winooski was established in 1876, the pre 1899 records are limited to subscription lists for the building. I checked the 4 lists for 1875-1876 and found no references to McWhirter or Clifford families. I did scan the post 1899 records but found no references to either family there. The single history of the Mission published in the 1890 Convention Journal contains no mention of either family.

I am certain all of this is very disappointing to you and unfortunately, I have no idea where to direct you in your research to find any other records.


Elizabeth E. Allison, Registrar and Historiographer, Episcopal Diocese of Vermont