My Farewell Tour

Years ago, sitting in class, didn't you wonder why you had to learn where Mesopotamia was? Why learn about the places so far away? What was the point of knowing about some huge desert in a place it was unlikely I would ever visit. Well, now I know why. One never knows in life what sort of interesting things will come about. And my life has certainly been interesting. But, now it's time to learn about another part of the world and depart from my safe haven of New Hampshire and head out to parts unknown in a place called Abu Dhabi.
I am calling this part of my journey, before I leave, my "Farewell Tour" because haven't you ever noticed that when a cool rock band is going to change members or break up, they have a Farewell Tour that lasts about a year? Well, I began my "Farewell Tour" at the Thanksgiving dinner table last November as I sat and looked around at my family, my cousins, aunts and uncles and I asked my mother what she would think if I decided to teach overseas. My mother responded favorably and I thought, well, then, this is it. This could be my last Thanksgiving dinner with the family in New England, for a couple of years. I mentally looked around at the family as if to impress their faces and that moment on my mind. At that point, my mother was the only one who knew that I was planning such a crazy, wild journey of my heart. I applaud her for being open to such an idea. Now that I am further along in my journey, she is still so very supportive. What more can one ask from her parents?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

                                     Family Genealogy

I have spent the past 30 years immersed in the study and genealogy of my family lines. If this doesn't interest you, please feel free to move on. I hope that this chapter of my blog may prove intriguing to those researching the family history of the family names of Richard Warren (Mayflower Pilgrim), Barnaby, Sprague, Richardson, Steen, Noyes, Currier,  My search has been extensive and at times, exhausting. I have been aided in my search by family members: Elizabeth Buker, VJ Steen, Harold Steen, Jr, my parents, Marjorie and Raymond Steen, and all my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who provided names, dates and personal information to help me on my search. 
I am proud of the fact that I have traced my family lines back over 13 generations to the landing of the Mayflower at Plimouth (now Plymouth, Mass) and before that to England, where the trails grow cool. I have traced my children's genealogy back 16 generations to England. Their genealogy provided 4 links to the Mayflower, while my genealogy provides one link, via Richard Warren.

I begin, today, with some interesting information that came to me through my aunt: the Barnaby Castle, also known as the Barnaby Mansion, at 299 Broadway, Providence, RI will be open to the public on October 4, 2014. Although I will be unable to attend, there are others in the family who will be able to attend and will bring back information about a family home that has been the subject of many of my waking dreams. To see the Barnaby Mansion is to see a home that is so extravagant, that, even through years of decay, it still appears to hold the magic of a stately, proper Rhode Island mansion. 

Quoted here, from the USGENWEB Rhode Island is an article on the JB Barnaby family. My own Great-great Grandfather, Abner Jones Barnaby is mentioned hers. While Abner does not have the same notoriety as JB, and did not own a home close to the same grandeur as the Barnaby Mansion, he held some political posts in his own right. The article, forthwith, from the History of Providence County, Volumes I & II:

p. 684 - 685Jerothmul Bowers BARNABY, the founder of the J. B. Barnaby Company, was one of 14 children of Stephen B. and Lucy H. (Hathaway) Barnaby, and was born at the Barnaby homestead October 27th, 1830.  The family is descended from James Barnaby, who was at Plymouth as early as 1660.  In 1725 Ambrose Barnaby moved to Freetown, Mass., near Fall River, where he purchased a portion of the estate now known as the Barnaby homestead, which at present is owned by the heirs of Stephen Barnaby, the father of the subject of this sketch.
Mr. Barnaby was educated in the country schools at first, supplementing this work with a course of instruction at Pete's Academy, an institution then in existence near Fall River.  He was 16 years old when he left school and became a clerk in the employ of his brother-in-law, William H. Ashley, at Steep Brook, near Fall River.  When 20 years old he entered the clothing store of Andrew N. Dix, at Fall River, where he remained about two years. October 27th, 1852, he came to Providence and opened a store at 15 South Main street, where he continued in business very successfully for 17 years. Then he removed to larger and more commodious quarters, which had been specially fitted up for his business, in the new Woods Building, corner of College and South Main street, in 1869.  During this year also the firm of J. B. Barnaby & Company was formed, Mr. Henry B. Winship becoming a member of the copartnership.  Success followed the new firm, as it had followed its senior member, and they were compelled to remove again in 1876 to still larger and more eligible quarters, which they secured in the new Dorrance Building, located on Dorrance, Westminster and Middle streets.  From that time to the present the firm has not only popularized itself by certain unique and attractive devices for drawing public attention, but in the legitimate expansion of its business it has stretched forth to several other cities, where large stores under the firm's management are also operated. In 1884 the firm was enlarged by the addition of three members -- Messrs. Walter A. Scott, George H. Grant and Albert L. Anthony, who had been clerks under the old management.  On January 1st, 1889, Mr. Barnaby retired from the business, with which his name had been honorably connected for over a generation, leaving the large clothing concern that he had established in the hands of his late partners.
Mr. Barnaby also engaged in enterprises outside of Rhode Island, among them the Barnaby Manufacturing Company of Fall River, which is engaged in the manufacture of ginghams, and in which he was a director and one of the largest owners.  He erected the first iron front building in the state.  It was located at the corner of Westminster and Union streets, and was built in 1870.  In 1872 he built the Bowers Block, and subsequently the Conrad Building, one of the finest edifices devoted to business in the city.
In politics Mr. Barnaby was a democrat.  In former years he paid more attention to politics than during the latter period of his life, owing to the multitude of business affairs.  In the first place he was a member of the city council from the old Seventh ward from 1870 to 1879, and for several of the latter years of this period he was successfully selected for chairman of the joint committee on finance of the city government.  In 1875 he was elected to the general assembly from this city, and served for one year.  The year 1877 saw him nominated as the democratic candidate for governor.  His opponent was ex-Governor Van Zandt, republican and prohibitionist.  A highly exciting campaign resulted in Mr. Barnaby's defeat by 454 votes out of a total of 24,456.  The next year he was made the democratic candidate for congress in the Second district, though his residence was in the First district.  Honorable Latimer W. Ballou, the republican candidate, out of a total vote of 10, 427, defeated Mr. Barnaby by 717 votes.  On the death of his brother, Mr. Abner J. Barnaby, in 1882, who was a member of the democratic national committee from Rhode Island, Mr. Barnaby was elected to that position, and he was twice reelected, the second time in the spring of 1888.
Mr. Barnaby was married September 15th, 1857, to Josephine A. Reynolds, daughter of Joseph and Rebecca (Anthony) Reynolds, of this city.  They had three children; Mabel, wife of John Howard Conrad, of Chicago, Ill.; Hattie A., who died in 1879; and Josephine Maud.  After an illness of several years, Mr. Barnaby died on the morning of September 19th, 1889.  The flag on the Board of Trade Building was placed at half-mast on the day of his death in tribute to his memory.  Mr. Barnaby became a member of the Board of Trade February 26th, 1887.  He was a regular attendant and a large contributor to Grace church.  He was buried September 25th, 1889.

Source:"History of Providence County, Vol I & II." USGenWeb RI Articles, History of Providence: Woonsocket, 2. Ed. Richard M. Bayles. Rhode Island US Genweb Project, from WW Preston and Co., 1891, 1999. Web. 01 Oct. 2014. <>.

Pictured below is the Barnaby Mansion, also known as Barnaby Castle.

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