Several bloggers have written about collateral relatives who have left no descendants and made the point that their stories need to be told, too. That started me thinking about my cousin, Charles. In reality, Charles was my grandfather’s first cousin, making him my first cousin twice removed. My great grandfather, Charles Adams, and Charles’ mother, Vera Pearl Adams, were siblings.
Aunt Pearl married Perce E. Chadwick in Calais, Maine. They soon moved to Masschusetts for Perce’s work. Charles was their only child., born in Somerville on 20 January 1923. He was named for my great grandfather, Charles Adams, and Aunt Pearl’s brother, who had died a year before in January 1922.
Generations were a bit staggered in that branch of the family as Charles was a contemporary of my Aunt Barbara and my mother, Doris, although he was their first cousin once removed.
By all accounts, Charles had a happy childhood that came crashing to a halt two days after his 10th birthday. His father, Perce, died on 22 January 1933 in Boston. I don’t know the cause of death, but Perce was buried back home in Calais. Aunt Pearl and Charles moved back there about the same time, likely to be close to family and friends.
He spent a lot of summer vacations playing with my mother and her sisters from the time they were very little until my mother and Aunt Barbara reached their teens.
Charles was a member of the Class of 1941 of Calais High School. After he graduated, he returned to Rhode Island where he worked as a gauge inspector for 2 and a half years.
In April 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving in Guam at the U.S. Naval Supply Depot until February 1946.
When he was honorably discharged from the Navy, he entered the University of Maine at Orono, graduating in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Management.
At some time during the 1940’s, Charles became engaged to a young lady named Pauline Elizabeth (omitted last name) from Bangor. She was a nurse. He never mentioned having been engaged when we talked or corresponded and I don’t know why they never married. However, after he died, I received his family mementos and he had saved a clipping of their engagement announcement for the rest of his life. If I had to venture a guess, I think perhaps Aunt Pearl was a bit possessive of her only child, but that is strictly conjecture on my part.
After finishing college, Charles worked as a draftsman and product designer for a company in Rhode Island. He lived in Providence and cared for his mother until Aunt Pearl passed away in 1973.
Although I only met Charles a couple of times, we began writing back and forth when I took an interest in the family history. Charles shared many, many family stories about the various members of the Adams clan. You see, Aunt Pearl would like to go visiting with friends and relatives. She never learned how to drive so Charles took her on all of her social calls. Pearl loved keeping up with all the news and Charles said he would just quietly sit to the side while she visited and gossiped, but he listened carefully to all of the stories.
The first time we met after I began doing genealogy research, Charles opened a drawer full of old photos. He told me that he often wondered what would become of them when he was gone, but since I was the first to show interest in the family history, he wanted me to become the keeper of the photographs. Thus, I received my first treasure trove of family mementos and Charles was sharing those stories of long ago with me and I was elated.
There were a lot of photos that had names attached to them, but many, including a lot of tintypes and photos from the 1860’s and 1870’s that were unmarked. To my dismay, Charles said he didn’t know who most of the people were and there was no one left who did.
Aside from my grandmothers who encouraged my family history research, Charles did more than anyone else to encourage and promote my interest in our family roots. To thank him for all he had done for me, I researched his father’s side of the family, which were the Chadwicks, Meserves and Grovers from the St. George, Knox County, Maine. He was appreciative of that as he learned more about them and his paternal heritage.
As Charles got older, he began to have serious memory issues and he entered a care facility for veterans. He died on 24 October 2006 and, like his parents and grandparents before him, went home to Calais for the last time. He was buried next to them in Calais Cemetery, the final resting place for many of my mother’s family.
Thank you, Charles Adams Chadwick, for my 35 year old love affair with family history!