That’s Old News: What the heck was Mother’s Friend?

We often look back a hundred or two hundred years ago and think of it as the “simple life”.   Hard work and none of the problems of modern life.  But, was it really that way or did they just have different problems?

I found this ad in a January 1906 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.  It starts out “Woman’s Nature is to love children, and no home can be completely happy without them, yet the order through which the expectant mother must pass usually is so full of suffering, danger and fear that she looks forward to the critical hour with apprehension and dread.”

Wow!  That makes childbirth sound like so much fun.  NOT!

Mother’s Friend has “soothing and penetrating properties”.  It can deal with nausea, nervousness, unpleasant feelings.  It even helps the woman pass through the “event” safely.

Notice that pregnancy and childbirth aren’t even mentioned?

This gem cost $1.00 per bottle.  Even comes with a book with valuable information.  What a steal.

So, what was Mother’s Friend?  Was it an ointment, a drug, a herbal concoction, sugar water?  I have no clue because the ad never says.  But, now I’ll I have is the Rolling Stone’s “Mother’s Little Helper” rolling around in my head.

 

mothersfriend ad 1912

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You never know who will have your family’s photos

This week I was reminded of the importance of networking on the web.  It’s not a term you usually see associated with genealogy.  But, we have to reach out on forums, blogs, message boards, and whatever sources we have because you never know who might have the tidbit of information you need or a forgotten photograph that you’ve never seen.

This week I was sent the photograph below…

wedding of mamie and john correia minnie ventura smith manuel ventura with them

It is the wedding photo of Mamie Ventura and John Correia, ca 1918.  The person who sent it to me is a new found cousin and is related to the Correia’s.  As I was reading the notes I made an astonishing discovery.  I immediately recognized Mamie’s brother, Manuel Ventura.  But, I would have never guess the young woman on the left was my own great aunt, Minnie (Ventura) Pacheco Smith!

I have one photo of her take maybe 5 years after this one.  It is Manuel’s wedding photo (to Isabella Pacheco de Braga).  All the other photographs of Minnie come from the 1930s and 1940s.  You can imagine how excited I was to get this one from her teen years.

The person who had this had no idea of my relationship to Minnie.  When she sent it on, she was filling in my gaps on the Correia family.

It makes me wonder how many photographs might be sitting in dusty boxes in Hawaii or California that have my relatives pictured.  I suspect it’s many.  By 1970, my great aunt, Maria (Pacheco Smith) Souza/Correia, her second husband, Anthony Correia, and my grandmother, Anne (Jackson) Shellabarger, were the only ones left from that generation in the Pacheco Smith clan.  My Grandma had cut ties in the 1960s.  I am sure most of the Pacheco and de Braga cousins have forgotten about this side of the family–especially those in Hawaii who probably hadn’t heard the surname in decades.

This makes me want to redouble my efforts to find cousins.  As each year goes by we lose another part of a generation.  There are fewer and fewer people to pass down stories and there are even fewer who can name the people in old photographs.  It becomes even more important to compare what we have so we can save whatever there is of our heritage.

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Found my Grandfather in French Military Records

I met a man through a cousin who met him on GeneaNet.  He is our distant cousin. He actively researches our family tree and is an excellent ally for all things genealogy in France. This weekend he informed me that France has put up a new military database, Registres de Recrutement Militaire.

The records give the name of man, his birth information, parentage, and residency. Then, there are sections for various details about his military service.

I put in some surnames and found a couple of relatives. I was intrigued by two who were in the US at the time that their records were written. This intrigued me. As family lore goes, my grandfather left France in 1907 so as to avoid military conscription. Could there be a record for him in this database?

It’s a little tricky searching. You have a field for name which is entered last name first without a comma. Then you can put in a year of conscription or service. I first entered Lassalle Jean and received way too many entries. I didn’t know what year my grandfather might have been conscripted. I started with 1907 as that was the year he left France. I didn’t find a match. I tried 1908 and then 1909. Bingo! I found him.

militaire lassalle jean crop

I wasn’t sure how to interpret the information in the service section.  The word “Insoumis” means absent or rebellious.  I asked my French cousin about this.  He believes that it means absent from service, but not always as part of a rebelli0n or for political reasons. In essence, my grandfather was a draft dodger.

Ironic, isn’t it?  He left France to avoid military service then 10 years later the United States got him anyway.

According to my cousin, the French military would continue to try to contact him.  They would stop if he became a US Citizen.  If he went back to France before he gained that citizenship, he could have been imprisoned.

This record has important information for my research.  Note that it gives his address in America.  Was he obligated to be on record or did his parents provide the address?  As to my research, my grandpa arrived in 1907 and then we lose him until he is drafted for World War I.  Though the information was on his immigration record, I could not make out the address or the name of the cousin he was going to stay with.  Now I have something to work with.  In fact, I did a little work in Oakland, California City Directories and came up with this.  I am not surprised to find that my grandfather was working and living at a French laundry.  There were many relatives from Ogeu les bains, France, his home village, who opened laundries in the San Francisco Bay Area.

oaklandcity dir 1907 leclerque ma grandpa lassalles cousin he stayed with crop

M.A. Leclerque is the cousin listed on his immigration papers.  This surname has not come up in conjunction with the Lassalle family tree.  I now have another mystery to solve.

I’m grateful for this record.  It proves Grandpa’s own story that he left to avoid military service.  It also gives me a new avenue to research as I try to piece together the story of his early years in America.

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