52 Ancestors #1: Hazel Pearl Roberts Reynolds

A Genealogy challenge….

Amy Crow – a genealogist on G+ set up a challenge – 52 ancestors blogged about, by doing one a week.  Susan Clark did her post and that’s how I found out about it – so I’m going to join in.

hazel at 16

Hazel Pearl Roberts – at age 16.

Hazel Pearl was born April 4, 1900 to Carrie Evelyn Hawkins and John Milton Roberts.  She was their ninth child,  seventh daughter.

Carrie was 31 at the time of Hazel’s birth, and John was 41 years old. They lived in Wesley, Washington County, Maine on a large farm where they grew a lot of their own food, had cows and goats, chickens and horses – and they grew blueberries as a cash crop.

Hazel was my great-grandmother and I knew her well…or thought I did. I found out more about her in the two weeks before she died than I ever did in the 27 years I knew her.  She was always strong, independent and capable – opinionated and ladylike, two qualities that rarely go together with as much finesse as Hazel managed to wield.

Hazel and her sisters were sent to Massachusetts in the 1920’s to get jobs and send money home.  While living in Somerville, Massachusetts, Hazel is listed in a census – Hazel Roberts - 1920 census - somerville ma

January 10, 1920 – Hazel Roberts – Lodger, F/W/27/S – Born in Maine – Father/Mother both born in Maine – Occupation: Stenographer for a decorating company.

Seems pretty innocuous, right?

Hazel & Helen Reynolds 1920-1921

Hazel & Helen Reynolds 1920-1921

Hazel was born in 1900…so she would be 19…almost 20…not 27.  Yes, census takers can be notoriously inaccurate – but it is also likely she lied about her age in order to get work.

My grandmother, Helen Adelaide Reynolds, was born February 6, 1920 in Everett, Massachusetts.


Harry, Richard, Hazel, Ethel Roberts, Robert Cates, Florence & Judith Ambeau,  & Carrie Roberts. March 1946 – taken outside farmhouse on Old Furnace Rd, Danielson, CT.

Harry & Hazel Reynolds 1960

Harry & Hazel Reynolds 1960

She married Harry Nelson Reynolds and they had two sons after my grandmother – and thirty-plus years together. He died of a massive heart attack on March 4, 1963 and I was born in May of 1963… and Hazel focused all of her attention on her new great-granddaughter.

Hazel Roberts Reynolds  1942

Hazel Roberts Reynolds 1942

My christening gown was made, by Hazel,  out of parachute silk from World War II – her sons sent it home to her in the war.   At one point during Word War II…both of her sons were listed “missing in action”. At the same time.  I cannot imagine the worry and fear…

Hazel Reynolds, Elisabeth Crehan & Tabitha Trahan 1988

Hazel Reynolds, Elisabeth Crehan & Tabitha Trahan 1988

Tabitha, wearing the christening gown that all of the great-grandchildren and most of the great-great-grandchildren wore.

In her later years, Hazel lived with her sister, Ethel, in a cottage in Danielson, Connecticut until she went to live with my mom, Elizabeth (Betty) Eldridge.   She lived with Mom until her death in February 1990.

Ethel & Hazel in Wesley, Maine cir. 1988

Ethel & Hazel in Wesley, Maine cir. 1988

Nana Hazel was the one that encouraged me to write. She supported my dreams and plans…she told me I could be anything I ever wanted to be…and when she was dying and we were sitting in her room, talking… I asked her if she had any regrets.

“The only regret is that I wish I hadn’t been so afraid.”  she said.

“Afraid of what?” I asked

“Worried about what people would say…what they would think. Afraid to take more chances, afraid to travel more and do things I wanted to do..” she replied.

This blew me away. I never saw her as someone who cared much about what people would say – or who didn’t do something she wanted to do.  After she died, I found a small red book that she had written a couple of things into – not much – but one of the things was “I wish I had dared to be the writer I wanted to be.” 

Nana taught me one major lesson with those words. I stopped caring so much about what others thought. I started living MY life and not someone else’s.  Her words changed my whole life from that point onward.

They still do.

Harry N Reynolds stone

Harry N Reynolds stone

Hazel’s stone is next to Harry’s but the pic of hers didn’t come out.

UPDATE: I just found in the Massachusetts Vital Records: Marriages – entries for a marriage for Hazel P. Roberts and Harry N. Reynolds, dated 1919. (Vol 27/pg 61). I don’t have the actual document so I don’t have the date – but they were married in Chelsea, Massachusetts. So – the January 1920 census is incorrect. They may still have been living separately – and who knows? Maybe they told the census takers that they were unwed – or someone answered for them and said they were unwed. Another mystery!


About T.K. Eldridge

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10 Responses to 52 Ancestors #1: Hazel Pearl Roberts Reynolds

  1. Susan Clark says:

    Your Nana is a woman to proud of, Kessa. What a legacy. The parachute silk christening gown takes my breath away. As for her words to you, you are doing her proud!

    Looking forward to meeting 51 more.

    • kessara says:

      Thanks, Susan! And thank you for sharing Amy’s challenge. I love reading your blog – and your post gave me the impetus to start up this one.
      I have been looking for a photo of my daughter in the gown – that gets some closeups of it – but having just moved last month, I’m not having much luck. The detail work she did was exquisite.

  2. Wonderful story. How wonderful to have such a woman as an ancestor–great legacy.

  3. Amy says:

    This is a wonderful post. Your Nana sounds like an incredible person. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    • kessara says:

      Thank you Amy – and thanks for the brilliant idea! Nana was a great role model and mentor – and while it has been almost 24 years since she died, I still miss her.

  4. chmjr2 says:

    You are off to a great start. Looking forward to reading your future post.

  5. Pingback: 52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 1 Recap | No Story Too Small

  6. Michael Cates says:

    Love the picture and great reading brings back some good childhood memories

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