Monday, September 17, 2012

Amanuensis Monday--Elsie Crocker's Manuscript, Part 1: In England

You may have noticed that I don’t blog on a very regular basis. It has never been my goal to be a daily blogger; I would rather present any readers I may have with occasional well-researched articles than with daily notes. My blogs are sporadic, with perhaps two or three in consecutive weeks, and then perhaps one a month for several months. A quick glance at my archives will tell you that I am just now returning from a three-month absence.

Absence. As in vacation. I was not researching and writing during that time. I have nothing to offer from that period.

However, upon my return I discovered a wonderful resource for genealogical blogs, called Geneabloggers. This may be old news for some of you, but this week was the first time I ever stumbled across it. Along with links to a multitude of genealogy-related blogs, they also provide a list of daily blogging prompts. One that particularly caught my attention was Amanuensis Monday. This prompt is an encouragement to transcribe old family letters, documents, etc. Certainly I will never be a daily blogger, but for a while you will be able to count on me weekly.

You may have noticed that I have occasionally quoted a certain unpublished manuscript written by my grandmother’s sister, Elsie Crocker. She wrote it in the 1990s, but unfortunately none of us had the foresight to note the exact year. I have long intended to fully transcribe it, and now that I have the proper motivation I will do so.

Just a couple notes on how I will go about this project:
  • I intend to retain all of Elsie’s original spelling and punctuation except in the case when it is an obvious typographical error or when the meaning becomes unclear. Most of the manuscript was typed with the caps lock turned on, so the choices in capitalization are mine.
  • Elsie used few titles or divisions in her manuscript. All titles (i.e. title of the blog), except those included in the text, are my own. The divisions will be at my discretion and seldom original to the manuscript.
  • The original manuscript was just that: a manuscript. I hope to sometimes include relevant pictures (although that may be difficult, as my scanner just died). Any comment or caption to a picture is my own, and not original to the manuscript.
  • Once or twice there are stories or names that would not measure up to today’s “politically correct” standards. Remember, this was nearly a century ago, when people had different notions about what was and wasn’t acceptable. I do not believe in revising history to suit modern tastes. This does not imply approval of the old attitudes, but rather an idea that we cannot deny our past and must be able to face what we were in order to move forward.
Okay, you have waited long enough. Now for the feature presentation…

Elsie Crocker

My folks traveled to America from England (1903)

It’s the most important part of my life.

My mom and dad were both born and raised in England. I believe in Malden and Essex, County.

My dad had two sisters, both older than he. Mary was the oldest, she was married but no children. Sarah his second sister, had four children. To us she was known as Aunt Sadie. Thats what she wanted to be called. Dad had no brothers, he was the youngest.

My mother’s family was much larger, having seven children. There were five girls and two boys. Her sisters names were, (ranging in age) first Minie, Flora, (my mom) then Alice, Elsie, May who was the youngest.

My dad called my mother “Flo” for short, I guess, I like Flora best.

I was named after my mother’s two younger sisters, Elsie and May. I wished she had put the two named together as I have seen as (Elsymae).

Mother had two brothers, Arthur who was the oldest. Frank was the next oldest in their family, the girls came later.

A photograph of Elsie’s mom’s family back in England. Flora is second from the right in the back row. Elsie made a small error in claiming that the boys came first, then the girls. Arthur was, indeed, the oldest, but he was followed by Isabella, Flora, Minnie, Frank, Alice, Grace, May, and Elsie in that order.

Arthur was killed in the war, working on a loading dock. Frank was also killed while he was in the infantry, World War No I.

My mom’s dad’s name was George Amos. My brother was named after his Grandpa Amos. His name is William George Underwood.

My dad’s name was Walter Underwood I. My brother’s name is Walter Amos Underwood Jr. Walter named his son Walter Underwood III. Walter Underwood III and his wife Linda, has just celebrated the 25th. Aniversary.

Mother’s family was from what they called, in England, the middle upper class. These were people that could afford hired help, such as cooking, sewing, and cleaning and polishing their brass items.

Her father ran the ferry, and also ran a pub. The girls weren’t aloud to work in the pub. Not lady like.

They could help with the ferry. Mom told me they had a bell connect to each side of the river. The people would ring the bell that signaled for someone to fetch them from one side to the other side of the river.

The Creeksea Ferry. Presumably one of the ferrymen in this photo would have been George AMOS, but that has not been verified.

My dad was a policeman, which they called bobbies. He wore a uniform with a hat with a chin strap. The strap was placed under his chin to hold his hat on and in place. I have a picture of him with his hot off, it shows how the strap left a white mark on side of his face. Being outside all the time in the weather, the strap had protected his face under the strap. His number was 148 marker on the collar of his shirt.

This may or may not be a copy of the same photo that Elsie mentions. At any rate, it is a photograph of Walter UNDERWOOD in his bobby uniform.
The bobies had training just like the soldiers have in training. Dad always carried his shoulds straight. He was six feet, two inches tall. He wore a number twelve shoe. I think he was a handsome man.

He was always particular about his shoes, he kept them highly polished. He expected us to do the same. One day I missed the backs of my shoes, Dad said “You would make a good soldier.” I asked him why? He replied “Because a good soldier never looks back.”

Mom was small boned and five feet three inches tall always slim. Dad thought her very pretty. He told her he would like to keep her in a glass case. I bet when he first married her he was jealous of her. She had the bluest eyes, amost like violets. She was small featured. When she was young she had long wavy chestnut brown hair. She wore her hair up on top of her head with small curls across her forehead. She always beleived her hair changed color, since she came to America. She was a blonde when she was in England. I don’t think so as all of us were blonds when we were young. We all change to dark brown.

My parents have a better copy of this portrait of Flora AMOS, but it is two hours away at the moment, so this will have to do for now.
Mom never learned to sew or cook until she was married. She could knit, which she learned in school. She had a little apron she had to have at school, to keep her needles and knitting in.

Her dresses had a lot of lace and insertion. Also pleats and tucks. She wore them ankle length. A high neck with lace and a brooch at her throat. This brooch Dad had given her. She wore it a lot with her blouses. At the bottom of her dresses she had a deep ruffle. A far cry from what they wear now.

Elsie always pronounced the name “Amos” not with a lazy American schwa, but with a definite short “o” sound, and with approximately the same emphasis on both syllables, like “A-moss.”

To continue with the next installment of Elsie's manuscript, click here. 


  1. I love your posts! Excellent and well thoughtout and meaningful! Wow! Looking forward to reading the manuscripts as you present. Welcome to Geneabloggers.

    The Root Digger

    1. Thank you. I hope I can keep the quality up to your (and my) expectations!