I've been scanning my pre-digital age photographs recently--it's amazing what starting a blog has motivated me to do! I came across a photo of a house in Dennis, Mass., that I thought belonged to my gggg grandparents, James Eldridge/Eldredge and Rosanna Wixon, but I never confirmed it with anyone.
|James H. Eldridge's home, Main Street, Dennis Port, late 1990s|
I've been a member of the Dennis Historical Society for years and although I greatly enjoy their newsletter, I don't participate in activities as I live off Cape. I sent an email to DHS to see if they had information on the older houses in town and I quickly received an answer from Burt Derick, the society's Historian. He gave me a nice page of information on the house, as well as for the one next door that was owned by James' daughter Rosana and her husband Valentine Kelley. Sure enough, the house did belong to James Eldridge.
|Valentine and Rosana (Eldridge) Kelley's home, Main St. Dennis Port late 1990s|
|Valentine's house in an old snapshot|
Burt's late mother, Pauline Wixon Derick, had compiled the information on the houses. She is the grand dame of Dennis genealogy and history. She was one of the women responsible for compiling the information for the three volume set of the Dennis Vital Records, among many other tasks we benefit from.
When I first began genealogy research in the mid 90s, I purchased Burt's book on the Cemetery Inscriptions of Dennis (by far my most dog-eared resource). On a whim I contacted him and he sent me a large envelope full of family trees and group sheets. It was pure gold to me! We are cousins, like virtually everyone with Cape ancestry. He invited me to his home, where he had a library and many of his late mother's files. He scanned some of my old photos and postcards while I found even more information on my ancestors. I was blown away by Burt's generosity and his vast knowledge. On my "must see' list is to visit the West Dennis Library, which now houses DHS's library, called the Pauline (Wixon) Derick Library.
When I was going through my grandmother Millie's things after her death, I found sympathy cards from when my great-grandmother Ethel Kelley Booth lost her husband, Wallace Booth. One card was from Pauline Wixon Derick. She and my great-grandparents went to the same church and were well acquainted! I'm frequently struck by how intermingled those of us with Cape roots really are. Maybe that's what breeds the kindness from strangers, as we're not really strangers at all.