Your Quick Tips, 16 October 2006

Betty Jo's Photo Memory BoxMom’s Memory Box
As the holidays approach, many of us are scratching around for the perfect gift for older family members who are living in nursing homes or assisted living. They don’t have much room for “stuff” and with limited mobility, gift certificates are not really practical. Since I’m the family genealogist and have loads of family photos, I made up a “memory box” for my mother-in-law who is in an assisted living facility. I started with a photo storage box, which was sturdy and a good size. To personalize the box, I scanned a wide variety of photos of her family–siblings, ancestors, and descendants. I used a photo editing program to arrange them, then printed out the sheets to glue onto the box. Then I used decoupage glue to seal the photos and make the box water resistant. Finally I filled it with greeting cards, stamps, notepaper, return address labels, an address book, pens, etc. Several years later, it is still in good condition and continues to be used for storage, as well as bringing back memories.

Betty Jo Stockton
Orlando, Florida

(Click on the image to get a closer look at Betty Jo’s Memory Box.)

E-mail Journals
Recently while reading an e-mail from a relative concerning a family wedding, it occurred to me that if I print out our family e-mail correspondence, they can be compiled into a journal that future generations would be delighted to read. With so few people actually writing letters these days and even fewer writing daily diaries it is a way to keep something tangible to pass on.

Winifred Collins

Name Change
For a long time I was unable to locate my great-grandfather, who I had known since childhood as Henry T. Mason, and his children from his first marriage who I had always known as Masons (I descend from his second marriage). Death certificates and word of mouth all said they were born in Wells, Maine, except for the last child, born in Ohio, so we knew they were in Cleveland, Ohio, by 1865.

My husband and I visited Wells and could find neither hide nor hair of them. At a much later time I had the good fortune to meet a man in a research library, who overheard me mention the Masons and said he was researching the same name.

Now Mason is a common name but imagine my astonishment when he not only introduced himself as a distant relative, but also mentioned that my great-grandfather used to be named Horace Chaney in Wells, Maine. He was proved correct in that we located the whole family in the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Wells, Maine, with a Horace Chaney/Cheney/Channey as the head of household. His wife and all of the children were there with the same first names, ages, and birth order I had found them in Cleveland (Cuyahoga Co.), Ohio, as documented in the 1870 and later Ohio censuses—with the exception that Horace Chaney in Wells, Maine, had apparently changed his name to Henry T. Mason and the last name of his family to Mason sometime between leaving Maine and coming to Ohio.

This has been hard to accept but the facts are there in the censuses. The burning question is, why did he change his entire name and the last name of his entire family prior to arriving in Ohio? The only idea I can come up with is that this was the time of the Civil War and I wonder if for that, or some other reason, he needed to be known as an entirely new person. Perhaps he needed to escape something and assume a new identity.

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10 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 16 October 2006

  1. Re: Name Change
    We also have a name change that we haven’t solved yet. Henry Riehl and Mary Herman raised a family in Philadelphia beginning in the 1860s. Both had come from Germany, but we couldn’t find any information about Henry’s immigration. Family lore said that Henry had been in the army in Germany. Then we heard from a newfound relative that Henry may have been a fugitive from conscription and had changed his name. Then, when his father died in Germany in the 1880s, Henry was unable to claim his inheritance because of the name change, and the money was confiscated by the German government. As the story goes, he took poison to make himself sick and gain sympathy, but the scheme worked too well and he died.

  2. Imagine my surprise when I read this article about a family member! The Wells, Maine connection made me take notice since I have a Cheney line. So I checked my index for Horace and there he was: Horace is a first cousin to my Charles Cheney (my GGGGrandfather)! No wonder I don’t have anything else on Horace after his birth. Thanks!

  3. i am learing so much from every Journal about basic geneology i am still such a novice & had no idea of how to get organized. thank you. evelyn conti

  4. Tuesday 17 October, 2006, 12:32 PM

    My name is Kirk Stephen Ingraham. I am a genealogist and family historian with degrees in Mathematics, Physics & Philosophy – and I happen to see all things as “bundles of enegry” – and I see every person as “a bundle of energy with two eyes.” I have many MASON GENES(and other genes too)BUBBLING UP WHENEVER I WALK THE STREETS. I am about to have lunch in about one hour with a man, his wife & child (Mason descendants) – and this will be our very first meeting in Nassau. I will of coure have my eight (8) megapixel digital camera ready to capture the “bundles of energy with two eyes.”

    I found your MASON story very interesting. I am the grandson of Mary Naomi Mason Ingraham who was the famous suffragette who was born on 29 July 1901 in Nassau Bahamas and was responsible for giving women the vote in 1962 in the Bahamas.

    Mary was the daughter of Ellis Mason & Alice Bartlett Mason, who had eight (8) other children other than Mary. Ellis Mason was the son of George Mason who was born in The Bahamas on 18 January 1797. His parents were John & Sylvia Mason.

    As many of you already know, the Masons were the original “certified” FREE MASONS of the Knights Templar who protected the Christians during the Crusades in Europe. The Masons built many of the castles & palaces in Europe. They were one of the few groups of people who had a “FREE PASS” to cross any border, thus the name, “FREE MASON.”
    The Knights Templar were headquatered in Scotland after they left Jerusalem and that is were hundreds of descendants with the last name “MASON” live to this day. I believe that most people named MASON who subscribe to & already know this.

    If anyone would like a little information on the MASONS, it is well documented on the History Channel. Just go to or send me an email at or call me at 1-242-357-8888.


    Kirk Stephen Ingraham
    Cell 1-242-357-8888

  5. Concerning the name change, checking deed and court records in Wells for the period before the move could shed some light on the reason. I had a similar case and was surprised at the amount of information I found in those records.

  6. About the Memory Boxes. What I started doing was making a “collage” using a picture frame. I use the fancy scissors that they use for scrapbooking and cut the images out and place them on the table, deciding how I want to group them, making sure they look right, etc. Then I choose a background to put on the cardboard back of the picture frame. I use a glue stick to attach the pictures to the colored background and Voila! The first one I made for my sister, who is very hard to please, brought tears to her eyes. She loved it. And the memories that flood back while doing this and giving this, is incredible. It’s a great way to get rid of extra pictures, but what’s even better is the way I feel when I see the look on the receiver’s face. Priceless!

  7. I also have Chaneys/Cheneys in Wells,Maine.Ira who married Katherine Allen and Albion Chaney/Cheney who married Olive Allen.Are these related to your line?


  8. I live in Wells, ME and although I am not related to the Mason/Cheney folks, I would be glad to do some research at the Historical Society if you need it.

  9. My maternal grandfather, Marcellus Agustus LAhr, and one of his brothers, Warren, ended up being known as LOhr after the Civil War. A distant cousin surfaced long enough to let me know that the name “change” was due to a postal error, but since she has disappeared from the emails, I still do not know the whys or wherefores and am still confused!

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