Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Memory of our Cousin, Robert Wills Naves 1916-1944

Robert Wills Naves (1916-1944)  was the grandson of William Henry Wills (1869- 1943) making him a second cousin to all grandchildren of  John Albert Wills and Elizabeth Bissonnette.  Robert Wills Naves was born in New Hampshire and lived most of his life in that state. Somehow a little famfily photo album got passed to my mother  who carefully wrote across the album "papa's brother's family".  Here are some of those photos. Robert Wills Naves is the little boy.

Father and Mother of Robert Wills Naves

Robert with his Uncle Fred, probably at Hampton Beach, NH.

Robert Wills Naves as an infant

This little boy grew up to be an artist who volunteered in the United States Army Air Force during World War II, serving with Merrill's Marauders in Indochina and dying there in an accident. 

 Here is some information about his career as an artist who painted murals and theater screens throughout New England in small town theaters. The following paragraphs are from the Randolph Vt Herald Newspaper a few years ago:

Robert Naves: A professional artist who was employed by several scenic studios in New Hampshire including Crystal Art Studio, Wood Studio, and Monadnock Studio, Robert Naves traveled throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.  His specialty was painting stage curtains for theatres, which he would paint in his studio and then ship to the client.

Theatre curtains by Naves are in Vermont in the town halls of Glover, Putney, Brookfield, Wheelock, Concord and Williamstown
 When volunteers cleared out Brookfield’s Old Town Hall, among the prizes found were two hand-painted theater curtains in the stage area. Now these treasures will be conserved as part of the Vermont Painted Theater Curtain Project.
Melanie LaRocque and Jill Wheatley of Brookfield are organizing volunteers to assist textile conservator (and new part-time Brookfield resident) Michele Pagan in handling and sewing the curtains at the Pond Village Church April 14-16. If necessary, conservation work on the curtains will continue the following week, April 19-21. If you would like to help with this project, call Melanie LaRocque (276-3322) or Michele Pagan (276-3562).
One of the curtains found in the Town Hall is an ethereal view of the floating bridge; the other is an advertising curtain documenting the emerging relationship between local business sponsors and the arts by the turn of last century. Both of Brookfield’s curtains were painted by Robert Naves, a professional artist and salesman who painted many curtains. In the early 1940s, Naves joined the Flying Tigers (and designed their logo) and went to China, where he died in 1944.
Each Town Hall curtain will cost approximately $3,000 to conserve, and the Brookfield Community Project will use funds raised by the benefit concert last September to contribute $500 per curtain for that effort. The rest of the funding has been raised by the Painted Theater Curtain Project, which is part of the Vermont Museum & Gallery Alliance, and has received $150,000 from the "Save America’s Treasures" grant program towards the cost of preserving Vermont’s 120 curtains.
The curtains, found in town halls, grange halls, theaters and opera houses, were painted between 1880-1930. Their romantic, historical or documentary nature reflects a time when people in even the most rural towns endorsed the concept that entertainment should not only delight but also instruct.
Other sponsors of the Painted Theater Curtain Project include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Windham Foundation, the Vermont Community Foundation and the Walter Cerf Fund.

Here are two examples of his theatre curtains:

Robert lived in this house in New Hampshire
The house was called the Leavitt-Garland House
History of the Leavitt-Garland House

Robert W. Naves, married and living in Hampton, NH often worked in a studio in the back of his house. One day in February 1941, while Robert was in the studio the structure caught on fire and Robert suffered severe burns.  When he finally recovered from his burns, he volunteered to serve in World War II. While serving in Indochina, he was killed in an accident and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  The town of Hampton honored him by naming a street NAVES ROAD.  You can read more about Robert Wills Naves here.  While serving, he continued to use his artistic talent ....  

The Journey of John Albert Berryman Wills, Part the Third: from Copper Mine to Coal Mine

Sometime in 1869, John Albert Berryman Wills, his young wife, Anne Reed, and their first child, Elestra Emma Wills left Bolton, Québec for greener pastures - but they didn't find them.  I suspect instead of a better life, it was probably worse because we find them in coal country Pennsylvania! They did not remain there very long. How do we know this? Because in four US censuses, the 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920, Pennsylvania is listed as the birthplace of their second child, William Henry Wills.
Ten years after the move, the 1880 census captured the family recording William's birthplace as "Penn".
Click to View Larger Image

They didn't stay there long - by 1871, a  third child, another daughter was born in upstate New York - in the Adirondack iron mining town of Moriah.
William Henry Wills, by the way was named after his father's father, William Wills who died in 1860 back in St Uny Lelant, Cornwall.

Here's the complete sequence of stories about John Albert Berryman Wills and Anne Reed:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Rivet-Rivest-Rivé Families of Repentigny, Québec - PART 4

During the Fête au Petit Village, the Rivest-Rivet family genealogy Kiosk was a big hit.  Many Rivets stopped by to find out more about the ancestors including some from USA!

Inside the tent we finally met third cousin, Mr. Constant Rivest, the guru of Rivet-Rivest genealogy

Two great-great grandsons of Alexis Rivet and Marie Thérèse Désilets:
Ray Rivet from New York State and Constant Rivest from Québec

Some of the displays

The village mayor of Repentigny stopped by to greet the Rivets-Rivests in the kiosk and graciously let us take a picture with her.
The mayor, Ms. Chantal Deschamps is the lovely lady with the red scarf!

 Sunday morning, a Catholic mass was celebrated by Bishop André Rivest in the Church of St Paul the Hermit.

After the mass, all the Rivets and Rivests swarmed out of the church and into the bright morning light...

Finally, a tree was planted in honor of the Rivest-Rivet Ancestors and the growing clan

Everyone had an opportunity to get a picture with the Rivet Family Tree

Thank you to all the volunteers, Connie, Lisotte, Guylaine (and many more)  in Repentigny who were so kind, who translated many of the historical plaques and commentaries for us, who helped us to get tickets and generally smiled though we couldn't understand the French! Merci beaucoup!
A special thank you to Mr. Constant Rivet, third cousin, who wrote to tell us about the celebration in time for us to make our plans and attend La Fête au Petit Village and the Rivet-Rivest celebration!

The Rivet-Rivest-Rivé Families of Repentigny, Québec - PART 3

On Rue Notre Dame during Fête au Petit Village

The arrow sash of L'Assomption is synonymous with traditional Québec.  By 1835 L'Assomption region was the foremost producer of this colorful sash. More history  is available at Fléchée.

Madame France Hervieux practicing her craft and creating a colorful sash that will retail between $250-$275 Canadian dollars...

The Rivet-Rivest-Rivé Families of Repentigny, Québec - PART 2

The church of St Paul the Hermit is at the center of the community in Repentigny on Rue Notre Dame

The church at night

The graveyard behind the church

A Rivet gravestone

A few other sites on Rue Notre Dame (Street of Our Lady) during the day of the Fête au Petit Village:

Rivets in front of a traditional Québec homestead

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Rivet-Rivest-Rivé Families of Repentigny, Québec - PART 1

Note: this is the first part of the story of a weekend trip to share the heritage of the the Rivet Families of Repentigny, Québec.

Fête au Petit Village in Repentigny on the weekend of September 18th and 19th, 2010 brought a few Americans back to the Rivet-Rivest home village.  Ray, Vicky and I traveled to Repentigny and met many members of the Rivet family who remained in the vicinity and greater Montréal area.  The street closed off for the festivities was Rue Notre Dame which runs along the northern  waterfront of the Assumption River.  Much to my surprise, there is a street named Rue Rivet where several brothers had homesteads and leads into Pont (bridge) Rivet.   In the mid 18th century, six Rivet-Rivest brothers, all sons of Maurice Rivé and Marie Cusson, came to Repentigny to raise their families. They were Charles, Pierre, Michel, Alexis, Maurice and Nicolas. It accounts for the large number of Rivets-Rivests in the area.  The Rivest descendants who immigrated to Cohoes NY were descended from Alexis and Marie Anne Migneron dit Lajeunesse.

Cousin Ray looking just like the ancestors who lived on Rue Rivest!

The section of the old village with Rivest Street on the right half of the map.
 Now days,  Rivest Street crosses the river via the Pont Rivest

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Rosie the Riveters" in our family

During the early years of World War II (1942?) my mother and my aunt, both named Dorothy worked at the Watervelit Arsenal in Watervelit, NY.  They worked as, what has come to be called,  "Rose the Riveters".  While men were all on the war front in the Pacific, Africa, and Europe, women filled the labor gap in our nation's arsenals where military weapons were manufactured.

My cousin, also a  Dorothy, wrote a beautiful story about her mother during that time of her life.  Our cousin has generously offered to share her story on this blog......Click on the pictures to enlarge the page and you will be able to read it clearly.

and drumroll......our cousin's story about her mother..

Here is a picture of our mothers together (with one other unidentified Rosie) that may have been taken on the grounds of the Watervelit Arsenal

Aunt Dorothy told me that she was very, very good at her job and was swiftly promoted to a more demanding position where she had to be very careful not to "contaminate" the materials with random dust particles.  She was the right person for that job because she was very exacting and precise in her work- and it showed!

Posters, currently on display at the Watervelit Arsenal,  depicting the war effort on the home front and the war front.

The entrance to the Watervelit Arsenal in the 1950s and 1960s