A Wonderful Find!

I recently connected with a second cousin on Ancestry and discovered that he had uploaded a photograph from Christmas of 1903 which included our great-grandmother, far left (Mary Regina Smith Hamilton 1866-1909) and our great-grandfather, far right (Thomas Scott Hamilton 1865-1945) and their children (one son is missing and one toddler daughter had passed away a few years earlier).  Both lived in Philadelphia their entire lives.

I have been researching my family tree for over 35 years and this was the first time I had ever seen a photo of either of my Hamilton great-grandparents. So I was so thrilled to find this!  And very happy to be able to put faces to names I had known almost my entire life.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  My great-grandmother looks less-than-excited (she was probably tired!) My great-grandfather looks a bit creepy and perhaps mad.  My grandmother told me about how strict he was, but I’ve also heard stories about what a kind and good man he was.  The house (if indeed it was theirs) looks more upper class than I had previously believed.  The toys were certainly those of at least an upper middle-class family.  My great-grandfather was a clothing cutter so I don’t imagine they were rich. Looking at the house and beautifully-decorated tree, it appears as though they were quite comfortable.

This is such a beautiful snapshot in time.  My great-grandparents would go on to have three more children (including one set of twins — my grandmother, Margaret Hamilton Gable, was one of those twins).  Just six years after this photo was taken, my great-grandmother dropped dead suddenly when her twins were only 18 months old, leaving her husband and oldest daughter (Kate, the smiling one on the right) to raise the children.

This photo illustrates such a different time in history than we are living, a simpler time.  Yes, mothers and fathers still die suddenly and widowers and widows are still left to raise children. But many Catholic families are limiting the number of children they have.  I can’t begin to judge any other couple, but I know in our own case, we remained open, despite the doctors’ orders that we stop having children.

We can learn so much from our ancestors. Back then, contraception wasn’t even a thought in most Catholic couples’ minds and really wasn’t readily available anyway.  Most welcomed children as they came.  I’m thankful to my Hamilton great-grandparents for welcoming children as they did, even when it was so obviously difficult and challenging.  My grandmother, Margaret Hamilton Gable, was one of twins in Mary Hamilton’s last pregnancy. If they had stopped having children, if they had discovered contraception, I wouldn’t be here today.

My grandmother (Margaret) went on to elope with my grandfather (Fritz) and eventually they had four children (my father was the second oldest).

This was indeed a wonderful find!


Hamilton Family 1903, with thanks to Rich Boyle


SQT – The Month of May

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-1024x727 Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at This Ain’t the Lyseum for Seven Quick Takes Friday.

I have always enjoyed the month of May. It happens to include some family birthdays, a holiday, my wedding anniversary and, of course, May is the month of Mary.

Here are a few of the reasons I love the month of May:

1. May is Mary’s month. When I was a child in Catholic school, each May the entire school and parish took part in the May procession. One 8th grade female student was chosen as May Queen to crown the statue of Mary. When my mother was 13, she was chosen to be May Queen at St. Richard’s School in Philadelphia. Years later, when we were living in Philadelphia and attending the same parish and school, my sister was also chosen to be May Queen in 1971. The photo below is of my mother as May Queen (1947).

2. May is usually a great weather month. After the long winter we had, I look forward to May’s spring weather.

3. May is a month of birthdays. I’ve shared before that my youngest son was my favorite birthday present 16 years ago. Besides my son’s birthday and my birthday, there are numerous other relatives who have birthdays in May.

4. May is the month of our anniversary. One of the reasons my husband and I chose May for our wedding 33 years ago is because it is the month of Mary, but also because May usually brings good weather. Again, ‘usually’ is the key word here. It rained the entire day of our wedding so most of our photos had to be taken inside. However, as the reception was winding down to a close, the photographer approached us. He said that the weather was clearing and asked us if we would like to pose for a few photos outside. When we walked outside, we were astonished to see a huge patch of bright light in the distance. It’s not evident from this photo because it was around 8:00 p.m., but the weather had turned quite beautiful. I took it as a sign from God that truly “bright days were ahead.”

5. May is the month of Mother’s Day. I have always tried to honor both my mother and mother-in-law. My mother has been gone for nearly eight years, but I still remember her daily in prayer. We usually treat my mother-in-law to dinner at a restaurant. As a mother myself, I have always enjoyed receiving home-made, creative gifts from my sons and have treasured these special mementos. The photo below is of me and my mother.

6. May includes a three-day weekend. Up here in Canada, the third Monday is Victoria Day, which is a holiday similar to Memorial Day in the USA. We usually celebrate by barbequing and enjoying a day off. It’s the unofficial start to summer (I say unofficial because up here in Canada, anything is possible in terms of weather…I have seen snow flurries on one or two previous Victoria Day holidays).

7. Mother’s Day Cartoon

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Photos and Text Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach

In Name Only FREE Today Through Sunday!

INO My second novel, In Name Only, is FREE today through Sunday on Kindle. The sequel to In Name Only, A Subtle Grace, was published earlier this year.

Here are the links:

Amazon Kindle USA In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Canada In Name Only

Amazon Kindle UK In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Japan In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Germany In Name Only

Amazon Kindle France In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Italy In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Australia In Name Only

Philadelphia, 1876: Caroline Martin foresees a joyous future when she meets a wealthy, moral man. But unexpected tragedy topples her illusions, opening the way to a profound understanding of God — a moving tale with over 220 five and four star reviews on Amazon. In Name Only won the Gold medal in Religious Fiction in the 2010 IPPY Awards and has been an Amazon Kindle Top Ten bestseller since February 2012.

“If you love romance but hate smut, pick up this beautiful story and let it carry you away. The characters are believable, layered, human and humorous even in the midst of tragedy. The reader never loses hope and is rewarded on every page with little gems of character behavior, dialogue, plot twists and romantic intrigue. I was so very sorry when it ended!”
Lisa Mladinich, author, founder Amazing Catechists

” …conveys the beautiful Catholic teachings on conjugal love, and shares both a pro-life story and a conversion story.”
Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire