Archive | July 2017

Jock Tobias and the South African Diamond Mines

Family ┬ástories that are passed down can be a little skewed or outright embellished. I remember my father telling the story of his great-uncle Jock Tobias – brother to his paternal grandmother. He told me how Jock moved from Scotland to work in the diamond mines in South Africa and often brought back diamonds for my grandmother. I searched in vain for many years for Jock Tobias (and WHERE ARE THOSE DIAMONDS?).

Fast forward to my research and confirmation from my aunt. Jock Tobias was actually John Turbyne (although Jock may have been a nickname – we’ll probably never know). He and his wife did move to and live in South Africa. Every record that I could find says that John Turbyne was a woodworker or joiner. Perhaps he was employed in the diamond mines of South Africa – did they use woodworkers to shore up the ceilings as they dug? Perhaps.

John and his wife had no children. They visited his sister in New York several times traveling through Ellis Island. After a long career in South Africa, John and his wife Jessie boarded the Warwick Castle in Capetown South Africa headed to Southampton, England and retirement at 53 Princess Street, Dundee, Scotland. Seven days out from Southampton, John died on board the ship of congestive heart failure. His obituary states that he was buried at sea. He never made it home.

Death of John Turbyne aboard ship highlighted with arrow cropped


Howard Benjamin Parshley

How about this little cutie? In excellent condition mounted in a protective folder, it is identified as Howard Benjamin Parshley at 8 months old.

Howard Benjamin Parshley crop

Howard Benjamin Parshley

The photo was taken in New Haven, Connecticut. Howard was born in West Haven, Connecticut on 5 April 1923 to Edward R. Parshley, who was a mechanical inspector for the railroad and his wife Laura (Newson) who was born in Prince Edward Island Canada – she was the youngest of 15 children. Howard died 6 February 2010 in Alabama and is buried in Dogwood Trails Memorial Gardens in Oxford, Alabama.

If you are close family and would like to have the photo sent to you at no charge, please contact me.

Alida Bisco? I think not.

Alida Bisco

I rescued this photo from an antique shop. It is identified on the back as Alida Bisco. I set out to research Alida Bisco to see if I could get the photo returned to a family member. I found Alida, living in Dudley, Massachusetts, born in October of 1850 in Connecticut. Alida appears in every available census from 1860 through 1930 and then appears in the Massachusetts Death Index in 1938. It appears that Alida never married. The problem is that every record lists Alida as a woman. Do you think this is a picture of Alida? I think not. Perhaps it is her brother Alton Bisco, son of Jacob and Emeline Bisco, who was born in 1857. We may never know. I hope someone from the family discovers this post and can clear up this mystery.

Laura Barrett – A Photograph Discovered


This cabinet card, taken about 1891, is identified as Laura Barrett age 19. A little research uncovers that Laura was born in July 1872 in Ashford, Connecticut the daughter of George G. Barrett and Marilla Kidder.

She married Marvin W. Fisk on 5 November 1892 in Warrenville, Connecticut. He was born in Stafford Springs, CT in August 1867, the son of John M. Fisk and Jane Prouty.

The couple had two children neither of which lived to adulthood: Wilbur born July 1896 and Earl born Nov 1898. Sadly, Earl died on 8 December 1901 at age 3 of Diphtheria and paralysis of the heart. Wilbur died 28 February 1902 of Scarlet Fever and heart failure at the age of 5. It appears that the couple had no other children.

Perhaps her old photograph turned up in an antique shop in Townsend, Massachusetts, because she left no descendants. I hope a niece, nephew or cousin would like to have her photograph returned to the family. If so, please contact me!

Laura Barrett front

Laura Barrett back