Friday, November 22, 2013

Carolyn Heard Peatfield-Short Newbury MA

A Share from Laurie Short Jarvis A Part One of Series on Newbury Ancestors

Carolyn Heard Peatfield-Short and granddaughter Laurie Short Jarvis
I am no genealogist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have always had an interest in local history, family stories, and especially old pictures.  I was heavily influenced by my grandmother Carolyn Heard Peatfield-Short. (b 3 Jan 1913 - d. 9 Dec 2009) married April 1931 George Granville Short Sr:  (b. 26 Nov 1910 - d.29 Mar 1970)  She loved all those things too. She was forever taking pictures, telling me about her family and my grandfather's family.  Although I never seemed all that interested when I was a child, it must have absorbed into my pores and somehow recorded a cellular memory until I was ready to learn.

When my grandmother died in 2009, I inherited boxes, bags, albums and scrapbooks full of what a lot of people considered junk, but they were her most prized possessions.  Even though she had to give most all of her worldly possessions away after moving out of her home (first, elderly housing and eventually to a nursing home) she kept certain priceless things with her at her bedside until her death at 96.  Among these gems, special old photographs and a 1890's scrapbook that belonged to her mother.  In addition, many little seemingly insignificant trinkets.  After her death, these items were dispersed to family members and myself. which I tossed into bins and stored away.

 Engagement Picture Carolyn & George Granville Short, SR

As I collected the treasured items from my grandmothers nursing room bedside,  I realized that the family and all its history she preserved was far more valuable than any monetary. This was something she possessed and no one could ever take away from her.  All her stories and passion for it came rushing back.  Her obsession for history was all recorded in her scrapbooks which she started putting together in 1931 when she 'went housekeeping' with my grandfather.  She put together a scrapbook from news clipping and other events from that date until her death. Even with her developing blindness she insisted that a nursing assistant read the local newspaper to her and help her cut out the articles she wanted to paste in her last scrapbook. She donated the majority of them all to Newbury Council on Aging before she passed. After her death, I did try to retrieve them and unfortunately hey had been dispersed or discarded.  One woman saved as many as she could, in her barn.  She was a friend of my grandmother.  I was able to retrieve only the 60's through present day. The older ones had disappeared.

I spent the winter after her death going through the bins of her things that I had stored away.  Her whole life, and that of my family unfolded in front of me a little at a time.  I had stated a family tree on in 2000, but never followed through with it and lost interest.  I returned to the website and found it still intact. and then I started piecing together the information and papers that my grandmother had left for me.  Seemingly insignificant papers became huge clues and valuable documents.  Piles of photos contained answers to mysteries.  Stories that had gone in one ear and I thought, gone out the other, were actually absorbed in through my pores and had never left.  I could hear her voice telling me that same old story for the 100th time.  I am glad she bored me with those old stories now.

Benjamin Lee Jarvis--Grandson
Although my family members were not statesmen or scholars, they played an integral role in the settling of Newbury,  New England and this country.   The generations of farmers, fishermen, clammers and factory workers all contributed to building a strong foundation here in this community. The majority of the Short family branch were seamen, including fishermen, captains, ship builders,  Among the roles---Plum Island Life Saving men, Coast Guard, in the First Navy of the Civil War. There were several generations of navy men, including my father and his brother. Our branch of the Short family Tree is said to end with my generation. My grandfather was the only male he had 2 boys and they had 2 girls each.  No next generation male to carry on the name.  I want my children to know who they came from and I am proud of Newbury history and all my ancestors who resided here.

Short House Newbury MA


  1. What a great story Carolyn. Thanks for sharing it with us. When I got into genealogy my mother had already passed away and I regretted to have never thought to ask her for stories on her side of the family in Ireland. Your grandmother was so wise to keep all that family history safely tucked beside her for so many years. And to pound it into your head! :) Most times we don't appreciate their 'boring' stories until later in life.

  2. Thank you. I hope to document Short Family stories and history that I have learned. I have not ever found and Short Family Genealogy books for the Newbury Shorts. I want their stories told.