September 12, 2008


Filed under: CORNELL Family,NEW ENGLAND — carolyncholland @ 12:20 am
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 A New England Bar Experience

 This is the second post on my 2008 New England vacation. I am posting this from Weymouth, Massachusetts.

      “Is this Cheers?” I asked the bartender as he was about to take my order.

      “No—it’s Chappy’s” he responded, in an interchange that occurred as I sat on a stool in the front of the bar with the window behind me. I could identify the totally unfamiliar establishment as a neighborhood haunt.

     The small one-story building in the center of the New England tourist area was almost hidden by an ivy overgrowth and a tree whose branches created an awning over the front wall. The stools in front of its one long bar, situated along the right wall, were mostly occupied by customers intent on the beverages in front of them. It was reminiscent of the television sitcom, Cheers, an episode of which is coincidentally airing as I write this post in a Cape Cod hotel room. My husband, Monte, commented that I was the only woman in the bar.

     Yet, although the bar scene is unfamiliar to me, I didn’t feel uncomfortable.


      At “Chappy’s,” the television was close to blaring.

      “I’m Carolyn,” I stated.

       The bartender’s eyes lit up when he heard that.

       A few days earlier, I’d begun telephoning numbers listed under the name “Cornell” on Aquidneck Island, asking them if they might be doing genealogy on the Cornell ancestors (note the middle initial “C” in my name: it is my maiden name, Cornell). I was seeking information on a family burial site, and also thought it might be nice to meet personally with someone with whom I shared the same ancestors. On the second call, a woman answered the phone.

       “I have a strange question to ask you,” I said. “Are you interested in the Cornell genealogy?”

       “You hit the right place,” she said. “My husband does.”

       However, her husband was showering, so I left my information and hoped he would call back. He did. And he connected me with a contact who could lead me to my destination.

       I was told if I wanted to meet this Cornell descendent, I could find him at his job—at the neighborhood bar. When we arrived, Monte stayed at the car to put money in the meter while I crossed the road and entered the bar.


       “What can I get you to drink?” the bartender asked, after I introduced myself. “Oh, this is a Cornell descendent too,” he continued, pointing to the man seated next to me. “He’s done some genealogy research for me.”

      The bartender moved swiftly, deftly serving customers and efficiently running the business. Between his frequent stops at my stool and in between serving others, I learned that this bar, the oldest neighborhood bar in this tourist city, began in 1938. Earlier in time there was once a second story, which was destroyed by a fire. The bar does not serve meals—it is strictly a bar.

      Tourists don’t generally come to this bar, unless they mosey on over from a neighboring restaurant. It seems the customers are all friendly and know each other.

      In our phone conversation the bartender and I learned at which branch our ancestry had separated—it was in the third generation. We agreed that our common ancestor, the son of the original emigrants, who was hung for killing his mother, was definitely the recipient of injustice. I learned that his case is the only one in the law books that a man was convicted of murder by a ghost!

     Our visit almost over, I asked the bartender if I could take his picture. The second man at the bar, who had inquired about my camera, said he’d done photography and seemed to know about cameras. He volunteered to take a photo of the bartender, Monte and me. I handed him my camera so he could shoot the picture. Then Monte took another photo of the bartender and me. We said our goodbyes, and Monte and I left.


     We probably will not enter another bar this “vacation.” Our sites are beaches, libraries, historic societies and some sightseeing. But we will not forget our visit to “Cheers—” er, “Chappy’s.”





 A Father-Daughter reunion after 30 years



 Two Photographers Named Cornell



1 Comment »

  1. What a great encounter you had! Linking up with distant cousins is wonderful, isn’t it? I’m from New York Cornells, myself.

    Comment by brandyberry — September 14, 2008 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

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