Posted by: suekenney | January 17, 2012

My Granddad

The picture here is of a seven-year-old boy from around the turn of the century – 19th to 20th, that is.  He was born March 20, 1895, in West New Brighton on Staten Island in the state of New York, the youngest of five children.

Many years later, he became my mother’s father.  Several years after that, he became my grandfather.  We always called him “Granddad.”

Richard Davis Lambert.  Not sure where the Richard came from, but the Davis was his mother’s maiden name.  The Davises in the United States hail all the way back to the 1600s, to a Dolor Davis who came from Kent County, England, and settled originally in New Towne (now Cambridge, MA), and who moved around a lot, eventually dying in Barnstable around 1683, well into his 80s.

The Lamberts, Richard’s paternal line, were of more recent vintage, at least in this country.  The original American colonist from our Lambert line was Henry Calvert Lambert, who came over from England in the 1830s.  Henry was a bit of a wanderer too, undoubtedly a holdover from his childhood, when his father was in the British army and was stationed all over the place, with wife and several children following along.  Henry married Catherine Porter in 1841 and  eventually went west in 1849 to join the Gold Rush; however, he did very little panning for gold, instead setting up a shop in San Francisco.  He came back east by 1855, having lost FOUR stores to fires, which were quite common in San Francisco at that time.

Henry’s fifth child, Walter, was probably born a few months after Henry had gone west to California.  Walter became my grandfather’s father.  Walter was born in Cambridge, but sometime during his childhood the family moved to West Newton.  The family story goes that Walter liked to slide down the hill in front of their house on snowy winter days, and at least once slid UNDER the moving freight train which crossed the road about halfway down the hill.

Which leads us to my grandfather, Richard.  Younger by 16 years than his oldest sibling, and by 9 years than the next-to-youngest, he was a bit of a rascal and kept the household hopping.  One of the family stories about HIM is set in their big, multi-story house; he had gotten his two older sisters, Mary and Marjorie, irked with him enough to chase him through the house.  He ended up on the top floor (an attic, I believe), and then scampered out a window and proceeded to move out onto a ledge running around the roof – while his sisters called to him in vain, Mary peering anxiously out one window and Marjorie equally anxiously out another window.  Not sure how he got out of that one!

Richard Lambert as a young man

Growing up, Richard’s health tended to be rather frail, to the point that his mother became excessively protective (at least in HIS opinion!).  After having gone to a technical school in Worcester, MA, he felt the Lambert wanderlust, but his mother (and his father, to some extent) didn’t want him to do anything wild or dangerous.  Well, since the options he was looking at involved either hopping on a ship to South America as a crew member, or going to the wilds of Labrador to work with Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, there was obviously some friction between him and his parents.  Eventually he went to Labrador for about a year, survived splendidly, and then joined the British merchant marine, later working on a minesweeper in the English Channel (this was during the early years of World War I).  He joined the American navy when the US came into the war.

 After the war he married Corinne Tyson, a young Quaker lady originally from near Gettysburg, PA.  Their oldest child was my mother, Judith Trowbridge Lambert, born in July, 1926.  They lived in Lynn, MA, for a while (that’s where my mother was born), then moved to Worcester, MA (where my mother’s twin sisters, Diana and Muriel, were born).
Richard worked with industry most of his adult life, in personnel.  He was also active in civic affairs, and frequently took teen boys and younger men under his wing.  For hobbies, he fished and did woodworking.

Richard Lambert, age 71 (1966)

I remember him as an older man, with smooth white hair, a quirky sense of humor, and a pipe perennially hanging from his lips.  We only saw him and Grandmother once or twice a year, since they lived on Cape Cod and we lived in western New York – traveling with eight kids is NOT an easy task, and my parents didn’t do it often.
Richard died in the summer of 1976, just after I graduated from college.  He had lived to see the Bicentennial of the United States; he was always interested in what was going on around him, and what was going to come next.  He is buried on Cape Cod, next to my grandmother who joined him there some 20 years later.  On his tombstone are the last three lines from this little poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, “Requiem”:
UNDER the wide and starry sky,  
Dig the grave and let me lie.  
Glad did I live and gladly die,  
  And I laid me down with a will.  
This be the verse you grave for me:          5
Here he lies where he longed to be;  
Home is the sailor, home from sea,  
  And the hunter home from the hill.


  1. I love this, Sue – it’s so fascinating to find out about the real person that we may only have known as “Granddad” or “Granny”. Coincidentally, my latest post is about my paternal grandmother – I greatly regret that I didn’t really know her while she was alive, and am now trying to present a picture for my children and grandchildren that is as close to the truth as I can get it. I think that is the true lure of genealogy, for me anyway; not trying to find famous people. but just to know who they were and how they lived. Hope your kids appreciate it, too.

  2. Sue, I hope you remember me. (Peg Fikes used to rent my upstairs apartment when I lived in NY). Anyways, I was doing some research about my ancestor Dolor Davis and your site popped up…………what a surprise to see your face! Anyways I am an 11th generation Davis and I have documentation done by my grandmother that traces my roots back to Dolor.

    • Seriously? That’s awesome! Of course I remember you, and I am thrilled – far more thrilled than I was a few days ago, watching a PBS show “Finding Your Roots” and learning I am related, very distantly, to the actor Kevin Bacon, through some mutual Quaker ancestors. (Honestly, I am not a movie goer, and I didn’t know who he was until well into the show.) It is so interesting to learn all these little paths of interconnectedness.

  3. It’s really quite surprising what can be found on the internet! I was trying to fill in some blanks on my husband’s family tree and landed on this page. Your great grandmother Mary (Hawxhurst) Tyson is my husband’s great grandaunt. She was his great grandfather’s sister. I have photos of a younger Mary Hawxhurst and of her quaker parents if you are interested.

    • That’s pretty exciting! I’m finding more relatives…! Just to make sure we’re talking about the same lady, my Mary Willis Hawxhurst Tyson was born 27 Sept. 1842 in Westbury, L.I., and died 3 July 1941 in Flora Dale, PA. If this is the same lady, I would LOVE to have some photos of her and her parents. And any other details about the Hawxhurst family you would care to pass on. My mom and grandma did a lot of work on the main lines, and I have that info in a book my mom put together, but since the Hawxhurst line wasn’t in the “Four Quarters,” as my mom used to call it (the four grandparental lines), I don’t have much other than some names and dates. (Well, maybe some more, if I can get the time to dig through the mounds of genealogical stuff I got from my mom. But that’s a Herculean task in itself.)

  4. Mary Willis Hawxhurst was the daughter of William Hawxhurst and Marianna Hicks. She married Edwin Tyson in 1887 in a Friends ceremony at the home of her parents. Edwin’s brother, Chester Tyson, married Mary’s sister, Bertha Hawxhurst.

    The two sisters lived in Pennsylvania, where their husbands were from.

    I was given family photographs a few years ago, along with some family information. I have also been supplementing this with my own research. I have photos of some of your Hawxhurst, Hicks and Tyson ancestors and relatives.

    Always great to find a relative interested in the family history!

  5. Hello I found this by mistake, My great grandmother is Mary Hauxhurst But she was from Oregon Is this the same one. She was married to Webley Hauxhurst from NY I have a few picture of her, also we had donated her dresses to the tillmook musuem a long time ago, any way if this is the same one i would anything you have.

    • Sorry to have taken so long to reply – I was gone for a week or so and lost track of my blogging. I don’t believe this is the same – my Mary Hawxhurst was from Long Island, and married Edwin Comly Tyson from PA. If your Webley Hauxhurst was a Quaker and came from Long Island, then there might be some connection.

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