Tuesday, September 29, 2009


My friend Ben asked me to help him with his genealogy. His grandmother, Sybel, was "the most remarkable woman." She was the first Passamaquoddy Indian to finish college. Ben said that Teddy Roosevelt had an initiative to educate the Indians. Sybel took advantage of it, went to college, and became a school teacher in Barre, Vermont. Ben said the school house was heated by a coal stove and one time Sybel had to chase a bear out with a broom. When Ben knew her she was retired and never left the farm, but she would know everything that was going on by telephone. She would go out in the fields and collect herbs, weeds, and barks to make teas--clover, birch bark, and sumac root. She would bake "green chocolate cakes" from honey and roots. She would make sumac root porridge. In the winter she would find ants frozen under the bark in the maple trees and "eat them like candy." There is a book somewhere written about her named "Sybel", but Ben has been unable to find it, so I'm helping him with the research. I set up a tree on Ancestry named Sybel's Family Tree and started searching.

This is an interesting and challenging bit of research. Ben did not know his grandmother's maiden name and had a number of things incorrect. Her maiden name turned out to be DAVENPORT. He knew the name, but he thought that had been a first husband's name before his grandfather. Ben's grandfather was not talked about in the family and they were forbidden to ask about him. By the time Ben came along Sybel was married to Herman BORGKVIST, a Swede (Ben thought he was Norwegian and did not know how to spell the name).

Ben gave me Sybel's children's names, but got some wrong. At first I thought some of them were named Davenport, but they turned out to be ROARK and BORGKVIST. So far the BORGKVISTs have been the easiest to find.

I have been working on this a couple of weeks now. I think this is the first record I found, Herman in the SSDI:

Social Security Death Index
Name: Herman Borgkvist
SSN: 005-36-1966
Last Residence: 03904 Kittery, York, Maine, United States of America
Born: 7 Jan 1892
Died: Aug 1967
State (Year) SSN issued: Maine (1954)

Then I found Sybel in the SSDI:

Social Security Death Index
Name: Sybel Borgkvist
SSN: 004-64-9505
Last Residence: 03904 Kittery, York, Maine, United States of America
Born: 28 Sep 1894
Died: Apr 1973
State (Year) SSN issued: Maine (1973)

A wonderful start! I now had some dates and a last name for Sybel.

1 comment:

  1. Tess,

    Please see :


    for more information on Thomas Martin Roark and Family.

    Joe Harland