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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Into the Vaporous Air

By Michael Mauro DeBonis
©Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

“At the ocean’s seaside, so I stand,
near the word-rich waves, upon the the sand.

It was the manor grounds lastly I was seen,
at my island house, before the summer green. 

I walk the hills and the beaches I pace…
but over the years, I’ve lost my place.

Secrets are the things that made me moved,
away from all in my heart I had loved.

Time will one day make me found,
and I’ll rest in a spot of some happy ground.”

   February 7, 2019

Death by Disappearance: The Secret Story of Alice Parsons

By Michael Mauro DeBonis
Copyright ©2019. All rights reserved by the author.

In a noir crime narrative worthy of Dashiell Hammett or Mickey Spillane, a real-life drama played out in Stony Brook, New York, on the late morning of June 9, 1937, with most puzzling and suspicious circumstances surrounding it. It involved the utter disappearance of wealthy New York City and Long Island heiress Alice McDonnell Parsons, from her countryside home, called Long Meadow Farm. Her maid lastly saw mrs. Parsons, a Russian émigré named Anna Kuprianova (also spelled Kupryanova) who came to the USA from Russia, during World War I. Anna told American law enforcement officials probing Alice Parsons’ vanishing she had to leave her homeland because of the hostile Communist takeover there, from Czarist authorities, at that time (Gardner, 1-2).

Mrs. Kuprianova told the FBI and New York State Police (as well as the Brookhaven Town Police) that Alice Parsons left her north shore Long Island estate to show a family property that was then up for sale, to a middle-aged couple, who were both interested in purchasing it. Mrs. Parsons’ home to be sold was called Shoreland (Brosky, 41) and it was located in the Suffolk County town of Huntington (Brosky, 42). Shoreland, like Long Meadow Farm, was also located on the Island’s north shore, and it rose above the Long Island Sound below it (Price, 4) at Lloyd’s Neck and Harbor (Gardner, 1).

Earlier that morning (Wednesday, June 9, 1937) Mrs. Parsons had driven her also rich husband William H. Parsons, to the Stony Brook railroad station, so William “…could make a 7:47 AM train,” (Brosky, 42). Alice Parsons returned home and “…informed her housekeeper [Anna] that a couple was coming over around eleven AM…that she [Alice Parsons] would be taking them over to see her aunt and uncle’s estate in Huntington…” (Brosky, 42). “Alice got inside the [couple’s] car with the couple…and that was the last time Alice was ever seen…” (Brosky, 42).

History and Genealogy: The French Princess Legend – And Legacy

By Joanne Polizzi Mansfield
©2019. All rights reserved.

This story starts out sounding like a mystery novel. A woman becomes interested in her husband’s family history. She finds a mysterious letter among old unlabeled photos and newspaper obituaries of unknown people.

The letter, written in 1905 to “Cousin Nelson” in Chautauqua County, Western New York, looks to be from a family member in Colorado, encouraging keeping family records for future generations. There is a list of names and a story of “your family” that lived in Connecticut and Canada.

For many years there has been a legend about a "French Princess" that married into the family; that she hid in a barrel of hemp for an unknown reason. She was hiding from something-some trouble, danger, possible kidnapping? One version was that she was escaping to the United States and doing so, hid in a barrel. It was a dramatic and romantic story in the family and a mystery! The letter to Cousin Nelson tells the story, adds names and dates and provides details that can be used for research. How could this story possibly relate to a farm family in a quiet corner of New York? What could this history mean to descendants many generations later?