Monday, March 18, 2019

Robina (Donaldson) Carson - In the Paper - #52 Ancestors

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to perform a Random Act of Genealogical Kindness from a phone call I took while on docent duty at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum.

A woman needed information on her aunt Robina Carson. She wanted verification of Robina's maiden name, husband's name, and where they lived. The family had done some research and thought Robina was from Scotland and she married someone named Carson.

I took the request home with me and hubby and I had a great time learning about Robina. Between the two of us the information was coming so fast I decided to do a timeline to keep it all straight as well as be able to share it with the woman who called.

This past weekend we attended a day long seminar by Dr. Thomas W. Jones. One of his presentations was titled: "Can a Complex Research Problem Be Solved Solely Online?" He did a great job of presenting a case study using online sources, but every so often he would point out that to verify or obtain certain information, a trip to a repository would be necessary. At the end, he answered the question - "Yes, but ... "

In doing research on Robina, we found most of the information online, but . . . to verify her place of birth, find her siblings' names, and residence, we had to reach out to the Manatee public library where microfilm of the local newspapers are held. We needed obituaries on Robina and her husband Ernest.

Hubby and I LOVE librarians. I called the library to ask if they had the microfilm, and yes, they did. If I gave them name and date of death, they would do the research and email the obit to me. Wow - this saved me a trip into town. 

In less than 24 hours, I had the obits for Robina and Ernest, in docx and pdf forms. Those obits provided the information we needed to complete our research on Robina. 

Below is the timeline I developed for Robina M. (Donaldson) Carson

Timeline for: Robina Mosley (Donaldson) Carson

[Middle initial from Findagrave gravestone transcription; full middle name from]

1891, November 25 -  Robina M. Donaldson, Born St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Scotland  [1940 U.S. Federal Census and]
Parents: George and Mary Jane (Mosley) Donaldson (
Brothers: William and George Donaldson of Scotland (Obit)
Sisters: Mrs. William Cheyne and Mrs. John Garden of Scotland (Obit)
Religion: Presbyterian (Obit)

1927 – Immigrated to America (1930 Census, listed as alien); waitress in Pontiac, MI.

1897, August 16  - Ernest J. Carson [Husband] born Yale, Michigan (Obit)

1916, March 4, Ernest J. Carson married Lucie Hess. [] (Parents: Charles and Mary J. (Spring) Carson

1924 – July 16 – Ernest married Gladys Louise Marsh. [Michigan County Marriages []

1935 – Pontiac City Directory not listed; Neva (Ernest’s daughter b: 1916 listed as student living at 77 Wisner)

1937 – Pontiac City Directory – Neva working as clerk at M.D. Hubbard Spring Company. Resident: 153 S. Edith.

1937 – Pontiac City Directory – Ernest J. Carson working as Auto Mechanic. Residence: 156 Palmer.

1938 – Pontiac City Directory – Ernest J. Carson working as mechanic Pontiac Motor Company Retail Store. Residence: 156 Palmer

1938-39Robina M. Donaldson and Ernest J. Carson married.

1939 – Pontiac City Director – Ernest J. Carson mechanic Pontiac Motor Div. Retail Store; Residence 157 Palmer. Robina M. listed

1939 – 1945 – Pontiac, Michigan City Directories – Robina and Ernest listed. Residence: 56 Palmer Street and 73 Augusta Ave.

1940, Census, Robina (Roline) M. and Ernest J. Carson living in Pontiac, Oakland, Michigan; 2 years high school education; Lived same place in 1935, 73 Augusta Avenue, Pontiac, Michigan

1961 – Moved to Bradenton, Florida (Ernest obit)

1967, March 11 – Discharged from hospital [Library of Virginia Newspaper Archives]

1967, April 10  - Robina died, buried in Manasota Memorial Park, Bradenton, Florida

1967, April – Buried Manasota Memorial Memorial Park

1985, February 4 – Ernest J. Carson died. Buried with Robina at Manasota Memorial Park.  [Findagrave]

Research done March 2019 by:

M. E. Maki, author (Docent Anna Maria Historical Society)
Fatal Dose; A Caitlyn Jamison Mystery
An Unexpected Death; A Caitlyn Jamison Mystery
Harry Nunn and His Family
The Hardenbrook Family: Honoring Ancestors in Upstate New York

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Family Photo and Love - #52 Ancestors

Merritt and Maude Emma Agard 60th Wedding Celebration
This family photo exemplifies love as each of these couples married young and stayed happily married until death did they part. They served as a strong moral core for their families and for everyone who knew them. They used their talents to the benefit of the communities in which they lived.

The photo was taken in 1983 on the occasion of the 60th wedding anniversary of Merritt Martin Agard and Maude Emma (Hardenbrook) Agard. The couple on the left is their son John Richard Agard and his wife Beverly (Shepard) Agard; on the right, Edward Francis Nunn and Carol (Agard) Nunn (my parents). The photo was taken at our family restaurant, Taughannock Farms Inn, overlooking Cayuga Lake near Trumansburg, New York.

Merritt’s version of how he met Maude: It was at one of their church suppers (Jacksonville M.E. Church) that he caught Maude Hardenbrook’s eye. Maude had attended with another young man from the community. Merritt, being mischievous, turned the lights out during the supper. While the lights were out, he raced in, took Maude’s hand, and took her away from her companion.

Maude on the other hand liked to tell the story that on one of their first dates, Merritt tried to kiss her and she slapped his face. In any event, they sorted all that out, were married, and celebrated their 60th anniversary in August 1983.

From their wedding book: They were married at Willow Creek on August 22, 1923 by the Reverend R. L. Smith. Witnesses were Helen Atwater and Alfred Hopkins. Guests were: Mrs. E. Hardenbrook, Mr. Enos Hardenbrook, Mrs. Arthur Agard, Mr. Arthur Agard, Mrs. Menzo Wortman, Mr. Menzo Wortman, Mr. W. L. Twekin, John W. Agard, Mary A. Simpson, Moreia Higgins, Fred D. Higgins, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Agard, Frank J. Beardsley, Mrs. F.J. Beardsley, Adalade C. Tucker, Mr. and Mrs. John Rightmire, Delia Rightmire, Mr. and Mrs. C. Owen Carman, Dorothy M. Vann, M. Gertrude Godfrey, Eleanor M. Drew, Mrs. Walter Higgins, Mary Higgins, Leon Drew, Walter Higgins, Emily H. Gardner, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Darling, Cornelia B. Thompson, Mrs. C. H. Smith, C. H. Smith, Kenneth Hardenbrook, Alice D. Sherman.

J. Richard Agard and Beverly Jean Shepard were married July 1946 in Sage Chapel on the campus of Cornell University.

Edward Nunn and Carol Louise Agard were married September 12, 1941 in the rectory of Immaculate Conception Church in Ithaca, New York with J. Richard Agard and Adeline Agard in attendance. The reception was held at her parent’s home on Jacksonville Road. Photos of their wedding can be found on an earlier blog.

I miss these loving members of my family.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Surprise – Find Cousins App - #52 Ancestors

  Professional genealogist Donna Moughty presented “What is the Genealogical Proof Standard and Why Should I Care,” at yesterday’s Manatee Genealogical Society meeting.  As usual for Donna, her presentation was clear, concise, and right on target. Although I try hard to follow the GPS, it is always good to have a reminder of the process:

A reasonably exhaustive search – Donna showed different examples of one of her ancestor’s date and place of birth. An ancestor she knew, but in two “primary” documents the information proved wrong.

A complete and accurate citation to the sources – We wish this was drilled into our heads when we were baby genealogists. It was reassuring that as expert as Donna is, she still finds facts and information in her earlier research lacking citation. (Is this an example of misery loves company?)

Analysis and correlation of the collected information – She showed examples in research she has done for herself and others, and implored the audience to write as you go. Writing makes sense of things. She admitted she loves to research and early on she’d spend all her time researching, and then when she started to write, found all sorts of information she was missing. (She admitted she wasn't making much money this way.)

Resolution of conflicting evidence – Donna showed four conflicting birth dates for one of her Irish Catholic ancestors. All stated the person was born in the month of October, but the day and year varied. Which one would you chose? The answer: the baptismal certificate. The reason is it is a church record and a Catholic baby at that time had to be baptized within a certain number of days after birth.

Soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion – She made the case for writing your research as you go. This will catch any errors before you find yourself with “former cousins.” Those are the ones whose family you have followed in error. Up the wrong tree!

I’m glad Donna reminded me to create a research plan. Identify the problem and this should always be in the form of a question. She told the audience there is a difference between “surfing” and “researching.” She uses every online tool available, but when she showed a problem solved by using land records, a hand was raised, “where do you find those?” Donna smiled and explained only a small portion of information is online; for land and probate records, the local courthouse is where you need to go. Though is making some of these records available.

Re-read your earlier research. You might find items you’ve missed. Analyze. Repeat.

We were comforted by Donna's confirmation of our belief - she repeated that she wasn't saying that is going out of business, BUT she reminded people of all those early companies that have. Keep control of your information. Have a genealogy software program on your computer. Back up, and in her opinion, if you want your information online, the safer place to put it is on She urged everyone to write their family history and share it with local repositories, the FamilySearch library, and the Allen County Public Library. Donna gave the audience a lot to think about.

Her website has forms you can download and use. Also blog posts and if you sign up, they will be delivered to our inbox.

So the “surprise?” The Manatee Genealogical Society has started a Brag for Bucks time at the end of the meeting. For a dollar, a person can get up and share something they’ve discovered.  My hubby gave up a dollar so he could share how he has uploaded his aunt’s and mother’s oral history onto their Person Page of Now anyone can go to Kathryn Cutter Maki or Vilma Maki Hill and hear their voices. These are in five minute clips.

Then everyone with a family tree online was asked to access their app and see if there were any cousins in the room. Surprise! An immediate “ding” and two women realized their were related – 12th cousins!

Wish I had known. On the way home I downloaded the app so I’ll be ready the next time. What a fun thing to do at genealogical society meetings.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

At the Library – #52 Ancestors

My favorite “At the Library” story is about my experience at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  It was many years ago. I was a baby genealogist. My husband was working at a conference in and I’d joined him for a few days. We had an amazing room that looked out to the mountains in the relatively new Grand American five star hotel. While hubby worked, I headed right to the Family History Library. The morning went by quickly as I researched their vast microfilm collection. Hubby showed up around 3:00 to do his research. My head was about to burst and my eyes were exhausted. I told him I was done. I couldn’t look at another thing. I was going downstairs and he could find me there when he was through.

I walked downstairs and browsed through the stacks of books located there. My eye fell upon one. Could it be? Could it be here in Utah? The book was The History of the Town of Catherine by Mary Louise Catlin Cleaver. I pulled the book from the shelf and headed to the nearest table. I wasn’t so tired after all. My adrenaline was flowing again. I pulled my legal pad and pen out, ready to take notes. The Cleaver book was filled with my Agard ancestors who were listed as the early settlers of Catherine, New York.

In my Agard monograph I have a set-aside explanation of the area. It reads: The town of Catherine was originally called Johnson’s Settlement, named for Robert C. Johnson of New York City who purchased 10,725 acres in this area of Upstate New York.  In the center of the crossroads stood a post, not unlike the liberty pole that stands in the middle of State Route 25 and Route 6 in Newtown, Connecticut. The town was divided into northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest sections. Interestingly, the lot in the southeast corner of the town was purchased by Job Lattin, Jr. of Newtown, Connecticut. In fact, many early settlers arrived from Connecticut since this area of Upstate New York was known for its fertile land and abundant orchards.

The Town of Catherine was organized by act of legislature on 9 March 1798. John Mitchell is listed as the first bona fide settler; Eaton Agard is listed as one of the early settlers. The Methodist Episcopal Church in Catherine was organized in 1805; one of the first trustees is Samuel Agard. The Catherine Library Association was organized 1 April 1817 and Samuel Agard again listed as a first trustee. The first post office was established in 1816.

When my husband found me a couple hours later, he said, “I thought you were tired and done for the day.”

“Look what I found,” I replied, showing him the Cleaver book. “I hit a goldmine of information.”

There were so many connections with this family. We were living in Newtown, CT at the time. Litchfield, Connecticut, where the sons of John the Younger Agard had moved, was less than an hour north. I felt like our family had come full circle.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

I’d Like to Meet - Esther Agard - #52 Ancestors

I imagine that Esther Agard was a strong and remarkable woman. Strong because at the age of forty-three and pregnant, she survived a spring Atlantic crossing in 1683. Strong because with the death of her husband John, either during the crossing or shortly after arrival, it was Esther who is the founding member of the Agard family line in America. Remarkable because she survived and thrived. Two years after her son, John, was born, Esther married Samuel Storrs. She raised his five children, plus John and three of hers and Samuel’s. Those children are: Thomas Storrs b: 1886; Esther Storrs b: 1688; and Cordall Storrs b: 1692.

In his book, “Agards in America,” Frederick Browning Agard details the issues surrounding the origin of that family.  He starts with John the Elder coming from “somewhere in the British Isles in the mid-17th century.” John dies at sea or in Massachusetts between 1683 and 1685.” There are various accounts: Phelps Leach’s “Lawrence Leach and some of his Descendants,” D.H Van Hoosear’s “Fillow Family Genealogy,” and a statement of E.V. Carrithers, professional searcher in Brighton, Sussex, England that the family sprang from England, Scropton in Derbyshire.

I imagine Esther was a strong and remarkable woman. I would love to hear her story.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Mehitable - #52 Ancestors

Mehitable is an Old Testament name meaning "God Rejoices." 

I first encountered the name “Mehitable” when I researched the founding mother of the Agards in America—Esther Agard.

In April 1683 John “The Elder” Agard and his wife Esther traveled to the new world. John either died at sea or immediately upon arrival, leaving Esther, who was six months pregnant to become the founding member of Agards in America.

Esther gave birth to John “The Younger” Agard on 16 July 1683, either in Boston or Barnstable, MA. On 14 December 1685, Esther married Samuel Storrs. Samuel Storrs' wife, Mary (Huckins) Storrs died shortly after giving birth to the couple’s seventh child, Mehitable.

Samuel and Esther Agard Storrs had three children, Thomas, Esther, and Cordial. Thomas married a woman named Mehitable Joyce on 14 March 1708. They in turn had a daughter named Mehitable.

In the Agard line, John “The Younger” Agard married Mehitable Hall in 1709. John and Metitable had seven children. The first five sons consist of the five branches of the Agards in America. The only daughter, Mehitable, born 14 October 1718. I have not traced her at this point. 

The next Metitable appears in the Benjamin Branch of the Agard family. Benjamin Agard married Elizabeth Hall and lived in Mansfield, Connecticut. Mehitable was born 16 October 1784 and died 8 June 1770. 

The first child of the Hezekiah Branch born to Hezekiah and Abigail Damon Agard was named Mehitable, born 5 November 1752 in Torrington, Connecticut.

The last Mehitable that I know of in this line was born into the Benjamin Branch, to Joshua and Ruth (Needham) Agard. Ruth was the daughter of Humphrey and Dorothy Munger of Wales, Massachusetts. Their second child was named Mehitable.

The Mehitable naming pattern in this family line seems to end with this generation.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Challenge – #52 Ancestors

My biggest challenge this past year was finishing the transcription of the Jacksonville M.E. Church history. It isn’t the most exciting document. The “history” is just a recording of minutes taken from 1842 to 1946. Photos taken by local residents have been added. An index of names and events will be included.

Update on 12 January 2019: Thanks to the trustees, the file cabinet that has been locked for many years has now been opened. The bottom drawer was filled with papers and documents relating to the church's history. Best of all: My great-grandmother's leather notebook in which she transcribed the church history was found in the drawer. And, it contains the missing twenty-seven years. A volunteer is now sorting through the papers and will arrange them in file folders. This spring we will travel north, go through the papers and see how much to include in my Jacksonville Church History document. Great news!

The church history is important because the document details the struggle and resilience of the Jacksonville church community. Financial issues plagued the church throughout its history, but the community rose to the challenge each time and made sure the church survived.

An excerpt:

July 1851            Subject of uniting Jacksonville and Trumansburg again brought up at Quarterly Conference.  Bro. John W. Nevins, P.E.

Bros Ashworth and Tichenor were delegates from Trumansburg. After long speeches it was laid on the table.

October 1851             It seems that finances were a serious problem for the Jacksonville Church, so much so, that in October 1851 a committee of three was appointed to inquire into the propriety of selling the M.E. Church. The committee to see about this was Joseph Stout, Joseph Ganoung and Elisha Wilcox.

The church history is important for genealogists. Those with ancestors in the Ulysses and Tompkins County area can find out if those ancestors belonged to the church, were active members, or maybe even expelled.

The plan is to have the volume bound and presented to the church in early spring.