Friday, June 22, 2018

Jacksonville M.E. Church History – Help Wanted


During our week in the Ithaca, New York area for my book tour, I was encouraged to continue transcribing my great-grandmother’s handwritten history of the Jacksonville M.E. Community Church. I was told that there are new people attending the church and they are interested in its history.

The hamlet of Jacksonville, New York had fallen on hard times about fifty years ago when the Mobile gas station at the center of the hamlet leaked huge amounts of gasoline into the groundwater destroying the town’s water supply. People left, and Mobile was forced to buy up the properties. Many houses were torn down.

Residents saved the old Methodist church from demolition. The building was moved in about 1897 from its location on Route 96 to 5020 Jacksonville Road. A graduate of Cornell’s School of Architecture recently purchased the old church building, and he plans to renovate it for living space and community use. To see the old church and the history surrounding it read the article here.

This is where I need help. When transcribing my great-grandmother’s church history I realized there is twenty-seven critical years missing from that document. It ends in 1888 and picks up again in 1915. There has to be documentation of discussions about moving the old church – a substantial building- off the site to its present location and then building the “new” church. So far the only information I’ve been able to find was on FultonHistory.com. An article in the Farmer Review December 3, 1898 tells of the dedication of the new church. In 1905 there are several articles in The Ithaca Daily News about the congregation suing David W. Lewis of Elmira for improper construction. The congregation won the case, and the new church was built without incurring any debt.

The Jacksonville M.E. Church has been and still is an important part of the hamlet. I believe the church’s history, transcribed and indexed, will also be important as the community is revitalized.

If any readers have information or know of anyone who had ancestors who attended this church and might have diaries, journals, or newspaper clippings, please let me know. I have more people and organizations to contact, but so far the history of Jacksonville, New York seems to be mostly non-existent.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Old St. Peter's Cemetery Danbury, Connecticut Irish Tombstone Transcription Project

After I did the St. Rose Cemetery Irish Tombstone Transcription project I learned there were similar stones in Old St. Peter's Cemetery in Danbury. This time Harlan Jessup and my hubby accompanied me to help find these elusive stones. 

After this project was completed and and article published in Connecticut Ancestry, Harlan suggested to that group that the rest of Fairfield County, CT cemeteries be done for Irish tombstones - and it was. 

I have some original databases for both St. Rose and Old St. Peter's Cemetery from the project. If anyone has a question about a burial in either of these two cemeteries, send me a note and I will see if I have the information in my files.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Irish Tombstones in St. Rose Cemetery Newtown, Connecticut

In 2005 I was persuaded by Newtown's professional genealogist, Harlan Jessup, to develop a database of the Irish tombstones located in the St. Rose Cemetery located in Sandy Hook, CT. Specifically he wanted only the stones that recorded native parish and county of origin. When finished, I wrote an article about the database that appeared in Connecticut Ancestry. From there I went on to do the same for Old St. Peter's Cemetery in Danbury, Connecticut. My Irish tombstone database was also placed on the Genealogy Club of Newtown's website.

Unfortunately, Ancestry has decided to abandon the hundreds (if not thousands) of small genealogy clubs and historical societies by taking down the free Rootsweb website where the Genealogy Club of Newtown's site was hosted.

I've decided to post some of the material I did for the club's website here on my blog. Already there is the 1890 Census Substitute for Newtown, CT on this site. To find those blog posts, scroll down to the list of tags and they will be at the top. My husband and I consulted a number of sources to compile this 1890 Census Substitute with the hope that it would help those searching ancestors in this difficult time period when the Federal Census is not available.

Although we have moved from Newtown, I still monitor the Random Acts emails. So if anyone has a question about Newtown ancestors, use the email in the above article.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

52 Ancestors - Noah Agard, Revolutionary War Soldier


In 2014 the Connecticut Society of Genealogists selected my entry as the winner of its “Tell Your Family Story” essay contest. The story I submitted was “Noah Agard of Litchfield, Connecticut; Revolutionary War Soldier. This blog is a summary of that essay.

Noah’s Revolutionary War Pension submission stated his condition:
“I am by occupation a farmer, but am not able to labor any of consequence. I am lame in both of my legs and have been ever since I left the army. I am likewise troubled with a weakness of the stomach and a raising of blood…”

Noah Agard was born on 3 May 1756 in Litchfield, Connecticut, the fifth and last child of John (b: 1712) and Mary (Hosford) (b: 1715) Agard.

When Noah Agard was twenty he enlisted in the Continental Army to fight for his homeland. Initially he served under the leadership of Captain Eliazer Curtis and Captain Martin in the regiment of Colonel Van Schaick of New York. Dutifully Private Noah Agard marched with his company through the wilderness of Maine to Quebec where the army attacked the British forces. The soldiers nearly starved before reaching Canada where they suffered a repulse of their advance by the British.  Noah’s regiment was the rear guard of the army all the way in the retreat. By the time the regiment reached Lake George, the men, having few supplies, were suffering from smallpox and other illnesses.

Upon discharge Noah was placed on the roll of Minutemen.  Minutemen were selected by their commanding officers, because of their youth, enthusiasm and reliability, to be at the ready when needed. If Noah was indeed picked for this elite force, his injuries at the time must not have been critical. At any rate, he now had time to farm his land and to meet his future wife, Lucina Jones (b:  abt 1748), the daughter of Lieutenant Eaton and Elizabeth (Catlin) Jones.[i]  Marriage was proposed, but paper money had depreciated in value to the point that one month’s soldier’s wages equaled one silver dollar. Noah had little to offer for Lucina’s hand in marriage, but he did have two month’s wages saved in which to pay the minister who married them on 30 September 1779.

The Revolutionary Claims Act was passed on 18 March 1818. Noah began the application process for his Revolutionary War pension on 12 May 1818 and at that time was granted a small pension. In 1820 his claim was finally complete and he received his full pension.

“… My family consists of five in number: to wit: myself, my wife, Lucina aged 62 years, who is of a weakly constitution and able to do but very little towards her own support. My daughter, Lucina, whose age is 32 years, whose health is pretty good, who would not reside with me were it not for the purpose of taking care of her sister, Maria, whose age is 26 years, who has been sick for more than two years past and is wholly unable to contribute to her own support and my daughter Lorain who is 17 years old in pretty good health and able to contribute considerably toward her own support.”  - Noah Agard’s Revolutionary War Pension Application, 1820.[ii] 

Noah Agard died on 26 July 1840. His wife Lucina (Jones) Agard died in 1841. They are buried in the Agard Cemetery (aka North Settlement Cemetery), Catherine, New York.


[i] Frederick Browning Agard, Agards in America, New Orleans, Polyanthos, 1976, 19. Also, Agard Family Bible, Family Record pages, in possession of Mary Nunn Maki.

[ii] “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com] entry for Noah Agard, Original data: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (NARA M804, 2,670 rolls). Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Oral History Interview Guidelines


As genealogists we understand the value of oral histories. We also know the information therein must be taken “with a grain of salt.” An oral history is one person’s point of view and/or remembrance of an event. Even if it isn’t right-on, this is valuable in understanding our ancestors, their experiences and though processes.

We are told to talk to our relatives before it is too late. Taping an oral history is a wonderful way to capture their memories of people and events. This post is a how-to from my years of experience of oral history interviews and transcribing them.

1.            Decide your mission. What information do you want to capture? Ask the person to fill out a family genealogy chart with as much information as possible before the interview. Have the charts there with as much information filled in as possible so the interviewee can add to and/or correct the information.

2.            Research as much as possible so that questions can be developed to meet your goals.  The questions should be narrow enough that the person can answer easily. Contact the person to be interviewed, set a date, and then mail the questions to them at least a week ahead. It takes time to bring up memories, find the information, and deal with the associated emotions. At the end of the interview ask if they have photos to share (so they can be scanned and returned immediately to them.) Caution: Don’t get caught up in looking at a photo album during the interview. There is nothing more useless than hearing – “And this is me and this is my brother…”.

3.             Ask the interviewee to use full names, dates, and place names when possible.  Instead of, “my grandparents…” ask them to say, “My grandparents John and Jane Smith…”  If might help if you suggest they think of you as a complete stranger who knows nothing about the family.

4.              Interview only one person at a time.  I can’t stress this enough. If a family member insists on being there the rule is – they are not to say a word. Transcribing is impossible when more than one person is talking at a time. And having someone sitting there telling the person, “No, that’s not right. That happened in 1949…” is not helpful.  I have also found that when two people are being interviewed, one partner is always dominant and you don’t hear the voice of the other. An interviewee might also be intimidated by another sitting there – even a close friend – you won’t get the information you are seeking.

5.             Don’t interrupt. Ask the question and give the person time to draw on the memories, emotions, and then tell their story. If they veer off course, steer them back. The interviewer should say as little as possible. The oral history is not about the interviewer; it is about the interviewee. The goal is to get the interviewee talking about their family, their past, what life was like growing up. A few moments of silence is o.k. Nod and smile encouraging them to continue. They are bringing up memories. Get them to state specifics as to stores, people who ran the stores, the farms, farm machinery, animals, schools, teachers, classmates. Most colorful people in town, etc.


6.             Eliminate background noises.  It is difficult to hear when there are loud clocks, dogs barking, phones ringing, sirens, coughing.

7.            Make sure your equipment works. Have fresh batteries in the recorder and have it turned on high volume. Have it close to the person to pick up their voice. Make sure they don’t put their hand over their mouth when talking.  Have a back-up system just in case.

8.             This process is tiring; about two hours is max, so if you get someone who has a lot of information, you may want to make an appointment to visit them again.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Jacksonville Community Church 1945-46 Rehabilitation Project board members


The Building Committee
Harland Knight, Chairman
E. Delos Crumb                                                                                    Mrs. Esther Hopkins
Mrs. Mabel Carman                                                                             Floyd Parke
Mrs. Alice Hopkins                                                                                Arthur Moody

Trustees
Mrs. Mabel Carman, Chairman
E. Delos Crumb                                                                                    Alfred Graham
Hewart Heathwaite                                                                               Mrs. Hope Knight
Floyd Parke

The Finance Committee
Mrs. Winifred Baker, Chairman
Alfred Graham, Vice Chairman
Mrs. Maude Agard                                                                                    Miss Anna Mekeel
Francis Lueder                                                                                            Arthur Agard
Mrs. Elsie Vann                                                                                           Mrs. Esther Hopkins
Herman Davis                                                                                              Fay Stevens

The Official Board
Arthur Agard                                                                                                Hewart Heathwaite
William Agard                                                                                                Thomas Hopkins
Fred Baker                                                                                                       Esther Hopkins
Winifred Baker                                                                                               Harland Knight
Roger Brown                                                                                                   Hope Knight
C.O. Carman                                                                                                    Dr. Chas Lueder
Mabel Carman                                                                                                Julie Lueder
E. Delos Crumb                                                                                               Francis Lueder, Jr.
Margaret Crumb                                                                                            Floyd Parke
Herman Davis                                                                                                Lillian Parke
Alfred Graham                                                                                               Frank Reynold
Clyde Gould                                                                                                    Willard Wilcox
William Vann

The Department Heads
Church School                                    Alice Hopkins, Acting Supt.
W.S.C.S.                                               Esther Hopkins, President
Young Adult Fellowship                    Winifred Baker
Youth Fellowship                               Carolyn Crumb, Chairman
Boy Scouts, Troop 22                        Prof. Harry Loberg
Scout Master                                      Hewart Heathwaite

Friday, May 11, 2018

Jacksonville Community Church Rehabilitation Project 1944-1946


The Rehabilitation Project
[As in the Dedication Souvenir Program]

Every pastor, since Floyd Morris and his faithful crew of laymen repaired and re-dedicated the “new basement” and hearth room with a little money and a lot of work, has wanted “to do something” about the condition of Jacksonville Church. But the job, once you looked at it, seemed endless. If you fixed the roof, what would you do with the chimney? If you tore out the chimney, what would happen to the heating plant and what would you do with the inside scars? It looked overwhelming.

Then two things happened in the summer of 1944. Arthur Moody was sent to Trumansburg and Jacksonville, some say “for just such a time as this.” He felt, as many of the “faithful” did, about the condition of the church building. After spending a morning alone in the church, thoughtfully and carefully going over the entire plant, he felt he had “assurance” that “something” could be done about it. So the next Sunday, July 9, a notice appeared in the Sunday Bulletin. “The Minister is looking for someone with $1,000 to challenge the church and community to match or double that gift to make the church a fitting expression of Christian faith."

The second “impetus” given was in a church school board meeting at the home of Alice Hopkins. Starting with the needs of the departments of the “Church School” housed in the damp and musty basement rooms. The discussion crystallized in the appointment of a “housing committee” to confer with the trustees on the matter of repairs. At the instigation of Alice Hopkins this committee met during the minister’s vacation, then met with the trustees and evolved a plan to “start somewhere” and do that job well. Just “one step” at a time with an “over-all” plan in view. The “League Room” was settled on as the first project. The first objective was raising $500.

The Young Adult Fellowship, organized during the pastorate of Chas. Tryon, took on this task. August 26 a meeting was held with some dozen YAF members and the minister at the Fred and Winnie Baker camp. The theme was “ways and means.” A plan was make, put in operation, $500 was raised and the work on the League Room was begun in September in charge of Leslie Hovencamp with Harland Knight as chairman of operations. It was completed and rededicated in November at a cost of about $410.

In the meantime, the “Crusade for Christ” was put on. Jacksonville was given a quote of $625 and was one of the first churches in the district to go over with a subscription of $678. Several persons felt the encouragement of this to think in terms of larger projects for the church.

January 7, 1945, the Official Board declared 1945 “Anniversary Year,” because the 150th anniversary of the beginnings of the church in Jacksonville came that year. Likewise, several other anniversaries.

February 12, ten officials with the minister met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harland Knight to discuss possible further repairs on the church. On February 15 a series of weekly letters of “information” began to go out to some 200 families. With Sunday, February 18, the minister began a series of sermons preparatory to a “move ahead.”

February 19 was an important evening in Jacksonville Church history. Twenty-two officials met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Delos Crumb. They decided to raise $5,000 at least to repair the church inside and out. This work was to be made a community “Memorial” to the Youth in Service from Jacksonville community. March 12 the finance committee met at the home of the Rev. and Mrs. Arthur Moody to discuss final details of raising the fund with a goal of $5,500. The campaign was called, “The Crusade of the Cross.”

March 18, ninety-two people were present at the sun service and began to “lift that cross” with $1,200 subscribed. March 25, $750 more was subscribed, and when church was over April 1, $2,650 had been written in the “Book of Golden Memories.”

The “Anniversary Year” had two objectives: 1) Fill the church by Easter, and 2) Fix the church this year. The church was filled Easter and the project began to “fix” the church April 1. April 13 Professor Walter Long of Auburn was retained as consulting architect.

The building committee under leadership of Harland Knight tackled an almost impossible job. Material was scarce, labor was scarcer. Winifred Baker, chair of the finance committee was taken sick, so Graham took over.

August 12 was celebrated as “Progress Sunday.” The work on the outside had been completed and the sum had mounted to $5,675. Rev. Floyd Morris, former pastor, was the speaker.

Then “post-war conditions” caused a series of delays. Many unexpected necessities for the building increased costs. The day of dedication was postponed from December 16, 1945 to March 31, 1946. Meanwhile, two $1,000 legacies had been left the church, “for just this time.” Another $1,000 was subscribed by the membership and friends. An unestimated number of hours of donated labor by many different people in addition has made possible final consummation of the work.

Architect, Professor Walter Long of Auburn; Contractors Van and Mac, Auburn; Heating, Herbert Haight, Trumansburg; Painting, Leslie Hovencamp, Jacksonville; Electrician, Chas Drummond, Jacksonville; Organ, Frederick Betts, Moravia.