Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Hart Island Project

I recently learned about the Hart Island Project and its Traveling Cloud Museum.  Hart Island occupies 101 acres in Long Island Sound at the eastern edge of the Bronx borough of New York City. It is the largest tax funded cemetery in the world. 

One million people have been buried on Hart Island anonymously. The website now features names of those buried on the island since 1980. There is an easy search function in which to find whether your family member is there. The Project’s Traveling Cloud Museum is looking for stories/information to accompany the names.

Even if you don't have family buried there, please visit the page. The information and the photos are heart wrenching. 

The Hart Island Project is a wonderful gift to family historians. I remain hopeful that one day the name of my great-grandmother, Catherine Nunn, who died 12 May 1917 will be listed, if indeed that is where she is buried.That mystery remains.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Our Saturday Workshop

Ray Maki introducing speaker Shannon Combs-Bennett
This past Saturday we welcomed national (soon to be international) speaker Shannon Combs-Bennett to our development for a Genealogy 101 all day workshop.

Shannon provided a fifty page PDF that included her presentation, blank copies of each federal census and various other helpful forms.

Hubby copied her PDF for each of the twenty-four participants. The copies were then put into white 3-ring binders, with a personalized title page. We tucked several pieces of loose paper into the front pocket of each binder so people would have something to write on should they forget to bring paper for note taking.

Shannon’s talk went from getting started through telling people about the lineage societies they could join.

One of the interesting things I learned was a website called http: //www.citationmachine.net/Chicago that helps you put citations into the correct format. I haven’t tried this yet, but am excited about doing so. Although we know about citing sources – I keep my copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills right alongside my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, I think this part of her talk was eye-opening for most participants. Shannon encouraged them to keep track of the path they traveled when researching. I know this is the correct way, but I also know that when you are following a lead, you are too excited to stop and write everything down.

She encouraged everyone to journal. Start now if you aren’t already keeping one. It will be invaluable to future researchers.

Keep a research log. Jot down (or copy/paste) the URL, date accessed, the steps taken to find the information, what was found and what wasn’t found.

Knowing she had an audience of beginners, Shannon told them to set a certain goal. Not “I want to know everything about my Jones family line,” but instead ask, “I want to find my great grandfather Ezra Jones.”

Organization is another conundrum for genealogists. Shannon showed how one friend keeps all her information in 3-ring binders. Shannon doesn’t have enough bookshelf space for this way, so she keeps her files digitally as well as in Pendaflex folders in filing cabinets (She has many in her home office). The folders can be organized by surname, location, or any way that fits your family best. Just keep the labeling of your digital and paper files consistent.

She also covered social media for genealogists, DNA, planning your research trip, and the all-important evaluation of sources – primary, secondary, or of “unknown origin.”

Although we consider ourselves seasoned genealogists, we learned a lot from Shannon’s Genealogy 101 workshop. That is true of almost every genealogy presentation we attend. There is always something said that makes that light bulb go off in our head.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

American Ghost – A brilliantly written family history.

I just finished reading American Ghost; A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus. It is a beautifully crafted story about Hannah’s German ancestors who had to escape Germany during the Nazi reign. The family settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the father, Abraham Staab, became a successful businessman.  So successful that he built a house for his wife and children called La Posada. 
Over many years traveling back and forth across the country and to Germany, consulting with historians, genealogists, spiritualists, ghost hunters and family members, Hannah captures the essence of the lives of Abraham and Julia Schuster Staab. The amount of research done tracing this Jewish family is impressive.

It is Julia that Hannah is most interested in. She was curious about the continued reports of Julie’s ghost at La Posada. "A sad, dark-eyed woman in a long gown" kept appearing frightening guests and staff at the former Staab house. Hannah is driven to learn as much as she can about her great-great-grandmother. And she does. Was Julia's husband a tyrant or just a man of his time and place? There are many questions in which Hannah seeks the answer. Some she finds; others remain a mystery. Isn't that how it is with all our ancestor research?

The book is well written and captures well the lives of the Staab and Schuster families. It is the kind of family story most of us can only dream of writing. I highly recommend this book.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Jacksonville NY Methodism - an early history

In the year 1790 a Methodist family, Samuel Weyburn, wife and four children, settled at what was later known as Goodwin’s Point, now Taughannock. Four years later two brothers, also Methodists, named Richard and Benjamin Goodwin, settled at the same place.

In the year 1795, three Methodist preachers, Reverends Valentine Cook, Thornton and Fleming were preaching in this territory. It was a usual custom when two or more Methodist families settled near each other to form a class. Often these classes were permanent and a church organization thus started. These three preachers labored unceasingly and when a young preacher, William Colbert, who was sent on a tour of exploration through the then western wilds of New York on his return gave a most glowing report of the work, that Bishop Asbury formed a circuit from the immense tract. The circuit was from Wilkes Barre to Niagara.  Valentine Cook was appointed presiding elder.

In 1801 David James of the Seneca Circuit was preaching at Jacksonville and Goodwin’s Point. In 1808 Sunday preaching was first commenced and a camp meeting was held the same year on the J.M. Stout farm. The original Stout farm included the F.A. Lueder farm and the land on both sides of the road extending to Jane Kraft’s.  It is believed that the camp meeting grounds was in the woods on the Kraft Road.

In this year, 1808, Rev. Gideon Draper, who had charge of the Canaan Circuit, Susquehanna District, Philadelphia Conference, came through here and preached at Trumansburg. A descendant with the same name, Gideon Draper, is now in Japan (1934) and holds a relationship with this conference.

Up to 1810 all these circuit preachers belonged to the Philadelphia Conference, but this year the Genesee Conference was erected. Gideon Draper was chosen first presiding elder and held the position for many years. Anning Owen was another presiding elder who did noble work, lived a part of his life in this town, died here and was buried just outside of Ithaca. His grave was visited at the time of the Methodist pilgrimage (December 1934) and a tribute paid to his life and work. These men worked under the supervision of Bishop Francis Asbury, who was sent here by John Wesley.

The first class at Jacksonville was formed in 1803 with Richard Goodwin as leader and their meetings were held at Goodwin’s Point.

In 1804 another class was formed at Jacksonville with Benjamin Lanning as leader. After 1815 a class was formed at Mack Settlement with Elias Lanning as leader, and about 1825 a church was erected, 25 x 34 feet. This church stood on the corner in the field now owned by Charles Chadwick at Steven’s Corners.  The membership at one time numbered 100. The building was sold and now is part of the barn on the David Colegrove farm on Taughannock Boulevard.

These classes were under the leadership of the class leaders, and local preachers with the circuit preachers coming sometimes once a month, sometimes once in three months.

There is on file in the office of the “Northern Christian Advocate” in Syracuse, an article dated 1860 written by the Rev. Gideon Lanning. He was the son of Benjamin Lanning and was born 23 March 1792. The Lannings came to Jacksonville in 1801 and settled on the Trumbull Farm. The Rev. Gideon Lanning is the author of a number of historic papers on the early life of this section of the state.

In this article he states that a class was formed by Richard Goodwin, Sr. in 1795 and that in 1805 the society dedicated its first church edifice in Jacksonville. These meetings were held at Goodwin’s Point.[1]

[This information from the Jacksonville Church History written by Jessie Tucker Agard.]

[1] Methodist Episcopal Church History of Jacksonville. Revised from old records by Jesse Mullette, Pastor, April 1916.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Agard Family Do-Over – Researching the Storrs Family of Tolland County, Connecticut

It's a cold rainy day in Virginia, but the bluebirds and hummingbirds still come for some refreshment, entertaining us as we sit at our computers researching our family lines.

In 1685 Esther Agard (founding member of the Agards in America), married Samuel Storrs of Barnstable, MA. In 1698, Samuel, Esther and her son, John Agard, along with Samuel’s six children moved to Mansfield, Connecticut. It was there that Samuel and Esther had three more children, Thomas, Esther and Cordial, and those are the ones I have been working on today – especially Esther.

I had written down that she married William Hall. To verify that has been a challenge. I find birth and baptismal records for the children of William and Esther, but none of the records I came across said it was Esther Storrs. Until I found a USGenWeb Project document of Tolland County, Connecticut, Family Outlines, Hall Family of Tolland, Connecticut that lists the Hall family with a William Hall marrying Esther Storrs. The list of children in this document matches other lists I have seen.

In the meantime, I sent a note off to the Tolland County Historical Society to see if there might be other resources that confirms the union of William and Esther. And I, too, will keep searching.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Samuel Agard, An Early Settler of the Town of Catherine, NY

This afternoon I pulled out the research I did many years ago – when I was a baby genealogist – on my Agard family line. The document I had started was 43 pages of family history starting with the founding couple, John and Esther Agard who arrived on the Massachusetts shore in 1683.

The plan is to read through a few pages at a time, run them off, and then perform a “genealogy do-over” checking names, dates, and all other facts. I am so glad I did this original research when we lived in New England, as that was where I had access to the records.

When I came to Samuel Agard, I got that small world feeling again, as genealogists are wont to do. When I write up monographs, I like to explain the geographic areas in which my ancestors lived. In this case, the Agards settled in the Town of Catherine, NY. And if you read the write-up I found, one of the land purchasers was from Newtown, CT, where I was living when I did this original research. And then my Agard ancestors went on to establish the first library in Catherine. You go guys!

And so, with that introduction, meet Samuel Agard.

Samuel Agard (b: 6 Sept 1782) was the second child of Noah and Lucina (Jones) Agard. In 1807 Samuel married Sally Stone (1785-1813), daughter of John and Lowly Stone of Branford, Connecticut. The promise of available western lands was tempting for folks trying to farm the rocky Connecticut soil. Samuel traveled to Catherine Township, NY with his father Noah in 1809 and took title to land in 1814.  He then found property in the Town of Dix that had a sawmill.

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 as 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.

Samuel Agard, son of Noah, was also a circuit preacher in 1825. Eaton Agard was Town of Catherine Supervisor in 1847, 1867-68.  The Agard farm was located at Lawrence 75A, Northwest Section Township 3, Johnson Settlement to Cayuta Lake.

Sally died in 1813 and is buried in the Agard Cemetery on Route 414 between Alpine and Odessa, New York.

In 1819 Samuel married Lydia Hibbard, the fourth daughter of Daniel and Anna (Ripley) Hibbard, of Dummerston, Vermont. Lydia (Hibbard) Agard was born 1 August 1792. Samuel and Lydia’s children were all born in Catherine, NY. Lydia died 25 August 1846 in Havana (Montour Falls, NY);[1] Samuel died 27 October 1861. Samuel and Lydia are buried in the Montour Cemetery, Montour, New York. See later pages for further information on Samuel and Lydia. 

On 22 May 1817 Samuel and Eaton Agard, along with others “…did by writing under their hands signify their consent and desire to associate themselves together for the procuring and creating a public library…” Samuel was First Trustee of the Catherine Library Association

[1] Jarvis, Louise Huntington Bailey, Some ancestors and descendants of Samuel Agard and Florence Williams (Huntington) Bailey, Grand Rapids, MI, 1947. P. 4.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

One Thing Leads to Another continued

In the process of adding what I knew about the VanGosbecks to my Tucker FamilySearch.org tree on Saturday, my eye caught the name Hosmer. What? I didn’t think I had that name in my family tree. When I finished with the VanGosbecks, I went over to the Cleveland/Hosner line and sure enough, someone (s) had changed the name of Isaac Hosner to Hosmer. Not only that, they changed the name of each one of his ten children!

My first reaction was – what are they doing messing with my family? Then I realized that maybe there was something I missed, and where did the name Hosner originate?

I am fortunate to have a copy of the handwritten journal of Adaline Cleveland Hosner (1809-1882). I also have a copy of the typed transcription of her journal, as well as a copy of The Pioneer Clevelands, from the Journal of Adaline Cleveland Hosner and the family records preserved by her granddaughter Mrs. Jessie Agard (my great-grandmother).

There still could be a mistake in transcription that has been carried forward, so I was thankful I could refer to the original document covering the years 1838-7 August 1882. The handwritten copy was difficult to read, so I went to the transcribed version and went through line by line hoping I would come across the last name of Adaline’s husband. I finally found where she called him by last name, but the fear remained that it was transcribed that way for clarification and that when I got to the primary source, Adaline would refer to him as “husband,” or Mr. H.

But that was not the case. On page 29 (transcriptionist number) of the primary document, Adaline mentions her husband as “Hosner.” This name appears a second time because she is writing about her husband suing his neighbor for allegedly poisoning their horse and she takes a third person approach.

So I had my proof of the spelling of the name Hosner. I had to then change each one of the entries back to Hosner (from Hosmer) and explain each time why I thought it was correct.

One of Adaline and Isaac’s children, Ervin, changed their family name to Hausner, so that name runs through this family line. And there may be a line that eventually changed their name to Hosmer and I am excited to learn about them. BUT, they should NOT be changing the original name that is clearly Hosner.