Friday, December 31, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Genealogy Goals 2011

Reading entries of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy prompted me to think about and decide on some goals for 2011.  I was inspired by Donna Jane’s blog especially reviewing one family line a month and making sure all citations are in place.  That is a great suggestion.

My goals for 2011 are:
·      Produce a monograph of the Hardenbrook family 1830 – 1930.  I have so much interesting information written up on this family during these years it is time to share with others doing research in Seneca and Cayuga County, NY.
·      Produce a monograph of the Shepard family for my cousin.  I have sorted through the two suitcases.  I will scan photos, research this family, write up what I find and return the material to my cousin in an acid free archival box by Christmas 2011.  
·      Continue to share genealogical research information through my blog.
·      Develop the 1880-1889 Newtown Death Database from vital records book held at the town clerk’s office. (The 1890-1899 Newtown Death database was developed in 2010; an article has been submitted about the importance of this database to the February 2011 issue of Connecticut Ancestry).
·      Continue to search for descendants of Elizabeth Nunn Siebert.
·      Attend the NERGC Conference in April 2011.
·      Provide Tompkins County Rootsweb ( with transcribed material.  From the Shepard family suitcases I have retrieved a number of Ithaca Journals in which I have saved the obits and will transcribe for this site as I have done in the past.

Happy New Year and I wish everyone a year filled with genealogical successes!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shepard Family

Howard Shepard - Age one year, six months

We did not intend to see my cousin on our recent visit to Upstate NY, but as it turned out she wanted us to stop by if just for 15 minutes. Well, 15 minutes turned into over an hour of catching up. Towards the end of our stay we talked about genealogy.  In the course of that conversation my cousin said she had two American Tourister suitcases filled with photos and “other stuff” that she had cleaned out from her mother’s house. Would I like it? Well…we dug around in her basement until we found them, and she was only too happy to help load them into the trunk of our car.

I am so excited to work on my Aunt Beverly’s family line.  The majority of the photos are labeled!  Some of the family lines I will be working on are:  Shepard, Day, Monroe, Vorhis, Benton, Garatt, Spaulding, and Dakin.  The adventure begins!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mystery Monday - Where is Cora Stanley Cardwell?

An inherent genealogist trait is to help others. Consequently we find ourselves pulled from our own research to assist a friend or others with finding their ancestors.  One such search includes tracing Cora Stanley Cardwell.

We know that Cora’s first husband Jerome W. Stanley died April 1910. By December 31 of that same year, Cora married Harry D. Cardwell in Auburn, NY.  That may have been an unwise decision, as not two months later the police arrived at their home because of an alleged domestic dispute. As the Auburn Citizen reported, when the police arrived Mr. Cardwell “was inclined to resent their presence.” Further, “he shoved Officer Green over a chair knocking him over a jardinière that was smashed and a piece of the broken porcelain cut the bluecoat’s head.”  Consequently, Mr. Cardwell was arrested and because he couldn’t make the $25 fine, he was sent to the County Jail for 60 days.

We cannot find Cora Stanley Cardwell after this unfortunate incident.  Her children were: Lena Stanley Cornett, Bernice Stanley Carscadden, and Fordyce Stanley. Any help or suggestions on finding Cora would be appreciated. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Christmas Memories

Mary and Skip Nunn abt 1956

Christmas at our Taughannock Boulevard home never varied.  Our tree was cut from the back woodlot, and then decorated with a few ornaments, popcorn strings, and lots of silver tinsel. The best part were the candle-shaped lights that bubbled up when heated.  A simple cardboard crèche was put out – one I still have and use.  On Christmas morning my brother Skip and I woke early, sneaking down the stairs to see if Santa had come. Once Mom and Dad were up, we were allowed to open our stockings before heading out to 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. James in Trumansburg, NY.  Using our negotiating skills, we finally got them to agree to let us open our stocking plus one present before church. Back home, our grandparents, Merritt and Maude Agard, and great-grandmother Laura Hardenbrook arrived for Christmas breakfast. Excitement mounted as we waited to open presents.  Santa always did well by us. You can see in the above photo that I had received a new carrying case for my Ginny doll while Skip proudly shows off his new bow and arrow.  We kept busy playing with our new toys until later in the day when we drove two miles north to our grandparents’ house for a family dinner that included aunts, uncles and cousins. 

In raising our own family we developed new Christmas traditions. Mass was on Christmas Eve, presents were opened early Christmas morning always accompanied by Finnish Coffee Bread or Cinnamon Tea Rings.  Our children enjoyed their new toys and mid afternoon we drove seventeen miles north to Ithaca to join the rest of the Maki clan for a large family gathering.  By evening we were exhausted but happy. It was another wonderful family Christmas together.

Our children are now grown and living elsewhere, and so we are in the midst of establishing new Christmas traditions. In the meantime, the tree is trimmed, the crèche is out, the coffee bread is made, and we welcome our family with love whenever they can get here.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

New York State Research

My husband and I are both genealogists with New England ancestors. So it is not uncommon to hear one of us blurt out, “Thank God for the Puritans!” Because it was the Puritans, and other early religious groups who wanted to know what everyone was doing, and documented it! We are thankful for all that information. But as we follow our ancestors as they cross the border into New York, a mere 30 minutes away, our research immediately became more difficult. 

Fortunately there are many resources becoming available to assist genealogists.  Since our ancestors landed in Tompkins County, NY, we use the Tompkins County Rootsweb site.  The women who manage this site do a great job organizing data, adding new content and linking to surrounding counties. Their searchable and constantly updated cemetery listings have been invaluable to us. I love the Past, Present, & Future option where you can quickly see what new content has been added. My husband and I have even donated databases to this site – he recently submitted a searchable database for the 1865 Census for Newfield, NY.  Now, if I could only get him to do the same for Ulysses…

The Ithaca Journal Obituary Index has also been helpful to us. The years included are: 1860-1876; 1900-1989; 1990-1999.

New York State performed its own census every ten years from 1825-1875, then in 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. Because of the loss of the 1890 Federal Census, my husband has found the 1892 Census located in the newly updated Family website a valuable resource.  Not all counties were included – those that are: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Clinton, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Genesee, Kings, Monroe, Montgomery, Niagara, Orleans, Otsego, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Washington, Wayne, and Yates. Consequently, the two counties in which my relatives lived during that time are not included!

Old Fulton New York Postcards website is a goldmine of information. This site has millions (the number goes up almost every day!) of name searchable New York (Upstate and New York City) newspaper articles of obits, marriages, travel, and social news. It gives researchers a window into the day-to-day lives of their ancestors.  And that is what we, as genealogists, strive for – as Marcia Iannizzi Melnyk terms “filling in the dash.” Our ancestors are more than “date of birth – date of death,” and these resources help us to fill in the dash.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NERGC - April 6-10, 2011

So many choices; so little time. I just filled out my registration form for this exciting and educational conference. This was not an easy task. I read through each session with a “fine tooth comb” finding sessions that would be most beneficial for my personal research. I just hate it when there are two or more sessions in the same time slot I want to attend. As it turned out, I mainly choose sessions in the Skills & Technology track. I am especially excited to attend the session on Effective Editing and Writing, as well Jean Nudd’s session on Examining the 1940 Census. I also choose the session on Erie Canal Genealogy, since we have family in Upstate New York with migrations west.

I had to sign up for Elissa Scalise Powell’s session on Genealogical Standard of Proof. She is a great teacher and after one of her sessions at the 2009 NERGC I purchased the BCC Genealogical Standards Manual thinking this would be my next goal - a goal I have not yet accomplished.

I also veered off the Skills track for the session on Irish Birth, Marriage and Death Records for the Beginner, as this session will explain the new computerized system of Irish civil records.

Reading through the sessions, I learned that the New England Historic Genealogical Society has a new website, which I will explore further, as well as exploring what Zotero, the Free Citation and Note Manager is about.

Our registration forms will be on their way to NERGC soon, but as in the past, I will continue to peruse the session write-ups to make sure I attend the sessions best for me.  What fun!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mystery Monday - Deaths on Duchess of Atholl

Was it sunstroke, malaria, or a mysterious plague that killed four passengers of the Canadian Pacific’s cruise ship Duchess of Atholl?

What began as a pleasurable four-month world cruise for Edward and Lulu Hardenbrook, turned to tragedy for Dr. Edward Hardenbrook and three of his fellow travelers. The first reports coming from passengers and officials of the ship were confusing. Was it ten, seven, or six who died?  Each report varied as to number of deaths as well as the official diagnosis. Doctors were mystified if the cause of death was from sunstroke, malaria, or some mysterious plague. The number was further confused by the fact that two crewmembers had died previously, one of heart disease and the other of liver disease.

4 World Tourists Die on Ship Board;
2 Members of Crew of Duchess of Atholl also dead, Officials Reveal
Reported the Associated Press headline in the Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Wednesday, April 24, 1929.

“We first thought it was sunstroke,” stated the ship’s commander, Captain E.  Griffiths, “but it turned out to be very malignant malaria, contracted in the interior.”

Apparently the four passengers died following being stranded 18 hours without food or water in Krueger National Park during a monsoon.  The tourists told of climbing trees at night to escape roving animals, and then having to walk miles out of the park because their vehicle was stuck in the mud. 

Back on the ship, they left Durban on March 10 with temperatures soaring to 136 degrees in the shade.  Shortly thereafter, several passengers became ill with high fevers, and four finally succumbed. One of those was Dr. Edward Hardenbrook of Rochester, NY.  

In late April when Dr. Hardenbrook’s body arrived back in Rochester, his son Frederick Hardenbrook stated the family was satisfied with the diagnosis and held the Canadian Pacific Line blameless in their father’s death.  Mystery resolved.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Camping at Taughannock

Taughannock Falls State Park abt 1940
Cayuga Lake - New York State

This is a great photo because it ties some of the best times in my parent's lives with my best memories of spending summers at Taughannock Falls State Park

This particular memory came about when a friend who grew up in New York City recently talked about how her family vacationed in the Catskills during the summer. Her comments sparked memories of how my paternal grandparents also escaped the city’s oppressive heat, but instead of the Catskills, they went further north. Their son Harold Nunn attended Cornell University, played on Cornell’s football team, and had secured a lifeguard job for himself and his brother, Edward, at nearby Taughannock Falls State Park. He suggested his parents camp in the park’s campgrounds for the summer. So while my grandmother, Mary Doyle Nunn, and her teenage children camped through the summer months, my grandfather made the grueling trip up and down the two lane Route 17 to work his job in the city, returning to his family on the shores of Cayuga Lake whenever he could. 

The park had a bathhouse, and my maternal grandmother, Maude Agard, was the attendant. Her daughter Carol and son Richard would ride their bike – Carol on the handlebars - down the steep hill to the park bringing their mother her lunch. And that is when Carol Agard spotted a handsome lifeguard named Edward Nunn.
Edward Nunn abt 1940
 The first photo is of particular interest as it was a source of anxiety for my mother (pictured center with hand shading her eyes). The perfectly formed acrobat is Genevieve Cosintini, daughter of a well-known Ithaca family, and someone my father (far left with a big smile on this face) seemed to enjoy. Genevieve’s parents are sitting on the grass at the far right. My mother, a farm girl, was very jealous of the city girl, Genevieve, and related she was especially upset the evening the Nunns were invited to the Cosintini’s for dinner. 

Aren’t we fortunate that Dad chose the right gal to be his soul mate. 
Edward Nunn and Carol Agard abt 1940

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Journey Takers

Last evening the members of the Genealogy Club of Newtown thoroughly enjoyed Leslie Albrecht Huber’s lecture based on her new book, The Journey Takers.  The well thought out PowerPoint presentation seamlessly wove her personal journey in tracing her German and Swedish ancestors with their difficult choices and their journey to America.  The presentation included helpful research tips and interesting information that included use of maps, making sure you know not only the hometown of your European ancestor, but where they attended church, utilize parish and village histories, a reminder that original records can be wrong, always verify information, be flexible with spelling – even though you might have it correct, the original record might be wrong and therefore won’t come up in your search.  And last but not least, Leslie made the case that it is the responsibility of each of us to document and share the stories of our ancestors as well as our own.

Leslie Albrecht Huber is a delightful young woman who is an accomplished genealogist and a passionate and entertaining speaker.  Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your time and knowledge with the Genealogy Club of Newtown.  We all left the meeting energized to better document our families. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mystery Monday - Margaret Conlon

Margaret “Maggie” Conlon is a mystery.  She was born May 1865 in Ireland, and may have arrived in New York in 1888; she married Patrick Doyle in 1893. Because Patrick was naturalized in 1887, Maggie automatically was naturalized at the time of their marriage. 

The Doyles had six children; only two survived - Mary “Mamie” Doyle (1899-1971) and Winnie Doyle (1903 -?).  Maggie also cared for the Conlon “cousins,” Edward, Lawrence, George, and Mae. Additional Irish immigrants seeking refuge with the Doyles were the Gormley brothers and Catherine Murphy.  Although “None” was the common census notation for women who kept house, in reality, with such few conveniences, women worked very hard every day to keep their families fed and clothed. They had to shop, cook, clean, wash clothes, and care for children and extended family. It is unfortunate the term “Domestic Engineer” was not available for the 1900-1930 census years.
Maggie Conlon Doyle
One day Mamie asked her mother if she missed her, and Maggie’s reply was, “If I did I had ease.” And despite their economic status, the family enjoyed many summer weekends on Coney Island.

I think Maggie died in the early 1920s of diabetes, but at this point I cannot confirm that, nor do I know her parents and exactly how the Conlon “cousins” were related.  I would love to learn more about Maggie Conlon Doyle – any Conlon cousins out there?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Patrick Doyle - Street Cleaner

Irish immigrant Patrick Doyle arrived in New York on the first day of July 1885. Because the potato famine had driven almost two million Irish immigrants to American shores thirty years earlier, the Irish Emigrant Society was set up to help these immigrants find jobs, food, lodging and medical care.  I like to think that a Society member welcomed Patrick to America and helped him get settled.
Patrick Doyle
The city that Patrick now called home had streets not paved with gold; most were not paved at all, and they were filthy.  At first he found work as a laborer, but at some point after 1900 he worked as a street cleaner for the city’s sanitation department.

Fortunately, Patrick’s employment came after Col. George Edwin Waring had been put in charge. Waring demanded the sanitation workers stay out of bars, refrain from fighting, and from using foul language.  And they would now wear white uniforms that would proclaim them as “Soldiers of the Public Health.” 

At first I didn’t feel my great-grandfather’s occupation was important, but after reading about the history of New York City’s Sanitation Department, I learned that Patrick had a very important position. He served as the first line of defense in protecting public health. And that is why I love genealogy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Irish Tombstone Transcription

Our library’s professional genealogist is adept at suggesting interesting genealogy research projects.  A couple of years ago he mentioned that some of the Irish tombstones in the Old St. Rose Cemetery contained place of origin.  He thought it would be great to capture this information, publish it in Connecticut Ancestry, and post it on the Genealogy Club of Newtown’s website.  I took the bait.

With no experience at tombstone transcription or plan I walked the cemetery looking for stones that had county and/or parish information included.  I found some women’s stones listed maiden names.  I quickly realized these stones were a veritable gold mine for those researching their Irish ancestors. 

Peter Cavanaugh
The above stone belongs to Peter Cavanaugh who died 22 Nov 1862 at the age of 34. The back of the stone states he was a native of “Ballanabrackee” Kings County, Ireland.

This project led to a transcription of all Irish tombstones in Fairfield County, CT that include “native of” information.  Those transcriptions have all been published in Connecticut Ancestry.

I loved walking the cemetery and getting to know these long ago souls, and I learned some valuable lessons. 
·      Always respect the cemetery and the stones; get permission from the church and/or cemetery association when necessary or if in doubt.
·      Have a plan; plot out the cemetery so you can easily find the stones again.
·      Safety first - carry a cell phone; work in pairs.
·      Carry water and a soft vegetable brush to clean the stones.
·      Never use harsh detergents, bleach or wire scrub brushes.
·      If stones are down, carefully cut the grass around them with an edging tool.
·      Carefully brush the grass from the stone, squirt water, and gently brush.
·      Carry a mirror to help see the inscriptions; time of day and lighting are important.
·      Visit for further step-by-step instructions.
·      And most of all enjoy this exhilarating experience.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Those Places Thursday - Coldwater, Michigan

Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck intertwines the story of the unlikely murderer Hawley Crippen of Coldwater, MI and Guglielmo Marconi’s invention of the telegraph.  As I got into the book, I said to my husband, “Don’t you have an ancestor in Coldwater?”  His answer, “Yes, why?”  “Well, because it says here that there’s a picture in the Coldwater library of early settlers.”

Dr. S.S. Cutter - middle row, right

Dr. Stephen Starr Cutter was born June 9, 1819 in Enfield, Tompkins County, NY. In 1842 he moved to Coldwater, MI where he continued to study and practice medicine, as well as being involved in educational, town and state affairs.  He served on the Special Commission on Penal, Charitable, and Reformatory Institutions that produced as one of the recommendations for a State Public School at Coldwater for pauper and indigent children.

A call to the Coldwater Library resulted in the librarian knowing exactly which photo my husband referred to, and she put him on hold while she went to retrieve it from the wall. Yes, Stephen Starr Cutter was one of the photos.  Did we want a copy sent? “No,” my husband replied, “I think we need to drive there and see it ourselves.” And that is how we ended up visiting Coldwater, Michigan.

Since we are from the Finger Lakes Region of New York it was interesting to discover that a large number of Coldwater’s early settlers were from the Rochester, NY area.  We enjoyed our stay and genealogy research experience in Coldwater, and of course had to drive down Cutter Street.  If you have ancestors who lived in Michigan, you are in for a research treat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wedding Wednesday

My great-grandmother Jessie Agard began her diaries in 1944. On the left hand pages she wrote about her wedding day. An interesting account written in third person.  Jessie writes:

"June 26, 1901, Arthur C. Agard and Jessie M. Tucker were married in her home in Enfield. Arthur was the son of John and Sarah Agard of Mecklenburg. Jessie was the daughter of William and Adelia Tucker of Enfield. They were married by the Methodist Minister at Enfield Center. They were married at 4:00 p.m. at her home called, “The Tichenor Place” in Enfield. The house on the main road from Mecklenburg to Ithaca just before you get to Millers Corners, one mile north of Enfield Center. Those present were: Frank and Carrie Beardsley, John and Ollie Rightmire, Addie Tucker, Belle Hubbell and Father and Mother Tucker. We were married by Methodist minister Rev. Wilcox.

After the wedding they went to Newfield to Hattie Phoenix’s wedding at the home of Jay Phoenix. The horse they drove was given to Jessie by her Uncle Martin Hausner and the buggy was owned by Arthur. Hattie Phoenix was a cousin of Arthur and she married George Gardner at 7 o’clock June 26, 1901. After the wedding, George and Hattie went with Arthur and Jessie to the Tichenor Place for the night. The next day they spent at Enfield Falls and had dinner there."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bertha Agard

Bertha Agard

We live in a town where one woman’s generosity continues to make a difference. Mary Hawley used her inheritance - money her father made in westward expansion – to provide her hometown with a new elementary school, a new town hall that had a bowling alley and a full size movie theater where movies would be free, a beautiful library, and a town green that she hoped to make into a rose garden similar to Elizabeth Park in Hartford.  Unfortunately, Mary Hawley died in 1930 soon after laying the cornerstone for the town hall and before she could plant her rose garden.

I am telling you this, because although not every town or family has a benefactor like Mary Hawley, we do come across people who have made a difference in our lives – albeit on a much smaller scale.

In our family Bertha Agard made a difference. After she graduated from Cortland Normal School and then Cornell University, she supported herself by teaching English at Nottingham Terrace High School in Schenectady, New York. From all indications, Bertha lived a quiet life, teaching, and being involved in education.  She died January 31, 1942 at St. Elizabeth Hospital. I suspect she knew she was very ill as she took a leave of absence from her teaching position and had visited her family just before her death. In her will, Bertha left my grandparents, Merritt and Maude Agard, $3,000, in which four years later greatly helped with their down payment for Taughannock Farms Inn. (See previous blog Maude Agard’s Dream)  I suspect Bertha’s bequest did not alter our family history, but it might have helped my grandparents make a life altering decision. How much, we will never know. This entry is my way of thanking Bertha for her thoughtfulness and generosity. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Who is Norman Agard?

Although I love using the Internet for genealogy research, I absolutely love the experience of researching in a library.  I love walking down the stacks, lightly touching the book spines, and imagining what information they might contain. I like to choose my personal workspace and then feel the excitement as I settle in and open a book to see what secrets it might reveal. 

Last week we researched at the New York State Library in Albany.  I had just finished going through a number of books on Seneca County and in particular Morrison’s Town & Village Of Ovid, Seneca County, NY 1789-1889, when my husband asked me to watch his briefcase and our laptop while he copied the 1875 NYS Census for Newfield, NY from microfilm onto his USB flash drive. Consequently I was trapped in my carrel, unable to walk the stacks with all that I had to carry.  So my attention went to the books directly across from me. They dealt with wars – Revolutionary, War of 1812, Civil War, etc.  Not to waste a minute of my library time, I started pulling these books off the shelf.  I was familiar with some of my family members who fought in the Revolutionary War, so was not surprised to see their names appear. But one name I was not familiar with – Norman Agard.  In the book Record of Service of Connecticut Men, Revolutionary, War of 1812, Mexican War, I found poor Norman had enlisted as a private 11 March 1814 and died 18 December 1814. 

Upon my return home I went immediately to Frederick Browning Agard’s book, Agards in America to find out to which of the five branches of the Agard family Norman belonged. I found Norman on page 92, the appendix, under “Three Loose Ends.”  Norman was loose end number two.  Apparently, Mr. Agard did not know where Norman fit into the family either.

What I love about genealogy is just when I find the answer to one question, another mystery presents itself.  Enjoy the journey!

Friday, November 12, 2010

John Wesley Agard

John Wesley Agard
John Wesley Agard, “…like his father, was a scholar and a farmer. Although he was only privileged to complete the eighth grade, he educated himself further with his constant reading. Because he highly valued education, on his own initiative, he studied Greek, Roman and American history and philosophy. He was a pillar of his Methodist Country Church,” remembers his granddaughter, Ella Agard Hague.  John was born to Noah and Rebecca Agard on March 4, 1857.  John’s love of learning was evident in the fact that he and his wife, Sarah, moved from the small rural town of Mecklenburg, NY to Cortland, NY so that their two daughters could attend Cortland Normal School.  John worked as a carpenter in Cortland to support their education.  Later, Sarah operated a boarding house in Ithaca so that the daughters could attend Cornell University.  In the meantime, their son, Arthur Agard, was not forgotten. John and Sarah purchased the Colegrove Farm in Willow Creek so that Arthur could earn a living farming the land.  (See previous blog - Nurturing the Land)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Toombs Family Bible Pages

The Friends of the C.H. Booth Library in Newtown, CT has one of the largest (and best organized) book sales in the Northeast, and I am honored to be a member of this group.  Recently a very large 1822 Bible was donated to the book sale. The cover of the Bible was inscribed: A.J. and C.D. Toombs.  I carefully leafed through to the family pages and found handwriting. I have transcribed these pages and am in the process of figuring out where to post the document so family members might find it. Most family members were born in the New York City area – Staten Island, Brooklyn, New York. A few were born in Boston.  The family names in this bible are: Toombs, Chase, Cloyd, Dongan, Hutchinson, Rogers, and Waters.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harry Nunn - Mary Nunn Maki - 110 years later...

Today I stood on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, NY where my grandfather, Harry Nunn and his siblings were sent in 1900. How different it must have been for these children who had only known the streets around 2030 First Avenue in New York City.  I imagine the surrounding forests and wide Hudson River would have been scary for a ten year old. I can only hope that Harry and his siblings thrived under the care of the sisters there.  The children had to go through a quarantine period, getting all the proper medical care before joining the 1,000 children at the school. But once there, they were integrated into a family style setting. Individuality was encouraged and the sisters did everything possible to safeguard each child’s “inherent right to his personality.”  I felt very close to my grandfather today, and now know why he turned out so well.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maude Agard's Dream

In October 2001, Carol Kammen of the Ithaca Journal highlighted in her column the family business oral history I had produced with my mother. The title of her column was, “Now is the time to record the history of our institutions.”  She encouraged local businesses and historical societies to document those operations before their participants were no longer around to ask.

Taughannock Farms Inn
Maude Agard's "tea room"
My grandmother, Maude Agard, loved to cook. Her dream was to have her own “tea room,” and on her 40th birthday, May 16, 1946 she realized that dream with the purchase of a summer home, owned by a Philadelphian Robert Jones, that overlooked Taughannock Falls State Park. According to the oral history my mother recounted, “The first night they were open to the public…they served less than twenty people and ran out of food! Mother had no idea how many people to prepare for. But, word got around, so Taughannock Farms grew and grew.”

There were no printed menus; the extensive list of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts was recited by the waitresses. Dinners were served family style. The rolls were made on the premises each day, as were the salads, pies, and other desserts. Soon after my parents became partners in the business and so that is where I grew up.  Anyone growing up in a family business knows that everybody works. And we did. But we, including our employees, were all “family,” and that is a special attribute of a family run business. 

Taughannock Farms Inn - The Early Years is archived and can be accessed at the Ulysses Historical Society in Trumansburg, NY. I encourage everyone who is part of a family business to document its history; it is too precious to lose. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nurturing the Land

I love this photo of my great-grandmother, Jesse May Tucker Agard (b: 1876), her sister, Adelaide Tucker (b: 1871), and Honey, the dog (birth date unknown), because this photo explains from where I inherited my need to be close to the land. Each spring I can’t wait to get out in the garden and turn over the soil, even though it is months before it is safe to plant.  Like Jesse I am driven to plant seeds and seedlings of various vegetables, always excited to try something new.

The Agard farm, overlooking Cayuga Lake, was worked by Jesse’s husband, Arthur Agard (b:1880), and his father, John Wesley Agard (b: 1857), and then later with Art and Jesse’s son, William  Agard (b: 1914).  While the men farmed and sold crops from their many acres, Jesse lovingly tended her smaller garden that provided food for her family.  She also grew various flowers in gardens around the yard.  Jesse tends her garden in a dress – she never wore slacks. With corn growing in the back of the garden, I suspect the spiky leaves towards the front are gladiolas. 

Jesse’s sister, Adelaide Tucker, remained single and taught school in Asbury Park, NJ. During school holidays she rode the train from New Jersey to Willow Creek to spend time with her family. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hale Collection - An Interesting Discovery

In a Random Act of Genealogical Kindness request, I was asked if a Lawrence Bolan who died 9 Aug 1877 in Watertown, CT was buried in Newtown’s St. Rose Cemetery near his first wife, Mary Ann Dempsey Bolan, or his second wife, Catherine Lillis Bolan.  The only Bolan in the Hale Collection index was Catherine. There was no Mary Ann or Lawrence found in the listing for St. Rose Cemetery.

The Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions was a W.P.A. project that recorded headstone inscriptions of over 2,000 Connecticut cemeteries during the early-mid 1930s. The entire collection is available at the Connecticut State Library. The C.H. Booth Library in Newtown has this list for its local cemeteries.

Several years ago I had fun transcribing the Irish Tombstones in St. Rose Cemetery where the stone mentioned the parish or county the deceased was from. That database is on the Genealogy Club of Newtown website  [] and that is where Mary Ann Bolan was found by the family researcher.

A drive to the cemetery confirmed that not only was Mary Ann Bolan’s stone there, but right beside her was her husband, Lawrence.  For whatever reason the W.P.A. folks recording this cemetery missed this couple. But now they are found.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

St. Joseph's Home, Peekskill, NY

In the 1905 NY Census viewed at the Westchester, NY Archives, I found five of my grandfather’s (Harry Nunn) siblings at St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, NY – Emma Nunn, Emilie Nunn, Joseph Nunn, Katie Nunn and George Nunn. There, also, I found a 1946 doctoral dissertation by Sister M. Jane Thomas Gorman, FMSC on St. Joseph’s Home.  I learned from that dissertation that this home began in 1879 when the New York Department of Public Welfare requested the Franciscan Missionary Sisters accept orphans at their property in Peekskill, NY. During the mid-1800s many children lacked family support.  By 1899 St. Joseph’s was similar to a small city housing 1,100 residents. The nuns at St. Joseph’s offered traditional education, becoming one of the first institutions to be placed under the New York State Regents, as well as technical training, carpentry, sewing, shoemaking, etc. According to the “Notice of Discharge, Transfer, Home, or Death,” document, Harry had been placed on a farm in Middletown, N.J. on May 12, 1904.

In 1979 an arson fire destroyed the buildings, and the school was taken down in 1980. However, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters continue to have a small office in Peekskill, and therein are where the records of the Department of Public Charities Out-Door Poor children are kept. I am forever thankful that the Sisters keep these archives safe and shared the documents with me. 

 Harry Nunn - 1950s

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oral Histories

I have had the honor of working on oral histories for the Newtown, CT, Ulysses (Trumansburg), NY and Newfield, NY historical societies.  The stories are always fascinating and capture that person’s memory of time and place.  My husband and I have captured our mother’s voices and their oral histories. This excerpt from my mother’s, Carol Agard Nunn (b: 1924) oral history opens a window for me into what it was like to grow up on a farm in rural Willow Creek near Jacksonville, NY:

“Baths – showers were unheard of – baths were water heated in a big pan, usually an enameled pan – we called it a tub – on the stove, and on Saturday nights - it was one bath a week, we would put that in front of the stove and take our baths. During the week you would have what we called the sponge bath where you took a damp washcloth and went over your body. That was about it. You washed your hair once a week also.”

                                                    Agard Homestead early 1900s

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nunn Family - The Thrill of the Search

Nine years I searched for information on my grandfather, Harry Nunn. His marriage certificate states his father was Joseph Nunn; mother Catherine “Stiebert.”  Searching the 1910 Census, I found Nunn children living with their sister, Elizabeth “Siebert.” Since their mother had been placed in Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital, I realized my grandfather had used his sister’s married name – misspelled – on his marriage certificate. My grandfather was born in 1890; why couldn’t I find this family in the 1900 Census?  It wasn’t until I found an article in the Historic New York Times (April 19, 1905) about how Elizabeth Siebert sued her neighbor for the $300 she had placed in trust with her, and the neighbor, Mrs. Helene Louis, no longer had. The article was written because although the jury found that Mrs. Louis needed to repay the amount, Mrs. Louis’ circumstances were so distraught, the jury wanted to raise the $300 to keep her out of jail.

Using HeritageQuest and the Louis (Lewis) name, we searched for German men, age 50s, in Manhattan.  Within a few clicks, we found this family and next door to them was a family labeled “Joseph [scribble] Catherine” with both documented on the same line. Below them was a list of their children.  The reason I couldn’t find this family was I hadn’t looked under “Joseph” as the last name.  In this census Catherine states she has had eleven children; eight living. And there was my grandfather, then called Henry. 

Desperately seeking information on this family, especially from relatives of Evelyn "Eva" b: 1908 and Regina Siebert b: 1907, as their mother holds the key to this family. Happy to share.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing Your Family History

Turning research into an interesting and readable format is possibly the most difficult part of the process for genealogists.  At a Connecticut Society of Genealogists seminar in North Haven, CT on Oct. 16, we had the opportunity to hear Leslie Albrecht Huber speak on just that. Leslie’s new book, The Journey Takers is an enjoyable read. Leslie is a gifted writer and determined researcher.  We encourage you to visit her website,

By nature I am a very organized person. But, when it comes to genealogy, keeping information and family lines organized has been the biggest challenge. I now keep my information in three formats: a three ring binder that has all my family lines that have been researched and written up; a binder for each family line, with research material in plastic sleeves for easy on-the-go research trips for that particular line, and then names and dates in the Apple Reunion database file.  I have always felt that genealogy was much more than names and dates. You will never hear me exclaim that I have this many names in my database. That is not important to me. What is important is to fully flesh out my ancestors to learn more about them and what their lives were like. And this is where the Fulton County History website has been so important. By reading newspapers of our ancestors' time, researchers can find out the social and political history that impacted their lives.

I begin each family line with a descendant chart, giving parents names and birth dates, followed by the children with their birth and death dates as known. My direct ancestor is indicated in bold. Each family member is featured with as much information as I can gather for where they lived, who they married, their occupation, etc.
For one line of the Hardenbrook family it looks like this:

Descendants of John Hardenbrook b: 1820 (NY) and Anna E. Crisfield Hardenbrook b: 1824; m: 19 June 1847
Washington Hardenbrook b: 1848 (Lodi, NY) d: 14 Jan 1904 (Willard, NY)
Enoch H. Hardenbrook b: 4 May 1852; d: 2 December 1905[1]
Frank Hardenbrook b: 1853; d: 1932 
John Hardenbrook was a farmer, whose property bordered the Crisfields in the Town of Lodi, Seneca County, New York, and is how he met Anna E. Crisfield. They married on June 19, 1847 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Ovid, NY by Reverend John Liddell.  Their witnesses were Mr. and Mrs. Hunt.[2] John and Anna Hardenbrook had three sons, Washington, Enoch, and Frank.[3] 

[1] For purposes of this genealogy, I will use the name “Enoch’ born 1851 and will call his son,” Enos,” born 1882.  Death date from Interlaken Index compiled by Diane Nelson.
[2] Ulysses Historical Society
[3] 1860 and 1870 Census of Seneca County, NY.  (HeritageQuest)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Favorite Websites - October 2010

As genealogists we need diverse websites to serve us.  Besides the Fulton County History website already mentioned, we utilize the Tompkins County, NY website for much of our research. We love the Past, Present, Future link which shows the newest additions to the site, as well as the cemetery link which gives burials of all the cemeteries in Tompkins County by town.  My husband frequently visits the Newfield cemeteries while I am scouring the cemeteries in Ulysses.   Another great resource for New York genealogical research is This is the site for the Association of Public Historians of New York State, and from there you can find a historian in the area in which your ancestor lived.

Linkpendium – hosts information on all states, and when using this site my husband has been heard blurting out, “I Love Michigan!”  In Linkpendium he clicks on the state he is searching, and then Statewide Resources, and from there he finds a wealth of information he never expected to find online.  Another gem is a paid (but affordable) site, the Godfrey Memorial Library located in Middletown, CT. For such a small building, it houses a large collection, and an even larger online collection. The Godfrey site is, and for $10 you can get a one-day pass to their entire online collection. Our Genealogy Club of Newtown (CT) enjoyed a talk on the resources available at the library. Folders are set up for each state, many countries, city directories, vital records, well, too much to mention here. I do encourage you to check them out for whatever state you are researching. They also have a volunteer, Ed Laput, who is photographing cemetery stones in CT, and wherever he vacations.