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. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Willow Creek, NY

Willow Creek is a crossroads in Tompkins County, about 8 miles north of Ithaca, NY. It was probably named for the willow trees that grew along its bank, and which waters flowed into Cayuga Lake.  Samuel Vann was one of the first settlers. When the Geneva to Ithaca railroad served that area during the late 1800s, Willow Creek had a small station and a U.S. Post Office.  The post office was discontinued in 1913. When I was growing up in the 1950s, only the two-room schoolhouse remained.  The school was started because in 1812, it was deemed that everyone should be able to read the Bible, so under the direction of New York Governor Daniel Tompkins, a state law was passed that mandated there be a public school within walking distance of every child.

John and Sarah Agard purchased a farm a half mile up the road and that is where my mother grew up.  I was interested in Dr. Bill's comment that he, too, grew up near a "Willow Creek" in Iowa. And he is correct, it is a small world. 

Jesse Tucker Agard wrote in her diary, "On New Year's Day John Agard, Ella, Arthur, Merritt and I went to Willow Creek on the train. The Colegrove farm was for sale and we went up to see it. Later, John Wesley Agard bought the farm and we moved up there on April 1, 1908." 

The Agard family remained on this land, and continue to do so today.  There will be much more on the Agard family in later posts. 

Enoch Hardenbrook Family

The Seneca County, NY Hardenbrook family's brick wall came down with the advent of the website. This invaluable source continues to scan millions of newspaper articles, mostly from Upstate New York. This site allows genealogists to find obituaries, society notes, probate notices, and much more to fill out ancestors' lives.  I was able to locate my g-g-grandfather's second family in the early 1900s where they were living in Auburn, and to fill in much of their social history.

Enoch Hardenbrook, Sr., b: 1852 married first Emma Brown Higgins. Enoch, Jr. was born in May 1882; Emma died July 1, 1882 of phlebitis.  Enoch, Jr. was given to Emma's sister, Mary Simpson to raise. Nathaniel and Mary Simpson moved to Jacksonville, NY and raised Enoch Hardenbrook.

Enoch, Sr. then married Florence Kerry and they moved to Auburn, Cayuga County, NY.  Cayuga County has its early probate files in PDF format, extremely easy to search. We are very impressed with the availability of records and the helpful, caring staff of Cayuga County.

Monday, October 11, 2010

John Hardenbrook Family

John Hardenbrook b: 1820 married Anna E. Crisfield b: 1824, on June 19, 1847 in the Dutch Reformed Church in Ovid, New York.  John and Anna had three sons, Washington b: 1848; Enoch b: 1852, and Frank b: 1853. John was a farmer, but also did carpentry from his home near Ovid in Seneca County NY.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Washington Hardenbrook Family

Three members of this family died in January 1904. Washington passed away after a long illness, daughter Anna, age 20, died of typhoid pneumonia, and son Lynn died in a work related railroad accident. Washington's wife, Amelia (Stella) Stevens Hardenbrook was left with three children, Lena A., Bertha S. and Don M. Hardenbrook. The stress from the loss of three of her family members put Stella into the local state hospital at Willard for a period of time. We recently found this family's plot in Union Cemetery, Ovid, NY, and the heartbreak this family faced was definitely felt by us through their final resting place.

Anna E. and Lynn J. Hardenbrook
Sister and brother
Union Cemetery, Ovid, NY
Washington and Amelia Stevens Hardenbrook
Union Cemetery, Ovid, NY

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Genealogy of the Agard, Nunn and Related Families

The Nunn Family
I knew two things about my grandfather, Harry J. Nunn: (born" Ignortz," later listed as "Henry,") Harry was an orphan, and he drove for Mayor LaGuardia. And that is where my genealogical search began.  He was born in New York City Sept. 10, 1890 to Joseph Nunn and Katherine Kurtz. Surviving Siblings were: Elizabeth Nunn, George Nunn, Kate Nunn, Joseph Nunn, Amelia (Emilie) Nunn, Emma Nunn.

Joseph Nunn was a harness maker and died abt June 1900; Katherine was then hospitalized in the Manhattan State Hospital from June 1900, soon after giving birth to her 11th child, Charles (Casper) J. Nunn, until her death in 1917. 

Katherine Kurtz Nunn's parents were Leander and Ceclia Dinger Kurtz, both born in Germany.

After Joseph's death and Katherine's hospitalization, the Department of Public Charities, Out-Door Poor arrived and admitted the Nunn children, with the exception of Elizabeth, through a Permit of Admission of Destitute Child to the MIss. Sisters 3rd Order of St. Francis in Peekskill, NY. 

Nine years later I found Harry and his siblings in St. Joseph's Home, Peekskill, NY.  There were 11 children in the family, though not all survived. The hero was 13 year old Elizabeth "Lizzie" Nunn who, as she married Louis Siebert in 1905, brought her siblings out of the home to live with her.  Elizabeth had two daughters, Eva and Regina Siebert. I would love to connect with their descendants.  Elizabeth holds the key to the mystery of this family line.

The Agard Family
This New England family is well documented, so it was not difficult to trace them from Barnstable through Litchfield, Connecticut and into the Town of Catherine in Upstate, New York. The founding member of this family was Esther Agard, who arrived in MA in April 1683. Her husband, John "The Elder" Agard died either on the ship or upon arrival.  Esther gave birth to John "The Younger" Agard in July 1683. They lived in Barnstable, MA, where she then married Samuel Storrs. They moved to Mansfield, CT, where they are buried near the Storrs family monument in the Old Burial Grounds.

The Doyle Family
I suspect that my great-grandfather Patrick Doyle (b:1860) arrived in New York on July 1, 1885. He married Margaret Conlon. In 1899 Mary A. Doyle was born; Winnie Doyle was born in 1903. The Doyles lived in the 12th Ward of Manhattan where Patrick worked with the Sanitation Department. By 1920 the Doyle apartment also housed Harry J. Nunn, husband of Mary Doyle Nunn, their son, Harold Nunn, plus cousins Edward, Lawrence, George and Mae Conlon, and seven year old niece, Catherine Murphy

The Lothrop/Lathrop Family
By following my great-grandmother, Jesse Tucker Agard's line I found we are descendants of Rev. John Lowthropp.  Rev. Lowthropp was a renowned (and imprisoned) Congregational minister who traveled from London, ending in Barnstable, MA, in a house that is now the Sturgis Library. This family named changed to Lothrop, and then to Lathrop. Fanny Lathrop married Josiah Cleveland in New London, CT abt 1798 and they traveled west ending up in Jacksonville, NY. 

The Hardenbrook Family
My latest adventure is searching the Hardenbrook family line. My g-g-grandfather, Enoch Hardenbrook, Jr. was raised in Jacksonville, NY by Nathaniel and Mary Simpson, since Enoch's mother, Emma Higgins Hardenbrook, died July 1, 1882, two months after his birth.
Enoch, Sr. then married Florence Kerry in 1887, and moved to Auburn, NY, and had 5 children.  After Enoch's death, Florence then married Robert Perkins We recently visited the Auburn Records Department and they were wonderful! All probate records are in easy to access PDF files. We visited Soule Cemetery where many of this family are buried, but not Enoch, Sr. Still looking for his and Emma's final resting place.  

It was fortunate I had traced Enoch, Sr.'s second family and called ahead to get the lot number of Florence Hardenbrook Perkins' grave, since she is buried with her daughter, Edna Berry, and Florence's stone reads only, "Mother."    

Florence Hardenbrook Perkins

Further research at the Ovid, NY Library produced an 1876 map that showed the Hardenbrook farm to be in Joint District 05 overlooking Seneca Lake, near Willard, NY.