Monday, November 28, 2011

Amanuensis Monday – Alex Hamilton Bible 1831

You never know what you are going to find in the donations to the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library book sale , and so I was not at all surprised to find under a pile of older books waiting for evaluation by our rare book expect photocopied family pages from an 1831 bible. The family record is of Alexander Hamilton of Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

On the back page is written: The Property of Alex Hamilton
Bought at Auction in New York March 28, 1832
No 18

The Family Record, which is written in the same handwriting reads:

Marriages: Alexander Hamilton and Rebecca Sherman were married August 21, 1833 at Bridgeport, Conn by Rev. Henry R. Judah.

Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Burr were married September 21st, 1836 in St. John’s church, Bridgeport, Conn by Rev. J Cort (?).

Births: Alexander Sterling Hamilton was born June 11, 1834 at Bridgeport, Conn.
Sarah Elizabeth Hamilton was born August 15, 1837
Lucy Starr Hamilton was born March 19th, 1839
Mary Elizabeth Hamilton was born May 27, 1841
Sarah Frances Hamilton was born February 15, 1843
Isabella Jane Hamilton was born April 2, 1845
Gurdon Coil Hamilton was born August 26, 1846
Daniel Starr Hamilton was born Nov 20, 1849

Rebecca Hamilton died March 11, 1835 at Bridgeport, Conn age 24 years and 13 days
Sarah E. Hamilton died September 8, 1839 aged 2 years, 26 days.
Lucy Starr Hamilton died September 22, 1841 aged 2 years, 6 months, 3 days
Sarah Frances Hamilton died August 10, 1852 aged 9 years, 5 months and 25 days
Daniel Starr Hamilton died December 15, 1849 aged 3 weeks and 4 days

And this is the questionable entry:
Alexander Hamilton died August 26 1837 (?) aged 4 years 8 months, 1 day
If this is the son born June 11, 1834, the age and dates don’t coincide. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Martha Eva Hardenbrook Runner

As I drill down on the editing of the Hardenbrook monograph, and continue to "fill in the dash," I came across this obituary for the person I had only seen listed as Eva Hardenbrook Runner.  Her obit told me her name was actually Martha Eva, where she was born, her religious affiliation, and most important, her death date and burial location.  

Mrs. Martha Eva Runner, 86, died Monday night at her home at Hammondsport R.D.1 following an extended illness. She was born in Mt. Morris August 18, 1859, the daughter of Edward and Evelyn Thompson Hardenbrook. Mrs. Runner was a member of the Wayne Methodist Church. She is survived by her husband, Olin, two sons, Hallie of Hammondsport and Wendell of Stanley; seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The body is at the Bond Funeral Home and will be taken to her late home where funeral services will be held Thursday at 2 o’clock. The Rev. Earl Jones pastor of the Hammondsport Methodist Church will officiate and burial will be in Pleasant Valley Cemetery.

Corning NY Evening Leader, Tuesday, October 30, 1945

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Those Unexpected Paths

Photo from

Occasionally, genealogy research leads us down unexpected paths. Consequently, when Ann Beattie was interviewed recently on NPR about her new book, Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life, I took notice.  In the interview Ms Beattie explained the narrative style as interweaving fact with what she imagined might have happened.  “I imagine dialogue to which I had no access; I do my best to write as I think my characters would think and speak…”  Although genealogists are beginning to use this technique in writing up how they imagined their ancestors felt and/or dealt with daily life, using this technique for a book on Pat Nixon leaves me unsettled.

So why do I care? Because genealogy leads us down unexpected paths, and when I was researching John and Anna Colesie of Boston for a relative, I naturally followed the path of their only daughter, Helene.

Helene Colesie was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 27 Jan 1915 to John and Anna Colesie.  When the Colesie’s moved to California, Helene attended college and became a teacher as well as an outspoken community activist.  During this time, Helene and one of her teacher colleagues, Pat Nixon, became close friends.  After Helene married Jack Drown, the couples became a foursome.

Helene Colesie Drown and Pat Nixon remained the best of friends for the rest of their lives.  Jack Drown was appointed Nixon’s train campaign manager and become one of Nixon’s closest advisors.  Helene and Jack Drown were at the hospital when Tricia Nixon was born, as Pat’s husband Richard Nixon, was out on the campaign trail.  Helene remained Pat’s only trusted confidant.

This genealogy research gave me insight into a close, intimate and long lasting relationship I had not known existed.  It provided a peek into the life of Pat Nixon, her friendship with Helene Drown, and how much Mrs. Nixon guarded her privacy.

My genealogy research brought me up close and personal with these two women, and that is why I care.  

For a review of this book, check out Vinton McCabe's review at New York Journal of Books.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Mining Those Elusive Memories

One thing I have learned is that I love to learn.  So when my husband asked if I wanted to go to a genealogy club meeting in a nearby town since they were having a speaker on writing, I, of course said, yes.  That was a tentative yes, because I have already produced a book of memoirs, and I think I am doing a pretty good job of writing my family history. But there is always some little tidbit to pick up, especially where writing and genealogy are concerned.

Because this was a genealogy club meeting, we thought the presentation would be on writing your genealogy findings. Filling in the dash between all those names and dates and then producing an interesting readable product.  Wrong.  The presentation was on memoir writing.

Oh well, I thought, this is going to be a long two hours.  But in fact, the speaker, Alice Schwartz, laid out a formula for mining those elusive memories that was eye-opening and it works!

Her flip pad held five lines of prompt words.  The lines were: Decades (meaning decades of your life from birth to present), Significant Events, Issues, Memories, and Deeper Memories.

She asked us to pick a decade in our lives. I chose 1960-1970.  We were then asked to write a short list of significant events that happened in that decade. I wrote: HS graduation, college graduation, marriage, Chicago, NY. For the next line, Issues, I chose from the significant events list, Chicago.

I had to think about what issues came to mind when I thought of our time in Chicago. I listed: marriage life, adjustment to city living, job, California, travel, starting over.  From this list I chose adjustment.

So under memories, I had to think about the adjustments I had to make as a country girl living in a Chicago suburb. That list consisted of: Big City, no friends, difficult, pollution. 

As I drilled down into deeper memories, I chose to follow Big City, and this is when I remembered things I had not thought about in a very long time. All of a sudden I remembered the Brookfield Zoo that was nearby our apartment in Lyons, Illinois, the train that my husband rode into Chicago each day to work at Libby Foods, Berghoff, our favorite German restaurant in Chicago’s Loop, our weekends in Holland, MI to enjoy the Tulip Festival, and our Sunday rides to Wisconsin.

It occurred to me that I actually had a lot of fond memories of our time living near Chicago, and was amazed at how well this memory drifting technique that Alice taught us worked.

Alice reminded us to use sensory words, something I need to work on, and write to express your feelings.

This presentation on memoir writing produced for me a number of “aha” moments!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shopping Saturday - Memories of 1920s Grocery Shopping

In my mother’s oral history, she shared her experiences traveling the ten miles into Ithaca once a week for their groceries. I would like to share her memories here:

“We shopped in Ithaca. I believe that was Atwaters store – my first memory. You would take your list and go to the counter and a person would wait on you. You would read off – ‘I want five pounds of sugar.’ He would go to the shelf and get five pounds of sugar and put it on the counter; put the price of the sugar on a brown paper bag, which he later used to put many of your groceries in, and then your next item, he would go and get that and bring it back and do the same thing.  When he got all of these 20-30 items, he just added them, he just added them up – no calculators – he just did it right there in front of you, and there were precious few mistakes.  That Atwaters store later became an A&P store. That was on State Street along where Holley’s is today. We got there by car; we always had a car.

Another thing I remember was when we grocery shopped, it was once a week on a Saturday; that was the only night the stores were open. We would buy all of our groceries that we needed for the week. Of course, on the farm we had chickens, we had eggs, and all that sort of thing. The one thing I remember most vividly was the first of the week you would have fresh meat, fresh hamburger, or whatever, but then towards the end of the week these things would not keep all that long, so at the end of the week you would have codfish gravy over mashed potatoes – delicious. Macaroni and cheese, things that could be preserved without refrigeration.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Miss Eliza C. Gilbert of Mecklenburg, NY

While transcribing the obituaries from Mrs. John L. Puff’s scrapbook that was in my mother-in-law’s possession, I found Eliza Gilbert’s obituary unique not only in its religious fervor, but also in the fact that it told me nothing about her or her family.  So I went to the census and found in 1870 she lived and worked as a domestic laborer in the household of Margaret Darling in Hector, Schuyler County, NY; in 1880 Eliza was in the household of Homer Darling. Eliza worked as a dressmaker and stated that her father was born in New Jersey, her mother in Connecticut.

Eliza C. Gilbert’s obituary reads:
Miss Eliza C. Gilbert died of pneumonia in Mecklenburg (NY) April 17, 1883, aged 56 years. She was converted thirty years ago at Newfield, at under whose ministry or under what circumstances I cannot now ascertain. Sister Gilbert lived many years near Mecklenburg and had been a member of the Mecklenburg and later of the Reynoldsville Church. She was faithful, consistent, singular-blameless and devoted. Her piety was not obtrusive but fervent; her zeal not fitful but regular and constant. Her place was well filled and her influence positive for good. After a week of suffering she fell asleep in Jesus without a pang and almost without a sigh or sign of regret.

This obituary as well as other obits appearing in the Ithaca Journal can be viewed at the Tompkins Country GenWeb site.  Look under "Other Scrapbook Goodies" for Obituaries and Clippings. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New York State Research - Livingston County and More

Although my husband has produced a bound monograph of the Brown family in Upstate New York, he continues to work on this line.  Genealogy is never done!

His recent challenge was finding the death date and interment location of Robert Brown (b: Aug. 1931), twin brother of Richard Brown, sons of Arthur Brown.  This search took him to the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Fowlerville, Livingston County, NY.  In a call to the cemetery sexton, my husband was told the cemetery did not keep burial records.  The sexton records who purchased the plots, but does not record actual burials.  My husband was told to call the Town Clerk’s office.

In talking with the Livingston County town clerk he learned that some New York town clerks are Registrars of Vital Records. They keep birth, death and marriage records from 1881, on a town basis, rather than in the county. She was able to tell him that the Robert Brown buried in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery was not his Robert Brown.

This search began by utilizing the Monroe County Library’s (Rochester, NY) Life Records database.  This database contains:

Paid death notices from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and Times-Union for the years between 1960 and up to the current date. These are the notices written and placed in the newspaper by the family.

Birth notices from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and Times-Union for the years between 1978 and up to the current date.
Marriage notices from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and Times-Union for the years between 1965 and up to the current date.
If you would like to order a copy of the newspaper article for a particular name, you may have a scanned copy sent to you via e-mail, or a paper copy sent via standard mail. Please follow the directions on the order page. You may request a maximum of three records per day, at $15.00 per record. Allow up to seven days for your request to be processed.
Please note that these newspaper indexes are not the same as Vital Records Indexes. New York State Vital Records indexes contain the names, places, dates and certificate numbers for births, marriages and deaths in New York State, beginning in 1880.”

We found Arthur Brown’s obituary in the Life Records database, and since we were in the Rochester area this summer, we stopped by the Monroe County Library to read it and took notes. That obit mentioned a daughter-in-law, Gladys Brown in Honeoye Falls, NY.  A White Page search for Gladys Brown shows an association with a Richard Brown.  Maybe this is his family!

The next step is to attempt to contact Gladys Brown in Honeoye Falls.

The monograph of Abraham Brown of Newfield, New York and His Descendants is available at the Newfield (NY) Public Library and at the Godfrey (Middletown, CT) Memorial Library

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Journaling Emotions

The events of this past week made we realize the importance of journaling emotions. Putting feelings on paper helped me work through the events, and then be able to channel those emotions in a positive manner.

When reading my journal, future generations will understand the frustration and anger I experienced following the recent historic nor’easter, which in turn illuminated the poor management and emergency response of Northeast Utilities and Connecticut Light and Power. 

On November 6 (Day 8 of power outage) my journal entry reads:

“Anger? Doesn’t cover it for the over 2,000 homes in Newtown (this does not include the rest of the state) that remain without power.” 

But my journal entries also share how well we adapted to lack of power for over a week. I wrote how fortunate we were to have a wood stove to keep us warm and on which to cook. 

Corningware Cornflower Percolator
Photo from

The first few days we made coffee in the Corningware percolator I had purchased at a church yard sale several years ago just for such an event.  We cooked delicious one-dish meals each night.  We heated water on the wood stove each morning for our pump style coffee carafe to be used as a convenient hand washing station.  And an added benefit was the wonderful conversations with neighbors who converged in the street to share storm stories and to catch up on the latest news.

We realized our biggest challenge was keeping busy as many of our daily activities center around having power and water, and so I wrote down what we did to fill each day. I utilized non-power ways to clean the house; my husband worked at cleaning up yard debris in our yard as well as our neighbors’ yards.

Sadly, my great-grandmother’s diaries tell me so little about what she felt as this January 6, 1944 entry represents.:

“Not very cold -Addie went to Asbury Park today. Marian and I took her to the Black Diamond at noon. I did some shopping. It got colder in the p.m. Very windy. We got home at 3:30 in time to do some extra washing. I ironed two dresses.”

As genealogists we understand the importance of keeping a journal and leaving a piece of who we are for our children, grandchildren and beyond.