Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thoughts of Thanksgivings Past

My family's Thanksgiving table, 1953

The house is quiet now.  Our children have returned to their respective homes after a busy and enjoyable Thanksgiving week in Fredericksburg.  

I now sit back with a cup of tea and think about Thanksgivings past. I think about why this holiday is so important that family travel so far in order to be with their loved ones.

Thanksgiving 1953
Taughannock Boulevard Home of Ed and Carol Nunn
From lf: Maude & Merritt Agard, Dick & Beverly Agard, Laura Hardenbrook, Carol & Ed Nunn, Mr. Wheeler
Seated: Mary Nunn, Nancy Agard
My family always gathered the Sunday after. We operated a restaurant so Thanksgiving and Easter were our busiest days. Since Thanksgiving was the last day of the serving season, that Friday and Saturday were dedicated to closing up the large building for the winter.  Consequently it was on Sunday that we finally had time to gather for the traditional Thanksgiving meal in our Taughannock Boulevard home near Ithaca, New York.

Thanksgiving at the Maki's 1993
Raising my own family, we opened our home on Thanksgiving to as many relatives and others who could make it. Cousins, aunts, and uncles came to Newfield, NY from New Mexico, Ohio, and Buffalo.  Our winding driveway brought them over the river and through the woods to our sprawling ranch house that could easily accommodate 30-35 people for Thanksgiving dinner; a new tradition was born.  For many years the Maki clan gathered around our many tables to enjoy delicious food, card games, football, and conversing with each other. 

The Thanksgiving buffet line 1993
Each family brought a dish to share and our long kitchen counter groaned under the number of delicious dishes it held. When the youngsters in the family turned into teenagers, they stayed until all hours playing Axis and Allies, and then returned the next day to continue the game.

Cousins catching up, 1993 
It goes without saying that food is a main ingredient to a successful Thanksgiving. This year we had way too much food, and I realized the reason was that everyone had to prepare the dish that meant the most to them at Thanksgiving.  Since this is important, next year I will suggest we make half the recipe.  

The common thread through these thoughts of Thanksgivings past is sense of community, whether that is immediate family, friends, or gathering at a communal dinner somewhere.  As humans we need a safe haven; we need human interaction. We need “family,” however it is described.  Thanksgiving provides that opportunity.

I pray our growing family will gather here every year and that we can continue to provide them with a safe haven, a Thanksgiving retreat. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday – Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson (b: 27 May 1895) left his family in Virginia, and traveled to New York where he started another family.  That was the story handed down in the Woodson family through the years. 

We heard this tale at the local Fredericksburg PostNet store where we went to have our genealogy monographs printed and bound.  The young black man who waited on us was so intrigued with our research he just had to share his own family story. 

My hubby ended up grabbing a piece of paper so he could write down some of the information.  A couple of days later, after several hours of diligent research, he went back to the PostNet with a very different story about Charles Woodson.

Charles Woodson married Ruby Carey (b: abt 1896) on 14 May 1923 in Buckingham County, Virginia.  Charles and Ruby had four children: Virginia Elizabeth b: abt 1924, Charles b: abt 1925, James Henry b: abt 1926, and Robert b: abt 1929. 

At some point later in the 1920s Charles, Ruby, James, Robert and Ruby’s sister, Georgia Cary left Buckingham County, Virginia and moved to New York. Virginia and Charles E. stayed in Virginia with their grandparents.  The family lived on Lefferts Avenue, Brooklyn, New York and paid $16/month rent.  Charles found work helping in a garage.

Apparently Ruby and her sister could not adjust to city living and returned to Virginia with the children. Charles stayed on, living by himself at 430 Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn. He moved up to the position of chauffer with a commercial truck company.  

Charles served his country in World War I as a Private in the U.S. Army. His draft card states he was a farmer and employed by his mother and grandmother.  He registered again in 1942 for the WWII Draft. On that form he stated he had no telephone.

Charles died 10 December 1968 in Brooklyn and is buried in Long Island National Cemetery, Section 2W, Site 3604.

There could be any number of reasons why this family lived apart, and we may never know the answer.  But we do hope my husband’s research and subsequent report sheds a much kinder light on Charles Woodson of Buckingham County, Virginia.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Irish Roots – Patrick and Maggie Conlon Doyle

I believe this photo to be of:
Maggie and Patrick Doyle
Winnie and Mary Doyle

Although from my paternal grandfather I have strong German roots, and distinctly English roots through my mother’s side, I most closely identify with my paternal grandmother’s Irish roots.  I wonder why that is?

It may be because I grew up listening to my grandmother sing her heart out with Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (Tura Lura Lural) an Irish lullaby as she ironed away in our farmhouse kitchen.  

And although my grandmother, for whom I am named, lived six months of each year with us until her death in October 1971, I knew little about her growing up years and her family.

Since then I have learned her parents were Patrick and Margaret (Maggie) Conlon Doyle. Patrick was born in April 1857 in Ireland; Maggie abt 1867 in Ireland.  Patrick was naturalized in 1887.  Maggie arrived in New York in 1890, and they were married in 1892.  Patrick found work as a laborer, and then joined the City of New York’s Sanitation Department as a street cleaner.

The 1910 Federal Census shows two daughters: Mamie (Mary)(b: 1899), my grandmother, and Winnie, born abt 1903.  It is sad to see that Maggie reported she had had six children with only two living.  Their Manhattan apartment seems to be a refuge for Irish “cousins.”  In 1910 they have Thomas Conlon (probably a relative of Maggie’s), and three Gormley brothers, who I cannot connect to this family at this time.

By 1920 my grandmother is married to Harry Nunn, and they are living with her parents with their son, Harold. Also in the apartment are four Conlon cousins and niece Catherine Murphy.

I lose them now.  I cannot find Winnie again after 1910; I cannot find Patrick and Maggie after 1920.  My mother thought Maggie died sometime in the 1920s of diabetes. I have run through my Genealogy Toolbox again to see if additional information has surfaced on this family.  I haven’t covered all the bases, but for some reason I now feel strongly that the photo above is of Patrick and Maggie Doyle. The young woman on the right is my grandmother; the woman next to her might be her sister, Winnie.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Follow Friday - Preserving History

Peter Feinman’s November 12 article on the New York History blog poses an interesting question.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, where survival was of the upmost importance for people as well as historical archives, Mr. Feinman asks what responsibility do each of us shoulder for the recording and preserving of history, then and now?  How are we documenting history in the making?

Several years ago, after watching a DVD of historian David McCullough’s presentation in Salt Lake City, my husband and I started keeping our personal journals.  We document not only what is going on in our personal lives, but also document how we feel about the events in the local community, the nation, and the world.  We now need to plan ahead to assure that our journals, as well as those of our ancestors that we have in our possession, are preserved.

But is that enough? Mr. Feinman poses a number of though-provoking questions, and I urge you to read through his essay and give some thought to, “what it means to be an historian in our local globalized-communities where history never stops.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Willis C. Smith

Willis C. Smith Dies at home in Mecklenburg
Willis C. Smith died suddenly at his home in Mecklenburg, Saturday morning, Jan. 10 [1925] aged 71 years. He is survived by his widow, one son, Dr. Charles Smith of Detroit, Michigan, and one grandson, a son of Dr. LeVerne Smith, who died a few years ago. He was a justice of the peace of the Town of Hector, and had held other public offices during recent years.  Funeral services were held from the home at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Rev. E. M. Scholtz officiating.  Interment in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

[Mr. Smith is buried alongside his parents, Alexander Smith 1812-1888 and Sarah M. Smith 1815-1893.] 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mystery Monday - Hattie Phoenix Gardner

Hattie Phoenix Gardner - Age 88
May 20, 1962
I found this photo yesterday tucked into a pocket of a 3-ring binder, a binder I had not opened in several years.  On the back of the photo is written, “Hattie Gardner,” “May 20, 1962” and along the side, “Born May 24, 1874.”

In Jessie Tucker’s diaries I came across many references to Aunt Hattie and George and Hattie.  I knew she was related, but how?

I then remembered Jessie’s diary entry about her wedding day. It is interesting she writes in third person:

“Arthur Agard and Jessie Tucker were married June 26, 1901 at the Tucker home in Enfield called the “Tichenor Place.” …  They were married by the pastor of the Methodist Church, Enfield Center, the Rev. Wilcox at 4 p.m.  They went immediately to Newfield to the Jay Phoenix home. Hattie Phoenix and George Gardner were to be married at 7 p.m.”

Although I knew Hattie was Arthur's cousin, I needed to know exactly how.  First I found George A. Gardner (1875-1947) and Harriett M. Gardner (1874-1964) buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Newfield, New York.  I then did a Command F on Jessie’s diary transcription, and found that George and Hattie met up with Jessie and Arthur each year at the Secord Family Reunion.  That was the link.  Hattie’s mother must have been a Secord; Arthur Agard’s mother was Sarah Secord.

In the 1860 Federal Census I found Arthur Agard’s mother, Sarah Secord (b: 1854); she is the daughter of Charles and Eliza Secord.  Sarah’s older sister was Susan (b:1844). The Secords lived in Hector, Schuyler County, NY, not far from Enfield. 

The 1900 Federal Census shows twenty-five year old Hattie Phoenix living with her parents, J.B. and Susan Phoenix. They were living in Starkey, Yates County, NY.

The Montour Falls Free Press dated 20 June 1901 states:  “Cards are out announcing the marriage of Miss Hattie Phoenix which occurs on the 26th of this month.”

I look forward to learning more about George and Hattie Gardner.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sentimental Sunday – Fanny Adelia (Hosner/Hausner) Tucker

Secured by a straight pin into William Lanning Tucker’s Daily Reminder for 1922 was this newspaper clipping in which he filled in the blanks shown in bold:

In Memoriam

In memory of my dear wife Adelia Hausner
who died April 9, 1916.
I often sit and think of you,
When I am all alone;
For memory is the only friend
That grief can call its own.
Like ivy on the weathered oak,
When all things else decay,
My love for you will still keep green,
And never fade away.