Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mystery Monday – Merritt Lamkin’s Demise

Almon, Merritt, Eleanor (Nellie) Lamkin
Photo taken shortly before Merritt's death

The day started out routinely enough until I found the photograph.  Writing on the back identifies the family as “Almon & Nellie Lamkin, son-Merritt.”  Who are these people? My husband knew and shared the following story:

Almon (b: 1873) and Eleanor (Nellie) (b: 1876) Lamkin lived in the house at the top of "Cutter Hill" on Shaffer Road, Newfield, NY, near my husband’s family farm.  In 1900 Almon and Nellie lived in Ithaca where Almon worked in a dry goods store. Their son Merritt was born that year. By 1910 the family lived in Newfield on a small farm.

Almon, Nellie and Merritt Lamkin
abt 1910
Shaffer Road House, Newfield, NY
Courtesy,  Diary of Minnie (Tompkins)  Cutter 
Enter the Cutter family: In the fall of 1939, shortly after their marriage, my husband’s uncle and aunt, Paul and Minnie (Tompkins) Cutter moved into the Lamkin house to care for Almon, a widower, and to help farm the land. Paul and Minnie had a verbal understanding that when Almon passed away, the house and farm would become theirs.

When Almon died 8 January 1940, he left no will, nor anything written about the arrangement. Consequently, the only surviving relative, a nephew, Glenn Bellis of Rochester, was granted the letters of administration, and would not honor the verbal arrangement.  The land was valued at $3,000. Paul and Minnie Cutter ended up purchasing the house and land using loans from family members and their local bank.

We then came upon this startling news about Merritt Lamkin: 

“One Death, 5 Cases Paralysis; Merritt Lamkin of Newfield, 16, dies from Poliomyelitis – Four New Cases in Ithaca, One in Newfield, and One in Danby.”  

In September of 1916 the Ithaca area witnessed seven cases of infantile paralysis and those homes were quarantined: Catherine Fish, age 10; R. Goldsmith, 19, of NYC (Cornell University student); William Wray, age 6; and Campbell Chase, age 6. 

Merritt Lamkin, age 16, Newfield died three days after onset of disease; Gertrude Nurmi, 2-1/2 years of Newfield has both legs partially paralyzed; Clifford Marion, age 3 of Slaterville Road has both legs and one arm paralyzed.

The Ithaca Board of Health decided the drastic measure of quarantine was necessary, and their limited knowledge of poliomyelitis was shared in the newspaper article.  “It is not known just how the virus is transmitted from the infected to well individuals … there is no specific treatment known.”  From the article we imagined the panic as people grasped the enormity of the situation. Parents were told not to touch their children; dishes should be scalded, and scrupulous cleanliness should be maintained.  Any children under the age of 16 entering Ithaca would be quarantined for two weeks.

Ithaca To Be Quarantined
City and Suburbs to be Put Under Strict Surveillance – Children less than 16 Barred – All Roads to be Policed

“Beginning at daylight tomorrow morning and continuing until further notice, the City of Ithaca and its immediate suburbs will be under strict quarantine to prevent the further spread of infantile paralysis. The quarantine will continue until further notice… Special officers will be on duty day and night at every highway entrance to the city and every railroad station. … Considering the proportion of population, the epidemic has become more widespread here than in New York City.”

The Resolution
“Resolved, that all children under 16 years of age be prohibited from attending all public gatherings, including theaters, playgrounds, churches, schools and entertainments, until further notice. Any violation of this order is by state law a misdemeanor and punishable as such.”[1]

Polio is an infectious viral disease that attacks the nerve cells, sometimes the central nervous system.  In 1947 Jonas Salk started investigating the poliovirus.  In 1953 he published his findings in The Journal of the American Medical Association and in April 1954 testing began with mass inoculation of school children.[2]

The question remains. How did this insidious disease spread, affecting young children in Ithaca, one Cornell student, as well as two children living miles from Ithaca and each other?  Sounds like more research in my future.

[1] “Almon Lamkin,” article, Ithaca Journal, 5 September 1916, p. 5, col. 3, [; 28 September 2013]
[2] A Science Odyssey, People and Discoveries; Salk produces polio vaccine 1952 [Viewed 28 September 2013]

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sunday’s Obituary – Almon Lamkin

Almon Lamkin, 67, who resided three miles south of Newfield village, died Monday morning, Jan. 8, 1940, at the Tioga General Hospital in Waverly after a short illness of pneumonia. Surviving is a nephew, Glenn Bellis of Rochester. Mr. Lamkin was a member of Newfield Grange and King Hiram Lodge F & A. Masons.

Funeral services will be held at the Allen Funeral Chapel in Newfield at 2 p.m. Wednesday.  The Rev. Earl Noyes, pastor of the Newfield Methodist Church, and the Rev. O.D. Stewart of Ithaca will officiate. Interment will be in Lake View Cemetery, Ithaca.

According to the journal of Minnie (Tompkins) Cutter, Almon Lamkin came down with a cold on January 1, after a New Year’s Day dinner at the Cutter homestead. On January 3, they took Almon to the doctor. On January 5, he was feeling much worse so doctor was called.  On January 7, Almon fell on the way to the bathroom; he was diagnosed with pneumonia and taken to Waverly Hospital.  He died around 9:00 p.m. on January 8, 1940. 

An additional story coming soon on the Lamkin family. 

The Book of Me – My Childhood Home in Tompkins County, New York

1486 Taughannock Boulevard
Tompkins County, New York

Our home on Taughannock Boulevard was surrounded by open acres to the north and west, a small house to the south, and the main road, State Route 89 to the east.  The stately farmhouse, located six miles north of Ithaca, New York, and two miles south of Taughannock Point, is where I grew up; an idyllic place to live. The circular driveway wound around a grassy area where several pear trees and a large snowball bush grew and filled with white blossoms each spring. A slate sidewalk beckoned family and friends up onto the wide and welcoming front porch.

This house had been the apple of my mother’s eye. Never did she dream that she might live in this lovely home. Through a quirk of fate this house became hers in 1946. The house had been owned by good friends Chuck and Jeanne Lueder. The Lueders had sold it to Carol’s parents, Maude and Merritt Agard.

Maude’s dream was to open a tearoom and this house seemed to hold that promise. As they started renovations, the large estate home owned by the Jones family of Philadelphia overlooking Taughannock Falls State Park came up for sale. It had been a tearoom before World War II, and had potential to become one again. Merritt and Maude knew that if someone bought the property known as Taughannock Farms Inn, Maude’s tearoom, just two miles south, would have serious competition. There appeared no other choice but to sell the Boulevard house plus the Jacksonville Road house in which Carol, Ed and baby Skip were living in order to purchase Taughannock Farms.

With the sale of these properties, plus a $3,000 bequest from Merritt’s maiden aunt, Bertha Agard, Merritt and Maude had enough for a down payment on Taughannock Farms Inn. Carol and Ed Nunn, now without a home, decided to purchase the house at 1486 Taughannock Boulevard.

Entering the front door of our Boulevard home a wide front hall beckoned. A stairway leading to the second floor was on the right. A wide landing allowed space for a full-length mirror and a small corner table. To the left was a large double living room with a stone fireplace. Straight ahead the large farm kitchen provided warmth in winter, and was a favorite family gathering spot year round.  Dad and Grandpa Nunn (Pop) built the kitchen cabinets from pine boards. There was a screened porch off the kitchen, too small for a table and chairs, but held a small couch to provide a sitting area. The kitchen had two large windows around which cabinets were built. Those windows afforded a view out onto the circular driveway. Years later, my mother told me she always envisioned a swimming pool within that circle.

Off the kitchen was a long narrow room that was eventually turned into a TV room. Another door went into the living room/dining room area.  The long narrow TV room also housed our upright piano. I felt a house was not a home without a piano and a cat!

Off the back room was a small bedroom where my grandparents, Nana and Pop Nunn stayed while living with us May through October each year. We grew up in an era when it was common for several generations to live together in one household.  

The house had three large bedrooms upstairs, one bath, and a large walk-in attic. Closets were at a premium in this old house, but we made do.  The bathroom was small and served the entire family. With six of us in the house over the summer, I don’t remember a problem sharing the bathroom; we all took turns.  

Our two screened porches provided summertime living spaces and in the heat of summer provided cooler sleeping quarters. I bunked down on the side porch, off the kitchen, and Dad slept on the front porch. Mom suffered through the heat in the upstairs master bedroom.

There was a one-car garage and a slate patio off the TV room.  From the TV room, we could go out onto the back patio to the clotheslines that were strung from the back of the house to the trees at the edge of the yard. 

Every house has its “quirks” and ours certainly did. Houses on the ledge of the lake did not have a great water supply. We had a tiny well out back that provided the minimum amount of undrinkable water.  For years we brought jugs of water from the restaurant to provide water for drinking and cooking.  Baths were taken with barely an inch of water, and laundry was done at the laundromat in Ithaca. Years later a washer and dryer was purchased to launder the linens at the Farms. Mom took advantage of those machines to do our laundry.

Since Mom and Dad feared fire, the house had a number of lightning rods installed along the roofline.  Consequently, I always felt safe in our house during a storm. Electrical current inside the house, however, was a problem. You couldn’t plug in an appliance and have another running off the same circuit or a fuse would blow. Sometimes life at the Boulevard house was a challenge.  

The house was heated by a coal furnace. It was exciting when the coal truck came and put its chute through the basement window.  We could hear the coal rattling down the chute and into the coal bin. The coal bin was actually just a section of the basement that was blocked off with plywood under the small cellar window just across from the furnace. During the cold weather Dad went down at regular intervals to shovel coal into the furnace.  In later years the furnace was switched over to propane, so Dad didn’t have to feed it any longer.  

During the 1950s a small silver metal box sat next to the front door.  Twice a week the Dairy Lea milkman left milk products ordered from a list left in the box.  My mother or Grandmother Nunn (Nana) ordered milk, butter and cottage cheese. Unless they were planning to bake something special, they didn’t need to order cream as a small amount floated at the top of each glass bottle of milk.

Our black wall telephone was located behind the door in the dining room. We were on a party line, so you had to listen for the ring to know whether it was for you or not.  We used it infrequently.  During the 1950s the phone was moved into the kitchen, but since our line came from Ithaca and the Farms phone was from Trumansburg, it was a long distance call to cover those four miles. Eventually we had two phones; one for family use and the other somehow hooked into the restaurant’s line so it could be answered at our house.

My room held a double bed, bookcase, dresser and dressing table. The very small walk-in closet connected to my parents’ closet off their room. The room faced south with three large double-hung windows, giving me views of the south, east and west. I developed a fondness for daisies, so my room was wallpapered in light lavender wallpaper filled with bouquets of daisies.

One of my household chores was to dust. If that was not bad enough, I had to dust between all the spokes on the stairway banister. That meant individually going between each one with a dust rag – what a slow and tedious job that was!!

When I was older I loved to mow the lawn. That was helpful for my parents since they had one day off a week – Wednesday – and that day they spent doing chores and mowing the huge yard – by hand, of course. No riding lawnmowers in those days!  I tried to mow as much as I could on Tuesdays so they wouldn’t have to spend their whole day off mowing.  Every spring I cleared the brush off the front bank that went down to the road. That made the house look so much better and I know my parents really appreciated that job done.

In the early years Mom washed clothes in the wringer washer that she set up in the back room, and filled with water from the kitchen. After the clothes went through the agitation cycle, she took them out one by one and put them through the wringer at the top to squeeze the water out.  We were warned not to get our fingers anywhere near the wringer. The clothes were then placed in a laundry basket and taken out to the clothesline to be hung up.  There they would swing in the gentle breezes and capture the fresh smell of sunshine.

Watching my mother wash the white sheer curtains that hung at our windows was always an experience.  Once or twice a year she took all the sheer curtains down to wash them in the wringer washer. Then these torturous looking wooden frames with nails sticking out all around were assembled in the kitchen. The freshly washed curtains were stretched across these frames, attached to the nails to dry. We could hardly move in the kitchen and back room area when the curtains were drying; we also had to be very careful not to get “stuck” by a nail. That hurt!

We ate our meals as a family at the kitchen table. The table sat in the center of the large farmhouse kitchen. The kitchen had a gas range that always had a dish of bacon fat on top. Bacon fat was what we used to grease frying pans with before cooking and for numerous other uses. The kitchen was also the spot where Nana did the ironing. She set up her ironing board, always being careful nothing else nearby was drawing electricity so she wouldn’t blow a fuse.  As she ironed, she sang – Tura lura, lura…and other Irish tunes. Those melodies floated through the house.

I have wonderful memories of my growing up years in the Boulevard house. As I look back on my childhood, sometimes it is hard to determine what my earliest memories really are. Favorite family stories are repeated over and over that chronicle those early years, and sometimes these stories pinpoint your identity. I have been told I was a climber – they were forever pulling me off the tables at the Farms. Another story was that on my first birthday – before I could walk – I crawled from the family picnic area at the state park right into the lake.  It seemed I, too, was drawn to the water by the hand of the Great Spirit.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

St. George’s Episcopal Church – Fredericksburg, VA

Interior St. George Episcopal Church
Yesterday our history club visited the historic St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, VA.   First we had a guided tour of the small cemetery situated within the inverted U of the church complex.  When the city of Fredericksburg was established in 1728 two lots were set aside for the church and graveyard, and it now occupies one of those original lots. A couple of stones pointed out of interest were that of William Paul, brother of John Paul Jones, who died in 1774, and Colonel Dandridge, George Washington’s father-in-law, who died in 1756.
Stone of George Richardson
In 1892 the ladies of the church went about documenting the graveyard’s history.  The earliest stone they could read was that of John Jones, 1752.
Oldest stone in the graveyard, 1752

We next visited the church, which is beautiful and well worth a visit.  In 1720 land was set aside designated as “St. George’s Parish.” In 1734 services were held, although the church was still under construction.  As we sat in the pews we could image members of George Washington’s family coming in for Sunday services. 

Our docent was very knowledgeable about the church’s history, which included the fact that a second church was built in 1815 at the cost of $11,000 to replace the original wood structure.  The present church was erected in 1849 and designed in Roman architectural style.

Of the eleven stained glass windows, three were made by Tiffany; all are stunning to see.  In 2010 a Parsons organ was installed. It is an impressive instrument and we are looking forward to a attending a concert there.

And last but not least, at the end of our tour we went to the lower level where the morning’s Table was ending. The Table is the church’s food pantry feeding the working poor and homeless.  Food is set out on tables so that people can pick what they need instead of being handed a bag of food that they might not desire.  The Table purchases food from the Fredericksburg Food Bank, as well as accepts donations of perishables from local grocery stores and restaurants. It is quite an operation. 

NEW - Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society Website

We don't know exactly what happened since we kept getting that pesky error message when trying to connect with Rootsweb. We gave them a day to respond, and as I was typing up a request to the help desk I got the draft website up on the laptop.  I clicked the "Publish" link. Pages started to fly by and bam! our site was LIVE!!!  

We are so excited and can't wait to share with club members and ask for their input as to what should be included.  In the meantime, please check out the humble beginnings of the Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fredericksburg, VA Genealogy – Two steps forward, one step back

We returned from our week in Connecticut ready to develop a website for the Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society (FRGS).  We made this decision following the September meeting when the plea for website help remained unheeded.

I researched the best (and affordable) website development software for MAC.  Since we would be paying for this ourselves we had to keep the cost within reason. I found that SandVox was highly rated and at a reasonable price.

We purchased and downloaded the software, and what fun we had all day yesterday designing and populating the site.  It was no wonder I had a slight headache last night. I just couldn’t let it go – I kept thinking of additional information to put on the site that might be helpful to Virginia genealogy researchers.

We applied for a account and that is now live.  I started a blog on the website – such fun!!

We then applied to Rootsweb for hosting space. That was easy, and the return message was that it would take three to five days for a response. 

Actually, it was only about three hours when we had a message back from Rootsweb with our User Name and path into their server.  Although we should have waited until morning … we couldn’t help ourselves. We had to see if we could get the site up and running. What a thrill that would be after all this time!!

We carefully put in the path as designated.  Clicked continue and watched the screen populate with the ftp connection.  Ah, it is wonderful when it works.

NOT.  Error message.  We retyped the password, carefully checked the ID, tried different variations.  Same message.

Finally, crestfallen, we wrote to Rootsweb explaining the problem. We also wrote to SandVox.  SandVox immediately replied with helpful information, but it looks like the problem is at Rootsweb.  The files are uploaded successfully, but the download from Rootsweb fails. 

And so we wait …   

Monday, September 9, 2013

Newtown, CT Genealogy Club Programs for 2013-2014

The Genealogy Club of Newtown (CT) began on September 11, 2001, so it is only fitting that the first program of the year is slated for September 11!  

They have great programs planned, so if you live within driving distance, the club meets the second Wednesday of each month (except July/August) 7:00 p.m. at the C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470.

If you have Newtown ancestors, and live far away, the club website has a Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness link. Help is just a click away.

Genealogy Club of Newtown Programs for 2013

Sept.11 - Joe Lieby - German Research
Oct. 9 -  Penny Hartzell - Updates at Family Search, Ancestry, and other sites
Nov. 13 - TBA
Dec. 11 - Holiday Party with a Genealogy Theme

Stay tuned for 2014 programs that will include "Using Find-a-Grave" and "French-Canadian Resources."

Honoring the Hosner Children That Didn’t Survive

As genealogists we spend a lot of time learning about and filling in the lives of our ancestors. We search each census gleaning its particular facts about where our ancestors lived, what they did for a living, who was living with them, their birth month, and even if they owned a radio.  We search bible records, newspaper society notes and obituaries. We blog, set up a Facebook page, visit cemeteries, research libraries, and hope that a “cousin” out there will find us and help us fill in the facts of how our ancestors lived.  

Recently I have been learning and writing about six of my gr-gr-grandmother’s nine siblings, some information of which I shared on this blog.  It occurred to me that my time and energy has been spent writing about the children that lived and that I haven’t honored those that did not. This blog will do just that.

In Upstate New York in the early 1800s there was little one could do about diseases like diptheria, or fevers such as typhoid, scarlet and malaria.  And then there was the ever-present pneumonia and congestion of the lungs.  This blog honors Isaac and Adaline (Cleveland) Hosner’s three children that did not survive to adulthood. 

William Gurdon Hosner, the first born of Isaac and Adaline Hosner was born 12 November 1833. He died in 1837 at four years of age.

Josiah Cleveland, the sixth child of Isaac and Adaline Hosner, was born 17 February 1843, and died shortly thereafter.

Isaac Hosner was born 17 May 1852 the ninth child of Isaac and Adaline Cleveland Hosner. On May 27, 1860 Adaline writes: “Since I last wrote the Lord has come very near; my little Isaac is no more. He died the 8th of May after a short illness of 38 hours. The scarlet fever has prevailed to a considerable extent. Our children had been amongst it.”  She suspects the disease was carried into the house by her daughter, Adelia, who had been assisting the Smith family who was sick with scarlet fever. When Adelia returned she had a sore throat. On May 6 Isaac started vomiting; then broke out with a high fever and rash. A Mrs. Borker came and gave them drops to use. The next day little Isaac put his arms around his mother’s neck in a farewell hug. He then called for his father. The next morning, 8 May 1860 he breathed his last. Isaac was nine days shy of his eighth birthday.

Little Isaac suffered from “sore eyes,” and was in danger of going blind and “his mind was very weak.” His mother indulged him and feared he would never be capable of caring for himself as he had to be with her every minute. Her children asked how she was going to manage when he got older.  Adaline confessed misgivings in her heart about what course she should take with this child.  On 8 May 1860 Adaline was spared that difficult decision.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Society Saturday - Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society hosts Barbara Vines Little

At its Wednesday, September 11, 2013 meeting the Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society (FRGS) will host national speaker Barbara Vines Little.  Ms. Little, who specializes in Virginia record sources, will demonstrate how VA Land and Tax Records can assist in genealogy research.  FRGS meets the second Wednesday of each month, 7:00 p.m. at the Salem Church Branch Library.  The public is cordially invited to attend.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

After Bordon - Clara (Terry) and Myrta Hosner

In a previous post we learn that Bordon and Clara (Terry) Hosner/Hausner split up between 1875 and 1879. We learned that Bordon went to the Pittsfield, Michigan area, met and married Netti Rundell.  We know that Bordon and Clara’s second child, Ada, had died.

After her marriage broke up, Clara and daughter Myrta moved in with her parents, George and Adaline Terry of Hector, New York.  Then in 1886 Clara married James K. Maus (1859-1908) of Lewisburg, PA.  James was the son of Samuel G. Maus. 

Early in his career James was chief clerk of the Lackawana at Elmira. He then obtained a position with the firm of Ford and Green, becoming confidential advisor and clerk to Broome County Republican Senator George E. Green.  James Maus was prominent in the business and social circles of the city. He was a member of the Union Lodge at Elmira, and Press Club house committee. 

Clara and James lived at 1908 Jay Street in Binghamton with her daughter, Myrta. Myrta is consistently referred to as “Myrta Maus,” so I wonder if James adopted her. 

James Maus died suddenly in June 1908 at the age of 49 years.  Although he had some health issues they were not deemed serious and at the time of his death, he and Clara were planning a trip to begin that very next day. Following the funeral, his body was transported to Perry City, NY.[1]

At some point between 1910 and 1915 Clara and Myrta moved to the Lockport, New York area. Clara, noted writer and poet, died in October 1915 of acute digestion. Her brother, Hamilton Terry, was executor of her estate.  Clara is buried in Grove Cemetery, Trumansburg, New York (Lot 1034).   Her daughter, Myrta, of Lockport survived her.[2]  In 1920 Myrta Maus boarded with the Leonard family in Enfield, New York. The Leonards lived two houses away from Myrta’s uncle and aunt, Gillett and Augusta Hosner.

Myrta died 25 April 1943 and is buried in the Grove Cemetery, Trumansburg, New York under the last name of Hausner. 

[1] “Clara Terry Maus,” obituary for James K. Maus, The Binghamton Press, 22 June 1908, page 10, col. 3. [; viewed 4 September 2013.
[2] “Clara Terry Maus,” obituary, Buffalo Evening News, 28 October 1915, page 4, col. 6. []

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

South Danby NY M.E. Church

Handwriting on the back of this undated photograph states:
"S. Danby M E church." 

A short article by Charles Howland on the Tompkins County website shares some history of this church. That church was served by one or both of my Agard ancestors, Horace and Samuel, both circuit preachers in the Methodist Episcopal Church in that area.