Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tuesday's Tip - Citation Suggestion

My well-worn copy of Agards in America
previously owned by Merritt and Maude Agard

I wonder if Tuesday's Tip can be posted on Wednesday?  At any rate, that is exactly what I am going to do.  

Today I am researching and filling out the John Branch of Frederick Browning Agard's book, Agards in America. This process takes me to several websites as I search and read books about the history of the Upstate New York towns where this family settled. Not only am I learning about my ancestors, but about the areas in which they lived.  I am making notes as I go along, so I can add a shaded box within my monograph to include a little bit about the town or county's history.  

I am careful to cite my sources, but what I haven't done in the past is also record exactly WHERE I found the online book.  That has cost me some time lately as I try to remember the source. So today I am putting in brackets after the footnoted citation the website in which the information was found, i.e. [HeritageQuest] or [].  

I hope this hint saves you some time. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Elizabeth Nunn Siebert - Our Heroine

Elizabeth Nunn Siebert
abt 1946
One year before she died of pneumonia

It was June 1900 and the Nunn family, who lived at 2030 First Avenue, New York, was struggling. Katherine, the mother, had just given birth to her ninth child, Charles Casper, born in May. Her husband, Joseph, died in early June 1900.[1]  Katherine’s mental and physical health was frail, and thirteen-year-old Elizabeth was left to care for the family while attending to the final accounting of her father’s harness making business. It was a losing battle. On June 12, the City of New York’s Department of Public Charities arrived at 2030 First Avenue and took the children, with the exception of Elizabeth and infant Charles Casper. The children were placed with the Sisters of the 3rd Order of St. Francis St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, New York. Elizabeth might have stayed with the Louis family who lived in the same building, and would have needed help with their large family.

And so it is Elizabeth who holds the answers to my many questions about this family. It was she who cared for her siblings when her parents no longer could; it was she who at the age of thirteen managed her father’s affairs and came out with $300 – an amount she entrusted to her neighbor, Mrs. Louis.

Elizabeth married Louis Siebert on 25 June 1905,[2] and as soon as they were married, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Nunn Siebert began the process of having her siblings released from St. Joseph’s Home and placed in her care. 

The story goes on as this feisty, devoted young woman made sure she brought her siblings safely back under her wing.  At the age of 18 she sued her neighbor, Mrs. Helene Louis for the $300 Lizzy gave to her in 1900 for safekeeping.  Of course the money was gone, probably paying for rent, food and clothes for Mrs. Louis’ eight children. Lizzy won the lawsuit, and the article made the 19 April 1905 New York Times.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever see a picture of Elizabeth Nunn Seibert. But thanks to my newfound second cousin, Jeanne, Elizabeth’s granddaughter, I now have a photo.  Thank you!!

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, New York, NY, Population Schedule, Manhattan, ED 905, P. 2B, “Joseph Nunn,” digital image, (; accessed 7 Nov. 2012. NARA 1900, T623, 1854 rolls.  In this census, Katherine states she is a widow, age 59. The family name is listed under “Joseph,” probably the census taker didn’t understand the last name of “Nunn,” and when pressed for a name, Katherine, in her health state, gave her husband’s first name.
[2] Marriage Certificate number #14058.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bird by Bird

In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott tells the story of how her brother, ten at the time, was faced with a report on birds due the next day.  He had put it off for three months and now was faced with what appeared to be an insurmountable task.  Their father sat down next to his son and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

This is also sage advice to genealogists when taking on large projects.  This quote came to mind when I thought about the huge project of supplementing the research of Frederick Browning Agard.  I shall fill out the lives ancestor by ancestor.

In that vein I went to HeritageQuest (free through our public library) with the goal of revisiting Mary Louise Catlin Cleaver’s book, The History of the Town of Catherine.  My search on the name “Agard,” did not bring this book up in the listings, but as I scrolled through I found the most interesting typewritten manuscript by Louise Huntington Bailey Jarvis.  The manuscript, dated 1947, contains short biographical sketches on a variety of family names. The title is: Some Ancestors and Descendants of Samuel Agard and Florence Williams Huntington Bailey.  I found birth, marriage, and death information on both Dr. Gilbert David and Anna Maria Agard Bailey.  I learned when the Bailey name changed from Baley and that the name is of Kelto-British origin.  I will go back to this document to glean more nuggets on the Agard family line.

This manuscript is a gem, and I just happened to stumble on it.  I encourage researchers to keep HeritageQuest in mind for its unique census search applications as well as digitized books, and PERSI.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mystery Monday – Jacksonville Community United Methodist Church History

On 20 January 1955 Ulysses Town Historian Jessie Tucker Agard wrote in her diary:

 “Started writing the church history manual. I have copied it all on loose leaf notepaper. I began writing church history for my own pleasure in 1935. They heard about it at the church and asked me to read it one “Old Home Day” that was the start. Later I bought a manuscript book, paid $10 for it and I have copied my notes from the “Old Records,” and gave them to the church. That was finished in 1946. Last summer Dr. Moody and later D. Crumb asked me if I would bring the book up to date. That is what I have been doing this fall and winter. – ( A big job).”

As I work my way through Jessie’s diaries, I find multiple notations about working on the church history.  In her January 1947 diary she mentions purchasing her manuscript book at Miller’s Paper Store in Ithaca for $10.  Through the first half of 1955 Jessie works almost every day on copying over and updating the church history. On Sunday 1 May 1955 she took the updated history to the church.

Jessie mentions she developed the history from local records. I am curious as to what records she used and exactly what possible genealogy information might be contained therein.  But, to this point, no one is able to locate the church history.  Another mystery to be solved. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Morning Coffee

When faced with a difficult and therefore unpopular decision, my Irish boss (named Jim) would mutter, “Everyone’s out of step but Jim.”   This refers, of course, to the story about a proud Irish mother watching her son, returning from World War II, marching with his company down New York’s Fifth Avenue.  The proud Irish mother says to the person next to her, “Everyone’s out of step but Jim.”

I was reminded of this quote very early this morning while curled up on the couch with my iPad attempting to read today’s Geneabloggers entries.  I don’t visit that site every day, but do make it a habit on the weekend, particularly because I so enjoy learning about the new blogs. 

I don’t know when the changeover occurred, but I was most distressed that I could not read the new entries without first signing up with Pinterest.  This was most annoying and I could hear myself saying – Google Reader – where are you???? I am not a fan of Pinterest.

I admit I am part of the problem. First, I have a first generation iPad that is getting slower by the day.  Second, with all the identify theft I am reluctant to give websites (or anyone else) my information.  I did finally sign up from my main computer and was relieved they didn’t want any information than an email.  I suspect I will get annoying email ads from WordPress that I will have to unsubscribe to.  So, back to the original issue – why can’t we just read posts on Geneabloggers like we used to without going through all this hassle??

On a lighter note, I received an email yesterday from a new cousin who is thinking along the same lines as I – continuing with Frederick Browning Agard’s book, Agards in America.   We are in the same branch, but following different lines. We will be collaborating and figuring out how best to proceed with publishing a supplement to Agards in America.  An exciting, if not daunting adventure ahead!!!

Oh, and thanks for letting me vent!

Sunday's Obituary - Deborah E. Myers - Another Newfield NY Polio Victim

Deborah E. Myers
Polio Victim

Earlier this week the Tompkins County Historian, Carol Kammen, informed me that BeechTree nursing home in Ithaca, formerly the Reconstruction Home, began in 1920 as a hospital for children with polio.  She thought they might have information on the 1950s era vaccinations. Alas, after talking with the gentleman who recently went through the stored files before they were donated to the History Center in Ithaca said he saw nothing in their files related to the vaccines. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hackney Castle Follow-up

We have been successful in filling out the story behind the Hackney family.  Thanks to Ancestry Family Trees, Library of Virginia Chancery Records, and newspaper articles of the time, we now understand why there is little information available locally.  This family went through some difficult times and it is best to leave it except for the eyes of their family historians. Not all stories are happy ones.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Forget Me Not – Family History Day - March 1, 2014

The Family History Center of Fredericksburg, VA is holding a one-day conference on March 1, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at 1710 Bragg Road, Fredericksburg, VA. Greg Crawford, Local Records Program Manager at the Library of Virginia will be the keynote speaker. 

In addition, twenty classes will be available, a partial list of classes and speakers include:  

Shannon Bennett - DNA in Genealogical Research
Carol Petranek - Co-Director Washington DC Family History Center - Genealogy 101, Genealogy 102
Jean Cooper - Librarian / Genealogical Resources Specialist at University of Virginia Library - Using the Census, Using Newspapers
Dr. Shelley Murphy - Averett University, Beginning African American Research
Greg Crawford - Local Records Program Manager, Library of Virginia - Pre-Civil War African American Genealogy, The Lost Records Project (keynote)   
Katie Derby - Director Culpeper Family History Center - Beyond Beginnings: Intermediate Research, The Price is Right: Free Online Research
Beth Gainer - How to Transcribe and Record Grave Sites
Dan Liggett - FamilySearch Indexing
Ann Amadori - Director Fredericksburg Family History Center- Family Search & Family Tree

The conference is free, and registration is recommended to reserve your seat at Family History Day.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Virginia's Chancery Records

According to Black's Law Dictionary, Chancery is "Proceeding according to the forms of principles of equity."  Virginia is fortunate to have online through the Library of Virginia's website, chancery court records back to the 1700s.  Because chancery courts were deciding issues not necessarily to the letter of the law, but on equity and fairness, those court cases include estates, land disputes, divorce proceedings and business partnership issues.  

These records can hold a goldmine of information - for those who have Virginia ancestors.  The Library of Virginia website is not the easiest to navigate. A hint is to use the Search Box (upper right on home page) for the kind of record you are searching. You can also utilize the Virginia Memory link. If you want to go right to the Chancery Records database, go to  Put a name in the Surname Box. Then filter by county.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Support Your Hometown Historical Society

Genealogists can “pay it forward” by supporting their hometown historical society. My husband and I do just that – we support the Newfield Historical Society and the Ulysses Historical Society.  Our support is not only financial, but we share information in the form of articles, monographs, and other genealogical tidbits uncovered in our research.  My husband has written a couple of articles for Maintaining the Bridges, the quarterly newsletter of the Newfield Historical Society.

We just received newsletters from both societies with feature stories of earlier times, people, and places.  The Ulysses Historical Society newsletter features an interesting story of about the Morgans of Waterburg. The author, Joe Baldwin, admits he missed a fairly impressive family plot in the Trumansburg Grove Cemetery, recently brought to his attention. Mr. Baldwin proceeded to do his usual careful detailed research of Willis (1826-1903) and Howard Morgan (1932-1898), sons of William and Betsey Morgan. Willis and Howard Morgan's grandfather, William Morgan, emigrated to the U.S. from Wales. Mr. Baldwin came across some mysteries during his research, but I guess you will have to join the society and get a copy of their newsletter if you want to help solve them. Photos and map accompany the article.   

We encourage those who grew up in this area of the Finger Lakes to become members to assist the dedicated volunteers in preserving local history.

Newfield Historical Society: 198 Main Street, Newfield, NY 14867

Ulysses Historical Society:  P.O. Box 455, Trumansburg, NY 14886

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Hackney Castle of Kilmarnock, Virginia

Hackney Castle - Kilmarnock, Virginia
On the Chesapeake Bay

Our friends recently moved to the quaint town of Kilmarnock located in Virginia’s Northern Neck.  As soon as boxes were unpacked, she volunteered as a docent at the local history museum.  Upon our first visit to their new home she presented us with a genealogical mystery to solve.  Why is there so little information about the Hackney family and their castle?

The Information sheet at the museum states: “The Edmonds and Eubanks families owned the land …in 1892 it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Dobson.” Upon Mr. Dobson’s death, the widow married Captain A. S. Hackney in 1901. 

A.S. Hackney was born in 1846, the second son of Joseph and Mariam Scull Hackney.  His full name was Armour Scull Hackney.  The middle name, Scull, was found on a public family tree so it hasn’t been confirmed but it seems reasonable.  His older brother was Mahlon, his two sisters were Almeda and Rejoice and the last child in the family was Clark.  Joseph’s occupation is listed on the census as seaman or bayman.  The family lived in the Egg Harbor Township of Atlantic County, New Jersey, near Atlantic City.

A.S. Hackney operated a sailing vessel transporting lumber from Virginia to Baltimore, and cargo back to Kilmarnock. 

Local history states it was Armour who built the “castle” out of wood he brought on his ship.  It is also rumored that the building was never finished inside, though Armour’s son, Harry and his wife Lela McKenney Hackney lived in the castle a short time and their daughter, Christina was born there.

Hard times fell on the family. The castle was claimed by the bank, eventually torn down and the lumber used elsewhere.

We are searching for additional information on the Hackney Castle as well as why Armour S. Hackney is not found on any census after the New Jersey state census of 1885 until his death 24 January 1925.

We have ordered an obituary search from the local New Jersey library, so maybe the mystery of what Armour was doing the last forty years of his life will be solved. Our guess is he lived on this boat.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pay It Forward

On 28 December 2013 Dick Eastman wrote a second article about the Fulton History website – the go-to site for those of us researching New York State ancestors. I have had this site bookmarked in my favorites for years and use it as frequently as Ancestry or FamilySearch.

In the article Mr. Eastman states that Mr. Tryniski, the site’s owner, has grown his collection of newspaper pages from 10,258,000 in 2009 when Mr. Eastman’s first article appeared to 26,108,000 as of Dec. 28. The site now also features newspapers from New Jersey, Connecticut, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

The site is free, and according to Mr. Eastman’s article, has almost four times more articles online than the Library of Congress “Chronicling America” collection and without costing taxpayers a dime!  Mr. Tryniski is paying it forward big time.

This article reminded me of a plea I made early on.  When we developed the 1890 Census for Newtown, Connecticut, I thought if only a couple of people in every locality would develop a 1890 Census substitute, it would open a window into that critical twenty year period in our ancestors’ lives.  That information can be found with school records, grand lists, tax rolls, etc.  Another project would be to transcribe one historic record or ledger to be posted online. What a nice way to pay it forward. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Nunn Family - Success

The dawn of the new year brought much success. Yesterday I connected with two of the grandchildren of Elizabeth Nunn Siebert. They were delightful to talk with and I hope to be able to meet them in person sometime soon. 

They filled me in on the lives of my grandfather Harry Nunn's siblings. They told me they referred to my grandfather as "Uncle Honey," and I told them he was "Pop" to us.  

Probably the most important item I learned was that Elizabeth never remarried after her husband, Louis, died.  I had mistakenly thought she married Fritz Piepenburg and moved to New Jersey.  Not so. Elizabeth died in 1947 at the tender age of 60 from pneumonia during a hospital stay and is buried in a cemetery in Queens, New York. 

I was given the contact info for another family member who has a lot of information and I anxiously await a note in return.

Today will find me working on my Nunn genealogy and running off a copy to send to my new found cousins.  I think they will be fascinated by the story of Elizabeth's suing her neighbor for the $300 (they didn't know about that), as well as the photos of St. Joseph's Home and the admission and discharge papers of the Out-Door Poor for these aunts and uncles they so loved.  

Needless to say it was a very good day. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Now that I have posted my modest genealogy goals for 2014, in the light of a new year I face the harsh reality of those mysteries and stubborn brick walls that continue to haunt me.  At the top of the list is the Nunn family.

Of German descent Joseph and Catherina Kurz Nunn had ten children. With the parents both gone by June 1900, all but one of the children were placed in St. Joseph’s Home, Peekskill, NY.  It remains a mystery as to the adult lives of my grandfather’s siblings, Emma Nunn Dorn, Emilie, Joseph, Katie and George, and last but not least the eldest child, Elizabeth Nunn Siebert and descendents of her oldest child, Regina Siebert Eberhard. Followers may remember (or maybe not) that three years ago a comment was made on my blog from Martha Eberhard, wife of Gerard, one of Regina’s sons. I was thrilled. I immediately responded, but never heard another word and had no other way to contact her.  From an emotional high, as time passed with no word, I was devastated.  I don’t know what happened, though I suspect some family crisis intervened, or the family does not want to be found. If I could have 30 minutes with one person from history, it would be with Elizabeth Nunn Seibert. She holds the key to what happened to this family. Her story is amazing.

Of Irish descent are the Conlons and Doyles.  They, too, are a difficult bunch, living in a small Manhattan apartment with any number of “cousins” moving in and out.  Patrick and Maggie Conlon Doyle had six children, only two that lived.  My grandmother was one, but what happened to her sister Winnie? I never heard her mention a sister.

I have ignored my Wortman family line over the past several years.  It is time to focus on that line again.

So, my modest to-do list for 2014 isn’t so very modest at all. I have a lot of work to do. I had better get at it.