Thursday, January 31, 2019

At the Library – #52 Ancestors

My favorite “At the Library” story is about my experience at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  It was many years ago. I was a baby genealogist. My husband was working at a conference in and I’d joined him for a few days. We had an amazing room that looked out to the mountains in the relatively new Grand American five star hotel. While hubby worked, I headed right to the Family History Library. The morning went by quickly as I researched their vast microfilm collection. Hubby showed up around 3:00 to do his research. My head was about to burst and my eyes were exhausted. I told him I was done. I couldn’t look at another thing. I was going downstairs and he could find me there when he was through.

I walked downstairs and browsed through the stacks of books located there. My eye fell upon one. Could it be? Could it be here in Utah? The book was The History of the Town of Catherine by Mary Louise Catlin Cleaver. I pulled the book from the shelf and headed to the nearest table. I wasn’t so tired after all. My adrenaline was flowing again. I pulled my legal pad and pen out, ready to take notes. The Cleaver book was filled with my Agard ancestors who were listed as the early settlers of Catherine, New York.

In my Agard monograph I have a set-aside explanation of the area. It reads: The town of Catherine was originally called Johnson’s Settlement, named for Robert C. Johnson of New York City who purchased 10,725 acres in this area of Upstate New York.  In the center of the crossroads stood a post, not unlike the liberty pole that stands in the middle of State Route 25 and Route 6 in Newtown, Connecticut. The town was divided into northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest sections. Interestingly, the lot in the southeast corner of the town was purchased by Job Lattin, Jr. of Newtown, Connecticut. In fact, many early settlers arrived from Connecticut since this area of Upstate New York was known for its fertile land and abundant orchards.

The Town of Catherine was organized by act of legislature on 9 March 1798. John Mitchell is listed as the first bona fide settler; Eaton Agard is listed as one of the early settlers. The Methodist Episcopal Church in Catherine was organized in 1805; one of the first trustees is Samuel Agard. The Catherine Library Association was organized 1 April 1817 and Samuel Agard again listed as a first trustee. The first post office was established in 1816.

When my husband found me a couple hours later, he said, “I thought you were tired and done for the day.”

“Look what I found,” I replied, showing him the Cleaver book. “I hit a goldmine of information.”

There were so many connections with this family. We were living in Newtown, CT at the time. Litchfield, Connecticut, where the sons of John the Younger Agard had moved, was less than an hour north. I felt like our family had come full circle.


  1. What a story! How fortunate you happened to notice that Cleaver book. Key to a new research doorway!

  2. That book is now online so we have it at our fingertips!