Friday, August 19, 2022

Oral Histories

Years ago when I recorded and transcribed my mother's (Carol Agard Nunn) oral history, I also asked her to do an oral history of our family restaurant, Taughannock Farms Inn. That history was recently shared with the new owners of the Inn and I am now seeing bits of Mom's history on their menus. That pleases me a lot! At the time I transcribed Taughannock Farms Inn, the Early Years, I contacted Carol Kammen who did the history articles for the Ithaca Journal and suggested that other local businesses record their history before it's lost. Carol ran with the idea and published an article about the importance of documenting the mom and pop businesses in Ithaca. I don't know if anyone followed up on that suggestion. In that vein, over the last two years I've worked with Monica Wilkinson Kelly of the Edith B. Ford Library in Ovid, New York, transcribing 39 oral histories of the craft beverage businesses between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Monica has posted these interviews on the New York Heritage website:!p16694coll112/searchterm/Viticulturists/field/subjec/mode/all/conn/and In that site, click on Collections, Oral Histories, and then Memory Project, Viticulturists. There will be a list of about 27 interviews with the transcript and video taken at the time of the interview. Each one is so different and so interesting. On the left of the screen you will see other sections. Click on those to get more of the wineries and breweries that were interviewed. And then, get to the Finger Lakes and visit these amazing, award-winning wineries.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Casper Joseph Nunn and Catherine Kurtz

I've been away from genealogy research for a while - writing mysteries does that. So, I was delighted to see all the new information on Family Search relating to my German great-grandparents, Casper Joseph Nunn and Catherine (Kurtz) Nunn. New information that I didn't have is that Casper Joseph (he went by Joseph) was listed as a farmer on the ship manifest. When he arrived in New York City on 7 August 1882 he found work as a harnessmaker. Other new information was more exact information as to where he originated in Germany - Heidenfeld, Rothlein, Schweinfurt, Bavaria, which is in Lower Franconia. I also learned that he is buried in St. Michael's Cemetery, plus his death cert number. My great-grandmother, Catherine Kurtz, born in Lauf, Baden, Germany, arrived in New York City 12 May 1881. With her was Dorthea Kurtz. I don't know if this is her sister or cousin. Further research has to be done to learn more about Catherine and Dorthea. I will attend the Manatee Genealogical Society's German SIG this Wednesday to get more hints on how to trace back these family members.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Deadly Secrets - My newest mystery

I’m excited and relieved that my fourth Caitlyn Jamison mystery is published. I began writing this book in March 2020 when the Novel Coronavirus copied/stole the plot for a suspense I’d been working on since December 2019. When I realized that no one would read what I’d developed, or would think I just copied the headlines, I put that book aside and started Caitlyn’s next adventure. It is this venture that has kept me from doing any in-depth genealogy research. I enjoy researching these books. I get to know a new geographic area, its trials and tribulations, and learn about new cultural norms. I wanted to do something different in this book. To that end I decided to have Caitlyn arriving in the Adirondacks. She is visiting the idyllic town of Pont-Aven, an artists’ enclave that welcomes all creative arts. A conference center is built to accommodate groups of all artistic endeavors. Caitlyn immediately falls in love with the town. But, on the day of her arrival, a young male librarian is attacked. And, against the warning of local law enforcement, Caitlyn decides to do her own investigation to find out who attacked the librarian. That young man is also an environmentalist and leading the protests against a commercial development planned for the town green that would ruin the town. Ethan is in Virginia working at his new position as the Law Enforcement Liaison Officer for the State of Virginia. That position is under the umbrella of the FBI. He learns about an item missing from the Library of Congress’s Packard Campus, and then has cases of cybercrime of valuable art and antiquities. Caitlyn’s investigation takes a turn when a murder is committed in the small town. She is challenged, but determined to solve these cases without Ethan’s help. This book has a lot going on between the plot lines and the characters—a great book discussion option.

Friday, May 20, 2022

St. Joseph's Home - Searching Miguel Rivera, Moses and Harry Burnett

I was asked to post this by researcher: “I am trying to find a Miguel Rivera, Moses and Harry Burnett that were child residents from about 1955 to 1960 at St. Joseph's. They were about 8 to 13 years old at the time. I am trying to connect them with another resident that is looking for them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.” I advised Mbock to contact the Field Library in Peekskill, NY as the reference librarian there would have the latest information on access to the St. Joseph Home’s records.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Abraham Brown of Westchester County, NY, Scranton, PA, and Newfield, NY

My hubby finished a 94 page monograph on his Abraham Brown line early morning on January 24, 2021. A couple of hours later, while working out on his Nordic Track, hubby collapsed and was gone. My life changing event. We'd been married 52 years. One of the things I knew I had to do was to finish the monograph that he'd worked so hard on for years. The 94 pages is only the body of the document. There is also an appendix of all the obituaries and society notes. It has taken me a few months to be able to concentrate enough to tackle this project. I'm doing that now. When I finish indexing, the documents will be printed, bound, and sent to the usual respositoties. In the meantime, I thought I would share some of Ray's writing on this family through this blog. Abraham Brown was born in Westchester County, NY in 1772 before moving to the Scranton, PA area. From there his family moved north and settled in Newfield, New York. Here is an excerpt from that chapter. According to his sons, Abraham came north by horse and stone boat in 1809. He surely followed the Susquehanna River and perhaps took the Chemung River to what is now Waverly or perhaps Elmira, NY, before following the valley trails north towards Cayuga Lake. Land records indicate he first settled in the Town of Lansing but soon moved to what is now the Town of Newfield and was one of the first families to settle there. Their last two children, Adonirum and Holden Tripp, were born in New York and Abraham and Susannah remained in Newfield the rest of their lives. Running southwest from today’s village of Newfield, NYS Route 13 goes to Elmira through a valley locally known as Poney Hollow. The valley was originally called Saponey Hollow in reference to the Saponey Indians, members of the Iroquois confederation. By the mid-1800’s the valley was heavily inhabited with descendants of Abraham and Susannah Brown. Abraham’s homestead was located on what is now known as Sebring Road, just south of the intersection with Test Road . The barn still stands on the eastern side of the road and, according to Marc Whitney, who grew up in the Cape Cod style house across from the barn, the foundation stones from the original house are incorporated in the basement . According to the Agricultural Census of 1850, Abraham Brown’s farm consisted of 160 A., of which 70 A. were considered improved. His farm was typical of family farms of that time. He raised a variety of animals including milk cows and sheep and grew wheat, rye, oats, buckwheat and Indian corn. The Cash Value of the farm in 1850 was $7,000. Although an active farmer, Abraham Brown also established and managed a hotel located along the highway running between Ithaca and Elmira. Pictured below, the hotel was apparently quite successful. As noted in The Landmarks of Tompkins County, his youngest son Holden Tripp Brown said his father kept a hotel for thirty years. “His first hotel was a log house, but soon he built a frame house, and had a large patronage, often having twenty teams and their occupants to provide for at once.” The building is now a private residence located at the intersection of Sebring Road and NYS Route 13. Ray left organized files on this family, so if there are anyone researching this line and needs help, between Ray's paper files, and digital files, I should be able to answer.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Brevard Family of Colonial Maryland

Arlene Bravard Dukanaukas has just published a family history: “The Brevard Family of Colonial Maryland, And Allied Families of Alexander, Campbell, Chambers, Culbertson, Dale, Davis, Faris, Fassitt, Hudson, Jetton, McKnitt, Pearce, Taylor, Wallace, and Others.” The book is available on Amazon with the option to “Look inside.” This 214 page book is well-researched, with complete citations, and detailed table of contents. For anyone with Maryland ancestors, this book is a must to have in your personal research library. Check it out on

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Gift of a Lifetime – Journaling and Life Stories

On the left is one of many of my great-grandmother Jessie (Tucker) Agard's journals kept from 1944 to almost her death in 1973 at the age of 97. In the midde is a composition notebook, a perfect size and price for journaling. On the right is what I use for my daily journal. In a presentation given several years ago historian David McCullough said, “If you want to be remembered, keep a journal.” As genealogists/family historians, that advice hit home. We also learned from genealogy that writing helps you make sense of things. Not everyone is a family historian, so, in preparing a presentation on journaling, I anticipated the question why. Why do this? My answer is: Because no one has experienced what you have, has felt what you have felt. No one has your perspective on life, on events. We are living through historic times. How did you manage? Are managing? What did you do differently? How did you react during the shut downs? Did you buy lots of toilet paper? Flour? Vinegar? How did you feel about the protests, the election? Even if no one else ever sees what you write in your journal, it will help you make sense of things. It can bring focus and clarity to your life. Be sure to include the good things, especially the good things that came as a result of the pandemic. The air is a bit cleaner, traffic better, more families making meals at home and eating dinner together (big positive). Creatively blossomed as we figured out ways to stay connected, to accomplish things in a different way. Journaling is a written record of your thoughts, feelings, observations. It can be a short sentence, long paragraphs, or bullet points. It’s whatever you want it to be. There are no rules. No right or wrong way. It’s a way of documenting your life and a way to self-discovery. Have you ever kept a nature journal? Tracking birds, flowers, what works in your vegetable garden year to year and what you’d like to do different next year? A travel journal of trips you’ve taken. My sister-in-law keeps a composition notebook with books she’s read and notes on each in a Reading Journal. I keep a Writers Journal for plot and character ideas, to track progress, and book publishing format specifications. Day to day, my husband and I keep what I call a Daily Journal. Except for my writer’s journal, my daily journal is all of the above. I write down what’d I accomplished the day before, what I want to accomplish that day, family news, sometimes national news, happy events as well as sad. Opinions, books I’m reading, even what we’re having for dinner! This year I wrote about what I planted in my Grow Box. A journal can be anything you want it to be. Your journal can be hand written or digital. If hand written, choose a notebook that feels good to you – they can range in price from $1.00 for a composition book to whatever you want to pay. I spend $12.00 - $14.00 on a journal. I want a certain type, one that feels good in my hands and an extra fine tip black pen. Find a time of day that’s best for you to write. Find a best place to write. Keep your journal in a safe place. Not on the kitchen table where it can be picked up by anyone. These are your personal thoughts. Memoir Writing I started writing memoirs in the early 2000s after attending a morning session at our local library. From that, a small group formed and we met every month for the next few years. I completed my life stories from birth to marriage and titled them, “Growing up in Willow Creek.” Thanks to the C.H. Booth Library in Newtown, CT, who paid for my memoir book to be bound. My process for that first book was to think of a topic like stories about my love of horses, and how that was satisfied; family Thanksgivings and Christmas; Swimming across Cayuga Lake at the age of twelve; what it was like being the child of snowbirds, attending a two-room schoolhouse. All these stories influenced who I am today. And, I hope, will provide insight for my children and grandchildren. In a presentation at a Naugatuck Genealogical Society meeting, I learned the Memory Drifting Technique. This is a great aid to help mine those elusive (long forgotten) memories. And I got surprising results. With our paper/pencil in hand, we were asked to pick a decade. I chose 1960-1970. Next, list a couple significant events that happened during that decade. I listed high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, Chicago, NY. We were asked to choose ONE of those and list issues. I chose Chicago, so my issues were adjustment to city living, job, California trip, starting over. Still using Chicago as my significant event, next list were Memories. I wrote down Big City, no friends, pollution. The last list was called Deeper memories. And this is when I remembered the good things about Chicago: Brookfield Zoo close by, Libby Foods where my husband worked, Berghoff German Restaurant, day trips to Holland, MI for the Tulip Festival, day trips to Wisconsin. I was surprised at the memories that popped up as I drilled down into our life in Chicago. Start your memoir with mini-stories. You won’t remember every detail at first. As you write then let it sit, more memories will come. And try the Memory Drifting Technique. A timeline can be helpful to bring forward memories. Write about your parents/grandparents Your children Religion Holidays Family traditions Pets Jobs Military service Courtship/marriage First home Volunteer positions you’ve held – the best and worst Were there turning points in your life? Things to help jar your memory: Photographs Yearbooks Scrapbooks Letters Talk with family and friends Journals/diaries Write down the important people in your life – how did they make a difference?