Friday, December 1, 2017

How Great Thou Art By CB Taylor Kinsella

How Great Thou Art By CB Taylor Kinsella

Aunt CB Taylor Kinsella

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy pow’r throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!

This hymn always brings me to tears! There’s a history here! In 1976, my sister Esther’s death, the suddenness of it, the empty space she left----and her funeral.

Her husband, Dick Lochner, remembered how excited she’d been at a recent wedding they’d attended, to hear this hymn. She had been thrilled by the girl’s voice. Thus, he called the singer and asked her to sing it at the funeral. It was glorious.

Esther Taylor Lochner

Then, the very next day, my sister Doris’ son, Charlie, was being married. Bereft as we were, we still all felt that we should attend to support Doris. Esther would have been the first to insist we do so. 

Thus, we arrived at the church in Lockport, bringing along a few extra cousins (Gladys and Sylva) who had come for Esther’s service. It was a lovely wedding, the bride beautiful, the groom handsome and all was serene when a lady stood to sing. She quietly started and poured forth “How Great Thou Art”. Just as quietly, we all folded! Tears flowed and we loitered as people left the church, trying to get ourselves composed and to give Dick, who had come with us, in family solidarity, a chance to regain his calm. 

Charlie and Mary Hawkes

Yes, we all attended the reception. Did we dance? That’s lost in my memory but we did turn a happy face to Charlie and Mary that I know.

Several years later, I drove a part of Chris’ eighth grade class to a school excursion. One parent was a funeral director and we were to see his funeral home as an introduction to understanding grief. All was low key and serious until he turned on the music to explain its part in the service. Softly came “How Great Thou Art”. I had to leave the room.

A beautiful hymn! I love to sing it! Great verses and tune and such memories it holds. It encompasses all sides of life.

For another rendition of Esther’s funeral and Charlie and Mary’s wedding, see our blog story by Pat Kinsella Herdeg called ‘The Taylor Cheer, Or Why I Blog’ written almost five years ago:


Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy Veteran’s Day, Daniel Mott---Civil War Soldier; Another Letter Found! By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

We have written about my great great great uncle Daniel Mott several times;

---Daniel Mott, Missing in Action during the Civil War by Pat Kinsella Herdeg  (

---Daniel Mott in the Civil War--One of his Last Written Letters By Pat Kinsella Herdeg (

Daniel Mott died fighting in the Civil War. Younger brother of our Diadamia Mott, who married William Youngs and whose daughter Kate married Byron Baker, Daniel was a farmer in Virgil, NY.

He enlisted in the 76th NY Regiment, and by all accounts went missing in action on August 28th, 1862 during the Battle of Brawner’s Farm, in the Second Battle of Bull Run, also known as the Second Manassas.

Earlier this summer, another letter written by our Daniel was found, thanks to this blogsite! I was contacted by Kenneth Higham, who had a letter written by Daniel to his sister Sarah Jane, handed down to him through his grandmother. He graciously sent me a copy of Daniel’s letter. Written six months before his death, it is heartbreaking, on many levels.

 Sarah Jane Mott--MUCH older than when she received this letter as a 25 year old!

                                                                   Camp Casey, Meridian Hill
                                                          February 23rd, 1862

To Sarah J. Mott
Dear Sister,

Once more I seat myself to pen a few lines to let you know that I am enjoying tolerable good health hoping this will find you all well. I was on guard last night and it was very rainy so you must not expect much news in this note for I am very sleepy and do not feel much like writing.

William B. Potter one of our Co died last Wednesday the 19th by taking too much morphine. He had been complaining some time with a severe cold and could not sleep much nights. Last Tuesday night he went to the Dr to see if he could not get something to make him sleep better. The Dr. gave him such a large dose of morphine that he went to sleep and slept that sleep that knows no waking. He died the next day at 3 o clock PM and Friday his uncle Chancey Potter in our CO also started with the corpse for Taylor, Cortland County where his friends live. He was 22 years old and leaves a young widow that he married since he enlisted to mourn his loss. If it should be my lot to fall a prey with disease, it would be my desire to be sent home to repose on my native soil.

There are a great many sick in the regt caused by catching hard colds when we first camped out in tents. I caught a very severe cold at first but have nearly got over it.

I think the hardest fighting we’ll have to do will be against disease for the union troops have been so victorious of late in taking fort after fort and have so completely routed the rebels in so many places that I think they will soon get all they want and more too, and will lay down their arms and sue for peace and I should not be surprised if those of us that live would spend the 4 of July at home.

I will name the letters that I have wrote since we have been here and those that I have rec.

I rec a letter from Nancy and ans one from Cate and ans it and sent it enclosed in one that I wrote to Sam, one from Minor and Emeline and ans them. I have also rec two from Billy (Lilly??) have not ans the last one but will shortly then I have wrote Dama one.

I have been particular so if any have missed you may know it. It is about time that I rec answer to those letters as it is some time since I wrote them.
Now Sal (Pal??) when you rec this letter, I want you to answer it right away for I wrote you a letter when at Albany that I have never rec an ans to.

Write most anything and be sure and write how Father and Mother, and Grandmother’s health is. I have not lost your likeness yet. Be sure and write soon.

Direct to Camp Casey Co of 76th Regt. NY, S.V. Washington, DC.

Goodby for the present.  My love to you all. This from your Soldier Brother,

                                                                   Daniel Mott

Sarah Jane, Daniel’s sister, was two years younger than Daniel, and notice that it is her picture that he carries with him into battle. Our Diadamia—my great great grandmother—or ‘Dama’ is only three years older, so Sarah Jane and Diadamia are the two closest in age to their brother.

Daniel is very interested in who is writing letters to him and who still needs to write more. We saw this in Arthur Borthwick’s Civil War journals also;

Arthur Austin Borthwick Diaries—Life in Freetown NY and during the Civil War By Pat Kinsella Herdeg, (

In his diaries, Arthur kept careful count of how many letters he sent to each family member, and how many letters they in return sent to him. So, it seems likely that receiving mail from home was a very important part of the Civil War soldier’s life in the field.

When Daniel writes: ‘I think the hardest fighting we’ll have to do will be against disease’, it is hard to read as we know the end of this story, and the Union soldiers will not be home by the 4th of July. In fact, they fight for another three years.

Daniel begins the letter by telling his little sister about the death of a fellow soldier in camp. William Potter’s body is taken home to New York State by his uncle. Hardest of all to read is what he pens at the end of that paragraph: ‘If it should be my lot to fall a prey with disease, it would be my desire to be sent home to repose on my native soil.’

As I ended the last part of the blog story on Daniel Mott who was MIA at the Second Manassas:

“Our Daniel is most likely buried in Arlington under the Tomb of the Unknown of the Civil War. This granite tomb, shaped like a casket, holds the remains of 2,111 Civil War soldiers, most of them from the Bull Run Battlefields.

So, when you next visit Arlington Cemetery, stop in at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watch the changing of the guard, but then, search out the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers of the Civil War and stop and think of our Daniel.”

Our Daniel never did get to ‘repose on his native soil’. Today, we thank him and all of the veterans who so proudly and bravely have defended our great country. We owe them all a tremendous debt.

Thank you.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Reading the Tea Leaves by CB Taylor Kinsella

 Kate Youngs Baker
Grandma Baker (Kate Youngs Baker) was our fortune teller! I have no idea how many cups of green tea or black, always made with loose tea and boiled ‘too hell and back’ as Adin used to say, in an old upright enamel teapot, we drank with her. She’d pour the boiling drink into cups, usually after our meal, settle herself into her rocking chair with us all squatting around her, and when it was safe to drink, we’d sip with her.

Always, when there was about a teaspoon of liquid left, the ritual began. We’d carefully swirl the tea around to distribute the grounds, then, in one swallow, drink it up and carefully, so as not to disturb the pattern, hand the cup to Grandma.

She’d turn it gently around in her gnarled hands, trying to get the best perspective and then she’d begin.

A Young Aunt CB Waiting to Have Her Tea Leaves Read?

A long dark piece of tea grounds? There’s a tall, dark, man in your future (shivers up the girls’ spines).

Several leaves clumped together? A reunion or a celebration is coming your way.
Tea leaves pointing to the cup’s edge meant a trip—sooner or later was determined by where in the sphere the leaves were.

Meet a stranger? The leaves foretold that too as well as the arrival of a letter soon. Now, as adults, receiving a letter may not be such a big deal but for a kid—I’d wait for days for the promised epistle.

I believe Grandma’s tea fortunes implicitly. I can still remember the impatience with which I waited for my ‘turn’!

Aunt Ruth Maney holding Richard Maney, Michael Maney in front, Ethel Baker Taylor next to Aunt Ruth, Her mother Kate next to her, Lucille Kinsella, then Barb Taylor, Harold Taylor and Adin Baker.

As I drink my green tea today, Grandma is always with me and I always check my ‘fortune’.