Monday, March 30, 2009

E. Phyllis Howland (Coleman/Mudge), By Dawn (Coleman) Walker

Happy Birthday!!
MARCH 30, 1924 - JULY 8 1998

Our mommma, Philly, had lots of husbands in between, but we don't have time for a whole book. God love her, she just didn't seem to attract good husband material. Such a mix of tender and loving, raising hell for shock reactions and truly close to many in her family is a good description of my mother.

There are so many things that made her special. When we were young going to grandma Lil's store, Aunt Gladys's and Uncle Lester's, Aunt Sylva's and Uncle Freddie's, Aunt Leona's and Uncle Neil's, and even Great Aunt Ethel's and Uncle Lloyd's were times that remain in my memories. Mom and the other adults talked with us; we sang around the piano or organ, we watched them play cards and tried to listen in on some of the adult conversations. Most of us girls would go to the bathroom with Mom and one of the other Aunts to be sure we did not miss any part of whatever they were talking about at the time.

When we were preteens, Mom would get on the floor with us and exercise. We would stand on the foot stool and go-go dance while Mom and Dad watched/clapped. Sometimes they would dance around while singing bicycle built for two and other songs from their era. One of her favorites that she used to sing with Auntie Dot (Cousin Doris) was "Little Mary Bliss, went outside to pick some flowers. She knelt down in the grass, clear up to her aaankle bowers”.
She loved to cook and made things from all ethnic groups; Italian, Polish, Slovack, American, you name it she could cook it. One year she made gingerbread men. After they were cooled and decorated, she picked one up, started chasing us girls through the house saying run gingerbread boy, run, run. It was so much fun.

I remember a time when Auntie Dot and Uncle Buddy Hawkes came to spend the night. They were laughing, drinking, and talking most of the night. The next morning to our shock, what do we see but Mom standing on the back porch, arms outstretched naked as can be, saying "Good morning world! Isn't this a wonderful day?"

She loved the picnics, reunions and all the times spent with family. She spoke a lot about the cousin times at the farm. These she described to me as times with all the Taylors talking and laughing and sharing stories. She told me that Arnon was close to Leona etc. because of the age group and living proximities. But all liked to keep in touch. CB is and has been one of the most hard working, keep it together family members, especially after Grandma Lil died.

After Mom learned to drive, she would come home from work at midnight and tell us girls to grab our blankets and pillows, "We have to go see Momma and Brother." Up to the farm we'd go in the middle of the night. We'd walk in, get hugs from Grandma and then go lie down on the floor with our blankets, while Mom spent time with Grandma. The next day we would spend time with Grandma and Wendell. Aunt Glady would either come up to be with us, or we would go out together to picnic or pick berries.

It was so exciting to my Mother that her sister Gladys would come to the house while in labor for a few of her children, before going to the hospital. Mom would brag that it wasn't time for Gladys until her water broke in our house and the baby was near.

When Aunt Glady was so ill with ALS, each time I spoke with Mom on the phone, she would cry and tell me that she prayed so hard that GOD would take her sister home as soon as possible. She told Gladys how she felt. I've never seen my mother so sad. After Aunt Glady died Mom spoke of her going also. In less than a year's time Mom also died.

My mother was witty and bright, intelligent and complex, had such a sense of humor; she was warm and sensitive and could be vulgar and shocking .She taught us so much about life. Now that I am grown up (in my late 50's), I realize that even the things that I thought were so awful at the time, when I was younger, I would not change. All is for a reason. I have been so blessed to come from a family with the beauty of a wonderful quilt; the darker hues make the flowers and colors so much more beautiful. I loved my mother with all my heart!

Picture One: Grand-daughter Kelley Renee & Phyllis, 1996
Picture Two: Great-Grandson Anthony & Phyllis,1996
Picture Three: Great-Granddaughter Renee & Phyllis,1996

E. Phyllis Howland (Coleman/Mudge), By Dawn (Coleman) Walker

Happy Birthday! Part Two:
Picture One: Phyllis age 16
Picture Two: Robert Coleman & Phyllis,1950
Picture Three: Leona, Gladys, Grandma Lil, Syliva, Phyllis- 1977

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beth Kinsella Sakanishi’s Birthday, Alaska, and the Iditarod

The 37th running of the Iditarod just finished in Alaska. Lance Mackey passed the burled arch in Nome first, for the third time in a row, a very rare feat. And, he did it with huge blizzards keeping most competitors hunkered down to wait out the storms, as winds drove the temperatures down to fifty below zero.

We’ve been following this year’s Iditarod since watching a television special highlighting last year’s race, a fierce showdown between Jeff King (if you take him at his own words, a very arrogant fellow) and Lance (son of a past winner, with sled dog racing in his blood).

And, with Beth’s birthday here, I dug up some of her writings on Alaska to celebrate that great 49th state, and her special day, as we never get to share birthday cakes, short of hopping a flight to Japan.

So, as you eat a piece of cake for Betka, take some time and read what she wrote twenty years past during a visit with Judy Taylor, Jim Alberts and baby Mallory in Fairbanks (Turn back to Birthday Kids in February for a current picture of ‘baby Mal’):

"We met Mary Shields on our way back down the river. A red-cheeked, merry-eyed woman, she was waiting to give us a dogsledding demonstration. Mary had been the first woman to complete the Iditarod Race -- an incredible 1,200 mile long route following the trail taken in 1925 when a famous team of sled dog mushers relayed 300,000 unites of lifesaving diphtheria serum to epidemic-threatened Nome. Begun in 1973, the second year the race was held Mary Shields and another woman were the only intrepid females to attempt the race and not a few men scoffed at the idea of their even trying to finish.

With a part black Labrador lead dog named Cabbage, Mary crossed over the finish line in Nome at 4 o’clock in the morning. No one was sleeping through her arrival, though. The women of Nome, bundled in parkas, stretched in front of the finish line holding a banner over their heads which read, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”
Mary was witty and informal. As she told us these and other stories, the magic of dog sledding came alive. Her eloquence in describing the beauty of sledding, almost flying, over snow lit by a full moon with only the wind and the dogs for company, left one longing for the experience.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
‘Home’ is not a house to Alaskans, the wilderness is. I have a wonderful quotation in my journal that I’ve saved because it seemed to describe the Irish so well. It is originally about the Alaskans, however, and now I realize its meaning more fully: “Alaskans are outgoing and yet finally reserved, shielding a secret self that finds its communion in nature, not humankind.”
I find echoes of myself in those words, and elsewhere in Alaska. I wonder if all travelers find bits of themselves in whatever lands they fall in love with, or is it only me -- always secretly looking for that place I can feel comfortable in? Not only the people’s dependence on Nature to refresh them as water from a well, but the pace seemed to fit me here. That ‘Why do today what can be easily done tomorrow or even next week,” view of the world that pulls a frustrated sigh from those who think in “lower 48 time”.
The mist was heavy so we didn’t see Denali, but the scenery all along the way was so beautiful that regret had no place. Mallory was an absolute peach for an eighteen-month -old on such a long ride. I don’t know what she thought about the whole affair but Judy, Jim and I were delighted when, on the way back, we saw moose and caribou. A mother moose and her two calves were munching away to our left as we turned a corner. They were too far for a leisurely look but the caribou we saw next were closer. Beautiful animals, they had the lithe grace of deer, yet a compelling strength evident in their more powerful lines.
Leaving Denali, we headed back to Fairbanks on Alaska’s main (and only) highway. The two-hour ride was a time for memory-weaving. Broken only occasionally by talk (we were all happily tired) and more seldom by the radio, I let the cottage associations drift in: Algonquin first, of course. Moose and wolves not seen but heard, wilderness, forests.

Sifting through these thoughts were earlier ones. Tim, Pat, Tom and I are up the cottage playing inside for once. Occasionally our conversation, concentration, is broken by the slam of the screen door: mom going out to get pump water, Dad taking Jim and Chris for a canoe ride. I’m sitting in a huge cardboard box surrounded by layer after layer of ‘Field and Stream’ and ‘Outdoor Life’. My job is to pick one issue out and hand it to the reader. It is Pat this time -- Pat who has inherited the storyteller voice from both Mom and Dad. While Tim diligently attempts to untie all of the thousand and one red-yarned knots studding the bedspread, we all listen, utterly captivated, to Pat reading ‘This happened to me’ from every issue of ‘Outdoor Life’. Unashamedly melodramatic and gruesome, with their tales of grizzly maulings and jaguar attacks, the stories held us at 8,9, 11 and 13, easily spellbound. Like ghost stories around the bonfire, those stories frightened and intrigued.
Alaska itself can be haunting. There is a quietness so complete, so eerie to city ears, it feels like watching a silent movie, at times. Even the relatively rural summers at Otty are full of noise. There is a spirit to this place that feels like a held breath, a caught voice, a whisper stilled."

Picture One: Beth, 2846 in Rochester, 1981
Picture Two: Northern Lights in Alaska
Picture Three: Mary Shields and her dogs
Picture Four: Wonder Lake in Denali, Alaska

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Diadamia Mott Youngs and Kate Youngs Baker--March Girls!

March is a great month for birthdays—Scroll back and look at those beautiful birthday kids for this month. And, oh yes, Happy Birthday--yesterday--Ma!

March is also the Birthday month of Diadamia Mott Youngs and her daughter, Kate Youngs Baker. If I have it correctly, Diadamia is my great, great grandmother, and Kate, my great grandmother.

Diadamia Mott was born on March 10th, 1832. She was the eighth child out of thirteen, so we can guess that her early homelife was filled with children, babies and noise.

We know that Diadamia and William Youngs married in 1856 and first lived in a log cabin near Nanticoke, NY, just a few miles south of Center Lisle. All three of Diadamia’s children, including Kate, were born in this log cabin. After a few prosperous years, William built a more substantial house across the way, and here the family moved.

After William died in 1897--from tetanus acquired from trying to fix a barb wire fence in his back lot-- Damie, as she was called, moved in with her daughter Kate, and her son-in-law, Byron Baker, in Center Lisle. Damie often "visited around" among her cousins, nieces, friends, and Kate.

She was not with Kate and Byron when she died in 1922, as Kate’s house was all torn up at the time because Merle Barrows-- Nell Barrows son-- was putting electricity into their house and barn. So, what must have been a hectic but exciting time—house in shambles but ohh, to have electricity—became a even more hectic and grievous time for Kate when her mother died.

Kate Permelia (for her maternal grandmother) Youngs was born on March 2nd, 1864, and we do have more of a picture of Kate, including people who remember her!

I quote from my brother Jim’s book, ‘The Taylor Ancestor Tour’:

Kate was the neighborhood mid-wife, known for her hard work. She not only took care of all the cooking, cleaning, and housework but also the milk separation and cheese and butter-making (which she sold at her daughter Lil’s store in later years). Her only relaxation, like her mother-in-law before her, consisted of reading books or playing the piano (when she grew deaf she played so loud she could be heard down in Center Lisle). She baked her own bread and canned beef for meals. Her lemon sugar cookies were unsurpassed.

….After Byron died, Kate Youngs-Baker kept house for her bachelor son, Adin. As the years passed by she became very deaf and then blind. Still she kept house for Adin until she died, cooking and cleaning by feel.

She was a wonderful cook who baked bread every other day. She’d holler at Adin, “We gotta make bread” and, because of her poor eyesight, he’d get out all the stuff. She’d reach in for the flour and take out a handful and throw it on the board or in the bowl and continue in this fashion without any recipe. Just a pinch of this and a dash of that all by feel. The bread was fantastic.

She made cookies by feel also; raisin, caraway, molasses, but mostly vanilla. Back then a cookie was part of your meal…they looked like stovelids and were at least five inches across. “Nothing bashful about them, “ remembers Harold Taylor. “When you had a cookie you were lucky if you could finish it.” She piled the cookies on a cake stand in the center of the dining table under a cloth placed over it to keep the flies away.

Diadamia complained of poor health all of her life, yet lived to be ninety years old. Of her three children, Rosena died at age 26, but both Edwin and Kate lived into their nineties. Kate Youngs Baker, mother of Ethel, Adin, Ruth, and Lillian, died in Center Lisle, her two eldest beside her, at the age of 91.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Liz Lehmann’s movie, ‘Fury’ Wins Award, By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

This past January, Liz Lehmann flew out to the west coast for the prestigious San Diego Black Film Festival. Her film, ‘Fury’ was to be showcased, along with more than one hundred other films from around the country.

Liz, my sister-in-law, wife of Dan Kinsella, has been living and breathing this film for so many years, pouring her all into its every detail, both large and small. I was very excited for her, hoping that it would be noticed. It was.

As Sheila Rayam of the Rochester newspaper,” The Democrat and Chronicle” writes:
‘Some local actors and their producer lost their voices in San Diego recently, but it wasn't laryngitis that left them speechless.

The announcement that supernatural chiller Fury took Best Cutting Edge Film honors in the 2009 San Diego Black Film Festival choked their vocal cords.

"We couldn't believe our ears," recalls Liz.’

‘Fury’ is the story of a teenage band that plans its first concert in a haunted and abandoned building; two unexpected guests visit instead. As Liz’s Trillium Films website proclaims, ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman lynched’ and the thirty second trailer for the film concludes, ‘Not all ghosts are white.’

I love that Liz used Nick Tahou’s, a restaurant on West Main Street in Rochester that at one time was a freight station, as the filming site.

Liz had one site picked out, but it fell through.

As written in the Canadaigua Messenger Post by David Wheeler: “In desperation I was driving around town, I kept driving past Nick Tahou’s.” She noticed that the upper windows were blocked out. Once owner Alex Tahou took her upstairs, she knew this was the place.

“I thought I had died and gone to heaven,” she said. “It was big, it was dark, it was dirty; it looked like it had been abandoned for decades — complete with dead pigeons.”

Sounds perfect for a horror film!

Congratulations, Liz! Perhaps we can have a screening at the next family reunion, and keep us up to date on any new projects. To see Liz’s movie trailer for yourself, just go to:

To read the two newspaper articles referenced above, go to:

Picture One:
Liz and ‘Fury’ Team at San Diego Black Film Festival
Picture Two: Fury movie poster at San Diego Black Film Festival
Picture Three: Liz and team

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ancient Baker History – by Susan Kinsella

What do you think our family history was like long ago? I mean L-O-N-G ago, way back say . . . about 150,000 years? Believe it or not, we can trace the broad strokes of our family’s history that far back through DNA research.

A few years ago, I sent a sample of cells swabbed from the cheek inside my mouth to the Genographic Project at the National Geographic Society. This project is focused on recording the DNA from the world’s indigenous populations while they still represent pure lines of descent. Its purpose is to use laboratory tests and computer analysis to trace humans’ ancient migratory history. Funding for the project comes partly by charging the rest of us $100 to reveal whatever migratory information can be read from our own DNA.

While the brush strokes are broad, it’s surprising how much can be learned from this analysis! Already, it has dramatically revamped the ancient history of Ireland and clarified much about the impacts of prehistoric climate change on human populations.

Similarities In Family DNA

Anyone who follows medical or criminology discussions about DNA has heard that no two people have the same DNA pattern (except identical twins), since everyone receives half their DNA from their mother and half from their father, so there are always new twists and turns introduced. But, while this is correct, there is also an intriguing exception to this rule, resulting in two particular small pieces of our DNA molecules that remain the same throughout related groups of people. This is what genetic anthropologists follow.

It works somewhat like this: Group A moves to a particular area, and most of them remain there for generations, creating a “pool” of people with the “Group A” DNA similarity. Then some of the people with that pattern move on after a while and settle somewhere else. At some point, someone develops a slight mutation in their DNA segment, making all their subsequent descendants into “Group AB.” Now the people at the second site can be identified as connected to the first group, but also different. When some from this second group move on to a third place, and especially if another mutation develops and a “Group ABC” pattern is passed on to their descendents, anthropologists are able to connect the dots and even determine approximate eras when these changes happened. When they combine these travel patterns with the climate changes discernible from geology and cultural changes clear from archaeology, a story starts to emerge about how, and possible reasons why, our ancestors migrated from one place to another.

Among men, a subset of the Y chromosome is passed down unchanged from father to son for thousands of years except for occasional mutations within one or more of its genes. When those mutations occur, they then become an identifying pattern passed through to subsequent generations.

Among women, a segment called “mitochondrial DNA” is passed down from a mother to all of her children, but only her daughters pass it on again. This mitochondrial DNA remains essentially unchanged for thousands of years, with only the occasional, very rare mutations becoming markers that identify different groups that ultimately broke off in one direction or another.

This means that I have the exact same mitochondrial DNA pattern as Kate Youngs Baker had, and so do her daughters and their daughters and theirs. Any of us – Julie, Dorothy, Kathryn, Cindy’s daughter, Sylva, CB or any of the other women in the family directly descended through their mothers from Kate Baker – could have done the same test that I did and get the exact same results. So what did I learn?

Out Of Africa – A Grand Journey

Genetic anthropologists say that every person now alive on the planet can trace their maternal lineage back to one woman in eastern Africa who lived about 170,000 years ago. She was not the first human woman – Homo sapiens originated some 30,000 years before that in Africa – and she was not the only woman then, but rather the one whose lineage survived over all these thousands of years. So the Baker family’s story starts with her, as well.

The descendents of this “Mitochondrial Eve” populated Africa. Following the rare mutations indicates that first the population from which we descended moved to western Africa, where people with that specific early mutation are still most numerous. But then, about 50,000 years ago, the ice sheets covering much of northern Europe began to melt, creating a brief period when the parched Sahara changed to bountiful savanna. The genetic markers show that our nomadic ancestors followed this good weather and abundant game across the former desert barrier and into North Africa. Then, probably following the Nile River valley through Egypt, they eventually migrated across the Sinai Peninsula and out of Africa.

For thousands of years, our family lived in the Middle East on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea, probably interacting with the Neanderthals who also lived there at that time. This includes the geographic areas we now know as Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Then, about 30,000 years ago, they began to move north again, this time up through Turkey, around the Black Sea, over the Caucasus Mountains, and into Georgia and Russia. From there, they turned west towards what is now Europe.

This early time in Europe resulted in great innovations in tool-making. It is also when the Neanderthals died out, probably because the Cro-Magnons, our ancestors, were better able to communicate, create weapons, and compete for scarce resources. But then, after about 10,000 years, another ice age developed, locking much of the planet’s fresh water into the polar ice caps. The cold and drought made northern Europe so difficult for survival that our early ancestors had the good sense to wait out the 5,000 or so years of the Ice Age in warmer climates such as on the beaches in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Not that these times were entirely a Riviera holiday, however, as the populations, along with genetic diversity, drastically decreased.

Finally, about 15,000 years ago, the great glaciers began retreating. For a while, until the ice sheets melted, the oceans were considerably lower than they are now. So it is likely that our relatives walked all the way along the beaches of Spain and France and then to the northern end of the British Isles, where eventually they settled in Scotland. Whew! What travelers we are!!!

The Taylor Baker Men

So what about the women in our family who are descended from the sons in the Baker line? All families are tapestries woven from many different vibrant strands of genetic DNA that come into the family at different times and from all different directions. Women born to the men in our family carry their own mothers’ families’ mitochondrial DNA and weave it into our family.

The men in our family carry the identifying Y chromosome DNA segment from generations of their fathers’ families. This means that those directly descended from the Taylor family could do the same type of genetic testing that I did with the Genographic Project and get this information for the Taylor family. While it is likely to present a similar migration story because the genetics of our Baker family are similar to the majority of Europeans, it will also show some differences and would be great family history to have. Not to put too much pressure on Uncle Harold, George Taylor, or Bryant and Rexford Taylor’s sons . . . ahem!

And if anyone in the family has Native American ancestors through the family line of their mother or father who married into the family, it would be fascinating to trace that – probably all the way across Asia and across the ancient Alaskan land bridge before moving down and across the North American continent. My son’s father’s family has Native American ancestors in both the U.S. Southwest and in Mexico, but I haven’t yet been able to convince his grandmother to do the genetic testing.

If any of you are interested in more of this information, send me an e-mail at I have a report that goes into more detail about our family’s migration than what I’ve written here, plus maps, and can point you to more information online. I have found it to be a fascinating study.

Photo 1: Our Kate Baker Family mitochondrial genome, produced from my cheek swab – this is what the identifying DNA segment maps out to look like for all the women directly descended from Kate Baker. (I know, I wouldn’t recognize it either even if I bumped into it at a family reunion, but isn’t it beautiful?)
Photo 2: The Genographic Project’s map of our family’s migration out of Africa and eventually to the British Isles

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March Birthdays, Part One:

March is the Baker Birthday Month, it seems!

On the Baker side, we begin with Diadamia Mott Youngs, grandmother of Ethel, Adin, Ruth and Lil, and her daughter, Kate Youngs Baker, mother of ‘those Baker kids’.

Next come Leona Howland Maffei, and her daughter, Carol Ann Maffei.

Picture One: Diadamia Youngs
Picture Two: Kate Youngs Baker
Picture Three: Leona Maffei
Picture Four: Carol Ann Maffei

March Birthdays, Part Two:

March also brings us the birthdays of Lil’s daughter, Phyllis, Phyllis’ great grand-daughter, Alexis Henderson (daughter of Ron Henderson, granddaughter of Wendell) and great-grandson, Dylan Edward Marlatt (son of Kathleen Henderson, grandson of Wendell—this same Dylan is the baby that Wendell is holding in the previous story).

Sylva’s son, Freddy Emhof, is a March baby.

Also, Gladys’ granddaughter, Beth Barron Smerchansky (daughter of Kathryn) and her grandson, Andrew Joseph Osterhout ( Wendy’s son) were born in March.

Picture One: Andrew
Picture Two: Phyllis
Picture Three: Dawn Walker,Freddy Emhof, Dorothy Maffei
Picture Four: Beth and her daughter, Lena
Picture Five: Alexis and Dylan

March Birthdays, Part Three:

In Uncle Arnon’s Family, say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Bethany Robin Taylor Velasco(Jim Taylor’s daughter) and Salvatore Fiorello DeLuca (Cynthia's son, grandson of Nancy Taylor Wright).

In Aunt Ruth’s Family, we celebrate Debra DeSio Maney (Richard’s wife).

Picture One: Bethany Taylor Velasco and son Lucas
Picture Two: Sal DeLuca
Picture Three: Colleen and Debra Maney

March Birthdays, Part Four:

In Aunt CB’s Kinsella Family, March brings us the birthdays of Pat Herdeg, Beth Sakanishi and Aunt CB herself.

Picture One: Aunt CB
Picture Two: Beth Sakanishi
Picture Three: Pat Herdeg