Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nancy Cornelia Borthwick Baker By Aunt CB and Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Nancy was born on October 31st, 1838, in Freetown, NY. She was one of ten children (although some died early), and she would go on to have two half-siblings.

Nancy Borthwick married Leonard Baker in 1857, and census records tell us they moved from Solon to Marathon to Center Lisle, NY. She and Leonard had three children, Byron, Nell and Florence.

Byron, as we know, married Kate Youngs and had Ethel, Adin, Ruth and Lillian.

But, back to our Nancy. Aunt CB writes:

“Another one I wish I’d known. From letters and hearsay, I can almost draw a line through traits that are handed down from Nancy to her son, Byron and to his daughter, Ethel. Open-hearted, kind, interested in others, a listener, intelligent, voracious reader—Gladys spoke for them when she commented on why her mother, Aunt Lil, never remarried after her father died, “There was no room on the bed”—it was covered with books!

At the time Nancy became a widow, I think they owned the small farm in Center Lisle, whose fields ran up the hill behind it. Later, her daughter, Florence, lived there with her husband when he retired as a railroad conductor. While he was working, though, they lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania and Nancy spent time with them there after Leonard died in 1900. There she had ready access to the Carnegie Libraries of the day and made good use of them. Byron used to send her apples while she was staying there with Florence so that she’d get a taste of home.

While at home, she was busy with farm chores. When her pig was killed, she had to take care of it—after rendering the fat, sorting parts, preparing hams for smoking and making sausage—then she could get on the train in Lisle and go visit Florence.

Previous to the pig, she was so ‘busy canning and pickling that she felt like an old pickle!’ (this in a letter to Ethel while at Cortland). In another letter, she tells that Kate, their mother, had gone on to help on a baby case so ‘Lil is monarch of all she surveys, and is reckoning on doing a big stroke of business--cook a chicken, clean the pantry and go chestnut hunting’. Nancy writes Ethel that she wishes they both could watch Lillian go about her day (Lillian was quite young then).”

Nancy died in 1916 in Scranton, at the home of her daughter, Florence. She was seventy-seven years old, and most likely, had a bed filled with books yet to read.

Our Halloween-born girl Nancy reminds me of another, more recent Halloween birth in the family. Nancy was the grandmother of Lillian Baker Howland. Lillian was the mother of Gladys Wood. And, Gladys was the great grandmother of Emma Hart-Wood, also born on Halloween.

Our Emma, daughter of Joshua Hart-Wood and Brandy Kapp, just turned five years old last week. Emma told me while she knew lots of songs and stories, she had yet to learn to read. Something tells me that reading comes naturally to her, and that soon she too will have a bed filled with books.


Anonymous said...

Thank you ! This is such great family history that I never knew and that I'll be telling the children about as they grow ! I absolutely love this family blog website because there so many family fun filled stories and it gives me the opportunity to learn more and be able to tell my children in time ! God Bless Everyone ! Love brandy Emma and Adin

Sue Kinsella said...

Lovely picture of Emma. What a beauty!

Ali said...

Borthwick of the Borthwick castle?

Also, I can totally imagine Aunt CB saying "I pickled so many watermelons today that I feel like an old pickle!"

Pat said...

Haha--I guess 'getting into pickels' runs in the family.

And yes, Nancy Borthwick is our connection to the Borthwick Castle in Scotland (read Aunt Sue's write up of the castle at:

Next time we are in Scotland, we shall have to visit 'our' castle!



Kathryn said...

Ah, the birthday girls of Halloween. I wish I could have known Nancy, I see where I got a lot of traits from. Books are a NECESSITY for me, kind of like breathing.
I am watching Emma grow, thanks to the fact that Brandy is generous in sharing pictures on facebook. I must point out that I have met the young lady too, and she is delightful.