Sunday, November 13, 2011
Nancy Cornelia Borthwick Baker By Aunt CB and Pat Kinsella Herdeg
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 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.