Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ice Harvesting, By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Recently, my husband and I visited Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts and watched ice-cutting demonstrations, along with all of the various tools of the trade.

I learned a bit of the ice industry’s history.

January and early February were the times to cut ice, so it was the first ‘crop’ of the agricultural season. By the 1890’s, it was the ninth largest industry in the US, but of course, that would change when electric refrigerators came into common use.

Mom and Dad (Aunt CB and Uncle Jack) sent me these thoughts on our family history and ice cutting:

“Family lore says both Taylors and Bakers did ice cutting. Most farmers teamed together in groups and cut some to store for their own use. I can’t think of any big ponds on either farm but in the neighborhood there must have been. I well remember on the Center Lisle farm in the 1930's, to the right of the main barn door, there being a small (15 by 15 feet?) building attached which we were not allowed to enter. It was filled with sawdust buried ice slabs which only Adin or Grandma could access.

In Geneva, near the end of Seneca Lake where the road now goes by, there was a very large building with a metal “transporter” attached to its side. It too was filled with sawdust and ice slabs, cut in winter with huge saws and stored (Uncle Jack adds— even in Waterloo this “Ice House” was well known. In fact, we would start swimming in the canal--seven miles away--in mid-May and the water was cold! As the days went by the water got gradually warmer but then would come a day when the water was again freezing. We would all shout as we dove in “the ice plant in Geneva broke and all those ice blocks got into the water.”)

As far as the iceman went, in my day it was George Abraham who was working his way through college in this job. (He became a middle-school science teacher and married my 8th grade English teacher. They used to chaperone our high school dances and later came to our reunions as our guests!)

George used to drive the ice truck, packed with ice squares covered with heavy tarpaulins. If you had your sign in the front window he’d stop, ascertain which amount was needed (there were four sizes-- 25, 50, 75 and 100 pound blocks) cut it off, pick it up with ice tongs, hoist it to his shoulder and carry it to your icebox. We had a wooden one that Arnon had made and occasionally got 25 pounds worth.

When he returned to his truck it would be tailgated with neighbor kids so he’d give us all the chips, cover his load and drive away. His arrival was always an event, especially in a hot spell. (Uncle Jack adds—our iceman in Waterloo was Chubby Dilts, a guy in his 60's. As soon as Chubby picked up the ice chunk and headed into a house, three or four of us would climb into his truck and pick up the small chunks ourselves—Waterloo kids were not as polite as Geneva kids!)”

Every year in South Bristol Maine—usually the Sunday of President’s Day Weekend—an annual ice harvesting fest is still held. Using traditional tools, anyone can come and help move the 400 pound blocks of ice from the pond to the channel and up the wooden ramp to the Thompson Ice House. This ice house, reconstructed in the 1990’s, supplies the town of South Bristol with ice all summer long. And, if February seems like a cold time of year to visit Maine (Editor writes: It is NEVER too cold a time to visit Maine!), then visit South Bristol, Maine in July, when they hold an old fashioned Ice Cream Social, using the ice they cut back in February.

I am willing to bet that our Minnesota Cousins can also come up with places in their fair state where ice harvesting still goes on. NOT so certain that my Florida cousins can do the same!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Woodlawn Lost, by Pat Kinsella Herdeg

(Pictures courtesy of The Daily News article)

Two days before Valentine’s Day, the Taylors who descend from Bryant Waller Taylor and Emma Jane Carson, suffered a loss even though most of us had no idea at the time.

On Sunday morning-- February 12th-- of this week, a fire spread quickly through Woodlawn, our ancestral home. The fire fighters battled snow squalls and high winds in the cold weather as heavy smoke and fire leapt from room to room. The home is considered a total loss.

The fire is thought to be electrical in origin, caused by an electric heater plugged into an extension cord. The family renting the house managed to get out safely, although the father had to fight through heavy smoke in the upper bedroom to rescue his thirteen-month-old son.

Previously we have written up about Woodlawn (see for the full story of Aunt CB, Uncle Jack and Aunt Dot visiting) but a brief history of the home follows.

The old Taylor homestead, Woodlawn, on Macomber Rd., sits on the corner of the Batavia-Oakfield town line road, where Alabama, Batavia and Oakfield townships meet. Gideon Morehouse Taylor and his wife Phebe Walbridge Taylor, moved here from Vermont in the fall of 1829. Gideon had come out earlier, in February of 1828, and purchased the original parcel of land from the Tonawanda Indians for $372. He built first a lean-to, then a log cabin, and then this current house.

Gideon died in 1844 and his wife Phebe asked her son Daniel and his wife Cordelia if they would work the farm, with the understanding that when she died, the farm would belong to them. Daniel and Cordelia agreed and made their home in the farm that Phebe had called “The Homestead” and Cordelia called “Peace Farm”.

As they aged, Daniel and Cordelia made an identical offer to Bryant (B.W.), their eldest son, to farm the land and let them live in the house. B. W. and his wife, Emma Carson Taylor, accepted the offer and moved there in early 1893 when the twins (Lloyd and Floyd) were less than one year old. Now their turn to live in the home, they renamed it ‘Woodlawn’. Later, B.W. built an apartment for Cordelia and Daniel in the right side of the house. It had a living room, dining room and bath downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs.

Cordelia died in 1908. Daniel, who had Parkinson’s Disease, died in 1911.

Emma Carson Taylor died in the downstairs bedroom in August 1916, from a stroke. B.W. put the house and its contents as well as the farm up for auction that fall and moved to Batavia.


Both Emma and Cordelia before her wrote journals all of their lives, so we have a rich account of their lives in this house. In 1900, after staying in another home, Cordelia writes “but it is better to go back to spend the little time left to us where we have spent the most of our lives. May our last days be our best.”

One hundred and eighty years later, the wooden structure built and lived in by so many of our ancestors, called ‘The Homestead’ and ‘Peace Farm’ and then ‘Woodlawn’ is gone. I myself have never seen this corner plot of land or the house, but it survives in my head because of the many pages of journals written over a sixty year span by two remarkable women. Luckily for us, the land and the pictures and the journals and thus, the memories, remain.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sal and The Moochers!

Okay, Cousins Country--that's a terrific picture, no??!

Nancy Taylor Wright sent it to me. It is a picture of her grandson, Salvatore Fiorello DeLuca (Cynthia's son) no doubt entertaining 'friends'.

What caption should we use?

' Leave some for us'.
'Can't we share?'

I'll bet you punsters out there can do better than I can. So, let's hear from you!

Happy Cold and Sunny Sunday,

Monday, February 6, 2012

Visiting Bob & Dottie Taylor By Tom Kinsella

 Dottie Taylor, June 1968

 Bob Taylor, June 1968

Dottie and Bob, August 1967

I’ve been thinking about my cousin Bob Taylor lately. I spent a long weekend with him 45 years ago, when I was a boy, and I want to try to describe what it meant to me, and what it still means. Truth in advertising – I don’t remember many details.

When I was 7, Bob’s wife Dottie spent about six weeks with my family in Rochester. She had Hodgkin’s Disease and stayed with us while she underwent radiation treatment at Strong Memorial Hospital. Ma tells me that Dottie cooked a fried chicken dinner for the family on her (Mom’s) birthday, so this must have been around February-March of 1967. Bob was working in a Waterloo grocery at the time, but of course he came up to our house as often as he could.

Bob and Dottie became close to the whole family, and after Dottie’s treatment was complete, they returned to Waterloo. I guess because I was the right age, they asked me later that year to visit.

I don’t remember just how long the visit lasted, but several days. It was at their house in Waterloo (Ma and Pa tell me it was a post-WWII home, built on a slab). I can remember meals around the kitchen table. And I remember Bob teaching me how to play pool on a pool table that he had. We had quite a bit of fun playing eight ball.

I also remember attending church with Bob and Dottie on Sunday. I think it was the Presbyterian Church on Main Street in Waterloo. I had been to Ma's Presbyterian Church before, but going to Catholic school, it was Catholic mass that I was used to. I had never seen a Protestant communion service, but that Sunday there was one. Bob was about to let me go up to the altar, but saw that I hesitated. "Have you had first communion in your church yet?" he asked. I shook my head no. "Well you better wait on this then," he said. So I had to wait another year or two.

Dottie died on December 1, 1969 at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. Bob arrived at our house afterward and we were all quite broken up. I had hand-written a short remembrance of Dottie that I gave to Bob when he arrived (I think I framed it!). It was on the sort of lined paper that a nine-year-old would use. I spoke of how wonderful Dottie was, and how much we loved her. I don’t remember any of it in detail except the ending: “I fear we shall not see her like again.” I think Bob liked that turn of phrase. I didn’t tell him that I’d stolen it from a funeral oration given for John F. Kennedy, which I had found in a book Ma & Pa kept in the living room. I used to feel bad about that slice of plagiarism – I should have spoken more from the heart. But now that I look back and search the web for the exact quotation, I see that I quoted someone who was riffing on Shakespeare. Hamlet says of his father: “I shall not look upon his like again.”

I know that Dottie was a great loss to Bob. She was a great loss to all of us, I think; but at my age her death was a life lesson, too. I don’t really know why, out of all of my brothers and sisters, I was invited to visit for that long weekend, but it made me feel special. And being a part of their family life, if only for a very short time, has always been important to me. I remember Bob and Dottie with deep, sad affection.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Birthdays, 2012 By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Well, this may be the winter that never was, at least if decided by the amount of snow on the ground. We have seen few and far between snow storms here in New England. BUT, the month of February is upon us and so, we have cousins birthdays to celebrate!


Brian Lochner

Aunt Esther’s family will start us off, with Julie Ann Lochner Riber celebrating her 60th—joining several of her cousins into this elite category. Her brother Richard John Lochner, and Brian Michael Lochner (Ted’s son) also celebrate this month.



 Mallory Alberts and her friend, Mark


In Uncle Harold’s family, Ann’s two children, Jessica Rose Catherman Rooks and Elliot Ryan Catherman, Judy’s daughter--Mallory Ann Alberts, and Abigail Elizabeth Hauf (Kathy’s grand-daughter) all blow out candles this month.
In Aunt CB’s family, Susan Ethel Kinsella and Takeshi Sakanishi (Beth Kinsella’s husband) have February Birthdays. Takeshi will blow out fifty candles, so we welcome him to that milestone (a mere youngster in this writer’s eyes!).

 Sue on the Friendship, in Salem, MA harbor

Takeshi and P-Chan

In Aunt Ruth’s family, Kathleen Deborah Maney (Richard’s daughter) has a Birthday.

In Aunt Doris’ family, Morgan Kate Towlson (Cindy’s grand-daughter) will celebrate.

In Uncle Arnon's family, Isabella Kaylynn Wood (daughter of Barbara Taylor Wood, Bob’s daughter) will celebrate her first birthday.

In Aunt Gladys’ family, Michael James Decker, son of Laurel Wood Decker, grandson of Gladys is the Birthday Boy.


Mike, Laurel and Dan Decker
Wendell, 1964 Baker Reunion

Wendell, 2005
In Aunt Phyllis’ family, Wendell E. Henderson ( Phyllis’ son) would have been seventy years old this February—we so wish he could have been here to blow out his many candles.
Rex and Dene Taylor

In Floyd Taylor’s family, Rexford Floyd Taylor (Floyd’s son) celebrates his birthday.

Congratulations to all! We will be thinking of all of you!