Friday, November 30, 2012

As We Used To Go Cousining By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

“We may yet spend many happy days where we can see each other and where our little ones can visit back and forth, as we used to go cousining.”

Dustan Walbridge wrote this in a letter home in October 1863 while fighting in the Civil War. Dustan is my first cousin four times removed, OR perhaps better to understand, he was first cousins with Daniel Rockwell Taylor, my great great grandfather.

Dustan lived in Peacham, Vermont and by January of 1864, he was a Full First Lieutenant in Vermont’s Company A, 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment. He was wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor and died at Douglass Hospital in Washington, DC in June of 1864. Dustan never did get to go cousining again.

A fellow Vermonter, Nelson Glazier, wrote home about the foods he missed while in the same Washington DC hospital as our Dustan:

“I often think of some good old Vermont dishes, such as Griddle Cakes, Boiled Victuals, Fried Potatoes, Green Sauce, Berries etc. - then I want some Johnny Cake & good fresh Butter to say nothing of a little warm maple sugar & the like - But I will pause in this long catalogue of eatables or you may almost dread to see me coming home - but never mind. I want to eat everything when I do get there.”

‘I want to eat everything when I do get there’. How I KNOW how Nelson feels—I love to come home to Mom and Dad’s and have Old Fashioned Tomato soup, watermelon pickles, or good ole’ Johnny cake. The elderberry pie I leave to my brother Dan and various cousins.

The Taylor Reunion is another wonder of food sampling—meatballs, lasagna, cookies, pies, deviled eggs, and any bounty left over from Kathy and Gordie’s garden for the taking. From what I hear and what little I remember, the Baker Reunions were also famous for their food choices.

At these Reunions and Holiday times—December is filled with opportunities--we DO get to ‘go cousining’, something I treasure and wish I had more fully appreciated when I was younger.

So as December dawns, may you enjoy many good times of food and laughter and stories told, and may you too be lucky enough to ‘ go a-cousining’.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, by Sue Kinsella and Pat Herdeg

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Cousins! 

Here are some of the things for which we are thankful.

Dan Maffei Returns to Congress!
Taylor Baker Cousins give thanks that our cousin, Dan Maffei, was elected on November 6th to the U.S. Congress from New York’s 24th Congressional District, representing Syracuse and surrounding towns and countryside.
Dan defeated the opponent who cost him his previous Congressional seat. That 2010 defeat was by the slimmest of margins, less than 600 votes. This time, Dan, a Democrat, not only defeated his Republican opponent 48% to 44%, but won by a resounding majority even with a Green Party candidate taking another 8% of the vote.
Dan is the son of Neil Maffei, grandson of Leona Maffei, and great-grandson of Aunt Lil Baker Howland. Congratulations, Dan! We’re so proud of you and look forward to your leadership in the U.S. Congress!

Sue, Giving Thanks for
  • The wonderful Taylor Reunion in September
  • Dad/Uncle Jack recovering from a long hospitalization in September and October
  • Pat Herdeg recovering from a miserable pneumonia
  • Many Taylor Baker Cousins prepared for Hurricane Sandy and, fortunately, they all weathered it without serious damage
  • My family and all my extended family
  • Spending Thanksgiving with my son, Alex! Even though his college is only 60 miles from home, it seems I get to see him so much less than I had thought I would, so it's wonderful when we get a few days to spend together like we used to.

Pat, Giving Thanks

I am thankful for five years of this Cousins Blog! Thank you to all cousins -- some I have known all my life and some I have gotten to know well through email -- who have expressed encouragement, added ideas, pictures and stories, or commented on these stories. Who knows how many more stories or years are left to this blog of family history, but for the years we have shared this blog together, I am grateful. 

What Do You Give Thanks For? 

Please fill up the Comments page, we'd love to hear from you! Thanks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Center Lisle Congregational Church, By Aunt CB with help from Laurel Decker

Recently, I received an email from cousin Laurel Decker. She wrote: " Last year Helen McPeek (Phyllis’s daughter) had gone through things of her mother's. There was a booklet of the Center Lisle Church….. Long story short, I borrowed, scanned and put it in a PDF.

We can all thank Helen for sharing with the family. And, we can all thank Laurel for sending it on to us here at the blog! To look through the booklet, go to the right hand side of the blog. Under the heading of  'Miscellaneous Items' you will see a link which will take you to the booklet. Enjoy!  

And, Mom has written a short piece on the church: 


Growing up in the 1930's we’d usually spend a week each year during the summer at Grandma Kate Baker’s farm. Our beloved Uncle Adin worked the place. We thought we “helped him” when we were there, but looking back, now I’m an adult, I doubt it! However, very occasionally, Adin would go to town and come back with a slight buzz on, singing a song about “Yorkshire.” I had no idea where that was, I only knew Center Lisle. However, the church I’m going to write about was established in Yorkshire in 1830! Center Lisle Congregational Church. (The hamlet’s name was changed.)

Nineteen charter members met, first in one another’s homes, and took on this awesome responsibility. The membership is sprinkled with names I’d heard in conversations among my mother (Ethel), her sister (Lil) and their mother (Kate Baker). Glezen, Livermore, Caldwell, Ensign and many others.

The church family grew through the years, often with “fits and starts,” running into personality problems as ALL churches do. However, they followed church guidelines. Initially, discipline was handled by church members but eventually it was handed over to the Deacons, while the Trustees cared for the church building and paid the minister’s salary (when they could!) Eventually a “Ladies Aid” came about and filled many empty spaces, growing into a “Guild” which still exists today. The minister usually served 2 or 3 churches but this small church grew to be important to the Center Lisle area, it helped provide problem solutions to churches world wide in its Mission outreach.

The land for the church was deeded to the trustees in 1830 for $275. In 1832 a small frame building was raised on the lot, but by 1855 was too small for the congregation. It was sold, moved next door and became first a house, then a garage and finally Howland’s General Store. (This is the place we all loved, Aunt Lil’s store!) Thus, in 1855, the present church was built for $3300. Much material was donated by members from their virgin forests. Labor was supplied by church men via a “Bee” for major construction.

In 1926, the need for a dining room upstairs was remedied and a window opening made in the back wall over a new, higher pulpit. A lovely stained glass window was given.

By 1940, a furnace was installed, stoves could not do the heating job. Then in 1948, Orrin Dickinson made some beautiful pulpit railings and choir loft rails from parts of an old piano and other used material. In 1953, a new ceiling and interior walls we refurbished along with stained glass windows gifted by members and installed by Mr. Dickinson and Rev. Terwilliger. In 1958 a well was drilled for the church and plumbing added to the edifice! 1960 brought mahogany pews to the church and in 1966, a BIG upheaval came about. The church was raised and a full basement put in, allowing a new kitchen, dining area, bathroom and a new entrance with more exits in the church proper.

As a circle always completes itself—the old original church building gone through so many stages was returned to the church by Lil Howland. Aunt Lil sold them the building for one dollar ($1.00). It was razed and now is the church parking lot, a fitting gift.

Rev. Floyd Terwilliger served the church for 46 years. He and his wife are buried in the Center Lisle Cemetery. He gave “full measure” to this church and community which he loved. He is the only one I knew, as Grandma was buried from this church in August 1955. She was shown in the back of the church, but when Wendell Henderson was buried in 2006, the altered church allowed him to be shown in the front before the pulpit.

This is the story of a church which not only served its community but reached out world wide to help others in need. Those who began this could not have forseen its work, the strength it gave this community but they built it. Others have carried it on though the years and with the help of the Lord, will continue to carry this work into the future.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Frankenstorm, Also Known as ‘Hurricane Sandy’, as Seen by Tom Kinsella from the center of landfall

Various cousins and siblings chime in

From Tom in Absecon, NJ:

My preparations for the hurricane are complete. Some of you will remember my adventures with Irene back in August of 2011. Now the Frankenstorm is barreling up the coast and may take a left turn into my front yard (if not mine, then perhaps Pat's or Ted's -- good luck you guys). I hope not, but here's the plan if it does.

First, I have laid in a serious supply of Beans and Buns (as some Algonquin vets will attest, they are important staples). I have many candles (and a nice pair of antique candle holders, which I did not have during Irene -- then I was balancing candles in cups and mugs). I have flashlights, and some batteries, but there is no longer any "D" batteries within 100 miles, so I couldn't stock up -- so, candles.

I have bought bottled water and in addition I have frozen two big pans of water which I will take out of the freezer and put in the fridge when the electricity goes out (which all sources say it will).

The car is full of gas; money in my wallet; cans of low salt peas and carrots. I feel pretty good.

Tomorrow the storm is forecast to hit around 5 pm and go on forever and ever (at least until Tuesday night). The conjunction of a Northeaster (Nor'eastah for Massachusetts folk), hurricane (even if it is a tropical depression by tomorrow) and a full moon has caused the barrier Islands near me to evacuate.

Around 4 pm I will fill up the bath tub. I have pulled the canoe into the rafters and taught the cats to wear life jackets. I have an axe to chop through the roof if it gets really bad. And, again for you Algonquin vets, I have laid in a good supply of Champagne Chavignion (for those not in the know, this CC is a lot like paddle pain remover).

Wish me luck.

Much love from soon to be swamped South Jersey,

Spuds Waiting for the Storm to End
From Jim in Rochester, NY:

Looking forward to more updates from Tommy "On the Spot" (any relation to "Johnny On the Spot"?)

We may be in Sally's flight path this year though, being so far inland, won't get anything like what you will get. Good suggestion however...the Buns and Beans one. You never know...

Jimmy "On the Pot"

From Ali in Washington DC:

I suddenly feel sorely under-prepared in comparison. I have flashlights, candles, bottled water, and PB&J... no canoe, though. I'll let you know how it hits us down here.

From Jen in Syracuse, NY:

I don’t know what we were thinking – we just put the canoe up in the garage. At least it is easy to get it and the kayaks out easily enough if we have to. We did just fill up the dog’s water tank, so we can all drink out that if need be!

From Tom:

Okay, it's raining here and the wind has picked up. The latest forecasts have the storm hitting just north of Atlantic City. That means that I will get lots of rain (being just south of the center), from 6 to 10 inches supposedly. It's the folks to the north of the storm center that are worried about storm surges. Barrier Islands have been evacuated.

Bought the last of my staples -- a pizza, potato chips, and orange pop. Now I'll sit back and wait. Watching football now. I also picked a generous handful of kale from the garden: I can cook or eat it raw tonight (if necessary).

From Glenn in Acton, MA:

Looking forward to updates from you during the excitement tomorrow -- keep sending them until your internet goes out, then switch to signal lanterns in your attic window until you take them aboard the canoe with the cats!

From Tim and Rose in Syracuse, NY:

Tim and I are all set with food. We have a 2 pound carrot from our garden. That should last a few days at least. We don't need no stinkin' beans.

Rose with carrot

From Tom:

So, when I poked my head out of the covers this morning (warmed by two cats on the bed), I peered out the window and thought, "This is lame." A gentle rain was falling -- like springtime in Rochester -- all was safe. There was my car, tucked behind the house within arm's length of my window. No trees down. No flooding.

Then I turned on the news and started to process where we are in this storm. It's been raining for about 20 hours, a bit breezy at times, and the storm is still 200 miles away. The latest tracking suggests the eye of the storm will land somewhere between 20 Hobart Ave, Absecon and 23 Leeds Point Road, Smithville (home of the Jersey devil). That's a five mile stretch. That's my address and Christine's.

The big storm is supposed to hit tonight. Ferocious say the newscasts. Record breaking! FrankenFreakenStorm!?!

Okay, so I still wasn't disturbed till I began to look at the twitter feed for "AC Sandy." This is folks in or around Atlantic City. If this is to be trusted, they are evacuating the West side of the city now (the East side, of course, is the ocean -- the West is usually considered safe); Streets are flooding; the board walk is being torn up or washed away. And there are pictures to prove most of this. Storm surge is already worse than Irene and yet the storm is 200 miles away. The Atlantic City Expressway is closed from twenty miles north of me to its bottom in Cape May -- in other words the State of NJ just said, if you didn't get out yet, you're staying.

So, the story might get more interesting as Monday rolls on to night.

Kristin, you are right, there's a study to be done on what gets bought out in supermarkets when storms approach. Shopping on Saturday, I found all the bread gone except for rye and the multi-grain loaves (I happily bought a loaf of 12 grain). All white bread and even whole wheat entirely gone. A bit more odd to me, all but one creamy peanut butter was gone -- I got the very last one -- but there was plenty of chunky. What could that possible mean?

Electricity is flickering, but no serious outage yet.

Much love from a dampening South Jersey,

After the Storm, Spuds Inspecting any Damage

Another from Tom:

After 25 hours without electricity the juice is back (it kicked off around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, right after the TV newscaster said, "Hey, we've lost the feed . . ."). Right now my fridge is cooling down and my house is heating up. Yay!

The storm was hurricanish -- by that I mean came in bands, just like Irene. I'd look out the window and think, "nothing," then a few minutes later I'd hear a howling and see leaves and branches flying sideways by the windows. From about 5 pm through 3 am we had a pretty good blow (again, in those bands).

No damage in my yard. I took a walk around the neighborhood and lots of trees just leaned over. I guess the rain softened the soil and the roots gave way.

Christine had been blocked in in three directions by trees in her neighborhood, but she tells me she can get out now. Good, cause she still has no electricity. School is closed tomorrow for clean up.

Off to a dinner of warm beans and buns (I've been eating them cold).

Much love from South Jersey,

As we now know, Tom got off relatively easy for a New Jerseyite by the coast. Thank you everyone for keeping in touch during this siege!