Monday, January 21, 2013

Revolutionary War Ancestors on Inauguration Day By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Today is the second Inauguration of President Obama. As my daughter and millions of other American citizens stand and watch him take his Oath of Office on the steps of the Capitol, as we listen to our President tell us ‘our journey is not complete’, I am reminded of the American soldiers who continue to sacrifice today for our freedom. They continue to fight to help us in our forward journey. We thank and honor them all.

I am also reminded of all of my ancestors who helped in that first fight, so long ago, to forge our freedom and future as a young nation. Here is a list of those direct ancestors who we know fought in the American Revolutionary War. There were countless brothers and nephews also, but we’ll stick to direct lines.

 Josiah Taylor's Gravestone

On the Taylor Side, doubtless you remember the Three Generations of Taylors who bravely fought in Connecticut for us. Josiah Taylor (1701-1781), his son Gamaliel Taylor (1735-1815) and Josiah’s grandson Thomas Taylor (1758-1826) have their story written here:

Amos Walbridge (1693-1788), fought in both the French and Indian War and in the Revolutionary War. He served during the War as Captain of his own regiment, although we can see by the following letter written by him in 1780 that he was a Major by the end of the War.

“Sir The commissary of prisoners desired me to inform you that he has received information from Philadelphia that there is sixty prisoners to be here Wednesday next and there is one now in town wanting to be sent over. He wants your directions where they shall be put if a flag should not be granted to send them immediately over. I am sir your obedient humble servant
 A Wallbridge Maj”
George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799 Ames Walbridge to Jedidiah Huntington, April 9, 1780, Image 765 of 1125

Letter written by Amos Walbridge

Amos Walbridge died February 27, 1788, in Stafford CT at the age of 94. Doing the math and looking at the date of his letter ( 1780), my 6th Great Grandfather was 86 at the time he was fighting for our independence—something to be proud of!

Henry Walbridge (1738-1818), son of Amos, fought along with his father in both the French and Indian War and in the Revolutionary War. His grandson wrote years later:
“I have often heard him relate incidents of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary Wars, for he was in both. He received the title of Captain after the Revolutionary War closed, at the time the Indians destroyed Royalton, in Vermont.

When he moved his family from Connecticut to Randolph, Vt., it made the seventh in the town. He made his pitch, as he called it, in the unbroken forest of two hundred acres of land, built a log house, and cleared up a splendid farm.”

On the Baker Side,

Solomon Baker (1752-1834) enlisted in the Revolutionary War in 1776.  Solomon lived in a small area of New York near the borders of Massachusetts and Vermont that was "annexed" by Vermont during the rest of the Revolutionary War. This annexation explains why he is next found in 1781 as an ensign in Col. Gideon Warren's regiment in Vermont.  By 1792, our Solomon of Granville, New York had been made a captain in Washington County, New York.  He was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1800. He served as a Lt. Colonel until his retirement at age fifty-six, in 1809, for the state of New York

Solomon Baker's Gravestone

My brother Jim writes me more on Solomon’s wartime service: “Solomon was really a wild man because he was present at every major engagement in the Northeast except Concord/Lexington and the Battle of Herkimer (Solomon was fighting in the much larger Battle of Saratoga at the time and couldn't be in two places at one time).  As soon as he heard about the potential battle in Boston, for example, he high-tailed it there and arrived the day after the Battle of Bunker hill.  He was present at eight to ten battles all over New England and NY.

Solomon’s sister Jerusha Baker, married John Joe Backus, my fourth great grandfather. Both Solomon and John Joe became direct ancestors of mine when Solomon’s son Ira and John Joe’s daughter, Jerusha, married.

DID Solomon’s father, Benjamin Baker (1720-1798) fight in the Revolutionary War? We know he fought in the French and Indian War, but there are too many Benjamin Bakers from New York who fought in the Revolutionary War to be sure.

John Joe Backus (1747-1842) was a farmer. He enlisted with his second cousin, Solomon Baker, Jerusha's brother and became a Sergeant in the War. John Joe’s son wrote long after the war of the many times his father came and went during the War—starting when Ebenezer was a young boy of nine years old. ‘Ebenezer remembered his father talking about fighting at Ticonderoga, in the Burgoyne campaign, and being down Lake Champlain in pursuit of the enemy from the circumstances of the snow being very deep.

 Ebenezer remembered things like his father taking with him a sorrel horse and returning with a roan one and that immediately on the return of his father, his father was attacked with the camp distemper which confined him for some time. Ebenezer further remembered one time in particular of his father's going, because it was called ‘the great scout party’ and there being many of the Continental troops quartered at his father's house at the time and having to back wood to make fire for warming the soldiers and cooking.’

Jim Kinsella also adds here about John Joe: “He and Timothy Baker (his brother-in-law), would spell each other during the War.  One would serve while the other took care of both of their farms -- when the one came back from serving the other would go and take their place.

John Joe’s father, John Backus, MAY have fought in the Revolutionary War. He certainly did fight in the French and Indian War, but there are too many John Backus’ from CT that fought in the Revolutionary War to be sure (yet!).

Jacob Youngs/Jung (1746-1842) and his father Peter also likely served in the Revolutionary War. Several online accounts believe this but I have yet to pin down documented proof. Online accounts have Rev. Peter Jungs (1725-1799) home as a meeting place during the Revolutionary War.

One detailed writing recounts of Peter and his wife Elizabeth Mosher, my 6th great grandparents:
"In 1778, when the Indians began their depredations in the Schoharie settlements, the patriots of New Rhinebeck made the home of Peter Young their rendezvous. Being but few in numbers, and the Tory Neighbors becoming more venomous as their allies began to make their raids, this little company concluded to leave their homes and seek safety in the forts.

A band of Indians assembled at a Tory's house in the neighborhood to capture them, upon which Peter Young started to take his wife, who was a cripple, to the Camps for safety; but fearing he would be unable to do so, she was taken to a small cave at the foot of the mountain and left there alone. Being supplied with provisions, she remained for several days in that place without being discovered by the Tories whose houses were very near.

The walls of this 'rock house', as it has since been called, for many years plainly showed the marks of the fires she built late at night, when all was quiet and danger of being seen had passed.

After the Indians had passed off to other fields for murder and devastation, her husband returned and carried her to the Camps, where she remained until the close of the war."

His son, Jacob Young ‘Served in Samuel Campell's battalion, Tryon County Militia’.

William Mott (1735-1786), my fifth great grandfather, fought in the Revolutionary War, along with Jacob, our fourth great grandfather, Timothy, Jacob’s twin brother, and another brother, William Jr.

William fought in Col. Swartwout's Regiment, Duchess County NY. He was elected Captain in 1775, and promoted to Major in 1776.

Jacob Mott (1761-1834) was a Minute Man in Capt. William Mott's Company in 1777, and was frequently called out during the ensuing four years.

Jacob Mott's Gravestone

This is the list for now. There are several ancestors whom I believe fought, but have not yet been able to prove.

To all of those who have fought for us in any of our wars, a simply ‘thank you’ is not enough. But we will do our best to remember your sacrifices, keep your memories and stories alive, and attempt to preserve our nation’s freedom, creativity, and strength.

As our President said earlier today: “Let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Taylor Cheer, Or Why I Blog By Pat Kinsella Herdeg, With Help From Family Members

Pat and Fred--1976

The spring of my senior year in high school was a pivotal time in shaping who I am today. I just did not see it at the time.

It was 1976 in West Irondequoit, NY, a northern suburb of Rochester, NY which hugged the shores of Lake Ontario. At age 18, I was the oldest of the Kinsella children still living at home. The wonderful large, old house on St. Paul Boulevard held Mom and Dad, Tom, Beth, Jim, Chris and me. Our faithful black and white mongrel of a dog, Corky, and Fred the white fighting cat with Siamese markings, were also members of our family.

Tim and Rose were to be married on July 3rd, 1976. Since this was the Bicentennial of America, I had helpfully told Rose that if she dressed the bridesmaids in red, white and blue flag dresses, the newspapers would have to splash her wedding across the front pages. She did not take my advice. But, we so looked forward to that wedding!

Then, in early springtime, Mom went into the hospital to have surgery for colon cancer. I should have been more scared for her, but with the false surety of youth, I KNEW she would get better. Beth remembers that during the operation, Mom heard “Oh, this looks bad. We are going to lose her.” Once Mom was fully awake and could respond, she piped up in great irritation, "I have eight kids. I am NOT going anywhere." Now THAT is my Mom!

Mom was inundated with cards and food and good wishes from friends and family. The mailman seemed to arrive daily with a stoop, straightened fully by the time he had dropped off all of the cards for Mom.

Mom was getting better. Life for a high school senior about to graduate was getting back to normal.

In late April, it was Men’s Weekend at Otty Lake, so all of the men, including Dad and my brothers and 
Uncle Dick Lochner and his sons, were in Canada at our cottage. Aunt Esther was on her way over to our house as it was only the girls left in Rochester.  She was late, and then Mom got a call from the State Police; Aunt Esther had had a stroke and been in a car accident and was taken to the hospital.

Aunt Esther

Mom and Aunt Joanie (Uncle Dick’s sister whom the State Police had also called) drove straight to the hospital, and I attempted to reach the Otty Lake crew. When Uncle Dick was finally told, he and all the Lochner boys rushed home. In fact, they deliberately drove way over the speed limit as they raced down Route 81, hoping for a Police escort, but no luck.

Mom seemed to live at the hospital. On Tuesday, April 27th, our much beloved, compassionate, and beautiful Aunt Esther died.

Friday the 30th of April was Aunt Esther’s funeral. At the funeral, Uncle Dick, remembering that Esther had loved a singer at a recent wedding singing ‘How Great Thou Art’ asked that singer to sing the hymn at her funeral. I remember the funeral was packed with family, cousins, friends --we were all in shock that this could happen. Aunt Esther was taken from us much too young.

Aunt Esther and Uncle Dick, 1972

The next day was Charlie Hawkes’ and Mary Ann Cannon’s wedding in Lockport, NY. 
We all ached for Aunt Doris—she had just buried a sister and now her son was getting married the very
next day. After Aunt Esther’s funeral— everyone gathered back in the Lochner’s kitchen. While we ate and talked and cried, everyone wrestled with the difficult emotions of tragedy and celebration colliding. We decided we would all go to Charlie and Mary's wedding as a way to support Aunt Doris. Then everyone from her side of the family would be in a similar situation, so happy for the wedding couple while still grieving for Aunt Esther, and that would give some comfort to Aunt Doris, knowing she would be held by others who knew the enormity of how she was feeling.
And, so, everyone who had been at Aunt Esther’s funeral, including Uncle Dick and his sister Aunt Joanie, and Gladys and Sylva Howland, first cousins who had come for Esther’s funeral, also went to the wedding--support for Aunt Doris, support for the Lochners, and support for each other. All generations changed from the dark clothes of the day before to bright cheery clothes. 

 I remember the wedding as a joyful time but still sorrowful, surrounded by young and old in the family--the same people we had just cried with the day before sitting again in church pews, but this time, in happiness and hope in a Lockport, NY church. Then, when one of the singers began singing ‘How Great Thou Art’ for Charlie and Mary, everyone who had just heard it sung at the funeral the day before dissolved into tears.

Charlie Hawkes and Mary Cannon Hawkes

At the reception, we danced on the dance floor. Out of nowhere seemed to burst a spontaneous circle of cousins—‘Give me a T, Give me an A, Give me a Y, Give me an L, Give me an O, Give me an R. What does it spell? TAYLOR! What does it spell? TAYLOR!’ Who led the cheer? In my mind, it was me. But, it was a long time ago and I could be changing memories. A few more rousing times with the cheer and we felt some of our emotions lifting from us.

And so the Taylor Cheer was born. Looking back, we so needed a chance to cheer and dance and yell—to say that yes, we were still here (holding Aunt Esther in our hearts) and yes, we were here TOGETHER. It was so powerful and life affirming after the day before.

My sister Sue remembers that during the wedding and reception, there was an “enormously complex and 
deep range of emotions all roiling us at the same time, and it's that that resulted in the cathartic release of joy in family solidarity that was the Taylor Cheer. I remember it as a very powerful experience, and one that made me feel proud to be in the midst of this messy, crazy, hurting, loving family.”
 Taylor Cheer at Tim and Rose's Wedding, July 1976

Andy Hay and Pat Kinsella, July 1976

It is not every day that modern life so pointedly shows you how precious life can be—the funeral of such a beloved aunt on Friday, and the wedding of a zany but also beloved cousin the next day. The singing of ‘How Great Thou Art’ at both the funeral and the wedding? More than coincidence.

Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Perhaps it was God’s way of saying ‘Pay attention! You are all in this together!’ Through it all, the same family there to support, to grieve, to celebrate as one.

The Taylor Cheer was again on display that July at Tim and Rose’s wedding, and as I remember, for many weddings after.

I was recently telling my cousin Ted Lochner that I was going to the funeral of Glenn’s cousin in Delaware—again, a cousin who died far too young. Over the phone line I could hear Ted’s booming and joyful voice “Family Reunion Time!”

 I answered, “I know! But Glenn’s family doesn’t see it that way. Most of them are not coming.”
Ted got quiet for a moment and then said, “Pat, that is ONE thing we have learned, haven’t we? We’re all in this together.”

Many of you wonder why I keep doing this blog. I think it had a lot to do with that spring of 1976. Over the years, I felt like I lost track of many of you—my fault totally as I lived my life. But, now, I want you back. I do know how important family is, whether we are siblings or fourth cousins once removed.

I can still see us more than thirty-five years ago-- twirling, shouting, cheering and collapsing into a huge cousins’ hug on the dance floor. In my mind’s eye, we are doing the Taylor Cheer, we are doing the Baker Cheer, and as we finish with a great flourish and hug, we are surrounded by other, mostly unseen, cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles, gone now but still supporting, still guiding, still loving us. It is their stories, as well as all of ours, that I hope to keep telling on this cousins blog.

Love you all.

Pat Kinsella Herdeg, 2012

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Home Front By Eve Taylor

Seventy years ago, Eve Laufer Taylor lived through World War II in upstate New York. Here is one of her memories:

Living in Le Roy and working at Taylor’s Superette was an experience for a Rochester girl, gone “rural.” We had to deal with ration coupons, shortages in food and gas, price freeze, and black market.

Once a week a few very scarce items such as cigarettes, chocolate bars, coconut, and Jello would come in. Yes, even in the “Hometown of Jello” those Jack Benny six delicious flavors (strawberry, raspberry, cherry lemon, orange, lime) were scarce and much sought after.

Our regular customers were the ones who got those items, but the problem was to keep everyone happy. The limit on cigarettes was two packs to a family per week. That must have been a real hardship on most families.

Meat required the greatest number of ration points. I do not know the details of how that worked between supplier and merchant. I just remember how scared I was when my mother-in-law and I made a late night run in a “36 Ford wood- paneled station wagon to the Tobin Packing House in Rochester to get meat. No ration points were required!!!