Monday, March 31, 2014

A Taylor New Year’s Day of Snow and Feasting, From Upstate New York, 1851 By Elizabeth Taylor Sizer

I know we are NOT near to New Year's Day, but I see that some cousins on facebook have yet MORE snow as of yesterday; so here is one last burst of winter before surely Spring shows its face?!

This blog story is by a special correspondent—Elizabeth Taylor who was the sister of our Daniel Rockwell Taylor, great grandfather to Aunt CB. Aunt CB has some old letters tucked away, and I spent the better part of an evening poring over the small writing trying to decipher words.

Readers of the blog know Elizabeth Taylor Sizer. She was born in 1830 and died in 1852, so she was 21 years old when she wrote this letter to her brother Daniel.

 She married Albert Sizer in July of 1851, and spent much of that first summer tending to her brother Daniel, who left Yale very sick. The next year Elizabeth bore her son and died days later, but not before naming her son after her favorite brother. The story is told in more detail here:

The town the Taylors live in is Alabama, New York, a small community halfway between Rochester and Buffalo.

At the time of this letter, Daniel is away at Yale, Elizabeth has not yet married ‘Mr. Sizer’ and all seems joyful ahead of them.

Oakfield January 19, 1851

Dear Brother,

We received your letter dated January 11 last night, and were very glad to hear of your continued good health and happiness.

Perhaps you think it is my turn to plead guilty, for not writing sooner. I have many excuses but I think one will suffice, and that is this --Mr. Sizer was here between Christmas and New Year's, and wrote a long letter to you which I concluded by the length must contain all the news, both in the kitchen and parlor, and I finally came to the conclusion that I would delay writing for a few days at least, and perhaps something new would transpire. But the snow has been so deep most of the Yorkers have housed up for the winter, and as we are not so well supplied as we were before the emigration to the steam sawmill, and as the roads are so we could not attend church, I thought I would employ the time in writing. (Editor’s Note: Elizabeth will go on to marry Albert Sizer in less than six months; it does not sound like the family knows this yet. Perhaps Albert wrote to Daniel telling him about it).

Oh! Daniel I wish you had been here New Year's for we had a fine time outdoors especially. Imagine yourself in a place where the snow is some less than 4.0 feet deep, the wind blowing so hard that the sheep have to brace themselves against the fence to keep from going away, and the snow flying in all directions, and you can form some idea of the outdoors prospect at least in old Alabama, New Year's Day.

We had a rousing fire built up in tother room, (not much like your city fire I reckon), ditto one in the kitchen and then what do you think we did? Well! We didn't do nothing, no I guess we didn't but we stuffed a dead goose and then put her in the oven to roast. About 10 o'clock, if you had looked through one of them big telescopes you have heard tell about, one of them 'ere things what big men look through and seen such wonderfications on the moon, you probably would not have seen Elliot and his better half (their older brother and his wife, Sarah, married one year earlier) wading through the snow up their ankles, but they like hard and weatherbeaten sailors put on bold faces and braved the storm manfully and thus came off conquerors, leaving their white antagonist none the better for interfering with the plans of others.

 Daniel Taylor, later in life

The other guests did not make their appearance, however we had quite a little party of Taylor's, and enjoyed ourselves first rate, especially about 4 o'clock for about this time the roast goose looked very tempting and but few in old Genesee worked much harder than we did, as we sat around the long table, levered with geese, chicken pies, plum puddings, bison cakes, with a little cabbage on it, with many other things too numerous to mention, justice was done to them all.

Thank you Elizabeth for writing letters! I wish we had a picture of you, and perhaps in the future, through finding Sizer cousins, we will find one, but I did not think a picture of your grave would be appropriate. In this letter, you are so alive and filled with energy, thoughts and love. Again, an ancestor I wish I could sit down with and get to know over coffee (or tea?).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kinsella Concert By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Last November we had a grand Kinsella concert in Greece, NY. As Mom and Dad and Pat watched via skype, the musicians assembled in my brother Jim’s music room. And, it was never such a ‘music room’ as that afternoon!

My sister Beth had flown in from Japan for the first time in two years, so we were all anxious to see her. But, what Mom and Dad did NOT know is that she and Tim and Jim and Jim’s daughter Maddy had been practicing three songs for a surprise concert.

Jim and Jill’s nearby elementary school graciously let them borrow a large harp for Beth to play, since of course hers in Japan was NOT coming to America for the trip. Tim was practicing the songs on his piano in Syracuse, Jim was practicing on his Irish tin whistle, Maddy on her cello and Kelly on her bass. They got together several times via skype to try and get some long distance practicing in. The excitement was growing for this visit!

Maddy, Tim

During the week that Beth was in Greece, she would go to Jim and Jill’s home to practice, telling Mom and Dad that the girls were asking her advice on some project. Since Dad was just out of the hospital and having various nurses’ visits and medical people coming and going, they were more than happy to have Beth ‘do her thing’ without asking too many questions. Beth and Jim giggled as they could see this might just work—they weren’t half bad!


A few days before the concert, Jill suddenly remembered that they better tune their piano—a hand-me-down from cousin Rick Lochner, it had not been tuned in about fifteen years. Luckily, Jill found a piano tuner—blind as it turns out but a terrific ear for sound—to come two days before our big event. Piano tuned, harp in place, cello, tin whistle and bass in the small room—the room swelled with musical instruments, anticipation and musicality.

Maddy and her cello

When the big day arrived, Dad was not doing well enough to go over in person, so he and Mom and I used the internet to watch. Glenn Herdeg was filming on his camera, and Tom Kinsella on his Ipad. Pat, on Mom and Dad’s end, was also filming on her Ipad, to get the parents’ reactions. Dan Kinsella and his wife Liz were there as cherished fans, with front row seats no less.

The concert began—Three songs with different groups of musicians playing rung out—‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Greensleeves’. Jim’s daughter Kelly’s sweet voice lifted up ‘Amazing Grace’ and Tom Kinsella’s Bob Dylan-like vocals rounded out ‘Greensleeves’. Each instrument in turn found its way into the spotlight—sometimes Tim on the piano, Kelly on her bass, Maddy sitting with her cello, Jim scrunched in the corner with his tin whistle, Beth on her harp. Since we had never seen or heard Beth on her harp before, despite years of practice on her part in Japan, it was a special treat.

Jim, Kelly, Tom

And Mom and Dad, they could only watch and listen and clap and exclaim at what they heard and saw. Mom said several times that her grandfather, Bryant Taylor would be so proud of the group. He and his sons had a well-known quartet in western New York in the late 1800’s (see The Taylor Male Quartet, written by Aunt CB here at the cousins blog:

That story from 2008 ended with the questions: ‘And, did the musical gene get passed down to YOUR side of the family?!’

For the Kinsellas, we now know the answer! 

As the harp was brought back to the school and the piano bench pushed back in, as the music room slowly reverted back to its original music AND art room, we heard all exclaim “Until Next Time—Perhaps the Beatles mixed in with traditional choices?” Aha—A Next Time!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Emma Carson Taylor’s Journals—1886 until 1916 By Evelyn Laufer Taylor

There is something invasive about reading another person’s personal Journal. I was slightly uncomfortable in the beginning, but as I continued reading, I found that Emma was not one to go deeply into her personal feelings. Unlike today, where everyone is supposed to be “finding herself” or figuring out where she “is going”, in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, this was not thought about by most people. A woman’s lot in life was to be what she was and to do what was demanded of her without analysis. In the words of the old cliché: “Ours is not to wonder why, ours is but to do or die.”

October 4th, 1886: Emma is 26 years old when she first begins to write in a Journal. She went to visit her mother to tell her she was pregnant with her first child. This word ‘pregnant’ was not mentioned outright. Even in the Journal, she told that her mother and she were doing a lot of talking on “a certain subject”.
Emma was a Christian woman who expressed her spiritual feelings freely in her Journal. She spent the winter with her parents until the baby’s birth. Bryant visited off and on and then returned to Oakfield to farm. She and the other women of the West Bethany household (her mother and sisters) busied themselves with an endless round of washing, ironing, sewing for themselves and each other, butchering, knitting, crocheting, visiting friends, having company in, going to church and participating in church related activities.

1887: Motto—“Pray Without Ceasing” or “Pray About Everything”
Each New Year’s Day, Emma chose a motto to live by in the coming year. Some years she and Bryant chose one together.

Their first child, Clara, was born January 5th, 1887. On January 17th, just 12 days after the baby was born, Bryant left for California to see how he would like it and to take charge of Mr. Henry’s land. He would be gone possibly a year! And this is what is hard for me to accept—Emma was not told that Bryant was going until the baby was a week old! Apparently, he felt it was the time to do it before settling down here.
In Emma’s words, “It seemed to me that he would never be satisfied until he went and saw for himself the country. God bless and keep my darling husband is all I can say, and if it seems best that our future be there, I will go with him—although I never want to leave NY state or Genesee Co.”

Emma and Baby Clara

June 14th: Bryant and her brother Albert Carson each bought a city lot for $500.  I cannot imagine when I will get my husband back, or what it will come to.”

November: Bryant sold his team and wagon, started a Real Estate Insurance business—B.W. Taylor and Co. His partner is Albert Carson, Emma’s oldest brother.

December: Emma shows some irritation at the situation, “I cannot help but murmur a little at this separation…I am terribly setabout by this uncertain waiting. God help me bear it like a Christian.”
Then, on Christmas Eve, Bryant surprised them all by returning for good, leaving Albert in California.

1888: Motto  “Thy Will Be Done”
Starts on a note of disappointment as Bryant returns to his father’s farm to work. “I did so hope we might go to housekeeping by ourselves. But trust God is leading—and I will try and use my new motto, ‘Thy Will Be Done’.
Once again she sacrifices her desires for the sake of her husband and returns to Oakfield for at least ‘another year’. 

September 21 Friday: “I expect to have another ‘little one’ to take along the next time. I tried to be as cheerful about it as I could be about it with God’s help. It is to be his child indeed—given to him from the very first.”

October 13,1888: Birth of a baby boy. Still no name mentioned yet on October 22nd.

January 1, 1889   Motto: “Never Ask anything of God that you are Not Willing to Work For”
“What darling little ones I have! They are worth all the cost. Both so bright.”

February 10: First mentioned name ‘baby Leon’ (four months old).

Emma, Clara, Bryant and baby Leon

Apr. 23, 1892:   “My limbs trouble me swelling.  Shall not expect to get rid of it until after August.”
Emma is pregnant, but again does not mention the word even in her private Journals.
Before leaving for Springville, she mentioned that she and her mother “had some special little talks.”

July 12     They had a lot of company over the 4th of July, so Emma had a lot of the usual preparations.  Emma does not go to church one Sunday but stays home with the little ones.  “I sometimes think I would have a wonderfully good time if it were not for the third little one I am expecting soon but God only knows it might be worse with me.”

Little did she know that her “third little one” would be twins!

Aug. 12 Friday   This date is highlighted by Emma.
“Here I am sitting up in bed writing.  My twins a week old tonight (Aug.5) God has indeed been with us so far.  It looks dark enough on ahead but we will trust on.  He who helped will help again. I have not dared to think how we will manage two babies… We both felt bad at first –to think of two at once-they seemed so much work and expence [sic]-but the day may come when we will be blessed indeed in these two darling babies.”

Sept 7  “Cannot find names to suit yet.”

Nov. 29    On the 16th babies were baptized:  William Lloyd and Daniel Floyd. William is Emma’s father’s name and Daniel is Bryant’s father’s name.  Twins always went by middle names of Lloyd and Floyd.
As Emma ends this Journal of 1892:  “God bless my four lovely children for sweeter little ones never lived.  I think I am happier now than I have ever been before.”
“The coming year I want to grow in grace more than ever before and in the knowledge of my God and saviour Jesus Christ.

1893 Motto “In His Name”

November 18: 8th Wedding Anniversary “I am a happy wife most of the time.”

1894 Motto “I Will Try”

1894 November 18th Tenth Wedding Anniversary
Emma speaks of “hard times” with low prices for crops. There is no special celebration because of these hard times.

Some of the Journals in this period are missing. During this span of years, Florence and then Harold and then Mildred are born. Harold dies in infancy. Mildred dies in 1907. Lloyd is kicked in the head by a horse and near death for some time. Floyd has appendicitis and an operation performed on their dining room table.

1910:  “A good motto for the fiftieth year of my life—TRY  TRY  T.R.Y. to the end of everything but most of all try to be a better Christian in the highest sense of the expression.”

July 12, 1912 With both Daniel and Cordelia dead, dividing things among the four children –Arnon Henry (husband of Clara who died in 1904), Orrin—Geneva, Carlton—Dunham’s Corner, and Bryant—The Homestead in Oakfield Emma writes:

“It passed off very pleasantly—but to tell the truth heart strings were pulled some, as each saw something he had set his heart on go to someone else of the other three.”

First mention of Lloyd and Ethel  who came to help care for Clara, once again fighting typhoid. Of Ethel she writes—“never a girl did more nobly”.

July 30—Emma is not well. “wish I were all right and well again.”

This is Emma’s last entry in her Journals. She died August 4th, 1916 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

On December 19, 1909 Emma heard a sermon that she liked, preached on

2 Timothy 4:7

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course—I have kept the faith.”

A fitting summary of Emma Jane Carson Taylor’s life.