Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Wishing all of the TaylorBaker cousins a very Merry Christmas this year.

2015 saw our group lose two of our own:
  • ·         Mickey Hawkes, son of Aunt Doris Taylor
  • ·         Harold Baker Taylor, son of Lloyd Taylor and Ethel Baker
Both will be missed more than words can express.

The Hawkes Family at Christmas 1957--Apparently another warm December like ours this year.
Aunt Doris, Charlie, Mick, Steve, Cyndi and Uncle Bud

Uncle Harold

As many of us travel by train, car or plane this holiday season, safe travels to all!

Aunt CB and Uncle Jack, in 1971, on the move!

Evelyn June Laufer Taylor, wife of Mom’s first cousin Bryant Taylor, has written memories of some of her Christmases through the years. First up is a story about Christmas wrapping through the years, and then a story of her and Bryant’s first Christmas together:

 Christmas 1972, Esther and Dick Lochner, Evelyn and Bryant Taylor

Christmas package styles evolve and change through the years just as clothes, houses, and cars do.  In the late 1920s and early 1930s we wrapped gifts in red or green tissue paper, fastened the ends with Christmas stickers, and tied them with red and green twisted string.

One time when I was about twelve years old, I decided to be more creative in my wrapping, so I chose white tissue paper and decorated the packages with blue stars like teachers used to reward students for good work. I glued the ends and did not use cord.

My mother had been working once a week as a companion to a wealthy woman whose husband was Vice President of Eastman Kodak Company.  When she wrapped gifts, the ends of the paper were cut even with the box’s edge and glued – 3M had not yet invented Scotch tape. 

I am not sure exactly when the colorful, printed Christmas paper came on the scene – probably in the mid-1930s, but how precious it was.  We carefully unwrapped each gift and folded the paper to use the following Christmas, for it was expensive and too pretty to throw away.

After World War II, there was a welcome release from rationing and conserving.  With more money to spend, gift paper became more lavish and the packages more glamorous.  Ready-made bows in assorted colors and sizes could be purchased in packages.  Now, it was not necessary to tie them with ribbon if you did not want to, although curling ribbon was fun to use.  Neither did paper need to be saved, for it was now affordable and plentiful.  Scotch tape had become part of our vocabulary and a staple among our household items.

Red and green tissue paper still is part of my family’s Christmas as Santa uses it for stocking presents.  There is always a brown paper bag in which to save the bows (some habits are hard to break.)  If I am lucky enough to receive a gift, wrapped in beautiful shimmery Mylar paper, I carefully fold it to save for “wrapping up Christmas” next year!


Bryant and I were married in October, 1942, so this was our very first Christmas together in our own furnished apartment, which was the upstairs of a house at 168 Mulberry St. in Rochester.  The Drews, our landlords, lived downstairs.  The living/dining room extended across the whole front of the house, so we could have a big tree.

Since we had no car then, we walked three blocks to where trees were being sold.  Big ones were expensive, but we made the decision to "go for it." Really, $5.00 was a lot of money when you only earned $60 a week!  We dragged it home on the sidewalks, excited as kids  --  but then,  we were only twenty  --  not too far from "kids" at that.

We purchased two boxes of beautiful, hand painted, large ornaments which, 60 years later, are still lovingly hung on the tree.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My Most Interesting Ancestor, By Ruth Taylor

My aunt, Ruth Taylor Maney, wrote this essay in eighth grade in Geneva, NY. It was based on her mother’s—Ethel Baker Taylor—notes and family tradition. What a wonderful image we get of Joshua Mott!

Joshua was born in 1791 in Coram, Long Island, New York. When Joshua was 24 years old, he married sixteen year old Permelia Saxton.  Together they had thirteen children, two of whom died very young. Permelia died in 1871 in Virgil, NY and Joshua died the following year.

My most interesting ancestor was great great grandfather Joshua Mott. He was a pioneer. He lived on Long Island in the year eighteen hundred ten but later he moved to Cortland County, New York.
As Long Island was near the sea most of the men were sailors. They expected to be sailors as that was about all there was to do there. Great great grandfather then had two sons and one daughter. If they stayed there the boys would surely become sailors. Great great grandfather didn’t want them to be sailors because very often word would come of someone being lost at sea and he didn’t want to lose his sons that way so he decided they would have to move.

A Page from Ruth Taylor's Written Essay

Moving was quite an undertaking in those days for the roads were very poor where there were any and, in many places, they had to make roads. They loaded their few possessions into an ox-cart and started. Among the things were great-great grandmother’s spinning wheel and a large brass kettle, articles much prized, even then, in the family. 

They made the two hundred mile journey in about two weeks. Sometimes they stopped over night with friends who lived on the road over which they were traveling.

When they got to Cortland County, the family stayed with friends while great great grandfather made a clearing and built the home. They arrived too late to put in any crops but it didn’t matter as they had provisions enough to last through the winter. It was a long winter and there was lots of snow but they lived comfortably in their new home. During the winter, great great grandfather cut down trees for fuel. Next spring he finished clearing the ground and put in some crops.

 Joshua Mott's Gravestone

He raised potatoes and corn. Cornmeal was used every day in some form for food. He kept cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and geese for meat, tallow, wool, leather and feathers. Every spring he made enough maple syrup to last through the year for very little white sugar was used as it was hard to get. They had no fruit cans to keep canned fruit in so they made preserves by cooking the fruit down until it was thick and putting lots of sugar into it. They kept it in large crocks or big earthen jugs. 

Almost everything was made in the home. Great great grandfather picked the geese and the feathers were used in making feather beds and pillows. The wool was spun and made into cloth for blankets and clothing. Some of the wool was made into yarn which was used in knitting stockings and mittens. Great great grandfather saved all the tallow and grease and helped great great grandmother make candles and soft soap with it. Once a year a man came and made shoes for the entire family. These shoes were supposed to last until he came again which wasn’t very soon.

Permelia Saxton Mott's Gravestone

Great great grandfather had seven more children after he came to Cortland County. He then decided he had done right by moving there. He was very religious and brought his children up to be religious also. All the children had the best education then afforded and each was taught a trade. One of the girls began teaching school when she was thirteen years old and another girl went from house to house tailoring which was very unusual for a girl to do. Most of the boys became farmers. Two boys went to the Mexican War and one to the Civil War. One of the boys who went to the Mexican War was killed.

They did not travel as much nor have as many entertainments as we do. It was a great treat for the children when great great grandfather occasionally took them back to Long Island to visit relatives. Most of the parties were among neighbors, helping each other such as husking bees, apple-paring bees and quilting parties. At school they had spelling bees and singing school. Through the winter they had many sleigh rides.

All the children helped. The older boys helped their father with the farm work while the girls helped with the house work and cared for the younger children. Two older girls learned to spin and weave cloth. The younger girls did not have to do this because by the time they were old enough to learn, people had stopped doing it and were buying more of the cloth their clothes were made of.

Great great grandfather helped to build up his community. Since he lived in a favorable location, people came to live there and so formed a town, now called Virgil. He was a very well liked man as he had a peaceable disposition and was friendly to all. He lived to be eighty-one years old.

The story of great great grandfather’s life teaches us many things. One of these things is thriftiness. They had to save everything they could for they couldn’t go to the store whenever they needed anything. I don’t think it would hurt anyone to save a bit even now when we can go to the store. You should also help each other. Great great grandfather and his family helped their neighbors with their work and the neighbors helped them in turn. Don’t always do as your neighbor is doing. Great great grandfather didn’t want his boys to become sailors as his neighbors were doing so he moved and taught his children something else to do.

When thirteen year old Ruth Emma Taylor wrote this essay for her teacher in 8B, Albert Einstein and Albert Hubble were doing research at the California Institute of Technology, Thomas Edison had just submitted his last patent application, Dick Tracy, the comic book detective, had just made his debut in newspapers, Al Capone was sentenced to eleven years in prison for tax evasion, and the George Washington Bridge opened.

Ruth’s world in 1931, so different from Joshua and Permelia Mott’s world, is much different from ours today, eighty four years later. Yet today, her words still ring true—be thrifty and help other people. 

Thank you, Ruth, for this mirror into my great great great grandfather’s life.

--Pat Kinsella Herdeg (daughter of Lucille Taylor, granddaughter of Ethel Baker, great granddaughter of Kate Youngs, great great granddaughter of Diadamia Mott, and three times granddaughter of Joshua and Permelia!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Remembrance, by Susan Kinsella

Thanksgiving puts me in mind of how much I appreciate family: both those I am blessed to be with now as well as those whose stories create our foundation. I thought this reverie might be appropriate.

(Photo up top of the blog with this posting: Cousins Harold Taylor, Sylva Howland Emhof, Jack Kinsella, Lucille (CB) Taylor Kinsella, Leona Howland Maffei at the Baker Reunion, Center Lisle, August 2009)

I had meetings in Washington, DC in mid-November this year. A good chance, I thought, to meet up with my niece, Alison Herdeg, who lives north of the city. She most generously took off half a day from work so that we could spend the afternoon together before my flight home to California.

We parked by the National Mall and started with a monument I had not known about before: the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Part of the Constitution Gardens, it was on a lovely island in a small lake, accessed by a short wooden bridge. A blue heron welcomed us.

Fifty-six stone blocks formed a semi-circle, each inscribed with the name, occupation, and hometown of one of the signers, crowned with a facsimile of his signature in gold. 

John Hancock’s stone was as bold as ever. But I was also taken with Richard Stockton’s stone. Some of the signers, like Ben Franklin, went on to greatness in the service of the new country. But others paid dearly for their signature on the Declaration and Richard Stockton was one of those. 

Born into a wealthy family that had helped found Princeton University, Stockton was welcomed overseas by notable men, including King George III, in England, Ireland and Scotland, and was appointed to the New Jersey Provincial Council on his return. But when, in 1776, he took a very active role in the Second Continental Congress and was the first person from New Jersey to sign the Declaration of Independence, his fortunes soon took a different turn. 

Just five months later, he was dragged from his bed in the middle of the night, stripped of his property, marched to Perth Amboy and turned over to the British army. There he was imprisoned in irons, starved, and kept in freezing cold winter conditions. When he was released five weeks later, his health was ruined. He returned to find his home occupied by the British General Cornwallis. All his furniture, crops and livestock had been taken or destroyed and his eminent library had been burned.

I was particularly interested in Richard Stockton’s story because my brother Tom Kinsella is a Professor of English at Stockton University in southern New Jersey, named in honor of this beleaguered signer of the Declaration of Independence.

At this memorial, I thought about our Taylor and Baker ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War to bring the dream of a new nation into reality, including Josiah, Gamaliel and Thomas Taylor - grandfather, father and teenage son who fought together, and Solomon Baker and John Joe Backus, as well as several more (see Story here).

Washington Monument from Constitution Gardens

Ali and I moved on to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. That was an incredibly heart-wrenching war to me and I spent a deeply chaotic freshman year in college protesting against it. One of my college friends was killed in Vietnam. I find the Wall always deeply moving. This time, we visited it the day after Veterans Day, so there were many more flowers, letters, and tokens left in tribute and mourning at the wall than usual.

Ali Herdeg at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

The Vietnam Women’s Memorial, a tribute to the nurses who served in Vietnam, especially breaks my heart every time I see it.

Ali went to get the car while I went to see Abe. I decided that he would probably like the fact that people of all races and ethnic backgrounds revere and visit him. 

And of course that made me think about our ancestors who fought in the Civil War, all on the Union side: Arthur Borthwick, who left detailed diaries of the troops he marched with; Charles Noyes, Franklin Olmsted, Orlando Munsell Tillotson (stories here) and Dustan Walbridge, cousins of my great-great-grandfather Daniel Taylor (only Frank survived); and Daniel Mott, a young farmer from Cortland, NY and uncle to my great-grandmother Kate Youngs Baker. 

When Ali arrived back with the car, we decided to go visit Daniel Mott. We headed across the Potomac River to Arlington Cemetery and asked for directions to the Civil War Unknowns Monument.

Arlington Cemetery, Washington, DC

We walked down many peaceful, sorrowful lanes of plain white gravestones, heading towards Arlington House, which had been the Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s home until the war. 

Robert E. Lee House, Arlington, Cemetery
 Past the house, up the hill and around the corner, near what had been a flower garden and grove of oak and elm trees, we found an ornate burial vault. 

Civil War Unknowns Monument, Arlington Cemetery
Carved into it are the words:

Beneath this stone repose the bones of two thousand one hundred and eleven unknown soldiers gathered after the War from the fields of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock. Their remains could not be identified, but their names and deaths are recorded in the archives of their country, and its grateful citizens honor them as of their noble army of martyrs. May they rest in peace. 
September, A.D. 1866

Pat Herdeg, our blog curator and magnificent ancestry researcher, believes that Daniel Mott is buried here. Her chilling story of his death at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run/Manassas is HERE

We have a letter that Daniel wrote to his older brother, Samuel, transcribed by hand by Aunt CB:

Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va.
Sunday, July 13, 1862
Dear Brother,

I seat myself on my knapsack with pen in hand to inform you that I am well hoping this will find you all enjoying the same blessing. We are under marching orders and have got our knapsacks all ready packed so as to start at 15 minutes warning yet we may not start before tomorrow morning. I expect we will go to Warrenton, Va. about 35 miles northwest of this place and near the blue ridge mountains. There is quite a great many sick in the regiment. Nearly all that are not able to march have been taken to hospitals at Alexandria and Washington. 

There was 6 out of our Co. carried to a hospital in Washington last Sunday. Rufus and Charles Hutchings were among the number. This climate agrees with me very well but I dread the march. We have to carry so much on our backs that I often wish I had the strength of Sampson of old but I can get along as well as most of the Reg. then we are all toiling together and if needs be will fight till our last drop of blood is spilled in defense of our country. 

I hope the President’s call for 300,000 additional volunteers will be promptly responded to and I think New York will fill us her quota of 50,000 men without drafting but to do this each town and County ought to bear a share and I think Virgil [town in Cortland County] should spare of few more of her sons. My advice to any young man that can possibly leave home and whose health will admit to enlist by all means.

“What,” says some young man, “leave at such a busy time of year as this?” YES, I say, leave now when you are called for and so much needed to help crush out this accursed rebellion for the preservation of the Union is of greater importance than haying or harvesting and if the new volunteers in large numbers will come on and hold the places that we older and better drilled ones now hold so as to let us go on to Richmond and Charleston we could go on in such large numbers as to break the backbone of rebeldom in a short time. . . . 

I send my love to you all, this from your friend and Brother, Daniel Mott

Then Daniel adds a note to Samuel about the return mail he hopes to receive. 

Direct as follows and it will follow us where we will: 

Doubledays Brigade 76 Regt.
Co. A. N.Y.S.V. Washington, DC

Daniel spilled his last drop of blood a month and a half later, on August 28, 1862 at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. He was just 27 and had been in the Army less than a year. In the chaos and terror of war, his body was left on the battlefield. The war would continue for another three years. We hope that his bones were among those eventually gathered and brought to this Tomb of the Unknown. 

But, wherever you are, Daniel Mott, your family remembers and honors you. Blessings.

Ali Herdeg and Sue Kinsella at
Civil War Unknowns Monument, Arlington Cemetery, Washington, DC