Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy Veteran’s Day, Daniel Mott---Civil War Soldier; Another Letter Found! By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

We have written about my great great great uncle Daniel Mott several times;

---Daniel Mott, Missing in Action during the Civil War by Pat Kinsella Herdeg  (

---Daniel Mott in the Civil War--One of his Last Written Letters By Pat Kinsella Herdeg (

Daniel Mott died fighting in the Civil War. Younger brother of our Diadamia Mott, who married William Youngs and whose daughter Kate married Byron Baker, Daniel was a farmer in Virgil, NY.

He enlisted in the 76th NY Regiment, and by all accounts went missing in action on August 28th, 1862 during the Battle of Brawner’s Farm, in the Second Battle of Bull Run, also known as the Second Manassas.

Earlier this summer, another letter written by our Daniel was found, thanks to this blogsite! I was contacted by Kenneth Higham, who had a letter written by Daniel to his sister Sarah Jane, handed down to him through his grandmother. He graciously sent me a copy of Daniel’s letter. Written six months before his death, it is heartbreaking, on many levels.

 Sarah Jane Mott--MUCH older than when she received this letter as a 25 year old!

                                                                   Camp Casey, Meridian Hill
                                                          February 23rd, 1862

To Sarah J. Mott
Dear Sister,

Once more I seat myself to pen a few lines to let you know that I am enjoying tolerable good health hoping this will find you all well. I was on guard last night and it was very rainy so you must not expect much news in this note for I am very sleepy and do not feel much like writing.

William B. Potter one of our Co died last Wednesday the 19th by taking too much morphine. He had been complaining some time with a severe cold and could not sleep much nights. Last Tuesday night he went to the Dr to see if he could not get something to make him sleep better. The Dr. gave him such a large dose of morphine that he went to sleep and slept that sleep that knows no waking. He died the next day at 3 o clock PM and Friday his uncle Chancey Potter in our CO also started with the corpse for Taylor, Cortland County where his friends live. He was 22 years old and leaves a young widow that he married since he enlisted to mourn his loss. If it should be my lot to fall a prey with disease, it would be my desire to be sent home to repose on my native soil.

There are a great many sick in the regt caused by catching hard colds when we first camped out in tents. I caught a very severe cold at first but have nearly got over it.

I think the hardest fighting we’ll have to do will be against disease for the union troops have been so victorious of late in taking fort after fort and have so completely routed the rebels in so many places that I think they will soon get all they want and more too, and will lay down their arms and sue for peace and I should not be surprised if those of us that live would spend the 4 of July at home.

I will name the letters that I have wrote since we have been here and those that I have rec.

I rec a letter from Nancy and ans one from Cate and ans it and sent it enclosed in one that I wrote to Sam, one from Minor and Emeline and ans them. I have also rec two from Billy (Lilly??) have not ans the last one but will shortly then I have wrote Dama one.

I have been particular so if any have missed you may know it. It is about time that I rec answer to those letters as it is some time since I wrote them.
Now Sal (Pal??) when you rec this letter, I want you to answer it right away for I wrote you a letter when at Albany that I have never rec an ans to.

Write most anything and be sure and write how Father and Mother, and Grandmother’s health is. I have not lost your likeness yet. Be sure and write soon.

Direct to Camp Casey Co of 76th Regt. NY, S.V. Washington, DC.

Goodby for the present.  My love to you all. This from your Soldier Brother,

                                                                   Daniel Mott

Sarah Jane, Daniel’s sister, was two years younger than Daniel, and notice that it is her picture that he carries with him into battle. Our Diadamia—my great great grandmother—or ‘Dama’ is only three years older, so Sarah Jane and Diadamia are the two closest in age to their brother.

Daniel is very interested in who is writing letters to him and who still needs to write more. We saw this in Arthur Borthwick’s Civil War journals also;

Arthur Austin Borthwick Diaries—Life in Freetown NY and during the Civil War By Pat Kinsella Herdeg, (

In his diaries, Arthur kept careful count of how many letters he sent to each family member, and how many letters they in return sent to him. So, it seems likely that receiving mail from home was a very important part of the Civil War soldier’s life in the field.

When Daniel writes: ‘I think the hardest fighting we’ll have to do will be against disease’, it is hard to read as we know the end of this story, and the Union soldiers will not be home by the 4th of July. In fact, they fight for another three years.

Daniel begins the letter by telling his little sister about the death of a fellow soldier in camp. William Potter’s body is taken home to New York State by his uncle. Hardest of all to read is what he pens at the end of that paragraph: ‘If it should be my lot to fall a prey with disease, it would be my desire to be sent home to repose on my native soil.’

As I ended the last part of the blog story on Daniel Mott who was MIA at the Second Manassas:

“Our Daniel is most likely buried in Arlington under the Tomb of the Unknown of the Civil War. This granite tomb, shaped like a casket, holds the remains of 2,111 Civil War soldiers, most of them from the Bull Run Battlefields.

So, when you next visit Arlington Cemetery, stop in at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watch the changing of the guard, but then, search out the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers of the Civil War and stop and think of our Daniel.”

Our Daniel never did get to ‘repose on his native soil’. Today, we thank him and all of the veterans who so proudly and bravely have defended our great country. We owe them all a tremendous debt.

Thank you.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Reading the Tea Leaves by CB Taylor Kinsella

 Kate Youngs Baker
Grandma Baker (Kate Youngs Baker) was our fortune teller! I have no idea how many cups of green tea or black, always made with loose tea and boiled ‘too hell and back’ as Adin used to say, in an old upright enamel teapot, we drank with her. She’d pour the boiling drink into cups, usually after our meal, settle herself into her rocking chair with us all squatting around her, and when it was safe to drink, we’d sip with her.

Always, when there was about a teaspoon of liquid left, the ritual began. We’d carefully swirl the tea around to distribute the grounds, then, in one swallow, drink it up and carefully, so as not to disturb the pattern, hand the cup to Grandma.

She’d turn it gently around in her gnarled hands, trying to get the best perspective and then she’d begin.

A Young Aunt CB Waiting to Have Her Tea Leaves Read?

A long dark piece of tea grounds? There’s a tall, dark, man in your future (shivers up the girls’ spines).

Several leaves clumped together? A reunion or a celebration is coming your way.
Tea leaves pointing to the cup’s edge meant a trip—sooner or later was determined by where in the sphere the leaves were.

Meet a stranger? The leaves foretold that too as well as the arrival of a letter soon. Now, as adults, receiving a letter may not be such a big deal but for a kid—I’d wait for days for the promised epistle.

I believe Grandma’s tea fortunes implicitly. I can still remember the impatience with which I waited for my ‘turn’!

Aunt Ruth Maney holding Richard Maney, Michael Maney in front, Ethel Baker Taylor next to Aunt Ruth, Her mother Kate next to her, Lucille Kinsella, then Barb Taylor, Harold Taylor and Adin Baker.

As I drink my green tea today, Grandma is always with me and I always check my ‘fortune’.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Happy Birthday John Joseph Kinsella By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Today my father is 91 years old, so we celebrate his life by remembering a few of his stories about his father, Daniel Augustus Kinsella who lived in Waterloo, NY. This cousins blog is about family on my mother’s side, but since we are remembering stories about Waterloo and Cayuga Lake, places important to both my mother and father’s side of the family, I hope I will be forgiven.
Over the years, Dad has written memories about his father, Dan Kinsella. Here is a story about Dan Kinsella duck hunting over one hundred years ago:

My father was a good shot with a rifle. In his backyard at Clark Street, he would put up large blocks of slate as a backstop and then placed bottles and cans in front and shoot at them by the hour. He said he used to place something like a coke bottle with the small end facing him. His intention was to place a bullet through the small open end of the bottle. When he did this successfully he said, “It took the end of the bottle off slick as a whistle!”

Daniel Kinsella, Father of Jack Kinsella

Before he got married (Dan Kinsella and Margaret Ferguson were married in 1917), Dad spent quite a bit of time at Jakie Burroughs farm in Canoga (the farm extended all the way to Cayuga Lake and included the property that Harold’s cottage and all those on his road now stand). During duck season, Jakie ran a duck hunt business. ‘Hunters’ mainly from New York City, paid him money to hunt ducks on his land.  He would position them at various spots on his property and as the flocks came in and flew over them they were to shoot the ducks. 

Dad said the problem was that none of them could hit the broad side of a barn so the ducks usually would fly harmlessly through the fuselage of shots. As this greatly disappointed the ‘hunters’ Jakie than got the idea of having Dad spotted at the end of the line. When the unharmed ducks flew over him, Dad would always bring them down. Jakie would then distribute these ducks among his customers who would go back to New York City bragging to everyone about what great hunters they were!

Jakie Burroughs duck hunting business wasn’t a fly by night operation. He had a business plan he followed. As he had lots of competitors-- other farmers along the lake wishing to do the same thing-- he had to find a better way to attract ducks to his farm. Everyone knew you had to have something to draw the migrating ducks in and the preferred method was to anchor wooden ducks, called stoolies, in their bays. That worked reasonably well but Jakie had a better plan —he would use live ducks! Here’s how he did it:

 When the early migrations of ducks arrived at Cayuga lake, Jakie would have piles of shucked corn sitting on his land just for the taking. The ducks couldn’t resist that. After the initial piles were eaten, he then put new piles of corn up near his barn. The ducks found that and greedily ate it. Then he put piles just in front of the barn door and again the ducks couldn’t resist it. The final step was to open the barn door and put piles of corn inside the barn.

“Ducks are smart,” Dad said, “and they were wary of that corn at first. But in the end they couldn’t resist so they went into the barn to get their food and that’s when Jakie closed the barn door.” After much chasing, he would catch the ducks and clip their wings so they couldn’t fly and he was now ready for the major duck migration with REAL stoolies. As Dad said, “Ducks are smart” and the incoming flocks would ignore the wooden stoolies and head right for Jakie’s farm to join their live buddies already there!  No wonder his business was much better than that of the other local farmers.
 Dad often told me, “You would never believe the amount of ducks that were around in those days. Often the sky was just black with ducks.” He said often after a good day of shooting his arm was black and blue for days. My older brother, Dick, told me he remembers seeing a picture of a boat at Jakie’s dock that had just come back from a successful shoot ant it must have contained 200-300 ducks. Jakie used to sell the ducks to local restaurants for 75 cents apiece. (The government passed a law in 1918 outlawing commercial selling of ducks.)

 When Mom and Dad (Margaret and Dan) were first going together, no doubt Dad often mentioned hunting ducks at Jakie’s. I doubt if Mom was excited to hear about all the ducks being killed but when she realized that Dad often stayed at Jakie’s over weekends she asked the obvious question, “Where did you go to church on Sunday, Dan?” He quickly answered, “McDuffietown” knowing this was a place she would never ever visit. Never say never. 

Paul Pontius, who married Dan’s aunt, was one of the first in the area to buy a car. One day he invited Mom and Dad out for a drive. They were driving along the back roads near Canoga and as they went through a very small hamlet, Mom asked Paul what was the name of the place. When Paul replied, “McDuffietown,” Mom said, “Back up, I want to see the Catholic Church.” Paul replied, “Catholic Church! There’s no Catholic Church here. In fact, there’s no church in this entire area!” The Chronicles are silent about Mom’s reaction to this. Incidentally, today McDuffietown has 8 residences AND one church! 

 Jakie also had a fishing business. He provided boats and a guide. Dad was one of his guides. This turned out to be a real benefit for him because he made great friends with some of the powerful men in the area. One was Norman Gould, the owner of Goulds Pumps and another was Billy Mayers who was the Comptroller of New York State. In later years he called on Billie for several favors and when he was desperately in need of job in the heart of the depression he went to Norm Gould and told him he really had to have a job. Norm made one call and Dad started work the next day.

-----------------So, John Joseph Kinsella, Thank You for passing along these stories about your father, and about his great friend Jakie Burroughs who we so often hear about. Life was certainly different on Cayuga Lake one hundred years ago!
Happy Birthday!