Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Developments: Joseph K. Ballard - Elizabeth Burleson

The life of Joseph Kelsey Ballard has been one full of mysteries. Having died at an early age, he was known only by his nieces and nephew, all whom have passed away now. The basic information was easily obtainable; birth date, death date, burial location, etc. However, stories were told of his marriage to a woman, who later became Edith Hagadorn. I now have more information surrounding his marriage to "Edith" Hagadorn.

Above is the marriage certificate for Joseph K. Ballard, obtained through and their New York Counties Marriage Record Database. The record contains a variety of interesting information, including the birth locations for his mother and father. It has been accepted that his mother, Ella Jane Kilmer, was born in Natural Bridge, New York. However, this particular record lists her as having been born in Utica, New York. The most interesting piece of information is that of the birthplace of Joseph's father, Charles Ballard. His death certificate claims that Charles was born in Clarendon, New York but no record exists of that birth nor of his mother, Adeline Bates in the 1850 Fed. Census or the 1855 NYS Census. Instead, this record lists his place of birth as Rome, NY which would also explain where Adeline met her second husband, Mortimer Clark, who was born in Vermont.

This particular record points to several interesting pieces of information, including the Kilmer family's connection to the Hotchkin family of Niagara County, NY. "Edith" Hagadorn, as Aunt Doris remembered her as, was actually Elizabeth Burleson, daughter of Ward L. Burleson and Anne Benjamin. Aunt Doris recalled Edith, or Elizabeth, as having the last name Hagadorn after her second marriage to John W. Hagadorn of Hornell, NY. Joseph and Elizabeth were married on October 29, 1919 in Niagara Falls, New York, however their marriage would only last a few years when the couple divorced in 1926, filing their papers in Monroe County, New York.

Joseph Ballard's Grandfather, Joseph Kilmer, had first married Elizabeth Adner who bore him three children, Orville, Charles and Ella Jane. After her death in 1878, Joseph remained a single man until he remarried Alice Hotchkin on October 30, 1901 in Niagara County, New York.

Alice A. Hotchkin Kilmer

At the time of their marriage, Joseph was nearing 70 years of age, while Alice was 39. It's difficult to say why the marriage occured considering the ages of the two individuals, however in the 1900 census, Alice was a single woman living with her father still.

Alice had several siblings including two other sisters who married individuals connected to the Kilmer family. Her younger sister Julia Etta Hotchkin married Frederick Kilmer, the brother of Ella Jane Kilmer. Another sister, Luella Mae, was married to John W. Hagadorn, who later married the ex-wife of Joseph K. Ballard. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Disagreement Over "Traditional" Lands

I had the pleasure of having a brief discussion with a gentleman over the phrasing of a comment I made. The man was at a local family history fair to discuss and teach a class on German Genealogy, which the success of this talk could be discussed in another thread. I was present to teach two classes on Polish Genealogy, which the success (judged by those attending) was far less than stellar. Having some time to talk with this gentleman, he asked if I had any German ancestry that I had worked on. Of course I have plenty of ancestry from Germany;

My Kilmer ancestry is said to have originated in the Alsace-Lorraine region, which discussion on such a subject has the potential to quickly turn volatile when the right elements come into play.

My Traub and Sherwood ancestry has ties to Baden and Wurttemburg, although I haven't been able to make the jump from the United States and back into Germany.

And of course, my Polish family has some German background.

I apparently made the mistake of saying, "My Polish ancestors are from "Traditional Polish" lands in the German-Polish region of what is now Poland but West Prussia then. I am familiar with general Polish historical events and ideas however, I am not well versed in the medieval history of the nation or the commonwealth. If one was to engage me on the merits of traditional Polish lands versus Germanic lands, I would hear nothing of the sort. Many people wish to discuss the nation of Germany as if it always existed; vast numbers of Germanic tribes and numerous provinces and states independently operating amongst themselves until 1871 does not constitute an aged nation or even a strong nation at that, despite the military prowess of a bully-like nation.

I would have been happy to have heard stories of the Tar-tars or the Teutonic Knights that occupied the lands of medieval Poland in the exact towns and regions that my family originated. I was instead directed to stories of Pomeranians being of Kashubian descent (something that I have known for some time as anyone from Pomerania would destroy you for calling them German). I also heard tales of Brandenburg and East Prussia. The stories were entertaining but far from my own personal interest as little discussion resulted in essential information to my own family.

Unfortunately, the downfall of the Polish Commonwealth in the 1790s has made Polish genealogy a living hell. More importantly, it has had a profound effect on the nationalistic feelings of Polish-American descendants like myself. Such discussion over the stolen lands of Poland, controlled by Prussia, the Habsburg Austrians and Imperial Russians really kill the feeling of some sort of nationalistic appeal. Although the Poles have pushed numerous movements towards national identity, the old policies have forever scarred the image of Poland in the minds of researchers and descendants alike.

Growing up I was raised on what I was told were Polish traditions and in a Polish Catholic Church. However, I have now discovered through research, that many of my ancestors have ties to Germany more than Polish, but only suffered as Poles (more likely as Catholics) at the hands of Bismarck and the Kulturkampf.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coats Family Photographs

Martin Coats
b: 1805
d: 1885 in Brockport, NY

Susan Liles Coats
b: 1806
d: 1885 in Brockport, NY

Martin and Susan Coats are my 4th Great Grandparents, the Great Great Grandparents of Shirley Spink Traub and the Great Grandparents of Marjorie Cox Spink. I can see some traits that made it down through lines.

Martin and Susan had a handful of children, 8 to be exact. One of the daughters, Alletta, married Charles Henry Griffin from whom I descend. Another daughter Rebecca married Andrew Morton Oothoudt and moved to Minnesota. From there, the descendants spread to Wisconsin, Oregon and Michigan.

Martin Alexander Oothoudt
b: Aug. 12, 1858 in Sun Prarie, Wisconsin
d: Mar. 22, 1941 in Winnebago, Minnesota
also with his wife Minnie Woodard and children; William, Bethel and Ruby

William Oothoudt and wife Nettie Brown with children

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Knights of Columbus

With over 1.8 million members and just shy of 130 years old, the Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic fraternal service organization in the world. If still alive today, Fr. Michael J. McGivney would be proud.

Only 26 years after the national organization was establish, the local Irish Catholic men of Albion decided that it was time to establish a local council. In 1908, Knights of Columbus Council 1330 of Albion, New York was born. Of course, the process was much more complex, however for simplicity, we shall leave it at that.

The original membership was large and the men of Council 1330 selected a distinguished gentleman from the community who was engaged locally as a lawyer.

Past Grand Knight

Thomas Austin Kirby was born March 22, 1868 in Albion, New York, the eldest of three children born to John and Catherin Moynihan Kirby. Kirby attended local schools and worked in his father's foundry for a year before he began to study law under John Cunneen in Albion. For a time he taught at a schoolhouse in South Barre before entering the Cornell University Law School. He graduated in 1889 and was admitted to the practice the same year, starting his practice in Albion in July of that year. In 1891 he entered into partnership with Thomas Hughes and formed the Hughes & Kirby firm. At the time of his death on January 29, 1922, his obituary noted him as one of the greatest orators from Orleans County with his fame extending beyond the borders of this locale. He was the first Grand Knight of Council 1330.

Past Grand Knight

James Anselm Kennedy was born on May 31, 1860 at Albion, New York, the son of James and Eliza Ryan Kennedy. He attended local schools from which he graduated from in 1878. After completing school, he worked several years in local quarries and on local farms before accepting a positions with the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company. At the time of compiled history resources for Orleans County, James was in excellent health employed with the railroad. However, a coupling accident shortly after 1900 left him with a missing arm. From that point until his death, he served as the day flagman at the Clinton Street Railroad Crossing. The above image, taken post 1900, is the only image of past Grand Knights that shields the right shoulder from camera view. It is likely that this was done to hide his missing arm. Kennedy died on March 22, 1930.

*This is part of an effort to preserve some of the last images relating to the Knights of Columbus Council 1330*

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"HEY! You should digitize that!"

I've been studying archival methodology for about a year now as part of my graduate studies at the University of Buffalo. Prior to that, I was well aware of the pros and cons of microfilm an digital imaging, but my coursework really put things into perspective. Interestingly enough, I had not noticed the extreme amount of misinformation people had regarding the long-term preservation of historic documents through microfilm and or digital imaging. Now, it seems like I encounter someone every week who will say to me, "Jeez, you should get that digitized," or "That book looks like it is falling apart, you should scan it into the computer before it falls apart." I am quite sure that their intentions are good, however there is either a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the process of digital imaging and electronic storage or there is a mix up of phrasing and wording when it comes to the term "digitizing."

Microfilming has been around since the early 1800s and started to become popular in the 1920s when the Library of Congress microfilmed millions of pages from the British Library. Since that point in time, it developed into the staple for long-term document preservation as well as a method for space-saving. However, the term microfilm has become synonymous with "Old Crotchety Librarian," "Pain In The Ass," "Waste of Time," and "Out of Date." Articles submitted to Library-based academic journals as early as the 1970s note that even though microfilming is the most cost efficient and safest way to store documents for the long-term, library users still view it as a time consuming, archaic piece of crap. In a strange spin, studies show that the libraries themselves and the librarians employed at those institutions are the main driving force behind the failure of microfilm. Whether the librarian shows reluctance in aiding the user in the use of a microfilm machine, refuses to retrieve certain reels of film or just places the reader in a remote corner where it cannot be seen by the public, these actions create a distaste for the use of such equipment and means.

This shifts us to the argument in favor of digitization. The biggest pro in support of digitization is the extremely detailed and beautiful reproduction quality that digital imaging can create. For example, in my research as a genealogist, I have encountered documents that are too frail to copy on a machine or microfilm readers with no printers. A photograph with a 12.1 Megapixel camera taken without a stabilizer (digitizing equipment utilizes two high quality cameras, stabilizers and lighting) I was able to produce an image that could then be zoomed in from the comforts of my own home. It was like I had the original right in front of me with a magnifying glass. Digital Imaging also provides the document's copy in a colored image, where microfilm can only reproduce the document in black and white or a negative image. In the last of the prevalent pros, where microfilm still retains the physical space of a reader AND film rolls, digital images retain the physical space of the computer and potentially a remote server for the storage.

There ends the pros of digital imaging. It has the potential to create high quality colored reproductions of the original document, however the actual storage of the file creates a potentially dangerous situation. We've all encountered the age-old virus on our computers. Those crazy ones that manage to infect the entire system before we realize what is really going on and wipes all our files. If such thing were to happen to an electronic archives, the result could be devastating. Even the backing up of such files to a remote server could encounter the same situation. Since solid-state harddrives are only beginning to become popular, hardware malfunctions could completely wipe out files. As many computer users know, software and hardware experience never ending updates. These updates can create compatibility issues, resulting in the need to migrate and change file types and programs which warps and alters the original digital imaging resulting in loss of file size, etc.

This is where microfilm thrives. A microfilm reel can be read on any film reader and all the film readers read the same type of film, leading to the lack of need to upgrade the film style to a new type. The typical environmental effects on the physical reels has been essentially negated due to a standardized use of Silver-Halide and Vesicular films. When filming became popular in the United States, nitrate films were typically used but proved dangerous due to the flamability and explosive nature of the material. Original films are stored on Silver-Halide reels which have a shelf life of over 500 years. Silver-Halide film rolls are the type stored at the National Archives and the LDS Archives in Salt Lake City. The typical roll of film used by a library user are Vesicular. These are cheaper to reproduce and hold up to every-day handling and use. Institutions will use the Silver-Halide films to make a copy onto Vesicular film which is then sent to libraries and research centers for use by library patrons. The final form, Diazo, is no longer suggested for use as the creation process utilized light to burn the images into the film. That type of film was prone to deterioration due to every-day light exposure because of the process used to create it.

Although both microfilming and digitization are not cheap, microfilm provides the biggest bang for your buck. It requires no migration or constant updating and has a guaranteed shelf life if properly stored. Digitization produces better images, but costs more in the long run to update and protect. The overall goal of either process is to make records more accessible to users. Of course, the Internet allows digital imaging to provide the greatest amount of access to users by placing the images on servers for remote access. However, if the goal of digitization is to simply preserve the information in a remote location in case the original image is damaged, that process is a waste of money. The Mormon Church has been working diligently on making their microfilm records available digitally on the internet. Such a venture is a worthy one because it would allow all of their records to be viewed remotely from any computer.

So...digitization may sound like a good and fancy way to store your precious documents, but step back and take a long look. Microfilming is typically the best mode for long-term storage of documents!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A New "Color" to Genealogy

I thought I would post this before I hit the hay for the night.

I have researched my Grandpa Traub's lines quite in-depth considering most of his family had strong ties to Orleans and Monroe Counties. This evening, I had stumbled across some records online from Cornwall, England that allowed me to trace the LASKEY line back to the 1760s.

As my 4th Great Grandfather, Malachi Laskey was from Gerrans, Cornwall, England and likely a descendant of Poles who relocated to England in the 1500s, I knew little of his wife, Huldah Johnson who was apparently born in Vermont.

As Malachi immigrated with his family to Essex County, New York in 1843, Malachi and Huldah were married in Ticonderoga, NY where the two lived before coming to Orleans County. Huldah is listed with her mother and father and one sister, Mary, in the 1850 census. Her parents, Thomas and Lucinda Johnson, appear in the 1860 and 1870 Federal Census records for Ticonderoga, NY. Although these records were found a while back, I paid particular notice to a new piece of information that I had previously missed:

1870 Federal Census: Ticonderoga, NY

1860 Federal Census: Ticonderoga, NY
You'll have to click on the images to see the writing more clearly. Thomas Johnson is listed in the 1850 Census (not pictured) as a Mulatto (marked M under "color"). In the 1860 Census, Thomas is listed as Black (marked B under "color") and again, in 1870, he is listed as Mulatto. His wife, Lucinda, is listed in all of the census records as White. Although this find is fairly recent, it is wrong to jump to conclusions and assume that Thomas is 1.) The son of one white parent and one black parent, or 2.) That Thomas had any recent mixed-race ancestry. As Thomas and Lucinda were my 5th Great Grandparents, if any discernable traits relating to skin color were passed down, they have since disappeared, that is if Thomas himself was visibly discernable in regards to skin color. Either way, further research is a must in this case.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Operation: Save a Headstone

For work, today's tasks included trimming and blowing grass off the headstones at the Holy Cross Cemetery (Old St. Joseph's Cemetery) on Brown Rd. just north of the Village. When I finished that task, I set to work on trimming hedges and grass at the New Cemetery on the Avenue. Let me remind you that this is no small task, so I had plenty of time to think about things.

The other gents took on the task of re-setting over 12 flat headstones in the A Section of the New St. Joseph's Cemetery. This not only involved pulling them out of their position, but also required that the exposed hole be swept of dirt, roots be chopped out and a new, thin bed of concrete be placed to conform to the abnormal shapes of the stone's underside. Although walking the cemetery with a weedeater for 7 hours in the sun was no easy task, neither was this.

I had the chance to work on two of the stones, which were heaved up by roots, dirt and in one case, an ant colony. It was back breaking labor, but when the stones were set and finished off with dirt around the edges and some grass seed, it looked extremely nice. The only problem to arise was the exceedingly large number of footstones that need this "special" touch.

There are only a small number of stones that need to be removed from their setting to be reset; ensuring the stone is level and does not rock back and forth. This type of unstable stone has created and issue for lawnmowers, which seems to enjoy the flipping of these stones up into the deck; potentially chipping the stones or stopping the mower dead in its tracks. Thank God for that...

However, mowing and trimming for the last 4 weeks has given me the chance to learn that cemetery, to know where every headstone sits and who is buried where. It has also given me the chance to see the countless number of flat headstones that line the rows throughout the cemetery. The existing policy has been one row of upright stones, followed by a row of flat stones, followed by a row of upright stones and so on. This allows for ease of maintenance on the grass.

What I came to notice from these past weeks was the overwhelming need to "edge" the majority of the flat stones within the cemetery. In many cases, the only hint of a flat stone is a small circle of exposed stone, surrounded by grass and sod growth. In other cases, a yellowed rectangle or circle of grass hints to a spot where the soil is not deep enough to support tall and lush grass growth. Blame for such issues cannot and should not be placed on cemetery workers from the last 5 years, nor the last 10 years as it is a problem that has been developing for many years. In its current state, the sheer number of stones needing special attention is far too many to merit the denotion of a paid hard days work to it. Such a task would take months of work.

Instead, I offer up a suggestion to the passer-by. Next time you visit this cemetery, to water the flowers on the grave of a loved one, bring a small trowel to help carve away some of the green growth from a neighboring flat stone.

The true purpose of this post is to highlight a "project" that I am going to attempt to undertake (in my spare time of course). I will try, every day, to clean up 2-3 flat stones; pulling away the grass and sweeping away the dirt. I'll post my progress as often as I remember to, maybe doing some genealogy and personal histories of the people whose stones I am cleaning up.

A couple things to remember. Work/garden gloves will be your best friend. Since the root structures that cover these stones cannot penetrate deep into soil, instead growing to the sides, the grass will pull off in sheets. Bring a trowel to cut away the grass and roots from the soil around the stone.

Please don't dig "trenches" around the stone. These stones were meant to have the dirt level with the stone. Carving away the stiff dirt from the edges and sides will compromise the integrity of the hole and foundation. People have done this in the past and the stone becomes loose within its hole, causing the stone to rock which has led to damage to the lawnmower decks. It could potentially cause injury to workers and cemetery visitors. The simple edging of a stone, with a rectangular "hole" in the grass make for a sharp appearance and will help contribute to the beauty and care of the cemetery.

If you clean up a headstone, send me pictures and a story and I'll post it here!

Here's a sample of what I will be doing:

Stone after it was wetted and the left half lightly scrubbed.

Partially cleaned, mud has been removed from the outer border. Additional scrubbing needed.

The final result, free of mud, dirt, tree sap and algae/mold.
 This is the stone of my Great Grandparents, Francis and Rose Romanski Kaniecki. Also buried here is Rose's first husband, John S. Daniels. Frank and Rose were both immigrants to the United States from Poland, arriving in 1891 and 1887 respectively with their parents. Frank was three years old and Rose, just several months.

Francis S. Kaniecki
b: 3 Oct 1886 in Obory, Kujawsko-Pomorskie/West Prussia
d: 18 Apr 1957 in Albion, Orleans, New York, U.S.
m: 19 Mar 1919 at St. Mary's Assumption Church in Albion, Orleans, New York, U.S.
Parents: Anthony & Mary Tkaczyk Kaniecki

Rose Romanski
b: 1887 in Papowo Biskupie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie/West Prussia
d: 28 Sept 1959 in Albion, Orleans, New York, U.S.
Parents: John & Anna Szybanski Romanski

John S. Daniels
b: 10 May 1885 in Albion, Orleans, New York, U.S.
d: 22 Mar 1918 in Albion, Orleans, New York, U.S. from Consumption
Parents: Stephen & Frances Golowski Danielewski

Frank Kaniecki was engaged in a number of occuptions including quarry labor, canning factory laborer, plumber, grocery store owner/restaurant owner. He had married Rose Romanski in March of 1919, almost one year after the death of her first husband John Daniels. Frank was a widower, the husband of Veronica Sterczynski who had passed away in 1917. Her burial location is unknown, but likely in the Old St. Joseph's Cemetery.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Van Rensselaer McOmber: 8th N.Y. Volunteer Cav.

8th New York Volunteer Cavalry

Enlisted: September 18, 1861

Discharged: December 8, 1862

*I will refer to Van Rensselaer as Van R. or V.R.*

Van Rensselaer enlisted for service in the Union Army on September 18th of 1861 in Albion, New York, was mustered in on October 9, 1861 in Rochester, New York and began receiving pay on November 23, 1861. Van R. was placed in Company F. of the 8th N.Y. Volunteer Cavalry, a service which he was supposed to be committed to for a period of 3 years.

In December of 1861, the muster roll states that Van R. is employed as a cook, attached to the company hospital. By February 1, 1862, Van has been released and returned to Company F. for duty. The February and March muster roll states that Van was sentenced by R. C. M. (Courts Martial) to forfeit six dollars of his monthly pay. Correspondance from August 4, 1862 at Relay House in Maryland states that Van R. was charged with "Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline;" the finding was "guilty." The resulted punishment was forfeiture of six dollars per month of his pay (for an undisclosed amount of time) as well as 30 hours of fatigue duty in addition to his normal duties spread over ten days. *Fatigue duty describes non-military duties (cleaning, etc.) that are not normally assigned to soldiers* It is unknown why he was tried by courts-martial. Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline has been described as a "catch-all" rule that can cover any number of violations, including use of inappropriate language, gambling, etc. Van Rensselaer fancied the bottle so it is possible that his charge was related to drinking.

Other muster rolls indicate that Van R. was present for all musters except for August when he was placed in confinement. The exact reason for his confinement at this time is unknown. However, Van R. was returned to Company F just in time for the Confederate advance at Harper's Ferry, Va.

Van Rensselaer's application for an invalid pension states that he was present for the Battle of Antietam on September 14th which resulted in his disability and discharge from the service. He was slightly mistaken in his report of events. He was infact guarding the Union arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. when Confederate soldiers led by Robert E. Lee led an attack on the garrison which would ensure a clear line of supply from Virgina as he moved further north.

By the 14th of September, two days after fighting had commenced, Gen. Stonewall Jackson had surrounded the Union regiments within Harpers Ferry. Colonel Benjamin Davis, commander of the 8th N.Y. Cav. suggested that the cavalry units attempt to break out of the lines as they would prove useless in defense of the town.

In their retreat out of Harpers Ferry, the column of cavalry encountered an ammunition supply train under the command of Gen. James Longstreet to which the regiments captured 71 wagons (as stated by Van R.) as well as prisoners and a herd of beef cattle. They arrived at Greencastle, Pa. on the morning of the 15th. Co. Davis (with his southern draw) was able to order the train to reroute towards Greencastle without the Confederates being aware of who was issuing the orders. Not a single man was lost.

Van R.'s account of the retreat from Harpers Ferry states that nearly two-thirds of the men were disabled, whether temporary or permanently, by the nearly 46 mile, 10 hour trek. According to V.R. the bulk of the journey was made at a gallop's pace, standing in the stirrups. For this reason, he was committed to the regiment hospital where he remained until discharged on December 8, 1862.

In his invalid pension application dated May 18, 1863, V.R. complained of severe rheumatism in his right leg from his knee to foot as a result of the long gallop paced journey. He also complained of severe pain in his right hip for the same reason.V.R. also stated that he suffered from kidney disease and pain across his back from the horse jumping over ditches, "etc." Blind piles (hemorrhoids which do not bleed) were also entered on his list of complaints.

Through examination of affidavits signed by V.R. as well as viewing his signature on muster rolls, it becomes apparent that between 1861/2 and the engagement at Harpers Ferry that he had suffered considerably, leaving his signature with a shaky and incomplete appearance on his invalid pension applications. Examinations by doctors/surgeons in Orleans County state that he is in fact 56/7 by the time he applied for his pension, meaning that he was approximately 54 years old when he joined the service (a far shot from 21 listed on his first muster roll).

Dr. Noble of Albion stated that," Van R. McComber is fifty four years old, is pretty well used up, has been a hard working and pretty hard drinking man and will never be in any better condition than now." V.R.'s discharge papers claim that he is 57 years old (1862) and that he was discharged because of his age as well as his disabilities. His sons Lorenzo and Otis are signatures on several documents as well as his brother-in-law Sylvester Kesler.

Just as his father had been, V.R. was a hard drinking which caused many problems throughout his life; including his wife leaving him in the 1850s. It is difficult to understand why at 54 years old he would have entered the service, perhaps he needed the money. Van Rensselaer did not receive an invalid pension as he had died less than one year after first applying for it. He left no widow concerned with collecting his pension.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Frank Griffin, The "Fire Fly"

I posted yesterday about Martin S. Spink, who I labeled as a "Painter" because of the colorful language cited in the Batavia Daily News. This time, I found an article relating to Frank Griffin of Brockport where the Rochester D & C as well as the Batavia Daily News call him a "Fire Bug."

Rochester D & C October 14, 1892

Batavia Daily News October 14, 1892

Arrest and Confession

-Of the Fire Bugs Who Have Been Devastating Brockport-
Special dispatch to the Democrat and Chronicle

Brockport, N.Y., Oct. 13. - The fire bugs who have been successfully working in Brockport for the last eighteen months are at last captured. The credit for their capture belongs to William H. Pollock, one of Brockport's constables. The guily parties are Harry Almy, Clarence Stout, Frank Griffin, George Gates, Henry Lotze of Brockport, and Frank Russ, of Spencerport. They are all in custody except Henry Lotz who is still at large. For a long time the above named parties have been suspected as the fire bugs but no evidence sufficient to convict them could be obtained until last Thursday, when Officer Pollock arrested Frank Griffin on a charge of stealing chickens, ducks, etc., from Mrs. Ellen Shaw in Clarkson. On the way back to Brockport the officer succeeded in getting him to make a partial confession concerning the Brockport fires and the parties who set them. Wednesday he made a still further confession and to-day he made a clean breast of the whole affair before the trustees of the village of Brockport and Justice Dean. On the night of the 2d of June, 1892, there were two fires, the Learned barn and the Union agricultural buildings. Griffin met Harry Almy on the railroad track just after the second fire and Almy told him that he set them both, and that he tried to break the lock to Learned's barn door to get out the horse after he started the fire but could not do it. Then he ran up to the Union agricultural buildings on the fair grounds and set them on fire. He then made the remark that he would like to set another fire, but it was too near daylight. The night the Brown barn on South street burned Frank Russ came up from Spencerport and he and Henry Lots and Griffin set the barn on fire; Griffin poured the oil in the barn window and Lots touched it off, while Russ stayed across the road to watch. The McLaughlin coal sheds were set by George Gates and after he and Griffin had watched it blaze a few minutes they gave the alarm. On August 20th Clarence Stout, Harry Almy and Frank Griffin started out to set a house on fire but were frightened away and then they went up and set the Gardner barns; Almy turned on the oil and set the fire while Stout and Griffin watched. This was a very large fire, causing a loss of about $10,000. The last incendiary fire in Brockport occured the night of October 6th, and was the Caswell house on Fair street which Almy set.

George Gates was arrested yesterday in Churchville by Officer Guenther. He made a confession to Guenther on the way to Brockport but when brought before the justice refused to repeat it until he was told of the confession of Griffin and then he made a confession substantially the same as Griffin's. Russ, Lotz, Griffin and Stout are all married men and Griffin and Stout each have one child and Russ and Lotz each two children. Almy and Gates are both unmattied. They are all held to await the action of the grand jury and will of course be indicted for arson. The crime of arson is a very serious one and no doubt they will all serve long sentences in arson's prison. The national board of fire underwriters some time ago offered a reward of $500 for the arrest and conviction of the Brockport fire bugs. This reward will now be claimed by William H. Pollock. Although Officer Guenther was not fortunate enough to ensure the first confession, yet he is entitled to a great deal of credit for the efficient manne in which he watched the suspects, no doubt thereby preventing many fires which otherwise would have occured, and also for the assistance which he rendered in securing the confession of George Gates.

Fire Bugs Captured

-Incendiaries in Brockport Run Down at Last - Six in the Gang-

Brockport, Oct. 14. - Excitement was caused here last night by the report being circulated that the gang of fire bugs who had successfully carried on their fiendish work in this village for the past year had been captured. The report is true and many families who have received anonymous letter which threatened their property will rest easier now, knowing that all but one of the outlaws are in the Monroe county jail. The firebugs were captured yesterday and the credit belongs to William H. Pollock, one of Brockport's constables, Frank Griffin, who for a long time has been suspected, made a confession which implicated Harry Almy, Clarence Stout, George Gates and Henry Lotz of Brockport and Frank Russ of Spencerport. They are all in custody except Henry Lotz. These parties have for a long time been suspected but no evidence sufficient to warrant arrest could be obtained against them until Tuesday when Officer Pollock arrested Frank Griffin in Rochester on a charge of stealing chickens from a lady in Clarkson. On the way from Rochester to Brockport Griffin made a partial confession to the officer and Wednesday made a still further confession. Yesterday he made a clean breast of the whole affair before the trustees of the village of Brockport and Justice Dean.

Russ, Lotz, Griffin and Stout are all married men with families. Almy and Gates are both unmarried.


1. Frank Griffin
b: 1868 in Brockport, Monroe, New York
d: January 22, 1900 in Brockport, Monroe, New York
m: Clara Hewitt on July 25, 1891 in Brockport, Monroe, New York

Arthur Henry Griffin b: October 1891 is the child mentioned in the article (approx. 1 year when his father was arrested)

2. Marjorie Elizabeth Griffin
b: July 16, 1896 in Brockport, Monroe, New York
d: September 11, 1975 in Waterport, Orleans, New York
m: Winfield Scott Spink
adopted by: George Cox and Lydia Browning of North Bergen, New York

3. Shirley Mae Spink
b: March 16, 1934 in Sweden, Monroe, New York
d: March 16, 2011 in Medina, Orleans, New York
m: Ray Howard Traub

4. Laurie Traub
m: Robert Ballard

5. Matthew Ballard

The above picture shows the vicinity in which the bulk of the fires were set. The blue arrow points to the residence of Frank Griffin, which was located at the five street intersection on Main Street in the Village of Brockport.

The above image shows the exact location of Frank Griffin's house in 1904 (he was deceased at that time), the house in which his wife was living with her two sons and daughter Marjorie. The house just to the north was owned by Frank's cousin, Edward Coates. Both houses no longer exist.

Martin Spink, The "Painter"

While scanning through some newspapers, I came across this article dated April 26, 1893. It is taken from the Batavia Daily News:

Painted The Town With Blood

-Serious Stabbing Affray in Attica - Two Men Fined $35 Each-

Attica, April 26, -(Special)- Martin Spink, an Orangeville farmer, came to this town yesterday morning with some produce and after disposing of it started out on a spree. He drank all day and during the evening fell in with Andrew Martin and Peter Riley, painters, who have recently arrived in Attica and have been employed by Paul Ganter.

The trio spent the evening together and continued drinking until after midnight when they quarreled on the bridge just north of McKensie, Ryan & Storms' store and during the melee knives were drawn and a good deal of blood flowed. The three were arrested by Police Constable Jewett and taken to the lock-up where their condition was considered so bad that Dr. Seeley was called to dress their injuries. The sidewalks for some distance was discoloted by blood which flowed from their wounds.

The three men were arraigned before Justice Bean on a charge of disorderly conduct this morning. Martin and Spink presented a sorry appearance and pleading guilty were fined $35 each. Riley, who seemed to have taken little part in the fracas, was discharged.


1. Martin Scott Spink
b: April 02, 1855 in Orangeville, Wyoming, New York
d: 1933 in Varysburg, Wyoming, New York
m: 1. Mary Fargo 2. Bertha McCall

2. Winfield Scott Spink
b: February 02, 1897 in Orangeville, Wyoming, New York
d: December 04, 1990
m: Marjorie Elizabeth Griffin (Cox)

3. Shirley Mae Spink
b: March 16, 1934 in Sweden, Monroe, New York
d: March 16, 2011 in Medina, Orleans, New York
m: Ray Howard Traub

4. Laurie Traub
m: Robert Ballard

5. Matthew Ballard


This may shed some light into why Martin Spink and Bertha McCall were eventually divorced.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Some Spink Genealogy

After the passing of my Grandma Traub this afternoon, I thought it might a good idea to share a little bit about her family since, after sitting down and thinking about it, the family has a rather interesting history compared to other lines in my family.

Of course, the Spink surname is one of the older if not the oldest and well traced lines in my family tree; the Spink line tracing back to Robert Spink (1615), William Carpenter (1605), Gerard Spencer (1576), John Coggeshall (1601), George Gardner (1600), John Olin (1664), Elkanah Johnson (1672), and of course the Plantagenet family of the English Royal Family.

Of course the Griffin line requires notation, not as defined and extensive as the Spink lineage, but with deep roots in the Brockport area at least. The Griffins, Coates, Bordens and of course the Hewitts which have resulted in little tracing beyond the immigration from England.

Shirley Spink
b: March 16, 1934 in Brockport, Monroe, New York
d: March 16, 2011 in Medina, Orleans, New York

daughter of:

Winfield Scott McCall Spink
b: February 2, 1897 in Orangeville, Wyoming, New York
d: December 4, 1990 in                  , Orleans, New York

Marjorie Elizabeth Griffin
b: July 16, 1896 in Brockport, New York
d: September 11, 1975 in                  New York

W. S. M. Spink son of:

Martin Scott Spink
b: April 2, 1855 in Orangeville, Wyoming, New York
d: 1933 in Varysburg, Wyoming, New York
1st Wife: Mary Fargo

Bertha McCall
b: October 22, 1876 in Sweden, Monroe, New York
d: 1955 in Brockport, Monroe, New York
1st Husband: James Andrews (Andrus)
2nd Husband: M.S. Spink
3rd Husband: George Ward

M. E. Griffin daughter of:

Francis Griffin
b: 1868 in Brockport, Monroe, New York
d: January 22, 1900 in Brockport, Monroe, New York

Clara Hewitt
b: Aug 1873? in Bolton, England
d: March 22, 1956 in Brockport, Monroe New York
2nd Husband: William Ellsworth Packard

The stories behind these immediate ancestors are interesting and sad to say the least.

Martin Scott and Bertha were both married previously and brough children from those previous marriages into their own to form a family comprised of many different relations. Winfield "Scott" was the only child from Martin and Bertha's marriage. For an unknown reason, Martin and Bertha divorced and "Scott" was left with his uncle, John Alexander McCall, to be taken care of and raised. As Grandma Traub always said, Uncle John Alexander was the only father Great Grandpa Spink knew.

Bertha's third marriage to George Ward produced no known children. It appears as though Martin Scott returned to Wyoming County where he lived out the rest of his life alone, where he died and is now buried. He was approximately 77 when he died.

Francis Griffin's story is a much sadder one. It was always thought that Great Grandma Marjorie's maiden name was Cox, however that was her adopted name. Marjorie was born on July 16, 1896 to Frank and Clara Hewitt Griffin in Brockport. Frank worked with horses for the majority of his life, working for a time with the Fowler Funeral Home in Brockport as the man who cared for the horses and drove the horse drawn hearse at the time. In the later part of his young life, Frank worked for the Village of Brockport as a drayman, meaning that he cared for the horses and other work animals owned by the municipality.

On one occasion, Frank was caring for the horses when he was kicked. The blow proved not to be immediately fatal but left Frank bedridden and Clara to care for three children all under the age of 10, the youngest being Marjorie who was around 3 years old. As Frank spent his days confined to bed, he developed dropsy, retaining fluid in his body, which led to his death on January 22, 1900. On his death bed, Frank told his oldest son Arthur, then 8 at the time, to "take good care of Margie." She was the youngest and the only daughter. Clara was left with the difficult task of caring and providing for three young children and it is likely that she was forced to place Marjorie up for adoption with another family so that she could be properly cared for in her youth.

Frank was buried in the High Street Cemetery in the Village of Brockport without a headstone. A sinkhole in the family plot is the only indicator of his burial spot.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Traub Genealogy

Ray Howard Traub
b: August 16, 1937 in Murray, Orleans, New York
m: November 30, 1957 in Holley, Orleans, New York to Shirley Spink
d: January 5, 1994 in Medina, Orleans, New York

Great Grandparents:
Clarence Leroy Traub
b: March 22, 1912 in Rochester, Monroe, New York
m: July 2, 1936 in Holley, Orleans, New York to Mildred Clara Russell
d: October 13, 2006 in Sun City Center, Florida

Mildred Clara Russell
b: August 19, 1913 in Albion, Orleans, New York
d: February 1991 in Florida

Great Great Grandparents (Parents of Clarence Traub):
Leroy Traub
b: May 28, 1893 in Long Branch, New Jersey
m: October 1, 1912 in Rochester, Monroe, New York
d: 1956?
Hattie Letitia Maynard
b: 1892 in Scottsville, Monroe, New York
d: Unknown

3rd Great Grandparents (Parents of Leroy Traub):
John Albert Traub
b: May 1853 in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
m: August 31, 1879 in Milltown, Middlesex, New Jersey
d:     in Rochester, Monroe, New York

Mary Sherwood
b: March 7, 1862 in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
d:     in Rochester, Monroe, New York

4th Great Grandparents (Parents of Mary Sherwood)
August Sherwood
b: 1820 in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
d: April 12, 1880 in Sayreville, Middlesex, New Jersey

Mary Unknown

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mystery Behind the Traub Family

For years I have been stumped behind the origins of my mother's maiden name, the history behind my Great Grandfather's birth and early childhood. When I initially started my research, I had discovered that my Great Grandfather, Clarence L. Traub, was adopted by Raymond Howard Handy and his wife Nettie Pierce from Holley, NY. The exact reasons behind the adoption were unknown as well as who Clarence's biological parents actually were.

Here's what was originally known:

Clarence Louis Traub
b: March 22, 1912 in Unknown
m: July 2, 1936 in Murray, Orleans, New York to Mildred Russell
d: October 13, 2006 in Sun City Center, Florida

Adopted son of:
Raymond Howard Handy
b: December 22, 1866
d: November 25, 1953 in Murray, Orleans, New York

Nettie M. Pierce
b: May 27, 1872
d: June 29, 1950 in Murray, Orleans, New York

What was known after obtaining Clarence's birth certificate from the State of New York:

Clarence Leroy Traub
Legitimate male child, born March 22, 1912 at 7:30 pm at
44 Lyell Ave. Rochester, NY in the 9th Ward

Son of:
Hattie Letitia Maynard
Age: 19 (approx. 1893)
of Scranton, PA
born in New York State
occupation: None
number of children born to this mother including current birth: 2
number of children now living: 1

Leroy Traub
Age: 21 (approx. 1891)
of Scranton, PA
born in Pennsylvania
occupation: Wood Carver


Further research on Leroy Traub:

1917 WWI Draft Card

Leroy Traub
24 Years Old
190 Silver St. Rochester, NY
b: May 28, 1893 in Long Branch, New Jersey
employed by: Keith Auto Company; Detroit, Michigan
married; dependents: 2 children + wife
slender, medium height, grey eyes and brown hair.

Newspaper Article:
Leroy Traub of No. 190 Silver Street, who is alleged to have left his wife a year ago, was ordered to pay her $6 a week for the support of herself and two children.

New Jersey Births and Christenings:
Leroy Traub
b: May 26, 1892
son of:
Albert Traub & Mary Sherbet (Sherwood)

Evidence also shows that Leroy was a veteran of the Border Excursion into Mexico in 1916, serving from New Jersey.


Confirming Leroy's parents:

Marriage Certificate Monroe County:
October 1, 1912 (after birth of Clarence)
Leroy Traub
21 Years Old
son of: Albert Traub and Mary Sherwood
Hattie Maynard
19 Years Old
daughter of Iredore Maynard and ________ Richert (Rishor)

Other Children:
William Traub
b:  July 29, 1888 in Long Branch, New Jersey
son of: Albert Traub and Mary Sherwood

Clarence Traub
b: May 13, 1889 in Long Branch, New Jersey
son of: John A. Traub and Mary Sherwood

1900 Census: Dunmore Ward 6, Lackawanna, PA
John A. Treub [Traub] 47
Mary 38
George 19
Albert 17
Edward J. 14
William 12 (1888)
Leloy [Leroy] 7 (1893)
Louis 4
Mary 9/12
James Robinson 37 [Boarder]

1920 Census: Ward 20, Rochester, NY; 190 Silver Street.
John A. Traub 67
Mary 58
Edward 33
Mary 20
Viola 16


It can be discerned based on the common place of address for the above listed Traubs in 1917 and 1920 that Leroy, father of Clarence, is Leroy, son of John Albert Traub and Mary Sherwood; the following family members are in Mt. Hope Cemetery:

John A. Traub
buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery on June 23, 1924
age 70 years
died from Pneumonia and Arterio Sclerosis
lived at: Cayuga St.
Plot: S. Gr. (Single Graves) 18 R-187 BB

Mary S. Traub
buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery on September 11, 1934
age 72 years 6 months and 4 days
died from Cerebral Hemorhage
lived at 414 Cedarwood Terrace
Plot: S. Gr. 11 R261 BB

Edward Traub
buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery on January 6, 1948
age 62 years 7 months and 21 days
died from Miocaralitis
lived at 66 Charlotte St.
Plot: S. Gr. 64 Row 306 BB

George E. Traub
buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery on February 16, 1955
age 74 years 7 months and 6 days
died from Coronary Thrombosis
lived at 1600 South Ave.
Plot: S. Gr. 61-62 R 323 BB


Other information about Traub family:

George E. Traub, son of John A. and Mary, was a baker in the City of Rochester and in New Jersey/PA

John A. Traub worked as a wood carver, but also as a janitor and watchman in Rochester.

Edward Traub, son of John A. and Mary, worked as a polisher, was missing three fingers from his left hand and served time as an inmate in Rochester.

1915's Rochester City Directory notes Leroy as having removed to Scranton, PA and listing Hattie as remaining in Rochester. It is difficult to understand this as well as the reasons behind their "divorce."

1914's Rochester City Directory notes Leroy's brother as having removed to Scranton, PA. The year before, he is employed as a Piano Maker.

In 1912's Rochester City Directory, Leroy [Roy] is noted as living at 44 Lyell Ave. Same location where Clarence was born the same year.


Parents of John Albert Traub:

Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown
Immigration from Germany: approx. 1865

Found in 1870 Census living in New York City at the age of 17, working as a Wood Carver.

Parents of Mary Sherwood:
Father: August Sherwood
Mother: Mary ??????
German immigrants

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ballard to Speak on German-Polish Research

Matthew Ballard will be the guest speaker for the Orleans County Genealogical Society meeting at 7 p.m. Sunday, February 13th at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church.

Ballard earned his bachelor of science in history from Brockport State College in May 2010. He is currently a master's in Library and Information Studies candidate at the University of Buffalo. He has been researching the Albion Polish community since he was 12 years old.

His presentation will include useful tips and information for researching German-Polish Catholic immigrants both in the United States and Poland, focusing on families from Orleans County. The diverse and divided history of Poland can prove difficult when tracing one's roots oversees, said OCGS president Holly Canham.

Some local research materials pertaining to the subject will be available for use after the presentation. The event is free and open to the public.

Some available resources:
School Records
Parish Census
Assorted Marriage Records 1920s

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crooks, Barbers and Canadians

It's a rather common thing for a family to have a skeleton in the closet and it's even more common for a family to have a few skeletons hiding away. For me, the reluctance of family members to disclose or discuss these stories makes them all the more interesting. It is impossible to negate the reasons why such stories were kept from public eye in the first place. Of course, the fear of embarrassment ranks high on that list, shame, disappointment, anger, the list goes on. After a certain point, the story is forgotten and an important piece of family lore and possibly a significant piece of local history.

It's quite exciting to read about such forgotten stories in the newspapers. I am sure it was quite embarrassing at the time, however it now becomes another page in the story of me. Most importantly, who my ancestors were has greatly influenced who I am today, whether genetically or traditionally. To some, I might look like my father's grandfather, to others, I may share traits with my mom's nephews. Perhaps my short temper comes from my grandfather. It all explains why I am the way I am.

So it's really no surprise that patterns develop within the families. "Crimial" types involve themselves with similar people, bad habits stay close together, but also good traits and habits mix as well. On occassion the bad apple mixes with the good apples, but this doesn't mean the whole bushel is bad.

It's easier to say such things about family members who are dead and gone, and most easily said about those whom I never knew. I am one of few boundaries and can connect with any ancestor whether I knew them or not and still see the negative in some of their behaviors.

Anyhow, I arrive at my title, "Crooks, Barbers and Canadians." I knew for some time that my Great Great Grandfather, Isaac Bouwen's two brothers Morris and Edward, were both barbers in Rochester. They were also immigrants from Holland. However, it was a shock to finally trace my Great Grandfather, Clarence Traub's mother's family back a little further into Ontario, Canada.

1 - Joseph Rishor b. abt. 1833 in Canada d. March 25, 1875 in Hastings, Ontario
  + Susanna Hannah b. abt. 1835 in Ontario d. November 19, 1905 in Rochester, NY
          2 - James G Rishor*
          2 - Joseph B. Rishor*
          2 - Agnes Rishor
          2 - Rachel Ann Rishor b. June 24, 1857 in Ontario d. Nov. 14, 1917 in Rochester, NY
             + Isadore Maynard b. June 10, 1853 in Ontario d. March 13, 1926 in Rochester, NY
                  3 - Joseph Maynard
                  3 - Agnes Maynard
                  3 - John Sheldon Maynard
                  3 - Hattie Letitia Maynard
                      + LeRoy Traub
                          4 - Clarence LeRoy (Louis) Traub
                             + Mildred Russell
                                 5 - Ray Howard Traub
                                    + Shirley Spink
                                       6 - Laurie Traub
                                          + Robert Ballard
                                              7 - Matthew Ballard
                                 5 - LeRoy Traub
                          4 - Harold Traub
                          4 - Jeanette Traub
                  3 - Arthur Maynard
                  3 - Annie Maynard
          2 - Hattie Rishor
          2 - Susan Rishor
          2 - Mary Lortha Rishor
          2 - Sheldon Rishor*

Clarence Traub was put up for adoption in the late 1910s - early 1920s as his father had abandoned his mother and left her to care for two children (Harold had died before they divorced). This was unknown until a photograph of Clarence and "Mrs. Hattie Traub" was discovered. Clarence was a young man in the picture, no more than 12 or 13, but it was clear that Clarence knew who his mother was and had some sort of relationship with her. Another photograph showed Clarence with his sister Jeanette. What became of Jeaneatte, I do not know.

It was later discovered that LeRoy had remarried to another woman in the Rochester area and had at least one son. As the story is told, LeRoy may have remarried yet again. I was in brief contact with a distant half cousin from LeRoy's second marriage who had next to no information on LeRoy as his father had died while he was young and he wasn't able to ask about his grandfather.

Regardless, we see the tail end of a pattern here. Hattie married a man of less than good standards. As Hattie and LeRoy were married in 1912 and Clarence was born on March 22, 1912, it is clear that he was conceived out of wedlock. Records show that LeRoy made frequent trips to and from the New York City area, sometimes with his wife and others without. It is possible, according to military records, that LeRoy was born in New Jersey but no records exist to prove that. Regardless, Clarence's middle name LeRoy as marked on his birth certificate was not the middle name he was buried with. As I was told he went with the name of Clarence Louis, I suspected that his middle name was LeRoy after his father and that was confirmed upon receiving the birth certificate.

To Be Continued