Taking Stock

Occasionally research takes you down unexpected paths.  I was stopped short today and went where the story took me.  The evidence left me with more questions and added to the research load, but I wouldn’t miss these jogs in the road for anything.  Picking up some loose ends today to see if I can find more Martin descendants, I casually checked back with a number of newspapers to see if there was anything new.  And boy, oh boy, I got more than I bargained for.

Newspaper Auburn NY News & Bulletin May 1883  Ernest Martin takes a NYC positionChasing down the descendants of my great grandfather’s brother, Ernest M. Martin, I uncovered some intriguing material. Ernest, and my great grandfather Henry A. Martin were both ‘stenographers’ and telegraph operators. I hadn’t previously identified their employers. I assumed they were Western Union. Both men picked up and left Auburn in May of 1883 to work as stenographers in New York City. I speculated that perhaps it might have to do with the soon to be completed Brooklyn Bridge since young people from all over the tri-state area were streaming into the city to work as professionals in Manhattan while living in Brooklyn.

What I found today has given me pause. I found they were employed in the Auburn, NY offices of stockbrokers Watson & Cox and Co. handling the ‘wire’. Irregularities were occurring at the time and investors were beginning to question what was happening with their money. In 1883 local reporters went to two brokerages and asked them point blank why were people losing money? Watson said it was nonsense…that crops were great and there was no reason for panic.

He said that in his opinion, the panicky feeling is the result of a large class of worthless securities being thrown upon the market, which has a tendency, naturally to affect first class collaterals.

“Then you have no idea of a panic? the reporter asked.”

That is nonsense.  The country never had better crops; the railroads are in excellent condition for transportation and there is a general feeling of contentment among all classes.  You can put me down as saying that there is no cause for alarm.


It wasn’t long before Watson & Cox, Co. had closed their doors and the principal brokers were indicted for grand larceny. Though they went through a trial in 1885, they were not convicted.

What was of interest to me beyond the intrigue of the economic impact on Auburn’s citizens was the fact that Watson & Cox was affiliated with the NYC brokerage Townsend & Yale that hired my grandfather and his brother and brought them from Auburn to NYC. In 1883. Men who would know EVERY transaction and message in and out of those offices at 82 Genesee St.

There is no evidence that Ernest and Henry were called to testify and they both worked for decades as stenographers on the New York Stock Exchange. I also found no evidence that Henry EVER returned to Auburn except to marry in July of 1884. He remained in Brooklyn until his death in 1932. Ernest married his Auburn sweetheart at the same time and immediately returned to Brooklyn. Only Ernest’s wife and daughters returned to visit her parents.

The effect on Auburn’s economy was felt for years. Newspaper Auburn NY Weekly Democrat 31 May 1888 Watson Cox destroyed Auburns economy


There is much to read on the Watson & Cox case. Just collecting it and organizing it has been Herculean.   Of course, this means I have a check list.  What is a bucket shop?  And worthless securities?  And even more unsettling…do bucket shops still exist under another name.    And worthless securities?  Time to talk to an historian about the stock market and the American economy.

 

Author’s Note:

DEFINITION of ‘Bucket Shop’

1. A fraudulent brokerage firm that uses aggressive telephone sales tactics to sell securities that the brokerage owns and wants to get rid of. The securities they sell are typically poor investment opportunities, and almost always penny stocks.

2. A brokerage that makes trades on a client’s behalf and promises a certain price. The brokerage, however, waits until a different price arises and then makes the trade, keeping the difference as profit.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS ‘Bucket Shop’

1. Bucket shops are sometimes called the boiler room. The U.S. has laws restricting bucket shop practices by limiting the ability of brokerage houses to create and trade certain types of over-the-counter securities.

2. The second definition for a bucket shop comes from more than 50 years ago, when bucket shops would do trades all day long, throwing the tickets into a bucket. At the end of the day they would decide which accounts to award the winning and losing trades to.

Investopedia.com

“1885, Jan. 5. – The firm of Watson, Cox & Co., brokers is dissolved; the Auburn members of the firm taking quarters with Sheriff Myers.  The firm was organized in 1880, as Watson & Neyhart.  Mr. Neyhart retiring, Mr. Ashby succeeded him and a New York broker, named Cox, was introduced.  The firm did a large business in the purchase and sale of stocks, and great expectations of large fortunes were indulged in, which I regret to say, were not in all cases realized.  Some misunderstanding having arisen between the firm and its patrons, the business office was removed and negotiations were carried on at the jail until the 8th of May, when the restrained brokers were honorably discharged.”

Collections of Cayuga County Historical Society, Volumes 9 -11.  Published 1891. Page 36

 

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

 

Coming Home…a Stranger’s Gift

A Note To My Readers:  What a week! I have been pretty seriously ill with a virus that oddly enough attacked my eyes…scary and painful…and made it really difficult to do any reading or computer work. I toughed it out…with the help of good medication and am on the mend.

 

That said…I did ‘force’ myself to do some genealogical work (I know you all can admit to the same thing…never too sick for genealogy!). Wonder of wonders…I received an email from a complete stranger who told me she had found a cabinet card with a name and date on the back…Grace Trowbridge 1890. She was going through her grandmother’s things in some old boxes and there it was!  Her grandmother and Grace were school girls together. She mentioned it to a friend who happened to know me and who follows my genealogical postings…including some regarding my Jennings and Trowbridge family members.

Would I like to have it? Well, I didn’t hesitate a bit. Of course! Yes! Please! And thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

It arrived on Wednesday.

Grace Trowbridge

Grace Trowbridge. 1890. Auburn, NY.

GRACE TROWBRIDGE (1876 – 1948)

Grace is the daughter of Emily Russell Jennings and John Trowbridge. Emily is the sister of my great grandmother, Lillian W. Jennings Martin. Emily’s husband John and her brother William H. Jennings were business partners in Auburn, NY.  I have, but one picture from my Jennings line…Lillian and Emily’s sister, Harriett Jennings White.  Harriet is in her eighties in the photo standing with my father and his Uncle George (Lillian’s son) and my two older brothers playing at their feet.  Aging has changed her enough to make it a struggle to see distinct family resemblances.   With the picture of 14 year old Grace I can stare into Harriett’s face and I see family characteristics.
I have nothing of  great grandmother Lillian and the mystery is still there about her fate. I have checked with every authority to find a death certificate…cemeteries too numerous to count and all the pertinent newspapers for her obituary. But now I have her two sisters’ images and it makes the melancholy of not ‘finding’ Lillian sting a bit less.  Grace never married…nor did her sister, Emma and I suppose that any Jennings memorabilia that the spinster sisters might have from their mother Emily went the way of most things left behind by maiden ladies…either poof…or to their only brother’s children…their nieces Louise White Trowbridge or Ruth Jennings Trowbridge who hopefully have kept them for family sentiment and passed them down.  And awaiting another discovery in an old box.
Dad, his Uncle George and Uncle George's Aunt Harriett Jennings White. Two of my brothers play at their feet.  Four generations!

Dad, his Uncle George and Uncle George’s Aunt Harriett Jennings White. Two of my brothers play at their feet. Four generations!

Happily…Grace is now tucked among her family members’ images now and I will rearrange the framed pieces to place her next to Harriett.
A big thank you to a generous stranger who understands the power of family and pay it forward.
Deborah Martin-Plugh
Author, Historian & Genealogical Researcher
(c) Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved

A Family Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Note To My Readers:  Yesterday I spent hours in Brooklyn, NY…via my laptop that is.  I have been haunted by the fact that I cannot determine the fate of my paternal grandfather’s mother.   I know I am not alone in the family secret category.  Dad’s family seemed to be one with all manner of voids.  Almost like a scatter of chain links.  There they are in front of me clearly related…isn’t the material of the same making?  And the fabrication distinctly of the same hand?  One by one I pick up the pieces and rebuild the chain, noting the beginnings and the endings…watching for the telltale scars and scratches to match the partners.  On occasion several links have stayed fast.   And inevitably I come to the link that fails to close.  Lillian W. Jennings, my paternal great grandmother is that link.

Henry A. Martin and Lillian W. Jennings

My paternal great grandparents, 26 year old Henry A. Martin and 25 year old Lillian W. Jennings,  left Henry marries Lillian Jennings 1884 news and DemocratAuburn, New York in 1884 within days of their July 16th marriage by the Trinity Methodist Church pastor and settled in what is now known as Clinton Hill.  They set up household in one of the old brownstones on Waverly Street and Henry went to work as a stenographer.  The Brooklyn Bridge had been completed in 1883 connecting the boroughs and Henry rode the trolley into Manhattan.

Sag Harbor NY Corrector 1910 Ernest Martin diesHenry’s brother, Ernest had married another Auburnian, Emma Grace Kilmer,  the year before and they, too, had made their home in Brooklyn where Ernest worked as a stenographer and then began selling typewriters in the New York Metro area.   Ernest became very successful and with Emma and their two daughters lived in a lovely building in Prospect Park.   A long life for Ernest was not to be.  He died suddenly on Long Island beside the train tracks after collapsing from a massive stroke.  Emma and her daughters, Edna Mae and Grace Harriett,  did not stay in Brooklyn, but rather packed up their household and moved to Hempstead, Long Island where the girls grew up and married.

And Henry?   And Lillian?

The research began with the Federal and NYS censuses supported by Brooklyn directories and newspapers.   Addresses were pinpointed in directories in 1887, 1888, 1890 and 1897 and the NYS 1892 census shows the family, Henry A., Lillian W., Al H. and George E. living on Halsey Street in Brooklyn.    By 1900 Henry was living in Brooklyn as a ‘widower’ with their four children, Albert, George, Howard and baby Lillian on Jefferson Avenue according to the enumeration in the Federal Census.

Just yesterday I found that Lillian had borne another child – a girl – in Union, Hudson, New Jersey (now West New York, New Jersey) on August 12, 1888.  My grandfather would have been just a year and half old.  But why New Jersey?  All the other children were born in New York.  Since the child was not in any subsequent census, I can only assume she did not survive.

By the 1905 NYS Census, Henry and his children, Albert “Bertie” (my grandfather), George, Howard and Lillian,  lived in another brownstone this time on 236 Reid Street.  Henry was enumerated as “head” and living with the family was the children’s caregiver “servant”, Henrietta Fischer, a 35 year German immigrant.  No marital status category was provided in that census.  Henrietta was as close to a mother figure as little Lillian would have.  The two travelled together periodically.

In 1907 young Howard died in Brooklyn at the age of 14.  I never sent away for his death certificate.  Perhaps the knowledge of why he died might provide a clue.  Or add to the mystery.

By 1910 Henry had finally set up a permanent residence at 691 Halsey Street and that year married widow, Mary Giddings.    The Martins attended the Janes Methodist Episcopalian Church on Monroe Street. Over the years Henry threw himself into church and civic organizations.  At the Janes Methodist Church Henry ran the men’s bible study and served in several capacities with The Valley Forge Council, Jr. O.U.A.M.  76 and the Janes Social Union.

George continued to live with his father and stepmother on 691 Halsey until he went off to fight in the 49th Infantry inBrooklyn NY Standard Union Wed 14 Aug 1918 George E Martin Over There WWI in 1917 at the age of 26.  Uncle George was in the parlance of the time “a perennial bachelor”.  I vividly remember his auburn hair…curly and topped with a jaunty beret…sipping tea with my mother and my father’s sister in the big farm kitchen in the 1950’s.   He visited…motored was the term at the time…from his Murray Hill home quite often.  Always quiet and shy, he was almost delicate.  And I thought exotic (he was from NYC!)  and kind.  After my father’s death, he sent me a set of oils and brushes because he knew that I like to paint.   He is pictured in the blog banner with my father and his mother’s sister,  Harriet Jennings White.  George is buried next to my grandfather, Albert, and sharing a headstone in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.  His footstone is the only tender sign of affection I have found.

Beloved Brother.  Rest In Peace.

And baby Lillian?   She married Leo Franklin Leonard in 1922 and had three children – all before her father’s death in 1932.  She lived within walking distance of her father and stepmother and yet when Henry died in 1932, the only survivor listed in the Brooklyn Eagle obituary was his second wife.  No George.  No Lillian.  No grandchildren.   He was referred to as her beloved husband.  Odd and sadly detached.  And there is no stone marking his grave.

Not much mention about Henry’s central New York roots in his Brooklyn life.  No notices of visiting his family.  Except for a Brooklyn Eagle news article at the death of his first cousin, Will Cruttenden, in 1928 who Henry A Martin in will of W H Cruttenden 1928 cropleft him and his central New York cousins to share in a hoarded stash, he seemed removed.  Henry’s spinster sister, Harriett Cornelia Martin, kept the family ties together attending weddings and funerals as ambassador of sorts and she traveled to New York to visit her brother.    Henry’s daughter, Lillian,  was named in Harriett’s obituary.  Apparently Henry kept to Brooklyn.  And my grandfather, Albert,  didn’t.   In 1905, Albert Henry was sent back to Auburn to his Martin family and met and married my then 15 year old grandmother, Sarah Leona Penird.  In six years, the young father of three was dead by his own hand at the age of 24.  A troubled mind.

What happened to my paternal great grandmother, Lillian W. Jennings Martin?

Genealogists are accustomed to gaps in information the further we go back in our research, but there are occasions when a more recent generation has ‘mystery’ written all over it.  And family secrets.

Henry did not remarry until 1910, but relied upon two German sisters who lived in their building to care for the children while he went to work in Manhattan. Why was he single for so long a time? Is THAT a clue?  Was Lillian really dead? Did she run away? Was she ill in an institution? I found a Lillian W. Martin in a state mental hospital in the 1900 Federal Census and her statistics were fairly close.  The age was off by a very few years and this Lillian’s mother was born in Massachusetts and father in NY and my Lillian’s information was the reverse – mother was born in NY and father in Massachusetts.  Genealogists understand that a slight variance doesn’t constitute a wrong conclusion.  It just puts up a flag.  “Caution.  Proceed with Care.”    But proceed I must.  With Care.   I cannot ignore the fact that I know that Lillian’s maternal grandmother, Orinda Bennett James,  died in an insane asylum in Whitestown, Oneida County, NY in 1852 and my grandfather was so troubled that he took his own life by swallowing carbolic acid in 1911.  Pathology…hard as it is…might be this genealogist’s evidence.    HIPAA laws might get in the way of acquiring information and researching the Lillian W. Martin in what was Long Island State Hospital at King’s Park .  Still….

Earlier this year I sent a request out to the Vital Records Department that covers the NY metro area…and no death certificate is there for her…not before 1900.    I have poured over Brooklyn newspapers and Auburn NY papers for some kind of death notice for years now. Nothing. She is not listed in the Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn where Henry is buried. Alone. The North Street Cemetery in Auburn, NY has suffered from neglect and record loss…a shameful history story there…so I don’t know if her body was buried in the Jennings family plot.  But there were other Lillian Martins who died in the New York metro area and I dismissed them because the death date didn’t neatly fit into Henry’s statement of widowhood in 1900.

With this possible clue…this painful clue…the next step is to ascertain if there are burial records for the patients of Long Island State Hospital at King’s Park.

I will keep looking in every nook and cranny. It would be like abandoning her if I didn’t.

My education on Brooklyn is just beginning…I have two history books on the area since family members on both sides left central New York in the 1880’s to live and work in Brooklyn.   Just to get a feel for the Brooklyn of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.    But the personal history is as black and white as the old photos and so very full of shadows.     I knew my Grand Uncle George…my grandfather’s brother…and I own one of his lovely landscape oil paintings and my brother has one of his pastels…”The Three Cherubs”…that Uncle George created to celebrate my three brothers.   But so very little of his mother, Lillian W. “Lillie” Jennings Martin.

Bits and pieces.  Art and void.  And perhaps madness.

 

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

The Eye of the Beholder

Our mail carrier KNOWS I love her arrival. At the sound of the truck making its way down the street…I am out to the mailbox like I have been shot out of a cannon. Not all of the time. But, when I am awaiting a book or article regarding my genealogy research, it is akin to Christmas at my house.

“What is it today, Deb?”, Barb says leaning out of the USPS vehicle. It is spring at last and I am not bundled up and she happily has her window open to catch a warm April breeze. And me? I am content to open the envelope right then and there…not risking frost bite…and oblige her curiosity (and mine).

I found three different collectible objects on eBay last month and ordered all three. Coming from three different sources, they were mailed separately thus spreading out the anticipation and joy. All of the items directly relate to my central New York ancestors and have antiquity.

Order of Sons of St. George, General Gordon Lodge, Auburn, New York.  Circa 1896

Order of Sons of St. George, General Gordon Lodge, Auburn, New York. Circa 1896

First, my paternal 2nd great grandfather’s portrait (circa 1896) with his fellow members of the Order of the Sons of St. George; General Gordon Lodge, Auburn, NY. The seller was from the Binghamton area. I was over the moon.

Yesterday’s mail brought the Victorian Trading Card from his son’s Auburn, NY business, “Coy and Penird… from around the late 1880’s. The seller was in the Sacramento, California area. WOW!  How things do ‘travel’!

I opened this envelope to show my mail carrier my latest treasure and inwardly laughed when I saw her polite and puzzled expression that clearly said,

” Just a piece of cheap paper advertising “Coy & Penird” All * Kinds * Of * Rags”.

Coy & Penird; Victorian Trading Card.  Circa late 1880's.

Coy & Penird; Victorian Trading Card. Circa late 1880’s.

But, we genealogists and historians have seen that look before…

Stereopticon Slide.  Taughannock Falls.

Stereopticon Slide. Taughannock Falls.

The third item is a stereopticon slide of Taughannock Falls (Ithaca, NY) and in lovely condition. My 5th great grandfather built a log cabin there in 1790 and the falls are a great part of my family history. I can’t wait to have it arrive. Perhaps Barb will find this item a bit more charming. Or confirm that I am collector of odd bits.

What can I say…

 

 

 

 

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved

An Englishman in a Complicated American Life

A Note to My Readers: In furthering my knowledge of my paternal 2nd great grandfather, David Penird (1830-1901), a London born Englishman who migrated to the United States around 1850 and settled in Cayuga County, New York, I began to look at where he spent a good deal of his energy and time. I started with the task of writing a biographical profile with the facts. First I had to embrace the fact that over the decades, what eventually became the surname Penird was morphed many times from Pennard to Penard to Peniard and countless odd transcriptions and at last settling on Penird.

Upon his arrival in America, David immediately married 16 year old Elizabeth White of Auburn and soon after the couple had twin girls, Lucy Jennie and Mary Elizabeth. Elizabeth died in 1852 leaving David with the infant girls who had not yet celebrated their first birthday. On May 21, 1854, David married Martha D. Colwell of Summerhill in Union Springs and the pair took up Lucy Jennie and their own infant daughter, Ida Mae and moved to Cherry Valley, Illinois in 1856, leaving little Mary Elizabeth with her maternal grandmother in Auburn.

During their attempt at farming in Illinois two more children were born to the Penirds –sons John and George. While it is unclear what the circumstances were, a legal notice in the January 1st, 1861 issue of the Rock River (Illinois) Democrat reported the proceedings of the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors.

ROCKFORD, Dec. 3d, 1860.
Resolved. That Geo W. Miller be allowed the sum of Forty Dollars, for care of Lucy Penird, and for sending said Lucy Penird to her friends in Auburn New York, and the Clerk of this Board is hereby directed to draw an order on the Treasurer for the amount.
Resolved. That Burnap & Harvey, attorneys be allowed the sum of twenty-five dollars for their services in the case of U. D. Meacham, States Attorney, against David Penird, and the Clerk of this Board is hereby directed to draw an order on the Treasurer for the amount.

Lucy Jennie was sent to live with her mother’s sister, Olive White Arnold who had migrated to Wisconsin where Lucy continued to live, marry Horatio Theodore Harroun and raise six children. Between the time Mary Elizabeth was 14 and living with her grandmother in Auburn in 1865 until her marriage to William C. Heard on January 19, 1880 at the age of 29 in Bayonne, New Jersey I lost track of Mary Elizabeth.
It is clear, however, that the twin Penird girls – however far flung – and their half-siblings kept contact and indeed were named as heirs in their half-brother, George’s 1927 will.

By the spring of 1861, the Penirds were back in Summerhill, where Martha gave birth in May to my great grandfather, William J. Penird. David enlisted to fight in Mr. Lincoln’s War on November 16, 1861, mustering in with the newly formed 75th regiment out of Cayuga County. When his first duty was completed, he re-enlisted on January 24, 1864, collecting a bounty of $300 and was again in the throes of battle bivouacked in Florida and Louisiana, fighting at the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads and mustering out in Savannah, Georgia on August 21, 1865. He mustered out with the rank of Sergeant having lost all of his teeth as a result of continuous vomiting brought on by typhoid fever. He had suffered the travails of typhoid alongside his son’s father-in-law, Samuel French, a Summerhill farmer, who died of the disease in the hospital at Camp Dwight in Louisiana.

1875 Summerhill Map

1875 Summerhill Map

Returning home, David found his pious and competent wife Martha had become a good farmer owning several acres in Summerhill and living on her farm along Lick Road. By the late 1870’s he was itching for adventure and good fortune, so he scooped up my teenage great grandfather, William, and headed for Deadwood City in the Dakota Territories. They are both enumerated in the 1880 Federal census living in Deadwood as laborers next to Dr. F. W. Wilson and the barber shop run by E. R. Sims. As I read into the history of Deadwood, I came to understand that former Civil War soldiers banded together and headed to Deadwood to seek their fortune after the devastating effects of the war on the economy. By December of 1880, William was back in Summerhill when he married his Summerhill sweetheart, my great grandmother, Emogene Lillian Case.

The aging David settled in Auburn with Martha though she kept control of the farm in Summerhill for decades. David had learned about resources…scrap material to be exact…in his duties as supply sergeant in the old 75th and in the mineral mining community of Deadwood and began to build what is indelicately called ‘the junk business’. His eldest son, John had managed the Summerhill farm and as a family story told by his descendants relates, he was told to stay away from the mills and the shops in Auburn as they were hotbeds of tuberculosis. It did not save him as luck would have it. He died of the disease contracted in the plagued community of Summerhill in 1888 at the age of 31 just four years after his older sister, Ida. She, too, was lost to ‘consumption’ in Summerhill when she was 29.

Auburn became the center of the family’s activities as the scrap business boomed.  David’s remaining sons, George W.Auburn Weekly Auburnian May 1893 Coy and Penird New Address and William J. both became involved with their father’s enterprise. In the year 1888 after his older brother John’s death, George became the head of the business first partnering with Nehemiah Coy to form the company of Coy and Penird with offices in Ithaca and Auburn.  As George matured into his role and became politically active in Auburn as Third Ward Supervisor,  David gradually found other avenues for his remaining energy.  The Grand Army of the Republic and The Order of the Sons of St. George and a brief fling at local politics.

Though I never found evidence of David becoming a naturalized citizen, I did find him involved on the periphery of the Independent Labor Party in 1891. But the majority of his time was devoted to his brothers-in-arms and his fellow English ex-pats. He is found marching in parades and dining at banquets, organizing the 11th annual reunion of the ‘Old 75th” in 1891 in Auburn. More marching and dining and conventions and fund-raising for the General Gordon Lodge, No. 211 of the Order of the sons of St. George and serving as one of its Trustees in his 60’s. He continued to be an ‘agent’ and ‘peddler’ for Coy and Penird until finally the family set up residence and shop at 21 – 23 Perrine Street where George had built a large warehouse and arranged to have the railroad run a side track. Over the decades David had been listed as living in various locations…Martha in others.  In his man’s world of the time, he favored their company and the social events, but Martha kept to her sewing circles and managing her Summerhill property.  David is buried alongside Martha in Groton Rural Cemetery, but the pair seemed to live very different and individual lives after he returned from his service in the Civil War.

The Order of the Sons of St. George

Order of the Sons of St. George.  David Penird is seated, far left

Order of the Sons of St. George. David Penird is seated, far left

I had all manner of records about David’s involvement in the Grand Army of the Republic, but not the Order of the Sons of St. George. Could this very English affiliation tell me more about David other than the doings of his family and business activities?

Oh yes, indeed, what was already complicated, sometimes uncomfortable and oddball became colorful, if not downright boisterous.

I found that the Order’s motto was (and is) “Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense”, an Anglo-Norman phrase that translates “Evil unto him who thinks evil of it” or “Shame upon him who thinks evil of it”. Historians attribute the phrase to the Most Noble Order of the Garter established in 1348 and its founder, King Edward III of England. The Most Noble Order of the Garter is the highest order of chivalry and is dedicated to St. George, England’s patron saint. It is the world’s oldest national order of knighthood in continuous existence.

The Order of Sons of St. George was first established as a cultural and benevolent society in 1871 by English emigrants living in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Some of the literature hints at some violence between the English born mine owners and officials in the area perpetrated by the secret society of the Irish Catholic group the “Molly McGuires” and thus the Order’s formation as protection.

As time moved on, the Order of the Sons of St. George evolved into an ethnic fraternal society to benefit Englishmen, their sons and grandsons, living in the United States. Sick and death benefits were offered to all members and the social activities such as dances, picnics and dinners were part of lodge activities. Membership was limited to first, second and third generation Englishmen. A separate organization…an auxiliary for females…was called the Daughters of St. George.

In its prime over 600 lodges existed in North America with a membership of 45, 000, but as insurance companies took over the benefit market, the need for membership in a benevolent society for financial security became less of a necessity.  As the migration from England diminished and the generations became absorbed into American life and culture, the desire to belong to a heritage society was lost on them. Though few, lodges still exist today in the U.S. and in fact, in England as well and celebrate the history and observe the traditions of the Order.

My paternal great great grandfather was a trustee in the General Gordon Lodge, Order of the Sons of St. George in Auburn, New York and if there was an event, he was there. In the 1900 Auburn Directory (Lamey), the lodges are listed.

Sons of St George, (Gen Gordon Lodge)–Organized June 21, 1886. Meetings held at St George’s Hall, over 8 Genesee St, first and third Wednesday evenings of each month. Headley Tutton, W P; Charles Spencer, Sec’y; James Williamson, Treas.
Daughters of St George, (Red Rose Lodge No. 112)–Organized March 10, 1897. Meets alternate Wednesday evenings at American Hall, over 145 Genesee St. Mrs. Georgia Kober, W P; May Sandham, W V P; Mrs Elizabeth Kerslake, Sec’y; Mrs Ada Williams, Treas.

General Gordon Lodge, No. 211

From its inception in June 21, 1886, Auburn’s General Gordon Lodge, held scores of events to raise money for the benefit of its members. According to Lodge Comptroller, Ernest Hunt, in a speech given in 1913, Auburn’s lodge was formed out of compassion for the plight of a fellow Englishman.

When a young Englishman, who had not friends or relatives in this country, came to Auburn and succeeded in finding employment as an engineer at Stalker’s mill, a position for which he had no training and as a result a boiler exploded, wrecking the building and killing him, it became necessary for the city of Auburn to arrange for his burial. After some time it became known or rumored that he had not been given proper burial, but that the coffin provided was not long enough for the body and consequently the undertaker had crowded the corpse into its receptacle. This aroused much indignation among the Englishmen, with the result that a meeting was called and arrangements made for a proper burial. From this incident originated the lodge of the Sons of St. George with membership of 350 members.

Headquartered at St. George’s Hall on Water Street, the organization held gatherings there that were strictly for men only. In 1891 the Lodge celebrated the anniversary of General Gordon’s birthday by giving an old English dinner. David was one of its organizers.

All formality was laid aside. The company was decidedly ‘stag’. So happily and smoothly did each event succeed the other that there was scarcely time to think of the absent fairs sex although toasts to their health were drank and their praises echoed in the songs and speeches of the evening. The spacious lodge room was turned into a banquet hall. The tables, heavily laden with all that goes to make up and old English dinner, greeted the merry party as they filed into the hall and took their seats at the table. There were over eighty in all, including the members of the order and their guests. Mrs. C. C. Lynch served as substantial and wholesome a dinner as any Englishman could desire. She was the recipient of compliments from all sides for her Old English plumb pudding with brandy sauce which was disposed of with relish. The rest of the menu was in keeping with the occasion. The dinner was served from 8 to 11 o’clock when the feast of reason followed. George Salvage filled most acceptably the position of toast master. The toasts were drank with a hearty cheer and the sparkling wine which flowed freely brought with it good cheer, witty speeches and merry songs. The first toast of the evening was to Queen Victoria of England and President Harrison of the United States.

The party broke up in the early hour of the morning with the best of good fellowship after singing several old English songs. All agreed that the anniversary of ’91, was one of the most enjoyable events in the history of the organization.

When David died on August 12, 1901, the Lodge gathered at his Perrine Street home to honor their brother and see him off to ‘the higher plain’. I imagine there were speeches and toasts…many speeches and many toasts ‘which flowed freely’ bringing with it good cheer, witty speeches and merry songs in the manner of all of their gatherings when he walked among them.

Author’s Note: I knew so little about my father’s mother, Sarah Leonie Penird Martin Merithew Palmer. She died before I was five and I have but one memory of her in her little brick house on Ross Place…and her curio cabinet full of knickknacks and memorabilia. While the adults talked, I pressed my nose to the glass examining the riot of things that belonged to her. She who knew so much about David Penird…she who belonged to the ladies auxiliary of the Sons of Union Volunteers. She who went to England just before World War II broke out to explore her grandfather’s English roots and who had to sail abruptly back in 1937 on the S. S. Aquitania to avoid “the unsettled conditions in Europe”.

The genealogist’s lament.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved

 

 

Timetables and The Parlor of Samuel Jenney

A Note to my Readers:  It is such a small world and nothing illustrates that more than my research of my James and Jennings and Jenney family members.  They all migrated from the city of New Bedford in the early 1800’s.  The City that Lit the World…the whaling capital of the world…was losing it influence when whale oil stopped being the driving commodity for gathering wealth or at the very least financial security.   The family alliances…both through marriage and business…are like a spider web pattern and if I am not industrious, I will get lost in the intricacies. Particularly because of the repetition of first names…Samuel, Abigail, Harriet, Deborah and James.   Sometimes, one individual clarifies it all and becomes such a comfortable character in the process that I like to take time to visit awhile.  Even though he is not a direct ancestor, he is a sweet nexus in his farmhouse along Cayuga Lake and beloved by his neighbors, friends and family.   The year of 1885 was one of noteworthy moments in the widower’s life and so I take the H. G. Wells time machine out…drag it into the garden and set it to 1885.  See you there.

The Parlor

The year of 1885 along Cayuga Lake and around the nation was full of joy, sorrow, surprises, schemes, secrecy and mosquitoes…

On February 5th, Adelia M. Jenney, daughter of Samuel Jenney, Jr. and his wife, Sally Sharpsteen, married Franklin Eugene James in the parlor of her widowed father’s Union Springs home. Samuel’s father…who was also Samuel…was first married to Abigail James…Adelia’s grandmother and my 2nd great grandmother’s sister (Harriet James Jennings).   Her groom was my 2nd great grandmother’s nephew…which makes the newlyweds cousins.   The James’ and the Jenneys and the Jennings all came from New Bedford, Massachusetts to the shores of Cayuga Lake in the early 1800’s where Samuel’s generation was born.

At the residence of the bride’s father in Springport, Thursday, Feb. 6th, by Rev. S. A. Beman, Miss Adelia M. Jenney to Franklin E. James of Newfield. After the ceremony Mr. Jenny in a few appropriate worlds welcomed his children both to his heart and home. Mr. James, then through the officiating clergyman, presented his father-in-law with an elegant easy chair expressing the hope that he might live many years to enjoy it. Another elegant chair was also presented to the his bride. The occasion was an impressive and enjoyable one. The happy couple took the evening train on a trip to Buffalo and Niagara.

Just one month later, forty friends and family members of Samuel Jenney gathered in the Jenney home to celebrate his 65th birthday. The parlor was once again filled with celebration.

Monday evening last was the occasion of a pleasant surprise to Mr. Samuel Jenney when about forty of his friends and neighbors very unexpectedly came in to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday. His cordial manner at once assured them they were welcome. A bountiful repast was served, and good music added much to the enjoyment of the occasion. The wish of all as the good nights were spoken was that their host might live to enjoy many happy birthdays.

The Jenney neighbors…the Gaylord family of Union Springs lost their yellow and white Scotch Terrier and offered a ten dollar reward for his return. In today’s currency that’s almost $250!   Some dog!

Samuel’s brother-in-law, William Sharpsteen, came for a visit that July from Defiance, Ohio and on a warm summer’s evening passed away in the Jenney’s home. William was laid out in the parlor and a somber funeral was held there in the very spot that his sister’s body was viewed a the time of her death five years earlier.  William’s mortal remains were transported to Chestnut Hill Cemetery were he was laid to rest near his sister.

And the World Turns

But…beyond the parlor and its activities in 1885 the world continued to spin and nature had its way with the residents.

It was a bitter winter and even into March Cayuga Lake was frozen solid.  Seneca County historian, Naomi Brewer,  reports that her great grandmother, Carrie Coleman wrote an account of the March weather in her diary .

…on Feb. 17 the lake was frozen over and many people skated on the lake, with one getting the mail this way. On March 4, the ice thawed in places but refroze the next day. On March 6 the ice roared and groaned as it froze harder. Iceboats were in use frequently. On March 27 she reported teams crossing on the ice but there was some thawing and water on the ice. Thawing continued so that there were open streaks on April 4.

That March temperatures held at freezing and below with a relentless grip.  An immense cake of ice reported to be 150 feet Glenwood Hotel 2long, 30 feet wide and 10 inches thick was cut from Cayuga Lake and towed to the hotel ice house to stock the Glenwood resort.

Reverend Ezra Dean, a retired Baptist minister of Auburn died from the effects of asphyxiation by coal gas. He and his wife were found unconscious when their daughter called upon them for a visit. It was too late for the minister, but his wife survived.

Roller skating…which had become a phenomenon in Auburn…faded into oblivion that winter and both rinks closed like a light winking out.  I imagine the ice being plentiful afforded the hardy winter sporting enthusiasts with more than enough surfaces to indulge themselves and for those that shied from the frigid cold, a good book and a warm fire kept them at hearth and home.

The going rate for a one way fare to San Francisco was a modest or princely sum depending on your circumstance…. of $50.00. (about $1219.00 in today’s currency).

My 2nd great grandmother’s brother, David Sands Titus…known as the Major…was a supervisor from Cayuga county and traveled from his home in the village of Cayuga to Auburn inspecting the old jail. The county was about to build a new jail and the Major and his fellow supervisors were inspecting the various proposed plans after visiting several cities and reviewing their facilities.

By July travelers of the NY Central between Union Springs and Auburn were relieved to find out that the old time-table had been restored. The new schedule had proved so inconvenient that officials heeded the complaints.

That summer the President of Yale College, Noah Porter, was reported to be revising Webster’s dictionary…in secret.  Gossip was rampant as to the nature of the revisions.  As with other editions…before and after, it was quite the hot topic with debates on the ‘war of words’.

And Detroit was beset with mosquitoes that summer…something the folks in the Finger Lakes knew too well. So was published a home remedy for the pesky critters…mix four ounces of cloves, two ounces of oil of peppermint, eight ounces of Persian powder (an organic blend of crushed Chrysanthemums and Tanacetum or Tansies), four ounces of gum camphor. The concoction was guaranteed to drive them from the room.

But as is the experienced and practical nature of advice from the folks along the lake,  there was a bit of extra wisdom to be shared.

“If it fails, hit him with a wet towel.”

Reluctantly I left the research visit with the Jenneys and Cayuga Lake and the year of 1885 with the full understanding that I would be back to visit in their autumn…when the leaves are golden and the flocks of Canada geese settle on the lake for a brief respite during their migration.

I am a Time Traveler.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved

 

The Earth Shook and Two Old Men Went Home

A Note to My Readers:  Like many historians and genealogists, I spend a good deal of time pouring over old publications in search of mention of an ancestor…a marriage…a birth…a death…a family gathering.  Every bit is a tender thread to weave a story of the times in which they lived.  Context.  History.  Flavor.  Going beyond the discovery of a specific published morsel…is the indulgence in a full blown meal.  Reading the whole page…in fact, the whole publication…it changes the perspective.  Getting beyond the ‘ah ha moment’ and the impulse of stashing the nugget into your research is critical to becoming a complete historian and to developing a meaningful biography of your ancestor.  Everyone knows that there is more satisfaction when you eat slowly…enjoying a lively and interesting conversation with fellow diners.  The same holds true when researching.  Reading the complete document…savoring the complexities…sipping a lovely wine before nibbling on the next delicious tidbit…makes it a memorable occasion.  Before you snip and run, make the time to read the surrounding material.  By opening up your research strategy, you will know your family on an intimate basis in ways you couldn’t contemplate.  Enjoy the feast, historians!

Newspaper Auburn NY Semi-Weekly Journal  15 May 1906 banner

In mid-May of 1906 the weather was mild and the farmers of Cayuga County were well into their spring chores. In fact one old fellow had fields to till and was in need of beasts with which to pull his plow. As reported in the Skaneateles Free Press, James B. Robinson made quite a stir as he turned Genesee Street into the scene of his small cattle drive.

Newspaper Auburn NY Semi-Weekly Journal  15 May 1906 Long Overland Journey


“One day last week James B. Robinson who occupies the late James J. Gross farm in the southwestern part of the town, went to Fox Ridge, where he bought a pair of steers, driving them to Auburn, a distance of fourteen miles in one day, and the next day driving them home, where he is now using them in plowing and doing other farm work. His journey through Auburn attracted much attention, a yoke of cattle being a rare sight these days in city streets, or farm roads, either. Mr. Robinson is nearly 84 years old, but is a vigorous and active man.”

Newspaper Auburn NY Semi-Weekly Journal  15 May 1906 Scenes From San FranAuburnians F. D. Burleigh and his wife Clara L. Stockwell Burleigh wrote a letter home to her father recounting their ordeal in San Francisco having survived the great earthquake. Her letter was transcribed in complete. 

“We escaped San Francisco yesterday with what little baggage we could carry by hand. Last night we were taken in temporarily by acquaintances here and are trying to find a way to reach Los Angeles. Dean and Mr. Pyre represent a company with $35, 000, 000 in capital but cannot get in communication with them and we are almost penniless. Oakland banks are all closed, fearing a run, and no one here seems to be able to give us any help financially. If we can reach Los Angeles, money and telegraphic communications will be easier to obtain we hope. And, too, smallpox has broken out in San Francisco, it will soon be quarantined and in that case this place will be infected, too. The fire is out and our flat was saved.”

Mrs. Burleigh tells that the fire did not damage their household goods but she lost a valuable watch at a jeweler’s. Continuing she says:

“The weather has turned cold and the suffering and sickness will no doubt be doubled. we have cause to be grateful that our lives were spared and our household goods saved. But no one who was not there can ever get even the faintest idea of the horror of the hours since 5:15 last Wednesday morning. I have to stop and study before I can name a day that anything happened, for every hour seemed a day and every day was nameless.”

Her letter told of fear and death and desolation during those first dreadful hours.

“The house rocked back and forth and rose and sank all at once, together with an awful roaring and rambling and the noise of falling bricks and breaking crockery. I got to the door just as soon as the floor was quiet enough to let me walk and by even that time the first column of smoke was rising in the south. Little did we think that it was signal of a horror worse than the earthquake.”

“Thousands camped as thick as grass blades with no shelter except some kind devised from their small store of baggage; women fainting in the road and carried by the loads to the United States hospital.”

Amidst the colorful and witty charm of cattle being driven down Genesee Street and the harrowing and moving recount of Mrs. Burleigh’s earthquake experience in the May 15th Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal, sits the brief and practical death notice of my 87 year old, great great grandfather, Daniel J. Jennings.

DIED

“JENNINGS – At the residence of his daughter Mrs. John J. Trowbridge, East Orange, N.J., Thursday, May 10, 1906. Daniel Jennings (formerly of Auburn) in the 87th year of his age.
Remains will arrive in Auburn via N.Y.C & H. R. R. Sunday morning, May 14 at 6:46 o’clock. Funeral services at the residence of his son, W. H. Jennings, No 9 Easterly avenue, in the afternoon at 3:00 o’clock. Burial at North Street Cemetery.”

The Friday, May 11th edition of the Auburn, New York Citizen Advertiser offers only the additional Daniel J Jennings Auburn Newspaper Obit May 11 1906words “a well known and respected citizen of this city” to his obituary.

“The funeral of Daniel J. Jennings who died at East Orange, N. J. was held there (Auburn) this afternoon at the home of his son, W. H. Jennings, No. 9 Easterly ave.”  reports the Syracuse Daily Standard.”

I spent a great deal of time creating Daniel’s biography.  Beginning with his birth in the whaling city of New Bedford, Massachusetts to Samuel and Ruth Jennings and through his 1839 carriage maker apprenticeship as a young boy with Silas N. Richards.   Discovering his 1843 New Bedford marriage record to Harriet Jane James and their migration to central New York with their young family.  Exploring Daniel’s politics as a member of the Whig Party in Ithaca with his brother, Nathan supporting Zachary Taylor and Millard Filmore in their bid for the White House in 1848.  The Jennings family membership in the Trinity Methodist Church.  Daniel’s carriagemaking career first working at the shop of Bench Brothers Cayuga Wagon Works crafting wagons, carriages and sleighs and eventually opening his own business “Jennings & Lewis” on Dill Street.

Decade by decade assembling the life of the man who is my paternal great great grandfather, I came to know him and his children in Auburn, New York in the 19th century.  The days when the streets were filled with mud and sidewalks were fashioned of wood planks.  When horses pulled wagons and sleighs and trolleys.   During the Civil War when his 16 year son, Charles, went off to fight with the 111th NYS Volunteers and later his service as Auburn’s Chief of Police.  Exploring the successful business story of Trowbridge and Jennings that son William established with his sister Emily’s husband.  The pride of son Daniel carrying on his father’s craftsmanship with carpentry.  Giving away his teenaged daughter, Lillian, to a young man named Henry Martin, my great grandparents,  at Trinity Methodist Church.   Waving the pair good-bye as they left Auburn in 1884 for their newlywed adventure and the promise of the business boom of the New York City area fostered by the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Celebrating the marriage of 49 year old daughter Harriet who after years of being the family’s dutiful spinster daughter,  wed widower Roderick White in 1901.  Mourning his dear wife, Harriet and their daughter, Lillian and her son, Harold.

Coming Home

Amid the wealth of words in three newspapers, I could only find the briefest and final arrangements of Daniel’s death and his journey home.  No elegy to his character and his rich life.  That is left to me to construct over one hundred years later.

As part of that biography is the imagery of his daughter Emily’s long train ride accompanying her father’s body to Auburn and their arrival at the depot, steam billowing from the engine and the somber carriage ride to Easterly Avenue on a fine spring day where the siblings, Emily, Charles, Daniel and Harriet and grandchildren gathered to say farewell to their patriarch.

The intimate family rite transpired as the world still went on…lilacs coming into bloom;  the Burleighs recovering from the San Francisco earthquake and James Robinson leading his steers through the fields of his farm.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved