Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookie Memories Old & New, Sand Tarts & Rum Balls

After not being able to post since December 6,  I am so out of synch with keeping up the "Official" Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories theme. So I'm just going to surrender for this year and post my own topics instead.

Christmas Cookies were always a tradition in our home. Mom would bake sugar cookie cutouts, peanut butter cookies, drop sand tarts, and spritz cookies every year. As an adult, I took over the reins as Family Christmas Cookie Baker. In my heyday, it was not unusual for me to bake 20+ varieties of cookies each year to give as gift assortments. As I grew older and my heart failure has progressed, my stamina for the baking marathons is no longer there. So I've had to seriously cut back and each year select just a few recipes to bake. One year, I ran out of time and didn't bake any cookies and oh the uproar that ensued! No one else except  Mom bakes anything - ever - so I found out my cookies are the gift everyone looks forward to each year. Mom's 78 years old, so these days she prefers making quick breads at Christmas or premade refrigerated "just bake and eat" cookies, rather than baking cookies from scratch.

Here are two of the most requested cookies for me to bake - Mom's Drop Sand Tarts and My Chocolate Rum Balls.

These is an easy version of Sand Tarts because you don't have to slice the cookies evenly from a roll or roll them out and cut out circles. Also, Instead of a greased baking sheet, I line my baking sheet with baking parchment (which does not need to be greased). Same results, much easier cleanup.

Mom's Drop Sand Tarts

3/4 lb. butter (3 sticks, softened)
1-1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder (check the expiration date)
beaten egg whites for a wash
cinnamon or colored sugar
walnut or pecan halves

Cream butter, granulated sugar, and eggs well. Add flour and baking powder. Chill overnight. Drop by 1/2 teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten out with a flat bottomed juice glass dipped in sugar, allowing a small rim of dough around glass. This helps the cookies to bake evenly. Brush the tops with egg white wash and sprinkle with the cinnamon or colored sugar and press a nut half into the center of each cookie. Bake in a moderate 325 to 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

My Chocolate Rum Balls

These Rum Balls are the top of the request list from my sister. I make mine using Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. You can use your favorite rum or substitute bourbon, Kahlua, etc. for the rum, depending on your personal preferences..

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. rum
1/4 c. light corn syrup
3 c. fine vanilla wafer crumbs (about 80 cookies, crushed finely)
1-1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
More confectioner's sugar to coat

In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans and 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. Set aside.

In top of double boiler, over hot, not boiling water, melt the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in rum and corn syrup. Drizzle chocolate mixture over crumb mixture, stirring until well combined. Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in confectioner's sugar to coat. Store in airtight container one week to develop flavor.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.

I hope you try these recipes and enjoy them!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Calendar - Day 6 Sis's Great Santa Caper

My sister is two years younger than me and has been a spitfire from the day she was born. She was always little for her age, so she made up for that in stubborness and determination. One day whe she was three or four years old, she decided that she was going to catch Santa in the act on Christmas Eve. So she came up with a fool proof plan.

That Christmas Eve, when everyone was tucked in and asleep, Sis started to sneak out of our shared bedroom. I awoke as she tried to pass me and she told me she was just going to the bathroom, so I went back to sleep.

Instead, Sis crept on tippytoes down the stairs and plopped herself in front of the Christmas Tree. And there she sat on the floor and waited for Santa to show up. And waited. And waited. When Mom & Dad came down in the wee hours of the morning to set out our gifts, there was Sis sound asleep, curled up on the floor under the tree! Dad wanted to carry her back up to bed without waking her, but Mom said to just leave her be. So they left her there, sound asleep, and got to work.

Christmas morning, there was Sis under the tree sound asleep, surrounded by our Christmas gifts from Santa!

When we woke her up, Sis was so mad that her big plan to catch Santa in the act had been foiled - because try as she might, she just couldn't win the struggle to stay awake.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 5 Outdoor Decorations

I loved Christmas lights as a kid and I still do. Today, living in an apartment, we really have no place to put outdoor lights. But when I was a kid, no matter where my family lived (we moved a lot), Dad would always hang outside lights around the porch and front window and doorway.

Dad would also pick a night and we would drive around the area looking at the lights at night. Penn Street, the main street of the city, would have all the shops decorated and lit. There was the city's Christmas Tree all lit up in the traffic circle that used to sit at 5th and Penn. You could see the animated displays in the windows of Pomeroy's Department Store at 6th and Penn Sts.  For several blocks on North 9th Street (off Penn St.) lit garlands crossed overhead from street lamp to street lamp. It was like driving under a canopy of lights.

We'd drive through the ritzy neighborhoods where the decorations were discrete, tasteful amd pretty. And we'd cruise through the working class neighborhoods where more is more and colors were bright and twinkling. Those were the homes with the lit figures on the lawns and 3 story row homes covered in lights and Santa with his reindeer and sleigh sitting on the rooftops. Some of the displays would leave Dad chuckling "I wouldn't want to have to pay THAT electric bill!".

But the climax of the drive was always driving past Christmas Village. Christmas Village is a local holiday tourist attraction. You drive along on a dark unlit country road. Finally you crest a hill and in the valley before you is a village decorated with over half a million lights! That view as you crest the hill is the most magical part. So we would never stop and actually park and pay to go in (Dad would have rather spent that money on more gifts for us), but we always wanted to see it lit up as we drove past. And yup, Dad would be chuckling "I wouldn't want to have to pay THAT electric bill!".

Go to http://www.koziarschristmasvillage.com and watch the intro to see what we saw as we crested the hill at Koziar's Christmas Village.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 4 Christmas Cards

We had a large extended family, so Mom was in charge of the Christmas cards. She'd buy a big boxed assortment in the after Christmas clearance sales the year before and would start writing out the cards long before Thansgiving so they would be all ready to mail. Some she would send "as is" with just the traditional signature, but in a select few she would include a handwritten letter. It wasn't a generic Christmas newsletter, it was a personal letter to the recipient. Back in those days, a long distance telephone call was very expensive and a stamp was just a few cents, so Mom was an avid letter writer all year long.

Because of Mom and Dad both coming from large families, we also received a great many cards. It was exciting getting the mail! Mom would hang a string or ribbon across the living room picture window curtain rod and we would use clothes pins to hang and display the cards. After the holidays, the cards would be dismantked and Mom would use them in crafts projects she would come up with to keep us occupied on rainy or sick days.

One family tradition we can count on is the first card of the season always arrives from Mom's brother Cody in Upstate NY. He prides himself on mailing them off the day before Thanksgiving each year, so his cards always arrive on Black Friday or the next day. He wants to be sure that his is the first card of the season we receive. Everyone else in the family holds off mailing until after Thanksgiving so that Uncle Cody can retain his place of honor in the Christmas Card stakes.

These days, my card sending goes in waves. When money isn't so tight, I'll send cards to everyone in my address book. Years like 2010, I will just restrict myself to immediate family and a very few others. Postage rates add up too fast to be casual with my card list in these current economic times. But I still love getting cards!

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 3 - Eclectic Tree Ornaments

Growing up in the late 1950s and 1960s our tree didn't look like something from a magazine or store display, all matchy-matchy and color coordinated. Thee was no overarching theme - it was truly eclectic. It had - personalty.

Lights: In my youngest years, we used the large bulb strings of light. As the years passed, we moved into the small twinkling lights; always multicolored and never the plain white strings of light. With our tree, the more colors, the better was the rule. But my favorites by far were the strings of bubble lights. I could watch them for hours. We even had a candelabra in the front window that was outfitted with bubble lights.

Most of our ornaments were a mish mash assortment of the old blown glass balls and figuruals. Many of the balls had indents with kaleidoscope patterns in the indents. There were glass balls that looked like berries and birds, Santas and bells. We had many glass ornaments that looked like Chinese lanterns. The tree lights would reflect upon all these ornaments and really make them sparkle and come alive.

The rest of the tree was outfitted with homemade ornaments and whatever caught our fancy. Of course, back then there weren't cartoon or TV character decorations. A favorite for many years were ornaments my sister and I made in Sunday School one year. They were stars made from wagon wheel pasta glued together, spray painted (mine was silver, Sis's was gold), sprinkled with glitter and had a mini Christmas ball glued to the center. How those lasted intact for so many years was a tribute Mom's packing abilities when everything was taken down and put back into storage for the next year.

When I was a kid, I wanted a "designer" matchy-matchy theme tree (what I imagined were rich peoples' trees). Now that I am older, those trees seem so sterile. So it is a hodge podge, eclectic, theme free tree for me. Long live Personality!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 2 - Holiday Foods

In my family growing up, Christmas Day was spent at home with my parents, siblings and myself. Extended family visits took place on other days leading up to Christmas, but that day was for our nuclear family. So our Christmas dinner wasn't as elaborate as Thanksgiving, when we would gather with extended family.

Since Cookies and Dinner are Advent Calendar discussion topics for later in this month, I'll focus today on what foods were special to us that don't fall into those categories.

At the top of my list were the bowls of mixed nuts in their shells that Mom would have sitting around. These never made an appearance any other time of the year, but in the lead up to Christmas, there was always a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker sitting on an endtable in the living room. Sometimes it would be just walnuts, but usually it was mixed nuts. Since there was some effort needed to crack the nuts and dig out the nutmeat, we were allowed to snack on them at will. As kids we never went crazy gobbling them down because we lost interest in cracking them open after just a few nuts and our attention would turn to other things.

Everyone had their favorite type of nut they would dig for in the bowl. Dad went for the walnuts, I liked the brazil nuts. My sister liked the hazelnuts, or as she called them, "acorns".

Another Holiday treat was Ribbon candy. My father's aunt generally gave us a box of it every year. Now that was a treat that Mom would parse out because otherwise we'd gobble up the entire box in no time! I loved the thin crackle of the delicate hard candy.

And I can't forget about the candy canes! They were everywhere! We'd hang them on the tree and eat them as snacks or even dessert. Mom would get the little canes each individually wrapped in cellophane. Back then they came in one flavor - peppermint with the classic red and white stripes. OK, occasionally we'd score a green and white stripe peppermint cane, but they were hard to come by. Today's tutti-frutti kaleidoscope colored  candy canes just don't seem right to me. That's not how candy canes are supposed to look and taste!

Now I have to run out and buy some mixed nuts and ribbon candy. You readers are a bad influence!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Day 1 - The Christmas Tree

When I was growing up in the late 1950s and 1960s, Christmas was a magical time of the year and the centerpiece was our Christmas Tree.

My family didn't put up a live tree in those years. We weren't a family that trudged out in the snow to select a live tree, only to set it out as trash after the celebrations. No tromping through the woods, tree farms or corner tree lots for us. No, for us each year sometime just after Thanksgiving, Dad would retrieve the box holding the pieces of our artificial tree out of storage and assemble it (I think the assembly instruction must have included some colorful language LOL). I always assumed we never had a live tree because Mom didn't want to deal with the mess (and cleanup) of all the dropped needles that comes with having a live tree. Looking back, I know now that Mom and my baby sister had serious allergy and sinus conditions that would have been aggravated by spending so much time with a live indoor evergreen tree.

Our tree was a good sized tabletop tree, maybe 4 feet high. Every year my Dad would set up a large HO train platform on a pair of sawhorses and the decorated Christmas tree would be the centerpiece on the platform. I'll write more about the Christmas train display in another post, but this was the reason our tree was a tabletop sized tree. Sitting on the platform, the tree topper almost, but not quite, reached the room's ceiling.

We always decorated our tree with tinsel, never garland. Funny because as anti-mess as my mother was/is, she said it wasn't really a Christmas tree without tinsel. Mom said that garland was for people too lazy to take the time to hang tinsel properly.

Although we all helped to decorate the tree, when we were all finished with the decorations it was Dad's job to place the crowning touch - a mercury glass tree topper (the kind with the bulb and spire shape) on the top of the tree. I once asked why we didn't use a star or angel or one of those flashing light tree toppers that I'd see in the stores. I was told by my parents it was because that tree topper was like the ones they both grew up with and that's what we use in this family and no, we were not going to change. I decided that I was going to have a glitzy tree topper when I grew up. Only thing is now I choose to use a mercury glass tree topper because that's what I grew up with and any other topper doesn't seem like Christmas.

It's funny to realize that the older we get, the more we value tradition.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tip - Don't Overlook Old Social News

Have you ever tried to piece together who's who in a family? Of course you have! It really gets interesting when the eldest children in family are having grandkids while their younger siblings are still working on cranking out their own babies. Well stop banging your head on the desk in frustration!

If your ancestors lived in a small town, don't overlook the social gossip that was printed in the newspapers. They often show party guest lists, out of town visitors, medical updates, estate sales (with every item being sold listed), etc. In small towns everyone knew everyone else's business.

Guest lists for family dinners or reunions can be a real find for the family genealogist. At these events you know that almost everyone who attended is related to the host in some way, by blood or marriage. Now that you have the names, you just need to piece them together. Of course there is always the possibility to keep in mind that single attendees may have been boyfriends or girlfriends who never made it to marrying into the family....or they could be grandkids or inlaws or....

Here is an example from my paternal family. The folks I've been able to positively identify have corresponding notes. There are a few that I'm still working on and haven't pinpointed their relationship yet.

I've used my paternal grandmother, Ada M. (DeHart) Yohn as the base person to use in the relationship metric.

News article that appeared in the Reading (Berks County, PA) Eagle, on May 22, 1931
My notes on the Guest List:

Rev. A. R. Bachman - pastor of St. John's Reformed Church, Mt. Aetna, Berks Co., PA, the family church

Miss Maggie Stumbach

Mrs. Lizzie Lightner

Samuel DeHart - brother to my grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Miller, Philadelphia - sister to my grandmother (Martha)

Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas

Mrs Emma Hoffman and Children, Jacob and Russell - sister to my grandmother

Mrs. Kate Boeshore and daughter Emma, Fredericksburg - sister to my grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Frank DeHart and daughter Mary - brother to my grandmother

Charles DeHart - brother to my grandmother

Mrs. Ada Yohn and children Floyd, Evelyn, Arline, and Fern - my grandmother and her 4 kids, my Dad wasn't born until December of that year.

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Bulles and children Elizabeth and Bernice - sister to my grandmother (Lillie)

Mrs. Carrie Sherman, Reading - sister to my grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Hiram DeHart and children Allen and Alberta - brother to my grandmother

Miss Maggie DeHart - sister to my grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis DeHart and children Lucille and Curtis - brother to my grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Henry DeHart, Myerstown - brother to my grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. George DeHart, Lebanon - brother to my grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Artemus Bulles - nephew to my grandmother,  Raymond and Lillie Bulles's son

Lewis Bear - Carrie Sherman's companion/2nd husband (actually spelled Louis)

Stanley Adams, Reading

William Shimp, Wernersville

Mildred, Eleanor and Lucy Ream. Fredericksburg - My grandmother's sister, Kate Boeshore's granddaughters via daughter Mary E. (Boeshore) Ream

Miss Ethel Balthaser

Rufus Brigel - future husband of Elizabeth Bulles (dau of Raymond and Lillie Bulles)

Mr. and Mrs. Ross Bear, Reading - (related to Louis Bear, but how?)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Funeral Card Friday - Clara Hirst Funeral Bill 1914

Clara (nee Eckard) Hirst was my maternal great-grandmother (my mother's father's mother). She died in her home at 1250 Taney Street in Philadelphia PA on May 30, 1914. Her cause of death was listed as "phthisis pulmonalis", an archaic term used to describe what is now known as tuberculosis and its accompanying wasting disease.Her age at death was 45 years/1 month/22days. She was buried June 2, 1914 at Mt. Peace Cemetery in Philadelphia.

This is a copy of the bill for funeral expenses presented to her widower, Mr. John G. Hirst by the undertaker, Albert Cummings.

June 1st - To furnishing polished oak casket, old silver bar handles, Eng. name plate, cream liberty satin lining, satin pillow & mattress. 85.00

To polished chestnut case copper bound & copper name plate 25.00

To Embalming Remains 10.00
To Paper Notices 5.00
To Blanket 3.00
To Opening Grave, 10 ft. deep 9.00
To Dress & Ladys Services 20.00
To Auto Hearse, Mt. Peace 10.00
To 6 carriages 4.50 (each) 27.00

Recd. Payment 194.00 (my note: paid in full)

Clara Eckard Hirst and the Gravestone she shares with other family members in Mt Peace Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Memory Conversation Starter

Last year, I gave my then 77 year old mother a gift subscription to Reminisce magazine, published by Reiman Publications (http://www.reminisce.com/). It's a magazine where subcribers submit articles, photos, recipes and share memories of growing up and raising families during the 1920s, 30s, 40, 50s and even the early 1960s. I thought Mom would enjoy reading these strolls down memory lane.

Mom and Me, Christmas 1959

Well, the magazine was a big hit! Not only did she enjoy it, but as she would page through each new issue, Mom would share stories of her and her siblings from when they were growing up. This was something Mom never really discussed over the years - she didn't think it was that interesting to anyone else. Mom was one of 10 siblings that survived infancy (although one of those 10, a younger brother, drowned when he was just shy of turning five years old) She had one older sister and the  rest of the family were boys. All but one of the brothers were younger than her. Why Mom thought that wasn't interesting to anyone else is beyond me. Grandma never allowed any of the children out alone, whether playing, walking to school, running errands or dating. They always had to have at least one sibling with them, no matter how old they were.  She told of when she was dating a local farm boy, she had to take two of her youngest brothers with her when she would visit the farm to see her boyfriend. TOver time the younger boys became close to that family, so even when Mom broke up with the boyfriend, her brothers still kept in touch for many years.

Mom, who was from Upstate NY, told about going to two funerals for her grandmother...one in the winter when she passed and another in the spring when the ground was thawed enough that her grandma could be buried.

She told of wearing hand me downs and of how her grandmother had taught her to sew clothes. (Mom is a talented seamstress, I've never had the knack). Of how her brothers took a portrait of her and would throw darts at it when they were mad at her. Of her wedding portrait that was taken before the ceremony and posed in front of their home. Unseen by anyone until later, under the raised porch were her two youngest brothers dressed in their cowboy hats and aiming their toy six shooters at her.  It made her so mad then, but now it makes everyone laugh, including her brothers who are retired now.

All kinds of snippets came spilling out.

If you are looking for a conversation starter with older family members, I would recommend Reminsice magazine as just the thing to get old memories stirring. And it makes a fine Christmas gift for the person who doesn't want any more "dustables" or hand cream.

(Disclosure: I have no connection to Reminisce or to Reiman Publications. I'm just sharing a tip that worked for me.)

Happy Reminiscing!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wedding Wednesday - Philadelphia PA, 1866

John Eckard & Margaret J. Davis
 my maternal great-great-grandparents

 (Click photo to enlarge)

This is to Certify, That John Eckard of Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania and Margaret J. Davis of Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania Were Joined Together in Holy Matrimony, by me, on the Eighth day of April in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty Six

Andrew Manship
Minister of the Gospel
861 Broad St.

Margaret J. (nee Davis) Eckard

My descendancy from John Eckard & Margaret J. Davis:

John ECKARD married Margaret J. DAVIS
Clara ECKARD married John Grubb HIRST
Raymond HIRST married Ethel DYER
Olie Lillian HIRST married first husband John Henry YOHN
Karen Marie YOHN (me)

Raymond Hirst of Philadelphia met and married Ethel Dyer of upstate New York while he was stationed at Madison Barracks, NY while serving in the Army.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Talented Tuesday -An Inventor In The Family

Asa Shadrack Sherman, Part II

On this past Sunday, I wrote about my maternal gr-gr-gr-grandfather, Asa Shadrack Sherman.  His 1904  obituary stated "Mr. Sherman, who has been engaged in laying cement walks in the village,...". I had heard stories that Asa had laid cement sidewalks in Canastota (Madison County, NY), and even heard stories that some plaques in the sidewalk cement still existed. But yesterday, I learned so much more about this whole endeavor, thanks to a 2010 news article link sent to me by a 3rd cousin, Robin Hadden.

You see, Asa not only laid the concrete for the sidewalks, but he had invented a formula for a concrete that would withstand the harsh upstate NY winters!  Prior to this, other concretes had been tried, but they had all failed to survive the New York winter frosts. Asa substituted ground stone dust for sand and increased the amount of cement used. Some of his concrete sidewalks that were laid have lasted over 100 years. There are still seven original brass plates embedded in Asa's original concrete sidewalks that survive.

The brass plates embedded in the sidewalk concrete say:


The surviving brass plates can be found embedded in the sidewalk in these locations in the Village of Canastota:

  • near the corner of Wilson Avenue and Spencer Street
  • near the corner of Elm and Spencer Streets
  • near the corner of Ball Avenue and Spencer Street
  • near the corner of Spencer and Chapel Streets
  • near the corner of Main and Lewis Streets
  • on Hickory Street in the direction of Main Street
  • near the corner of Peterboro and Hickory Streets

In July 2010, as part of Canatota's bicentennial celebration, the "Canastota Walk Through History Contest" was sponsored by the Canal Town Museum. Part of the contest was locating all seven of these brass plates successfully.

You can read more about this - and see a photo of one of the original sidewalk embedded plates - in the July 29, 2010 Oneida Daily Dispatch article by Matt Powers, Dispatch Staff Writer.

I had no idea that Asa had actually invented the formula for this special concrete himself. When his obit said he had been laying cement, I just assumed he was mixing up and laying standard everyday common cement. This is so cool to learn that he was a creative thinker and problem solver.

I'm so excited to learn this new-to-me information!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Asa Shadrack Sherman

Asa Shadrack Sherman 
(28 Feb 1819 - 16 Sept 1904)

You can view Asa S. Sherman's gravestone at his Find A Grave Profile

"The Canastota (NY) Bee" Sat. Sept. 17, 1904 page 1, Column 3

Dropped Dead Of Heart Disease At His Home Yesterday Morning
Asa S. Sherman, for many years a prominent resident of this town, died suddenly at his home in Spencer Street, Friday morning Sept. 16th shortly after 10 o'clock. Mr. Sherman, who has been engaged in laying cement walks in the village, was at work at Daniel Morton's place, in North Peterboro street, when he complained of not feeling well. He walked up town and sat down for a time in front one of the stores. A little later he walked to his residence and shortly after arriving home, while sitting in a chair died. Death was caused by heart disease for which he has been doctoring for several months. 
Mr. Sherman was born in Cazenovia, Feb.28, 1819 and was therefore in his 86th year. He removed to Durham when quite a young man and some years later to a farm which he managed near Scholhammer Bridge. 
He was engaged in contracting and had many jobs on the Erie Canal at various times. Twenty-one years ago Mr.Sherman removed to Canastota. When the Canastota water works were put in about 20 years ago, he superintended the work. After the water works were established he was for many years superintendent. He also served the village as trustee and street commissioner. Mr. Sherman was in politics, a sincere and earnest democrat, and in 1863 he was elected by his party a member of the assembly and served one term. Mr. Sherman is survived by a widow, who was his second wife and five children, who are Mrs. George Dyer, of Redwood, Mrs. Edward Carpenter, of Oneida, Sykes Sherman, Mrs. Bert Austen and Mrs. Floyd Moore of this village. His is also survived by one sister, Mrs. Lydia Ann Rhodes, of Skaneateles. Funeral services will be held at his late home Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock, Rev. J.V. Benham will officiate and burial will be made in Mt. Pleasant cemetery. 

***Note that Asa S. Sherman's gravestone gives his year of birth as 1818. In the family Bible, which is inscribed as given to Asa Sherman (Asa S. Sherman's father) by his father Elihu Sherman in 1816, Asa Shadrack Sherman's year of birth is clearly recorded as 1819.
Sherman Family Bible Records

My lineage from Asa Shadrack Sherman:
Asa Shadrack SHERMAN and his first wife Cordelia Marie BURLEIGH
Clarissa Jannett SHERMAN and her first husband George Burton DYER
Harry Sherman DYER married Olie Lillian WARNER
Ethel DYER married Raymond HIRST
Olie Lillian HIRST and her first husband John Henry YOHN
Karen Marie YOHN

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - A Farmer & His Wife

Lee & Phyllis (nee Manmiller) Stitzel

Location: Zion Moselem Lutheran Church, Moselem Church Road, Richmond Township, Berks County, PA 

Although Lee Stitzel was four years younger than my stepfather, Walter C. L. Adam, Lee was actually the much younger half-brother of my stepdad's father, Walter J. Adam. So Lee was my stepfather's uncle, even though he was younger than my stepfather..

Aren't overlapping generations fun in family trees? You'd think from ages that Walt would be Lee's older cousin, but Walt was actually Lee's nephew.

Lee was a proud farmer and hunter and wanted that memorialized in his stone design. His wife, a fan of playing BINGO has her imprint in the BINGO card that also is featured on the stone.

(Photo by Karen Fox 2010)
Click the photo for a larger image

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oddball Sunday - I Dreamed A (Genealogy) Dream

Oddball Sunday is a new blog theme of mine. It will encompass anything that is odd, off topic, or just plain doesn't really fit into any of the more traditional Genealogy topic themes. 

I Dreamed A Dream

Last night, I had been doing some family genealogy research online until the wee hours of the morning. I finally shut down and went to bed. Now full disclosure - I have no tattoos and I have no interest/intent in sporting a tattoo myself. I have nothing against them or people who have them, they just aren't for me. 

In my dream, I was sitting in a tattoo parlour getting a colorful word cloud of my paternal surnames inked onto my right upper arm. It was so beautiful and I was so happy with it that in this dream (where time is apparently irrelevant LOL),  several days later I returned and had a word cloud of my maternal surnames tattood onto my left upper arm.  It was such a "real" and vivid dream that when I awoke I had to check to see if I really did have those tattoos on my arms.

Have you ever had genealogy related dreams or nightmares? I know you have...c'mon share them in the comments section!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Family Recipe Friday - 1950s/60s era Clam Dip

Do you have old photos taken back in the 1950s and early 1960s to sort through? This is the perfect snack for that trip down Memory Lane project! Or if you want to throw a Mad Men themed party LOL.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Clam Dip was a staple to serve at any party. Every housewife had her own recipe for it tucked away in her recipe box. I have fond memories of my mother's older sister Marianne serving this in a chip and dip glass serving bowl set when we would visit. Of course, she would be wearing one of her fancy lacy "entertaining" aprons during these occasions.

Clam Dip
Yield: 1 Cup

1 6 ½ ounce can chopped clams
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
 Dash of hot sauce (optional)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Drain the clams and reserve the liquid. Place the cream cheese in a bowl, add the clams, the Worcestershire, lemon juice,  hot sauce (if desired), garlic powder and onion salt.  Blend well.  Gradually add the clam juice, a tablespoon or so at a time until the dip has a nice consistency.  Stir in the parsley.

Serve with crackers or potato chips.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - A Genealogist's Delight!

Tombstone Tuesday - A Family Tree in Stone

Location: Zion Moselem Lutheran Church, Moselem Church Road, Richmond Township, Berks County, PA

According to my mother, Herbert and Elda Adam were the uncle and aunt of my late stepfather Walter C. L. Adam. Someday, a genealogist will stumble upon their tombstone and do a great big Happy Dance.

The front face of the stone is quite nice and includes a lovely portrait of the couple. But it looks like a typical tombstone, yes?

 photo by Karen Fox 2010
(Click photo to see enlarged image)

But walk around to the reverse of the stone and you'll find the full family tree (father's paternal line and mother's paternal line) back to their immigrant ancestors for both husband and wife! Also there are three photo portraits of the couple's grown sons and their wives and the wives' maiden names are included in the inscriptions identifying the photos.

photo by Karen Fox 2010
(Click photo to see enlarged image)

Now why couldn't my gr-gr-grandfather of the brick wall have a stone like this?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mystery Monday - Amos DeHart, Myerstown, PA

Mystery Monday - Amos DeHart, my gr-gr-grandfather

Some Background

Amos DeHart was my gr-gr-grandfather, residing in and buried in Myerstown, Lebanon County, PA. He married Lovina Schmidt Dieffenbach and they were the parents of two sons, Samuel J. DeHart and my gr-grandfather, Thomas Henry DeHart, known as Henry.

Amos was born 20 November 1814 in Pennsylvania, and died 10 March 1883 in Myerstown, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. He is buried (along with his widow Lovina, and son Samuel and Samuel's second wife, Emma) in Old Union Cemetery, Myerstown, PA.

My first record of Amos is when he appears in the 1850 Federal Census for Myerstown, Lebanon County, PA, as a "30" year old Laborer. Value of Real Estate owned - $1,000. In the same household is Caroline DeHart, aged 17, no relationship status given. At the same address, but enumerated as a separate household are Nicholas Noll, a 38 year old Laborer, his wife and their 4 children (ages 2, 3, 5, and 11).

By the 1860 Fed Census, Caroline DeHart has disappeared (married?, died? moved elsewhere?) and Amos is now married to Lovina. Samuel is 7 years old, Thomas Henry is 5. They no longer share the same enumerated property with another family. Amos is a Farm Laborer, Real Estate Value $1,600 and Personal Property Valued at $75.

In the 1870 Fed Census, Amos is listed as a Carpet Weaver, Lovina as "Keeping House" and 18 year old Samuel is an "Apprentice to Carpenter". Henry DeHart is 16 years old. Amos's Real Estate is valued at $1500 and his Personal Property is valued at $200. There are 2 other families also enumerated at this property: Henry Fox "Works In Stone Quarry", Personal Property Valued at $100, his wife and 3 children; and Thomas Achey, a 72 year old farm worker, personal property value $200 and 36 year old Harriet Achey, a dress maker.

By the 1880 Federal Census, the family is again enumerated as a sole household in the property: Amos, a carpet weaver; Lovina, his wife "Keeping House"; son Samuel "Laborer" and now Samuel's wife, Emma noted as "daughter-in-law" and "Boarder". (Samuel was married twice first to one Emma, who died and then to a second Emma). Henry has married and is living elsewhere.

Amos DeHart's wife was the former Lovina Dieffenbach, daughter of David Kastnitz Dieffenbach. Lovina's Dieffenbach family contained 3 generations of pipe organ builders and her brother Thomas was the fourth generation to carry on the well known and respected family business. Who was Amos that he could marry into such an old and established family?

The Mystery

My head banging mystery is who were Amos's parents? Where was he prior to 1850? Who was Caroline DeHart? (first wife, sister, cousin, ?)? He didn't just spring as a 30 year old man out of the Swatara Creek like Venus on her clamshell. What was his background? There are Amos DeHarts in Berks County, including one contemporary in Lower Alsace Township who is very close in age to my Amos. Were they cousins?  Carpet weaving and farming are common occupations of DeHarts in Eastern Berks County PA. Usually DeHarts in Berks engaged in Farming plus a second occupation. Lebanon County, where I find my Amos DeHart is the county just west of Berks. Myerstown is just over the county line. In all census records, my Amos claims to have been born in Pennsylvania.

Later generations of my Amos have crossed and recrossed the Berks/Lebanon County line.

I found a news article from 1955 that discussses an 1832-33 school year records book that belong to a school teacher who taught in Western Berks County. One of the names mentioned in the book is Amos DeHart. Is this MY Amos or a different one?

Any help, guidance or shining lights would be much appreciated.  Please help me crack this brick wall.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wampsville Presbyterian Church

113 years old in 1946

My great-great-great grandfather Burton H. Dyer and his older brother Benjamin W. Dyer were two of the original supporters of this church when it was formed. Most early records of the church were lost in a fire. I have been informed that the church has stood empty for several years. It is on the historic register. I've been told the church looks much the same today as it did originally. 

Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal
Wed. 27 March 1946
Page 3 column 6

Wampsville Church is 113 Years Old

Wampsville -- Wampsville Presbyterian Church, situated on a high knoll at the eastern outskirts of the village, will be 113 years old April 9. The Rev. oJhn(sic) R. Kay is the pastor. The society was organized April 9, 1820, or 117 years ago.

The edifice is one of the oldest in Madison County. The attractive church was the scene of the Syracuse Presbytery meeting a few years ago.

Actual dates on which the edifice was started are boscure(sic) as records were lost in a fire. The first trustees were Jared N. Avery, James Stewart, and Elisha Cranson. Worship was held in the village school prior to erection of a church.

The Rev. Hezekiah N. Woodruff was the first pastor, coming in April, 1829, as a supply. Other pastors have been George Nicholls, 1889-93; Frank W. West, 1894-5; John Burkhardt, 1896-1900; Spiko Rederus, 1901-03; D. G. Christmas, 1910-12; Jay N. Taft, 1912-15; John N. Steele, 1915-16; William Phillips, 1917-18; J. H. Nichols, 1918-24; John S. Willbanks, 1925-33; George B. Swinnerton, 1933-40; Paul Conine, 1940-42; Mr. Kay.

Families supporting the society at the time it was formed include Jared N. Avery, Harvey Cobb, Solomon Klock, James Stewart, Joseph Van Sice, Joseph A. Phillips, Jacob Foland, Alexander D. Stewart, Daniel Van Vleck, Ambrose Hill, William Spencer, Jeremiah, Jacob and Peter D. Cooper, Franklin Johnson, Elisha Cranson, Simon P. New, Benjamin and Burton Dyer, Malachi Gardinier, Ira Thompson, John A. McDougall, John Stewart, Joseph Benedict, Hartwell Johnson,  ames(sic) Cooper, Truman Benham, Thomas Loomis, William Ure and Miles Johnson.


Photo by Anita Ingalls
"This Federalist meeting house is one of the earliest churches in the area." Cited in Country Roads: Madison County's Heritage: a Resource for the Future" edited by Jennifer G. F. Solms & Paul A. Schoonmaker; published by Madison County Planning Board, Wampsville, New York; July 1976

* Many thanks to Anita Ingalls for her input about the current state of this church. Visit Anita's "Madison County, NY" website for a treasure trove of Madison County historic resources. http://home.comcast.net/~ingallsam/index.html

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Carrie DeHart Sherman Bear

Carrie M. (nee DeHart) Sherman Bear

Carrie M. DeHart was my paternal grandmother's younger sister. Since my paternal grandparents had both passed away before I was born, Aunt Carrie stepped in and acted as sort of a surrogate grandmother to me as a young girl. She was a classic Pennsylvania Dutch farm woman and she was fluent in both PA German dialect and in English, although her English was heavily accented.

Carrie was twice widowed, first in 1921, then again in 1961. When she passed on in 1974, she was buried in St. John's Church Cemetery, Mt. Aetna, Berks County, Pennsylvania, between her two husbands. She shares a stone with husband #1, Herbert Sherman. Husband #2, Lewis Bear, lies immediately to her right with his own military stone marker.

Carrie and Husband #1, Herbert Sherman.

Carrie's husband #2, Lewis Bear, who lies immediately to the right of Carrie.

I miss you Aunt Carrie!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Surname Saturday: My Maternal Philadelphia PA Surnames

My maternal grandfather, Raymond Hirst, was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and raised there until the time he joined the military. He married my grandmother, a girl from Upstate New York, and settled in Watertown, Jefferson County, NY to live and raise his family. Raymond died there in 1965 and is buried in North Watertown Cemetery.

I don't know much of Raymond's family, but thanks to Lorraine Altimus, a second cousin who connected with me through Ancestry.com, I have some information to hopefully build upon. I have so much more to learn about this branch of my family.

Davis, Eckard, Esher, Esslinger, Hirst, Regan, Roulston, Steele

Hirst was my grandfather's surname. Eckard (sometimes spelled Eckart), Davis and Steele are in my direct line. The other names are from Raymond's sisters' lines.

If these Philadelphia PA names ring a bell with you, please contact me - we may be related and I'd love to hear from you!

Other comments are always welcome as well :o)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Military Monday - WWI Draft Reg, Earl L. Yohn

1917 WWI Draft Registration
Earl L. Yohn (my paternal grandfather)

Draft Registration Cards can be a terrific source of information, even if like my grandfather, your ancestor was never called to actually serve in the military 

Questions Asked – 1st WW I Draft Registration (card with 12 Questions)
Side 1
Name in full - given name, family name - Earl Leroy Yohn
Age in years [This information is asked but it is not a numbered question] 25
Home address - #, street, city, state 1044 Moss Reading Penna
Date of birth - month, day, year April 9 1892
Are you (1) a natural-born citizen, (2) a naturalized citizen, (3) an alien, (4) or have you declared your intention (specify which) Natural-Born
Where were you born? town, state, nation Greshville Penna
If not a citizen, of what country are you a citizen or subject?
What is your present trade, occupation, or office? Trucking
By whom employed? Where employed? Bethlehem Steel Co. Reading PA
Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 12, or a sister or brother under 12, solely dependent on you for support (specify which)? Wife
Married or single (which)? Race (specify which)? Married - Caucasian
What military service have you had? Rank - branch - years - nation or state None
Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?
signature or mark of registrant (signed Earl Leroy Yohn)

[The following is printed across the lower left-hand triangular corner or the card:]
If person is of African descent, cut off this corner.
1st Registration – Side 2, Additional Information (card with 12 Questions)
Tall, medium or short (specify which)? Slender, medium or stout (which)? Medium/Medium
Color of eyes, color of hair Gray / Light
Has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot, or both eyes, or is he otherwise disabled (specify)?
Signature of Registrar (signed James E. Shalter)
Precinct, city or county, state
(?precinct) Reading Penna
Date of registration
June 5-1917


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Dyer Jackson, Early Suffragette

Mary Dyer Jackson (1844 -1934) 
(Oneida, Madison County, New York)

Mary (Dyer) Jackson was my maternal gr-gr-grandfather (George B, Dyer)'s first cousin. She was a fascinating and accomplished woman. She married her sister's widower, was a founding member of the county historical society, was an early activist in the women's suffrage movement, and did so much more in her full life.

Note that in the obituary, Mary's mother's name, Mahala Barnard Dyer, was misspelled as Masala.

Oneida Daily Dispatch
Thurs., Nov. 8, 1934
page 1 column 4 - page 6 column 1

Mrs. Mary Dyer Jackson Dies Early Today - A Leader in Civic Activities


Mrs. Mary Dyer Jackson, 90, a pioneer resident of this vicinity and prominent club woman, died in her apartment, Gables, at 7:20 o'clock this morning following an illness of two months.

She was born February 29, 1844 at Wampsville, daughter of the late Benjamin Wood Dyer and Masala Barnard. Although 90 years old, Mrs. Jackson only celebrated 21st birthday anniversaries in her lifetime.

Mrs. Jackson was graduated from Oneida Seminary, then located on the present C. Will Chappell estate at Elizabeth and Grove Streets. Later she studied voice culture at New England Conservatory of music and for seven years sang in a quartet choir in one of the Boston churches. She possessed a fine contralto voice.

Mrs. Jackson was the widow of the late Darius Jackson whom she married in 1874. He died two years later. During their married life they lived in Brooklyn where Mr. Jackson was a commission merchant. His first wife was Mrs. Jackson's sister, Julia Dyer, who died in 1870.

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Jackson established her residence in Oneida and became active in civic affairs which she continued until her recent illness.

She was the founder of the Progress Club in 1889 which today is one of the outstanding women's organizations of this city.

Mrs. Jackson was also a charter member of the Madison County Historical Society, founded in 1898, and the Political Equality Club established in early 90's which is now merged with the Madison County League of Women Voters.

She was more prominently known as a member of the latter organization as Mrs. Jackson was the first woman to circulate a petition in Central New York for women's suffrage cause. She obtained 50 or 60 names on the petition which was mailed to Albany asking the legislature to allow women to vote.

This was in 1897 or 1898 and although the document received little or no attention at the time, Mrs. Jackson lived to see her work accomplished about 20 years later as the 19th amendment was adopted.

She was a member of First Presbyterian Church.

Mary is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Oneida, Madison County, New York in her father's family plot. Frank Dyer was her brother. Her husband, Darius Jackson and his first wife Julia Dyer Jackson are buried in the same family plot, Their memorial is inscribed on another side of the shared Dyer/Jackson family monument.

The Dyer - Jackson Family Monument
Glenwood Cemetery
Oneida, Madison, County, New York

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Surname Saturday - Maternal New England/ NY State

My Maternal New York State & New England 
Ancestry Surnames

See any familiar names here? We may be related!

My mother was born and raised in Upstate New York. Mom's father, Raymond Hirst, was from Philadelphia; her mother, Ethel Dyer, came from a long line of early New England and New York State families. Some members of grandma's family tree crossed the border back and forth to Canada - living at times in US and at other times in Ontario, Canada. These are some of the surnames I've found in my direct line while working on my maternal grandmother's part of my family tree (in alphabetical order):

Barnard, Barrett, Brownell, Burleigh, Carpenter, Claghorn, Crofoot, Dodge, Dyer, Gardiner, Gorham, Greene, Hall, Hamby, Hartwell, Hawes, Hewes,Howland, Hutchinson, Johnson, Marbury, Nichols, Niles, Odding, Sayles, Sherman, Smith, Spink, Spooner, Tilley, Walker,Warner, Williams, Wood

Surnames for my paternal side of my family tree can be found in this earlier blog post: Click Here,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Family Recipe Friday - Apple Pie (Cobbler)

Apple Pie

Even though this is called "Apple Pie" on the recipe card, it is actually a cobbler. This is the first recipe I ever made from scratch about 50 years ago as a young girl. The recipe was from the homemade recipe collection cookbook my mother began when she was a newlywed in 1955. It was typed on an index card, given to her by a former coworker.

6 to 8 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (more if you prefer)
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sifted flour
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped nutmeats (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9" pyrex pie plate. Fill with the peeled and sliced apples. Over the top of the apples, sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar plus cinnamon mixture.

In a bowl, beat 1 egg. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat. Add 3/4 cup sifted flour and beat. Add 6 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 tsp. vanilla and beat. Optional - stir in 1/2 cup chopped nutmeats.

Pour and spread the mixture over the top of the fruit. Bake for 50 mins or less, until the top is a nice golden brown.

(drained canned apple slices - NOT apple pie filling - can be substituted for fresh apples in a pinch)


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Whither Thou Goest...

OK, so it's Not-Quite-Wordless Wednesday

My Maternal Grandparents
Raymond & Ethel (Dyer) Hirst
North Watertown Cemetery
Watertown, Jefferson County, New York

Married on May 21, 1926, Raymond died of a heart attack on December 17, 1965. A heart broken Ethel followed him just four months later, dying of heart failure on April 26, 1966. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Military Monday - Grandpa Raymond Hirst

My maternal grandfather, Raymond Hirst 
US Army Cavalry
stationed at Madison Barracks,
Sackets Harbor, Jefferson County, NY

This photo was taken while he had the rank of Corporal. He was later promoted to Sergeant F. A. (Field Artillery). He was in the cavalry at the time the Army was in the final stages of transitioning from using horses in the battlefield to going all motorized. My mother tells me that on occasion as a young girl, her mother would take her and her siblings to the barracks parade ground and they would get to watch their father perform maneuvers on horseback. 

As a corporal, Raymond married a local girl. Even though Raymond was originally from Philadelphia PA, when he left the Army, he and his family stayed in Jefferson County and raised their family near his wife's kin in Upstate New York. He became the patriarch of a family with a tradition of military service. Raymond and his wife had 2 daughters and 7 sons who survived to adulthood. Of those seven sons, six went on to serve in the military. Each of the two daughters married servicemen stationed at nearby Fort Drum. Raymond was born in 1902 and died in 1965.