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 ( 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 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