Sunday, September 30, 2012


One of the items I reviewed at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center ( was “The Perry County Quarterly” published by the Perry County Historical Society.  The June 1995 issue in particular caught my interest.  (1) It featured an article on Meadowview, the home of my great grand aunt, JULIA BRASHEAR BLACK, and her husband Dr. Isaac Black. Meadowview apparently had thirteen rooms and was one of the “finest homes in the county.” (2) A full-page floor plan is included with details such as porches, maid quarters, a curved stairway, a stained glass door and location of fireplaces. (3)

This article gave birth dates, names of parents, education, children’s names, marriage information, military service and more. There was information in this article that I would never find using most records, such as “Dr. Black rode on horseback day and night to see his patients.” (4) I also learned that in addition to being a doctor, Dr. Black was a partner in a store known as “Dean and Black” where one could “swap a dozen eggs for a yard of cloth.”  (5)

I learned that Dr. Black enlisted in the 3rd (Clack’s) Tennessee Infantry Regiment, that he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and was severely wounded at Chickamauga and Resaca. (6) 

Confederate Line at Chickamauga

After the war he studied at the University of Nashville in 1867 and 1868 and graduated from the State Medical College of Georgia in 1869. (7) All this information is a springboard to more research. Although Dr. Black was not my direct ancestor, there may be items of interest pertaining to the Brashear family or to his daughters Alma and Lula, my first cousins 2X removed.

There is mention in the article that Julia’s father, THOMAS M. BRASHEAR, my 2nd great grandfather, represented Perry County in the legislature and also served in the State Senate.(8) In addition, the article states that Dr. and Mrs. Black are buried in the Brashear Cemetery which is at the rear of the house built by Thomas Brashear in Linden. (9)

This is the type of find genealogists crave.  Thank you Allen County Public Library and Perry County Historical Society for making this publication available to the public!


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments, 2006.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Civil War Illustrations, 2003.


      (1) Perry County Historical Society, Linden, Tennessee, The Perry County Quarterly. no. 2 (June 1995).
      (2) Tiller, Jessie Ruth. "Meadowview." The Perry County Quarterly. no. 2 (June 1995): 9
      (3)  Hendrix, Mary Lou. "Meadowview." The Perry County Quarterly. no. 2 (June 1995): 8.
      (4)   Tiller, Jessie Ruth. "Meadowview." The Perry County Quarterly. no. 2 (June 1995): 9.
      (5)   Ibid., p. 9.
      (6)   Ibid., p. 9.
      (7)   Ibid., p. 9.
      (8) Ibid., p. 9.
      (9) Ibid., p. 9.

Friday, September 28, 2012


One of the books I reviewed at the Allen County Public Library was Cemeteries in Sherburne, Chenango County, New York.(1)  I photocopied the pages that had my surnames of interest (Crandall, Cutler, Miller, Boyden and Spaulding).  This book lists the cemeteries and the names of people buried in each, along with their birth and death dates if known. Tonight I sat down and began comparing the names to the names on my tree on Family Tree Maker.  The dates for Joel Cutler and Wealthy Spaulding, his wife, matched perfectly, and I was elated. But then it began…name after name that failed to match anything. Who were all these people with my surnames? Brothers and sisters? Sherburne is not that big a place. We are not talking New York City.

I found an Eber Crandall on a photocopy I had made. Hooray! There was an Eber Crandall on my tree but, of course, the dates did not match.  So I went onto and found several other Eber Crandalls, but their dates did not correspond to the desired birth and death dates either.  I even gave a healthy margin of error. 

So much of genealogy is tedious. You must check and double check. When you try to verify information, often the source is incorrect.  What is one to do? Really.  It makes me wonder why I got into this racket.

Just venting…. Have a good weekend!


Illustration by Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments, 2006.


(1) Cemeteries in Sherburne, Chenango County, New York; Also a Few Cemeteries of Chenango County Not Previously Included in D.A.R. Records. Sherburne, New York: Sherburne Genealogy Group, 1958. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My grand aunt ISABEL WILLIAMS HAMLIN and her husband Earl Hamlin owned the Littlecote Hobby Shop in Utica, New York, during the mid-1900s.  I used to love learning about the stamps and coins when I was young. In fact, I still have the stamp book I used to fill with stamps using the little hinges my Aunt Belle showed me how to use.

During my recent visit to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, I decided to consult the City Directories for Utica, New York, to see what they said about the Littlecote Hobby Shop.
Beginning in 1939, Steber's Utica City Directory listed Lee Jeffreys as President of the Little Cote Stamp Shop Inc., 249 Genesee. (1) Lee Jeffreys happens to be the father–in-law of my aunt PAULINA TAYLOR JEFFREYS.  W. Earl Hamlin is listed as the secretary-treasurer.  This is an interesting bit of news since Jeffreys was on the Taylor side of my family and W Earl Hamlin was on the Williams’ side.  

In the Steber’s Utica City Directory 1940-41, the hobby shop’s name had changed to the Littlecote Hobby Shop and the only name listed is W. Earl Hamlin.  Okay, there must have been a sale and a name change. Good information. According to the directory, the Littlecote Hobby Shop sold "collectors items, hobbycraft, stamps and coins." (2) This information stays the same in the 1941-1942 and the 1942-1943 directories.

In the 1943-1944, 1944, 1946, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 directories, the listing is for toys only.  Maybe stamps and coins weren’t selling or maybe the ad was less expensive with fewer words. Then in 1957 the listing becomes:  hobbies, toys and games.

My Uncle Earl is listed up to and including 1952. He died January 1, 1953. The Steber’s Utica City Directory 1953 lists Mrs. Isabel W. Hamlin.  This continues until the 1957 directory. Unfortunately, the 1958-1960 directories were not available. The Polk’s Utica City Directory 1961 lists a different owner (Mrs. Kathryn Perreault). (3)  Isabel died in March of 1966. 

So what have I learned by examining city directories?  I learned that the Hamlins apparently purchased the hobby shop from someone who was connected to my family.  I discovered that there was a name change around 1940. If I want to try and obtain business records, I now have an approximate date to work with. I saw how the advertisements in the City Directory tracked the lives and deaths of my aunt and uncle.  I also have the approximate date when my aunt sold the store.

For further reading on the value of city directories for genealogy, I highly recommend Kory Meyerink’s article entitled “Effective Use of City Directories, “ProGenealogists, 2006 ( accessed September 26, 2012).



(1) Steber's Utica City Directory 1939. Boston: R.L. Polk & Co., Inc., Publishers, 1909, p. 313.

(2) Steber’s Utica City Directory 1940-41. Boston: R.L. Polk & Co., Inc., Publishers, 1909, p. 313.

(3) Polk’s Utica City Directory 1961, Boston: R.L. Polk & Co., Inc., Publishers, 1961, p. 446.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana (  This library has one of the largest genealogical collections available in the United States with materials from around the world.

If you visit, be sure to plan ahead so you can maximize your time.  I found the library’s orientation video ( very helpful.  It discusses the various rooms where the materials are housed, resources at the Ask Desks, computer and copier usage procedures, search techniques, microfilm and microfiche usage and more.  In further preparation for my trip, I used the excellent search engine available at the top right of their home page ( and printed out a list of the resources I wanted to explore.

I arrived at the library at 4:00 on Friday, two hours before closing. This gave me time to get a quick feel for the place.  I took the elevator up to the second floor and entered the genealogy center.  Two librarians were at the desk ready to offer assistance. There were many handouts:
  • floor plan maps
  • microtext cabinet maps
  • books lists for numerous states
  • books lists for special topics such as military and passenger lists
  • five generation pedigree charts
  • tips on searching for ancestors
  • a list of genealogy websites.  

I obtained a copy card from one of the librarians. These cards can be loaded with money at one of the machines within the center.  Photocopies were only 10 cents each, and the copiers worked perfectly—not one jam.  The toner ran out once, but a library staff worker replaced it quickly.

There are a number of hotels near the library, but I happened to choose the Hilton. On Saturday I awoke bright and early and was at the library at 9 a.m. ready to roll.  My first stop was the county history section.  I started with my New York counties: Oneida, Madison and Chenango.  As the day progressed I ventured into other states:  Windham County, Vermont; Perry County, Tennessee; Prince George’s County, Maryland.  In addition to county histories, there were cemetery records, marriage licenses, land records, wills, pictorial histories, court dockets, obituaries, birth records, funeral home records and more.  

Of course, no eating and drinking is allowed in the library. I dashed down to the cafĂ© on the first floor and inhaled a sandwich.  I was delighted to learn that the library was open until 6 p.m. on Saturday and I stayed to the very end.  After dinner, I went back to my hotel and planned my search strategy for the next day.

The library opens at noon on Sunday and, of course, I was right there at high noon.  This time I decided to start with the surname books.  I was pleased to find many books on Brashear and Stovall. I steered clear of books on my common surnames,Williams and Taylor. Next I visited the Ontario, Canada section and checked out the books hoping for some guidance on my Stewart line. As the clock ticked, I headed for the City Directories section. Here I inspected every year they had for Utica, New York.

And that was it. I ran out of time.  I never even made it to their computers or microform records. The good news is this wonderful library is only three hours from my home, so I will be back!

One last point:  Even if you can’t get to the library, be sure to explore the search engine on their website.  There are links to many books that are available online from the comfort of your home. For example, I found links to online books on three of my surnames:  Parks, Marsh and Turner. 

In the upcoming weeks I will blog about my specific discoveries at the Allen County Public Library. 


Illustration by:

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineloa, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 150 Silhouette Designs, 2006.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


According to my great grandfather’s marriage certificate, my second great grandfather RICHARD WILLIAMS was a mariner in Wales. (For those of you who are following the Williams’ saga, this Richard Williams is the father of the Richard Williams who drowned in the Erie Canal.) I have been unable to learn more about Richard, however, because there were numerous men named Richard Williams who were mariners in Wales during the time I believe he lived.  This brick wall has been a source of frustration.

I have been a subscriber to for quite some time and regularly look at the trees posted online by others. In addition, I often e-mail the tree owners when they have ancestors who appear to match mine.  Sometimes I hear back from these people, sometimes not. Recently, I clicked on a shaky leaf and found a tree containing one of my Williams’ ancestors. I contacted the owner and she e-mailed me back promptly. For privacy reasons, I will not divulge her name. It turns out that we are third cousins. We share the same ancestor—none other than RICHARD WILLIAMS, the mariner.  She said that when she was growing up her father talked about his ancestor being a mail boat captain between Holyhead and Dublin. 

Ahh! A lead. Perhaps there is hope of breaking through this brick wall. I have been surfing online ever since I received my cousin’s e-mail.  Apparently, Holyhead derived its “prosperity and consequence from being a Harbour of refuge and the station of the mail steam packets, which convey the London and other English mails to and from Dublin daily.” (1) 

I checked the Welsh Mariners website ( and found two records for Richard Williams that mention mail. One record states that the 12-month year old son of Capt. Richard Williams of the City of Dublin’s mail steamer, St. Columbia, died on 27 January 1859. The other record states that a son was born on 18 Feb. 1860 to the wife of Richard Williams, Esq., commander of the City of Dublin’s mail steamer, Prince Arthur. (2)  I don’t have either the birth date or the death date for these children in my family tree. It is possible I don’t have all the information on Richard’s children, or it is possible that this is a different Richard Williams. Each of these instances was reported in the North Wales Chronicle. I am contemplating purchasing credits to view this paper on the British Newspaper Archive (

Despite the clue about the mail boat, this project is still difficult because of the Welsh habit of using only a handful of names.  This is just the beginning of further research. There are many fine sites to explore online, such as the Holyhead Maritime Museum ( and Find My Past ( In addition, I have discovered a new book I want to order entitled Holyhead to Ireland: Stena and Its Welsh Heritage by Justin P Merrigan and Ian H Collard (Amberley Publishing, 2010) ( This book examines the history of the port of Holyhead.

I now have more research to do and a new cousin thanks to (By the way, I was not compensated in any way to sing the praises of



Illustrations by Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Old-Fashioned Nautical Illustrations, 2002.

1. Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory of North Wales, p. II (West Manchester: Isaac Slater, 1890) (restored by P.A. Coombs, 1999), ( accessed September 20, 2012).

2. Dr Reginald Davies, 2002-2008 Admin., Welsh Mariners ( accessed September 20, 2012).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


(citation 1 below)

A few posts ago I wrote about my great grand uncle Richard Williams drowning in the Erie Canal in 1894. Well, flash forward one generation and now I have WILLIAM R. WILLIAMS, my grand uncle, struck by a train in Rome, New York, while working as an electrician on the railroad in 1907. Poor William was only 25 years old, not yet married, with no children to carry on his name.  I recently wrote to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Rome, New York, for a copy of the death record and here it is:

The one thing on this record that surprised me was that it states that William was buried in a cemetery in Rome.  I had always assumed that he was transported back to New York Mills to be buried with all the rest of the Williams family. Also, his name is listed on a stone in Glenside Cemetery in New York Mills. Perhaps that was just a memorial, or perhaps the death record is incorrect. I will browse through the Rome cemetery listings online to see if I find him; he’s not on  I will contact Glenside Cemetery too and see if William was actually buried there. I may never know the true place where his body was buried.  It is hard to be completely certain of the truth in genealogy. Time goes by, records are destroyed, memories fade. We are given clues, but one never knows when another tidbit of information will throw you a curveball.

If you look at the gravestone above you will see that William's brother died the year before in 1906. Now all the sons were gone from this family. I can only imagine the utter despair of William’s parents, sisters and close friends. My grandmother was one of the sisters. It makes you wonder how people carry on after the grief they have lived through

        (1) Utica New York Herald Dispatch, April 8, 1907, digital image 321509, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( accessed September 18, 2012).

Sunday, September 16, 2012


you have ancestors who lived in Tennessee, you have to check out the “Ansearchin’ News” Archives of the Tennessee Genealogical Society ( There are also items of general interest as well as articles about other states.  Depending on the issue, you may find bible records, marriage records, probate records, voting lists, tax lists, revolutionary and military pensioners, scrapbooks, wills, cemetery records, obituaries, land grants, mortality schedules, abstracts of wills, court minutes, book reviews and more. The online issues span from 1954 to 2011, and they are keyword searchable.

Here’s a sampling:

How to Trace Your Genealogy (

Parish Records of the Diocese of Virginia, 1653-1900 (

Index to Tennessee County Courthouse Records Prior to 1860, Selected Counties (

Helps in Hunting North Carolina Ancestors (

Research in South Carolina (

It really makes me want to explore the historical society journals from every state to see if my states of interest are mentioned.

The names in Tennessee I am searching are: Brashear, Horner, Russell and Turner.  By using the “Ansearchin’ News” Archive, I was able to discover:

In an article entitled “Index to 1840 Census, Jefferson County, Tennessee” (, I found Cavalier Horner, Isaac Horner, John Horner, Pleasant Horner and William Horner—all names on my family tree. Further research is necessary, of course, but this gives me a good starting point.  I feel pretty good about the Cavalier Horner discovery. There can’t be too many people with that name.

There was a list of Perry County courthouse records in the 1954-1959 issue (, which is valuable information since I have many ancestors from that county.  Also in this issue is a list of Tennessee County Records available in the Tennessee State Library in Nashville.  Nashville is just a short plane ride away!

In the Spring 1972 issue I found a transcription of the 1840 Census for Perry County, Tennessee ( On this list I found numerous instances of Brashears (a variant of Brashear) and Horner.  There was also a list of Revolutionary and military pensioners in 1840 in Perry County. I did not see any of my ancestors on the list. Sometimes what you don’t find is as important as what you do find.  

Also in the Spring issue was a list of the free taxable inhabitants of Grainger County for the year 1805. On that list is a Thomas Horner.  I have a Thomas Horner on my tree but I don’t know where he lived. This might be a clue.

In the Spring 1978 issue (, I found my 2nd great grandfather Thomas M. Brashear (you know the name if you have been following my posts) listed as a member of the House of Representatives of the Tennessee Legislature.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  “Ansearchin’ News” is worth a peek.

Thank you, Tennessee Genealogical Society!


Illustrations from:

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineloa, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments, 2006.

Dover  Publications, Inc., Mineloa, New York, Electronic Clip Art,1200 Ornamental Letters, 2007. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ancestral Occupations: Dog Warden

One of the first things I discovered when I explored the 1940 Census was that my grand uncle WILLIAM MARK TAYLOR was a dog warden.  Frankly, I was getting sick of farmers, farmers, farmers, so when I saw “dog warden” I got excited. I decided to explore the field.  When I was a child I thought a dog catcher was a bad person who hurt dogs. Well, now I know that they really provide a service.

I supplemented the Census information with articles from Old Fulton Postcards (  A July 2, 1936 article from The Clinton Courier announced that William Taylor was appointed Oneida County Dog Warden, a full time position. It gave a list of his duties:

(citation 1 below)

An April 1, 1937 article in The Clinton Courier said that William Taylor had reported a list of dog owners in the town of Kirkland who had not obtained a license and that he would soon tour the town to seize dogs without tags. (2) I suppose my uncle was not always a very popular fellow, and I suspect that he had a few dog bites in his lifetime.  The job required a strong person to handle large and unruly dogs.  

A June 9, 1938 article in The Clinton Courier had this headline:

(citation 3 below)

Again, my uncle is mentioned.

I must say, this occupation made finding articles on a man with the common name William Taylor very easy! The articles were also plentiful.  Dogs getting out of hand is a real "bone" of contention. 

However, in an article dated October 12, 1944 in the Utica New York Daily Press, I learned that Spencer Taylor (William’s son) had been appointed acting county dog warden to fill in while his father was on sick leave.  Interestingly, it stated that the “position pays $125 a month plus five cents a mile for traveling and 20 cents a day for each dog impounded but not to exceed $1 for each dog.” (4)

Here’s a picture of Spencer and William Taylor.

Spencer Taylor and William Taylor

An October 14, 1949 article from Utica New York Observer stated that William Taylor had been granted sick leave and the board had appointed his son, Spencer Taylor, to take over his job. Again, they mention the salary--$1,900 a year, a $240 cost of living bonus and reimbursement of expenses.(5)

William Taylor died on November 18, 1949. He was 63 years old. The article stated that he had been employed since 1935 as the Oneida County Dog Warden. 


1. "William Taylor Made County Dog Warden," The Clinton Courier, July 2, 1936, digital image 1022895, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( accessed September 13, 2012).

2. "Penalty Due for Unpaid Town Taxes," The Clinton Courier, April 1, 1937, digital image 1173829, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( accessed September 13, 2012).

3. "Dogs Condemned for Chasing Farm Stock," The Clinton Courier, June 8, 1938, digital image 983701, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( accessed September 13, 2012).

4. Utica New York Daily Press, October 12, 1944, digital image 265982, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( accessed September 13, 2012).

5. Utica New York Observer, October 14, 1949, digital image 274723, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( accessed September 13, 2012).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


My second great grandfather THOMAS MAGRUDER BRASHEAR (a/k/a T. M. BRASHEAR) is a source of endless fascination for me. He was born in Maryland but later moved to Tennessee, where he raised a family and died in 1882.  I’ve always wanted to know why he ended up in Tennessee.  My Land Records course at St. Michael’s College gave me the idea to search for a land grant.  My fingers headed over to the Tennessee State Library and Archives site ( I then searched for “Land Grants” and found this link (, which stated that one could e-mail the TSLA with the name of an individual and they would check their index and respond promptly.  I did just that and, true to its word, the TSLA responded in less than a day.  Sure enough, they had two records on good old T.M.  This is part of the e-mail I received.

I was truly excited about this discovery and quickly wrote two checks and completed the paperwork necessary to order the records.  Within two weeks the documents arrived. Here is one of them:

This grant for land in Perry County, Tennessee was entered into in 1850 and recorded in 1853.  The recipients were T.M. Brashear and R. M. Thomas.  I now needed to know who Mr. Thomas was and his relationship with T.M.  After researching Census records, it appears that Mr. Thomas (if I have the correct R.M. Thomas) was born in North Carolina about the same year as T.M.  Further research indicates that R. M. Thomas was a Chancery Court Clerk and Master in 1860. T.M. Brashear was a Chancery Court Clerk and Master from 1865-1868. 

So, T.M. and R.M. were born about the same time but in different states, both owned plenty of land in Perry County, Tennessee, and both worked in the legal field.  I am wondering if they met at college. That’s another avenue to explore. Or, perhaps they were half-brothers. They both have the middle initial "M," which sometimes stands for the mother's maiden name. 

In addition to the name R.M. Thomas, the land grant contains the names of owners of adjacent parcels to T.M.’s land.  Those names must be investigated too.

This land grant has generated even more questions. I think this is true of genealogy. The more you learn, the more you have to learn. It is an unending process, a wonderful hobby.

I am very pleased with the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Despite my not living in Tennessee, they helped me out quickly and efficiently.  It can be very frustrating to desire records that are far away.  Thank you, TSLA!


Illustrations from Dover Publications, Inc., Mineloa, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments, 2006.

Transcription of Perry County, TN 1860 Federal Census, Transcript prepared by Donald Robbins, Transcription aid by Betty Hawley, Checked by D. K. Robbins, Mar 10, 2005 (revised November 18, 2005)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


day during my many web surfing episodes I discovered the Crooked Lake Review ( Its purpose is to cover the local history of Conhocton, Canisteo, Tioga, Chemung and Genesee river valleys, and for the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario regions of New York State. (1)  There are also articles on genealogy. The marvelous thing about the Crooked Lake Review is that the articles published in the Review between May 1988 and July 2008 are all online, and articles after July 2008 can be accessed at The Crooked Lake Review Blog ( Free is good. Free in the comfort of your home is even better.

To my knowledge my ancestors were not residents of any of the above-mentioned counties but nevertheless I have found numerous articles of interest on this website.  Here’s a sampling of the goodies that await:

Palmer, Richard, “The Cherry Valley Turnpike,” Crooked Lake Review, Spring 2005. ( accessed September 6, 2012).
This article discusses the migration of pioneers from New England into upstate New York--taverns and stagecoaches, the War of 1812, highways and railroads, as well as specific references to different people. You might get lucky and find an ancestor.

Van Etten, Elwyn R., “Genealogical Terms,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1995.

Howard, Helena, “Genealogy Etiquette,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1990.

Harris, Edwin N., “Collect Stories for Your Genealogies,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1990.

Van Etten, Elwyn R., “Genealogy 101,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1991.
Van Etten, Elwyn R., “Genealogy 201” Crooked Lake Review, January 1992.
Van Etten, Elwyn R., “Genealogy 301,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1993.
Van Etten, Elwyn R., “Genealogy 401,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1994.
Van Etten, Elwyn R., “Genealogy 501,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1995.
Van Etten, Elwyn R., “Genealogy 601,” Crooked Lake Review, January 1996.
( accessed September 6, 2012)

Anderson, Robert V., “A Land Transfer of 1791,” Crooked Lake Review, June 1995.

Anderson, Robert V., “The Bounty Lands,” The Crooked Lake Review, Fall 1997.



Illustrations from Dover Publications, Inc., Mineloa, New York, Electronic Clip Art 1200 Ornamental Letters (2007), 1268 Old-time Cuts and Ornaments (2006), and Early American Design Motifs (2003).

      (1)  “About The Crooked Lake Review,” The Crooked Lake Review ( accessed September 6, 2012).

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Erie Canal, Canastota, New York

When I was eight I almost drowned in the Eric Canal. I had been playing with a friend near the Canal and I accidentally fell in. The water engulfed me in a frightening darkness. But, as you can see, I survived—not so for my great grand uncle RICHARD WILLIAMS, who drowned in the Erie Canal in Utica, New York, in October of 1894.

 (Do you know that if you put the exact search terms “drowned in the canal” into you get 5000 hits?  Who knew that canals were so dangerous.  Children need to listen to their mothers and stay away from canals.)

Anyway, poor Richard, age 36, got all dressed up one night in New York Mills and went to downtown Utica. He was last seen on Genesee Street and then all trace of him was lost until he was discovered floating in the canal.

Citation (1) below

Notice the part about the watch and chain.  I inherited a watch and chain from my mom’s Welsh side of the family. I wonder if it is the same watch? Hmmm.

Citation (2) below

There was a Coroner's inquest. I need to explore how I will get those papers. Will they still be available 118 years later? Has anyone out there obtained inquest papers?  I will start with the Oneida County courthouse and will let you know my progress in a future post. I also need to see if I can obtain a copy of Richard's death certificate.

Gravestone of Richard Williams in Glenside Cemetery, New York Mills, New York 

When the Erie Canal was not busy drowning people, it was actually pretty good for commerce and instrumental in the migration of our ancestors.  Here are some sources that will give you more information:

  • Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in partnership with the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior ( accessed September 4, 2012).

  • Wyld, Lionel D. Images of America: Canastota and Chittenango: Two Historic Canal Towns. Charleston: Arcadia, 1998.

  • Morganstein, Martin, and Joan H. Cregg. Images of America: Erie Canal. Charleston: Arcadia, 2001.

(1) “Drowned in the Canal,” Utica Weekly Herald, October 9, 1894, p. 5; digital images, ( accessed September 4, 2012).

(2) “Drowned in the Canal,” Utica Morning Herald,” October 6, 1894, p. 6; digital images, ( accessed September 4, 2012).