Thursday, January 30, 2020

#55 - So Far Away - Romania

So Far Away 
Remember the USSR? Remember the Cold War? The Communist Bloc? If you do, as I do, you are amazed at how things change--and other things are immovable. Like families, kids, loving home food, and your own langauge.

Let's get back to genealogy. 1900 was the year my last immigrant arrived. For my husband, the date is in the 20th century, but they just slipped over the Canadian border so it hardly counts.

But one of my sons married an immigrant, and so the cycle begins again. And it's true, that saying of immigrants universally.
"I thought America's streets were paved of gold, then I arrived in America and they weren't. Then I was paving the streets."

Girls in Romania 1950s.
 Here's what I understand of my daughter-in-law's grandparents: 
 Some of her ancestors had come from the eastern part of Romania, which is now part of Moldova, and were forcibly moved after World War
Another group was from the Western part of Romania, in or around Arad (N of Timisoara), not far from the Hungarian border.                                                
I suppose it's possible she's got Hungarian ancestors. Linguistically, Romanian is a Romance language (unlike Hungarian), as are Italian, Spanish, and French which Hungarian from the Finno-Ugric family Finnish, Estonia, and a few others). The other languages of the area (Moldava and Ukraine) are Slavic family group.
It's hard to wed someone whose language is so far from yours. More likely when the country of Hungary was formed (remember the Austrian-Hungarian Empire?) of course the locals ignored politics as best they could, and kept speaking the language of their forbears.
My daughter-in-law did a DNA test which we attached to the family tree. Predictably the results are meager. Romania is a poor country.  None of her 9 siblings have done a DNA test (yet!).
Her DNA ethnicity profile as of 2020:
- 72% Eastern Hungary, Easter Slovakia, Northwest Romania, and Western Ukraine
- 25% Albania, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia (a portion of Romania)
- 3% from Germanic Europe (Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland)
She's done both sides of her family as far back as she can recall. It only goes to her grandparents. This is her mother's side.

Gen 1 
Teresa Tomescu (female)
B. Romania 1897–1949
Marioara (d Vasile and Floare)
Married  Unknown? Iovescu (male) b. Romania 1895–1957

Gen 2:
1 Vasile Iovescu (male) Born: Banat, Timis, Romania, 1922. Died, Romania, 1987
2 Aurelia Iovescu (female) 1928–1987
3 George Iovescu (male) 1932–1985

Vasile Iovescu (male) (#1 Gen 2) Married Floare Tamsa

Gen 3:
Their children:
1 Marioara (female) Born in Ususau, Arad, Romania (her mother)
2 Aurelia (female)
3 Ion (male)
2 Vasile (male)
3 Florica (female)
4 Viorica (female)
5 Doina (female)
6 Daniela (female)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

#54 Close to Home - Towns of Denning & Neversink and What Was Once There

Towns of Denning & Neversink and What Was Once There 
Cities tend to be the center of political power, so cities have a powerfull effect on the life and livelihood of those who live in small towns/the country. This is as true for New York, as it is anywhere. My area was impacted by the death of farming and the preservation efforts of the area by NY State for recreation and for NYC's water. (This is just a fact, not a judgment). The little hamlet of Sundown (it's not a town) is where I grew up. This is about places that are close to home, and here I’m including places that have disappeared. [This was my home more than a decade before my parents moved there. As it was in 1943]:

Sundown is, with Claryville, part of the Town of Denning. While the neighboring towns in this post are (for the most part) part of the Town of Neversink
Note: New York uses the word “Town” as a political designation, not a geographic one. (Contrast this with townships of PA which are largely geographic).

CLOSE TO HOME 1 - Claryville & Environs: Looking at areas in the Town of Denning
Claryville – Claryville was, in the 1800s and into the 1900s, busy tanning hides. After that halted, the town barely survived.
It got a bit of a rejuvenation when the YMCA built a camp nearby, and then added to it throughout the years.
It's only recently become a beacon for people looking for a 2nd home in the Mountains, a respite from Big City Life. A recent visit to the old farms on the plateaus surrounding Claryville, I noted many empty farms have renovated houses on the property. Claryville has gorgeous views, and clean air and water. (But some roads are not plowed in winter!) Claryville once had a one-room school. A post office and two churches were built: one Methodist, one Dutch Reformed. Now it's got fancy art place/reception hall, and a thriving artist colony.

View from old farm between Claryville and Sugar Loaf, NYS
Hall’s Mills – Close by is Hall’s Mills is named for a mill. Now Hall’s Mill is a blink of an eye, but noticeable because it retains has a covered bridge. Possibly, as you whiz by from Grahamsville to Claryville, you may notice the bridge.
Willowemoc – Willowemoc is great in its unspoiled beauty. It’s west past Hall’s Mills and Claryville. There is little else around it—and it’s 100 miles from New York City. From Sundown, I would go here only in summer as there was no reason to go here. It was likely a good place for logging in the distant past, as the forest is dense. Nearby Claryville was a beehive of tanning activity, so Willowemoc was likely quite populated by workers at the time.
Other Hamlets near Claryville are Branch, Denning, Frost Valley, Ladleton. 

CLOSE TO HOME 2: Grahamsville, Unionville and Curry.
Unionville- Right past the official edge of Grahamsville starts Unionville. Today they are no longer separate, but according to an 1875 map of the area, the Quaker Meeting house begins at the line separating the two towns. Unionville also had a church which was called the “tabernacle.”
The map shows a number of families named Curry, which is logical because barely though Unionville we are already in Curry (see next).
Curry – There was a post office from 1894-1963. But now you wouldn’t see it if you drove through it. Since my youth it had a small store and a gas station, a Post Office. Right now, it’s the intersection of the road from Claryville where it meets Rte 55. To be fair, across the Chestnut River, are several small settlements of homes nestled at the base of the hills.
Grahamsville – Named after General Graham who battled Indians in this area. Is the NYS historical marker announcing the reason for its name still there?

Street - Grahamsville, NY
It had post office, stores, boarding places, banks, mills, library, churches, liveries and so on. Also, a two-room school house was here. (Closed before my brothers arrived). I read somewhere that the first school in the area was taught by Revolutionary War soldier, Christopher Darrow. Each hamlet located in the area provided a schoolhouse until….
SCHOOL in Grahamsville: Since my 'hamlet' of Sundown was tiny, my youth revolved around school in Grahamsville.
  • After World War 2, the state reorganized all the schools in the area into a consolidation (called Union Free District), this led to the eventual centralization of all the schools in the surrounding area into one.
  • The new school was called, “Tri-Valley” after the three main river valleys contributing to the student population: the Chestnut (Grahamsville area), the Neversink River (Neversink area), and the Rondout River (Claryville, Sundown, Yeagerville, Greenville, and Peekamoose)
  • Tri-Valley Central School
  • My brothers attended school in the Neversink (post-reservoir, part of the Union Free District) schoolhouse from 1956 until the school was open in 1959. The "new" school is across the road from the Dutch Reformed church, church hall, and cemetery. 
LIBRARY in Grahamsville: Grahamsville's Daniel Pierce library was, in addition to the school library, the center of all my reading enjoyment. It was a fierce and drafty brick building with a cannon in front of it and a list of names of men who’d served the country in the war.
Daniel Pierce Library as it was.
PLACES OF WORSHIP in Grahamsville: 
  •  “Dutch” Reformed, Methodist and Baptist churches were all represented (and likely more).
    Methodist Church in Grahamsville (still there)
 Though Grahamsville was largely a Protestant town it did have a Catholic presence: 
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception (the parish) was in Woodbourne, but its priest made the trip to Grahamsville to perform Mass in a former music hall (I believe). The altar was on a stage, the statues in it were castoffs, for each had a chip in them in a prominent place. One saint’s nose was chipped, another, I think it was St. Francis, had a wire in place of a finger. The place had been built of lathe and plaster and was drafty. We used handmade wooden kneelers: one piece serviced a whole row. Before Vatican 2 came when some of the kneeling was done away with, I got calluses on my knees. We didn't have to ask if hunting season was on because the church would be filled with strangers in orange plaid coats. (Yes, we knew everyone). Then they’d vanish and the long cold winter would set in. There was little heat in that building, but it was comfortable in the summer mornings. Before 1963, nuns who come from someplace on Monday afternoon. We would be sorted by grades and given catechism by the nuns. 
  • And, the Quakers have a Meeting House:
    This remains the same.
Ok, it was in Unionville, but it is now part of Grahamsville. So it wasn’t in the heart of town. It began as Plains Meeting, then formed "Greenfield and Neversink Monthly Meeting." (Its partner, the Greenfield Friends Meeting, near Kingston was laid down, but its remains are next to a school on Rte 52 W, if you're curious).
Quaker Meeting Today (new roof)
This Meeting House with its bare benches, its wood stove and it paned windows was simple and neat. Apart from a new sign and fresh paint it looks the same today as it did in 1960, and probably earlier. I know it well, for my mother was a Quaker and worshiped here.
CLOSE TO HOME 3: Neversink, Bittersweet and Leroys Corners-and the Neversink Reservoir
“Neversink Sunk”
All the reservoirs in the Catskill system provide drinking water for New York City.
In the 20th century massive construction took place to send water to New York, centered in the Catskills for its  abundant fresh water.
On June 4th, 1953, Neversink (or Neversink Flats), Bittersweet and Leroy's Corners were flooded by the Neversink River to make the Neversink Reservoir. Note: the neighboring villages of Aden, Hasbrouck and Bradley were affected by the formation of the reservoir.
1.    Neversink – An early settlement (1800) at a location which is now a reservoir with that name. The residents had to move to higher ground with the flooding of the reservoir. The current location of Neversink is on Route 55, heading towards Grahamsville.
2.    Bittersweet –Presumed that name came because of an abundance of the climbing plant by the name of Bittersweet. There was a one-room school there. Residents were relocated.
3.    Leroy’s Corners- less well-known, this tiny place abutted the Neversink Flats and is barely remembered.

Neversink  Flats before the reservoir
CLOSE TO HOME 4: Montela, Lackawack, and Eureka – and the Rondout Reservoir
Rondout Reservoir Wipes Out Three Villages
Neversink wasn't the only reservoir close to my home. The closest one, and I think less well known, is the Rondout Reservoir. The Rondout's construction began in 1937.  Construction was suspended for World War 2 and for the Korean War. It was finished July 18, 1955.
But before that, three villages had to be evacuated: Eureka, Lackawack, and Montela. These tiny villages housed over 1000 people, and we’re not counting chickens (or other things).

Did you ever wonder what happened to the interred? Those buried in eight cemeteries had to be moved. (I don't know where).
1.    Lackawack itself was moved and remains (but in a different spot).

Sign on Rt 55- Eagle in background
 2.    Montela was the site of the Battle of Chestnut Woods (1778). It was only established in the late 1800s and it straddled Sullivan and Ulster County. Montela got a post office after the Civil war, and it was inside a store (as most were).
3.    Eureka was founded in the 1700s. It had a Post Office and a one-room school. and closed in 1942. The reservoir can be seen on Route 55A, from Grahamsville to Lowe’s Corners. If you turn off before Sugar Loaf Rd, you can circle the entire reservoir.

Map of Eureka 1875

Eureka, NY
Close to Home 5: Home and Beyond it, Just Spots on the Map
Lowe's Corners, Sundown, Greenville, Bull Run (Peekamoose).
1.    Lowe’s Corner – Lowe’s Corners must have been a corner at one time. I know there was a post office there for a brief period before the Civil War. A Methodist Church is there—and has been there for decades.
Sundown (Town of Denning and Ulster County). 
2.    Sundown: This was home, a “hamlet near the Denning line on route 46.” It had a school house, more than one church. When I was young a Methodist church and church hall, a post office (in our house), a general store with gas pumps (till it was outlawed for water health).
This 1925 paper is a bit chilling to read. I know most of the names--and knew some of the people. WOW!  (I guess I'm old).

Sundown and Montela Paper, NY 1925
Rondout near Sundown

Up Greenville Road

And Dots on the Map Beyond:
1. Bull Run -AKA Peekamoose – Go left at the Methodist Church in Sundown.  Its name was changed to "Bullrun" using one word. And later it was re-named "Peekamoose" in 1904 when Paul Sheeley was postmaster.
2. Greenville: Go right at the Methodist Church in Sundown. Greenville is near the east Denning line, on route 46.
Now I’d better stop because once we're in Yeagerville, we will loop back to Lackawack.


References and more reading from this area of the state:

A great place to visit for genealogy and history of this area. It has some records, photos of families. It also devotes a portion of the museum to the area before,during and after the building of the two large reservioirs:  
1. Time And Valleys Museum (Grahamsville, Sullivan Co, NY)

2 NYC Board of Water Supply:

3 WikiPedia:

 4 Grahamsville, NY  "Townsman" Newspapers

5 For Quaker Records of Greenfield and Neversink Meeting (NY), contact Swarthmore College, Friends Library, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Meetings Sunday at 10 AM

Private Websites:

Any and all mistakes about the accuracy of this post can be sent to Dave Higgins. :)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

#53 Long Line of Pedigree Collapse - Long Island Quakers

Long Island Quakers and Pedigree Collapse
Part 1
My great grandmother was born in Westbury, Nassau County, NY. Her father was William E Hawxhurst (May 1838 -Feb 1908) farmer and surveyor, son of Ephraim Cock Hawxhurst (1793-1859) and Charity Titus (1802-1877) 
Wm E Hawxhurst
Her mother was Marianna Hicks, daughter of Isaac Hicks (Aug 1815-Mar 1900) and Mary Fry Willis (Jan 1817-Feb 1898).
Both families descended, without straying, from the longest line of Quakers who settled Long Island. [In case your wondering, Marianna’s grandfather, Isaac Hicks, helped fund a cousin, Elias Hicks, in his ministry as a Public Friend early in the 1800s]
Marianna (Hicks) Hawxhurst
A Long Line.
~Imagine you were born and raised on an island with a tiny population.  
~ Imagine that for religious reasons you married only people in your religion & you were prohibited you from marrying outside your religion.  
~ Imagine moving this island, with acres and acres of rich farm land, surrounded by wonderful fishing opportunities, so it adjoins the most powerful & prosperous city of the Western Hemisphere.
This explains who these Ancestral Long Island Quakers were.

How Did They Preserve Community?
My Long Island Quakers married safe people, most often collateral cousins (cousins of cousins).
Their repeated and extensive remarrying in a small geographic area led a LONG LINE of “pedigree collapse.” 
When researching when I need to add (yet another) “Titus” or “Hicks” or “Willis” always I pray for dates and /or parents’ names to get the right person.

Here are the last names of my ancestors going back to the earliest English settlers on Long Island which appear in this (largely) Quaker family tree:
Hicks, Willis, Fry, Rushmore, Doughty, Powell, Kirby, Allen, Alsop, Birdsall, Bowne, Washburn, Carman, Carpenter, Cock(e), Cole(s), Cornell, Doughty, Eme/ory, Feeke (Feake), Haight, Hallet, Hauxhurst (Hawxhurst), Hallowell, Loines, Jackson, Moore, Mott, Noble, Oakley, Pearsall, Powell, Reddock, Rodman, Rushmore, Seaman, Seaman, Sering, Smith, [Spicer, Tilton], Titus, Townsend, Underhill, Valentine, Williams, Willet, Willets, Wood, Wright

When I see historical document on Long Island from 1850 or earlier, I can bet my mother’s family has a common ancestor. The difficulty is making the right attribution (which Thomas Powell was this?) 

Part 2
I cannot get away from the long arms of the Long Island Quakers. 
Case in point: Spicer & Tilton.
These names appear in my mother’s FATHER’s lineage. I used to consider them the “Pennsylvania” group. I was wrong. Just a tiny bit of digging and I found out that they came from New Jersey, moving to PA after the Civil War. Oops.
My mother’s father’s family was mostly from New Jersey. But—New Jersey isn’t far from Long Island. It’s here where we reconnect the two ends of my mother’s family.
--Spicer and Tilton began on Long Island
Susannah Spicer was the daughter of Thomas Spicer. 
She was born in Long Island (Flushing), and married Henry Brazier. Susannah (Spicer) Brazier and Henry Brazier remained on Long Island.
Their daughter, Rebecca Brazier, married Peter Tilton (son of John Tilton and Mary Pearsall—there is another Ancient Name of Long Island).
--Brazier-Tilton Move
Rebecca (Brazier) Tilton and Peter Tilton moved to Monmouth, New Jersey. (They were still Quakers).
--Tiltons in New Jersey; and back again.
This Tilton line remained in the New Jersey area (and remained Quaker) at least until 
William Henry Tilton (B. 9 May 1820 Monmouth Co, NJ) and his wife Sarah A Conover (B 12 Aug 1831 of Monmouth Co NJ; D. 5 Jul 1895 in Brooklyn, NY).
They moved to Brooklyn, sometime before 1850 (US Fed. Census).
--Off to Pennsylvania
From mid-1800s the Tiltons lived in Brooklyn, then Henry Addison Tilton and his wife and family moved to Pittsburgh PA.  Since then the Tilton family claimed Pennsylvania as their own. 
--Ultimate Irony
It was ironic for me that I should find out that the Tiltons of Pennsylvania had first settled down in the New World on Long Island, NY.

My mother’s father (Chas Tilton) died in 1987 and was not a Quaker.  Might he be shocked to find out he and his wife had this in common: Long Island, NY and Quakerism?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

#52 So Many Favorite Photos!

A Favorite Photo!?

That my great-great grandfather was one of the few photographers of Gettysburg (he & his brother Isaac had a photo studio there), would, seemingly make this an easy choice for me. I'd put in a famous photo such as this (NARA and the Met have some of his) which was taken as the crowd gathered on that day to commemorate the Battle at Gettysburg and Lincoln delivered the "Gettysburg Address"
At Lincoln's Gettysburg Address ~ Chas & Isaac Tyson (Nov 1863)
~ MB Walmer Collection
Or, maybe one of his son, Chester J Tyson, with several US Presidents in Washington DC. Gathered as part of a group spearheading food aid to starving communities in post-World War 1 Europe?
Taft, Wilson, Hoover, etc, Chester Tyson (2nd frm R) in Washington DC post WW 1 ~ MB Walmer Collection
Or, this  AMAZING shot from 1869 of the Westbury Friends (NY) outside their Meeting House. I have the key & the names of each person.
The man on the far left is my maternal great-great grandfather, William E Hawxhurst.

1869 Westbury (NY) Friends Meeting - some members. WE Hawxhurst,far left. ~ AC Johnson Collection
But, perhaps because of my weird sense of humor, I love my father's mother's photo here.
Catherine (Barnwell) Higgins and four of her children about 1945 ~ AC Johnson Collection
When I first saw it I thought "Why would she label the snow?" Did she have a weird sense of the ridiculous.
But because I've taken the time, I know a bit about why this photo is here.
When my father was in college (he was the eldest), his family's house caught fire and everything was lost. YES. That means all their photos.
Extended family members sent them their copies to help them fill out their collection. A small pile for such a large family, but it's better than nothing.
Here's what I believe happened and why the photo is labeled:
My grandmother and grandfather were both from New York City.
They had moved to Sullivan County (NY), 100 miles away & it was the ends of the earth for them.
I believe she had sent this photo to a sister (or mother) in NYC .
She labeled the children, then added herself.
Then (if she was feeling tired or a bit tipsy) went on and added "tree" and "snow" and so on.
After the fire, the silly photo came back to her,but at least she had photos of her children. And so do we!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

#51-- First Post that ends in -20 New Years

Beginning Another Decade: 2020
I enjoy reading 50 years ago, and 100 years ago today in our daily paper. Jan 2020 starts the first full year of the decade of the 20s. What happened to the 0's? and the 10s? they barely registered.

My mother's sister, long deceased, was a genealogist who published genealogical books, answered inquiries (sent by mail), and did research. Margaret B Tilton lived in an ancestral house, in an ancestral community (while her siblings lived elsewhere), and she also had access to the family genealogist who preceded her, her great uncle, her maternal grandfather's brother, Edwin (Ned) Tyson. 

Margaret was not born in her ancestral area, but in Philadelphia. However, during the Depression, as their belts grew tighter, her father finally registered (though he was not a youth) for the newly formed US Air Corps (Air Force).  At last, a chance at a steady income. 

My aunt Margaret and my mother (both in high school), their young brother, and my grandmother packed up and moved back to Adams County, specifically to Biglerville, Pennsylvania. 
In addition to the nuclear family came my grandfather's long-widowed mother, Flora (Bancroft) Tilton, and their cat. 

My grandfather Charles B Tilton was posted in England as an intelligence officer for the bombers over Europe (a job he felt ill-equipped for, he admitted later). 

My mother and Margaret both graduated from Biglerville High School. (Their brother's education took some interesting twists before he graduated in the 1950s).

Here is a look back at Biglerville, PA nearly 100 years ago from the files of the "Gettysburg Times." I'm not sure when the paper printed these (probably 1960s). 
I found the clippings in the files of my Aunt Margaret Tilton, Researcher Extraordinaire.

Note the caption on photo 1 says it was donated to the Apple Museum in Biglerville. The Apple Museum has just undergone a major clean up and renovation, courtesy of Gettysburg DAR.

I hope this "round" of 52 Ancestors is completed this year. If only with an interesting photo. And, I hope to update what I have found since I suspended my blogging.
HAPPY 2020!