Going To the Movies

This is me in my Davey Crockett shirt. While not really released as a movie I was a big fan

 

A few days ago I was watching on television the original King Kong movie. I remembered as a child when I first watched this movie and feeling very sorry for King Kong. This caused me to reflect on my lifelong affection for movies. I also started to think about how these movies played a part in the narrative of my family’s story. Movies seem to weave in and out of some of my fondest memories.

Westerns were and still are a favorite movie to watch.
Picture from Flickr, The Commons. Contributing Library, The Library of Congress, from the book The Story of Montana year 1916.

I grew up going to the movies at the Strand Theater. The Strand was a fixture in downtown Plattsburgh, N.Y., and still is even today. My mother, Veronica Deloria, worked there for a short while selling tickets and worked the concession stand. She often told the story of how they stopped the movie and announced the bombing of Pearl Harbor. All military personnel had to report to the local base right away. Soon everyone was listening to the radio trying to get the latest news on what would be for us the start of World War Two. My early story at the Strand was very different. I was about six or seven when my mother brought me to see the Walt Disney movie Old Yeller. If you have not seen the movie, you may want to skip the next few lines. It was a great movie about a boy and his dog. I can clearly remember how thrilling the movie was and that I was on the edge of my seat for much of the movie. However, the ending was gut-wrenching when the dog came down with rabies after fighting off a rabid animal saving once again the family. The young boy had to put down Old Yeller. At that moment I stood up and let out the longest and loudest booooo that I could muster. My poor mother grasped my arm and tried to calm me down. That’s when I wailed “but mom they shot the dog.” I have never to this day fully trusted a Walt Disney movie. However, I was hooked on the movies and the many worlds to which they would transport me. My wife and I who I meet in high school went on countless movie dates to the Strand. Over the years times grew hard on the single screen, downtown movie theaters. Many towns have lost these gems. However due to the efforts of far-sighted people, a very small town was able to save and restore this special and wonderful place. Their website is; http://www.strandcenter.org/ and well worth the look. They were very helpful and sent me the pictures below to use with this blog.

Theater restoration, inside the Strand Theater, Plattsburgh, N.Y.. Picture courtesy of the Strand Center for the Arts.

The restored Strand Theater. I remember that is was never a good idea when I was young and attending an afternoon matinee to sit in the rows just in front of the end of the balcony. One never knew if you would be the target of flying missiles of candy. I played it safe and sat underneath the balcony.
All pictures of the Strand Theater courtesy of the The Strand Center for the Arts. Plattsburgh, New York.

 

The newly renovated Strand Theater in Plattsburg, N.Y.. For many years many of my dreams would start with this curtain being drawn back and my dream starting on the movie screen. Picture courtesy of the Strand Center for the Arts, Plattsburgh, New York.

Also, we had several drive-in movie establishments located in our area. Plattsburgh did a large business in the tourist trade bringing down visitors from north of the border. On most weekends during the summer you could see their cars filling up the spaces at all of our local drive-ins. When I was about 16, my Aunt Verna treated me to a movie at the drive-in. The movie was The Dirty Dozen, and as many of you know, it was an action packed movie. I enjoyed the movie, and today I own a DVD so I can watch it whenever I want. However, I cannot watch the movie or catch a glimpse of it on television without thinking of my aunt. After we had come home from the movie when my aunt thought I was somewhere else in the house, I overheard her talking to my mom in a hushed voice. She was horrified at all the profanities in the movie and could not believe they were allowed to do that in a movie. To tell the truth, I had not even noticed. Also, I am sure now looking back, that the movie had many other parts that would have made my aunt uncomfortable. It always brings a smile when I think about it.

My wife Sandra Lyon Moore also has fond memories of movies and television shows. Her father would come home from work and relax by watching TV. He had installed a very high-end antenna on top of the house that could draw in stations from Canada. While many of the shows were in French and his understanding was very limited it did not stop him from enjoying all types of science fiction and off beat movies. I think one of the reasons we got along was the fact we both liked Star Trek. He also enjoyed cartoons such as The Flintstones and Huckleberry Hound and was on a first-name basis with Bugs Bunny and his whole gang. How they could make him laugh.

 

My Father-Law Robert Lyon in his easy chair after a day of hard work. The shoes and socks are off and soon he would be in a tee shirt and a bib overalls. My wife Sandy recalls all the strange movies he would watch from this chair.

In my own little family, we made good use of the new must have VCR to bring countless movies home to the family. It was for us a good way of watching and enjoy movies as a family. While most of the movies we watched are long forgotten to this day my adult children recall the huge “popcorn bowl” that the five of us shared while watching the movies. I was myself a manager at a movie multi-screen complex for a couple of years. The family including the grandchildren enjoyed the perks of free movies which they enjoyed to the fullest. However, I discovered my own movie watching went way down during this period as you were way too busy working to watch the movies and the last place you wanted to go on your time off was back to the workplace to try and catch a movie. So a much smaller popcorn bowl was often used at home while I watched my movies on a DVD.

Do you have stories about movies, television, plays, involving your family? Perhaps you should tell the stories, so they will be remembered and become part of your greater family legacy. One day an elderly woman who was a regular customer came into the movie theater I was working. She carried with her a large scrapbook which she wanted to show me. In the scrapbook she kept many of the tickets to movies, baseball games, Broadway shows, and other events she had attended throughout her life. She had started when her father many years ago brought her to her first show. While most of us will not be able to draw upon such a precious resource even one or two stories are better than none.

 

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A Christmas Gift

Christmas 1954. Here I am on my rocking horse, no doubt chasing outlaws.

Christmas 1954. Here I am on my rocking horse, no doubt chasing outlaws.

 

While I cannot say that we were rich and always had huge piles of presents under the tree I can say we always had presents, a beautiful tree, and plenty to eat. I do remember my friends being able to rattle off a long list of gifts they received and that my list even with the socks and underwear thrown in was much shorter. I was only 3 1/2 when Santa brought me the rocking horse for Christmas and to be honest that memory is rather dim. It was a few Christmases later that the rocking horse was a centerpiece in a life long lesson.

It was several years later and hard times were all around us. A labor dispute had broken out at the foundry where my father worked. It had been going on for almost a year, and in fact, it would still be a while before it would be settled. Money was very tight, and Christmas was to be small for us and nonexistent for many. One man, my father, worked with had a large family and no real hope of giving them any Christmas.  For several days my father took some of my old and now outgrown toys and cleaned and fixed them up as best he could. My rocking horse was among them.

Just a day or so before Christmas my father loaded our car with these now spruced up old toys. I can recall wanting to go with him the night he brought the toys over to his co-worker. He at first said no but I kept up the campaign to go and was finally given permission to go, with the strict orders that I was to stay in the car. When we got to the house, Dad quickly unloaded the car and put all of the items on the front porch. He then knocked at the door, and a man came out. A few words were exchanged a handshake and then we were driving away. Dad never spoke of this again. Some lessons just don’t need words the deed is all that is required. The lesson was clear to me even at that young age. If you can help, then you help. You don’t draw attention to yourself and at all times respect the other person’s dignity. My Dad could not have known it then, and it took me a while to realize it, but that night I was given perhaps the best Christmas gift any young boy could have hoped for.

In 1980 my daughter gives the new rocking horse a workout.

In 1980 my daughter gives the new rocking horse a workout.

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Minds Influenced by the Same Things Think Alike

I have been following and reading a blog by Dennis Peterson titled dlpedit, and have found it interesting reading. I suggest others give it a try. Dennis is a teacher and a writer of American history. This is a post of mine he thought worth repeating. I hope you agree.

dlpedit

landmark-booksLast week, I posted some thoughts on two book series that had sparked my early interest in reading and influenced my careers in teaching and writing American history. I’ve since learned that I’m not the only one so influenced by the Hardy Boys series of mysteries or the exciting history recounted in the Landmark books.

Shortly after I posted that essay, Charles Moore, who has been following my blog for a while, contacted me to suggest that I might enjoy a blog post of his that he wrote a couple of years ago. I checked it out and was so impressed that I read it twice! In a gesture of friendship and for the sake of the possibility that his essay might encourage someone else to read and write stories about their own life and genealogy for future readers, Mr. Moore gave me permission to reprint his story here on my blog. I…

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Sunshine in a Jar; Pear Pineapple Jam

Pear Pineapple Jam.

Pear Pineapple Jam.

A few weeks ago my wife made some Pear Pineapple Jam, which is a family favorite. It never fails when she makes this jam that memories of her Great Aunt Florence are evoked in a fond retelling of stories of her great aunt. It was her Great Aunt Florence who gave her the recipe and taught her how to make Pear Pineapple Jam. This Jam has been enjoyed by my family for years. In this holiday season that the months of November and December bring, many of us have family food recipes and traditions that recall past celebrations and family that has gone before us. For many people, the recipe collection in our kitchens is a who’s who of generations before us.

Great Aunt Florence was born Florence Dorothy Monty in the year 1895 in the town of Beekmantown, New York. She was the younger sister to Edward S. Monty born in 1883; their parents were Oreon and Emma Craft Monty. Florence and her brother Edward were to marry a brother and sister also, Carl and Ruby Gonya. Florence and Carl Gonya were married May 7, 1919. They were to have two children that would live into adulthood.

Florence Monty Gonya, working in the Hayfield in 1916. From the Carl Gonya Collection.

Florence Monty Gonya, working in the Hayfield in 1916. From the Carl Gonya Collection.

 

It was just 22 years into their marriage when Florence’s husband died a very sudden and unexpected death leaving her with two children aged eight and nine, and a large farm to run. If that were not to be a tough enough test in just seven months the Untied States would be drawn into the Second World War, with all the hardships that would come with it. She was 45 years old with two young children, a large farm, in a time when women had little access to credit and when men did not work for a woman, even if they could be found with a war going on. She could not have known it at this time but without a doubt, this terribly hard time would be her greatest triumph. She not only saved a farm but a family.

When I was first introduced to Florence, she was about 73 years old. They were 73 years of hard, honest work. Years spent building something, years that take their toll on a person’s body. I was about 17 when I met her, and her warmth and friendly manner put a very nervous young man at ease. She was easy to talk to and be around. However, she without asking for it demanded respect and even I could tell that she had a dynamism that still shone through the years. She was now doing embroidery and her son Willis now ran the farm. Florence never remarried.

Florence died in 1975. She left behind a farm, an example of a righteous life, warm memories, much love, and a large and growing family. She was just seven years old when the Wright Brothers had their first flight and at age 73 saw the Moon landing. She was 16 when the Titanic sank.  She was alive for two assassinations of presidents. She lived through two World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam War. She started her family during the Great Depression. She was a woman who rose above her circumstances and the times.

Pear Pineapple Jam Recipe

Prepare jelly jars as directed on Sure Jell Packing. Follow directions for Pear Jam on packing. However, substitute 1 cup of pears with 1 cup of well drained canned crushed Pineapple. Complete processing of jam as directed.

 

The Gonya Farm.

The Gonya Farm.

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DNA and the Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market, Syracuse, N.Y. Many different foods and many different people.  “The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources--because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”   Lyndon B. Johnson

Farmer’s Market, Syracuse, N.Y. Many different foods and many different people.
“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”
Lyndon B. Johnson

 

We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A,’ huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts!

Bill Murray as John Winger in the movie Stripes 1981

 

So this is me. Over all many would say pretty boring. Except when we learn the human story behind these results.

So this is me. Over all many would say pretty boring. Except when we learn the human story behind these results.

I am an American. Therefore, I am a mutt. If you were to look at me, you would say he is a White Anglo Saxon Protestant. Well, to start I am Catholic. Then somewhere in my DNA, you will find some traces of North Africa, Native American, Italy/Greece, and perhaps some Spanish from the Iberian Peninsula. I guess you could say I am a variety of ethnicity. I know I have primarily English roots from Great Britain and Ireland, but even they have not gotten along for hundreds of years. Also, if you were Irish in the United States not that long ago, you were discriminated against and held down to the lowest economic levels. However, it is not the point of this post to show the trouble that certain groups have had or are having now. What I would like to say is just relax a little because it is working. Call it a melting pot or a salad or any of the many descriptions I have heard about our great mixture of people; it is a magical blend that works. Besides it would be very annoying if you went to a farmer’s market and all anyone had to sell were potatoes.

"America, it has been observed, is not really a melting pot. It is actually a huge potluck dinner, in which platters of roasted chicken beckon beside casseroles of pasta, mounds of tortillas, stew pots of gumbo, and skillets filled with pilafs of every imaginable color." Author: Andrea Chesman

“America, it has been observed, is not really a melting pot. It is actually a huge potluck dinner, in which platters of roasted chicken beckon beside casseroles of pasta, mounds of tortillas, stew pots of gumbo, and skillets filled with pilafs of every imaginable color.”
Author: Andrea Chesman

 

I would like to give you three quick examples of the many ways I have seen this mixture work. The first was when I was perhaps ten years old. As a young boy, one of the things we use to do was to play war. We were always on the hunt for the Hun or a sneaky Jap. The shows on television had many war adventure stories, Sergeant Rock was a popular comic book hero, many of our fathers and uncles had served in World War Two or Korea. My father had served in Patton’s 3rd Army and came home with medals and memories both which were never shared and gathered dust. A young couple moved into the small apartment on the side of the house that we lived in. He was in the air force, and she was from Germany. She spoke English very well but still had an accent and at times stumble over words. I was not sure what to think about this as up to then in our play world we shot the Germans and overran their machine guns, always done with great courage. So I asked my Dad what he thought about a German living here. After all, it was only about 15 years since he was fighting them for real. The best I can remember of what he said all those years ago was that he found that they bleed and suffered just like anyone else. Then he told me about the beautiful parks that Germany had. That even in the midst of the war how they kept the parks up, and he found them very beautiful. He said other things, but it is jumbled up in the passing of the years. He did give my young mind much to consider.

The vendor with his back to the camera is from Turkey. The other person is from Greece. Both now live and work in the United States and have for years. They both served in the armed forces of their country. The gentleman from Turkey said that they could have ended up shooting at each other.  But here get to talk and trade jokes.  He said it is much better here where we can all be friends.

The vendor with his back to the camera is from Turkey. The other person is from Greece. Both now live and work in the United States and have for years. They both served in the armed forces of their country. The gentleman from Turkey said that they could have ended up shooting at each other. But here get to talk and trade jokes. He said it is much better here where we can all be friends.

My second example is when we had young children many families in the neighborhood we lived in would bring children from Northern Ireland over for a few weeks in the summer to give them a “break” from the conflict going on in their home country. They would be boys and girls, Protestant, and Catholic. Many children would come over to the same families for many years. I have heard criticism about this program and how it did not accomplish much and may have been harmful in some ways. All I know is that they seemed to have a good time and many smiles and much laughter as they spent the summer here in America. One day I had a conversation with one of the older Irish youths, and he was telling me about his discoveries here in America. In our neighborhood, we had both a Catholic and a Methodist church in proximity to each other. I asked him about his thought on that and if he thought since during the summer he interacted with people from both religions if that would help him when he got home. He looked at me and said “the Protestants here are different than those at home. He would have to fight them when he got back home.” The answer bothered me then and still does to this day. Here we make it work. It must be in our DNA.

It is thus tolerance that is the source of peace, and intolerance that is the source of disorder and squabbling.  -- Pierre Bayle

It is thus tolerance that is the source of peace, and intolerance that is the source of disorder and squabbling.
— Pierre Bayle

My third and last example took place at the time of the infamous 9/11 attacks. There is no need to go over these attacks as they are fresh in our memories. With this being the year of the 15th anniversary we all have had a refresher on those dark days. It was a few weeks after the attacks that I found myself at the Syracuse Regional Market or as everyone else calls it the farmer’s market. Every Saturday local farmers and artisans gather in five large warehouse type buildings and an outdoor area to sell their goods. This is a splendid gathering of all kinds of people both selling and buying. It was in the middle of this humanity that I stood to one side and closed my eyes. I could clearly hear laughter and the chorus of voices in many different accents and languages. I could clearly hear a couple from India, the Italian voice selling fish, a Jamaican accent was heard in the distance, and the strangest accent of all made me open my eyes. There he was a man from Boston wearing a Red Sox baseball cap. Apparently a stranger here in central New York. Then as I looked around, I noticed and studied the different styles of dress and facial features and skin color that was surrounding me. Suddenly I felt better than I had since the attacks. As I looked all around me I realized it works, our wonderful way of life works. If you do not think it does go and get a DNA test and look at your results.

Parveen Joy Khan has been a fixture for over 20 years at the market. Her booth is the "International Beads and Gifts."

Parveen Joy Khan has been a fixture for over 20 years at the market. Her booth is the “International Beads and Gifts.”

This vendor was not camera shy at all. Her baked goods are some of the best you will ever buy.

This vendor was not camera shy at all. Her baked goods are some of the best you will ever buy.

Better Brittle Booth at the market. Before I took this picture I listen to him speak in his native language with some customers. Then when I asked permission to take his picture he spoke in perfect English. It made me wish once more that I had learned a second language.

Better Brittle Booth at the market. Before I took this picture I listen to him speak in his native language with some customers. Then when I asked permission to take his picture he spoke in perfect English. It made me wish once more that I had learned a second language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people and religions are represented at the market.

Many people and religions are represented at the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post took on a life of its’ own. I had planned to talk about some of the great discoveries that I have made by having the DNA testing done. I have made contact with cousins and have added to my family tree. I have been able to break through some small barriers and been able to prove out some of my family tree. I will be writing about these stories in the future

My wife's results. The big surprise was the European Jewish. Also the low percentage of Irish and very high percent from Great Britain.

My wife’s results. The big surprise was the European Jewish. Also the low percentage of Irish and very high percent from Great Britain.

 

My advice to everyone is to have your DNA tested. But not only yourself but the oldest members of your family. I wish these tests were available when some of my older relatives were alive. You never know what discoveries you will make down the road. DNA testing is a genealogy tool for us to use. In my opinion not to use it would be like not using the census records.

My granddaughter's results. She is a U.N. all to herself.  We are of course a nation of differences. Those differences don’t make us weak. They’re the source of our strength. -- Jimmy Carter

My granddaughter’s results. She is a U.N. all to herself.
We are of course a nation of differences. Those differences don’t make us weak. They’re the source of our strength.
— Jimmy Carter

As you can see, I used the testing offered by ancestry.com. However, this is by no means an endorsement saying you should also use them. Just like DNA we are all different and have different needs. Take a look around and study the offerings that are out there. Select the one that you think will best work for you. I also advise not to worry too much about going into great depth in understanding the details on how and why it all works. I could not build a car or a computer. But I understood what I need in both and selected the one I needed based on that. The same with DNA testing. Read up on it study what each company offers and then take the plunge.

“A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.” Muslim Origin

“A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.”
Muslim Origin

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Touching The Past

Carl with the 172 year old Monty Family Bible.

Carl with the 172 year old Monty Family Bible.

 

On our recent trip to our hometown, my wife and I were very fortunate to be able to see and hold items that once belonged and were used by my wife’s ancestors. But even more fortunate we were to learn some of the stories behind these articles. This experience helped to bring these people from mere dates in the past to real individuals who gave the breath of life to future generations. Much of this was made possible by my wife’s cousin Carl Gonya who before high school took up the mantle of the family historian. His exhaustive research into the family lines started long before the internet made things so much easier but in many cases made for shoddier research. His collection of family artifacts and pictures is impressive and the result of diligent family research.

The 172 years old Monty family bible contains family records up to about the mid-1900s. Marriages, deaths, and births are registered in this fascinating family heirloom. It has been handed down for generations as testimony to the joys and heartbreaks of the family. One of the first notations was the marriage of my wife’s 2nd Great Grandparents Edward L. and Joyce Jicey Murphy Monty in 1846.

My wife Sandy with her 2nd Great Grandmother Joyce Murphy Monty's trunk.

My wife Sandy with her 2nd Great Grandmother Joyce Murphy Monty’s trunk.

Joyce Murphy had to travel from Cohoes N.Y. to Beekmantown N.Y. which is over 150 miles by horseback to reach her new home once she was married. She packed most of her belongings in the pictured horsehair trunk and carried it with her all the way.  Joyce and her husband Edward were to raise five children and would die within three months of each other in 1904

At least when Joyce Murphy married Edward L. Monty she did not have to change the initials on her trunk.

At least when Joyce Murphy married Edward L. Monty she did not have to change the initials on her trunk.

The picture you see of pansies was done by Emma Craft Monty as a wedding gift to her daughter Florence on her marriage. Emma is my wife’s great-grandmother who was born in 1866. Florence who is my wife’s great aunt was married in 1919. I should also note here that Florence is Carl’s grandmother

Pansies as painted by Emma Craft Monty. Almost one hundred years ago.

Pansies as painted by Emma Craft Monty. Almost one hundred years ago.

Perhaps the best part of all the heirlooms we got to see were the pictures. Not only did we get to look at them but we got to download hundreds into my laptop so I could take them home. One of the many pictures we were able to obtain was one of Joyce Murphy Monty which is below. I have so much more to go through that I am sure many family stories will be told featuring these photographs

Jicey (Joyce) Murphy Monty.

Jicey (Joyce) Murphy Monty.

 

I owe so much to so many cousins that have over time contributed so much to my family research that can never actually be repaid. I have been the recipient of family pictures, copies of family letters well over a hundred years old, family records, unpublished genealogies, and just sharing family stories. I have had cousins put me up over night and spent hours searching through cemeteries and then buy me dinner. I have had one cousin who I met via ancestery.com DNA match who invited me to the family’s genealogy facebook page. Where thanks to many unseen cousins I was able to fill in entirely new branches of the family tree. All of us should do this. If we all do, then our hobby of genealogy will be that much more enjoyable for everyone. We will find that our research will be more detailed and family stories will not be lost and forgotten in just a generation or two. I hope the drive to discover our family’s past also leads us to share it with close and distant family in order to pay the proper homage to generations past.

 

 

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Listening To Gravestones

While at the cemetery I did not recall Dr. Ladd. However my Granddaughter Nicole insisted that we take this picture. She said if it was a Ladd it must be family. She was right.

While at the cemetery I did not recall Dr. Ladd. However my Granddaughter Nicole insisted that we take this picture. She said if it was a Ladd it must be family. She was right.

One of the many things we did on a recent trip we took back to my hometown was to visit a couple of cemeteries. Since my wife’s family has been in the area since the 1700s and mine came to this area in the mid-1800s, it is a safe bet that you will find family in a high number of cemeteries. All of the stories you are about to read came from the Riverside Cemetery in the city of Plattsburgh, New York. We had gone there to try and find my Great Grandmother Bessie Bonnett LeClair’s gravesite. While we were there, we had many family members in residence vying for our attention. So for my wife, granddaughter, and myself the cemetery seemed to come alive, but perhaps it has always been so but I just never listened.

 

I wish in the above picture I had stood next to the Dr. Jedediah Ladd memorial stone so you could see how big it is. The stone stands out in this cemetery as it is one of the largest on the grounds. Jedediah Ladd is my wife’s first cousin three times removed. His father was a farmer. After Jedediah had finished with high school, he was to work on the family farm for a few years. Jedediah’s working on the farm may have been because his brother was 11 years younger than he was. In March 1875 Jedediah took up the study of medicine at the local practice of Dr. Nichols. The following March in 1876 he entered medical school in Burlington, Vermont from which he graduated in 1877. At that time he went into practice with Dr. F.H. Cole and was to work in the Plattsburgh area for about eight years. Jedediah then moved to New York City some 300 plus miles away in late 1885. While there he joined the staff of the Presbyterian Hospital where he stayed for 35 years, returning to Plattsburgh in 1920 due to ill health. It was stated in a newspaper article that he did take a postgraduate course while in New York City. Still by today’s standards a very fast track to becoming a medical doctor. His ill health was to overtake him in 1926 when he died at the age of 76. A newspaper article about his death noted that large multitudes of people attended his funeral as he was very popular.

This was obtained from the New York Library Digital Collection at no cost. This is where Dr. Ladd would spend 35 years of his life working.

This was obtained from the New York Library Digital Collection at no cost. This is where Dr. Ladd would spend 35 years of his life working.

 

The back gravestone is for baby Maynard Bonnett who died at six months. The front stone that simply reads Mother is my Great Grandmother Bessie's gravestone.

The back gravestone is for baby Maynard Bonnett who died at six months. The front stone that simply reads Mother is my Great Grandmother Bessie’s gravestone.

 

The life story of my Great Grandmother Bessie Barney Bonnett LeClair is still a work in progress. Bessie was born in 1882 the daughter of Mary Guyette and Solomon Barney. She married Abner Bonnett at the age of eighteen in 1900. She was to have six children in ten years. All lived to adulthood except Maynard who died just reaching six months old. Maynard died of pneumonia according to his one-sentence death notice in the newspaper. Her marriage to Abner ended in divorce. While I do not have the details I have copies of letters, Abner wrote to Bessie pleading for a reconciliation, stating “My wild oats are all sowed.”

This is my Great Grandmother Bessie at age 16.

This is my Great Grandmother Bessie at age 16.

August of 1918 was a very busy month for Bessie. She married William LeClair and gave birth to a baby boy. In a letter Bessie wrote to her oldest daughter fifteen days before her death, she stated that her baby was “getting fat” and would be seven weeks old in three days. She also wrote about a mutual friend who’s son died in the army. They have just brought his body back and that he died of “this new disease, Spanish Influenza.” She also spoke about painting and papering her residence. She was to die from this new disease on October 21, 1918. I do not know the name of her new baby or what was to happen to him. I have not as of yet been able to get any firm information on her new husband, William.

Plattsburgh newspaper dated ten days before the death of Bessie. Note the headlines on the right hand side all deal with the Flu outbreak.

Plattsburgh newspaper dated ten days before the death of Bessie. Note the headlines on the right hand side all deal with the Flu outbreak.

The gravestone of my wife's parents.

The gravestone of my wife’s parents.

Robert and Doris Monty Lyon are my wife’s parents. Robert served in the U.S. Army during World War Two in Italy. While in Italy he collected a Purple Heart Medal for “not keeping my rear end down.” This was something he found very humorous, and he was not seriously hurt. He also collected a Bronze Star of which he never spoke. When the war was over, he married Doris and went to work and school and earned himself a law degree from New York University. It was at this time they moved from the New York City area to Beekmantown, N.Y. some 300 miles north which was Doris’s hometown. He was very busy for some years setting up his law practice in a small town where he did not know anyone besides his in-laws. He even worked on the family’s dairy farm to help with expenses the first few years. A measure of his success was that the city and county courts and the county clerks office all closed early so all who wished could attend visitation hours at the time of his funeral.

From left to right, Doris Monty Lyon, daughter Sandra (my very young wife) and Robert Lyon. This was Sandy's 2nd birthday party.

From left to right, Doris Monty Lyon, daughter Sandra (my very young wife) and Robert Lyon. This was Sandy’s 2nd birthday party.

Doris was the daughter of a dairy farmer and knew her way around a farm. In fact, that is how she met Robert. Robert had come north on a camping vacation and spotted Doris driving a tractor and just had to meet her. She was, however, a very talented person who had graduated Normal School and became a teacher at the age of 17. Her first teaching assignment was a one room school house. The house my wife grew up in was an old gas station with an apartment above it, located in the country. It was Doris who remodeled this into a home. She did all of the carpentry work herself and most of the plumbing. They had a family friend who was an electrician do the electrical work. When Doris finished, they had a nice three bedroom home.

Archibald's gravestone. Born 1883 died 1925.

Archibald’s gravestone. Born 1883 died 1925.

Archibald Guyette died the same day William Jennings Bryan died. It seems the famous lawyer laid down to rest after dinner and died, so peacefully his wife who was reading never noticed. My distant cousin’s death was not to be peaceful. Archibald and a friend were a passenger in a Hudson Coupe that according to witnesses was being “wildly-driven” at a high rate of speed on the “new concrete highway” at Beekmantown.

This is as close as I could get to the type of car Archibald was riding in from the various reports.

This is as close as I could get to the type of car Archibald was riding in from the various reports.

According to Nichols Fesette who was following behind, the Hudson veered off the road and into a ditch. The impact of hitting the ditch popped open the passenger door throwing Archie out into the air only to be stopped by a fence post. The car then took off at a high rate of speed leaving Archie laying on the ground. Mr. Fesette got Archie into his vehicle and drove him to the hospital. The Hudson ended up in a ditch with its wheels torn off just a little ways up the road. Archie was to die at the hospital in considerable pain the newspaper account says. Strange as it may sound a coroner’s inquest was held and the ruling was that the coroner, “exonerates of any blame” the driver in the death of Archibald Guyette.

Monty family gravestone.

Monty family gravestone.

The Monty family has been in the area for over 200 years. The first were French Canadians who fought for the colonies during the American Revolutionary War. They settled in this area starting their family farms. The names on this stone all following that tradition of farming. Edward O Monty and Joyce Monty Smith were siblings of my wife’s mother, Doris. Joyce like Doris went to college and became a teacher.  She was to teach many years in Baltimore, Maryland.  Young Edward was not to go to college but went to work on the family farm after he graduated high school. It was, in fact, complications of injuries from an accident he had on the farm that ended his life in 1975. Edward’s wife Betty Levitt was to work as a nurse for most of her life. She was a nurse in the New York State Prison system for many years and 22 years an emergency room nurse. Betty and Doris were to die within 24 hours of each other after living across the road from each other for decades.

Edward O Monty son of Edward and Ruby Monty. He was the one who stayed on the family farm. This is his high school graduation picture.

Edward O Monty son of Edward and Ruby Monty. He was the one who stayed on the family farm. This is his high school graduation picture.

Picture of Ruby Gonya Monty holding her infant daughter Joyce. Standing on the left hand side of the picture is Ruby's Mother-in-law Emma Craft Monty.

Picture of Ruby Gonya Monty holding her infant daughter Joyce. Standing on the left hand side of the picture is Ruby’s Mother-in-law Emma Craft Monty.

Edward S Monty my wife’s grandfather was a dairy farmer all his life. He was 75 when I first met him in 1968 already having suffered through numerous heart attacks. He had been told many times to slow down. But each day he and his son Edward O, would go to work on the farm. In1972 while operating his tractor in his fields he turned off the tractor and slumped over in his seat, he had finally slowed down. I cannot say he was an easy man to get to know. I can say with certainty that it took him over three years to warm up to me. Edward was also a justice of the peace in Beekmantown for years. A story that is often told in the family about Edward and his son-in-law Robert Lyon while amusing also shows the character of these two men. Robert was caught speeding and was brought to the local justice of the peace, who happened to be Edward O Monty. He was quite surprised to see his son-in-law being brought in. However, the state trooper was even more surprised when he found out the relationship between the two men. The trooper wanted to drop everything, but Edward would not hear of it. Robert who was an attorney and could have made things very complicated and even gotten the ticket dropped only said guilty when asked how he would plead by his father-in-law. A hefty fine was levied.

A very young Edward S. Monty. He was 75 when I first met him.

A very young Edward S. Monty. He was 75 when I first met him.

My Great Aunt Nancy Shedrick Frederick, and her husband gravestones.

My Great Aunt Nancy Shedrick Frederick, and her husband gravestones.

I was able to find the grave markers of John and Nancy Shedrick Frederick. Nancy is the half-sister that I never knew my grandfather had. My great aunt was born in Canada in 1870. She arrived in New York sometime after that when her mother Marceline married my great grandfather about 1880. I was able to find some of her descendants and relations, and we had some nice conversations by telephone. They had promised me that they would get back to me with information and possibly some pictures. That was months ago, and I have heard nothing from them. Too bad because I was learning about a whole new branch of the family tree that had been unknown, at least to me. You can read about this discovery in my post titled “A Drowning in the Saranac River.” https://mooregenealogy.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/a-drowning-in-the-saranac-river/ One of Nancy’s pallbearers was Homer Ladd, a cousin of my wife. He now resides a few rows over from Nancy.

Gravestone of Homer Ladd and his second wife Helen. Homer served on the Police force with John Frederick husband of Nancy Shedrick. Homer is a cousin to my wife.

Gravestone of Homer Ladd and his second wife Helen. Homer served on the Police force with John Frederick husband of Nancy Shedrick. Homer is a cousin to my wife.

Homer Ladd was a member of the Plattsburgh Police force from 1924 to 1929. The newspapers of the time chronicle many stories of his police work. The stories run from chasing rum runners, investigating armed robberies, helping injured people, to the daily routine of police work. One story I found interesting was when a group of “mischievous lads” broke into a residence and raided the ice box. Homer was able to give chase and caught three of the boys. They were brought to the police station and “after a lecture” were allowed to go home. I can’t help but wonder how that would be handled today.

Homer Ladd at St. Armand's Beach standing next to his Essex.

Homer Ladd at St. Armand’s Beach standing next to his Essex.

 

Homer later took a job as a prison guard for a couple of years at Sing Sing Prison. After that, he owned a diner for a while in Strafford Conn. and Schenectady, New York. Homer made his way back to Plattsburgh, where he eventually operated a fuel oil business until he retired in 1960. In his retirement years, he would spend the summers in Plattsburgh and during the winter he would live in Florida.

Blaine Gonya was to suffer the loss of a son and a brother in World War Two.

Blaine Gonya was to suffer the loss of a son and a brother in World War Two.

World War Two is not understood today as to its’ scope and the pure destruction and misery that it came with. This branch of the Gonya family cousins to my wife would shoulder some of the hardship that came with this war. Harold Gonya was born December 29, 1912, to Blaine and Nellie Gonya. Just three days after marrying Gladys Picard he joined the army on February 19, 1941. Events would soon overtake this couple as the U.S. was plunged into war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Harold was to take part in the Normandy invasion and was killed in action on July 13, 1944. The War Department notification was received by his wife, and I am sure soon after his parents Blaine and Nellie also learned of his fate.

This is Leo Gonya with his mother Delphine Poland Gonya. This picture as well as a few other came from the collection of Carl Gonya.

This is Leo Gonya with his mother Delphine Poland Gonya. This picture as well as a few other came from the collection of Carl Gonya.

A name that is not on this gravestone is Leo Gonya. Leo is Blaine’s brother. Leo was born July 1891. As best as I can find out, he started to work on ships sometime after 1920. Leo was to spend the rest of his life working on ships and was to die while at sea. He was to be declared missing in July 1943 and finally declared dead in 1945 and was awarded the Mariners Medal. You can find both Leo’s and Harold’s name listed on the newspaper in the picture below.

Clinton County had only a population of 54,006 in 1940. A casualty list of 304 people shows the suffering done by the people of the county. Several family members are listed.

Clinton County had only a population of 54,006 in 1940. A casualty list of 304 people shows the suffering done by the people of the county. Several family members are listed.

 

However, the tragedy of this family is not over yet. Gladys Gonya, Harold’s widow, was to die of a heart attack at the age of 34 on June 10, 1947. She had attended a birthday party for her father the evening before. Gladys left the party not feeling well and did not report to work the next day. A concerned friend upon learning she was not at work went to her place to check if everything was alright. There she was discovered dead at the same residence she received notice of her husband’s death in France three years previous. Gladys was as much of a casualty of World War Two as were many others, that were never posted on any newspaper casualty list.

I recently read an excellent post about the difference between a genealogist and a family historian. In short, they said the genealogist job was to collect the facts and know what and where the records were that contained them. They were to be concerned about dates of birth, death, marriage and details of that sort. The family historian was the teller of family stories and the history of the times both worldwide and local. They had great grandpa’s medals and the family picture album. I firmly believe that being just one is not enough. Unless you are willing to combine the two, the job is only partly done. It is like building a house but not putting on the roof. I have spent the better part of this post telling you about family stories. While I did not want to bore you with sources, I would like to give you a small idea of the facts it takes to tell your family’s story. Please consider just one generation of Edward S Monty family.

Please click on picture to make larger.

Please click on picture to make larger.

Please click on picture to make larger.

Please click on picture to make larger.

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