Hard Times and a Hard Man

Picture from the Joseph Metcalf collection.


Recently my wife and I traveled to Potter County in Pennsylvania to visit family, three cousins on my father’s side to be precise. They are Susan who I met while researching my family a few years ago, the second Joseph whom I knew about but never met, and the third Kelly was a very recent discovery via DNA findings at ancestry.com. I only had a short time to spend (less than two full days) with them, and we will be getting together for a longer visit in the near future.

My cousin Joseph Metcalf is the grandson of Henry Joseph Moore. Henry Moore was the brother of my grandfather Frank Moore, so Henry is my great uncle. From what I know about my grandfather Frank, and the type of man he was, it is hard to believe that the two men were brothers. Both men were to face very difficult times in very different ways. Frank was to crumble under pressure and, his family was scattered to the winds of cruel indifference. The crucible came for each man during the 1918 Flu epidemic when they both were to lose their wives to this disease. This will be Henry Joseph Moore’s story; I will deal with Frank at some point in the future.

Henry was born June 4, 1875, and he was one of nine children that were born to Henry and Clarissa Peterson Moore. While he could read and write his formal education was to stop at the fourth grade. His life was to be one of hard labor finding employment in the following fields; Farming, Railroad, state highway labor, with most of his work being done in the Lumber and Tannery industries.

Wife Lottie and the children of Douglas Moore. Left to Right Benjamin, Leonard (on lap), Pearl. In back Lettie. Taken about 1908

On March 23, 1909, Henry’s brother Douglas died of what was called Camp Dysentery on his death certificate. The death left a widow Lottie Luella Peterson Moore and four children all younger than ten years of age. The 1910 census shows the family living with her father in law Henry Moore Sr. However Lottie’s health was to take a turn for the worse in September 1911. I found this notice in “The Potter Enterprise” on September 28, 1911.


Is Very Ill

Lottie Moore of Portage, widow of the late Douglas Moore is now a county charge. She is very ill with typhoid pneumonia. She is 32 years old, and the order of relief was sworn to by Henry Moore Sr. and Henry Moore, Jr., father and brother of the dead husband,…

If that was not bad enough on September 30th, the Austin Pennsylvania Dam broke killing scores of people and leaving a path of destruction that would sweep away their shared home. In Paul W. Heimel’s book “1911 The Austin Flood” I found the following account from Lettie Moore Clark, the daughter of Douglas and Lottie, who was 11 years old at the time.

Our family home was swept away by the flood, but we were warned and were all able to escape. My mother was sick in bed and was placed in a rocking chair and carried to safety. The whole thing is like a hideous nightmare.

I recall watching the recovery of a number of the bodies from the wreckage. I remember seeing the body of one man who was so mangled that they couldn’t identify him. I also remember seeing the body of a large, white horse way up in the branches of a tall tree after the flood passed.

Some of the damage caused by the dam break.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


I was able to find a newspaper article that listed the money paid out to the flood victims. Henry Sr. and Lottie received a combined total of $200. That would be a little over $5000 in today’s dollars.

After three years of helping and looking after his brother’s widow, Henry Moore Jr. married Lottie which made for a ready made family of four children. Henry and Lottie had their first child a girl, which was named Clarissa, after Henry’s Mother. However little Clarissa was only to live for three months. Henry and Lottie were to have three more children that were to live into adulthood. The three children were Joseph born 1914, Lottie born 1917, (she was the mother of my cousin Joseph Metcalf) and Arthur born 1918. By all handed down family accounts while not blessed with wealth, it was a happy home. Henry was able to work and earn money, despite the fact that in 1916 he was to lose his thumb and Index finger on his right hand in a work accident while coupling railroad cars. Tragic events were about to visit the Moore home once again.

In 1918 the great world Influenza epidemic took place. The estimated number of the world dead range from 21 million to 40 million. In the United States, 25 million people came down with this disease and about 675,000 died. Lottie was among the many that made up that awful number. Perhaps she was weakened by her pregnancy and childbirth as she died just two weeks after the birth of Arthur. Henry now found himself with six children ranging in ages from 15 years old to only two weeks.

From the Potter Enterprise Nov. 28, 1918.

Henry had no time to mourn he had to make hard choices and somehow keep his family intact and healthy. There was no welfare system no safety net. Failure on his part would have meant the end of his family. He did have time to bury his wife near his brother her first husband. He would be buried there himself much later. When I saw Lottie’s grave stone 86 years later the inscription that Henry had put on the stone showed a man who was deeply in love and suffering a great loss. This was the inscription.

A loved one from us is gone. A voice we loved is stilled. A place is vacant in our home which never can be filled.

Arthur was only two weeks old had to be cared for. In a letter to me dated December 15, 2002, his granddaughter Judy said: “Because my grandfather had to work to keep food on the table, Arthur was given over to a family in Austin for care (they never adopted him, just acted as his foster family).” I was able to track Arthur in the 1920 and 1930 census and in each one he was placed within the family. In 1920 with an Uncle and 1930 he was with his brother’s Benjamin wife’s family. Judy also stated in her letter that he kept her mother who was not yet two and Joseph who was only four. She stated, “I can’t imagine how that all worked, but it sure did.” The daily grind on Henry had to be immense. But day in and day out Henry prevailed and took care of his family. Then I found this in the “Potter Enterprise” newspaper dated Thursday, October 4, 1923.

Auto Accident

About dusk last Wednesday evening James Huff of this place while driving his Ford along a road to Costello, ran into Henry Moore Jr., and his two children. Joseph aged eight and Lottie aged six, who were walking to Costello. Both children were somewhat bruised and Mr. Moore severely hurt. His injuries consist of a broken rib, bruised shoulder, lacerated scalp and numerous cuts and bruises.

Over lunch, my cousin Joseph Metcalf, Henry’s grandson spoke of this. Henry had either thrown and or pushed his children to safety off the road down a slight embankment. With no time to get himself to safety, he took the brunt of the blow from the automobile. It was his fast action that saved his children from serious injury or worse.

Left to Right
Henry’s grandson Joseph Metcalf and myself Charles Moore. This was the first time Joseph and I met. I have a feeling that if we had known each other earlier we would have had some good times.

I am sure that at times it must have seemed hopeless, but Henry was a hard man. Henry never remarried. All of his children went on to become good citizens with families that stayed connected. Four boys and one of his girls were to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War two. Speaking with his grandson Joseph I was a little envious of the family stories he was able to share. They were stories from a family that was held together by the strength of one man, Henry Joseph Moore. Joseph had history and family that was not there on my father’s side. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, I began to find little newspaper stories about family parties and celebrations of one type or another. Below is one such article. You will not find this kind of newspaper article from my father’s branch.

One of many society articles about the family Henry kept together.

I noticed that pictures that Joseph brought to our meeting of Henry in the last years of his life he was always on crutches. I was told he had broken his hip and since at the time it could not be repaired this was the only way he could get around. I thought to myself just one more tribulation Henry had to endure. Henry was not a general who led his troops on a great cause, or a politician to whom people would flock to hear them speak. He had no cheering crowd to hear, as he did his work out of the public eye. History books will never write of him. When I think of what he did he is a true family hero, the man humbles me. Below is my favorite picture of him. It was taken just a couple of months before his death. His manner, his face says and shows he was a person to be reckoned with.

Henry Joseph Moore
This picture was taken just a few months before his death in 1954.
“I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Theodore Roosevelt


But I will leave the last word about Henry to his granddaughter Judy who said in her letter of December 15, 2002; “My grandfather Henry was a kind man. I have fond memories of him holding me on his lap while, at age 6, read one “Dick and Jane” book after another to him! That’s patience!”






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Left to right: Edward Lyon, Charles Lyon, Robert Lyon. Photograph taken about 1979 Photograph from the collection of Charles Moore.

This is another of what I call a front porch picture. It is of three brothers Edward Lyon, Charles Lyon, and Robert Lyon. Edward and Charles were my wife’s uncles while Robert was her father. Edward was born in 1916, and Charles in 1912, while Robert was born in 1924, making him the baby of the family. Their father died in 1939, after a lengthy illness. While this was going on the Great Depression was in full vigor and had taken a toll on the Lyon household. The result of their father’s illness and the lack of income was the two older brothers had to leave school and forfeited their education. One had to quit in high school, and the other never made that far. They took jobs where they could find them. They clerked in stores, general labor or working in a fiber plant; this brought in money so their mother could maintain home and family. The one thing they made sure of was that their younger brother stayed in school and graduated high school. This is something Robert would remember for the rest of his life. Robert was to become an attorney after serving in World War 2. While his brother Charles did not have any children, Robert paid the college expenses for Edward’s oldest child.

The three brothers were to remain close for the rest of their lives. They lived during the age of the bi-plane to seeing a man land on the moon. All went through World War 2, with one earning a purple heart. One brother sent a son to Vietnam, and none of them relaxed until he returned. Families raised, employment was obtained and lost, visits and vacations were shared. Weddings and baptisms, and good times were enjoyed. As in all families, times of sorrows made their visits. They buried their Mother Alice in 1961 and closed ranks when a family tragedy struck. Finally, they had to bury each other and their wives. Edward’s wife was the first to die in December 1980. Robert was at this time battling cancer and in the middle of his treatments. He was in no condition to travel the three hundred miles for the funeral. I remember the tears he shed that he “could not be there for his brother.” Robert was next to die in January 1982, just 13 months after the death of Bea, Edward’s wife. I was in the hospital room with Robert in what would be the last weeks of his life when Edward came to visit. Robert and Edward greeted each other warmly, and then Robert asked: “where is Bea?” Just for a second a stunned look came over Ed’s face, but he recovered quickly saying “she could not make it.” Charles died next in 1988 then his wife Eunice in 1998. Edward was the last brother with his death in 2002. Doris, Robert’s wife, was to die in 2006.

The picture below was taken sometime in the early to mid-1930s when the three brothers were much younger

“Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.” – Susan Scarf Merrell


From left to right: Charles Lyon, Robert Lyon, Edward Lyon. Photograph taken in the early 1930s. Photograph from the collection of Charles Moore.


I will share with you one amusing family story that I was to learn. Charles and Edward were to live near to each other in the Nyack, N.Y. area for all their lives. Robert would move well up into the northern corner of New York. It seems that Charles’s and Edward’s wife’s got into a little dispute. The relationship between the two ladies was to get so frosty that the husbands were not to speak with each other as to do so would greatly upset their wives. So Ed and Charles took to meeting each other in a local bar. The best part was that neither man drank and was what we would call teetotalers. In fact, both men were quite religious, and a bar would be the last place one would look for them. That was the idea. Their wives and friends would never think to look for them there and the chances they would run into someone they knew was small. This went on for a while until the two wives worked things out and all was made right. However, their secret meetings are still only known by a very few people.


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Monuments to Lost Libraries

Authors photograph 2017, Charles H Moore

“Whenever an elder dies, a library burns down.”


Most of us have heard the above saying in one form or another. If there is any truth to this saying (I believe it holds much truth) then perhaps the above picture is of monuments to these lost libraries. If you are the family historian, genealogist, archivist, or family story teller, some responsibility falls on you to try and preserve some of the knowledge held in these libraries. Far too many people will only be known as a name and two dates on a gravestone, with their life story soon forgotten. Most family historians believe that family lore, if not preserved, will be lost within three generations. In the case of my family as my research has shown it happens much sooner.

We have many ways to save and pass on our family’s history. We can publish a book or an e-book or both. We can make a family scrapbook, better yet more than one and give them out to the family. Interview and record our family members. Create a family website. Update our photographs by digitizing and printing copies, making sure names, dates, and places marked. Make copies of your family tree in your computer software and pass them out to the family. Make sure historical societies and libraries in places your family lived have copies of your family tree and whatever else they may be interested in. We have many ways to do this, and I am sure all of us can think of many different ways to do this. You can make all of the above suggestions as simple or complex as you like. The main thing is to do something that will tell your family’s story to future generations.

“Heirlooms we don’t have in our family. But stories we’ve got.”

Rose Chernin

Cornell University Library
Photographed 1920

The principal lesson I have learned while researching my family is how events and family dynamics have echoed through many generations to influence myself and in turn my family today. This is something I think most of us who labor on their family history soon see for themselves. What better understanding could we have than the knowledge of how and perhaps why our families continue today? It comes down to nothing less than respect and honor for those who have come before us, to know and save their story. It does not matter if you have hundreds of years of family history to tell or only a few generations. You need to conserve and tell the story. Some people have told me they can only go back a few years and so they do not have much to say. I believe that not only is it easier to tell shall we say a short story but perhaps it is the story that needs to be told the most. Perhaps someone in a future generation will find it and will be able to build a much greater family story from this first small effort. Perhaps if someone had taken the effort the picture below would not have been sold at a flea market.


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Meet Me at the Library

The Utica Public Library, Utica, N.Y.
Imagine having 250 libraries like this for your use in your home.

As family historians, we all have a powerful tool to use in our research efforts. It is called the internet, and it is in many ways a magic key to getting the information we need to help complete our genealogies. While we all know about the many paid sites for genealogical records, I am going to focus on a group of free sites that too many of us overlook. They are called libraries; digital libraries to be more precise. These are vast storehouses of information flow right to us via the internet and is always open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

I would like to talk about an excellent website called, 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives which lives up to its name and more. I will give you the link to this site toward the end of this post since I would like to tell you a little about what you will find. I believe that this is a gold mine for anyone doing serious family research. You may find pictures and write ups about your ancestors that will surprise you. You certainly will find photographs of places where they lived and of the events that they were involved in. Local histories are plentiful and will add color to your family’s story. You will find every state has at least one digital collection except Rhode Island. Even with this, you will find much information on Rhode Island in some of the multi-state collections. Also, many universities such as the University of Chicago, University of Colorado, Cornell University, Columbia University, and much more are represented here. The Ryhiner Map Collection and the National Library of Medicine, and the American Museum of Natural History are on this site. County archives, historical societies, genealogy groups, and of course state archives can be found. Links to the Library of Congress, National Archives, and the New York Public Library digital collection, are all so to be found. It would be too lengthy to list all of the more than 250 links so let me tell you about a few I tried out in my family history search.

Dakin, Leonard. Mrs. George Dakin and daughter Florence by the piano at the Racimo Plantation. 189-. Black & white photoprint, 8 x 10 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. , accessed 10 May 2017

The above is a photograph I found in the Florida Memory Project. I am doing some research on a branch of my Dakin family line that I find interesting. I knew that some people from this branch moved to Florida, so I just put the name Dakin in the search field and had many interesting items come up. I liked this picture so I thought I would share it.

My wife’s father’s family comes from Rockland County and the New York City area so I tried a few searches. I made some very nice discoveries and thought I would share a few. On a website called the Hudson River Valley Heritage, I made the following finds. In the 1990s my wife’s late Aunt Eunice Lyon gave an interview on growing up and her family life. While we knew of the interview (we have a CD copy) I was surprised to find it on this site and was able to listen to it. Pictured below is a photograph of a shoe factory located in the same town and at the same time period that my wife’s great grandmother, grandmother and at least one aunt work in a shoe factory. I have to do more research to see if this is the one. But even if is not it does let me look into their world a little bit better. I was also able to read a 1938 article about her 2nd great grandfather James Slinn, coming over from England in 1832 and start a file manufacturing factory. Also pictured below is the NY State training school for girls in Hudson NY. This place figured in an ongoing research project in my family and was pleased to obtain this photograph.

This could be where my wife’s family members worked. Place and time is right.
Four women and three men hold shoes in the center of a large room. On either side are shelves holding many pairs of shoes. Shoemaking tools are visible on the right side of the room.
On the back is written , “Nyack shoe factory workers 1910 – may be King’s.”


A place in my family’s history.
New York State Training School for Girls (Hudson, N.Y.)


If you had ancestors that lived, married, died in the state of Washington you should visit the Washington State Digital Archives. You will find records of births, cemeteries, census, death, divorce, land records, military, naturalization, and much more. While many are just record numbers and or limited transcripts, it does give much information and a way to order exact copies. I have used this resource many times and have solved more than a few family mysteries by doing so.

In the Maine section of 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives, I found a bowl that was used by my 4th Great Grandmother Sarah Putnam Houlton. I also found a letter sent to her husband and my 4th Great Grandfather Joseph Houlton, complete with a transcript. I will have a lot of exploring to do in Maine for a large part of my family settled and lived there. The best part is I can do it while sitting at my desk anytime I wish to.

Sarah Houlton bowl, Houlton, 1807
My 4th Great Grandmother.
Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum
109 Main Street, Houlton, ME 04730
The Maine Memory Network provides access to over 12,000 historical items from over 180 museums, historical societies, libraries, and other organizations from every corner of Maine.

Tragedy visited my father’s family when he was just a youth. Something he would never speak of to me or with anyone else. The family was broken up, and brothers and sisters farmed out in all directions. The research on these events has been time-consuming and is still on -going. One of his brothers worked for a time as a child in a coal mine. I was able to find a photograph at The Library of Congress taken at about the right time frame. They say a picture is worth 1000 words and the picture below proves that saying.

The date of the photograph, the age of the boys in picture, and the right state makes this a possible scene in my uncle’s life.
Hine, Lewis Wickes, photographer. Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker of Pennsylvania Coal Co. For some of their names see labels 1927 to 1930.Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania South Pittston, 1911. January. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ncl2004002613/PP/. (Accessed May 29, 2017.)

If you have ancestors from Vermont who fought in the Civil War, you have to visit the site called Vermont in the Civil War. I found records of two of my relatives Peter Dakin and Peter Guyette. The information they cover would be a blog post by itself. I give you warning if you don’t have relatives from Vermont who fought in the Civil War after visiting this website you will wish you did.

All of the above sites are located under the one umbrella, 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives. But obviously what I wrote about is just a tiny example of what you can find here. In my bookmarks on my computer, I have a file named research. This is where I put places I find useful in my search for my family’s story. Under this one bookmark is over 250 first-rate libraries for me to use when I have the need. The best part it is free, all I have to do is put in the effort. Here is the link to 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives, but I warn you set aside some time because once you start, you won’t want to stop. Here is the link.


Please let me know if you make any discoveries.






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Trying to Understand the Whole Story

A very fun fast paced read.


To do a good job in your family genealogy research means hard work. Most of us know the time consuming and tedious search for records and then checking and comparing them. Also making sure you have the proper source citations so you and others can find the way back to the proof of your findings. Then once you have done all that you only have a bare bone family genealogy. Next, you must try and tell your ancestor’s story. Telling this story will involve more research. Looking up newspapers, reading old letters, perhaps being able to interview some of your older relatives, will be some more steps you will have to take. If you are one of the rare lucky ones, your ancestors kept detailed diaries that have been handed down over the years. Even if you have the letters, newspaper articles, and a diary, you still may not have a complete understanding of the times and events that they lived through. What you need even with or without all the great items named is a working understanding of the history of your ancestor’s lifetime

In 1927 Babe Ruth was having a very good year.
Bain News Service, Publisher. [Babe Ruth, New York AL baseball]. , 1921. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2006008544/. (Accessed May 29, 2017.)

I recently read “One Summer America, 1927” by Bill Bryson. Please do not let the title fool you. While the book does center on the events of the summer of 1927, it is an excellent source for the flavor of daily life in the first part of the 20th century. The book is a fun read that captures the time, people, of the era, and of course the events of the summer in 1927.

You will read about crime, Lindbergh’s flight, Babe Ruth’s 60 home run season, the Mississippi Flood, and much more. Newspapers and magazines in this period were shaping and influencing our daily life with readerships so huge it is hard to imagine today.   Immigrants were in the news also. Ill-feeling was being shown toward some of our new citizens’ such as Italians. Those of the Jewish faith also found that they were not always welcome with open arms. Once you have read this book, you will have a much better understanding of life in the first part of the 20th century. By having that understanding, your ancestors will come closer to life for you. While you may not see or hear them laugh and cry, you will at least know what could have made them do so.

An Italian family has supper, East Side, New York City, 1915
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “An Italian family has supper, East Side, New York City, 1915” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 30, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-4d93-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99


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Armed Forces Day Parade or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Here comes the United States Air Force. I can recall being disappointed that they did not march with rifles. Armed Forces Day Parade, Plattsburgh, N.Y., May 1964.


This is being written with my apologies to the movie “Dr. Strangelove…” but I just could not think of a better title. I was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York, which is in the upper extreme right-hand corner of the state. Plattsburgh is a small city of about 20,000 people surrounded by dairy farms, apple orchards, and maple sugaring operations. It has a large state college which brings people from not only the state but from all over the world to study and teach. The Plattsburgh area is also on the shores of Lake Champlain and the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. It is a vacation paradise for those who love the outdoors. It also home to many retail stores. This brought many tourists into our area, especially from Canada. Many times the parking lots would have more cars from Canada than from N.Y. For many years (1815 to 1995) it also had a military base which of course drew in more people from many different places. When I was growing up, the Air Force Strategic Air Command was in full vigor in Plattsburgh. All theses things made the Plattsburgh area a unique and diverse place to grow up.


My sister Ronni taking a pose while waiting for the parade. Plattsburgh, May 1964.


The pictures were taken by me on Armed Forces Day in May of 1964. Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. It was meant to replace the separate Navy, Air Force, and Army days that were (and still are) observed. Louis Johnson who was the U.S. Secretary of Defense created the observance in 1949. When you are young and live in a small town, a parade is a good way to spend part of your day. It was always a sight to see the airmen marching by in their dress uniforms. Local high school bands were sure to march also. Fire trucks, police cars, also were sure to be in the parade. So in 1964 my sister and I made our way downtown (yes we walked there all by ourselves) to watch the parade and take pictures


That’s me Charles Moore posing while my sister take a photograph. She showed more skill with the camera than I did. Plattsburgh, N.Y. May 1964.


My intentions originally in writing this post was just to share these pictures from the days of my youth and talk about family pictures. However, as I started to work on this, I got to thinking more and more about how it was to grow up in a town the was home to a Strategic Air Command base that had scores of B52 Bombers fully ready to strike at Russia or any enemy of the United States. Not only did we have the air force base but our valley was ringed by Atlas Missile Sites, ready to launch at a moments notice. It was no secret that our little town was very high on the strike list of any enemy the U.S. was to have. Most people today would be amazed how normal life was even with all this danger around them.


Armed Forces Day Parade with a local high school marching band. May 1964.


I can recall sitting on our front porch on a summers evening and listening to the roar of the B52 engines being warmed up on the runway tarmac miles from us. How that sound could carry. It was as normal to hear that as it would be to hear the crickets chirp at night. We, of course, had air raid drills at school. Sometimes we would take cover in our classrooms by or under our desk. Other times in the hallway outside the classrooms, and about once a year we would march to a door where we were told was the air raid shelter. I think it was just the furnace room. Also once a year we had what was called a go home drill. We liked this one because you were let out of school early at about noon. You were told to walk not run and have your parent sign a slip stating what time you got home. We were told in case of an attack if we had enough time we would be sent home. I remember during the Cuban Missile Crisis everyone was to keep a box of necessary items to be thrown into your car if we had enough time to get out of town. I had wanted to put in a checker game into the box, but my mother said no. I have no idea now why I thought this game was a necessity, but I did. I wanted it in my mother did not. So we argued until my father stepped in. Now my father never failed to back up my mother (a lesson I used when I had children) except this time, when he said “let him have it. It won’t make any difference anyway.” Something in the way it was said gave me a better understanding of the trouble we were in.

We got very use to having these big ugly fat fellows (BUFF) around. If you ever watched one take off with a full load you would swear that they flapped their wings just like a bird as the came down the runway.
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress: B-52F Boeing photo
PictionID:44795985 – Title:Boeing B-52 Stratofortress: B-52F Boeing photo – Catalog:16_005979 – Filename:16_005979.tif – – – – – Image from the Ray Wagner Collection. Ray Wagner was Archivist at the San Diego Air and Space Museum for several years and is an author of several books on aviation –


I do not want you to think the air base was terrible. It was not. Like the tourist, the area people, and the college it brought much life and good to the area. The air base gave me the chance to meet people from all over the Untied States and helped me to sharpen and form my opinions and outlook on life. Why many of us city kids knew where in the chain link fence we could slip through and attend movies on base for almost nothing. I wonder what would happen today if someone was caught doing that. Friends were made good times were had, and I am glad to have these memories.

This is one of the missile silo sites just a few miles from Plattsburgh.
Convair SM-65F Atlas, Site 6 Au Sable Forks NY.
This image or file is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.


















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A Front Porch Picture

Picture taken in 1927. From left to right. Joyce Monty Smith, 1919 – 2006, Emma Craft Monty, 1866 – 1938, Etta Monty Smith, 1857 – 1942, Doris Monty Lyon, 1921 – 2006, and Oreon Monty, 1850 – 1930. Picture from the Carl Gonya collection

The above picture is what I call a front porch picture. You know what I mean where everyone gathers on the porch for a group picture. Many times a porch is not even needed. While looking at the photographs in my collection, I have noticed many of these pictures. I have come to the decision that I will feature these from time to time on my blog. We can learn so much about the people in these pictures, and we should take note of them in our own family’s history. The people all shown above are relatives of my wife’s. They are left to right Joyce Monty Smith, her aunt, Emma Craft Monty her great-grandmother, Etta Monty Smith, a great-aunt, Doris Monty Lyon, her mother, and finally Oreon Monty, her great grandfather. The sad fact is that we tend to lose our ancestor’s stories that are three or even just two generations old. Here is how you can learn a little about your ancestors and perhaps recapture some of their stories.

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “A Picture For Philanthropists.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 3, 2017.


Oreon Monty was born in the year 1850 and died 1930. The year Oreon was born California becomes a state, and New Mexico and Utah are now territories. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed making it illegal to shelter runaway slaves even if they reach a free state. The new law forces under penalty of law the return of these slaves. 1850 saw the first women’s rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. Flogging is abolished as a punishment in the U.S. Navy. Also “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathanial Hawthorne is published.

Etta Monty Smith was born in the year 1857 and died in 1942. In 1857 Kansas ratifies an anti-slavery constitution. The Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott Decision which stated in short that under the U.S. Constitution, Scott was his master’s property and was not a citizen of the United States. The Court also declared that the Missouri Compromise, which prohibited slavery in certain areas, unconstitutionally deprived people of their slaves. The Mountain Meadows Massacre takes place in which 120 pioneers are murdered. The National Association of Baseball Players is founded. New York City saw Elisha Otis, install its first elevator. 1857 saw the first issue of the Atlantic Monthly Magazine.

Baker & Godwin. The laying of the cable—John and Jonathan joining hands / W & P. , ca. 1858. [New York: Published and for sale by Baker & Godwin, Printers, Printing House Square, corner Nassau and Spruce streets, New York] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed May 03, 2017.)

Emma Craft Monty was born in 1866 and died in 1938. In 1866 the National Labor Union was formed, which is the first national association of unions. The Atlantic Telegraph Cable is completed. The Plains Indians score a major victory when Capt. Fetterman and 80 Soldiers are killed. The Jesse James Gang robs a bank in Lexington, Missouri. Tennessee is the first Confederate State to be readmitted to the Union. Also in 1866 Lucy Hobbs Taylor, is the first woman to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.



Horydczak, Theodor, Approximately, photographer. Telephone. Disk type dial phone I. Washington D.C, None. ca. 1920-ca. 1950. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed May 03, 2017.)

Joyce Monty Smith was born in 1919 and died in 2006. The year she was born saw the signing of the Versailles Treaty (drawn up at the end of World War One) and the creation of the League of Nations. However, due to the politics of the day, the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty and adopted an isolationist view in our dealing with the world. We also passed the 18th amendment which prohibited the sale of alcohol. Also in the year of her birth race riots broke out in 26 major U.S. Cities including Washington D.C… The dial telephone was introduced to the public by American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is confirmed. Johannes Stark from Germany (discoverer of the Doppler Effect) wins the Nobel Prize in Physics. Cincinnati won the World Series over the Chicago White Sox’s. This resulted in the Black Sox scandal in which eight White Sox players were banned from baseball for life, for intentionally losing games.

Harris & Ewing, photographer. [Tomb of Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia]. Arlington Virginia, None. [Between 1921 and 1929] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress. (Accessed May 03, 2017.)

Doris Monty Lyon was born in 1921 and died in 2006, the same year as her sister Joyce. In 1921 Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of the Unknown Soldier had its first burial. Governor Miller of New York told members of the N.Y. League of Women Voters in a speech “that the league had no excuse for existence.” The speech was not warmly received by the women. Albert Einstein is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton, wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Rudolph Valentino is becoming known as the movies best-known lover. James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is published in Paris. 500 copies which were sent to the U.S. were seized by the U.S. Post Office and burned as obscene material. The N.Y. Giants win the 1921 World Series, defeating the N.Y. Yankees.

Charles Lindberg by his plane The Spirit of St. Louis.
Charles A. Lindbergh, with Spirit of St. Louis in background, May 31, 1927. , ca. 1927. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress


The picture was taken in the year 1927. Here are some of the events that took place in 1927. The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) goes on the air. Saudi Arabia becomes independent of Great Britain. The last Model T Ford is produced. The pilot Charles Lindberg crosses the Atlantic in the first non-stop flight in his plane “The Spirit of St. Louis.” Golfers in S.C. are arrested for violating the Sabbath. The U.S. Supreme Court permits forced sterilizations of various unfits by states where such surgeries are practiced for eugenic reasons. Perhaps the worst school mass murder was committed in 1927. In Bath, Michigan 45 people are killed of which 38 are elementary school children. Also, over 50 more people are injured. The “Jazz Singer” was the first movie to synchronize sound and picture. A Roman Catholic priest Father George Lemaitre was the first to espouse The Big Bang Theory. Babe Ruth hits a record 60 home runs in a single season. His N.Y. Yankees also win the 1927 World Series. The must-read book of the year was “Elmer Gantry” by Sinclair Lewis.

While we have learned very little personal facts about these people, we have in fact learned much about them. By knowing and having some understanding of the events that took place in their lives you gain some understanding about these people. These events could not help but have an influence on their beliefs, opinions, and how they lived their lives. All the events of each generation have an effect on the people living through them. This is passed down to each new generation which is mixed in with their new experiences until finally, it is our turn. I guess the best way to say it is that my great-grandfather on my father’s side (who I never met) has through the years echoed down to me his life experiences. My wife’s Mother Doris Monty Lyon was to have a child (my wife’s brother) with Downs Syndrome. Now read once again the events of 1927 and imagine how Doris was affected. So take out those old front porch pictures and see what you can learn.







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