The Hidden Life of Raymond Stone

Find A Grave photograph. Used by blanket permission granted by photographer Brian Newark.

Long ago, I made a vow to myself to learn the story of what happened to my father’s family and what happened to each of his brothers and sisters. I had no idea it would take me over 50 years and then still not know the complete story. This is a story that centers on Raymond Moore, one of my father’s younger brothers, who was adopted out of the family. Raymond was one of seven children that were living in 1924 when the family was to fracture, sending the children off in all different directions. While I have spent many years tracking down and gathering information about these seven people, Raymond has been one of my greatest mysteries. Raymond was adopted and would, in time, leave his Moore family origins behind. I have discovered that he was adopted by Harry and Emogene Stone. But let’s start the story a few years before in 1920. That is when the following news story appeared in the Potter Enterprise newspaper.

The Potter Enterprise Thu, Mar 11, 1920

In an interview with a daughter of one of the children described in the above article, she told me that her father described how “the men came in and wrapped the body of his mother in a white sheet and carried her out of the house.” A few years later, in a 1924 news article in the Potter Enterprise shows that things had gone even more terribly wrong. The article reported that “Conditions squalid beyond belief…seven children who range from a wee tot to a daughter about twenty years of age… Five of the children are now being cared for at the county home but will be taken to the Tier Children’s Home in Harrison Valley later…” The Harrison Valley Children’s Home will figure in this story a little later.

However, I believe this story had its’ start in the year 1918.1918 finds Harry and Emogene Stone grieving over the loss of their only son Newton. In the extraordinary for the time period obituary, because of its’ size and the fact it was for a very young child, we learn some interesting facts about the Stone family. We learn that they have a daughter named Leah and no other children.

This sad and detailed obituary I am certain was placed by the sorrowful parents. Raymond is not mention although he was born by this time. In fact it says Newton was their only son. The Potter Enterprise Thu, Apr 11, 1918

The fact that the Stone family had no other children is also supported in the 1920 Census with part of a transcript from the Potter County Historical Society, which is shown below. Please note the occupation of Harry Stone is listed as “drill oil wells.” My father always said that Raymond was adopted by a family named Stone and that “he took their name.” This was again backed up when I found my cousin Susan in 2004, living in Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. Susan is the daughter of another of my father’s brothers. She introduced me to an old family friend who was born in 1927 and lived in Shinglehouse her whole life. She had known Raymond and his family. She stated that Raymond Moore was, in fact, adopted by the Stones. While she could not be sure of Mr. and Mrs. Stone’s first name, she did give a few clues. She said that Mr. Stone was in the oil business and also was a judge.

1920 Census

Now, if you look at the 1930 census below, you will note a few key items. Raymond has made his first appearance in this family. He is listed as 13 years old. That would be old enough to be mentioned in little Newton Stone’s obituary and certainly should have been recorded in the 1920 census. Also, if you look at Harry Stone’s occupation, you will see it listed as; “driller oil lease.”

This is the first record I have found showing Raymond as a member of the Stone family.

Even with all of the above, it still was not enough to be able to say positively that Raymond Moore and Raymond Stone were the same person. In all the records I researched when Raymond Stone appeared, Raymond Moore disappeared. I have, over the years, been to and been in contact with the Potter County Historical Society, which is the county that Shinglehouse is found. In a letter from them dated September 18, 2015, which in part says the following. “Enclosed are the materials that I emailed you about…I could not find an adoption record for Raymond or Ainslee in the Potter County Courthouse. It is quite possible that both of those adoptions were recorded in New York. The Hulett family had children quite older than Ainslee, so they must have been forthright in her being adopted and listed her as so on at least one census. The Stone family, however, did not…but I am most sure that Raymond was the son of Frank and Elzada.” Also, at the Potter County Historical Society was an elderly research volunteer that I met in 2004 who stated Raymond stone was, in fact, Raymond Moore. Also, I would like to point out this person was not the letter writer. My big break came while searching online newspaper archives. How I love those sources of information. Below is what I found.

I now knew for certain that Harry and Emogene Stone had adopted a child. From The Potter Enterprise, Thu, Oct 30, 1924

There it was, Harry Stone adopts a boy, and the boy was from the Harrison Valley Orphanage. I have not found another Harry Stone in the area other than the Harry and Emogene Stone family. In 1958 Harry Stone died, and I was able to find his obituary. The information confirms that he was a driller and that he held the office of Justice of the Peace. It also showed that Raymond was now living in Rochester, New York. He was to marry Sephronia McCarthy, and they would have at least three children. He was later to settle in Wellsville, New York, less than 30 miles from Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. Raymond worked at Burke Steel in Rochester, New York.

Harry’s daughter Leah married Leon Moore. I have not researched yet to find out if he belongs to my Moore family. However if I was to bet I would bet that he does. Also note that he did hold the office of Justice of the Peace. The Potter Enterprise Thu, Feb 27, 1958

I now felt confident that Raymond Stone was, in fact, my Uncle Raymond Moore. But I continued to search for more proof. Once again, old newspapers that have gone online gave me more proof. When I spotted the newspaper article below, any lingering doubts disappeared.

Potter Enterprise Thu, Nov. 19,1942

How did this rather short piece of social news cement for me that I had indeed found my father’s missing brother? The answer lies with the conversations I had with my father. My father was a combat veteran of World War Two. I had asked him if he was ever hurt in the war, and he informed me that he never got hurt at all. He did tell me about his brothers who did. He said his brother Raymond broke his leg. Somehow he had known this about his adopted out brother. I suspect most likely he learned this through his older sister Ethel Moore Hunter. She is, in fact, a story that will be told in the future. I must have read that 22-word news article a hundred times. I now had all the proof I needed. I found some other articles regarding Raymond, being transferred to a hospital in Brigham City, Utah, and his being discharged after serving about four months in occupied Japan. Below you will find Raymond’s draft registration card.

Raymond’s draft card. Note the date of birth.

 Note his date of birth is December 31, 1916. Proof he was alive when Newton Stone died and should have been included in his obituary and the phrase “Newton D Stone, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry D Stone…” should have never been written. It also shows once more his father as Harry D Stone.

Raymond died in 2005 well before I had the chance to meet him. At least I have learned a little part of his story. I have reached out to some of his family, but the people I contacted do not think that Raymond was adopted and do not accept what I believe to be the true story. Raymond had decided to leave the Moore family behind and fully embrace the Stone family. But he had so many answers to questions I have to ask, and now I have no one to ask. I do take some solace that what I believe to be the true story has been discovered and now is known to my branch of the family. I would have liked to have gotten to know his family better, but at least one more family mystery has been solved. The picture below is one of several I have been able to obtain in my research.

Raymond is the number 8 standing in the back row.

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Family Pictures Found–Unidentified!

A lesson for all of us regarding labeling our pictures. Perhaps some of you may be able to help Helen come up with ways to identify these people.

Heart of a Southern Woman

Youngblood sibs in snow, Gwendolyn, Cecil, Helen, unknown and Fulton A recently discovered family picture with  no one identified. We are working to identify  these people!

Family pictures and portraits–don’t you love them!?  A couple weeks ago, my sister found a small album, about 3″ x 5″, full of old family pictures! The picture above is one of those pictures!  I love that picture, but who are those folks?!    What a treasure!  There were maybe 50 pictures–but only two were actually labeled as to who was in the picture!  Now my sister and I are in our 70’s—born in the 1940’s, as was my older brother.  Our younger brother was not born until 1955.  These pictures look like they were mostly taken in the early 1920’s!  Some people looked familiar, but we are just guessing! A treasure and a puzzle!

Our Mom died in 1980, Dad in 1988.  After Dad died we cleared out the house that had been ours…

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The Cost of Genealogy

The above picture represents what many of us put into our genealogy research, time, and money. I believe that if we wish to have a complete as possible family history, then we will have to utilize both of these resources. How much we use them depends on how much we have of these items to give in this pursuit, or in many cases how much we are willing to give.

Time is perhaps the more important of the two. If you are not willing to spend time in the hunt for our family history, then take up another pastime. Unless you have an unlimited amount of money to pay people to do the work for you, then spending time is something you cannot avoid. On occasion, I help people (free of charge) in their genealogy research. I met one gentleman at a local library with a subscription to for its’ patrons to use. After spending some time with him learning about his family and what he was looking for, we logged on to look up some records. Within 15 minutes, we had found many new records and new information. Using what we had learned, we found some more records that had several hundred possible finds for him. I showed him how and what to look for. I was then going to work on my research while he did that. About ten minutes later, I looked up, and he had not even started. I asked him if he had any questions. He told me that there were too many records to look through and wanted me to do it for him. I explained at most he had only an hour’s work and perhaps only five minutes if he got lucky. A few minutes later, he was packing up his stuff, saying he did not have time to “Look through all those records.” Also, he was upset that I would not do it for him. He just was not willing to spend the time and make an effort. I wish I could say this is my only example. Time is something we all spend while doing genealogy. Perhaps that means giving up our television watching, spending less time with our other hobbies, or just becoming better organized in our time management. As you will see, even when we spend money, it necessitates the spending of time.

Now let’s talk about money. I have heard many times that there are many avenues in which you can do your genealogy research without spending money. While this is correct, the fact of the matter is that your finished result, which is your family history, is only as good as what you put into it. I am not saying that you have to throw money into an endless pit, but the wise expenditure of your money (and time) will give you much better results. We have so many subscription sites that offer so many services and records that everyone should at one time or another take advantage of them. If you are not sure which one to use most of them offer a free trial period for you to explore them. One area I have spent money on is the online newspaper repository sites. Everyone should look into this resource in their genealogy work. I have discovered so much more about my family by doing this that I rank them as important as the census, and DNA. But if you only spend money on the for-profit subscription sites, you miss out on so many other genealogy tools. Other areas that money could be well spent on are equipment, education, travel, genealogy magazines, historical society memberships, and much more. It also goes without saying that for each expenditure of money we make, time must be used to make it worthwhile.

I understand budgets and all those daily expenditures that we all must face. I have been working on my family’s genealogy for years, and many times I had to put off spending money on genealogy for more essential items. But I have had conversations with too many people who proudly state “I’ve never spent a dime on my genealogy” and after looking over their work I would have to agree with them. In the end, we all decide what we want to spend our money and time on. For me, my genealogy research has been enjoyable and very educational. But the very first piece advice I give anyone who wants to do their family genealogy is that “genealogy is a long term commitment.”

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What You Find in the Tall Grass

Photograph taken 1903, Holcomb home, Vermont. Left to right. Dr. Luman Holcomb 1865 – 1950, Elma Holcomb Deuel 1863 – 1946, Cyrus Holcomb 1824 – 1907. Photograph from the Carl Gonya collection

Here is one more example of what I call front porch pictures family photographs taken outside. The people shown in the above photograph are members of the Holcomb family from Isle LaMotte, Vermont.  Sandy, my wife, and I were going through boxes of pictures that we obtained from her parent’s photograph collection. We noticed some had the name, Holcomb. We had no idea who or what these people were in relation to her family.

I started an investigation into the Holcomb family, and one of the first things I did was to speak with Sandy’s cousin Carl Gonya. Carl has spent years researching family history. We were to find out many details of the Holcomb’s, namely how they were related to my wife, Sandy. The people in the above picture are my wife’s 2nd cousins four times removed. I did a little more research and found even more interesting facts.

Cyrus Holcomb is the gentleman sitting on the chair. He is the father to the other people in this photograph. Like many people of his times, Cyrus wore many hats in life. He was for five years the postmaster of Isle LaMotte, Vermont and even served in the Vermont Legislature. But throughout his life he was a carpenter and a fruit farmer, having 700 apple trees in 1882.

The man relaxed on the grass is Dr. Luman Holcomb, a well known local physician. Dr. Luman received his education at the University of Vermont. I read numerous accounts in the newspapers of his time, regarding his many community activities. He was a well-liked and respected doctor who was mourned by many upon his death in 1950. 

The lady in the picture with her father and brother is Elma Holcomb Deuel. She was a remarkable lady not only in her time but even by today’s standards. She married George Deuel, a Methodist Minister. Elma went with her husband to the Garrett Biblical Institute and received the same degree as her husband. While not herself a minister Elma would fill in for her husband on occasion. She was an accomplished musician and president of the Women’s Missionary Society. Elma was also a teacher who worked with children of former slaves teaching basic reading and writing skills.

I also found out something interesting about the Holcomb’s. They are my 7th cousins three times removed. That makes my wife and I cousins. I guess with both our family lines going back to the 1600s in America, they were bound to become acquainted. While this was the first time we were to learn that our family lines crossed, I have since found two more common sets of grandparents.

So my advice is to go through some old photographs and do some research. Not just on your direct ancestors but also your cousins. You never know what you will learn.

On the left is Elma Holcomb Deuel. Date of picture unknown. Photograph from the Carl Gonya Collection
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The Cook

From left to right. Back Row; Pauline Bonnett, Florence Bonnett and Claude Bonnett. Front Row Harry Bonnett, Bessie Barney Bonnett, Verna Bonnett, and Mary Guyette Barney Douglas. Picture taken about 1913.

In the right-hand upper corner of New York State, you will find Lake Champlain. Most people would be surprised at the vast history of this lake. It has been the site of significant battles going back to the French and Indian Wars. Conflict also continued in the American Revolutionary War. However the War of 1812 saw perhaps the most momentous battle fought on and around this lake, this battle is known as the Battle of Plattsburgh. The British invaded from Canada in the North with 10,000 troops and 16 Warships. To meet them on Lake Champlain and its western shore the Americans had 14 warships and 4000 troops which was a mixture of regular soldiers and local militia. The Battle resulted in a major victory for the Americans. This was the last military engagement that was to take place on Lake Champlain. What followed was years of peaceful growth and commerce in which steamships were to play a significant part. This is when and where a part of the life story of Mary Guyette Barney Douglas, my 2nd Great Grandmother was to take place.

In the late 1800s and well into the 1900s great steamboats plowed the waters of Lake Champlain. While many were used to transport commercial goods, many also transported people. This was a popular way to travel from Lake George and the length of Lake Champlain. The steamships had private cabins and of course, dining rooms. Meals were cooked and severed onboard. One of these cooks was Mary Guyette. Steamships were to be a very popular way to travel until the railroads, and good roadways were to bring an end to this era.

Mary Guyette was born in 1864 to Civil War Veteran Peter and her mother, Elizabeth Thorndike Guyette. The first record I have of her working was at age 16 as a servant in the Stearns household in Waterbury, Vermont. She married Solomon M Barney in 1886 who was 47 years older than she and a hotel owner in Jericho, Vermont. They were to divorce in 1892. She married once more in 1895 to Edward Douglas. This marriage was to end after a few short years in 1898 when Edward died on the family’s kitchen table while the doctor was attempting to treat him for a ruptured appendix.

Divorce was big news in 1892. News article from The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) Dec. 19, 1892.
The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) Jan. 2, 1891

Mary, by this time, was working as a cook both on the steamships and on land. One of the places Mary worked at was The Crystal, which was located on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont. Here they offered what is known as Table Board. That is when a person purchases his or her meals weekly but is separate from lodging. A quick check on my inflation counter shows that the four dollars spent in 1891 would be about 112.00 dollars today. Not too bad for three meals a day for a week cooked to order.

Chateaugay (Side wheeler) Repository Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Ticonderoga (Side wheeler) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

My 2nd Great Grandmother Mary was to work on two Lake Champlain steamers the Chateaugay and the Ticonderoga. I know that she was working on the Chateaugay in 1892, but I do not have a starting date for the Ticonderoga. I do know that she worked long hours on these steamers. Growing up, I heard stories from my Grandmother Pauline Bonnett and my Great Uncle Harry about how early she would leave and would not get back sometimes until the next morning. They lived with her as did all her grandchildren pictured above since their mother Bessie, Mary’s only child had major issues that she was dealing with. One story I heard several times from my Great Uncle Harry was how she would spank him after she had been gone for a day or so at work. She would tell him this is for what he thought he “got away with.” While this could be just a story, it does point to the fact that she ran a strict household.

All this for .75 cents. Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “DINNER [held by] STEAMER CHATEAUGAY [at] “ABOARD SS CHATEAUGAY, [LAKE CHAMPLAIN, {NY}];” (SS;)” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 1, 2019.

One other story I often heard from my grandmother, all my aunts, and uncles and even my mother was what a wonderful cook she was. I was told she could make a mouth-watering meal out of almost nothing. The proof to me is that she was able to prepare meals like the one on the above menu. Also, when I was given a tour of the Ticonderoga a few years ago, I was surprised how small the kitchen was. The stove is smaller than what can be found in many homes today.  The skill was passed down to her grandchildren as I can attest to. My grandmother was one of the best cooks I ever enjoyed a meal from. She was to be a cook at a large nursery and child daycare center in her later years.

Steamer Ship Ticonderoga at rest. Moore Family Picture 2004

The Ticonderoga now sits on dry ground at the Museum, at Shelburne, Vermont. People can walk the decks and perhaps for a moment or two find themselves somewhere in the past when even short journeys could be an adventure. In many ways, this story many years ago is one of the reasons (I also had more than a few on my father’s side) I got into family history. For years in my grandmother’s kitchen was a platter from the Ticonderoga. It was this plate and the stories that came with it but mostly the questions that the adults would and would not answer that set me on a course to know the rest of the story as the saying goes.  

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It Would be Nice to Look at You

Gravesite of my Great Aunt Elzora Dakin Sorber and her son Robert.
Photograph found on Find A Grave. Used with permission of photographer Susan Beyer.

While cleaning out some of the many files on my computer, I ran across the above picture. I had found it on Find A Grave a while back and saved it as it marks the graves of my Great Aunt Elzora and her son Robert. Elzora was my father’s mother’s sister; her name was Elzada. The family story was that Elzada and Elzora were twins. I have no pictures of my Grandmother Elzada, and since she died in 1920 before my father turned twelve and the family was scattered to the winds, chances are no photos exist. Also, she has no gravestone to take a picture of.

It was while looking at the date of death for Elzora it came to me that I now had a way to check and see if they were twins. Death Certificates are now available online for deaths up to the year 1966 in Pennsylvania which is where Elzora lived. In a matter of minutes, I had a copy of her death certificate. A quick check of the dates of birth for Elzora and Elzada showed they were both born in Maine in August 1880. They were twins.

Death certificate for Elzada Dakin Moore. The person who supplied the information was Elzada’s twin sister Elzora.


Death certificate for Elzora Dakin Sorber. Elzora had been a widow for 41 years after her husband William died in 1924. Also note the birthdates on the two death certificates which shows they were twins.

Several years ago I was contacted by a person who said he was a direct descendant of Elzora on a genealogy message board. He was answering an inquiry I had made regarding the Sorber family. They were looking for information on the Dakin side of the family. The person said he had photographs he would share of Elzora and even thought he had some of Elzada. He had no idea if they were twins or not. My excitement was hard to contain. I sent him the answers to his questions and waited while he got the photographs ready to send. To make a long story short the days turned into weeks then months. Finally, he just stopped answering my email.

I have since that time reached out to others who have the Sorber line in their family trees, but I have not heard back from any of them. It would be nice to get a picture of my Grandmother Elzada but a close second would be a picture of my Aunt Elzora. Perhaps by seeing a photograph, I might get a glimpse of where some of the features I have or my father had come from. Since Elzora outlived her sister by 45 years, it stands to reason that somewhere someone has a few photographs they could share.

Rights – Public Domain, from the British Library’s collections, 2013
Title – Mr. Grant Allen’s New Story “Michael’s Crag.” With … marginal illustrations in silhouette, etc

I know so much more about my Grandmother Elzada Dakin Moore than I did years ago when I first started this journey into my family history. When I started, I knew just a little more than her name. Now she is like the silhouette of the woman above. You can tell much about the person that the silhouette represents perhaps even like my grandmother that she loves to read. I am aware that I may have all that I am ever going to be able to learn about Elzada, but it sure would be nice to look at her.



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Slaves in the Backyard

Sometimes a story that needs to be told could be right outside your door. Perhaps you just failed to comprehend, or it just grew too familiar and as a result, gave it no real thought. This post is a small footnote in the telling of this much larger story, and I hope a means for some to help find their family’s story. This story was found in my wife’s backyard in her childhood home

This is a picture of my brother-in-law playing Frisbee with his young nephew (out of picture) in my wife’s family backyard. The two trees with the overgrown bushes between them are the Treadwell family graves. In the upper right hand part of the picture you can see part of Lake Champlain. That is Treadwell Bay. My wife and I use to walk through her grandfather’s pastures to swim and picnic there when we were dating.
Moore family picture, 1979.

The story of those hidden gravestones was brought forward by a newspaper article I read about the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. With much effort by a team of graduate students lead by professors Ned Benton and Judy Lynne Peters over 35,000 records pertaining to slavery in New York were indexed and made available to the public. According to the website, you will find “census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth records, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents, and many other sources.”

New York slave market about 1730.
Source note: From A history of the American people. Wilson, Woodrow ; 1856-1924 ; author. New York : Harper, 1902-1903.
New York Public Library Digital Collections.

When we think about slavery in America, we usually think about the southern states. However, all 13 colonies had slaves at one time or another. New York had a gradual process of abolishing slavery, starting in 1799. In that year slave children born after July 4, 1799, would be free but this was to be done over time and involved an apprenticeship program. Then in 1817, a law was passed that freed slaves born before 1799 but not until 1827. Slavery in the most northern regions of New York was never taught or fleetingly mentioned in history class.

Hon. Thomas Treadwell
From The Plattsburgh Sentinel Vol. 36 No. 6, Plattsburgh, N.Y., Friday, June 27, 1890

This brings me back to the Thomas Tredwell (often spelled Treadwell) grave sites. Tredwell graduated from Princeton College where he studied law and took up the practice. He moved to Plattsburgh, New York where he bought a farm that bordered on Lake Champlain in a spot now named Tredwell (Treadwell) Bay. He was to serve in the Provincial Congress of New York; the state constitutional convention was a member of the New York State Assembly, and the New York State Senate. He was also the Surrogate for Clinton County from 1807 till his death in 1831. Tredwell was one of the pioneers and builders of my home town of Plattsburgh, New York. He also was a slave owner. According to an article in the “The Plattsburgh Sentinel” newspaper dated June 27, 1890, he “brought with him in 1794 some forty slaves who were subsequently emancipated and colonized by Judge Treadwell on the high regions a few miles north-west.” According to the New York Slavery Records Index, I saw that he owned four people in 1800 and three in 1810. In the book “History of Plattsburgh, N.Y., From its First Settlement to Jan. 1, 1876” by Peter Sailly Palmer dated 1877 is the following on page 22; “The town records show that on the 16th day of August, 1794 the “negro man Hick and Jane his wife,” were manumitted by Judge Treadwell. In September following, Hick bought his daughter Cynthia off the Judge for seventeen pounds ($42.50). Judge Treadwell, about this time, also manumitted his man, York…” I know of one other slave also. The website Northern New York Tombstone Transcription Project shows the Tredwell cemetery was transcribed in 1935. The following graves are listed, Thomas Tredwell, His wife Ann, his daughter Elizabeth, his daughter Mary P., Joel Stratton, and finally Phyllis, the slave. A diagram of this small cemetery shows that Phyllis lies at the feet of Judge Tredwell. I found many records of slaveholding by the early settlers of Plattsburgh in the New York Slave Record Index. Names that would be very familiar to the people of Plattsburgh and the area such as Peter Sailly, Henry Delord, Thomas Miller, Benjamin Moores, John Bailey, Patrick Conroy, as these people have streets, towns, and schools named after them. Even Zephaniah Platt for which Plattsburgh is named and his extended family owned slaves.

An account of the number of people in the Province of New York, A.D. 1723
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
New York Public Library Digital Collections.

To be fair slavery was never wide spread in Plattsburgh or in Clinton County of which Plattsburgh is the county seat. In Clinton County, 1790, census 16 slaves were listed, in 1800, 58 slaves were listed, in 1810, 29 were listed, and in 1820, 2 slaves were listed. The general population during those years rose from 1,615 in 1790 to 12,070 in 1820. In total (I could have missed some) I found only 35 different men who owned slaves in that time period in Clinton County. While slavery was not a big part of the history of the county, it certainly was for those forced into slavery, and perhaps this new website will be of help to tell their story.

I am hopeful that this new website will be an aid to those who are trying to breakdown that brick wall of slavery that so many have found impossible to get through. Also, I hope those of us who have slave owners in our family history may get a better understanding. When I checked the index for my family, I did find that Simon Dakin who is a first cousin six times removed did own nine people at one time. This was surprising as I thought he was a Quaker. I will have to do more research on that.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Sale in New York.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 1, 2018.

So if you’re looking for a publicly searchable site in which you will find over 35,000 records pertaining to both the enslaved person and the people who owned them, then click on the New York Slavery Records Index. It may take you some time to learn how to navigate this site, but it is well worth the effort. I have spent hours looking over this site and the time just seemed to fly away. I hope that this site is what is needed for someone to break through their brick wall. At the very least it should be one more arrow to put in our quiver for use in our genealogy pursuit.



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The Year Was 1970

I am a regular reader of a blog called Carpe Diem, which is written by Don Forrester. The blog is not a genealogy- oriented work, but much is written about family and everyday life and one’s comings and goings. Don writes a post every day and usually is posted early in the morning. The massive volume of his work makes me feel inadequate in my small output of work. Click on this link to see a recent offering of Carpe Diem. In a recent post, Don made the following offer, “The year was 1967. Pick up a pen and quickly write down what you remember about 1967. It may surprise you by the number of things that come to mind.” I got out a pencil and paper and soon was transported back to 1967. As I did this, I thought what a great way this would be for us to write part of our own story. So since I did 1967, I decided on 1970 which was a big year also for me.

While I could not sing or play an instrument, I could certainly tune in a radio or play a phonograph. Music has always been part of my life, and 1970 had plenty of good music to enjoy. Ray Stevens was telling anyone who would listen that “Everything is Beautiful.” A music group from Canada named the Guess Who let us know their views in “American Women” and also let us know that there would be “No Sugar Tonight.” The super group Beatles told us about a “Long and Winding Road” ahead of us. However not to worry Simon and Garfunkel built a “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” The song “Spill the Wine” by the musical group War was playing everywhere my college campus in the autumn of that year.

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.

When I watch a movie, I like to limit as many distractions as I can. A good movie can show you a world that you may never be able to be a part of, while a great movie places you right smack in the middle of that movie’s world and transcends from being just a movie to shared experience. I saw plenty of movies in 1970 as it was an excellent way for my future wife and me to enjoy each others company. We saw all of our movies at the Strand Theater in downtown Plattsburgh. A perfect date was a movie and a pizza afterward. The movie “Patton” gave me a glimpse of my father’s world in World War 2 since he served in Patton’s Third Army. The movie “Woodstock The Movie” showed me what I had missed by not going. I could not go because I had a full-time job in the summer of Woodstock. Now I think I was the only person of my generation that didn’t go based on the people I have spoken to over the years. “Kelly’s Heroes,” “Mash,” and “Catch 22” where other movies I watched that year. “Love Story” was a popular movie that year, setting all kinds of box office records. I did not enjoy this movie but what do I know? I do remember during it’s sad ending three girls were sitting right behind me bawling their eyes out and making such a scene that I had to laugh. I don’t think they noticed as their wailing never slowed down. One movie that I did not see at the Strand Theater was “A Man Called Horse” starring Richard Harris. I know this because after watching the movie at a drive-in theater near Kingston, New York I managed to stay overnight and slept in my car a 1957 Chevrolet. I did this because the college I went to had no dorms and I was unable to find a place to stay. So I would sleep in my car in a parking lot, or wherever I found a spot. I would shower at the school in the early mornings. I had to do this for a month before I found an apartment I could afford.

Not to be left out I did do a lot of reading. The book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach, was a huge hit in 1970. I starting reading it because everyone was talking about it. I am sure I never got anywhere close to reading half of that book. It was not for me. It was a lesson for me not to follow a crowd but to invest time reading books that engaged me. Some of the books that did for me were “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton; “QB Vll” by Leon Uris was one that I particularly enjoyed. Then a powerhouse book titled “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” was a history lesson we all should read. My parents instilled in me the habit of reading by example and making sure I found time to read. The last few years of my father’s life he was disabled at home, and I had to make frequent runs to the public library to get books for him to read. He loved mysteries and westerns. I think he read every one they had before his death.

Was I really that young?

The picture above is my high school diploma with an insert of my senior picture. 1970 was the year I graduated. I was surprised when at the ceremony my name was called to be awarded a small scholarship for college. I had no idea I was to get this award and found out later it was one that the teachers voted on. I was and still am honored by that fact. The celebration that night was simple just some cake and ice cream and not much else. I had a full-time job to report to in the morning to earn money towards college.

While in high school I participated in several sports, wrestling was the most prominent. I also had been on the YMCA swim team, ran some track, and even coached Little League baseball. It was in 1970 in the closing weeks of wrestling season that I injured my back during a match. This injury would follow me through the years and even today makes its’ presence known. But this story could be said for many of us that played a sport.

I am in the orange and black colors of my school.

The best of 1970 was my girlfriend of three years agreed to marry me at some point in the future. A ring was offered and accepted, so all I had to do is try and get her to set a date. That and try to win over her mother (which I never really did) and convince her I was not that bad. We had been dating for about a year when I told her we were going to get married. I can still clearly remember the look on her face and how she laughed. This year will mark 48 years of married life. I knew what I was talking about.

So now you try it. Pick a year in your life and start writing down your memories. I bet you can tell a few stories that your family did not know or perhaps bring back some memories for yourself.



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Tomato Soup Cake

Some New Years Tomato Soup Cake.

I have heard it said that recipes and the wonderful food dishes they create are a real and concrete way to connect past generations of ancestors to the current generation. The one dish that does that for me is Tomato Soup Cake. A quick check of the internet places the origin of this cake in the late 1920s into the early 1930s. Campbell Soup came out with a recipe in the 1940s using, of course, its own can of tomato soup. However, as far as I am concerned, it came out of the kitchen of my Grandmother Pauline Bonnett Deloria. Even today the first taste of Tomato Soup Cake transports me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in the 1960s. That alone would be enough to eat this cake, except it also tastes so good.

After I moved away from my hometown of Plattsburgh, New York my grandmother would bake the cake every time I returned for a visit. One of the best reasons for these visits home would be time spent sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen eating Tomato Soup Cake and talking away the time. How I miss that. The recipe was given to my wife, and she has carried on the tradition  of making Tomato Soup Cake. Our children have all enjoyed the cake. It has been baked for holiday celebrations and even was the cake of preference for some birthdays. I have four grandchildren two which like the cake and two who have thus far refused to try it. I still hold out hope for them. The last few years we have baked the cake for the New Year celebration both as a treat and a way for me to remember my grandmother and the sadly growing list of people who have gone. The best part is the sweet taste of the cake, just like the memories.


Original Recipe from Grandmother Deloria

2                     cups of flour

1 1/3              cups granulated sugar

4tsp               baking powder

11/2tsp            ground allspice

1tsp                 baking soda

1tsp                 ground cinnamon

1/2tsp             ground cloves

1 10 3/4 oz     tomato soup

½ cup              lard

2                      eggs

¼ cup             water

Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. Add the baking soda to the soup and stir and let bubble. Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice cloves, and cinnamon in a large bowl to mix. Add the soup mixture, eggs, and water and beat with an electric mixer on low to blend. Increase to high speed and beat for four minuets. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 40 minutes and check with a toothpick and let cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Revised Recipe from Sandra Lyon Moore

1                         spice cake mix

1 10 ¾ oz           can of tomato soup

½ cup                 milk

3                        eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.Mix per cake mix directions add soup with the wet ingredients. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes and check if done with a toothpick.

Also, you can add raisins and or chopped nuts to either recipe. However, it has been our preference not to add these ingredients.






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The Little Book

This was the green well used birthday book that was kept by my wife’s mother.


While my wife Sandy, and I were going through boxes of old pictures that her parents had collected during their lifetime, we found a little green book. The cover title was simply Birthdays. Inside was a wealth of information concerning relatives and friends. We found most if not all the birthdays of relatives that were alive during my wife’s parents lifetime. Also listed were many family friends whose birthdays were to be remembered and noted. The genealogy information contained in this book was plentiful. I found birth dates that ranged from the 1800s and was a little startled to see my birthday listed.

Pages of family records and notes can be found in this book. Parts of some names have been edited out for privacy reasons.

The above image shows some of the information shown throughout this book. You will see under April 16 is listed Sandy’s father with the birth year of 1924. This year will be part of a story I will reveal shortly. Other information found is that cousin Thomas was born at 12:04 AM and weighed seven pounds and 14 ounces. Also listed is Sandy’s cousin Denise who was the person that introduced Sandy and me at a school dance. These pages are typical of what is found throughout the book.

This image shows a funny family story hidden and waiting to be told.

In the image above you will see under May 16 Sandy’s mother Doris Monty Lyon listed. Her name is written in ink and can be read easily. Next to the name faintly written with a pencil is the number 21 which is for the year 1921. For many years Doris had taken off a few years by saying she was born in 1924. She did this because she did not want her husband to know that she was older than him. This deception came to a crashing end when Sandy found her mother’s driver license with the correct date of birth. With this information in her hand, little Sandy went running to her father in the living room with her mother trying to stop her. The secret was out so when I saw the date written in the book obviously well after the original entry I could not help but chuckle.

We all should keep an eye out for these types of finds. Address books, newspaper clippings, baby books, yearbooks, recipe files, funeral cards, greeting cards, letters, school reports, and so many other items that could shed light on our family’s history. Perhaps in this digital age, we all should get a book like this and fill it with as much information as we can. Unlike what we have today that becomes outdated and discarded or erased a book can last many even hundreds of years. Most of us should take a little time away from our screens to make permanent entries in this type of book. Better yet give these as gifts at Christmas and encourage our friends and family to use them. By doing this, we may be laying the groundwork for genealogy finds in the future. Keep in mind the internet will never have everything and most of what it has is just cold records with a few stand-alone facts. The personal and true family history is what we will find in those old boxes of photographs and records. They will in many cases be written by the hands of our parents and grandparents and will show us what to them was important and worth keeping.

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