Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Historic New York - Upper Cattaraugus Valley

On the east side of Route 16, south of Yorkshire Corners
    This sign was erected in 1963 and, for more than fifty years, Buffalogen drove past it, probably at least fifty times a year, and never stopped.  Early in July 2014, she stopped to read it.  It is interesting, but doesn't say much more than what she already knew.
    What the sign doesn't mention is the ice industry on Lime Lake, six miles south of where the sign is located.  In 1880 a Buffalo ice company erected an ice house on the lake and began harvesting ice to ship to Buffalo.  For the next forty years, several companies employed hundreds of men, who harvested the ice with huge saws and used horse-drawn sledges to transport the blocks off the frozen lake.  The blocks, isulated with straw, were stored in ice houses along the east shore of the lake before being shipped to Buffalo on cars of the Buffalo, New York & Philadephia Railroad Company, which ran along that side of the lake.  The ice industry fell victim to the advent of refrigeration and ceased to exist in the 1920s.  There is still train traffic on the rail line, which was completed in 1872.

Photo by Buffalogen, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Find A Grave - Caveat Utilitor!

I love Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com)–I’m both a user and a contributor.  Making burial information available and preserving images of gravestones for now and the future is a great boon for genealogists, family historians, gravestone art aficionados, and many others.  I have mixed feelings, however, about the additional information, some documented, some not, that has been posted on many memorials.

Case in point–I recently came across a memorial on which the contributor had posted an obituary of the deceased, Joseph J. Jones [all names have been changed in consideration for the contributor].  It was a transcription, not an image, of the actual obituary.  I was happy to find it, even though no source was given.  Particularly interesting, I thought, was the last paragraph: “Surviving is his wife of almost 55 years, the former Susan S. Smith; He was the father of the late Susie Q. Jones.”

Thanks to Fulton History (www.fultonhistory.com), another great website, I had already found Susie’s death notice, which said she was “sister of Betty.”  Curious!  What became of Betty?  Why wasn’t she mentioned in her father’s obituary?  Dead or alive, what reason could there be for her to have been omitted?  I went looking for more information. 

The Jones family was too recent to be in census records; and city directories and the like don’t identify children.  I turned to Fulton History and searched for an obituary or death notice for one of Susie’s grandparents, who were listed as survivors in her death notice. Those for Susie’s paternal grandparents were no help, and I couldn’t find anything for her maternal grandparents.

Almost as a last resort, I googled Susie’s father by name and found his obituary, posted by the funeral home that had served his family.  Lo and behold, it was the same as the one on Find A Grave, except for one very important paragraph.  “Surviving is his wife of almost 55 years, the former Susan S. Smith; three daughters, Betty [ John ] Doe; of Wheatfield; Jane [Robert ] Roe, of Lewiston; Mary [Charles ] Coe, of Long Island; a sister, Ann Black, of Hayward, CA; 3 grandchildren. He was the father of the late Susie Q. Jones.”

Omission of facts is almost as egregious as alteration of facts.  Rather than providing a helpful resource for researchers, the Find A Grave contributor unwittingly committed a grave disservice, misleading everyone relying on that obituary for information about the Jones family.

Caveat lector!  Caveat utilitor!

Image by Buffalogen

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How did William Hamilton Blodgett MD die?

     William Hamilton Blodgett was born in Painesville, Lake County, Ohio, on 14 October 1823, son of Clark Blodgett and Harriet Evans, and he died on 22 June 1861.  His first wife, whom he married in Lake County in 1843, was Emily Maria Tredwell, born in New York 1823-1825 to unknown parents.  She divorced him in 1851.  His second wife, whom he married in Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin, in 1853, was Agnes Eliza Parsons, born in Rutland, Rutland County, Vermont, on 7 November 1834, daughter of Ira Parsons and Theodotia Bardwell.
     William was a surgeon, but where he received his training is unknown.  He moved from Ohio to Calumet, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, between 1844 and 1846 and was recorded in the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin, as a physician. 
    In the spring of 1861 William apparently intended to join the Union forces as a physician.  The writer inherited a leather pounch containing several letters recommending him as a regimental surgeon.  Only a few weeks after the letters were written, William was dead.

    Did William ever join a regiment?  How and where did he die?  His date of death was recorded in his family Bible, but there are no details.

Ohio and Wisconsin marriage records
U.S. census records
Blodgett Bible held in 2014 by Buffalogen
Letters held in 2014 by Buffalogen