Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 6--Exploring Mom's Family in Up-state NY

Historic Mentz Methodist Episcopal Church,
Montezuma,  NY
I haven't mentioned that Keith has been on and found a lot of information that we are following.  Mom also has a ton of stuff, including a 40 page hand-written family history and memory log that my Grandma Ewald did on both sides of yellow legal pad paper in 1973, a well worn composition book (written by Great-Grandma Ida Evelyn Gilman in 1943) with information, and a notebook with newspaper obituaries and family photos.  We spent 3 hours after supper at Hejamada RV campground going through information and listing places to look into.

We got to the Historic Mentz Church before 9:30 and called the phone number posted on the fence for more information.  Even on this Sunday morning, Paul Baker was there in minutes to let us in.  He lives just down the road and is really proud of this church where he and Bunny celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  We checked out the gravestones around the grounds, but did not see any ancestors.  So, while we waited for Paul's friend Cheryl Longyear, the Montezuma town historian to arrive, we headed west and hiked up a steep hill to another obscure cemetery.  This one we only new of because Paul had stumbled upon it while tracking a deer in the snow 25 years ago. No familiar families there either, but Cheryl arrived and knew where the Nye family cemetery was.  We all followed her for several miles and pulled alongside a soybean field with a raised island of trees in the middle of it.  She'd warned us it would be a hike, and it was a ways out, in a slightly muddy field at near harvest time.  Though Cheryl was aware that a right of way exists to get to cemeteries, we decided it would be better if there weren't seven of us disturbing the beans. So we sent Keith in with a camera.  At this point, hours later, I'm almost regretting that all of us did not see it in person, but the photos are great.  He found the stone of Samuel Nye (1808-1876) and his wife, Mary Faatz Nye.  They are my great-X-5 grandparents!  While Keith was spelunking, Cheryl and I went through a book she'd brought along with all the births, deaths, and marriages in the city records.  I wrote several of these items in my journal.  Meanwhile, Mom was talking to Paul, who had also followed us to this site, and found out his daughter is a master at tatting, a little-known lace-making art which Mom also enjoys.  Ginny had just returned from a tatting convention in Australia.  So we followed Paul back to his house to meet Ginny and her lace.  This side trip also offered an experience of 12" diameter puffball mushrooms that Paul's son, Robert. had just hunted down, Bunny's collection of  rabbit figurines, and their huge collection of cast-iron cookware, as well as Snowflake, the white cat who played with Dad's foot, and a good internet connection where Keith got some more family info!
The home at 408 Park Street, Fulton, NY,
where Great Grandma Gilman lived.

From there we headed to Sennet and checked out some other cemeteries, then to Fulton, where Mom's Grandmother lived after her husband George Gilman died.  She knew the address and we found the old house!  On our way we passed a city library that almost took Mom's breath away with the overwhelming memory of being in the really cool, lower level children's room at the age of about 4.  She thinks that may have been the only time she was in Fulton--with her mother, to visit the family.  She also remembered playing in a sandbox on that trip with a boy named Toby Lavender, and thinking that was such a great name!

The Fulton cemetery is huge and the phone number given took us to voice message.  It was also raining, so we headed to Auburn.  The Ft. Hill cemetery there is one of the most beautiful and interesting old cemeteries I've ever seen.  Joseph Taylor is buried there, but it is also very large, and the office is open weekdays 9-1, so we may go back.   On our way through this town, we stopped at the nursing home where Ginny Baker Weathers works, to see her framed tatting pieces in the entryway, then went into another facility that houses elderly because it was called Faatz-Crofut Home, and Faatz is in the family line.  I found some Taylors and Nyes on their history records, but probably not direct descendants.

We stopped in Auburn to buy blankets at Wal-Mart.  It's been pretty cold at night.  All these places we stopped are within a few miles of each other, but we really needed to get to Lyons, where my my Ewald Grandparents and other ancestors are buried.  It's about 25 miles further north, so we headed there.  Our fearless leader was determined to see more.  It was 5pm when we hit town, but we scanned stones in 3 cemeteries before dark, with no luck.  We fixed pototo soup in the RV at the Quality Inn parking lot where we are spending the night.  Tomorrow will begin with tracking down the burial records for these Ewalds.  1499.3 miles so far!
The Nye Family Cemetery is in that island of trees
out in the soybean field
This is what Keith found under the trees!  The obelisk has fallen from the
top of a stone for Samuel and Mary Nye

Close-up of the Great-X-5 Grandparents headstone
Across the river, the large building by the orange tree is the
library Mom recalled being in at the age of 4.
Ft. Hill Cemetery, Auburn, NY


  1. I loved your visit!! You can stop by any time. Maybe we can have a tatting day before you go home.

  2. It was wonderful meeting your family, and directing you to the Nye family cemetery in the peaceful setting of upstate rural NY soybean field. What a wonderful adventure you are on. I love reading about your personal experiences and side trips that you've taken along the way. If you come back to Montezuma, be sure to let me know. Happy trails and many blessings of gathered memories on your trip to the past.... Cheryl Longyear