Monday, October 1, 2012

Successful Mission!

Successful Mission 

Warning:  This report will be long, because mom wants to have all the details.  It's okay to skip all the Biblical begats and just see the photos!

     After breakfast in the RV, we headed to the Boeheim-Pusateri Funeral Home in Lyons to see what burial records they might have to locate the gravestones of mom’s parents and grandparents.  The mortuary door was locked, but there was an official looking red phone on the porch.  Keith dialed the given number while I went across the street to the old fire hall building, which now houses the courthouse and police station.

Sal Colatarci
Town ofLyons, NY
At least four people were hanging around the window, following our activities, and wondering what was going on with that big bus parked out front.  Larry Hartwell, the town justice, told me we needed to see Salvatore “Sal” Colatarci at the Town of Lyons offices, 43 Phelps Street.  He warned me, with a wink, that Sal was difficult to get along with.  We walked in and asked for Sal, a jovial Yankees fan, who printed out a map of Lyons Rural Cemetery, and marked lot # 470 for us.  We had been 20 yards from it the night before, but Mom and Dad remembered it as being a flatter landscape than the Rural Cemetery. 

Marilyn & Cliff Meyers were friends of Mom and Dad when they lived in Oakland, CA before 1961.  These Meyers had moved to Binghamton, NY by 1965, when our folks flew the Mooney (N6859U) from Kansas to NY for the wedding of Howard and Judith Meyers (Judy was my cousin, as far as we know, no relation to Cliff and Marilyn!). On the way back from the wedding, they stopped to see these friends, who took them to Watkins Glen and on up to Lyons.  This would have been the only time, other than when mom and grandma brought grandpa’s body back to Lyons when he died in 1950, that mom had been to this cemetery. Today was the first time Mom had ever seen the headstone of her mother, Evalyn Gilman Ewald, who died July 26, 1975 (b.12-6-1891).  I had just finished my first year of college, and I am the oldest of four children.  Grandma had known how busy mom’s life was with kids activities and helping to run the veterinary business, so she had everything pre-arranged for cremation, inurnment, and headstone, making no travel required upon her death.
Honey Gram

Grandma Ewald, lived with us in Kansas from 1962-1971, then moved to an apartment 3 blocks away.  So, we all have close ties.  She used to call Keith her “honey boy” and he called her “honey gram”.  It was an emotional morning for me.  My favorite moment, other than seeing Mom so pleased, was seeing Keith touch the headstone and say, “Hello Honey Gram!”  Then he sat down “on great-great,-great-grandpa” to enter information on with his iphone.  He had thought ahead and had a tripod to take photos of all five of us in the cemetery!

The front of the large Ewald stone had the following names:  Matthias Ewald (1792-1864), (father of) Rev. Peter Ewald (1856-1900), his wife, Clara (1856-1934), their son Dr. Paul Ewald (1889-1950, and his wife, Evalyn (1891-1975)…my grandparents.  The back side of the stone listed John M. Ewald (1858-1860); Anna M. Ewald (1859-1891), Peter Ewald (1831-1895), and his wife, Mary (1861-1906).

The hour we spent in Lyons Rural Cemetery brought on a flood of memories from Mom which follow…some unexpected, some recalled from the journals of her grandmother.   While we stood there trying to place all the names in the family tree, she recalled 77 Phelps Street as a possible address for her grandparents when they lived in Lyons.  We went by there, but that home had been remodeled a bit and was not familiar.  Later in this trip, Mom had a revised image in her mind that it was probably #79 Phelps Street!

Her grandfather, Peter Paul Ewald was a minister. At one time he was preaching in Punxsutawney, PA.  The rocking chair Mom has in her house now, was a gift from that congregation when he left.  They moved west when Rev. Peter developed tuberculosis.  His wife, Clara Sheffer Ewald had a brother, Samuel, who lived in Minneapolis, KS.  She stayed with her brother while Peter was riding the circuit through north central Kansas and south central Nebraska.  Mom has a letter that Peter wrote Clara between Minneapolis and Alma, NE.  Mom’s dad, Dr. Paul Peter Ewald was born in Orleans, NE.  The family moved back to New York when Rev. Peter’s TB got worse.  He died when Paul was 11 years old.  After Paul graduated from High School in Lyons, NY in 1907, Clara, Paul, and younger son, Mark went back to Kansas, where she bought a boarding house in Lawrence.  Uncle Samuel had moved to nearby Bonner Springs, where he had a drugstore that Paul worked in for a while when he was in college at KU.   

My great-great-grandma Clara Sheffer Ewald was born in Clarion County, PA.  The family term, “strueble hair,” (stru-bul-ee), meaning all-out-of- place, or a happy way of saying bad hair day, comes from Clara and her Pennsylvania Dutch background.  The humidity we faced on this trip gave me constant strueble hair!

Mom’s sister, Margaret Studer Ewald Nelson (1920-1977) was named for an aunt on Clara Sheffer’s side of the family…(not sure what "Studer" means...was Margaret, or Studer the name of the aunt?)

Hotchkiss Crystal
We’d stopped earlier at a historical building and found a number for Patti Alena of the Lyons Heritage Society.  She met us at this H.G.Hotchkiss Essential Oil Company building, where we did not find any family history, but learned a lot about Lyons.  1890-1918 was the height of this business located right on the Erie Canal.  At that time, 90 % of the land in Wayne County was planted to peppermint.  Hotchkiss clarified, bottled, and distributed the essential oil for Beechcraft gum, and dental products, with economic advantage of location, location, location.  The prize of this little museum is a 4 foot tall hand blown, etched crystal decanter with 3 separate bottle layers that was found packed in a box several years ago.  Photos showed how it would have been displayed at places like the St. Louis World's Fair.  On the walk across the Erie Canal bridge to the peppermint building from our RV, Keith was singing: “low bridge, everybody down…low bridge, cuz we’re comin to a town…you’ll always know your pal if you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.”  Mom asked who wrote that.  Keith said, “I don’t know, I think Grandma Ewald taught it to me.  Inside the Hotchkiss building, we found a wonderful children's book by Peter Spier, with the words and music to the song!

Singing...on the Erie Canal...
Patti directed us to the City historian…this seems to be a major government position in every town around here.  I went in there to see if we could more specifically locate the home of Rev. Peter’s family.  My background was sketchy at this point, and I did not find an address.  Probably should have asked for just Clara.  But the clerk of this office did find the surrogate for the will of Peter Paul Ewald,  I got pictures of about a third of the 120 page document from the PDF file on their computer, which includes many signatures of Peter and Clara. 

Dessert at Magdy's, Port Byron
We left Lyons and headed back to Port Byron for dessert at Magdy’s restaurant.  I had rice pudding in a parfait cup with whipped cream.  The others had pumpkin cake, white cake, chocolate cream pie, and 3-layered mint chocolate cream pie!  The Historian’s office was only open on Thursdays and Fridays, so we went on past to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, where we talked to the groundskeeper and quickly found two more sets of family stones. 

Taylor/Hayden obelisk in Mt.Pleasant Cemetery,
Port Bryon, NY
First, was the impressive obelisk of the family of John Adams Taylor (1794-1879), a soldier from the war of 1812, and his wife Sarah (1796-1881)  This is about 50 yards northeast of Mt. Pleasant’s Cemetery Avenue and Avenue D.  They are my great X 3 grandparents!  Also in this plot were their children [1] Lucy E. Taylor (1839-1918), her husband, Samuel Hayden (1839-1878), their sons Cassius C. Hayden (1862-1884) and Hallam L. “Hal” Hayden (1865-1938); [2] Lydia O. Halstead (??-1853); [3] Daniel D. Taylor (1831-1880) and his wife Margaret J. Hyslop (1839-??).

Satisfied, we almost left when just 30 yards southeast of the same intersection, Jan found the family plot of James Dixon Nye (1830-1920, the son of Samuel, who we found in the trees at the soybean field yesterday) and Nancy Cornelius Townsend Nye (1834-1925) with their children: Frank S. (1856-1932), his wife Augusta E. (1856-1943) and daughter Jenny C. (1884-1897); Charles D. (1856-1943)and his wife Louise J. (1872-1952).  James and Nancy were married in a double ceremony with her brother Robert and his wife.  Mom has a photo of the whole family at their double golden wedding party.

Recalling Memories At The Ewald Cemetery 
Peppermint Oil House
James and Nancy Nye plot in Mt.Pleasant Cemetery, Port Byron, NY
Taking notes on Mom's memories, Lyons Rural Cemetery
Erie Canal
Sitting on great great grandpa to upload info
Tacos for supper at KOA


  1. My mother is the world's greatest journalist and most gracious archivist. What a wonderful experience this is, even for those of us who cheered them on from home!