Sunday, September 16, 2018

Don’t Forget Cemetery Records-Additional Children Discovered

While researching my paternal ancestors I learned that several (Mary King, Louis and Sarah Barry King, Louisa King) are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, New York.  (Click on individual names to go to posts about their lives.)
What additional information might I be able to find out about my family by obtaining records the cemetery might have?  What records would a cemetery have? 

First, I needed to learn about the cemetery:
The Green-Wood Cemetery my ancestors are buried in is located in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.  This cemetery was one of the first rural cemeteries in America when it was founded in 1838.  The earliest burial dates to 1840.  The cemetery grounds encompass 478 acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths.  While being one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in the United States it also has the largest collection of 19th and 20th century statuary and mausoleums.  Green-Wood Cemetery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.  The Battle of Long Island was fought across what is now the grounds of Green-Wood Cemetery.  It was also designated a Revolutionary War Historic Site.  Currently there are over 560,000 people buried there.  Greenwood Cemetery states that in 1866 the New York Times said “It is the ambition of the New Yorker to live upon Fifth Avenue, to take his airings in the [Central] Park, and to sleep with his fathers in Green-Wood.”  This statement from the New York Times is interesting to note because within 20 years of this article my ancestors would begin being buried there.

I contacted Green-wood through their “Green-Ealogy” department and was informed that this is the listing of all those buried in the plot and grave where Mary King is buried:

Next, I looked at the list to see what I could determine about the people in the grave:
  • They are all the same Surname-“King”
  • I see Mary King, my paternal 3x great-grandmother and the date matches the burial date I have
  • I recognized the name of Louisa M. King.  Louisa was my grandmother’s sister who died of polio in 1916 at the age of 12(see post Polio Epidemic of 1916, Brooklyn, New York). 
  • I think William could be my great-grandfather’s brother William born in 1876

Then I thought about what I didn’t know:
  • Who are Caroline E., Frank Albert and Lilly King?  I haven’t seen these names before????

Finally, I decided it was time to pay Green-Wood Cemetery for copies of records they have on the people in this grave.  Would I be able to find out who Caroline, Frank and Lilly were and why they were buried with Mary?

I tried to wait patiently and finally the email came with the information I had been waiting for:

King Mary 1890 burial record
Mary King: Residence 14 – 1st Avenue, Brooklyn: Age –70:  Date of Death-7 Aug 1890: Internment-8 Aug 1890: Birthplace-PA
Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of death-Old Age: Undertaker-Peter Farrell

King Louisa 1916 burial record King Louisa Burial order
       Louisa M. King: Residence-216 57th Street, Boro of Brooklyn, N.Y. City: Age-12 years-10 months-26 days:                              Date of Death-15 July 1916: Internment-18 July 1916: Birthplace-Brooklyn, NY: Lot 3803-Grave 4-Section 85: Cause of Death-Endocarditis:  Undertaker-Fred Herbert and Sons
In addition to above on the second card is: Exact size of outside case-7 feet: Funeral will arrive at Cemetery Tuesday On July 18 at 4 o’clock P.M.:  Original receipt for grave presented by F. Herbst & Son

King Lilly 1885 burial record
Lilly King: Residence-44 41st Street, Brooklyn: Age-9 months: Date of Death-16 July 1885: Internment-18 July 1885: Birthplace-New York: Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of Death-Hydocephalus: Undertaker-F. Herbst

I needed some perspective, when looking at the death of such a young child, and found the following in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper 3 July 1885 on page 3:
  • “Of children under 5 years of age there were 196 deaths at an annual rate of 15.36 or 59.57 per cent, of total.  There were 152 deaths under 1 year of age or 46.19 per cent of total.  The four chief causes of death, except diarrheal deaths, were consumption, 42; pneumonia, 17; meningitis, 15; marasmus, 9-aggregate 83, or 25.23 per cent of total.  The total number of diarrheal deaths was 106.”
  • When Lilly died the death rate under one year of age in Brooklyn was almost 50%.  Unbelievable in today’s times.

King Caroline 1886 burial record
Caroline E. King: Residence-44 41st St, Brooklyn, N. Y.: Age 5 months-16 days: Date of Death-19 July 1886: Internment 21 July 1886: Birthplace-Brooklyn: Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of Death-Cholera Infantum: Undertaker-Fred Herbst

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 27 Jul 1886 page 4:
“ The Death Rate Decreasing
Report of the Health Department for the Week Past
  • The deaths in Brooklyn during the week ending July 24, 1886, numbered 386, being 8 less than in the previous week, and representing an annual death rate of 29.18 in every 1,000 of the population.  Compared with the corresponding week in 1885 there were 223 less, the rate of mortality then (1885) being 38.49.
  • Of children under 5 years of age there were 246 deaths, at an annual death rate of 18.60, or 63.73 per cent of total.  There were 189 deaths under 1 year, 48.96 per cent of total.  The four chief causes of death were: Cholera infantum, 101; consumption, 86; diarrhea, 28; diptheria, 12; aggregate, 177, or 45.86 per cent of total.”
King Frank Albert 1887 burial record
Frank Albert King: Residence-44 41st St, So. Brooklyn: Age-2 months: Date of Death-21 Sept 1887: Internment- 23 Sept 1887: Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of Death-Tubercular Meningitis: Undertaker-Fred Herbst

The closest Health Department Report I was able to find was in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 20 May 1887 page 1:
  • “ During the week ending Saturday the deaths in Brooklyn numbered 291, being 9 more than during the previous week, and representing an annual death rate of 20.37 in every 1,000 of the population,  Compared with the corresponding week in 1886, there were 24 more, when the death rate was 20.19.  Compared with the corresponding week in 1885, there were 11 more, the rate of mortality then being 21.94.
  • Of children under 5 years of age there were 110 deaths , at an annual death rate of 7.70, or 37.80 per cent of total.  There were 56 deaths under 1 year, or 19.24 per cent of total.  The four chief causes of death were: Pneumonia, 30; consumption, 42; diptheria, 18; bronchitis, 14; aggregate, 99 or 84.00 per cent of total.”

  • Now I need to determine who the parents were of the 3 children.  Were they Louis and Sarah’s children or Jacob’s children?  They were the only 2 sons in the family of Mary and Theodore King.  The births of the children would fit that they were their children. Who lived at the addresses where the children died?  They all died at the same residence.
  • I have several lines of ancestors who lived and died in the Brooklyn area but are buried in different cemeteries.  I think I need to make a list of which families are buried in which cemeteries and see what additional information that tells me.
  • I realized in my post on Sarah Maria Barry King I incorrectly stated that my great aunt, Louisa, was buried with her.  Louisa is instead buried with her Great-Grandmother Mary King.
  • I learned that the infant death rate was so much higher then I expected in the late 1880s and that my ancestors succumbed to diseases that were prevalent at the time.
By obtaining the records from the cemetery I learned about 3 children I never knew existed.  They did not show up on the Federal Census records because they died in the 10 year gap between censuses.  Don’t forget to check places where other records exist!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Searching Through Old Photos Produces An Unusual Find

This Summer while visiting family back East, my father had several boxes of old family photos ready for us to look through when I arrived.  We reminisced about some photos, wondered who some of the people were and why my grandparents had these and I listened to stories my father told about people, the memories sparked by the photos.  A wonderful experience!  I was so grateful he had saved them for us to look at.  Somewhere within one of the boxes was a small note card.

Terry Billard Ella notecard 1

If you are familiar with the northeastern end of Long Island the Plum Gut Lighthouse is a common site.  Then I opened the notecard and saw the following:

Terry Billard Ella notecard 2

I skimmed the note card and realized it was from Ella to my paternal grandparents Agnes (King) and Olin Warner, Sr.  This makes sense.  Ella (Terry) Billard was my grandfather’s maternal aunt.  If you have followed my blog posts about Carrie’s letters (see post Carrie’s Letters) you know that I have over 150 letters written by my paternal great-grandmother Carrie (Terry) Warner.  The majority of the letters were written to her sister Ella.  I was so happy to know that my grandparents were still in touch with my grandfather’s Aunt Ella some 45 years after his mother Carrie had died suddenly in 1910.  Then I carefully started to reread this note card:
                                                                                                                                                                        Oct 23, 1955
Dear Agnes and Olin,
So sorry to have missed you this afternoon.  So long since you had been here, do wish you had come to Natalie’s or if Irv. had called up.  I would have come home, doing nothing in particular but looking at Sunday papers and taking a nap in a big chair.  Eleanor was home with her hubbie and baby who is just as cute as it is possible for a baby to be.  Irving says you are in the chicken and egg business and not to the exclusion of ducks, Eh?  Hope the young folks are fine and getting along nicely with the best and the most beautiful baby ever.  Do try and come again some time, many thanks for the candy. 
Much love,
Aunt Ella

At first read I thought, that’s a nice note.  Sounds like my grandmother Agnes to take a box of candy when she and my grandfather went to visit Ella.  Then I looked at the date.  When I looked it up Oct. 23, 1955 was a Sunday.  Of course it was a Sunday.  My grandparents liked to go for rides on Sunday afternoons, often to no place in particular.  I always enjoyed the times when I was able to go for one of those rides with them.  Ella was 82 years old in 1955.  ‘Irv’ was Ella’s son Irving Billard.  ‘Natalie’ was Ella’s son Ellis’ wife and ‘Eleanor’ was Natalie’s daughter Eleanor Billard Carter.  This all made sense and then I thought about the 2 babies mentioned but no names listed.  Hmm.  Once again I went back to the date…Oct. 23, 1955…  Finally, I realized that the “baby who is just as cute as it is possible for a baby to be” refers to my third, and recently found, cousin Rebecca.  (See post 
The Joy and Blessings of Meeting Cousins) As I looked again at the date and the reference to my grandparents I realized that “the best and most beautiful baby ever” was referring to me, their first grandchild who was just a few months old at the time and the ‘young folks’ referred to my parents.

The genealogical significance:
      there really isn’t any new information here.  I know who the people are and I have their birth, marriage, death dates.  The significance to me is the everyday information that it gives me.  I now know that my grandparents stayed in touch with Ella.  I know they were taking their Sunday drives even back in the mid-1950s and bringing candy.  I know that Ella knew about me and was bragging not only about her great-granddaughter but also about me, her great-grand niece.  For Rebecca and I it showed a family connection way back then. 

I don’t know why my grandmother kept this little note card but I am very glad she did and that it has survived some 63 years.  The significance to me is mainly sentimental.  Taking the time to reread and think about this ‘ordinary’ note was what I needed to do.  We shouldn’t just judge the information by a quick look and by it’s ability to add just facts to our family trees but in the story it helps us tell about our families’ lives. 

I am so happy to have found Rebecca (see post Exciting News: Carrie’s Letters) and look forward to many more tea times and to exploring all those boxes of ‘stuff’ from Ella and Natalie.  What other treasures will we find?  Take the time to investigate those ordinary notes and letters.  Look for the little treasures as well.  What a treasure you may find!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

P.S. My grandfather never did raise chickens just ducks. (see post Labor Day: Four Generations of Duck Farmers)  Not sure how that was misconstrued.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day: Four Generations of Duck Farmers

Farm sign 1

The celebration of Labor Day in the United States began in the late 19th century as a day set aside to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. Labor Day is seen as a yearly tribute to the contributions workers have made to the prosperity, strength and well-being of our country.  From a genealogical perspective, I choose to look at the occupations of my ancestors and celebrate the work they did. (See previous post Labor Day-They Were Millers) This year I would like to celebrate an occupation held by 4 generations of my family who were duck farmers.

In 1873 the first ducks were reported to have arrived from China when a New York City merchant had spotted them in Peking and ordered 25.  Nine survived the trip and started an entire industry on Long Island.  By 1900 there were 29 farms on Eastern Long Island.  Today there is only 1 (Corwin) remaining duck farm. 

Growing up I only knew that my paternal grandfather Olin and my Dad along with 2 of my grandfather’s brothers Hollis and J. Wesley were duck farmers.  It wasn’t until many years later that I found out that my grandfather’s father, John Benjamin Warner, had started the first duck farm in the family.

John grew up with farming in his blood.  Our ancestors had farmed in the same area of Baiting Hollow since the late 1700s.  John started out growing crops, mainly potatoes and cauliflower with his first purchase of land in 1893 until after his wife Carrie’s sudden death in 1910.  He sold the Baiting Hollow farm and bought property in the mid 1910s about 8 miles away in Aquebogue where John began his duck farm.  He farmed until his death in 1920.

My grandfather bought his farm in 1926 from Fredrick R. Howell in the village of Calverton, New York.  He continued that occupation for the rest of his life, semi-retiring the last few years of his life.  Later my father would begin his career as a ‘Duck Farmer’ working alongside his father.

We were introduced to duck farming at a very early age and as we grew helped my Dad and Grandfather with small tasks on the farm. 
David with the ducks Poppy showing me a white duck

                                                      David                                                                                                                                      my grandfather & I

The farm was definitely a ‘fun’ place to grow up with much to do and explore but the best part was spending time with my father and grandfather.  Our cousins would come out from the ‘city’ and we all shared great experiences on the farm. 
Later both of my brothers would also add ‘Duck Farmer’ as their occupation and work alongside my father. 

A duck farmer’s life was not an easy one.  This was a 7 day a week job with things to be done on a daily basis.  They were frequently out on the farm by 5:30 a.m. with eggs to pick up, buildings and equipment to repair, feed to get and give out to the ducks, eggs to clean and tray, baby ducks to ‘take off’, buildings to clean, ducks to move and eggs to be kept warm and rotated, etc.  A last check of the farm came at about 9:30 pm before bed and another day with new challenges.  Being your own boss and working alongside family was the reward.

dad mike

1986 was the end of an era with the close of our family duck farm.  The work was not easy and there was a sadness with the end of our family farm but the time was right.  My father and brother would go on to other careers but would always be proud to say they were ‘Duck Farmers’.  I admire the 4 generations of Duck Farmers in our family for the dedication and work they did over 70 years.

Check out the post Wordless Wednesday-Warner’s Duck Farm for a picture of my son who was able to experience duck farming for the first few years of his life, also.

You might also enjoy this 13 minute 1920 era short film I found on YouTube (especially from about 5:38 minutes in to the film) on Duck Farming ( ) done by the US Department of Agriculture.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,