Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Sometimes when I'm doing genealogy, I get so used to the formal, entire name of a person - Hiram Horatio Raynor, for example, or you know, say, Maria Eva Justina Dauch Berg (what a mouthful!) - that I forget that the people who knew and loved them whether parents, spouses, or friends, probably didn't refer to them as, say, "Richard William Poole." My sister is a Margaret and we call her Maggie, but that affectionate diminuitive of her name might possibly get lost in future generations of genealogists, who will probably record her as "Margaret Anne." Even my brother Tim will probably be remembered as Timothy. So I'm trying to start to record the nicknames as I learn them. Some I already know - my grandfather, Clifford Monroe Raynor, was known as Dick, my great-grandmother Amelia Berg Raynor was called Millie, and my great-grandmother Ellen Casey Cronin (sometimes called Nellie) had sisters Maggie (Margaret), Jennie (Genevieve) and Lizzie (Elizabeth). Some nicknames I'm just learning - my second great grandfather Joseph James Raynor was called "J.J." and my second great grandfather James Gorry was called "Jimmy" by his widow. In a way, these nicknames make them feel even more like real people - people who lived and laughed and loved. And knowing if someone went by a nickname can also be helpful in actual genealogy research. If you can find Margaret in one census but not another, look her up under Maggie. A great uncle Michael of mine was listed in one census as Mike. And don't forget Mary as Molly!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The intertwinement of genealogy and history

For all my interest in my colonial roots, I never really look at it in context of American colonial history. American colonial times are not my favorite period in history. Early, early colonial, like the early 1600s and the Pilgrims and Jamestown and the Great Migration, yes. American Civil War, yes. Western European history - medieval especially, the Roman Empire, yes. But 1700s America, both early and late... I know my family were Loyalists. And that's about it. But looking into St. George's Church has awakened some interest, I'll admit. And for some reason I've started to become interested in Washington Irving and his early American (New York State) folklore (he wrote in the 1800s but about New York in the 1700s...). Maybe I should start reading James Fenimore Cooper. I always enjoyed The Last of the Mohicans...

Anyway, the point is, once again, that genealogy is inseparably intertwined with history. You can be interested in history without being interested in genealogy, but if personally, I don't see how you can be interested in genealogy without being interested in history.

While I'm at it, I think I should start looking at my colonial Dutch roots more. I always focus on the English, but the English settlers at Hempstead were actually smack dab in the middle of Dutch territory (the English settled what is now Suffolk County, while the Dutch were in New York out to Nassau County), and the English families invariably intermarried with some of the original Dutch families in the area. You can't look at colonial New York without looking at the colonial Dutch (just ask Washington Irving).

Interesting note that I just learned, as I was writing this entry - Washington Irving is the person who popularized the term "Gotham" for "New York."

Long live Batman!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hempstead history: St. George's Episcopal Church

This is a new section I've decided to try called "Hempstead History," since so much of my genealogical research is tied to Long Island in general and the Hempstead area of Long Island specifically. I'm a bit of a history buff so I love learning everything about the people, times, and places, but in genealogy, the more complete a picture you can paint, the more you'll get to know your ancestors and the more you'll understand about your family and yourself. You can learn so much about a person or at least begin to form assumptions about them just from where they lived - what their occupation might have been, religion, ethnic background just to name a few. So in this section, I think I'll probably deal with specifics to my genealogical research - for those of you researching Long Island families, we're all tied together by our history, so even if it's not your specific family it will probably still apply. And if you've never heard of Hempstead, never even been to the East Coast, and just don't give a hoot about any Raynors, Seamans or Smiths, that's okay too - maybe just reading the things I discuss wlll give you new ideas about places specific to your own genealogical research that you've never considered before that might give you new insight into your family.

Okay, so the inaugural "Hempstead history" post is about St. George's Episcopal Church, located on Front Street in Hempstead. If you have colonial English Long Island roots, chances are you have someone in your family who was either baptized or married in this church.

For all my research, there are a lot of local historical places I've never been, so when I found myself in Hempstead last week, I decided to finally stop by St. George's and take some photos. Besides the church and rectory buildings, the whole church grounds are an old cemetery. The names are all familiar old families - Rhodes, Seabury, Weeks.

The original church was built in 1702, making this parish more than 300 years old. St. George's received a charter from King George in 1735 (which is whom I would assume the church is named after, right?) The current church building you see in these photos was built in 1822. Both the church and the rectory are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Not just Hempstead but most of Nassau remained loyal to England during the Revolution, so much so that Loyalist from other colonies fled here during the war, but because of that, British troops used St. George's as a headquarters as well.

By the 1700s, much of my family was located further south, closer to Freeport and the shore, but in 1787 my 8th great grandparents Jacob Raynor and Rebecca Raynor were married at St. George's and in 1815 my 4th great grandparents Richard Poole and Sarah Ackerly were married there as well.

To give you an idea of how old the current building is, when it was built:
* James Monroe, our 5th president, was in the White House...
* Abraham Lincoln was 13 years old...
* Missouri had just become a state the year before and there were only 24 states in the US...
* Ulysses S. Grant was born...
* Beethoven was still alive
* The California gold rush was still 27 years away...
* The transcontinental railroad was still about 40 years away...
* Davy Crockett had just begun his career in politics...

Also something I thought was extremely interesting and revealing that I discovered today while I was researching St. George's (many of their baptismal, marriage, and funeral records have been transcribed and can be found at www.longislandgenealogy.com) is that St. George's, but also other local churches such as Christ's Presbyterian, which was also in Hempstead, had black members. In the 1790s and early 1800s. A 1790 marriage record at St. George's reads "Jacob and Mary - freed blacks" and there is an 1850 death record at Christ's Presbyterian for 82 year old Jacob Johnson, who was listed as both "colored" but also as a church member. Amazing, amazing stuff. I'm sure the English settlers did not consider the black settlers to be equals, but I never thought they would be so forward-thinking as to allow early black Americans to be members of the same churches as them. Plus, when I think about it, I think of the Dutch, the English, and the American Indians, but I never much thought about the African-American population on early Long Island. Oh, the things we learn!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Commentary on the Michelle Obama story by Tony Burroughs...


Also, about the importance of preserving records, the importance of honing genealogical "detective" skills in order to track down and find the information that might be available but unorganized, uncatalogued, or unindexed, the advances constantly being made in preserving documents, and the growing amount of resources available to people tracing African-American and African ancestors.

The guy who wrote it, Tony Burroughs, spoke at a genealogy conference I went to in March 2008 for the Genealogy Federation of Long Island on "becoming a better genealogist" and I thought he was an excellent speaker. Well-spoken, knowledgeable, and knows how to make the topic interesting.

Read it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh, the stories our lives weave...

This is an extremely interesting New York Times story about Michelle Obama's family tree, including her slave ancestors and her mixed-race ancestry. Also lists many of the sources used to find out that info, which I love - interesting *and* informative.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quirks in common - the ice chewing connection

I chew ice.

It drives my brother, who inherited super hearing from somebody, up a wall. He can hear me from another room. The way other people chew gum (and, for the record, I also chew a lot of gum), I chew ice. Where other people might fill a glass with water and add an ice cube or two, I fill my glass up with ice cubes and sometimes add some water, if there's room. I find it refreshing. And soothing. My friends, like my brother, find it annoying. My best friend has been making fun of me for this quirk for more than 20 years now.

For awhile, I tried to break the habit, but my brother and friends will be disappointed to know that it's become something I kinda cherish, as it turns out my ice chewing quirk is something I have in common with my grandmother, Helen Stutzmann Gorry.

I never knew she did it, but I was chewing a glass full of ice in front of my father one day, when he turned to me and said, "Are you chewing that ice?" Expecting to be lectured, I nonetheless told him that yes, I was, to which he replied, "My mother used to do that."

I have since discovered that this is a quirk I also share with two of my cousins on that same side of the family. And it reminded me of another quirk of mine, sleeping with one leg hanging off the side of the bed, which my father said is something somebody in his family used to do (and reminds me that I should ask him if he remembers who that person is).

I think we all want to be unique. We don't want to be just like everybody else. But I think we all want to feel connected to other people, too. Just like my physical features or the photos I have in my album, personality traits connect us to the people in our families. Whenever I chew ice, I think about my grandmother, who died 7 years ago, and I think about who in her family tree she might have been like with that particular quirk, and I make sure I write this connection down, so that someday it won't just be a connection to past generations, but will be a connection to future generations as well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

They're somewhere out there: The Alien Files

In today's New York Times, page A12, "A Treasure on Paper Goes Public: U.S. Bares 'Alien Files' Kept on Immigrants."


As most of my family was here by the turn of the (last) century, I wasn't even aware these files existed, but they sound like, for those who have more recent immigrant ancestors, a possible wealth of primary sourcei information. That's half the fun of the research, even just the possibility of that elusive treasure trove of information. While apparently you can access these files now through the Freedom of Information Act, it might be worth the wait (and lack of aggravation) to request them from the National Archives - I had no problem getting Charles Haase's military records from them four years ago.

You find out something new and exciting all the time. The downside to the burst in genealogy's popularity is the loads of misinformation passed around as fact, but the upside is people having the interest and power in preserving these valuable documents.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Losing (or finding) my religion

Religion has always been an interesting component of my family tree research, I think because, if religions were like nationalities, I would only be half-Catholic. I think it started when I realized when I was very young that my mother's father wasn't Catholic. I was raised Catholic, as were both my parents, and my grandfather, whenever he would visit, would come to church with us, but when it was time for Communion, he would stay seated. We had an old photo from my grandparents wedding reception in 1946 and I remember asking my mother why Grandma wasn't wearing a wedding dress and she explained to me that because Grandpa wasn't Catholic, they had to get married in the rectory, and if she couldn't get married in the church, she didn't want to wear a wedding dress.

As a Catholic, I'll be honest that I'm both fascinated and confounded by how easily people seem to be able to move between Protestant denominations. My grandfather was technically Baptist, but his Raynor (Protestant English) and Berg (Protestant German) roots were both Methodist and Episcopalian. All of my first cousins are Catholic, but all of my second cousins on Grandpa Raynor's side of the family are of one Protestant denomination or another. If you go out one branch further, to my third cousins, it gets really interesting, where several of my grandfather's cousins' families are Biblebelt born-again, evangelical Christians. I have more than a few cousins who are evangelical ministers, and several third cousins who were home-schooled and don't believe in dating but rather, in courting...it's all extremely fascinating. A branch further out, I have a line of cousins about three generations long at this point who are Mormons. A few of them attended BYU and several of them have been or are currently on missions.

My dad's side doesn't miss out on all this religious fun, either. I think his mother was Catholic, but her parents were not - her German ancestors were stand-up, Catholic-hating Lutherans. My father recently told me that my grandmother used to have to sneak out to see my Irish Catholic grandfather, but I'm not sure if it was her father or her grandparents that she was hiding it from.

The thing is, with Lutheran, Mormon, evangelical, and Methodist cousins, and a whole family line back through the years that's half Catholic and half not (with a possible Dutch Muslim thrown into the mix for added fun way back when), I don't understand how people can hate each other for their religious beliefs. My Mormon cousins and I might disagree on points of theology, but from their social networking Web sites, I know that we all have an artistic streak and that we like the same movies. And if anybody traces their family back far enough, all Christians were Catholics, all Muslims were Christians, all Christians were Jewish, and all humans are family.

Carbon copies and the odd man out

I'm always fascinated by how families can look like, or not look like, each other. Obviously, our physical features are passed to us by the combination of genes that came down to us from our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents, and everyone before. So when both my parents have dark hair, I wonder how my sister turned out a strawberry blond? Someone somewhere along the line had to have been a redhead. I actually have three redheaded cousins, although two of them got it from their father, who I am not related to. We are half Irish, so having redheads in the family is not a total surprise, although an interesting fact (to me, anyway...I'm not sure I've ever found anyone who agrees with the assertion of "interesting") is that red hair was introduced to Ireland through the Scandinavian Viking invaders, so while other people call my sister Irish, I call her the Viking in the family...

Anyway, I am a brunette, like my parents. My brothers are both blond. By hair alone, people usually aren't surprised that my sisters and brother are related. They usually call me the odd man out.

Then there's my parents. When people see me with my father, they say I look like him. When they would see me with my mother, they'd say i looked like her. The older I get, the more I think I am turning into a carbon copy of my mother. At the same time, I have a cousin on my dad's side of the family who has always looked exactly like me, except I'm half a foot taller than she is. (I call her my Mini-Me). But I'm fascinated how I can look exactly like my mom and also exactly like my paternal cousin.

When my grandmother was talking to me and my cousin the other day, she told us about a trip to Ireland that she took with my Aunt Ellen several years ago to go find the village where her father was born. They got lost in the vicinity and ended up at a business called Cronin's, which is her maiden name. The man who owned the shop, she said, was the spitting image of her father. She didn't know how they were related but it was obvious that somehow, they must be.

My cousin Keith, as he got older, was definitely turning into my dad's doppelganger. One of my favorites is my cousin Christina and our grandmother's sister Faith. There's a photo of Faith when she was about 12 years old where she looks so much like Christina that it could've easily been a photo of Christina. But three generations and a branch removed from each other, how were they identical? Christina's genes had input from my grandfather and from her mother, people Faith wasn't blood-related to, yet except for the age difference, they could've been twins. It makes me wonder who of my relatives from way back when I might look exactly like. For people like my sister, whose hair makes her the odd man out, it's actually a connection to an unknown someone from generations past. But for both her and for those, like Christina and Faith, who have family carbon copies, whether we know who we look like or not, the way we look is a tangible connection to someone and someplace we came from.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Latter-Day Saints: genealogical phenoms

For anyone doing genealogy research, one of the best places to start is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons are genealogical phenoms. I imagine the basis for that is two-fold: one reason being that when plural marriage was the norm for them, there was a very real need to keep family ties straight, to know who was related to whom by marriage or by blood - when someone can end up being their own stepgrandmother, things can get confusing if records aren't kept. The other reason is that the Mormons seem to be just generally very family-oriented. Members of the LDS are sealed to their families for all of eternity, so it's probably important to them to know who their family is.

In any case, the LDS emphasis on genealogical records extends beyond the Mormon church. They have made huge contributions to recording and preserving all things genealogy. The very first death certificates my father found for his side of the family came from research he did at a LDS Family History Center. There are dozens of these centers scattered around the country, with a huge selection of microfilmed records or access to said microfilmed records. The family tree program I use on my computer is the free one provided by the LDS. And their Web site, www.familysearch.org, has been extremely helpful to me in finding available family records, such as Edward Haase's and Eva Meinberg's birth certificates, and John Ricklefs and Meta Tiedemann's marriage certificate. There is some user-generated content on the Web site that is inaccurate, but if you know which databases are trustworthy, Familysearch can provide you with a wealth of genealogical information, or at least a place to start.

So this is a thank you to the Mormons, who fostered my father's interest in genealogy, who provided me with some important inroads in my own research, and who realize that whether we love them or hate them, and whether we know them or are separated from them by hundreds of years, that family, who we're tied to forever, is the most important thing.

Daughters of the American Revolution: Loyalist Edition

On my maternal grandfather's branch of the family tree, many of my ancestors' arrival to this country pre-dates the American Revolution...by about 150 years. By the time Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and the like all decided they no longer wanted to be British, my family had been American-born for several generations. They were well-entrenched on Long Island. So it's not odd to assume that it should be a breeze to get membership into the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I personally have never had much interest in pursuing that opportunity, but I have a cousin who has recently decided that she would, and so my grandmother volunteered my services to try to find a connection that would open that door for her.

But ah, those Raynors...even after 150 years on the other side of the pond, they were still very happily British...

In my Loyalist family's defense, the entire Hempstead area of Long Island was apparently a hotbed of British support. I have long been aware of the stories of the Raynors being Tories, so I figured I'd take a look at some of the other long-standing families they married into - the Seamans, the Ackerlys, the Storys, the Spragues. Ancestry.com has a lot of military records in their database, which is how I first discovered my Civil War veteran ancestor, Charles Haase, but for the Revolution, I was turning up big fat nothings...till Zachariah Story, turned up a couple of hits in a book entitled "Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War Volume III." He had military service in the Revolution, all right...fighting for the British.

If you look up St. George's Episcopal Church in Hempstead, where many of my ancestors were baptized and married, on the Web, you find out that after the Battle of Long Island, British soldiers used the church as a headquarters. By the 1770s, not all Americans were descended from British immigrants, but in Hempstead, they were, and for whatever reason, they felt no need to make any changes. what is interesting is that I have several branches of my family based in Canada - when you trace their migration pattern, it comes back to people who lived on Long Island who either chose to leave the country as the Revolution was brewing and spilling over because they were loyal to England, or who were forced to leave in the years following the end of the war because they were loyal to England.

Which brings me to my point that I'm not sure I'll be successful in helping my cousin with her DAR ambitions. Besides the fact that the generation who would have fought in the war is where my actual hard evidence of relation starts to break down, I just don't think the "yay America" attitude was there. I did go to the DAR website to see what they took into consideration for membership and was interested to learn that it doesn't necessarily have to be a veteran ancestor - it could be anybody who supported the independence movement, such as a doctor or nurse who tended to American soldiers or someone who served in a pro-America governmental role. So there's still the slim possibility of finding that elusive relative, but I really think I'll probably just end up suggesting that my cousin look into whether or not there is a Loyalist version of the DAR that she could join instead.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Casey connection: Talking with Grandma, Part Tres

While my cousin Cliff was trying to paint a broad but detailed picture of my grandmother's life three-quarters of a century ago, I had one specific question for her - what did she know about her grandfather, Peter Casey?

The reason I asked was because I had connected with someone on Ancestry.com who had a family tree posted that seemed to match up. I had an approximate birth date for Peter based on census records (1858-1863), I had a possible origin (Longford, Ireland) based on hearsay from my grandmother, I had the names of his parents (Thomas Casey and Margaret McCarthy) based on his death certificate, and I had the names of two, possibly three brothers (Edward, John, possibly Thomas) from other people's research. I found a guy on Ancestry from County Longford, now residing in Boston, who was researching his Casey ancestors and inadvertantly researched the wrong Casey family - wrong for him, but quite possibly right for me. Because he had grown up in the town where these Caseys lived 150 years ago, he had access to cemeteries and baptismal records that would take me much time and much money to find on my own. Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways... Anyway, in this family he had researched that was not his but was quite possibly mine, there was a Thomas Casey married to Margaret McCarthy, and of their several children listed, there was an Edward, a John, a Thomas, and a Peter, born about 1856. Several other siblings included a Kate, a Francis, and an Elizabeth.

So that July afternoon in my grandmother's kitchen, I asked her to tell me everything she knew about Peter Casey. She only had one personal story to tell, one that included her brother almost getting a beating from him because Peter's wife, Mary Enright, dared Dan to pour water on his grandfather's head. She knew other things, like he was uneducated - he couldn't read or write and he couldn't count - so he depended on his wife and children to help him with his carting business. He apparently also was quite impatient, cutting the legs off a piano he was supposed to be moving because it was taking too long to get it where it needed to go. But she didn't know when he was born or the name of the town where he came from, and she only knew about his parents because I had passed along that information to her. But she did know about some of her mother's Casey aunts and uncles, like Uncle Edward. And an Aunt Lizzie. And her mother's godfather, Uncle Frank, whose birth name was Francis.

Like Nancy Drew, I don't believe in coincidences. And when it comes to genealogy, I get a Spidey-sense that tingles down my spine when I don't have 100 percent verifiable proof that one and one equals two, but when I'm pretty sure that everything adds up. And usually down the line when I do get proof, everything does, in fact, add up. I get that feeling with my Caseys and the Caseys researched by Sean of Boston, formerly of County Longford. Unfortunately, his research also goes no further back that Thomas Casey and Margaret McCarthy, but siblings and dates and the name of the town may be helpful in tracing the Casey line to other descendents, descendents doing their own Casey research with documents and records and stories I don't have, which they'll be willing to share with me once I find them.

For the record: Talking with Grandma, Part Deux

So, my cousin Cliff Raynor and I sat down with my grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor, on Sunday July 19th to talk about genealogy. My cousin, who is just beginning to get sucked into the genealogy vortex, had a lot of questions for my grandmother about what it was like growing up during the Depression, how she and my grandfather met, what Freeport was like when she was a little girl, etc. etc. Some stories I already knew, some I was hearing for the first time. I knew that my grandparents weren't married till my grandmother was 31 (I used to think that was way old, and back then it probably was, but now that I'm almost 30, it seems almost too young, ha ha...), but I didn't know she had a bunch of boyfriends before my grandfather. In fact, apparently, at one point she was dating three of them at the same time, going on all sorts of dates to the city. My grandmother, playing the field!

The conversation wasn't just for our own edification, though; yes, we were curious, but we are also, apparently, genealogists, so before we sat down and talked with Grandma, I told her I was going to record it. Memories can be tricky, and I didn't trust that I would remember everything she said if I went back and wrote it down later. I thought a video camera might have been a little much - I didn't want her to be nervous or self-conscious, but I had a voice recorder, and I was able to record much of the conversation. That will now become another record in my ever expanding collection of records, and one day when I show my children photos of their great-grandmother, I'll also be able to let them hear what she sounded like.

Talking with Grandma

My grandmother is the person who got me started on the genealogy road, so for anyone who ever gets annoyed when I suddenly get excited by something you find mundane at best, like finding a family headstone, blame her. (While true, this strategy deflects annoyance from me to my grandmother, and my grandmother is adorable, so how can anyone stay annoyed with her?)

My cousin recently started getting into genealogy, starting his mother's side and catching up on his father's (my mother's brother's) side, and knowing I do a lot of research, he had a lot of questions that I couldn't answer (he's my kind of genealogist - he doesn't just want to know the facts. He wants to be able to place a person in a place in a time and know the details about that person's life but also how it fits into the larger world historically. Time consuming, to be sure, but fascinating. Obviously, nerdiness runs in the family...) Anyway, there were questions like, when did Grandma move to Freeport? What did Grandpa do when he was in the Navy during World War II? How did they meet? So instead of guessing, I decided to set up a meeting so we could get it straight from the horse's mouth.

My grandmother is 94 years old. On my mom's side of the family, she's the last of her generation, both of the Raynors and the Cronins. She might live to be 100, but she might be gone tomorrow. If we were going to get her stories, now was the time to do it.

The great thing about my grandmother is she's very with it for a 94 year old. She goes out with her friends and she still drives. She can't hear very well and she can be forgetful, but ask her about the family tree, and she knows the answer, or if she doesn't know it, she's written it down somewhere. And sometimes I'll be chatting with her about one thing - something normal like, say, work - and she'll suddenly be off on a tangent about her days working at the telephone company as a young woman. Or we'll be talking about my brother taking up skydiving, and she'll suddenly start telling me a story about how she remembers when the thrill was actually just going up in an airplane (because they were so new), and how if you had the money, you could buy a ride out at Mitchel Field.

So I knew she had stories. Which was good, because my cousin had a lot of questions. A lot of it, I already knew - like how Grandma grew up across the street from Grandpa, and Grandma's brother Dan and Grandpa grew up as best friends. But there were lots of things I'd never heard, things that might not ever be genealogically significant but that humanized people I mostly knew as names and dates, like how my grandmother's father, Timothy Cronin, came to New York and went back to Ireland several times because he got into too much trouble and his older sisters here couldn't handle taking care of him, or how Grandma's mother, Ellen Casey Cronin, would take the train back to Brooklyn every now and then because she missed living in the city. Grandma's the only one left who actually knew these people. And, for example, I only have one photo of my great-great grandparents, but now thanks to my grandmother, I have a bit of a clearer mental picture of them and what they were like.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fun in cemeteries...

...didn't think that was possible, did ya?

Yes, I enjoy the actual visiting of cemeteries for family tree research purposes. I find the tranquility of cemeteries very calming and at certain cemeteries, like Greenfield in Uniondale, where most of the names on the headstones are the same names I've seen time and again while poring over Long Island census records, I actually feel quite at home, like I'm finally getting to meet some very old and dear friends.

Anyway, enough of my weirdness. I spent all day yesterday in cemeteries. It was a beautiful, gorgeous, sunny day, a real rarity during this month of non-stop rain, so I decided to drive out to Patchogue, about 40 minutes east of where I live. I had recently connected with a not too distant cousin on my Ricklefs branch in an attempt to track down any info on John Ricklefs and his wife, Meta Tiedemann, after the 1930 census, which had them living on a farm out in Patchogue. I am descended from their daughter, Meta, and this woman I found is descended from their daughter, Olga. Olga's son, this woman's father, and his wife had vague memories that John and Meta might be buried in one of the tiny cemeteries dotting Patchogue. I never made it past Lakeview - a somewhat old, somewhat small cemetery off of Waverly Avenue filled with many old Long Island names, many drowned sailors, and an apparently somewhat famous couple, Seba Smith and his activist-poetess wife, Elizabeth Oakes Smith. After spending more than an hour checking every headstone in the hot sun, I came up empty-handed, and didn't have the energy to check the other two cemeteries or visit the village clerk to ask about death certificates that may have been filed (which would have been problematic anyway, seeing as I don't have a year of death for either John or Meta and a 15-20 year window in which they might have died).

Lakeview was interesting however. The cemetery is rundown, and the land around it is being developed (as all open land must be - heavy on the sarcasm), but apparently the Patchogue Historical Society has a cemetery restoration project that they're trying to raise money for, and some newer headstones and grave markers and monuments make it look like they've had some success with this project. And these smaller, older cemeteries depend on projects like this one - these are important historical and genealogical resources and many headstones are worn flat, broken, or completely gone, and that important information and the people that info helps us remember, is being lost and forgotten.

But the day wasn't over yet! After driving home and taking a bathroom break, I headed over to Greenfield Cemetery, spur of the moment. I hadn't been there in a good 10-15 years, even though I have tons of family members, including my great-grandparents, who are buried there. What an amazing place. I got there an hour before the gates closed, but I could've spent all day there and will have to go back. I had copied from my grandmother's files the location of the Dauch and Berg plot, so I was able to visit that for the first time, and while I was there, saying hello to all my relatives, I remembered coming to the cemetery with my mother to visit her grandparents, Monroe Raynor and Amelia Berg Raynor. I had no idea where that plot was, but it suddenly came to me that whenever I came with her, we always looked for the group of pine trees, and that's where it would be. Well, there are huge sections of Greenfield that are treeless. But there are huge sections that are covered in trees, too. I had some time, so I drove along slowly, looking at all these names I know so well - Smith, Pearsall, Mott, Raynor - (many of these plots were transferred from other cemeteries, like the one in Freeport where the junior high was later built...), when I saw a group of pines. I got out and walked the section, but the Raynors weren't there. I was very disappointed. That would've been huge, if I could've found them based on a 15-year old memory of just "pine trees." I got back into my car and drove probably no more than 20 feet, across the road to the very beginning of the next section. And there, right next to that group of pines but just a little further than I had expected, was the Raynor plot - my great-grandparents, Monroe and Amelia; their daughter Dorothy Saas; Monroe's sister Lidie and brother William; their parents Joseph J. and Annie D. Raynor; and Joseph's parents Hiram Horatio and Ann Raynor. My great-grandmother Amelia was the only one I've ever met, but seeing all of those names, I felt very much at home (and on top of that, many of their headstones had dates I didn't have in my files!).

I have many more relatives buried at Greenfield, so I'm going to try to go back again soon to see what else I can find.

For any one reading this who might be looking for this particular Raynor plot, it's in section 6, opposite the section with the group of pines. The Dauch-Berg plot (Thomas Dauch, Barbara Dauch, Theodore Berg, Delia Dauch Berg, Eva Dauch, amongst others) is in section 3, plots 160-161.