About Kay Strickland

I am a keeper of my family's lore, chasing after my ancestors' tales in south central New York, southwestern Pennsylvania and Southside Virginia. The stories and photographs that I share on this blog are my intellectual property. While I do my very best to provide well researched posts, I do not pretend to have reached genealogical proof standards. Therefore, much of this work is to generate conversation among interested parties. If you would like to share my work or my records, please contact me: dkaysdays (at) gmail (dot) com.

Womenfolk I Know

page 10 blog 2

Ah! Another page of familiar faces. This woman’s stare…I have seen it somewhere. The eyebrows are a horizontal accent to an intense gaze. The mouth is held in a slight frown and she has that Minor Roman nose.  Who does this woman remind me of?

Sarah Priscilla Minor (1858-1925) at about sixteen.

Sarah Priscilla Minor (1858-1925) at about sixteen. Close up from the Minor Family Portrait, author’s collection.

Sarah Minor, that’s who!  My great-grandfather’s sister.

left to right: Owen McClure (1843-1925) , Owen's daughter from first marriage, Anna McClure (1872-xx), daughter of Sarah and Owen, Florence McClure; Sarah's daughter by first marriage, Beatrice Herrington; Sarah Minor Herrington McClure.

left to right: Owen McClure (1843-1925) , Owen’s daughter from first marriage, Anna McClure (1872-xx), daughter of Sarah and Owen, Florence McClure (1889-1968); Sarah’s daughter by first marriage, Beatrice Herrington (1880-1964); Sarah Minor Herrington McClure (1858-1925). Photograph taken by TW Rogers in about 1891.

The story here is of a blended family, thrown together by society’s constraints and family tragedy.  Both Owen and Sarah lost their first spouses and were left with a daughter each to raise alone.  They joined forces to make a stronger family unit, and created one more daughter–Florence.  Or Flossie as I knew her.

Yes!  That little girl grew up and lived down the street from my Minor grandparents in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, though I remember Flossie as an old, very old lady.  Flossie and Arthur Titus were regular visitors during our summer visits, and it pleases me no end to have a photograph that unites my ancestral and my childhood pasts.

 

Windows To My Past

Vintage photographs lead to vintage family.  Folks that shared an historical context and proximity, whose connections of love and sorrow shaped decisions that are even now rippling through my time.

I love looking at these eyes, windows to my past, staring back into my present.

Family Portrait taken by T W Rogers, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, circa 1874.  Standing: Sarah, John P., Olfred Minor.  Seated: Mary Jane Gwynn and Francis Marion Minor.  Standing front: Robert Minor (b. 1869) Photo recovered from Minor Home Farm circa 1965

Family Portrait taken by T W Rogers, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, circa 1874. Standing: Sarah, John P., Olfred Minor. Seated: Mary Jane Gwynn and Francis Marion Minor. Standing front: Robert Minor (b. 1869) Photo recovered from Minor Home Farm circa 1965

Thomas W Rogers of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania took this portrait of my great-grandfather’s birth family in the mid-1870s, when Robert Minor was about six years old.  The faces of his parents bear distinctive features, which I make use of as I sleuth through other photographs.

Like now, when we turn to pages eight and nine of the Minor Family Album.

page 8 blog

Marion Minor (1828-1913) His Roman nose was a strong facial feature. His right eyelid drooped noticeably.

 

page 9 blog

Mary Jane Gwynne Minor (1829-1908) Her most striking feature were her startingly light, and probably blue, eyes.

 

The photographs are mounted on heavy cardstock, with a metallic coating–silver or gold–on the beveled, scalloped edges, a product commonly used from 1880-the early 1890s. The two appear to be in their early sixties, suggesting a portrait sitting after 1888.  The puffy fullness at the shoulder of Mary Jane’s dress narrows the timeframe to between 1889-1892.

I imagine Mary Jane and Marion starting their day with the usual farm chores, milking cows, gathering egges, lighting the stove and fixing breakfast.  Instructions would be given to Robert and the farmhands for the rest of the day’s chores, before the couple changed into their best clothes.  A horse was hitched up to the buggy and they drove out onto the “red dog” surface, heading up the hill of Ceylon Road, past the homes of siblings and children, nieces and nephews, on their seven mile trip to Carmichaels.

What was the occasion for the photographs?  A sixtieth birthday acknowledged?  Their fortieth wedding anniversary celebrated?

Whatever prompted the impulse, I am grateful that the studio appointment was kept, and that I have these eyes gazing from my past.

On The Trail To Tioga

Cemetery. Mount Pleasant. Westfield, Tioga County, Pennsylvania.  Sayles, Christopher and Sarah KingI woke to this thought–I live three hours from my great-great-grandfather’s childhood home. The weather report promised spring sun and warm temperatures, perfect for a cemetery hunt.  I gassed up my car, plotted out my routes, and headed out west through the Endless Mountains. I couldn’t help wondering why Ira Sayles’ parents and grandparents picked up and left Rhode Island.

At Williamsport, I turned north and traveled up the four lane highway where hillsides hug the horizon to the valley.   Just miles from the point where Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier turns into New York’s Southern Tier, I turned off onto a winding Route 49.  A stagnant band of water stretched some miles to my right, today’s Cowanesque River Recreation Area.  In another moment I realized that the water was off to my left and squiggling through the soil, a river of little size.  This then is the Cowanesque Valley which beckoned to my ancestors centuries ago.  Alrighty.  But why would the Howlands, Kings and Sayles make the trek from northwestern Rhode Island, small children, babies, pots, pans, quilts, packed into whatever form the roads required?  How did this land lure people from ancestral ties, family-packed villages, established communities and businesses?

I kept driving, through Elkland, toward Deerfield Township. Knoxville and Westfield were up ahead.

I rounded a corner–to a valley opened in a welcoming hello. Flat fields stretched for miles.  Farmhouses sat close to the road, their barns and outbuildings clustered close behind.  Green hills rose on the horizon, tethering the fertile ground to a wide sky.  So THIS was the Cowanesque Valley that pulled John and Lois Eddy Howland, James and Rhobe Howland King, and Christopher and Sarah King Sayles from the established coastal settlements to the western frontier.

Landscape. Cowanesque Valley, Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

The Howlands were Quaker, and their remains were buried in what is now the town of Knoxville. Quaker headstones were often inscribed with nothing more than initials and a date of death.  The town decided to replace the aging stones with one durable marker honoring the burial place of the area’s Quaker ancestors.

Cemetery. Knoxville. Howland, John and Lois Eddy.

On this site were buried the great-grandparents of Ira Sayles, John Howland (1743-1835) and Lois Eddy Howland (1749-1825)

The valley narrowed as I continued west to the Krusen Cemetery, located a short distance from the Cowanesque River bridge in Westfield.  On a knoll are the remains of this town’s elders, including Ira’s grandparents, James IV King and the Howland’s daughter, Rhobe.

Krusen Cemetery, Westfield, Pennsylvania. The gravestone of Ira Sayles' grandparents, James King IV (1765-1844) and Rhobe/Merrobe Howland King (1769-1836)

Krusen Cemetery, Westfield, Pennsylvania. The gravestone of Ira Sayles’ grandparents, James King IV (1765-1844) and Rhobe/Merrobe Howland King (1769-1836)

Turning east I took the hill-hugging Mill Street to Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the resting place of Ira’s parents, Christopher Sayles and the King’s daughter, Sarah.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Westfield, Pennsylvania.  The grave of Ira's parents, Christopher Sayles (1791-1884) and Sarah King Sayles (1793-1866)

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Westfield, Pennsylvania. The grave of Ira’s parents, Christopher Sayles (1791-1884) and Sarah King Sayles (1793-1866)

Pausing at the grave sites I tried hard to imagine what characteristics I might have inherited.  Persistence.  Patience.  Imagination. Courage to get up every day even when you don’t know if you’ve done the right thing. The desire to make a building a home,and a network of people a community.

As I looked out over the hills of my ancestors I felt a piece of me relax, accepting their gifts, prepared to continue their legacy.

Landscape.  Westfield, Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

 

Please. May I Have More?

Earthworms are being pecked out of the ground at an astonishing rate, judging from the robin beaks I have seen today.  Hungry mouths are waiting.

Robin nestling

Robin nestlings, less than week old. Adults not on nest or in general vicinity. Temperature 83*F. Shot with Nikon D300sA 1/30 F 16 ISO 1000 200mm.

Eye To The Future

Observing feathered  behavior is a favorite pasttime, particularly when one individual becomes part of my landscape, part of my family.

My girl’s nest building was furtive, unnoticed. But her alarm routine while I gardened prompted a determined hunt ending at a low growing pine, her nest just above eye level.  Gleefully I imagined the clutch she was protecting, and anticipated the addition of nestling peeps to our spring bird symphony.

I sat at my desk Friday, the clatter of the keyboard drowned out by alarm cries. I was driven to such distraction that I left my desk and walked out on the front porch. At least a dozen robins were participating in a flock alarm pattern, alternately swooping through the air, diving toward the ground or calling from a nearby maple.  Perched at the top of the six foot pine was a Red-tailed Hawk, leering into the shrub’s branches.  At my nest.

AT MY NEST!!!

I joined the flock alarm, clapping my hands and shouting “HEY!!!”  My herding dog turned his eye on the raptor and added his command.  With great deliberation the hawk looked down, then around, then slowly spread her wings to a lazy lift off.  Atop my neighbors hemlock, twenty-four inches of taloned feathers observed our interspecies team for another minute before abandoning the project all together.

A short while later I held a compact mirror above the nest to glimpse the raptor’s intended prize–four blind, down-covered nestlings.  Several hours passed before I checked one more time on my nest, only to be met by a mother’s stern gaze.  We both have our eye on the future.

Project 52, May 24, 1014. American Robin on nest, clutch of four, young hatchlings, downy, blind.  No eggs observed.

Project 52, May 24, 1014.
American Robin on nest, clutch of four, young hatchlings, downy, blind. No eggs observed.