Saturday, June 27, 2015

P. J. Daggett, Grocer, Great Valley (Cattaraugus County), NY

P. J. Daggett, Grocer, Great Valley (Cattaraugus Co), NY taken between 1905-1910
[courtesy Great Valley Town Historian 2015]

Pliny or Plinn J. Daggett was born 21 September 1863 in the town of Eagle (Wyoming County), New York to Charles Daggett and his wife Lucy Dennis. [1] Charles S. Daggett (1825-1899) and his wife Lucy E. (1833-1921) are buried in the Grace Cemetery in Castile, Wyoming County, New York. [2]

Pliny was enumerated as a 6-year-old and a 16-year-old respectively with his parents during the 1870 [3] and 1880 [4] federal censuses in the town of Pike, Wyoming County, New York. His father was listed as a farmer. These census records show that he had siblings Nelson, Allen, Edwin and Mary E. Daggett (born about 1870). Neither Pliny nor his father could readily be found in the 1892 state census.

In 1900, Pliny was listed as a grocer in the village of Castile, Wyoming County, New York. His wife was Mary E. born February 1866 in New York. They had been married eleven years and she was the mother of one child, Ada J. Daggett, born in July of 1898. This census indicated that they lived on Clinton Street and owned their home mortgage-free. [5]

Cleveland Monument
Sugartown Cemetery, Great Valley, NY
courtesy Mark Johnston
Plinn married Mary Cleveland ca. 1889. Mary Cleveland was born in the town of Great Valley to Aaron Cleveland and his wife Catherine Learn. [6] Aaron was the son of Brainard Cleveland and his wife Betsy Eddy according to a biography of the family in a county history book. [7] The biography indicated that Brainard was a native of Connecticut and moved with his parents to Wyoming County, New York in 1825 thence to the town of Machias in Cattaraugus County, New York. He then moved to the town of Humphrey in Cattaraugus County in 1833 and finally settled in Great Valley in 1865 where his son Aaron lived. Aaron's wife Catherine was the daughter of Joseph Learn. [8] Brainard Cleveland (1788-1867), his wife Betsy (1797-1847), Aaron Cleveland (1821-1899) and his wife Catherine (1832-1904) are all buried in the Sugartown Cemetery in Great Valley, Cattaraugus County, New York. [9]

In 1905 and 1910, Pliny and his family lived in the town of Great Valley (Cattaraugus County), New York and operated a grocery store there. In 1905, he was listed on Ellicottville Road next door to Joanna Brewer (Mutton Hollow Road was enumerated just after this road). [10] In 1910, Plinn's was the first house listed on Mutton Hollow Road. It was noted on this census that his wife Mary was the mother of three children with two living. John Morton with his wife Minnie, father-in-law James Warren and three daughters Ada, Gladys and Carrie lived two doors down. [11]

By 1915, Pliny and his family were living further north in the village of Wilson, Niagara County, New York. He was listed as having no occupation then. [12]

The family then found their feet again financially when he is listed in Plymouth, Wayne County, Michigan. He is listed as having a grocery store in his home on 212 North Main Street. Once again he owned his home mortgage-free. Both his daughters continued to live with him and his wife. [13]

Pliny and his wife Mary found themselves living along by their golden years in 1930. They owned a home on North Union Street in Plymouth by that time. Pliny’s brother Edwin and his wife Mary were renting a house just two doors down. Neither Pliny nor Edwin had an occupation listed. [14]

Plinn’s daughter Ada never married and died in 1986. She was buried in the same cemetery as her parents, Riverside Cemetery. [15] It appears that Plinn’s brother Nelson was also buried there. [16] The daughter Mildred did get married to Earl Wellman in 1922 in Detroit. The marriage record listed her mother’s maiden name as Cleveland. [17] She lived until the year 2003. Mildred and Earl, also buried in Riverside Cemetery, [18] were the parents of at least two children, James and Ruth. [19]


[1] Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 March 2015), Plinn J Daggett, 08 Jun 1936; citing Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan, United States, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,972,942.

[2]“Find A Grave Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 June 2015), Charles S Daggett, 1899; Burial, Castile, Wyoming, New York, United States of America, Grace Cemetery; citing record ID 73270506, Find a Grave,

[3] United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 June 2015), Charles Dagget, New York, United States; citing p. 23, family 208, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,618.

[4] United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 June 2015), Charles Daggett, Pike, Wyoming, New York, United States; citing enumeration district 209, sheet 248D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0948; FHL microfilm 1,254,948.

[5] “United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 March 2015), Plina Daggett, Castile Township Castile village, Wyoming, New York, United States; citing sheet 5A, family 122, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,179.

[6] “Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 March 2015), Mary Cleveland Daggett, 24 Nov 1948; citing Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan, United States, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,972,942.

[7] Greene, Laura, Coordinator of Cattaraugus County Bio Project, Town of Great Valley Biographical Sketches (transcribed by various individuals), USGenWeb project ( : accessed 6 June 2015) citing Adams, William, editor, Historical Gazetteer and Biographical Memorial of Cattaraugus Co. NY, (Syracuse, NY: Lyman and Horton Co., 1893), p. 696.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Frank, Esther, transcriber, Sugartown Cemetery, Great Valley, NY, Painted Hills Genealogical Society ( : accessed 7 June 2015).

[10] New York, State Census, 1905, index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 June 2015), Plinn J Taggett, Great Valley, A.D. 02, E.D. 02, Cattaraugus, New York; citing p. 18, line 39, state population census schedules, 1905; GS microfilm 584496.

[11] United States Census, 1910," index and images, HeritageQuest, accessed 6 March 2015, Plum J. Daggett, Great Valley, Cattaraugus, New York; Roll: T624_926; Page: 9B, family 171; Enumeration District:0062; NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm: 1374939

[12] "New York, State Census, 1915," Database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 June 2015), Plinn J Daggett, Wilson, Niagara, New York, United States; from "New York, State Census, 1915," database and images, Ancestry ( : 2012); citing p. 03, line 1, state population census schedules, 1915, New York State Archives, Albany.

[13] “United States Census, 1920," index and images, FamilySearch ( : images accessed via HeritageQuest 6 March 2015), Plinn I Daggett, Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing sheet 3A, family 65, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,821.

[14] "United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed via HeritageQuest 6 March 2015), Plinn Daggett, Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 1033, sheet 18A, family 502, line 22, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1075; FHL microfilm 2,340,810.

[15] "Find A Grave Index," Database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 June 2015), Ada Daggett, 1986; Burial, Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan, United States of America, Riverside Cemetery; citing record ID 10991493, Find a Grave,

[16] "Find A Grave Index," Database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 June 2015), Nelson W. Daggett, 1929; Burial, Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan, United States of America, Riverside Cemetery; citing record ID 10992856, Find a Grave,

[17] "Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925," Database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 June 2015), Earl W. Willman and Mildred Daggett, 12 Oct 1922; citing Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, v 10 rn 237356, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,342,753.

[18] "Find A Grave Index," Database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 June 2015), Mildred E. Wellman, 2003; Burial, Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan, United States of America, Riverside Cemetery; citing record ID 10990489, Find a Grave,

[19] Schrader-Howell Funeral Home, Plymouth, MI; Obituary of James A. Wellman (August 21, 1925-September 1, 2014); accessed 28 June 2015.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

She Turned 100

Lena Reynolds and her mother. 1976

A community’s history is bigger than any one individual but collectively we all play a part.

Back in the early 1970s, a woman named Lena Reynolds took a class to learn how to do family history and spent the next thirty years or so actively pursuing this project, researching, collection and documenting the stories of those who had gone before her. 

Front of Lena's childhood home, Ellicottville, ca. 1910
By doing so, Lena did her part in helping to preserve much of the local area’s history. Indeed, the home in which she was born in and spent the majority of her life is one of the oldest in the village of Ellicottville, New York. In her day it was a veritable museum of family items handed down through the years. The family history work she did also helped preserve part of local history as well, for the history of a people is a history of a community. Lena was the town historian for a time and her scrapbooks and notebooks are filled with information relevant to the area.

 I took an early interest in history as a young girl by exposure to historical characters such as Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie fame. I was just 20 years old when my paternal grandmother passed away and I discovered the world of family bibles, old photographs and written information about my ancestors. I was hooked from that point on in passionate pursuit of family history. 

Some twenty years later, my research interests broadened and I found myself in a different place than where my ancestors lived. By following the motto of “bloom where you’re planted,” I’ve become actively involved in local history, starting with my children’s roots on their father’s side. It was here that I found a connection to a woman who started doing family history before I was even learning to write my name. 

In a local museum, I ran across a typewritten notebook of information on German families in the area and made copies from it. The information suggested a connection between the maiden name of a woman who had immigrated from Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany and the name of my children’s third great-grandmother whose father also immigrated from Mecklenburg-Schwerin. I filed it away for further research when time permitted, although the name of the person who had initially typed the information and put the notebook together remained a mystery. 

About ten years later, a friend asked if I’d be willing to sit with a woman who was recovering from a broken hip. I agreed and found myself in a charming old home filled with family memorabilia including some large, framed portraits of ancestors long-ago hanging on the wall. My hostess Lena was stubborn enough not to let a broken hip keep her down long and soon recovered enough so that my assistance was not required. During the time I did get to spend with her, she shared with me some of her family research notebooks (having sternly admonished me to put them back where they belonged when I was finished). 

Looking through the notebook on her mother’s family, I recognized the typewritten pages as similar to the ones I had discovered in the museum several years prior. Sure enough, her mother’s German ancestry appears to be connected to that of my children’s German ancestry and it was Lena who had typed and donated information to the local museum. 

Lena turned 100 last Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Her health now requires more constant and skilled care outside of her home and she is no longer active in the community. Nonetheless, she has left a legacy for others for which I am grateful. Lena has played her part in the community’s history. Now I am committed to playing my part by commemorating her life and efforts to preserving history to continue the legacy. Thank you, Lena, for helping us to realize that we are all a part of something bigger and to remember that we are connected to those who have gone before. We will remember you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How the News of Lincolns Death Was Received in Ellicottville

From the Library of Congress

James Moffit (1843-1911) started The Ellicottville Post newspaper in 1884 and his son John A. Moffit (1867-1915) became an equal partner in the business in 1888. The younger Moffit arranged and edited the column “Echoes from the Long Ago” under which the following letter to the editor appeared in the Wednesday, April 15, 1914 edition (.pdf file courtesy of The author of the letter was William W. Canfield (1854-1937) who at the time was editor of the Utica Observer Dispatch newspaper and the brother of John A. Moffit’s wife, Mary Gertrude Canfield (1867-1946).

 Wednesday, April 15, 1914. To The Editor of The Post:

President Lincoln was assassinated on the evening of April 14, 1865 or 49 years ago this year.
I have heard it said that no man or woman living, who was old enough to understand about Lincoln and sense what his murder meant, ever forgot the exact circumstances under which the assassination of Lincoln was first heard by them.

It may not be uninteresting as a contribution to the “Recollections” concerning Ellicottville and Cattaraugus county which you are publishing, to tell the incident about the news of the assassination of Lincoln as I remember it.

We lived on Fish Hill, and there was sickness in the neighborhood, as diphtheria had been prevalent and our family had suffered severely. In the forenoon, I was sent to a neighbor’s on an errand. I was about half way between the old Canfield homestead and the home of Porter Canfield on the east, when I met Dr. Horace Arnold. The roadway was full of slush and mud, and I was picking my way along beside a rail fence on the south side of the road. Dr. Arnold stopped his gig. I shall never forget the look of sadness upon his face.
“Where is your father?” he asked. I told him that father had gone over to the back lot after a load of wood.

“Tell him that President Lincoln was shot by a rebel last night, and that the rebels are marching on Washington,” said the doctor. “I am going on up the hill and will stop at your house when I come back.”

“Is the president dead?” I asked; for though I was a mere lad, I knew all about the war and Lincoln.

“Yes, he is dead,” replied the doctor as he started up his horse. And then, turning in the seat of his gig, he looked over his shoulder and said: “You had better go right off and tell your father to go to the village.” 

I ran back to the house and told my mother, and she sent me up through the orchard and down into the back lot to tell father. He was chopping. When I had told him what Dr. Arnold had said, he sat down on the end of a log and covering his face with his hands sobbed as I heard him sob a short time before on the death of his favorite daughter. Soon, he loaded on what wood he had cut and we went to the house; and very soon after that, Dr. Arnold returned and called. In a few minutes, George Gray was seen driving down the hill, and in his rig was A.K. Galloway and one of the Randall boys. They stopped in front of our house, and Dr. Arnold again told them all he had heard. 

Abram Gray came over from his house, and together they all went toward the village. Father harnessed up a horse and took me with him and we followed on. My uncle Porter Canfield, Mr. Woodbury and Ben Austin who lived next below him, came along in Woodbury’s wagon. E. Perkins, who lived where Moses Marsh now lives, walked along on foot till he reached the William Niles place, and then he entered the Niles wagon. There were others whose names I do not recollect—perhaps Miles Harrington and James Slattery and some men from the Meacham Hollow road. 

Signal Telegraph Machine and Operator

They all talked about this monstrous tragedy which had flown to them over the hills and along the valleys on that April morning in some mysterious way, for we then had no telegraph line in Ellicottville and of course the telephone was unknown for long years afterward. But somehow, all the county seemed to have heard of the killing of Lincoln and men were streaming into the village from every direction. 

There was inquiry and questioning upon every face, and terrible threats went round through the crowd. I recollect that some of the soldiers who had come home as a result of wounds or for some cause, stood there on the sidewalk, white and trembling, fearful anger in their eyes, ready to start at the beat of the drum and march again to fight the beaten foes who at that moment were supposed to have been responsible for Lincoln’s death. One man—I do not know who it was—stood upon a barrel or box on the sidewalk and swore the most awful oaths I had ever at that time heard declaring that he would not rest until Lincoln had been avenged, if it proved true that he had been assassinated by the rebels. 

A drawing from The Ellicottville Post
I think that the post office was in a small wooden building on the north side of Main street that stood on the edge of the Devereux land office lot. The crowd was around this office, or building, and it seems to me that the post office was there located. The mail was then taken twice a day from Ellicottville to Great Valley, and it arrived twice a day. It is my recollection that we had a mail about 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and another again in the early evening. Dan Bartlett was the contractor, and Theodore Lowe was one of the drivers. One of these two men, I believe, had gone to Great Valley to secure more information as that was the nearest telegraph point. In the early afternoon—probably about 2 or 2:30 o’clock, someone came from Great Valley, and there was a rush around the team and wagon. Theodore Lowe, as I remember it, stood up on the wagon seat, and as the hushed and saddened faces gathered around him, he read some copies of dispatches that had been received at Great Valley, and told the fearful story about as it proved in the end to be true.

Lincoln had been shot in a theater by an actor named Booth. He was dead. There had been assaults upon Staunton and Seward and there was known to be a plot. It was suspected, though not certain at that time, that rebel leaders were concerned in it. The assassin had escaped, but was being followed.  

All the bells in the village were tolled, and sorrow stood on every countenance. I saw more strong men crying that day than at any time since in all my life, and it impressed me greatly. Among those whom I remember as being there, in addition to those whose names I have mentioned, were Gain R. Blackmon, J. King Skinner, P.V. Skinner, Delos S. Sill, Robert H. Shankland, Moses Beecher, A.G. Rice, E. Harmon, A. Gibbs, A.D. Scott, Henry Sheffield, Stephen McCoy, Bethuel McCoy, George Brewer, Shep Arnold, Joseph Razey, and many others whose names have long since escaped my memory. I recollect very plainly that one man talked very violently and loudly to Mr. Shankland, who was the editor of a Democratic paper; and the Democrats were not regarded as being very friendly to Lincoln or his policies.

“I suppose you are satisfied now,” said this man to Mr. Shankland, approaching him in a somewhat threatening manner. 
The History of Cattaraugus County, 1879

Mr. Shankland replied: “I am satisfied that it is the greatest calamity that has befallen the country in my time,” and he walked slowly away, his head bowed and his eyes filled with tears.

We went home later, and we met a number of men going to the village to learn the news. They were not satisfied with all that could be told them, but went on, thinking that further intelligence might have been received. At almost every house, women came down to the gates alongside the road and made inquiry as to the tragedy. For Lincoln had been very close and near to the people, and even in our humble country homes he was regarded as the savior of his country and as the great representative of the common people.

Image from President Lincoln's Cottage
George Gray and his brother Abram remained till evening, and the further receipt of news from Great Valley. When they drove past our house, there was a hallo, and father went out and secured some additional particulars.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Military Monday: The Women's Committee of WWI

My maternal grandmother's maternal grandmother was Gertrude Bos Kiel. I imagine her to have been like my own maternal grandma, Theresa Katsma Timmer, whom I loved dearly, but I really knew little about Gertrude.

Me with my grandmother, Theresa Katsma Timmer. November 2006.

When I asked, my grandma told me this story of her grandma:

"My grandmother, her name was Gertrude, took care of us when mother worked at the mission.  She was in a wheelchair.  She could walk though, maybe she had what I have.  My mother cleaned at the Bradford Street Mission.  My Uncle John was superintendent.  My Uncle Heiny worked there, too.  Uncle John moved out to California, near Los Angeles.  He came back to Michigan and took my grandma Gertrude back to California with him.  She died out there."

Margaret Katsma DeWitt, Theresa's sister, later said that when her grandmother died in California, her mother could not go out there, so Uncle John sent a picture of her in the casket. 

I only have one photograph of her and it's not the one in the casket. Like the rest of my mother's heritage, Gertrude was of Dutch origins. She was born in the Netherlands and emigrated to the U.S. in about the year 1881 as inferred from records I have located on her, although I have been unable to locate her immigration record yet. She was the only Dutch ancestor for whom I was not readily able to find in the extensive vital records available from various Netherlands provinces. I did have her parents' names listed as John Bos and Margaret Dykstra from her second marriage to Peter Draai in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan in 1909. I did not have a complete birth date for her, though, which made finding a birth record from the Netherlands vital records more difficult. 

Answers finally came after focused research on her yielded a copy of her death certificate filed in the state of California. This record indicated that she was born 28 November 1852 in the Netherlands. I was then able to pinpoint a vital record for a child named Gertje Jans Bos born on that day to Jan Feikes Bos and Maaike Jurgens Dijkstra. From there I extended her pedigree back to at least her great-grandparents on both sides using those vital records.

But what does all this have to do with the military, you might ask. Well, I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been studying my Dutch immigrant women ancestors after hearing about a presentation on that topic by a local researcher, Janet Sheeres. Janet directed me to the website of the Grand Rapids Public Library which has a database of a card file of women who registered to do volunteer work in April of 1918 during WWI.

The digital collection is titled "Women's Defense Unit Cards" and the digitization is still in process. (While I found records on the Kiel surname, I did not find any references to Timmer or Katsma women relatives in the area at this time).

Gertrude's card says a lot about her. At age 66, Gertrude did not readily offer any service and the registrar's notes indicate that Gertrude spoke very little English and "feels that she can do nothing." She did not list any education and mainly listed household skills (along with two agricultural skills of farming and poultry raising). This is very typical of all Dutch immigrant women in the area during that time period. The registration of one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth Kiel, is also available.

You can read more about the cards and the Women's Committee of WWI at the Grand Rapids Historical Commission's website. Apparently, this was a nationwide effort but the records at this location are one of the very few surviving collections of such.