• New York
  • Sep20

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    Yesterday I made a nice discovery by simply trolling through the NYS Archives documents on Ancestry: my great-uncle Thomas F. Tierney enlisted in World War I, was stationed at Fort Slocum, and eventually made Sergeant and getting assigned to the Cavalry. We already knew another brother Michael had been over there and was a part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, but Uncle Tommy’s service was new info to me. Turns out the war ended before he could be deployed overseas.

    So, with some down time last night I began to look for the assignments listed on his Abstract card: “4 Rct Co GSI Ft Slocum NY” and “MG Tr 310 Cav”, followed by “20TM Btry”. That poking around led me to find an interesting book on Archive.org: Brooklyn & Long Island In the War (1918) contains more than 200 pages of vignettes about the war, stories and photos of men from the area and lists of the killed and wounded. Published by The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, it has the feeling of a newspaper with focus on the men.

    If you have family from the New York area that fought in WWI or are just interested in that period in history, you should give this book a look.

  • May5

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    Emma S Clark Memorial Library DoorBack when our kids were fairly small, my wife started a terrific tradition while looking for things to do in the otherwise lazy summertime: Library Field Trips.

    She began to seek out various libraries in our county of Suffolk on Long Island and they would pack up some things for snacks and/or lunch, pick a town and just browse the library there. As a life-long book and library fiend, I am aghast that such a thing never occurred to me, except maybe for larger libraries such as the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

    The kids have loved it – an opportunity to find new books they’ve never seen before along with at least the small sense of adventure one feels when visiting a new place. We’ve found some wonderful libraries, and also found that even though they’re all in the same county system, the facilities – and rules – can vary greatly. We’ve toyed with the idea of creating a dedicated blog for these trips, and now I regret not creating one a few years back. (Especially now that our son is 12 and less inclined to find the adventure. *sadface*)

    Stained Glass WindowToday I believe we have found my favorite Long Island library: The Setauket’s Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, opened in 1892 in memory of Miss Clark, who was the niece of millionaire confectioner Thomas Hodgkins.

    The library has been greatly (and beautifully) expanded several times since that first day, when the annual membership charge was a whopping 10¢ per year. The magazine area is housed in the original structure, constructed of arches and old wood that creaks comfortably beneath one’s feet.

    As my wife and son perused other areas of the library, my daughter Lily and I sat in this wonderful spot. I could easily imagine people running up to the overlarge entrance door in older times, shaking off the snow, pulling a volume from a shelf and sitting in the nook beside the fireplace and golden bottle-glass adorned windows.

    Clark Library StairsLily read quietly as I imagined these ancient goings on, and spoke only once to say “It is so peaceful here!” *Sigh.*

    As an added bonus to the library itself is that the area is of historical significance and has some beautiful churches and cemeteries to explore nearby. Walking out through the library’s nice plantings we then crossed the village green to learn that the Revolutionary War Battle of Setauket was fought here.

    Lily in a Flowering Tree

     

     

     

    For those who are viewers of the show Turn: Washington’s Spies on AMC, you might recognize the location name. (I have requested the first season from my own library, so please don’t tell me who wins!)

    NYS Historical Sign for Setauket village GreenThe area still has a nice rural feel to it, and it is easy to imagine carriages and soldiers milling about while crossing the triangle-shaped green on our trek over to the Setauket Presbyterian Church. As usual, the headstones in the cemetery called to us and we wandered through for the better part of an hour.


    Setauket Presbyterian Church

    Grave of Abraham WoodhullWe noted a few Revolutionary war soldiers as we walked through, and more than a few DAR markers. Then we stumbled upon one raised memorial that appeared to be built over the original headstone and had coins and stones scattered across its face.

    Abraham Woodhull PlaqueThe plaque on the top of the memorial informed us it was for Abraham Woodhull, “Friend and confidant of George Washington, head of Long Island Secret Service during the Revolution, and operated under the Alias of Samuel Culper, Sr.”

    Overall, an excellent field trip day, I must say.

  • Feb3

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    Update February 3, 2016: On a recent trip to Manhattan, I decided to take a walk over from midtown to see St. Stephen church myself… and found that it had been closed. (A quick Google finds that I am late to this party, as it had closed in 2014.)

    In relation to this older post below, I am unsure where the records for the church and St. Gabriel now reside, so I suppose I need to send another letter to the archdiocese. It is a sad thing to see such a beautiful church close. You can see some of the wonderful art work, including paintings by Constantino Brumidi at this link.

    In a previous post St. Gabriel Has Left The Building I outlined my search for the Manhattan church where my grandfather and siblings were baptized and hopefully the one where my great-grandparents were married.

    Glow of the City, Martin Lewis, 1929

    Martin Lewis, “Glow of the City” (1929)

    With some effort and a nice amount of luck I discovered information on the now dismantled St. Gabriel’s Church on East 37th Street.

    I then found through the Archdiocese of NY that the Church of St. Stephen now held those parish records and was able to obtain my grandfather’s baptism. (Still looking for the marriage record.)

    As is my wont, I posted the images I use here on this blog on The Flickr as it makes a fine scannable archive and doesn’t fill up my hosting quota here on this domain. A few days ago someone found that image and commented on it:

    This is the church whose steeple is seen in the famous print by artist Martin Lewis, “Glow of the City” (1929). I’ve looked a long time for the location of this church.

    I was not aware of the artist nor the print, but it has a wonderful feel of the time, don’t you think? I’ve since learned that while Australian born, he was a contemporary of Edward Hopper who is a favorite artist of mine.

    From Williamsburg Bridge, Edward Hopper, 1928

    Edward Hopper, “From Williamsburg Bridge”, 1928 Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    In the days when I delivered construction materials and spent mornings sitting in a truck on the congested Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, I whiled away the time imagining Hopper making his studies of the buildings visible from my vantage point. A fine example is Hopper’s From Williamsburg Bridge, 1928 at right.

    I suggest that anyone who has an interest in the history and architecture of New York City just after the turn of the 20th century seek out the work of both of these artists.

    The Brooklyn Museum holds quite a few Lewis pieces in its collection. Visit the Metropolitan Museum for its collection of Edward Hopper’s work.

    The Glow of the City image above is courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum.

  • Nov4

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    I took some time at lunch to catch up reading one of my favorite blogs (and the accompanying podcast), The Bowery Boys: New York City History. Their latest post is Photographs of Wonder from the American Museum of Natural History, which showcases several photos from the museum’s AMNH: Picturing The Museum image collection online.

    Children doing Indian Dances in Plains Indians Hall, American Museum of Natural History, 1939, Bierwert, Thane L.

    Children doing Indian Dances in Plains Indians Hall, American Museum of Natural History, Image 291994, Bierwert, Thane L., 1939

    They included some terrific photos from most of the earlier decades of the 20th century. My favorites are definitely the photos from the Education section of the collection, as they show students in various locations and activities in the museum, and reminds me of my own school field trips there in the 1970s.

    I enjoyed them all enough to scroll back up to look at the photos again… then I saw him: My Dad in 1939, dancing with other students in Native American headdress in the Plains Indian Hall!

    It is decidedly a sideways shot and not at the highest resolution, even on the AMNH’s own site, so I suppose there might always be some doubt.

    Comparison, AMNH Photo and a young Michael Tierney
    But having scanned and worked with all of my family’s photos over the last several years, plus knowing what my brother, nephews, son, and I all looked like around that age: THAT is a Tierney face.

    (Click on any photo to see it larger.)

    Another instance of genealogical serendipity – More proof that if you keep looking long enough, someone you know will show up!

  • May10

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    Yesterday while in Manhattan with my family, we took a minute to take a fun photo.

    First, an abbreviated back story: A few years ago when I started researching my great-grandfather Michael Tierney and family in earnest, I obtained his work records from the New York City Police Department. While working on that information and finding them in the various censuses under any number of poorly enumerated spellings and transcriptions, I also began scanning all of our family photos. In my brother’s album I found a single photo of Michael, standing on a rooftop in uniform circa 1904.

    A few days later, I experienced an amazing instance of serendipity – browsing in my local library I flipped open a copy of The New York Irish and saw an 1887 photo of a group of policemen standing in front of the spanking new precinct on 67th Street.

    One of them looked familiar.

    To find out more, see my first two posts on great-grandfather in Michael Tierney – NY Policeman, Part 1 and the creatively titled, Michael Tierney – Policeman, Part 2.

    Below is the result of our photo expedition. A surreal experience to stand in exactly the same place as your ancestor 127 years later.

    For those of the historical architecture mindset, I suggest this interesting post about the precinct house at the Daytonian in Manhattan blog: The 1887 19th Precinct Station House — 153 East 67th Street.
    For more detail, you can read the 1999 NYC Landmark Preservation Commission Report here – it is actually much more interesting than you might think! (It is for the 19th precinct, but was originally the 25th.)

    Police Station.1887 Opening.67th Street.FADE