Search This Blog

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Peeking Through a Window in Time

As mentioned in the previous post, Anna Maria started to keep a journal in December of 1873.  Ella Hodges was 15 years old that year and George Burns was 23.  I don't think he thought of her romantically at this point, but I can imagine her coming over to the Burns house with her mother Philena to work on their sewing with Anna and Lydia and maybe fancying George from afar.  On December 18th, Ella and her mom came over to the Burn's house and Ella stayed a few nights. 

On the 19th, Anna wrote that while George went hunting, "I finished stockin set up on other spinner, little stocking yarn Lyd made two shirts for John, She is Smart you know.  Ell worked on her dress".

 How cozy.  I picture snow falling outside and the fire burning warmly inside as the women worked on their projects.  The reason I believe Anna thinks Lyd is smart for making the shirts is because she is perhaps trying to catch John as her husband--which she does.

Bizarre entry on the Christmas Eve.  "Omer stuck sticks up the calves think he got whipt a little think calves will die".  He was just 3 years old.  What was he doing alone with the calves at that age? I'm guessing his first few years of life were a bit hard and confusing.  He was born the year his family moved to Iowa and he had already lost them by this point.

I'm not sure of George's character.  On January 2nd, it sounds as if Anna may be a little fed up with her son. "George slept all day.  Lyd & I done some mending believe George says he went to the vilage with Ose Jonson at night don't know whether he did or not don't care".

I get the feeling George may have enjoyed his drink because he is out most nights off  over to Leets.  On an 1881 map of Stockton I find that Mr. Leets lived just down the road from Mrs. Burns.  I think that Leets was the local pub.

According to George Ehret was the biggest brewer in the county in 1877


Friday, March 2, 2012

Widows and Orphans

Alvah Burns the elder was born in 1808, lived in Marcellus until 1843 when his account book begins to mention being in Charlotte, Chautauqua County, New York.  At age 35 he met Anna Maria Link who was 22 years old.  They had Lydia and George and from the change of handwriting in this one book, I think Alvah the elder may have passed away around the summer of 1861 leaving Anna with little ones.
On the bottom, I think, is an early example of a girl practicing the writing of her married name

By November 1861, the journal is no longer an account book but turns into Anna's diary.  Her first entry is a number of bible verses that suggest she is very sad.  The next few days she writes

 "one word in kindness spoken, a motion or a tear oft time has healed the broken heart or made a friend sincere".

 "the backslider in heart shal be filled with his own ways; and a good man shall be satisfied from himself".

"Sorrow is better than laughter for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better".

"The heart of the wide is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth" .

After Anna allows herself these few pages of sorrow she does not return to the book until she is 12 years older.   Again, her sadness urges her to write "feel very lonsom have since father died".  Her father Phillip Link died earlier in the year (1873).  Records show her mother had died in 1867.  Anna Maria is 52 years old and on top of these major losses, her youngest brother Orlando who moved to Iowa has died as well.  I don't know what tragedy befell the Links of Iowa but their homestead did not last.  Records suggest Orlando didn't die until 1876 but in this journal his youngest son Omer is already living with his Aunt Anna who adopted him.  I can't find what happened to Orlando's wife Nancy but I presume she died as well--why else would the 4 Link children have been back in Chautauqua County and scattered around by the 1880 Census.

1880 census:

Omer, age 10, was adopted by his Aunt Anna Burns and was the little scamp who wrote about catching rats to his cousin/brother George that same year.

Nettie, aged 16, was a servant in the Fenner household.  I assume she was a mother's helper.  The Fenner name came up in the journal a bit as someone with whom Alvah the elder conducted business when he was alive so I'm sure they invited her into their household as friends as well.

Norman, aged 16, was living with Uncle Lyman.  According to the census Norman had lost his left hand and was marked as invalid.  I'm guessing he and Nettie weren't twins but born so close they'd have the same age a few months a year.

Evelina, aged 21, is married with two boys the youngest is named after her father Orlando.

All of these children grow up to marry and have children of their own so I'm sure their is more information out there somewhere.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"morg haint paid me yet"

Anna Maria Burns nee Link was one of at least 11 children; 6 boys and 5 girls.  Anna was the eldest daughter.   The family seemed to have started in Rensselaer County where I believe the two eldest boys were born.  I don't know what brought the family west to Sinclairville, but not all of them stopped there.  In 1870, the youngest son, Orlando Link, moved his family out to Iowa.  Below is a letter to his big sister Anna, or Maria as he called her:


May the 29th 1870

Dear Sister
now i am a going to write some to you you are the first that i write to except father we are all well at presant and hope this may find you all the same, excuse me for not writing be fore you remember that i told you that we would see hard times when we came west i was not disapointed, i found it so, but there is good prospects.  every thing i have put in the ground bidds fair for a bigg yeald.  we are living on faith now, soon we will have enough of every thing.

i have had some bad luck one of my horses died that takes 70 dollars i need an other but i can’t began the account of keeping out ded and big interest.  every thing here is at 10  percent interest here.  maria, here is the plaice to make money if a man has got money to commence with.  maria, let the folks talk about thiss bad country all they are a mind to you come and see, i will have enough to eat and to drink thiss fall if nothing hapens, now come this fall sure, you tell charley that there is not mutch hunting here only in the spring and fall if he comes tell him to fetch his shotgun by all means and he can have all the fun he wants.  give my respects to him.  if he comes out i will go with him and take up a homestead with him this fall.

maria, i believe i have got as nice a little farm as you ever see, give my respects to john hurg and Aide and tell them to write i want to hear from all when you write you tell me all the news. you tell George to write and tell me what he is a doing. you tell father that i can go out any time here and catch a mess of bull heads and pickerel.  i can shoot ducks right here by the dore but they are a sitting now, you tell george that i will write him a loud letter by and by.  maria write often and not wait for me for i tell you it is a tight rub for me to get money to pay postage.  I haint a shamed to write but i cant write it takes every cent i can rake and scrape to live on until i can raise some thing.  you tell me what father is a doing.  Thiss is all for thiss time write soon we send our love to you all direct o
Caroll, Co

you tell me how judge gets along this summer and what he is a doing

and now for my happy family
my mare has got a good colt
my cow has got a good calf
my sow has got 7 pigg
my cat has got 3 kittens
we have got lotts of chickens
they are all well and in good order.

            good by beet it if you can

Maria, my big brother morg haint paid me yet.  he said he would pay when he took the things.  it is 19 dollars.


Thoughts:  You can almost hear Orlando shoring himself up with all of his hopes.  He alternates between boasting his luck with his beautiful, soon-to-be bountiful farm and the cold reality that "oh by the way" my horse is dead and I can't afford postage.  He is excited but he is homesick.  And, in the end, he really is the youngest brother trying to make everyone proud of him.  He needs the $19 from his brother but the point is made quietly off in the margin to get Maria on the case.  Something tells me Maria (Anna) wouldn't let such a debt go unpaid.

A Little Background

Like his eldest son, George Burns' father was also named Alvah.  It seems Alvah the elder lived a large part of his life in Marcellus, NY.  Marcellus is a beautiful old town just outside of Syracuse.  My maternal grandfather lived there and is buried there.

But I digress, at some point Alvah moved west to Sinclairville.  I don't know what brought him there but his wife Anna Link lived there and came from a large family.  I have a journal in which they both have written--Alvah when he was young and Anna after his death.  I haven't found out when he did die but he was no longer living in 1880 when George lost his leg.  I totally forgot I had the following and in a mad clean up I just found it again.  In 1830 Alvah the elder was made a corporal in the New York State Militia by Col. Eurell in Skaneatles, NY  (that is pronounced Skinny Atlas for the uninitiated.)

I have to say it's pretty cool.