My Babcock, Gould, Crawford, Kibbe, Prince, Curtis, Mather, McEwen, and Hoyler Family Ancestry Photos (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My great grandfather, Jonathan Mead Babcock (1878-1933), was the son of Samuel and Jane Babcock of Villenova (Balsam), New York, near South Dayton in Western New York State, outside of Buffalo.  Beyond them, I do not know anything more about my Babcock side of the family.  While there are several Babcock’s buried in Villenova Cemetery, the resting place of my great grandfather and great grandmother, Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock (1880-1963), I am unsure whether or not Jonathan had any brothers or sisters.  I would tend to believe that he was an only child.  When he was born, he weighed 13 pounds.  Perhaps that was enough for his mother to desire not having more children, I don’t know.  Jonathan Mead Babcock was born in 1878 and died on May 5, 1933; he was only 55 years old.  As a man, he was tall at 6’4.”  He worked as the Collins Railroad Foreman and Collins Town Constable.

Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock, Jonathan’s wife, was born in 1880 and died on May 11, 1963; she was 82 years old.  Both she and several of her family’s ancestors are also buried in Villenova Cemetery.  Bertha was one of two daughters born to Albert Allen (called “Arnold”) Gould (1856-1940)and Nancy Ann M. (Rump) Gould (1859-1914).  Nancy was Albert’s first wife; she died and Albert married his second wife, Addie (Prince) Gould.  (Addie Prince had a sister, known as Mrs. Hoyler, whom Bertha called, “Grandma;” I have a photo of her.  I believe that Mrs. Hoyler was Addie’s mother.)  Albert Gould’s parents were Alden Gould (1829-1913) and Arvilla (Barstow) Gould (1829?-1906, age 76).  Bertha’s sister was Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston.

Addie Prince’s first husband was Job Prince.  They had at least three children, whom I know to be Bessie Prince, Glenn Prince, and Mrs. Harry Trimmer.  Bessie Prince married Charles J. Woodmansee, and they had two daughters, Adiline Woodmansee and Vivian Woodmansee.  I know that Vivian married Clarence Stoddart, and they had two daughters, Joyce Stoddart and June Stoddart.  Glenn Prince married May L. (Baxter) Prince, and they had two children, Winston B. Prince and Ruth V. Prince.  Ruth married Ed C. Sterry.  They had two sons, Ed B. Sterry and Clendon Sterry.  That is as much information as I have on the descendants of the Prince Family.

Hazel (Gould) Crawford (and later, Houston) and her husband had two daughters, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe and Thelma (Crawford) Ulander.  Hazel’s first husband was Frank Crawford, who moved to South Dayton from Ohio, as an employee of the Stove Mill Company.  After Frank’s death, Hazel married her second husband, Vernon Houston; they had no children. Thelma and her husband lived in Jamestown, New York; they did not have any children.

Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe married James Kibbe, and they had one son, Bryan Kibbe.  Both Bessie’s husband and son predeceased her; Bessie lives in Falconer, New York and is 95 years old.  Bryan developed multiple sclerosis when he was about three-years-old, and struggled with it throughout his life.  He died as a bachelor a few years ago at about age 50.  James Kibbe also died a few years ago.  There are several Kibbe’s that live in Falconer and throughout the United States.  They are all cousins (now far-removed) to my family.

Cousins to my dad on my great grandmother Bertha’s side of the family further include the Curtis’ and Mather’s.  One of Nancy Rump’s sisters was Louise (Rump) Curtis.  Louise married Albert F. Curtis, and they had two children, John Henry “Henry” Curtis and a woman known as Mrs. George L. (Curtis) Mather – it is possible that her first name was also Louise, just as her mother’s.  Henry Curtis never married, and remained a bachelor all of his life.  Henry was an army veteran of World War II.  Albert and Louise Curtis’ daughter married George L. Mather, and they had two children, Curtis G. Mather and Lettie Mather.  Lettie Curtis Mather was born in South Dayton on July 13, 1891 and died in Jamestown, New York on October 9, 1962.

Henry Curtis had been engaged in his early life, though his fiancé broke off the engagement.  From what I understand, he became a miserable and unhappy person after that, and seemed to never recover from it.  I remember meeting him at my grandmother’s home when I was about 10 years old.  All of the other adults did not want me to be around him, and I discovered why – because nearly every other word that he spoke was profanity.  He also spoke very loudly, actually shouting, though he may have done so because he was hard of hearing, I don’t know.  At that time, he was about 95 years old.  I felt sorry for him, and wondered why anyone could be so miserable and unhappy.  Henry died when he was 98 years old – the oldest of my known ancestors.

Curtis Mather, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Mather, worked for an electric company.  A tragedy occurred during his work in which he was electrocuted, and died.  Therefore, Lettie Mather continued on the descendants of that side of the family.  I discovered this upon speaking with the mother of Michael Denea (formerly of Gowanda, New York) when we began talking about family ancestry while I was about 14 years old.

At the time, I was taking summer piano lessons from Michael, who is an accomplished pianist, and now also an attorney, possibly living in Arizona upon my last knowledge.  Mrs. Denea informed me that she was a descendant of the Curtis Family, which would make she and her family far-removed cousins of my family.  Michael is a fifth cousin to me.  Mrs. Denea provided me with several antique bibles that had been kept in her family.  She handed them down to me – four bibles – which I still have and maintain.

Going back to the Babcock side of the family, Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock had three children, including Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Charles Albert Babcock (1911-1961).  Charles worked at the Ford Motor Company factory in Lackawanna, New York for a few years before becoming employed with the State of New York in Gowanda in the business office of the Gowanda Psychiatric Center.  Charles married Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock (and later, Sprague) of North Collins, New York (I have presented photos and information about her and her family in prior posts).

Eunice Babcock married a Mr. McEwen (I don’t know his first name), and they had two sons, Clarence “Clair” McEwen and Leland McEwen.  Clair married Mary (I don’t know her maiden name), and they had five children.  Their children were Butch, John, Dicky, Betty, and Tom McEwen.  When Mr. McEwen died, Eunice married her second husband, Floyd Hembury; they did not have any children.

When I was in my teens, Clair and his son, Tom, visited my family in Collins, New York, having traveled from Pennsylvania.  Clair was very elderly at that time, and he had wanted to get in touch with the family in Collins.  Likely, Clair died shortly after that; we have not heard from them, nor stayed in touch following that time.  I know that Betty married Joe Hembury; Eunice married her second husband, Floyd Hembury after Mr. McEwen died; and Tom McEwen is father to two girls, including Keeley and another daughter whose name I do not remember.

Louise (Babcock) Heppel married George Heppel in Collins, New York; they had no children.  My father remembered that Louise had epilepsy, and experienced seizures.  He also said that whenever Louise visited his family’s home, George never accompanied her.  He said that he never met George during his life.  Therefore, we don’t know much of anything about George, and have only one picture that includes him – the wedding picture that includes him with Louise, as well as Charles and Eunice.

Charles A. Babcock married Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock (and later, Sprague) (1912-1987).  They had one child, a son named, Bruce (born 1943), who is my father.  Bruce married Anna Maria (Krakowiak) Babcock (born 1944) in 1963, and they have two children, Michele Elizabeth Babcock-Nice (me) (born 1971) and my brother (born in 1972, who is divorced and does not have children). (I will provide more detail about the Krakowiak Family in another post.)

My dad worked for the State of New York in Gowanda, New York at the Gowanda Psychiatric Center (34 years) and Gowanda Correctional Facility (3 years), once the State Mental Hospital was transitioned into the Gowanda Prison.  Nearly the entire time that he worked at the Psychiatric Center, he was a stationary engineer in the Power Plant.  My parents also owned and operated a Sears Retail Catalog Store in Gowanda, New York for many years.

I married John Robert Nice, Jr. (born 1966), a high school physics teacher, in 2002.  John and his family are from Jacksonville, Florida, though John moved to and has lived in the Atlanta, Georgia area for about 20 years.  John has one sister and several half and/or adopted siblings, through the marriages of his parents.  John is a graduate of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute in Rochester, New York.  He also attended Florida State University to obtain his teaching certificate.  (I will provide more detail about the Nice Family in another post.)

I moved to the Atlanta area for a professional employment opportunity in teaching in 2000.  I had interviewed in many states along the East Coast of the United States for full-time work in teaching; DeKalb offered me the best package, and so, I moved to Atlanta.  I had been a volunteer, substitute, and short-term substitute teacher in several school districts in Western New York State for a few years, but was not offered any full-time teaching positions there, though I had applied to about one dozen school systems.

Still single, and having no immediate family ties of my own holding me to the Buffalo area, I decided to move since I was in financial need and had no full-time work in my field.  After living in Atlanta for about 1.5 years, John and I were introduced to each other, blindly, but through a mutual teaching colleague in the DeKalb County School System.  Within 1.5 years of meeting each other, John and I were married.  The next year, our wonderful son was born; he is now nearly 11.  John divorced from me in 2009, following our separation, totaling 3 years.  We have each remained single since then.

I am a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo (University of Buffalo); the State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State College); and Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  I also attended the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland through the University at Buffalo’s Study Abroad Program; and I am currently attending Argosy University in Atlanta.  I have two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree; am certified as a middle grades teacher (grades 4-8) in social studies and science, and in grades 4-12 social studies; and I am pursuing my second master’s degree, this one in counseling.  My total teaching experience, including voluntary, substitute, and full-time work, spans 15 years.

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Alden and Arvilla (Barstow) Gould, and Albert and Nancy (Rump) Gould, are buried in Villenova Cemetery in Balsam, near South Dayton, New York.  Clarence and Julia (Gale) Briggs, and Charles Albert Babcock and Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock Sprague, are buried in the Protestant Cemetery in North Collins, New York.

Author’s Note: Information and images identifying my brother have been removed from this post as of April 27, 2016 as a courtesy per his request.

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Jonathan Babcock (Left), Lawrence, Mike P., and Andrew P. Working on Railroad, Collins, NY, Circa 1890-1900

Jonathan Babcock (Left), Lawrence, Mike P., and Andrew P. Working on Railroad, Collins, NY, Circa 1890-1900

Jonathan Babcock and Frank Briggs at Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Frank Briggs at Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Horse, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Horse, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Sister of Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, Circa 1910

Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Sister of Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, Circa 1910

Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1911

Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1911

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Charles A. Babcock, Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

Charles A. Babcock, Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

Addie (Prince) Gould and Arnold Gould with Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Addie (Prince) Gould and Arnold Gould with Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Mrs. Hoyler, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Mrs. Hoyler, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Bertha (Gould) Babcock (Left, Wife of Jonathan Babcock) with Neighbor, Collins, NY, 1960

Bertha (Gould) Babcock (Left, Wife of Jonathan Babcock) with Neighbor, Collins, NY, 1960

Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, NY, 1890

Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, NY, 1890

Charles A. Babcock, George Heppel, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Collins, NY, 1925

Charles A. Babcock, George Heppel, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Collins, NY, 1925

George Heppel and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Circa 1930s-1940s, Collins, New York

George Heppel and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Circa 1930s-1940s, Collins, New York

Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Eunice (Babcock) Hembury, Arnold and Addie Gould, South Dayton, NY, 1930

Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Eunice (Babcock) Hembury, Arnold and Addie Gould, South Dayton, NY, 1930

Louise (Babcock) Heppel and Jonathan Babcock, Collins, NY,  August 29, 1932

Louise (Babcock) Heppel and Jonathan Babcock, Collins, NY, August 29, 1932

Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Collins, NY, 1920

Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Collins, NY, 1920

Thelma (Crawford) Ulander, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe, & Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Falconer, NY, Circa 1920

Thelma (Crawford) Ulander, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe, & Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Falconer, NY, Circa 1920

Thelma Ulander, Jamestown, New York, 1930s

Thelma Ulander, Jamestown, New York, 1930s

Bryan Kibbe, Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Collins, NY, 1960

Bryan Kibbe, Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Collins, NY, 1960

John and Carol McEwen, Pennsylvania, Circa 1950 (Cousins to the Babcock's)

John and Carol McEwen, Pennsylvania, Circa 1950 (Cousins to the Babcock’s)

Frank Crawford and Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Jamestown, New York, Circa 1890

Frank Crawford and Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Jamestown, New York, Circa 1890

Henry Curtis, Circa 1930s

Henry Curtis, Circa 1930s

Henry Curtis and Beth, May 1943

Henry Curtis and Beth, May 1943

Henry Curtis, May 1941

Henry Curtis, May 1941

Curtis Mather, Jamestown, New York, 1918

Curtis Mather, Jamestown, New York, 1918

Curtis Mather or Henry Curtis, Forestville, New York, 1920s

Curtis Mather or Henry Curtis, Forestville, New York, 1920s

Henry Curtis

Henry Curtis

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Charles A., Bernice, & Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Charles A., Bernice, and Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Bruce Babcock on his Second Birthday, Collins, NY, August 1945

Bruce Babcock on his Second Birthday, Collins, NY, August 1945

Bruce Babcock as a Child

Bruce Babcock as a Child

Boy Scout Bruce E. Babcock (Age 11), Collins, NY, September 1954

Boy Scout Bruce E. Babcock (Age 11), Collins, NY, September 1954

Bruce Babcock as a Young Man

Bruce Babcock as a Young Man

Bruce Babcock Senior High School Photo, Gowanda, New York, 1960

Bruce Babcock Senior High School Photo, Gowanda, New York, 1960

Bruce Babcock, Collins, New York, Christmas 1960

Bruce Babcock, Collins, New York, Christmas 1960

Bruce Babcock in Psychiatric Attendant's Class at Gowanda Psychiatric Center, Helmuth (Gowanda), NY, 1963

Bruce Babcock in Psychiatric Attendant’s Class at Gowanda Psychiatric Center, Helmuth (Gowanda), NY, 1963

Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York, Circa 1960-1970 By Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY)

Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York, Circa 1960-1970 By Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY)

Bruce and Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock Wedding, July 1963, St. Joseph Church, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock Wedding, July 1963, St. Joseph Church, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna Babcock, and Parents at Wedding, July 1963, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna Babcock, and Parents at Wedding, July 1963, Gowanda, New York

This is a photo of my parents on their wedding day in July 1963.  From left to right are Emmett Sprague, Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock Sprague, Bruce Babcock, Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock, Wladislawa “Lottie” (Bulera) Krakowiak, and John Krakowiak.

Hazel Houston and Thelma Ulander with Baby Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, August 1971

Hazel Houston and Thelma Ulander with Baby Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, August 1971

Bessie Kibbe, Thelma Ulander, and Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, October 1973

Bessie Kibbe, Thelma Ulander, and Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, October 1973

Bernice (Briggs) Babcock-Sprague with Grandchildren Michele E. & Charles J. Babcock, Collins, NY, November 16, 1974 (3) - Copy

Bernice Briggs Babcock Sprague with Michele Babcock (-Nice), November 1974

Michele E. Babcock, First Communion, Gowanda, NY, 1978

Michele E. Babcock, First Communion, Gowanda, NY, 1978

Michele Babcock Taking Piano Lessons from Michael Denea, Perrysburg, New York, 1985

Michele Babcock Taking Piano Lessons from Michael Denea, Perrysburg, New York, 1985

Michael Denea is my fifth cousin.  We are related because my great grandmother Bertha (Gould) Babcock’s mother, Nancy Ann (Rump) Gould, was a sister to his great great grandmother, Louise (Rump) Curtis, on his mom’s side of his family.

Tom and Clair McEwen, Collins, New York, 1987

Tom and Clair McEwen, Collins, New York, 1987

Thelma Ulander, and Michele and Chuck Babcock, Jamestown, New York, 1987 (3) - Copy

Thelma Ulander and Michele Babcock (-Nice), Jamestown, New York, 1987

Jim and Bessie Kibbe, and Anna and Bruce Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Jim and Bessie Kibbe, and Anna and Bruce Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Bryan Kibbe and Michele Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Bryan Kibbe and Michele Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Michele Babcock, Miss Teen of NY Personal Development Award Recipient, 1987

Michele Babcock, Miss Teen of NY Personal Development Award Recipient, 1987

Michele Babcock, University at Buffalo Senior Portrait, 1992

Michele Babcock, University at Buffalo Senior Portrait, 1992

Christmas with The Nice's-John Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son, Baby's First Christmas, Conyers, Georgia, 2003

Christmas with The Nice’s-John Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son, Baby’s First Christmas, Conyers, Georgia, 2003

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

Family Disney Picture 2006

Family Disney Picture, (Bruce, Anna, Michele and Son with Mickey Mouse), Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 2006

Four Generations of Cousins-Babcock's, Nice's, Kibbe's, Falconer, New York, 2005 (Jim, Bruce, Baby, Michele, Bessie)

Four Generations of Cousins-Babcock’s, Nice’s, Kibbe’s, Falconer, New York, 2005 (Jim, Bruce, Baby, Michele, Bessie)

Bessie Kibbe with Michele Babcock-Nice and Michele's Son, Summer 2012

Bessie Kibbe (Age 93) with Michele Babcock-Nice and Michele’s Son, Summer 2012

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

Since the captions associated with each of the photos are self-explanatory, I have not added more information to follow each one in this post.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading and understanding more about my family heritage!

Sources:

Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY), 1960-1970. Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York.

Photos and information of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, 1860-1987.  Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014).  Snellville, Georgia.

Photos and information of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014), 1960-2013.  Snellville, Georgia.

Sears Portrait Studio (2003).  Photo of Nice Family at Christmas.  Conyers, Georgia.

Other photographers of other professional photographs, unknown.

My Gale, Henn, Cole, McGee, and Bulson Family Ancestry Photos (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

The families of Gale, Henn, Cole, McGee, and Bulson are a big part of my family ancestry on my dad’s mother’s mom’s side of the family.  The Gale’s came to the United States from England.  William M. Gale, who is my Great Great Grandfather or Great Great Great Grandfather, was born in England.  Emily Esther (Costard) Gale (born on Isle of Jersey in the Channel Island, England on January 29, 1849-died in North Collins, New York on July 11, 1917), is possibly the mother (more likely) or a sister of William H. Gale, though I am unsure if he was William Hamilton Gale or William Henry Gale.  There were also other Gale’s in the family, including Walter Allen Gale, Harry Hamilton Gale, Julia Emily Gale, Alice Costard Gale, Lydia Ada Gale, and Carrie Camilla Gale.  Either William Hamilton Gale or William Henry Gale married Anna (Henn) Gale, and they had a daughter, Emily B. Gale.  Harry Hamilton Gale (September 14, 1878-March 1930), an uncle of my grandmother, served in the military in New York State.

All of the Gale’s lived in Hamburg, New York, but for Harry who is later said to have moved to Canada.  William (Emily B. Gale’s father) was a successful barber, and owned and operated his own barber shop in Hamburg for decades.  They lived on Main Street, and the barber shop was close by their residence.  Julia Emily (Gale) Briggs was married to Clarence Briggs, and they had a daughter, Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, my grandmother – my father’s mother.

My Great Great Grandmother Emily (Costard) Gale’s sisters remained in England, but stayed in touch with her and sent photos and letters to her through the years.  Irish ancestry, through marriage, came from one of my great great grandmother’s sisters, Julia McGee; her son was named William McGee.  He married and had two daughters, Dorothy and Phyllis. Dorothy married Mr. B. Apps on August 2, 1937.

There were also several members of the Henn Family, who had immigrated to the United States from Germany.  From what I have uncovered, I believe that Frank Henn married Anna (Goetz) Henn.  They had children, including Fred and Louis, and possibly Anna, Frank, William, and Charles.  Fred (Frederick) (born October 20, 1843 in Bavaria, Germany) was a soldier in the Union Army and fought in the Civil War in Louisiana and Virginia.  He was a private in Company D, 116th NYVI Regiment of Buffalo.  He was wounded in Louisiana, and spent 2-3 months in the hospital, there, recovering.  He was honorably discharged due to the end of the war.  There is a photo and record of his service on file at the Hamburg (New York) Historical Society.  I also have a photo and an item of memorabilia reflecting his service in the Army.  He was married to Mary A. Henn, who died in 1896.

When Emily B. Gale died in 1986 and her estate was sold, my family missed acquiring Fred Henn’s medal from his service in the Civil War because it was grabbed quickly by an antique dealer who had a special interest in such memorabilia, and who had arrived just ahead of my parents for the sale.  It would have been a wonderful piece to keep in the family.  Additionally, I have a beautiful and colorful marriage certificate of a Friedrich  Henn and Mahole (Thompson) Henn, reflecting their wedding date as July 27, 1897 in Germany.  This is believed to be a different Fred Henn than the man who fought in the American Civil War.  Also remember that Emily B. Gale was the only child of William H. Gale and Anna (Henn) Gale.

The Cole’s are part of my family ancestry through Carrie Camilla Gale’s marriage to Frank Cole.  Carrie was the eldest daughter of William and Emily (Costard) Gale.  Frank and Carrie had a son, Arnold, who married Grace Cochran.  They then had three sons and a daughter, including Arnold Cole, Jr., William E. Cole, Eugene Cole, and Norma G. Cole.  I have several photos of Arnold Cole as a baby and as a private school student in Buffalo, New York.

I have one image William M. Gale, and a few photos of Emily (Costard) Gale.  I do not have any photos of Frank Cole, though I do have a couple of photos that include Carrie with her sisters, Julia and Alice.  Julia was my Great Grandmother – my Grandmother’s mom. Emily B. Gale, my grandmother’s cousin, lived with her parents, and never married.  She inherited the family home following the death of Anna (as William had predeceased her), though was placed in a nursing home in Hamburg, New York, where she died in 1986.  Emily B. Gale owned many amazing antiques and treasures, including antique furniture; dolls; photographs in frames; and Civil War memorabilia of Fred Henn.  My family was able to purchase a few of those items at her estate sale just after her death.

William H., Anna (Henn), and Emily B. Gale, and Frederick and Mary A. Henn, are buried in Prospect Lawn Cemetery in Hamburg, New York.

William M. Gale, Father of William H. Gale, Early Half of 1800s

William M. Gale, Father of William H. Gale, Early Half of 1800s

This is an image of William M. Gale, the father of William H. Gale.  The image is printed on a postcard, and would have to be from the early half of the 1800s.

Emily Gale (Grandmother of Emily B. Gale) with Oldest Granddaughter, Julia Gale (Age 2), Hamburg, NY, 1890

Emily (Costard) Gale with Julia Gale (Age 2), Hamburg, New York, 1890

Here is Emily Gale with Julia Gale, in Hamburg, New York in about 1890.

Possibly a Gale, Buffalo, New York

Possibly a Gale, Buffalo, New York

This photo is thought to possibly be that of a Gale boy.

Alice Gale

Alice Gale

This is a photo of Alice Gale, who was one of William Gale’s sisters or nieces.

Emily (Costard) Gale (1849-1917), Wife of William M. Gale, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1900-1910

Emily (Costard) Gale (1849-1917), Hamburg, New York, Circa 1900-1910

This photo is of Emily Esther (Costard) Gale, in Hamburg, New York in later life, around 1900-1910.

Condenseo Mince Meat (Possible Employees), Near Hamburg, New York, Circa 1890

Condenseo Mince Meat (Possible Employees), Near Hamburg, New York, Circa 1890

In her later years, Emily (Costard) Gale also worked at Condenseo Mince Meat in or around Hamburg, New York.  This is the best photo that I have of the employees of this company, a photo that also includes my Great Grandfather, Clarence Briggs, and one of his brothers, Howard Briggs, who both also worked there at that time.  Emily is seated in the middle, front row of the photo, while the Briggs men are standing at the rear.

Sisters Julia McGee (Age 75) and Martha Bulson (Age 72), Lee-on-the-Solent, England, 1929 (Cousins to Gale's and Briggs')

Sisters Julia McGee (Age 75) and Martha Bulson (Age 72), Lee-on-the-Solent, England, 1929 (Cousins to Gale’s and Briggs’)

This is a picture of Emily (Costard) Gale’s sisters, Julia McGee and Martha Bulson, from 1929 in England.

Martha E. Bulson (Left) and her Sister, Julia McGee, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, Circa 1923

Martha E. Bulson (Left) and her Sister, Julia McGee, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, Circa 1923

Here is Martha Bulson an her sister, Julia McGee, in England in 1923.  They were sisters of Emily (Costard) Gale.

Julia McGee, England, Christmas 1923

Julia McGee, England, Christmas 1923

Here is Julia McGee at Christmas in England in 1923.  The flowerettes were painted on the photo by William McGee, who painted pictures.  I believe the William was either her husband or son.

Martha E. Bulson with Sons and Grandchildren, Manor House, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, November 27. 1932

Martha E. Bulson with Sons and Grandchildren, Manor House, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, November 27, 1932

Here is Martha E. Bulson with her sons and grandchildren at her ‘Manor House’ in Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, on November 27, 1932.

Martha E. Bulson (Left) with Sons and Grandchildren, Manor House, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, November 27. 1932

Martha E. Bulson (Left) with Sons and Grandchildren, Manor House, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, November 27, 1932

Again, here is a photo of Martha E. Bulson with her sons and grandchildren at her Manor House in Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, England, on November 27, 1932.

William McGee, 1933, England

William McGee, 1933, England

This is a photo of William McGee in England in 1933.

The McGee's and Apps', August 2, 1937, England

The McGee’s and Apps’, August 2, 1937, England

Here is William McGee (right) with his family.  William’s wife is at the far left.  The McGee’s daugther, Dorothy married Mr. B. Apps on August 2, 1937.  The woman standing next to William is the groom’s mother.  The McGee’s daughter, Phyllis, is sitting.

Ronald Bulson, Lee-on-the-Solent, England, 1938 (By E.M. Blakey)

Ronald Bulson, Lee-on-the-Solent, England, 1938 (By E.M. Blakey)

This photo is of Ronald Bulson in England.  Ronald was Martha Bulson’s grandson.

Julia Gale (Married Name-Briggs), Hamburg, New York, 1890

Julia Gale (Married Name-Briggs) of Hamburg, New York, 1890

This is a photo of my Great Grandmother, Julia Emily (Gale) Briggs as a girl.

The Young Gale Girls, (L to R) Alice, Carrie (Married Name-Cole), & Julia (Married Name-Briggs), Hamburg, New York, 1890 (Daughters of William H. and Anna [Henn] Gale)

The Young Gale Girls, (L to R) Alice, Carrie (Married Name-Cole), & Julia (Married Name-Briggs), Hamburg, New York, 1890

Here are the Gale girls of Hamburg,  New York around 1890.

Possibly Alice Gale and Daughter, Buffalo, New York

Possibly Alice Gale and Daughter, Buffalo, New York

This photo is possibly of Alice Gale and a daughter, although I am not sure.  It is from 1908.

Anna (Henn) Gale with Niece Julia Emily Gale (Left) and Emily B. Gale, Hamburg, New York, 1900

Anna (Henn) Gale with Niece Julia Emily Gale (Left) and Emily B. Gale, Hamburg, New York, 1900

This is a photo of Anna (Henn) Gale with my Great Grandmother, Julia Gale, and Anna’s only child, Emily B. Gale, in Hamburg, New York around 1900.

Anna (Henn) Gale (Wife of William H. Gale; Mother of Emily B. Gale), Hamburg, New York, Circa 1900

Anna (Henn) Gale (Wife of William H. Gale; Mother of Emily B. Gale), Hamburg, New York, Circa 1910

Anna (Henn) Gale is shown in this photo, in Hamburg, New York around 1910.

William H. Gale, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1890-1900

William H. Gale, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1890-1900

Pictured is William H. Gale, husband of Anna (Henn) Gale, and father of Emily B. Gale, of Hamburg, New York around 1890-1900.  He was a barber in Hamburg for decades.

Emily B. Gale (in Fur Coat), Hamburg, New York, 1890, Only Child of William H. and Anna (Henn) Gale

Emily B. Gale (in Fur Coat), Hamburg, New York, 1900, Only Child of William H. and Anna (Henn) Gale

This is a photo of my grandmother’s cousin, Emily B. Gale, as a young girl, wearing a fur coat in Hamburg, New York around 1900.

Emily B. Gale, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1905

Emily B. Gale, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1905

This is another photo of Emily B. Gale as a young girl in Hamburg, New York around 1905.

Emily B. Gale, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1910

Emily B. Gale, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1910

Again, pictured is Emily B. Gale of Hamburg, New York around 1910.

William H. Gale (Age 91) Outside his Home in Hamburg, NY, 1938 (Born in England)

William H. Gale (Age 91) Outside his Home in Hamburg, NY, 1938 (Born in England)

Here, William Gale is pictured as an elderly man.  He was 91 years old in 1938 when this photo was taken, just outside the Gale Family home in Hamburg, New York.

Harry H. Gale

Harry H. Gale

This is a photo of Harry H. Gale, a brother of William H. Gale.

Harry Hamilton Gale, Military Veteran, Buffalo, New York, 1890s

Harry Hamilton Gale, Military Veteran, Buffalo, New York, 1890s

This is a photo of Harry Hamilton Gale as a Union Army soldier out of Buffalo, New York in the 1880s.

Fredrick Henn and his Wife (Possibly Anna), Hamburg, NY, Circa 1890-1900 (Notice Civil War Medal for Union Service)

Frederick Henn and his Wife, Mary A. Henn, Hamburg, NY, Circa 1890 (Notice Civil War Medal for Union Service)

This is a photo of Frederick Henn and his wife, thought to be named Anna, in Hamburg, New York around 1890-1900.  Notice that Fred is wearing his medal for service in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Funeral Card of Mrs. Fred Henn, March 19, 1896, Hamburg, New York

Funeral Card of Mrs. Fred Henn, March 19, 1896, Hamburg, New York

This is a funeral card for Mrs. Fred Henn, whom I believe would have been the lady in the photo preceding this image.  She died on March 19, 1896 in Hamburg, New York at age 58.

Thought to be Fred Henn, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1870-1890

Thought to be Fred Henn, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1870-1890

This is a photo that is thought to be of Fred Henn, around 1870-1890, in Hamburg, New York.

Frederick Henn, Hamburg, NY, Circa 1920

Frederick Henn, Hamburg, New York, American Civil War Veteran in Union Army, Circa 1920

This copy of a photo is of Fred Henn, also identifying his regiment in the Army in which he fought in the Civil War.  I obtained copies of these items from the Hamburg Historical Society in Hamburg, New York in 2001.

Civil War Veterans (GAR), Hamburg, New York, Circa 1930 L-R Charles Duke, Fred Henn, Joseph Taylor, Eugene Frink, Conrad Glasser

Civil War Veterans (GAR), Hamburg, New York, Circa 1930 L-R Charles Duke, Fred Henn, Joseph Taylor, Eugene Frink, Conrad Glasser

This is a photo on display at the Hamburg Historical Museum/Society.  I took a photo of the picture when I visited there.  My grandmother’s cousin’s uncle is Fred Henn, who served in the Grand Army of the Republic’s Company D of the 116th Regiment during the Civil War.

Louis Henn, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1890

Louis Henn, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1890

This is a photo of Louis Henn, a brother of Fred Henn, in Hamburg, New York around 1890.

Louis Henn and Possible Brothers (3)

Louis Henn (at left) and possibly his brothers, 1890-1900?

Possibly the Henn brothers (3)

Here again, Louis Henn (front, left), and possibly his brothers, undated.

Unknown Ancestor, Possibly from the Henn Family, Troy, New York, Circa 1925-1935 or Earlier

Unknown Ancestor, Possibly from the Henn Family, Troy, New York, Circa 1925-1935 or Earlier

This is a photo of a man believed to be a member of the Henn Family.

Arnold Cole (Son of Frank and Carrie [Gale] Cole), Buffalo, NY, Circa 1892

Arnold Cole (Son of Frank and Carrie [Gale] Cole), Buffalo, NY, Circa 1892

This is a photo of Arnold Cole, the son of Frank and Carrie (Gale) Cole, in Buffalo, New York in 1892.

Arnold Cole, Hamburg or Buffalo, NY, Circa 1905, Cousin to Julia (Gale) Briggs, Emily Gale, Bernice Briggs Babcock Sprague

Arnold Cole, Hamburg or Buffalo, NY, Circa 1895, Cousin to Julia (Gale) Briggs, Emily Gale, Bernice Briggs Babcock Sprague

Here is another picture of Arnold Cole, with his toy horse, probably in Buffalo, New York around 1895.

Arnold Cole

Arnold Cole

Here is another picture of Arnold Cole as a boy.

Arnold Cole (Age 16) (Son of Carrie [Gale] Cole), Buffalo, NY, 1908

Arnold Cole (Age 16) (Son of Carrie [Gale] Cole), Buffalo, NY, 1908

This photo of Arnold Cole was taken in 1908 in Buffalo, New York when he was 16-years-old.  It was taken outside of a private school that he attended in Buffalo.

Arnold Cole (Age 13), Buffalo, NY, 1923

Arnold Cole (Age 13), Buffalo, NY, 1905

Here is another photo of Arnold Cole at age 13, outside of another private school that he attended in Buffalo, New York, in 1905.

Arnold Cole (Age 17) (Son of Carrie [Gale] Cole), Buffalo, NY, 1909

Arnold Cole (Age 17) (Son of Carrie [Gale] Cole), Buffalo, NY, 1909

This is another photo that shows Arnold Cole in Buffalo, New York as a young man in 1909.

These represent some of the many photos that I have of these of my family ancestors.  My grandmother, Bernice, had loads of vintage and antique photos that she kept for many years until she decided to burn most of them in a burn barrel used for burning trash in the back yard of her home.  One day, when I was a girl, when I was visiting her and there was “trash” burning in the barrel, I asked what she was burning, and she told me.  I remember getting very angry and upset, and stated to her that I wanted the photos, and not to burn any anymore.  I could not believe that she would burn such valuable memories related to her family heritage!

Therefore, I have many photos of my family ancestors, but would have had many more had my grandmother not put them up in smoke.  Additionally, I used to have many more tin types, especially those of the Henn’s, however when my family moved from Collins to Gowanda, New York around 1992, they were unknowingly discarded by my parents.  I was heartbroken that such valuable family treasures had been thrown away.

Photo of 15 Henn, Briggs, Gale Tin Types, 1988

Photo of 15 Henn, Briggs, Gale Tin Types, 1988

This photo reflects the 15 tin types of my Gale, Briggs, and Henn ancestry that were accidentally discarded by my parents during my family’s move from Collins to Gowanda around 1992.

Again, as in previous posts of photos of my ancestors, the dates included represent the best possible accurate dates and/or estimates of dates of the images.

References and Sources:

Family photos and information of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague from 1860-1987. Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014). Snellville, Georgia.

Ryther, James F. (Undated).  Personal War Sketch of Frederick Henn.  Buffalo, New York.  From Hamburg (New York) Historical Society, 2001.

Some Photos from my Briggs, Staffin, Ritter, and Gale Family Ancestry (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Nearly all of my vintage and antique family photos are from my dad’s side of the family.  Because my mother’s family were immigrants from Poland to Germany to the United States through Ellis Island around 1950, I have fewer than a hand full of vintage photos from my mom’s side of the family, the Krakowiak side, though I do have a few.  Photos and tin types from my dad’s side of the family include those from the following families: Babcock, Briggs, Gould, Hoyler, Staffin, Gale, McEwen, Crawford, Cole, Ritter, Henn, and Goetz.  And, those are just the images, while there are other families who are part of my ancestry, including Rump, Rodgers, and others.

My direct ancestral heritage – in addition to that of Poland from the Krakowiak family – reflects people from England, particularly the families of Gale, Bulson, and McGee; the French and German ancestry of Adelia Staffin; and the German ancestry gained from the families of Gould, Rump, and Henn; and both Hoyler and Ritter (through marriage).   The Briggs’ and Babcock’s were also from England, but had been settled in the United States prior to the Gale’s.  My ancestry can also be traced back to England’s King Henry VIII, as a result of his many marriages; and Clement Briggs, one of my ancestors, who traveled to Plymouth, Massachusetts from England in 1621 on the Mayflower.  The name “Briggs” has many variations; and is believed to have been derived from Saxon William atte Brigge of County Norfolk, England in the 1200s.  That is the furthest back in time that I have been able to trace some of my ancestry.

The following photos and tin types are those that I have selected to reflect some of the many images of my ancestral heritage from the Briggs, Staffin, and Gale families, as I know it, so that the richness of culture, values, and family can be shared and enjoyed outside of my family, as well.  The photos were taken in North Collins and Collins, New York, near Buffalo.  I will make additional posts with pictures reflecting the other families identified in the near future.  Note that for photos that have estimated dates, I have tried to date them as best as possible to reflect an accurate time of when they were taken.

Wallace Briggs and Adelia (Staffin) Briggs, North Collins, New York, Possible Wedding Photo from Arranged Marriage, Circa 1840

Wallace Briggs and Adelia (Staffin) Briggs, North Collins, New York, Possible Wedding Photo from Arranged Marriage, Circa 1860 (Tin Type)

This is the oldest tin type that I have that reflects ancestors of my family.  The tin type was in the condition seen in the photo when I got it from my grandmother, Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, so I have carefully preserved it as best as I can.

Adelia Briggs, my Great Great Grandmother on my Dad's Mother's Father's Side, North Collins, NY, Circa 1845

Adelia (Staffin) Briggs, my Great Great Grandmother on my Dad’s Mother’s Father’s Side, North Collins, NY, Circa 1865-1875 (Tin Type)

Adelia was said to have been a short, but fiery and tough woman.  It is possible that she was married through an arranged marriage to my great great grandfather, Wallace Briggs, because they married when they were kids.  It does not even appear that Adelia is 13 years old in the first picture in this post, however it is believed that she and Wallace were married at about that age.  Adelia and Wallace had five boys (Clarence, Howard, Harold, Sumner, and John); and while I am unsure about how Adelia died, it is possible that she died in childbirth.  She would have been 26 when Clarence was born (the second oldest son) and 37 when John was born.  The oldest boy was Sumner, born in 1879 when Adelia would have been 23.

No one in my family seemed to know how Adelia died, or if they did, they did not talk about it.  I know that she seemed to have died at a young age (possibly under 40 years old), and Wallace married a second wife, Veronica, having four boys (Ivan, William, Lawrence, and Leo) with her.  Therefore, nine Briggs’ boys grew up and at least seven of them (all but for Howard and William “Bill”) had families in North Collins, New York in the 20th century.  Birth and death dates that I have, as recorded by my grandmother, for Adelia’s and Wallace’s sons are as follows: Sumner (1879-1939), Clarence (1882-1953), Howard (1886-1944), John (1892-1934), and Harold (1893-1965).

Sumner Briggs married Frances Creed, and they had four children, including Rexford, Emerson “Coon,” Harriet, and Buddy.  Howard Briggs was a bachelor.  John Briggs married Ella Rieckhof, and they had one child, Lois, who married Harold Rodgers.  Lois and Harold had a daughter, Margo, who had a son, Eric, who would be about my age.  Harold Briggs married Emma North; they had a son, James, who married Mabel Orton.  James and Mabel had three children, including Beverly, Barbara, and Bruce Briggs.  I know that Ivan married Louise Gullo, and they had three children, including twin girls and a son, David (who died in the Vietnam War).  Bill married Ruth, but they did not have any children.  I don’t know about descendants of Lawrence or Leo.

Adelia (Staffin) Briggs was the daughter of John Staffin and Phoebe (Wilcox) Staffin; and she was the sister of Mary Ann (Staffin) Smith (who married John Smith) and William Adam Staffin (who married Cora Wickham).  John Staffin was born in 1830 to Adam Staffen (1804-1869) and Anna (Mathias or Mathis) Staffen (1807-1886), and was brother to 10 siblings.  Anna’s father was Johann Mathis, who was a blacksmith, and her mother was Anna Maria (Schmitt) Mathis.  Adam and Anna sailed to the United States through Ellis Island from France in 1840, purchasing land in Collins, New York.  They had left their home in Saarlouis, Germany to sail from the Port of LeHarve in France, coming to the US with $800.

Adam and Anna were schoolteachers, teaching in a large room of their home; and Adam was also a stone mason and farmer.  At that time, the Staffen’s school was the only one in the area, and young men traveled from miles around to be educated by them.  They taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and were paid in kind with raw materials rather than money. When Adam and Anna Staffen came to the United States, they spoke fluent French and High German.  They were Roman Catholic, and are buried in the Langford Catholic Cemetery in Langford, New York.

Adam Staffen was one of three sons (Jacob, Adam, and Nikolas) of Johann Steffen (1748-1814) and Susanna Girlinger (1766-1833).  Susanna’s parents were Phillip Girlinger and Maria (Bauer) Girlinger.  Phillip was a farmer in Germany.  Johann Steffen was the son of Simon Steffen (1716-1771) and Catharina (Schwartz) Steffen.  In 1741, the marriage record of Stefan Simon (who changed his name to Simon Steffen around 1847) reflects that he married Catharina Schwartz, and that her parents were Franz Schwartz and Apollonia (Everhard) Schwartz.  Simon’s parents were Dominicus Simon and Catharina (Corsain) Simon.  Around 1838, Simon and Catherine moved from Longville, France to Ittersdorf, Germany, although rule changed from German to French rule at that time.  It is possible that the move and name change were due to political reasons.

Thought to be Edward C. Ritter, Husband of a Descendant of the Staffin's

Thought to be Edward C. Ritter, Husband of a Descendant of the Staffin’s

Cora (Wickham) Staffin’s parents were Chauncey L. Wickham and Rosene (Spaulding) Wickham.  Cora married William Adam Staffin – brother to Adelia (Staffin) Briggs.  Cora and William had (I believe) four children, including Marion Staffin, Charleton W. Staffin, Burton W. Staffin, and Burnell E. Staffin.  Somewhere along the line, I do not have an exact record of at least one generation of the family, somewhere in-between Anna Staffin marrying Edward C. Ritter.  I do know, however, that Cora (Wickham) Staffin’s grandchildren included Sara Jane Staffin, Mary Ann Staffin, Robert C. Staffin, and Norman R. Staffin.  I just don’t know whose children they were – Charleton’s, Burton’s, or Burnell’s.

Marion Staffin married, though I do not know what her married name was.  I believe that they had a daughter or granddauther, possibly named, Anna, and she married Ed Ritter.  Ed Ritter, to my knowledge, had several siblings, including Fritz Ritter, Herbert Ritter, Mrs. Hoyt Prince, Mrs. Guy Hickey, Mrs. Clarence Simmons, and possibly another sister and another brother, though I am unsure of their names.  Ed and Anna Ritter did not have any children.  To my knowledge, Ed was a butcher, and I have a tin type of him reflecting that.

My Great Grandfather, Clarence Briggs, standing at left; Others Unknown. Circa 1870-1880.

Tin Type of my Great Grandfather, Clarence Briggs, Standing at Left; Others Unknown, North Collins, New York. Circa 1900-1910.

This is a tin type that shows my great great grandfather, Clarence Briggs, as a young man, possibly around 1900-1910.  I do not know the identities of the other young men in the image.

Photo of 15 Henn, Briggs, Gale Tin Types, 1988

Photo of 15 Henn, Briggs, Gale Tin Types, 1988

This photo shows my 15 additional tin types from my Gale, Briggs, and Henn ancestry that were accidentally discarded by my parents during my family’s move from Collins to Gowanda around 1992.

Clarence Briggs Ice Carting, North Collins, NY, Circa 1930-1940

Clarence Briggs Ice Carting, North Collins, New York, Circa 1930-1940

My great great grandfather owned and operated an ice carting business in North Collins, New York.  He transported blocks of ice to people’s homes for their use in refrigeration, such as in their root cellars.

Clarence and Sumner Briggs, and Possibly Howard Briggs, North Collins, New York, Circa 1890

Clarence and Sumner Briggs, and Possibly Howard Briggs, North Collins, New York, Circa 1890 (Photo Taken in Springville, New York)

This is a photo of Clarence and Sumner Briggs, and possibly Howard Briggs, from North Collins, New York around 1890.  It is the best photo that I have of them as young boys.

Clarence and Sumner Briggs, and Possibly Howard Briggs, North Collins, New York, Circa 1900-1910

Clarence and Sumner Briggs, and Possibly Howard Briggs, North Collins, New York, Circa 1900-1910

From what I understood from my grandmother, this photo was supposed to be a silly picture of three of these Briggs’ young men.  They went on an outing and had several different photos made on this day, reflecting different backgrounds and venues.

Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague as a Baby, North Collins, New York, 1912

Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague as a Baby, North Collins, New York, 1912

This is a photo of my grandmother, Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, as a baby in 1912 in North Collins, New York.

Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, North Collins, New York, 1914

Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, North Collins, New York, 1914

In this photo, my grandmother was about two years old.

Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, North Collins, New York, June 1930

Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, North Collins, New York, June 1930

This is a photo of my grandmother either on the day of her engagement or wedding to my grandfather, Charles A. Babcock.

Clarence and Julia (Gale) Briggs, Collins, New York, 1946

Clarence and Julia (Gale) Briggs, Collins, New York, 1946

This is the only photo that I have that shows both of my great grandparents, Clarence and Julia (Gale) Briggs, in the same photo.  This was taken in 1946 in Collins, New York at the childhood home of my father, Bruce Babcock.

John Briggs, North Collins, NY, Soldier in World War I, Circa 1917

John Briggs, North Collins, New York, Soldier in World War I, Circa 1917

This is a photo of John Briggs, a brother of my great great grandfather, Clarence Briggs, from North Collins, New York in 1917 before he went off to fight in World War I.  There were several Briggs’ brothers who fought in the War, and they all returned home alive.

Marie and Veronica Briggs, April 1941, Daughters of Ivan Briggs and Louise (Gullo) Briggs

Marie and Veronica Briggs, April 1941, Daughters of Ivan Briggs and Louise (Gullo) Briggs

This is a photo of identical twins, Marie and Veronica Briggs, from April 1941.  They are daughters of Ivan Briggs and Louise (Gullo) Briggs of North Collins.  David Briggs was the son of Ivan and Louise, and died while serving in the US Army during the Vietnam War. For many years, there was a memorial to David outside the front of the Catholic Church in North Collins, New York.

Twins Veronica and Marie Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1944

Twins Veronica and Marie Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1944

Funeral Card of David I. Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1968 (Killed in Vietnam War) (Wentland Funeral Home, North Collins, New York)

Funeral Card of David I. Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1968 (Killed in Vietnam War) (Wentland Funeral Home, North Collins, New York)

Bill and Ruth Briggs, Collins, New York, August 1986

Bill and Ruth Briggs, Collins, New York, August 1986

Here is  another photo of the twins.  They were about three-years-old in this picture. Veronica was named after her grandmother, Veronica.

I hope that you have enjoyed viewing these photos.  I will make additional posts with photos that reflect the others of my ancestral families that I identified, shortly.

References and Sources:

Anna Emerling Spengler (~1980).  The Emerling Family Tree: Chapter 7 – The Staffins.  Springville/Collins, New York.

Family tin types, photos, and information of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague from 1860-1987.  Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014). Snellville, Georgia.

The Name and Family of Briggs: Manuscript Number 341 (1984).  New York, NY: Roots Research Bureau, Ltd.

Wentland Funeral Home (1968).  Funeral Card of David I. Briggs.  North Collins, NY: Wentland Funeral Home.

1920s and 1930s Football and Baseball Group Photos from Gowanda, Collins, and Collins Center, New York (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My grandfather, Charles A. Babcock, from Collins, New York, was an athlete and played several sports when he was a teen and into his early 20s.  He enjoyed playing football and baseball, as well as softball and bowling.  He was born in 1911, and had two sisters, Louise (Babcock) Heppel and Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury.

The Babcock children were born to Jonathan M. Babcock and Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock.  Jonathan was from Collins, New York, and Bertha was from the heavily German-American South Dayton, New York.  Eunice moved to Pennsylvania upon marrying her first husband, and they had children.  After her first husband died, she married her second husband, remaining in Pennsylvania.  Louise was the middle child in the Babcock Family.  She married George Heppel, and they did not have any children.

I have included some photos in this post that reflect Charles as a member of football and baseball teams; and I have included pictures of Charles and his sisters, Eunice and Louise, as well as a photo of Jonathan and Bertha upon their wedding.

Gowanda High School Football Team, Gowanda, NY, 1926 (With Charles A. Babcock, Front, Second from Left)

Gowanda High School Football Team, Gowanda, NY, 1926 (With Charles A. Babcock, Front, Second from Left)

This is a photo of the Gowanda High School Football Team from 1926.  My grandfather is seated, second from the left in the front row.  He would have been 15 years old in this picture.  To identify everyone in the photo, they are as follows: standing: H. Ross, M. Tillotson, D. Smith, R. Rogers, P. Palcic, G. Crouse, R. Dorey, Gerald Donnelly (Coach); middle: P. Smith (Manager), C. Cunningham, D. Saunders, P. Hammond (Captain), H. Rupp, J. Belec, J. Mentley; bottom: G. Keyes, C. Babcock, K. Bentley, L. Klancer, A. Cheplo, B. Gladu.

Collins Baseball Team, Collins Center, NY, May 29, 1932 (Charles A. Babcock, Seated, Second from Left)

Collins Baseball Team, Collins Center, NY, May 29, 1932 (Charles A. Babcock, Seated, Second from Left)

The 1932 Collins Baseball Team is pictured here, with my grandfather, again, seated in the front row, the second from the left.  The men in the photo, in addition to my grandfather, and in no particular sequence, include Clifton Cunningham, Ashley Richards, Charley Daniels, David Eschler, Harold Schrader, Donald Tarbox, Ginger Stevens, Walter Farnsworth, William Edwards, and Stewart Pingrey.

Collins Center Baseball Team, Collins Center, NY, May 20, 1934 (Charles A. Babcock, Standing, Second from Right)

Collins Center Baseball Team, Collins Center, NY, May 20, 1934 (Charles A. Babcock, Standing, Second from Right)

The Collins Center Baseball Team from 1934 is pictured in this photo, with my grandfather standing, the second from the right.  In no particular order, the other men shown in the picture are Bret Ayaw, Andy Sykies, Rusty Hohl, Lavern Buckley, Donald Tarbox, Jim Galloway, Carl Betteker, Murray Potter, Charles Ayaw, Clifton Cunningham, Burton Staffin, Bud Hewitt, and Bill Ball.

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Pictured are my grandfather, Charles A. Babcock, with his sisters, Eunice and Louise, in 1913.  Eunice is the eldest child in the photo.  My grandfather would have been about 2 years old in this picture.

Charles A. Babcock, Grain Mill Near the Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

Charles A. Babcock, Grain Mill Near the Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

My great-grandfather, Jonathan A. Babcock, worked as a railroad foreman and he was the Town of Collins Constable.  So, it was only natural that my grandfather, Charles A. Babcock, would be pictured at the Collins, New York Railroad Depot.  It was said that he was always a big boy, and he is pictured here in 1914 at 3 years old.

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Here are my great grandparents on my dad’s side, Jonathan M. Babcock and Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock.  This, I believe, is their wedding picture, and was taken about 1900.  I got my height from my great grandfather who was 6’4.”

References:

Family photos and information of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague from 1900-1934.  Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014). Snellville, Georgia.

North Collins, New York Photos from Yesteryear (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Recently, I was looking through photos of my relatives and ancestors, in order to show and explain to my son about some of his ancestral history.  There are many excellent original photographs that I have of people, and groups related to schools and Girl Scouts in North Collins, New York, where my grandmother, Bernice “Bernie” Gale (Briggs) Babcock-Sprague was raised by her parents, Clarence Briggs (of North Collins) and Julia (Gale) Briggs (of Hamburg, New York).  My grandmother was born in 1912 and died in 1987.

I also have many great original photos of people, and sports teams in Collins, Collins Center, and Gowanda, New York that I will provide in separate posts.  For now, please enjoy viewing these photos from yesteryear.  Please note that I have identified as many names of the people in the current photos as possible.

Bernice Briggs of North Collins, NY, Circa 1923

Bernice Briggs of North Collins, NY, Circa 1923

This is a photo of my grandmother when she was 11 years old.

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

This picture is of my grandparents after they were married.

Charles A., Bernice, & Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Charles A., Bernice, & Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

This picture is of my grandparents with my dad when he was four years old.  My grandfather would have been 37 years old in this picture, and my grandmother, 36.  They waited until they were older before having a child.

View of Main Street, North Collins, NY, Circa 1920-1930

View of Main Street, North Collins, NY, Circa 1906

Here is a picture of Main Street in North Collins from 1906.  Notice the horse and buggy approaching from the far end of the road.

Second Grade Students at North Collins, NY One-Room Schoolhouse, 1920 (L to R-Charles Cocca, Bernice Briggs, Leona Reith, Daniel Mecca, Josephine Tempio, Naomi Heim, Georgia Butler)

Second Grade Students at North Collins, NY One-Room Schoolhouse, 1920 (L to R-Charles Cocca, Bernice Briggs, Leona Reith, Daniel Mecca, Josephine Tempio, Naomi Heim, George Butler)

This is my grandmother’s second grade class in North Collins, New York from 1920.  It was the end of the school year at the time this photo was taken.  They had school in a one-room schoolhouse.

Sunday School Class, N. Collins, NY, 1923 L to R-Mrs Whaley, Emogene Stearns, Lillian Burham, Marie Mackey, Wilma Mackey, Bernice Briggs, Grace Korthale, Marion North, Lorraine Tarbox

Sunday School Class, N. Collins, NY, 1923 L to R-Mrs Whaley, Emogene Stearns, Lillian Burham, Marie Mackey, Wilma Mackey, Bernice Briggs, Grace Korthale, Marion North, Lorraine Tarbox

This is a photo of my grandmother’s Sunday School Class in North Collins, New York from 1923.  She was 11 years old.  Notice that all of the girls are holding rabbits.  I believe they were rabbits from the teacher’s farm, where the photo was taken.  The teacher is identified as Mrs. Lee Whaley.

North Collins, New York First Grade Class with Miss Rockwell, 1918

North Collins, New York First Grade Class with Miss Rockwell, 1918

Here is a photo of my grandmother’s first grade class with Miss Rockwell in North Collins from 1918 or 1919.  My grandmother is seated at the far left row, in the third desk.

A listing of all but four of the the students in this photo includes the following: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Doris Theil; Loretto Ognibene; Bernice Briggs; Naomi Heim; Joseph Diadoto.  Second row: Angeline George; John Alessi; Josephine Tempio; Daniel Mecca; Bertha -; Unknown name; Myrle Long.  Third row: Anthony Pelligrino; Elmer Bellanca; Joseph Musacchio; Carmella Cocca; Unknown name; Leonard Long; Harold Titus; Unknown name; Sam Agio; Charles Cocca; Sam Compisi; Ethel Valone; Dominic DeMaria.  Fourth row: Anthony Veccio; Woodrow Hunter; Jacob George; Peter Compisi; Milly Long; Unknown name; – Compisi.

North Collins, NY School 6th Grade Class, 1923

North Collins, NY School 6th Grade Class, 1923

Here, the 6th grade class of North Collins is pictured from 1923, with my grandmother seated in the middle row, at the far right.  All student in the photo are as follows: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Daniel Mecca; Charles Cocca; Leander Russell; Woodrow Hunter; Jacob George; John Riefel.  Second row: Leona Reith; Elton Whaley; George Butler; Louis Taravella; Charles Pelligrina; Sam Compisi; Joseph Valone; Joseph Diadoto; Loretto Ognibene; Salvator Schillace; Paul Burgio; Bernice Briggs.  Third row: Wilma Mackey; Josephine Macaluso; Marie Ognibene; Nina LiVieeche; Catherine Compiere; Rose Veccio; Lee Percy; Genevieve Geiger; Anna Vara; Mary Thomas; Marion Mendola; Jennie Vara; Conqetta Savage.  The teacher, in the middle, back row is Elmer Stearns.

North Collins, NY High School 8th Grade Class, 1925

North Collins, NY High School 8th Grade Class, 1925

This photo is of the North Collins High School 8th grade class from 1925.  My grandmother is standing, just about in the center of the picture.  She was a top honor student all throughout her education.

Students in this picture are: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Jacob George; Woodrow Hunter; Charles Pelligrina; Salvator Schillace; Jacob Scheflin; Sam Compisi; Elton Blakely; Leander Russell; Frederick Teltz; Harold Rebmann; Albert Smith. Second row: Wesley Herman; Elton Whaley; John Reifel; Nina LiVeeche; Catherine Compiere; Josephine Macaluso; Marguerite Lawton; Leona Reith; Bernice Briggs; Wilma Mackey; Madeline Thiel; Genevieve Geiger; Mary Thomas; Loretto Ognibene; Charles Cocca; George Butler; Daniel Mecca.  Third row: Mae Rehm (Teacher); Myrle Whaley; – Renaldo; Harlan Penharlow; John Ball; Joseph Diadoto; Louis Taravella.

North Collins, NY Girl Scout Troop 1, Circa 1927

North Collins, NY Girl Scout Troop 1, Circa 1927

And, how about this photo of the North Collins Girl Scout Troop 1 from about 1927.  My grandmother is standing in the rear at the right, next to the woman holding the trophy.

Pictured are, from left to right, front to back: First row: Jean Thiel; Doris Thiel; Edith Dickman; Margaret Ball; Dorothy Twichell; Jeanette Roeller; Rosemary Hewitt; Emogene Stearns.  Second row: Helen Ormsby; Delight Tice; Audrey Mitchell; Marguerite Lawton; Lillian Burnham; Marion North; Leona Reith; Pamelia Ormsby; Bernice Briggs; Jessie Walburg.  Third row: Josephine Tempio; Nine LiVieeche; Alice Butler; Elizabeth Thiel; Evelyn Ames; Dorothy Geiger; Genevieve Geiger; Marjorie Tarbox.

Source:

Family photos of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague from 1918-1948.  Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014).  Snellville, Georgia.

“Having a Love for Horses: Remembering Sir Taurus and Elitist” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Sir Taurus, 1989

Sir Taurus, 1989 (from “Standing his Second Season at Dan Gernatt Farms: Sir Taurus,” Dan Gernatt Farms (1989)

As a youth, I acquired my love for horses.  Two of my all-time favorite horses are Sir Taurus and Elitist.  In 1988 and 1989, and possibly other years as well, these horses were owned by Dan Gernatt Farms in Collins, New York.  Since I grew up living close by where the horses were staged, I had opportunities on my walking, running, and biking outings in my neighborhood to see, interact with, and enjoy both horses.  Sir Taurus and Elitist were unique and special, and hold a warm place in my heart.

Horses are such intelligent and sensitive animals.  I believe that they definitely have a sixth sense and are very emotional creatures.  In visiting the horses in my youth, I found that interacting with them was very calming.  If one approached them in a calm, relaxed, and trusting manner, they were also trusting and at ease.  Getting in close proximity to the horses, I spoke softly and warmly to them – particularly Sir Taurus – and they were always calm, easy, and even protective of me.

Elitist typically had more energy and spunk than Sir Taurus, so I was always more cautious around him.  While giving him carrots, I was always careful to watch out for my fingers, lest he mistake them for carrots and chomp away.  Sir Taurus was much more careful than Elitist in eating his carrots, using his intelligence and sensitivity to bite only the carrots and never get near any fingers.

At first when I stopped to visit the horses on my exercising jaunts, I brought them sugar cubes.  Interestingly, neither horse had any interest in them.  That was when I changed to giving them carrots, which they always devoured in a matter of seconds.  They absolutely loved carrots, and giving them carrots was a great way of having them approach me while they were in the outdoor, fenced fields.

About Elitist, I recall that he loved attention.  He was an extremely energetic horse, and almost seemed somewhat hyper.  He always behaved in a manner in which he believed that he was superior to other horses, including Sir Taurus.  When I stopped to visit them, I had to be sure to split my time equally between them, or Elitist would get antsy and upset, snickering his displeasure if Sir Taurus received more of my time than he did.  Sir Taurus was much more patient, gentle, relaxed, and secure in himself than Elitist.

There were times when I brought a heavy-bristled brush with which to brush them.  And, while Elitist was not very interested in being brushed, Sir Taurus could literally stand there all day and allow me to brush his neck.  He absolutely loved his neck being brushed.  I enjoyed that he enjoyed it.  He was a horse with which I connected.  He and I seemed to have an understanding which, on his part, was almost human.  Elitist enjoyed having his ears rubbed and scratched.  Both horses were amazing.

In 1989, I am aware that Sir Taurus held several world records in harness racing in New York State.  Particularly as a two- and three-year-old, he held many world records.  He was the co-holder of the world record with Mack Lobell on a 1/2 mile track with a time of 1:57.2h.  He was the only world record-holding son of Speedy Crown to stand in New York State at that time.  His breeding also included that through Vanessa Hill and Hickory Pride.  His career earnings as of 1989 were nearly $485,000.

That same year, it was announced that the $100,000 Elitist Cup would continue through 1992 to benefit those of his two-year-old offspring would be racing at that time.  He was purchased by Dan Gernatt, Sr. in 1983 due to his excellent race times of under and/or at 1:55, trotting or pacing (Abbey, 1984).  For two years, Elitist ran against the best horses in the field and earned $250,000.  His stud fee in 1989 was $3,000.  His breeding was by Bret Hanover-Melody Almahurst through a Meadow Skipper mare.

In the photo included in this post, Sir Taurus is possibly driven by Dave Vance, though I am unsure about that.  Vance was Sir Taurus’ driver for some time.  Most of the information that I have included herein is from uncopyrighted flyers that were issued by Dan Gernatt Farms regarding the horses in 1989, and which I have referenced below.

To this day, I enjoy being around and interacting with horses.  Sir Taurus and Elitist were two horses that I really loved.  On many occasions throughout my life, I have taken opportunities to go horseback riding, and to see that my son has experienced pony and horseback riding, as well.  While I have never been able to afford owning or maintaining horses, the opportunities that I have had to interact with them and acquire a love for them are those that I cherish.  Horses are truly gifted animals, and should never be underestimated in their sensitivity or intelligence.

References:

Abbey, H.C. (1984).  “Gernatt’s Horses Plug Collins.”  The Buffalo News.  Buffalo, New York: Berkshire Hathaway.

Dan Gernatt Farms (1989).  “Standing his Second Season at Dan Gernatt Farms: Sir Taurus.”  Dan Gernatt Farms.  Collins, New York: Dan Gernatt Farms.

Dan Gernatt Farms (1989).  “The $100,000 Elitist Cup Continues: Elitist.”  Dan Gernatt Farms.  Collins, New York: Dan Gernatt Farms.

“On Being a Reluctant Catholic” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Female Praying Hands with Rosary (Retrieved from http://rachelhelie.com/?p=404 , December 23, 2013)

Female Praying Hands with Rosary (Retrieved from http://rachelhelie.com/?p=404 , December 23, 2013)

For the past few years, especially, I have been and would consider myself a reluctant Roman Catholic.  There are many reasons for this, as I will reflect upon herein; and these are thoughts and feelings that I have personally encountered and coped with in the past, as well.  While I do have my own internal, personal struggles with being Roman Catholic, I have always returned to the same realization after much introspection and contemplation – to remain Roman Catholic.  I am sure that the internal struggles that I feel about being Roman Catholic will not just go away, and in fact, they seem to increase with time.  However, for now, I continue to remain Roman Catholic, whether more or less involved as I have been in the past.  My religion and spirituality are a strong part of who I am as a person, and are not things about myself that I take lightly.  And so, serious understanding, thought, awareness, introspection, and consideration are concerns that I bring to my own table in contemplating what being Roman Catholic means for me.

I was born, baptized, and raised Roman Catholic in the Greater Buffalo Area of New York State.  My mother is of purely Polish descent, and was born and raised Roman Catholic.  When my parents married, my dad converted from being a nonpracticing Quaker to Roman Catholicism.  My mother, especially, and my dad, often, attended weekly mass on a regular basis even before I was born.  Therefore, it was a sure thing that I would become Roman Catholic, being indoctrinated in the ways of Roman Catholicism.  It was an expectation that, as the offspring of my parents, I would be Roman Catholic.  My mother made sure that my brother and I received religious education.  We attended public school, and so, took religious education classes every Sunday before going to mass since religion is not taught in public schools.  We both attended religion classes at my hometown church and school from our ages of 5-16.

Even at a young age, the thing that struck me the most about Roman Catholicism was that there were few female role models in my church, and even fewer who were visible, appreciated, or recognized in any way.  Certainly, in the parochial school in my hometown, there were nuns who were principals and teachers, however I did not attend Catholic school and did not regularly experience women’s leadership involvement in my religion.  I attended religious education classes for one hour each Sunday, and went to mass for one hour each Sunday.  Therefore, it was the men in the leadership positions of the church whom I always saw, and who were always prominent in speaking, performing mass, and being at the forefront of the faith.

As a young girl, these experiences caused me to feel that the male leaders of the church were out-of-touch with children.  Of course, they spoke about God, Jesus, His family, and His followers, and how we should love Jesus, however their words always seemed so far away.  They seemed to preach about what they did not practice.  Jesus showed the example of being caring and compassionate for children, but I did not observe any of them being that way.  They did not know how to interact with children, how to appreciate children, how to respect children, how to relate with or reach children.  They were – and, often, still are – out-of-touch.  There was alot more spiritual need that I had as a child that went unrecognized, unnurtured, ignored.  As a result, I felt invisible and unappreciated by the male leadership of the church when I was a child.  They did not know, understand, or care about me.  They preached what they did not practice.  How is a young girl supposed to gain respect for those who are so distinctly separate from her?

When I was five or six, I had my weekly religion class with Sister Mary.  Sister Mary was a very young nun who always dressed in her habit, and who was a role model for me.  She was kind and caring to children, especially to me.  I was one who wanted to stay after class and help Sister Mary clean the chalk boards.  I had alot of questions for Sister Mary who probably thought I was more of a chatterbox.  She seemed to look for reasons for me not to remain after class to talk with her, however I ignored and overlooked her hints, and asked more questions.  Always, she was very kind, compassionate, and understanding.  To me, she always had the right answers, could relate with me, and placed me at ease and at peace.  The next fall, it broke my heart to learn that Sister Mary had been relocated.  I never saw her again.  Sister Mary was like an angel to me – and worse, an angel who had been ripped away from me.  I cried over the loss of my relationship with Sister Mary.  I needed a female role model to look up to, and to whom to ask all of my curious questions, and she was gone.

I never got that feeling back about anyone in a leadership position in the church even coming close to understanding me, as a person, until I took my Confirmation classes with the deacon of my hometown church.  Deacon Louis was extremely knowledgeable, and also very upbeat and enthusiastic about Roman Catholicism and people’s individual spirituality.  I told Deacon Louis that I was interested to learn more about the Rosary, and that I wanted to pray the Rosary but did not know how.  Deacon Louis provided me with a beautifully-pictured and colored pamphlet about how to pray the Rosary.  Wow!  For once, someone who actually listened to me – amazing!  As time progressed, I learned that Deacon Louis was very understanding and respectful about individuals’ faith and spiritual development.  Again, I privately spoke with Deacon Louis and let him know that I was contemplating a few saints to be my patron saint at Confirmation.  He made photocopies of a few pages of a book for me that he had about the saints that I had identified to him.  Based on that information that he provided to me, I chose my patron saint, St. Joan of Arc.  I had a great respect for Deacon Louis.  He was a man who was married and who had three daughters; he understood me and my need for faith and spiritual fulfillment in my religion.

Throughout my life, I have always tried to reach out to priests in the churches that I have attended and/or those in which I have been a member.  In most cases, I have not had good experiences in that the men seem unable to relate with or understand my experiences as a woman.  Most priests are extremely uncomfortable in speaking with me, as a woman, about women’s issues and traumatic life experiences, for examples.  Even less so, most are unable to understand and relate with me about relationship, marital, divorce, children’s, and even career and financial issues.  They often seem to feel threatened by or unable to cope with such topics.  One expects to go to a priest for support and guidance, and when it is not received, it may lead to one questioning his or her faith.  It makes me wonder if they are simply like most men who, when faced with a problem, want to “fix” it; or if they are truly unable to relate with or understand the issues that women, children, and families face.  Certainly, fixing problems is good, however there are often times when women simply want to talk out and vent their concerns, seeking emotional support; most priests seem to be unable to understand and provide that.  For these reasons, I have learned that it is often better not to approach priests with such issues because they are typically unable to understand about and relate to them with me, at least on a personal level.

In my mid to late 20’s, I seriously contemplated becoming a nun in the Roman Catholic Church.  As a person with a strong religious faith and who was single with no committed intimate partner in sight, I thought that religious life might be suitable for me.  I sought to understand whether or not I had “received a call” from God to become a religious.  I was a member of two Roman Catholic Singles groups in Western New York State, and had opportunities for interactions with many religious, both women and men.  In this capacity, I also learned more about religious life and took several opportunities to go on religious retreats with my peers.  I participated in one weekend retreat at a convent in Cheektowaga, New York.  I also personally interviewed with a nun at the convent in Athol Springs, New York.

While both of these experiences increased my faith and spirituality, they did not convince me to pursue religious life.  In fact, they did the opposite.  At the first convent that I went to, I saw women who appeared to do much praying and sitting.  Most of the women were older or elderly, and many did not have the medical assistance they needed.  It seemed that the convent was more like one big dormitory building for women of the same faith who prayed alot.  I did not see their good works, but only saw them living amongst each other in lives that caused them to be excluded from society at large.  I similarly observed and felt this at the second convent where I interviewed.  The elderly woman who interviewed me did so in her small bedroom.  She appeared to have no family, no nothing.  To me, she appeared to have lived an empty and solitary life, and was very much unappreciated.

After more thought, I realized that I did not want any of what I observed at the convents.  I felt sorry for these women, and angry at the Roman Catholic Church for requiring them to make such huge sacrifices in their lives.  I was also upset that the Church required priests to be single.  I did not believe that was fair, or took basic human nature into serious consideration.  It seemed to me that the Church wanted fewer people for which to pay simply by requiring that religious did not have families.  Conversely, I desired the opportunity to be married and have a family.  I also realized, after more thought, that I was pursuing religious life for some of the wrong reasons.  I had experienced a traumatic experience at college as an undergraduate, and pursuing religious life was a way of escaping from it.  I realized that, and decided to deal with it – and did.

As a woman in the Roman Catholic Church, I also realized all of the limitations on and misjudgments about women that it practices.  The Roman Catholic Church is often extremely rigid and insensitive toward people and understanding the basic needs of people.  Certainly, there are many wonderful things that the Catholic Church does in helping and supporting people throughout the world.  I have also received assistance and support from the Roman Catholic Church, but this has only begun being received after having been a member of the faithful for 41 years.  Most people cannot wait 41 or more years before some of their basic needs are met; they would be dead, otherwise.

The Roman Catholic Church is also extremely patriarchal.  Women are excluded from high-ranking positions in the church.  Women are not allowed to be priests or deacons, bishops or cardinals, or popes.  Even if a Roman Catholic woman becomes a priest, she is often not recognized or supported by her followers.  Women – often but for the Virgin Mary – are viewed in a negative light in Roman Catholicism.  After all, followers are typically taught that it was Eve who led to Adam’s downfall, and the resulting exit from Paradise.  There are different versions of this story that place equal responsibility on both Adam and Eve for being removed from Paradise, though those are the stories that one does not hear and that are not taught in the faith.  Whether consciously or unconsciously women are, therefore, blamed and condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.

Additionally, the Roman Catholic Church is also sexist.  In viewing Jesus’ mother, Mary, as a virgin and placing her virginity on a pedestal, the Roman Catholic Church has elevated a woman to a position in the natural world that is unrealistic for all other women.  Certainly, virginity and chastity are important for women, however they are also ideals that are not realistic.  Often, for example, the Roman Catholic Church does not hold the same ideals for men, and this leads to a sexist double standard.  Such standards are biased and unfair.  Further, the many prayers and recitations in the Roman Catholic Church are sexist because they are not gender neutral, therefore excluding and purposely ignoring the need for increased rights, equality, and freedoms of women within the Church.

The Roman Catholic Church is also sexist in regard to its views regarding abortion.  I am a Roman Catholic for whom the choice for life is extremely important, however I also understand that it is important to provide choice, as well.  As a person who has only had one pregnancy, and who has never had any abortions or miscarriages, I believe in the value or life, though I also support the importance of choice.  It must be understood that there are situations and experiences that girls and women have that may be traumatic, out of their control, and/or life-threatening.  The are other situations in which females simply decide against continuing their pregnancy.  Women and girls must have opportunities for choice in whether or not to give birth to children.  It is wrong when the Roman Catholic Church preaches about life, but then, does not provide support or assistance to girls or women who are in need of it.  And, what about the male who has caused a pregnancy to occur?  Typically, the Roman Catholic Church does not hold males accountable to a role of responsibility when women and/or girls whom they impregnate obtain abortions.  Again, the responsibility is usually all upon the female, and the male is absolved of responsibility.  The female, again, is often blamed, stigmatized, and lacks support she needs in the very place that should provide it.

In marriages in which there is difficulty, abuse, or domestic violence, Roman Catholic priests are not consistent in their views regarding what steps should be taken to either maintain or dissolve the marriage.  Such views contribute to confusion and increased sexism in the Roman Catholic Church.  Some priests maintain the view that the wife and children must be subservient to the male, whom they view as the head of the household and the absolute, all-powerful leader of the family.  Such a view is harmfully patriarchal, and in fact, can contribute to a worsening of the situation in which the victims continue to be victimized, blamed, and unsupported.  Men should not necessarily be believed or obeyed at all costs, or it could cost one her life.  (Then, of course, people will ask why she did not just leave the marriage.)   On the other hand, there are priests who encourage marital counseling for a couple who is in trouble, however none of those with whom I have ever interacted are qualified to provide it.  First, they are not licensed counselors, nor do they have experience in marriage, or in having a wife and family of their own.  Then, there are those priests who say that if counseling does not help and if the situation is so bad, then divorce is the best option.  Wait, I thought marriage was supposed to be forever.  Sometimes, however, no matter how much a woman may try to improve and maintain her marriage, divorce is the only viable alternative that remains, whether it is initiated by her spouse or herself.

There is also the issue of homosexuals in the Roman Catholic Church.  I am an individual who is and who always has been heterosexual, though I recognize that there is a need in the Roman Catholic Church to provide support and equality to all peoples, including those who are homosexual.  I am also one who believes that marriage should be – notice that I said “should be” – between a man and woman, though I recognize this as one of my values because this is what I was taught.  I also take care not to impose my values about this issue onto others.  Therefore, I maintain the view that marriage should be between two partners who love and are fully committed to each other, for the benefit of themselves and their families, if they have them.  Therefore, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church should not exclude or condemn individuals who are homosexual, nor create guilt in them or cause them to feel sinful simply because of their sexual orientation.

Further, there are many experiences that I have had in the Roman Catholic Church – a church that promotes Jesus and Christianity – that have been extremely unchristian.  Within individual Roman Catholic churches, schools, groups, and/or organizations affiliated with it, there have been a great number of situations I have had in which people who contend to be Catholic and Christian behave in decidedly unchristian ways, in ways of which Jesus would not approve.  There are many Roman Catholics who are basically hypocrites because they preach about and say they believe what they actually do not practice.

As an example of such hypocrisy, a number of Roman Catholic men throughout my life (both as a child and as a woman) have been sexually harassing (or worse) of me, and have outright wanted to have an affair with me, even though they are married and/or we were both married to other spouses at those times.  I am a person who has never – I repeat, never – had an affair with any man.  Even in a difficult (to say the least) marriage in which there were temptations to be unfaithful, I remained faithful to my then-spouse.  I have also turned down every man who has wanted to have an affair with me.  I understand that he is seeking something temporary and for his own gratification, and does not understand the seriousness or implications that having an affair would create on himself, his wife, and his children.  The Roman Catholic Church and society must teach men to be faithful to their wives and families, even when times are tough.  When times are tough, it is taking the easy way out to throw in the towel regarding one’s marriage and commitment.  More instruction and better role models are needed for Roman Catholic men (and all men) in regard to maintaining and developing healthy marriages, at least from my perspective.

Another major issue in the Roman Catholic Church is abuse and sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and/or harassment by priests toward female and male congregants, particularly those who are younger and/or who are in positions of vulnerability.  In churches and dioceses throughout the United States, in Ireland, and elsewhere, there have been numerous instances of sexual abuse by priests.  While I have not personally experienced sexual abuse by any priests in the Roman Catholic Church, I do know of those who have and those who have perpetrated abuse that was unrecognized by the greater congregation and not at all addressed, corrected, or resolved by higher level diocesan church leaders.  Such abuses have ripe ground to occur in such a closed, structured, hierarchical organization of men who all too often have ignored, overlooked, and not considered the seriousness of the situations.  Instead, and all too often again, abusive priests are ushered along to different parishes where they continue and/or escalate their abuses, and/or continue them unrecognized.  Certainly, there are many good priests, and those who perpetrate abuses give a bad name to those who do not.  And, the Roman Catholic Church has implemented serious steps at preventing future abuses, as one good thing that has come from these situations, however they do continue to occur.  Such abuses by priests have caused many followers to leave the faith, and to lose hope in the very people who are supposed to be Christ-like.  I personally know of several people who have left Roman Catholicism because of these issues – such issues that should never occur.

Because of all of these experiences that I have had as a Roman Catholic, and more, I have become a reluctant Roman Catholic.  In the past couple of years, I have actively sought out and have considered other faiths.  All of the faiths that I have considered are still within Christianity, though they have been either less Catholic or more Protestant than Roman Catholicism.  In these faiths, however, I have found many issues that are similar to those I have encountered in the Roman Catholic Church.  Certainly, in some faiths, women have higher positions of power and might actually be the highest leader of their faith, however I observe that being practiced to the most minimal extent in the area where I live around Atlanta, an area that is mostly Baptist and thus, also highly patriarchal based on related religious and cultural views.  Also, in other faiths, the Virgin Mary is not held in nearly the same regard as she is in Roman Catholicism.  While Roman Catholics may place her on a pedestal and view her unrealistically in regard to virginal expectations of women in society, she is completely absent in some other faiths, leaving me with a feeling that I could become a member of such a faith, but that is the only thing holding me back – that faith’s exclusion of Mary as the Mother of Jesus.

So, I always return to the same crossroads – do I remain Roman Catholic or do I convert to another faith?  While there are many things in Roman Catholicism with which I disagree and do not support, I always reach the same answer – to remain Roman Catholic.  The most important part of my decision always includes that I am a faithful follower and believer in Jesus.  I might not agree with many of the practices of Roman Catholicism, however I do believe in the teachings of Jesus.  I have always come to the conclusion that I can pray for myself, and my friends and enemies.  I can pray that the eyes of those who have sight but who are blind can be opened.  I can work to do more to bring awareness about the importance and value of women and children in the Church, rather than support the male leadership’s exclusion of them.

I recognize that I am one who is not content to simply accept the rigid, patriarchal, and sexist nature of the Roman Catholic Church, but who is one who strives to bring increased equality and support to marginalized groups, including women and children.  While Blessed Teresa and Pope Francis, for examples, are excellent role models within the Roman Catholic Church, and have brought much compassion and support to people around the world, I, personally, continue to experience much rigidity, patriarchy, sexism, and inequality in my faith.  I doubt that the Roman Catholic Church will ever provide full equality, understanding, or acceptance in the Church for women, and while I am intolerant of that, I do accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  Thus, I continue to remain a reluctant Roman Catholic, and will likely revisit this issue at many points throughout the remainder of my life.  I place my faith in God that He will continue to guide me on the path that is right for me.