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.

“Poland and my Polish Heritage” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Four Generations of my Family, 2006

Four Generations of my Family, 2006

My grandparents (now deceased) on my mother’s side were pure-blooded Poles, having left Poland and immigrating to Germany before coming to Ellis Island around 1950.  My Polish-American grandmother was Władysława, or “Lottie,” and my Polish-American grandfather was Janek, or John.  I never knew either of my grandfathers as they both died before I was born.  Grandfather John died following a two year battle with cancer, possibly brought on by working with the many chemicals at the Tannery in Gowanda, New York, where he lived.  Both of my grandparents worked very hard to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of four children, one being my mother.  Sometimes, my grandmother worked two or three jobs at a time, such as waitressing at a local restaurant and tending plants at a local nursery.

Life was not easy for my Polish-American grandparents who left Europe after World War II.  But, they left because they did not want to take the chance of experiencing another Great War, and they wanted better opportunities for their children.  After all, America was the country that was flowing with “milk and honey,” as they had heard.  For two people who did not have more than an elementary or middle school education, nor knew any English upon setting foot in the United States, they certainly worked hard and did the best they could.  Sponsorship of their family by cousins already in America helped pave the way for a different fate for their family than occurred for the siblings of my grandparents still in Poland.

My grandfather was one of about 10 children in his family.  I remember being told that his mother apparently told him when he was a young man that no woman would want to marry him because he had a glass eye.  In those days in Poland, being poor and having a disability meant having fewer opportunities, as well as potentially being a societal outcast.  When I think of such a statement, now, I think of how ridiculous it sounds, particularly with so many people who have disabilities making the best of their lives.

Me with the Drewin's, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Me with the Drewin’s, Krakow, Poland, 1992

My grandmother was the middle child in a family of three daughters.  Her sisters were Staca (pronounced “Stashia”) and Marianna.  Many years ago, Marianna visited and stayed with my grandmother for three months in the United States on a temporary visa.  And, many years following that, I had the privilege of studying at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and seeing her again!  As a senior at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, I participated in the popular study abroad program to the Jagiellonian University in 1992.

In the midst of studying intensive Polish language at the Jagiellonian – with the intention of being able to properly communicate with my Polish relatives in Poland – I sent a postcard to Marianna.  A few days later, Marianna and her family arrived at my dormitory building, surprisingly unannounced, and took me out for the day.  I then made plans to visit them for a weekend, and got to meet 15 of my Polish relatives in Poland, including Marianna’s family, the Drewin’s, who lived in Kielce.  It was wonderful to see and visit with them all, and to provide monies to them that I brought specifically for them from the family at home.

Jagiellonian University Study Group at Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Jagiellonian University Study Group at Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Studying in Poland at the Jagiellonian University was a wonderful experience.  If I could have the opportunity to do it all over again (and at the same age as I was at the time), I would.  Studying abroad in Poland was highly recommended to me by my fellow student colleagues who were members of the University at Buffalo Polish Club.  Many of them lauded praises about the program.  Because so many of them said such great things about their experiences, I decided to apply for the opportunity to go.  It was very exciting to be accepted into the program, and to have taken the opportunity to go there.

Tapestry in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Tapestry in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, 1992

While in Poland, I did much sight-seeing with my English-speaking (mostly composed of Americans) study group at the Jagiellonian University.  We visited the historic Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the amazing Wieliczka Salt Mines, the religious pilgrimage destination of Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa,  and had regular opportunities to see Krakow’s St. Mary’s Basilica and visit Krakow’s main market square.

Entrance Building at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

Entrance Building at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

On my own, I also traveled to and visited Berlin, Germany during one weekend; and with a student colleague, I went to Prague in the former Czechoslovakia, for another weekend.  On yet another weekend, the same student colleague and I visited Vienna.  I found Berlin to be a historic city, one in which a person could still obviously observe the differences between the former West and East Germanies.  And, Prague is just an amazingly beautiful and historic city, with many historic structures still standing, having not been demolished in previous wars.  Vienna was an incredibly beautiful city, also being extremely modernized and commercialized.

Life-size Madonna and Child Statue in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

Life-size Madonna and Child Statue in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

I have many memories of my time spent studying abroad and travelling in Europe.  I had such a wonderful experience in studying abroad that I returned to Europe two years later.  At that time, I travelled with my mom through the British Isles, including England, Scotland, and Ireland.  Following that, I went solo, traveling through many European countries.

St. Mary's Basilica, Krakow, Poland, 1992

St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland, 1992

While in Europe in 1994, I used my Brit Rail and Eurail passes to travel by train, everywhere.  I traveled lightly with only a couple of bags, and remained in Europe for about one month.  In all, it was a fabulous experience, and I highly recommend it.  I would definitely do it all over again if I ever had the opportunity.

I am very proud of my family, my ancestors, and my Polish-American heritage.  While there are additional nationalities in my make-up from which I am descended, the Polish part of me is the strongest next to that of being American.  I am thankful that my Polish-American grandparents had the fortitude and courage to come to America, where they succeeded in creating a better life for their family, and their descendants to come.

“How Time Flies: Graduating From UB…20 Years Ago” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

UB President Bill Greiner and I at Commencement, May 1993, Amherst, New York

UB President Bill Greiner and I at Commencement, May 1993, Amherst, New York

Twenty years ago this month (February 2013), I graduated from the University at Buffalo (UB) in Buffalo, New York, having earned two baccaulaureate degrees in psychology and political science.  Unofficially, I also earned a specialization in music performance in voice and clarinet.  And, I completed my studies at this very rigorous university in less than 3.5 consecutive years.   I completed my studies in December 1992, my degrees were conferred in February 1993, and I participated in the Commencement Ceremony in May 1993.

It is so difficult to comprehend that 20 years have already passed since my degrees were conferred!  It seems like such a lifetime ago that I had graduated from my high school in Gowanda, New York, and began my adult journey in life at UB.  How fitting on this President’s Day, February 18, 2013 – 20 years since I completed my undergraduate studies at UB – that I should recall some of the good memories of my younger and more inexperienced days as a college student there.

As a college student at UB, there were so many activities in which I was involved.  Always very outgoing, I wanted to be involved in as much as possible, desiring to get the most and best that life had to offer.  At UB, the world opened up to me and I took it all in – the good, and the bad, too (when I couldn’t avoid it) – like a sponge.  UB was my oyster, and I revelled in all that it had to offer.

Indeed, I am proud of all that I accomplished and all in which I participated and/or had leadership opportunities with at UB.  With all of my classes, activities, and just living in general, there was not enough time in the day to pack everything in!  During my first year, I carried a heavy load of classes, while also performing in the wind ensemble (and being a soloist) and chorus, as well as participating in field events on the women’s track team (and earning a personal best in shot put at the NCAA championships), being involved in student government and yearbook, and going for tutoring on some evenings for my failure in chemistry.  I also immersed myself into intermediate Spanish during my first year, and was happy to be exempt from introductory English composition, however I had to take courses to catch up on my math proficiency.

As time went on, I also found the Polish, Irish, and German Clubs at UB, and was involved in each one, being both the Treasurer and Homecoming representative of two of the groups.  I will always appreciate my Polish Club Homecoming co-rep for showing up and being a gentleman during one particular year because the co-rep from the Irish Club chickened out and forced me to go solo, which I did during another year, however embarassing that was (needless to say, he never showed his face at the Club meetings again after that).

Being a member of these ethnic/language-related clubs opened my world yet further to students of Irish descent from New York City, as well as those of Polish and German descent from right around Buffalo.  The Irish Club, in particular, was a favorite of mine because I could always “let my hair down” and be myself with my friends in that group.  No matter our background or experiences, we always respected and accepted each other, and enjoyed each other’s company.  Additionally, it was my membership in the Polish Club that opened up opportunities to visit Poland as an exchange student to Jagiellonian University – and travel to several European countries, which I did during one summer, and had an absolutely fantastic time!  It was all just as it was described to me – and so much more.

In changing my major from physics to psychology in my second year at UB, I found my life becoming much less stressful.  No longer pursuing studies toward my goal of becoming a veterinarian, I found classes in which I truly excelled and enjoyed, those that “fit” my personality.  Psychology and the social sciences were right up my alley, and I took opportunities to complete independent research in political science, as well as to be a research assistant in a sensitive graduate-level psychology research project.  Also, the more classes that I took in political science, the more I enjoyed them, and became a double major, desiring to go to law school and become an attorney.  I, therefore, became a member of the Democrats Club, as well as the Political Science Club, and traveled with several members during one year to visit Yale University, a very impressive campus, indeed.  And, in my last semester at UB, I was named to the Dean’s List – miracles never cease!

Also during my time at UB, I was involved in other activities such as the Aeronautics Club, Striders Club (and I often went running independently at night under the lights), Recyclers Club (I had responsibility for managing the recycling in my dorm), and I was a regular participant in the religious celebrations of my faith that were held on campus, where I also became a lay Eucharistic Minister.  I also remembered the memory of a slain fellow UB student, Linda Yalem, by attending a memorial service for her, and running in the Memorial Run in her name.  I also worked part-time on campus, and was involved in so many groups and activities that I have difficulty bringing them all to mind.  Further, I took opportunities to attend college sports games, such as volleyball and basketball, even after having attended so many football games as a member of Pep Band.  It was in Pep Band that I met some really great, “real” people with whom I became friends, and with whom I kept in touch for a number of years as a student at UB (see photo to follow).

Me with my Friends, Karyn and Lori from Pep Band, on Graduation Day at UB, May 1993, Amherst, New York

Me with my Friends, Karyn and Lori from Pep Band, on Graduation Day at UB, May 1993, Amherst, New York

Within all of that, I attended many college events that included students, student-athletes, student government representatives, public officials (such as the mayor and governor), and college leaders (such as the president and his family, vice president and his wife, dean of students, and others).  Not only did I know many students, professors, religious leaders, and coaches, but I also met and got to know a few of the college leaders who so often worked behind the scenes to improve the university and try to make it better for everyone.  Of course, there were situations in which they did not always make things better, but I believe that the majority of them tried to the best of their ability to achieve that endeavor.

Particularly in my last year at UB, I got to know UB’s President Bill Greiner (sadly, who is now deceased) and his wife, Carol.  It often seemed that no matter where I was or what event I was attending, they were there, too!  It was great to see Bill and Carol so “involved” in student life at UB.  It was wonderful to observe and experience their commitment – not only to each other as great role models – but also their commitment and dedication to the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and patrons at UB.  I always made a special effort to speak with Carol as she is so intelligent, insightful, and positive, always having something kind and encouraging to share.  I definitely aspired to be more like her as she is such a great female role model and inspiration.

Before leaving UB upon completing my studies in December 1992 to head to New York City for about one year, I asked President Greiner to write a recommendation on my behalf.  Being so proud of myself and all that I accomplished at UB, as well as having some bittersweet memories and having experienced a critically life-changing event in my last semester as a student at UB (and surviving through it in the years to come), I desired something more to take away with me from my UB experience – just some pieces of paper with words written on them about me by others familiar with me.

My First Recommendation Letter, from UB President William Greiner, December 1992

My First Recommendation Letter, from UB President William Greiner, December 1992

My recommendation from President Greiner is the very first formal, written recommendation that I ever received (see document above).  He very eloquently and concisely stated many kind things about me, which I fondly remember and review to this day.  His recommendation is also one that I sent, along with my resume, in my job search to about 100 law firms in Buffalo in 1993-1994.  The piece of paper that I received from him was one that certainly helped to open a few doors for me, and I will always appreciate that, even though I did not pursue a law degree.

In fact, I can look back on it now, and remember a conversation that Bill and I shared one day, during which he inquired about the career I intended to pursue.  When I told him that I was interested in being a lawyer, he actually discouraged me from pursuing a law degree, stating that law firms are like factories.  I believe and warmly recall that he already knew that such a profession would not fit my personality.

There is definitely alot that I miss about UB, and I have fond memories and tearful nostalgia about many of my experiences at and through UB.  UB was a place in which I became an adult, whether I like it or wanted to, or not.  I can remember so many wonderful things about my experience at UB, however one or two critically hurtful things have also colored and clouded my perspective, still, to this day.  However much I would like to remember only the good things, the harmful experiences are also a part of who I am, of who I have become, for whom I advocate, and for whom I support – women (and children) who are victims and survivors of violent crime, trauma survivors.

While I believe that there are reasons for everything, I must be real in remembering my experiences at UB, both good and painful.  While there are many more good things that I experienced as a student at UB, what I experienced that was harmful – I believe – has shaped me into becoming a better, and more insightful, compassionate, sensitive, and understanding individual.  My experience at UB has helped me to become an advocate for and supporter of victims.  And, however painful, I have my experience at UB to recognize for that, too.

I also have that experience in being aware that not all offenders of violent crimes are apprehended, charged, or prosecuted, as well.  Further, such experience taught me that survivors of violent crimes may be revictimized by police and prosecutors.  I would not be who I am today without recognizing and being aware of all of my experiences, and I am now thankful (in a very sad way) for having such an experience because it has helped me to relate more personally with other victims and survivors of similar experiences, including those who are close to me.  While we cannot remove from our consciousness those painful experiences, we can try our best to make them better for ourselves and others.  I, therefore, remember that when I left UB, I intended to change the world, however it has been the world that has changed me.

So, on this President’s Day 2013 – and 20 years to the month that my baccaulaureate degrees were conferred to me – I remember and recall many of my experiences as a college student at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB).  I had many wonderful experiences there, met many wonderful people there, and have many fond memories of my time there.  However much I would prefer not to remember the painful experiences that I had there, I would deny myself and not be who I am today.

And so, I must also be strong in mind, body, and spirit and integrate all of my UB experiences into my life, God willing.  Hopefully in doing so, I will have also assisted and supported others who have had similar good and/or painful experiences in their lives.  Therefore, I must recognize UB, for giving me the wings to soar into my life – in all experiences.

References:

DellaContrada, J. (2009).  William R. Greiner Dies.  Buffalo, NY: UB – University at Buffalo: News Releases.

Scrivani, Maria (1999).  Bill and Carol Greiner: UB’s Perfect Pair.  Retrieved on February 17, 2013 from http://www.livingprimetime.com/AllCovers/jul1999/workjul1999/bill_and_carol_greiner.htm

State University of New York at Buffalo Graduation, May 1993.  Buffalo, NY.

Special Note:

This article was also published by both the University at Buffalo Alumni and RAINN on LinkedIn (February 2013).  Mountain View, CA: LinkedIn.