Archives For Geneology

River Redux

May 31, 2016 — 3 Comments

Three nephews, three races. That is the deal I struck with Tommy, Alex and Matt in 2014. Alex was my partner last year. This Memorial Day it’s Tommy’s turn.

Memorial Day has always been a special holiday in Sidney. My sisters, brother and I grew up marching in the annual parade in our Boy Scout and Girl Scout uniforms. We would start at the Prospect Hill Cemetery. From there we marched down the hill, across the railroad tracks, past a sandwich shop and along Main Street to a flagpole in front of the village Post Office for a wreath laying ceremony. After the parade we’d visit the Regatta grounds for one last day of carnival rides and food before heading back to school on Tuesday.

This Memorial Day weekend Sidney dedicated its newly finished memorial park to veterans. I didn’t make it in time for the opening ceremony but visited it with Tommy and Matt before heading to Cooperstown for the start of this year’s 70 mile endurance race.

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I spend most of my visit studying the memorial to the veterans from my high school  and learn that the American Legion Post my father belonged to was named for Charles Jacobi who was killed during the First World War and that two brothers, Kenneth and Douglas Keller, lost their lives during the Second. I cannot imagine how devastating that must have been to their parents and classmates.

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Then I read the nine names on the Vietnam plaque. Seven of these veterans grew up in a small nearby town called Sidney Center. At the time it had a population of about 500 and in a period of less than 90 days seven families received visits notifying them that their sons had been killed. I did not know them or their families but you can read about them here, and you should.

While studying the plaque I remember what it was like to grow up during that conflict. I was not yet 4 years old when Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that authorized the use of conventional military force in Southeast Asia. I was 7 when 70,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops began the Tet Offensive, the battle that would take the lives of the seven young men from Sidney Center.

Woodstock would take place 70 miles from the house where I grew up, during the summer before I turned 9. My friend Sandy, who lived in Sidney Center, would later wear a POW Bracelet. The war would end and Saigon would fall before I graduated and that is why, thankfully, none of my classmates’ names are on that wall.

I spend the rest of the day preparing for Monday’s race and watching Alex and his friend compete in the 15 mile sprint race. On race day we are a little behind schedule getting to the start line and in the rush I drop my sunglasses into Otsego Lake. I try to scoop them with my paddle but it doesn’t work and I watch the glasses that I was wearing when I crashed badly on my bike and when I crossed the finish line of the Lake Placid Iron Man sink slowly away.

The race was grueling, as I suppose it always is. It was hot and humid in the morning and then it rained when we had about 12 miles to go. Tommy worked hard all day and our paddling was evenly balanced and efficient. We made it through the most challenging sections of the river without any problem but flipped later after misjudging any easy rapid just south of Wells Bridge. The heat took its toll and the first half of the race went much slower than last year. We were faster below Oneonta and finished just a few minutes behind last year’s time.

I leave Sidney early Tuesday and pass through downtown. It looks much different than it did in the 1970s. I drive down the hill and across the railroad tracks and remember that when the ceasefire was declared in 1972 the sandwich shop located there changed the letters on its outdoor sign to read “Peace – Thank God” and how relieved everyone in Sidney was that the Vietnam war was coming to an end.

I stop at the newly repaired traffic light and then cross over the river on my way out of town. I am a bit sore and glad to leave the river behind me. But more than anything, I am proud that the tiny village where I grew up has built such a fitting memorial to the nine Sidney graduates who did not live to see the message on the sandwich shop sign at the bottom of the hill across the railroad tracks.

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Good Morning Starshine

March 9, 2015 — 2 Comments

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Anna Elizabeth Hubert was born on August 11, 1914, in Newark, New Jersey and died on August 27, 1956, in Saranac Lake, New York. She was my grandmother. She had two brothers, John and  Edward, and one daughter, Mary Ann, who was my mother.

Anna worked in a hospital and contracted Tuberculosis, which is how she ended up in Saranac Lake where she received treatment at Trudeau’s sanatorium. She was in Saranac Lake on November 18, 1942, when she received a telegram from her husband, Edward McGrath, who was on a layover in England before heading home on the troop transport SS Coamo. His message to her was short but very sweet,

ALL WELL AND SAFE MY THOUGHTS ARE WITH YOU FONDEST LOVE DARLING

She was still in Saranac Lake when she learned that his ship had been lost at sea; when Army Chief of Staff General Marshall sent her official condolences; and also on December 15, 1943, when Secretary of War Henry Stimson wrote advising her that a Purple Heart had been awarded posthumously to her husband, explaining:

The medal, which you will receive shortly, is of slight intrinsic value, but rich with the tradition for which Americans are so gallantly giving their lives. The Father of our country, whose profile and coat of arms adorn the medal, speaks from across the centuries to the men who fight today for the proud freedom he founded.

And she was still in Saranac Lake on November 23, 1948, when a letter came confirming that my grandfather died when a German U-Boat torpedoed the Coamo.

While my grandmother was dealing with her disease and the loss of her husband, my mother was in Islip Terrace being raised by her grandmother, Katherina Hubert, and her uncles, John and Ed. They also served during the war and John would return home seriously injured, walking with a limp and unable to use his left arm and hand.

My grandmother died before I was born, but John and Ed and their children and grandchildren were an important part of our family. In the late 60’s and early 70’s we spent our summer vacations visiting John and Ed in Islip Terrace. Some of the best times we had during those visits were trips to John’s beach house in Fire Island Pines, which we reached by taking the Sayville Ferry. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, we actually witnessed first hand the conversion of the Pines from a place with a sign that proclaimed “Welcome to Fire Island Pines — A Family Community” into the much more sexually liberated, tolerant and diverse community it is today.

There were no cars on Fire Island because there were no roads. Instead there were only boardwalks and everyone used red Radio Flyer wagons to carry groceries and beach chairs and towels. We were often joined by John’s grandchildren and together the seven of us would fish for eels off the harbor dock or wade into the Great South Bay and shuffle our feet to find clams, which my dad would steam for dinner. I learned to body surf on the Atlantic side of the island and first read about the adventures of Ian Fleming’s James Bond from paperbacks I found on the bookshelves that lined the walls of the beach house.

We were there in the summer of 1968 shortly after the musical “Hair” opened on Broadway and also in the summer of 1969 when Oliver’s rendition of Good Morning Starshine became a hit. Sometime after that a decision was made to play the song over the loud speakers set up around the harbor every morning at 7:00 AM.

John’s house was close to the harbor and that song served as our alarm clock, welcoming us each morning to the start of another amazing day on Fire Island with my mother and her Uncle John.

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I recently came across this essay my father wrote for an English class during World War II among the pictures and letters I have to remember him by.

Young Boys Solve Meat Shortage

Last Tuesday evening at dusk the Ridgedale and Valley Road “ginsters” solved the meat shortage by having fricasseed garter snake a la “57” sauce. The novel adventure took place in the ravine called “Second Creek.”

This outing was led by “Willy” Burns head of the “ginsters.” Burns presided as chief broiler and was assisted by the notorious Frank Buck of the crowd, Jimmy Staker. The snake was fricasseed to a savory brown. Vitamins A, B, C, D, and Z were all extracted but plenty of minerals remained. The reptile was served with plenty of relish, the main course being pickles. There was plenty for all, the snake being a garter. 

The meeting closed by all members participating in an enthusiastic snake dance about the dying embers. . .

My father died eighteen years ago. And while I don’t think I’ll ever try fricasseed garter snake, today I will smile a little imagining how much fun he must have had, that Tuesday evening long ago, snake dancing with his friends around the dying embers of a campfire.

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A soldier writes home

June 5, 2014 — 1 Comment

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On Wednesday, March 28, 1951, my father wrote the following letter from Yeongdeungpo, Korea:

Dear Folks:

I write to say hello and to tell all of you that I am fine, hope that you are too.

Today I received letters from all of you plus one from Albert Haigh – am planning to reply to him tonight.

I guess that mother’s chaperoning at Aθπ is probably over now since vacation time must be over by now. I got a big kick out of Angie telling me that a certain individual was caught speeding in that big Town of Moravia and if that’s not bad enough this “20 year driver” did not even have his license. Even I did not forget my license when I got caught in Moravia. You must be careful you know.

I wrote my first PIO story for the 51 as you know and it has been sent out. If it gets in Stars and Stripes I will send you the clippings since you will probably enjoy the big snow job.

I guess that Earl’s chickens are coming along real fine by now and that the 1500 new ones should be arriving about the time this letter does. With that he will have 2500, 4% loss should give him about 2400 good ones. What types of poultry is he raising, layers or broilers? The way I understand it upstate New York is not too advantageous for the broiler type and that layers are the thing so I suppose you will be getting some of Earl’s fresh eggs before long. The way to plan it is to have your big laying season in the spring (April) when the price is high. Or is it late fall? I’m not so sharp on my principles of poultry marketing anymore but there should be a book on it someplace in my room.

I have not received any of those bulletins — the ones for me and the ones for Shanks — I guess that they will probably come through sometime soon though.

My latest accomplishment was the “mastering” of the game of chess — very interesting — much more so than checkers. If I have to stay over here another 5 or 6 months I should be an expert by the time I hit 212.

Give my best to Angie, Earl, Grace, Gil, Angie Rae, Rex and Two-bits.

Love to all.

x x Paulie x x

Letters like these were very important in my family and I have a small collection of the ones my father wrote while serving in Korea. They kept my grandparents from worrying too much about the battles that were raging on the other side of the world and perhaps allowed them to sleep a little more peacefully while they waited for him to return safely home.

Earlier today our President defended his decision to exchange five Taliban fighters in order to obtain the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Speaking in Brussels, the President explained “I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction. This is not some political football. You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land, who they hadn’t seen in five years, and weren’t sure whether they’d ever see again. And as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids.”

Re-reading my father’s letter, I am proud that all our Presidents, from Washington to Lincoln to Bush and to Obama, have held steadfast to the bedrock principle that our Country does not leave its soldiers behind on the battlefield.

My grandparents surely felt the same way too.

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Remember David Kelley

May 21, 2014 — 4 Comments

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David Kelley was born on March 5, 1962 and died in 1973 from Cystic Fibrosis. I married his older sister thirteen years after that. David loved the Peanuts characters and after watching one of the many cartoon specials he would write in his own words the story as he remembered it. Here is my favorite:

Your In Love Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown is in love with a little red-headed girl on a day before the last day of school. When Charlie Brown got to school he decided to write a note to the little red-headed girl and give it to her sometime in the day.

Just then his teacher called on him to recite. He had to take a stack of paper to the front of the class and in his nervousness dropped them all. After considerable fumbling he began to read his report. “Dear little red-haired girl. How I have longed to meet you.” The class roared with laughter. Poor Charlie Brown, he had read the wrong things.

During the lunch hour Charlie felt worse. He just sat alone on the bench. He longed to go over and ask the little red-haired girl to eat lunch with him but that’s kind of a difficult thing to do when you’re afraid of being laughed at like Charlie Brown here.

When Charlie Brown realized the spot he was in he had to do something fast or wait for three months til school started again. At one time in the afternoon Charlie went over to the pencil sharpener where he thought he might talk to her but he got nervous and ended up sharpening his ballpoint pen by mistake.

That night Charlie knew what he had to do. Tomorrow was the last day of school and there would be only one half session. Therefore he would have to meet the little red-haired girl at the bus stop, so just to make sure he got there on time he set the alarm for four o’clock. When the alarm went off at four Charlie Brown woke up. His eyes were barely open when he went outside. When Charlie got to the bus stop it wasn’t long before he was asleep. When the bus finally came Charlie Brown was still asleep. The roar of the bus pulling away awoke Charlie.

He ran after it but it was no use. This meant Charlie wasn’t going to be early he was going to be late. Charlie climbed over the fence and opened the door. He crawled along the floor and was just beside his desk when the teacher saw him. Now he had to explain why he was late and do a math problem on the board besides. It looked like Charlie Brown was trying to solve all the math problems in the world at one time. Then his teacher asked him if he knew what he was doing. “No Ma’am, I don’t have the slightest idea.” For the second time in two days everyone in the class laughed at Charlie Brown.

Soon the morning would be over and school would be out and the little red-haired girl would be gone. Then Charlie thought why couldn’t I meet her at the bus stop. The bell rang and Charlie led all the children out of school. Charlie stopped and looked for his girl. Kids swarmed by. Some more kids ran by. Charlie looked in all directions but the kids were too much for him. Before he knew what had happened the bus pulled away. Charlie said why couldn’t something go right? Why does everything have to go wrong? Wait! What’s this? Somebody tucked a piece of paper into Charlie’s hand. It read:

I like you Charlie Brown
Signed
Little Red-Haired Girl

The End.

I don’t know if David knew he was going to die when he wrote this. He did know he was very sick but still tried to live his life to the fullest. He learned everything he would ever learn about love from Charles Schulz and I don’t believe he could have had a finer teacher. And while he never got to meet his little red-haired girl, he died knowing what love is and perhaps that was enough.

Rest in peace brother.

David John Kelley
March 5, 1962 to April 12, 1973

Abigail, a father’s joy

August 22, 2013 — 6 Comments

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This morning in Baltimore was beautiful, much like it was twenty years ago when our daughter Abigail was born.

I slept well the night before, not realizing that Kathy had been up for hours in early labor. She woke me with the suggestion that perhaps we should think about driving to the hospital. A minute later her water broke.

My first job was to pack some clothes for the baby. I picked out six “onesies,” clueless that the stay at the hospital would be measured in hours, not days. This was the beginning of a slow learning process for me. After we brought Abby home, my next job was to buy diapers. I went to the nearby Giant, walked down the aisle where the baby products are sold and picked out four packages of diapers. One for each age grouping from “1 to 3 months” to “9 to 12 months.” At the checkout stand the cashier looked at my purchases and asked how many children I had. “Just one,” was the answer. She gave me a knowing smile and said, “Don’t worry Dad, children don’t grow up that fast.”

No. It turns out they grow up much faster.

Happy 20th Birthday Abby.

Love,

Dad

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My father, Edwin Paul Hoskins, was born on February 27, 1930, in Ithaca, New York, the youngest child of Edwin Ray Hoskins and Ethel Bernice Williams.

He was not a stellar student. He attended Cornell University for a year or so, did not do well, and enlisted in the Army shortly before the outbreak of the Korean Conflict. After his honorable discharge, he finished college and then law school. He spent a few years as an Assistant Attorney General before starting a law practice in Sidney, New York, where he worked regularly until he died. He married Mary Ann McGrath on January 24, 1959.

He became jaundiced in 1994, shortly after our daughter Abigail was born. The doctors originally hoped that removing his gallbladder was all that would be necessary, but quickly discovered pancreatic cancer. After doctors at Johns Hopkins performed the Whipple procedure, he spent the summer of 1994 recovering at our house in Baltimore, resting for many hours in a hammock we had hung on the porch. Although Abby doesn’t remember much about his stay, he enjoyed visiting with her everyday that summer.

He returned to New York in great spirits and spent the next two years living his life to the fullest. At first the prognosis seemed promising, but ultimately the cancer returned and spread to his lungs.

He died on July 13, 1996, on my mother’s 62nd birthday. I left him earlier that day to drive back to Baltimore, explaining that I would visit him again on the next weekend. He died shortly after I finished the drive. We buried him in Ithaca two days later.

My next open water swim is this Sunday at Rocky Point Beach and Park. Together with several friends, I will complete the three-mile Purple Swim to help raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death and it has the lowest relative survival rate of any major cancer. For this reason, of the 45,000 Americans who will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, only 7,000 will be alive in five years. Because of these grim statistics, pancreatic cancer is the least-studied of all major cancer killers with only two percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget dedicated to pancreatic cancer research. With only so much money to go around, cancer researchers have focused their efforts on other, more survivable, cancers where their research can do the most good.

Although the treatment provided my father did not cure him, I am forever grateful to the doctors who did their best and gave my father two years to get to know his granddaughter. And for this reason I will swim on Sunday in memory of him and in honor of the families who are currently struggling with a disease for which there will likely never be a cure.

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Edwin Paul Hoskins
February 27, 1930 to July 13, 1996

This is the story of Lydia Presbrey and Samuel Hoskins, the man she married on June 13, 1776.

The story begins with the Presbrey family well established in Taunton, Lydia’s grandfather having married Hannah Smith a member of one of the oldest and most prominent families in the Massachusetts colony. Lydia’s father, William, was the oldest son and first in line to inherit this estate. There were four sisters in the family. The oldest was Mary, who was four years older than Elizabeth, who was two years older than Lydia, who was two years older than the youngest daughter, Abigail.

In 1773, their father died unexpectedly at age 47, having only outlived Lydia’s grandfather by two years. At the time of his death, the two oldest children, William and Mary, were already married. A sizable estate was left to the family, but nearly half of it passed directly to William as the oldest son. Lydia’s two remaining sisters, Elizabeth and Abigail, were married in 1775.

All this occurred in the months leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in the midst of social and political unrest in Massachusetts. On March 3, 1774, for example, the British Parliament enacted the Boston Port Act in response to the Boston Tea Party. It outlawed, by blockade, the use of the Port of Boston until restitution was made for the lost customs duty and the damages suffered by the East India Company.

This blockade and other hostile acts by the British, prompted the Provincial Congress, on October 26, 1774, to call for local militias to organize themselves into companies of Minute (sometimes spelled “Minnit”) Men, who were to be equipped and prepared to march at a moment’s notice.

A week earlier, on October 19, 1774, the Red Flag of Taunton was raised in protest on a Liberty Pole in the village green.

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The Third Regiment of Bristol County was organized on November 19, 1774, and divided into an East Division and a West Division. On February 6, 1775, the East Division raised three Minnit Men companies and Samuel served as a private in the Company commanded by Captain Robert Crossman.

Two months later, on the evening of April 18, 1775, eight hundred British soldiers marched from Boston to Concord to destroy the military stores deposited there. The British fired upon militia men at Lexington early on the 19th, killing eight men, marking the start of the War of Independence in what would become known as the battle of Lexington and Concord.

The reports about Lexington and Concord arrived in Taunton late on the 19th and Samuel along with the rest of Captain Crossman’s Company marched for Roxbury on April 20th to provide support. After the battle, the Provincial Congress ordered that an Army be created. Taunton was required to furnish one Company of men for the new Army and Samuel served as a Private in this Company, which was led by Captain Oliver Soper. This enlistment lasted from May 2, 1775, thru August 1, 1775.

Samuel was home from the fall of 1775 through the spring of 1776 and on May 1, 1776, he joined nearly one hundred other men from Taunton in signing a document known as the Solemn League and Covenant. The signers committed themselves to making war against the British and defending the Colonies, promises that amounted to treason at the time.

Lydia and Samuel’s first child was conceived later that night.

Bristol County’s militia was reorganized in the spring of 1776 and Samuel was ordered to report to his new assignment in Colonel Thomas Marshall’s Regiment on June 27, 1776. Lydia and Samuel were married two weeks earlier, she now well into her pregnancy and he about to leave again for battle, perhaps never to return.

Samuel survived the ensuing skirmishes and had other enlistments through 1781. In 1784, he along with his father’s family moved to Berkshire County and later to Whitehall in Washington County, New York. In 1798, they moved to Scipio in Cayuga County, New York, where Samuel owned a farm in the Military Tract of Central New York

Samuel and Lydia Hoskins spent the rest of their lives together in Scipio and had eight children. Melinda, the child conceived on the night Samuel signed the Covenant, did not make the journey to New York, having died before the War of Independence was won.

SOURCES

1. Hoskins, Edwin Ray, A Hoskins Family Record with Reference to the Descendants of William Hoskins (Son of Henry and Ann Winthrop Hoskins) Migrated to Massachusetts 1633 (E. R. Hoskins 1963) (U.S. Library of Congress, CS71.H351 1963). Samuel Hoskins was born on September 9, 1753, the oldest son of Joshua and Lydia (Robinson) Hoskins. Samuel’s ancestors are traced as follows: Samuel 6; Joshua 5; Samuel 4; Samuel 3; William 2; Henry 1. The first american, William 2 (b. 1615, d. 9/7/1695) migrated to Massachusetts in 1633, and married first Sarah Cushman and second Ann Hinde (sometimes identified as Hinds or Hynes), who was the mother of Samuel 3.

2. The Boston Port Act, 14 Geo. III. c. 19.

3. Emery, Samuel Hopkins, History of Taunton, Massachusetts From its Settlement to the Present Time (D. Mason & Co. 1893), Chapter XX, page 435-39, 445, 483

4. Hurd, D. Hamilton, History of Bristol County, Massachusetts, with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men (J. W. Lewis & Co. 1883), page 845.

5. Rev. Joseph Waite Presby, William Presbrey, of London, England, and Taunton, Mass., and his descendants, 1690-1918 (1918, The Tuttle Company).

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My paternal grandfather, Edwin Ray Hoskins, was a professor of agricultural education at Cornell and an avid genealogist. The family history he published in 1963 is full of stories about journeys and choices in life, but none more fateful than the story of a young British sailor who one day decided to walk away from his ship and start a new life in America.

That sailor, William Presbrey, was born in Blackfriars, a section of the southwestern part of old London, in 1690. Parents at this time often “bound out” a child to another family, or elsewhere, to remain until he became of age, to learn a trade. And when William was ten years old, he was bound out for service in the British Navy.

Eleven years later his ship landed in Boston Harbor and, on July 30, 1711, William became a deserter after being granted permission to go ashore. Instead of returning to his ship he fled Boston, walking for four days through the fields and woods until he reached Taunton. There he stopped at the house of Nathaniel Crossman, who was a farmer, miller and shoemaker.

Nathaniel hired William for a year or two and history recounts that William rigged the first properly equipped sailing vessel used on the Taunton River, drawing on his training from the British Navy. William then married Hannah Smith from one of the oldest families in the Colony and lived until he was eighty-one years old. William and Hannah had two sons, William and Joseph, and one daughter Hannah, who died a young woman.

The older son, William, worked as a deck hand on cargo vessels and a shoemaker, and lived in that part of Taunton known as the Weir. He married May White and they had the following children: William (1746-1832); Mary (1747-1832); John (Nov. 15-19, 1749); Elizabeth (1751-1816); Seth (1752-1833); Lydia (1753-1824); Abigail (1755-1836); John (1756-1845); Simeon (1758-1840); Levi (1760-1800) and a daughter born and died in March, 1762.

Lydia married Samuel Hoskins, who fought in the War of Independence. Their journey together is a story for another day.

For now, I’ll close with an ironic quote from Joseph Waite Presby’s genealogy:

Someone has said: “trace your ancestry back a few generations and you will find a gallows and a member of the family hanging on it.” That might be true in some families but it is not true of the descendants of William Presbrey. We have found no record of any one in our family who has ever been tried in court for any crime or misdemeanor, or been sentenced to prison. We do not by any means claim that all have been saints or angels, or even perfect in character; but the members of this family for several generations have ranked among the steady, law-abiding, industrious class of citizens who have helped to develop the resources and business interests of this country and make this Republic a model among the nations. Like most of the settlers in the Old Colony, the Presbreys were immigrants from England, and just the right kind of people to subdue the wilderness and plant the institutions of civil and religious liberty in the new world.

So, while I’ll be sure to remember William’s journey on July 30th, I won’t forget that had the British Navy caught him in that summer of 1711, none of this ever would have happened.

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Sources

“To The Generations of Presbreys in Coming Time, I Bequeath this Genealogical Document” (1825 & 1845), available at Old Colony Historical Society, Taunton, Mass.

Rev. Joseph Waite Presby, William Presbrey, of London, England, and Taunton, Mass., and his descendants, 1690-1918 (1918, The Tuttle Company).

Edwin Ray Hoskins, A Hoskins Family Record with reference to the Descendants of William Hoskins (Son of Henry and Ann Winthrop Hoskins) Migrated to Massachusetts 1633 (Scipio Center, N.Y., 1963), CS71.H351 1963, U.S. Library of Congress, 118 NEHGR 165.

Military History Now, This is Gonna Hurt — Military Punishment Throughout the Ages

I visited Long Island this weekend to attend a wedding and remembered a conversation long ago with my late mother, Mary Ann McGrath Hoskins, about her father who had died in the North Atlantic during the early days of WWII. According to my mom, Central Islip renamed streets in honor of its war dead, and a street had been named for her father. Although I’d spent many summers on Long Island as a kid, to my knowledge we had never visited the street. On July 6, 2013, with the help of Google Maps, I found it after a five minute drive from the airport:

Lat. 40:47:31.86, Long. -73:12:1.01

Edward F. McGrath was born on April 24, 1912, in New York, the son of Andrew R. McGrath and Winifred M. Mulrooney. He was the fourth of six children. He enlisted on June 4, 1942, at Fort Jay on Governor’s Island in New York. He had previously worked as an attendant at the Central Islip Asylum

Winifred was born in 1876 in the Irish Free State, and emigrated to the US through Ellis Island as a passenger on the ship Ethiopia, a British flagged ship built for the Anchor Line, which set sail from Londonderry in late July, 1899.

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Forty-three years later her son, my grandfather, was lost at sea aboard the steam passenger ship Coamo, after it was torpedoed by U-604, while desparately trying to make it home to New York.

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The Coamo was sailing as part of convoy MKF-3 and was about 150 miles west of Ireland when it left the convoy on orders of the British Admiralty and proceeded independently towards New York. At 10:18 PM on December 2, 1942, U-604 fired one torpedo from 800 yards at the Coamo that was traveling at 17.5 knots. The torpedo struck under the bridge and caused her to sink in about five minutes. The ship had eleven officers, 122 crewmen, 37 armed guards and 16 US Army passengers on board.

A few men were seen leaving the ship on rafts but they were likely killed in the gale that swept the area for three days beginning on December 3rd. This was the greatest single loss of a merchant crew on any U.S. Flag merchant vessel during the Second World War.


By my count, twelve families now live on McGrath Street in Central Islip. This is the story of how their street got its name.

SOURCES

1. Bud Shortridge,

http://home.comcast.net/~cshortridge/MERSHIPHIS/AMERSHIPL/SS_COAMO.pdf)

2. Allied Ships Hit by U-Boats, http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/2486.html