Sunday, July 29, 2012

What else I discovered about Amos J. Cummings

Yesterday I pulled a small book, chosen totally at random, from my shelf to examine it more closely. Over the years my husband and I have taken advantage of the used book sales that area libraries offer. We're drawn to the really old, often tattered books, usually small in size. We examine them for autographs, inserted papers, dried flowers, old bookmarks, and things like that. I recently put an arrangement of some of our prized old relics on a shelf that had formerly supported houseplants. The book I chose was "Famous Biography", which I wrote about in my previous post, dated July 28. It was autographed, and evidently from the personal library of Amos Jay Cummings.

Since I've spent so much time over the past dozen years researching the families of me and my husband, I'm prone to refer to my genealogy database when I find a new name, to see if I might have some connection to a newly-met friend, or in this case, a newly-found autograph. After I wrote about Amos J. Cummings, I searched my database for the Cummings name. I discovered that I did have people by that surname in my file, and then noticed that one of them was married to a direct ancestor of mine. My color-coded direct lines in my RootsMagic database make that type of searching easy. The name I found was Nathaniel Cummings, husband of Abigail Parkhurst. I knew I have a 7th great grandmother named Mary Parkhurst, so I went to Google to do a search on the ancestry of Amos J. Cummings. I wanted to see if there might be a connection between Nathaniel Cummings and Amos Cummings. I found a message on the boards at that mentioned a web site dedicated to the descendants of an Isaac Cummings. My search there revealed the ancestry of Amos. I examined my Rootsmagic database to see if any of his ancestors were also listed among my 'Connections'. Indeed they were. I was just beside myself. I commented in astonishment to my husband "I just don't believe it!" Well, the truth is I should have easily believed it because I often find connections between myself and random people, whether I see their portrait in a frame on a restaurant wall, or notice a familiar name carved in stone in the cemetery.

From the information I gathered, I was able to put together this chart to show my connection to Amos Jay Cummings.
All these years I had no idea that I owned a book from the library of a very noteworthy American gentleman who also happened to have a family connection to me. Amos's 5th great granduncle married my 7th great grandaunt. My greatest joy in doing family history research is discovering connections and I certainly found a good one this week!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Story Behind one of my Books

CUMMINGS, Amos Jay, a Representative from New York; born in Conkling, Broome County, N.Y., May 15, 1841; attended the common schools; apprenticed to the printing trade when twelve years of age; was with William Walker in his last invasion of Nicaragua in October 1858; during the Civil War served as sergeant major of the Twenty-sixth New Jersey Regiment, Second Brigade, Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac; filled editorial positions on the New York Tribune under Horace Greeley, the New York Sun, and the New York Express; elected as a Democrat to the Fiftieth Congress (March 4, 1887-March 3, 1889); declined renomination in 1888, but was subsequently elected to the Fifty-first Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel S. Cox; reelected to the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses and served from November 5, 1889, to November 21, 1894, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Naval Affairs (Fifty-third Congress); elected to the Fifty-fourth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Representative-elect Andrew J. Campbell; reelected to the Fifty-fifth, Fifty-sixth, and Fifty-seventh Congresses and served from November 5, 1895, until his death in Baltimore, Md., May 2, 1902; interment in Clinton Cemetery, Irvington, N.J. 
What isn't included in this brief biography is that Amos J. Cummings was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 4, 1863 as a member of the 26th New Jersey Infantry, because he "Rendered great assistance in the heat of the action in rescuing a part of the field batteries from an extremely dangerous and exposed position."

Why am I writing about Amos J. Cummings? This afternoon I was looking at this small group of books that I have on the top shelf of a bookcase in our foyer. 

The 7th book from the left is this: "Famous Biography: Heroic Lives, Great Authors". I took the book from the shelf today and opened it to see the Table of Contents.
This is what I found inside the front cover: 
You can see at the top of the page the autograph "Amos J. Cummings, 32 Charlton St., N.Y. March 6, 1892." The next page shows that the book came from the Cummings Library. 
The pencil markings at the top of the page show that I paid $5.00 for the book at a sale uf used books at the Union Printers Home in Colorado Springs, CO. 
The next page has this name: Carrie Beu, 1887. 
The Table of Contents again is autographed. 
A lot of information is available online about Amos J. Cummings, but what I found most interesting is a statement taken from the third paragraph in this New York times clipping: "Mr. Kindelon spoke of Mr. Cummings as a union printer. He said that, although for thirty years of his life it was not necessary for him to earn a livelihood as a printer, Mr. Cummings never forgot his fellow craftsmen at the case, and that when he died there was found in his pocket a card of membership in Typographical Union No. 6, paid up until August 1906." In spite of his achievements as a well known writer for the New York Sun and his service in the House of Representative, he was proud to be a "Union Printer". And I bought this autographed book that belonged to Amos Jay Cummings when it was for sale at the Union Printers Home in Colorado Springs, CO (pictured below).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

FindAGrave Volunteering Brings Leads

I volunteer to photograph gravesites for One of the requests that I received last week was for the gravesite of Horace and Rebecca Brady at Lakeside Cemetery here in Canon City, Colorado. They happen to be the great grandparents of our son-in-law Brandon Brady. By following up on the request, I was able to add this headstone photo to my database and also found the name of a relative to contact (the requestor of the photograph). 

The same day that my husband and I went to the cemetery for this photo, I received from FindAGrave a request for a picture of a headstone of Mrs. Frank (Theresa) Blankis. I recognized that name because I was contacted by someone a few months ago with a surname of Blankis. She is related to my son through his birth mother and had formerly been married to Theresa Blankis's grandson! I won't be photographing her headstone since it's in Salida, Colorado at Fairview Cemetery. It's unlikely that we'll travel the hour through the Bighorn Sheep Canyon west to Salida. But the contributor of that memorial is probably related to Theresa Blankis so I have a name of someone to contact for added information for my database!