Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: These Girls are Sitting Pretty

This snapshot is from one of my Grandmother's early photo albums probably taken between 1910-1925. The girls look pretty pleased with themselves!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

SUNDAY OBITUARY: Catherine Todd McFall, Mt. Solon, Augusta Co., VA

Third Great Grandmother Catherine (Todd) McFall’s obituary was printed in the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator, Friday, February 7, 1908 issue, published in Staunton, Virginia.

Staunton Spectator and Vindicator, Feb. 7, 1908

Staunton Spectator and Vindicator, Feb. 7, 1908


   This most estimable lady passed away Saturday night at Mt. Solon, her death being due to pneumonia and the infirmities of old age. The deceased was the daughter of the late James and Catherine Todd, and was born in the Mt. Solon neighborhood, in the month of January 1823, and she was in her 86th year. She was a sister of James and Preston Todd, who preceded her to the grave.
   Many years ago she married David McFall, and of this union four children are now living, namely Stuart B. of Washington; Hamilton B. and B. Chambers McFall, of Mt. Solon, and Miss Maggie McFall, of the same place. She is also survived by many grandchildren.
   Her whole life was passed in the village of Mt. Solon, her children grew to manhood and womanhood there. She was such a part and parcel of the neighborhood, and her good work was so intimately interwoven in all that transpired there that she will be greatly missed. In so far as she was able she assisted in charity and her Christian life was a model, her motherly virtues a source of pleasure, and her struggle with the care of a family in her widowhood was brave and successful. She had long been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and her funeral took place from that church on Monday afternoon being conducted by her pastor, Rev. W. H. Marsh. The funeral being attended by many friends and relatives.


   Mrs. Catherine McFall of Mt. Solon, Va., after several weeks of illness, died at her residence in the village at 10 p.m. on the first day of February, 1908, aged 85 years. She was born in January 1823, and was a daughter of James and Catherine Todd, who settled on a small tributary of Mossy Creek about the middle of the 18th century. She lived all her long life on and near the place of her birth. She had three sisters and four brothers—none of whom survive her. Her remains were borne to the grave by six of her grandsons who acted as pall bearers. She was the widow of D. B. McFall, a former merchant of the village, and was a consistent member of the M. E. Church, South, for many years. The funeral services were conducted by her pastor, Rev. H. W. Marsh. The hymns sung during the services were “I would not live alway,” “Lead kindly light” and “From every stormy wind that blows”—the latter one of her favorite hymns. Although she suffered much during the latter part of her sickness, she never murmured; being perfectly rational to the last when she sank peacefully to sleep. Her last hours were cheered by her bright anticipation of joining the hosts of the redeemed who had gone before. Her death will be deeply regretted by her relatives and numerous friends who will never forget the cheerful smile which so frequently wreathed her handsome, youthful-appearing face; but they are comforted by the reflection that their loss is her eternal gain, and it will be their privilege to meet her again in the remains of everlasting bliss, “Far beyond the sunsets radiant glow, where sickness and sorrow, pain and woe, and the pangs of separation, are known no more forever.”
                                                                                                                                J. T. C.

Line of ancestry:
3rd Great Grandmother Catherine Todd and husband David McFall
2nd Great Grandfather James Addison McFall and wife Rodie Maria Harman
Great Grandmother Flora Belle McFall and husband Daniel Franklin Joseph
Grandfather James McFall Joseph and wife Lucy Leora Clemmer
My Father

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Workday Wednesday: The Clemmer’s Come North to Work at the New York State Homeopathic Asylum in Middletown

The State Homeopathic Asylum of Middletown, New York was built in 1874 and was the first established hospital for the care of the insane in the country.

The hospital grew from one building on a 250 acre farm to become known as a ‘city within a city’. In past years the State Hospital housed patients in Pavilion One and Pavilion Two as well as Annexes One and Two. There was a medical library for the staff that also included a large literary collection for the patients. The grounds included an entertainment hall, superintendent’s residence, blacksmith shop, nursing school, laundry cottage, infirmary, bakery, kitchen, staff house, nurses and attendants’ home, coach house, drug store, fire house, and power house. A baseball club included both patients and staff. The Middletown State Hospital was a major employer in the area.

The early superintendents believed in work therapy. They felt it was beneficial for the patients to be busy and productive. Work therapy helped the State Homeopathic Asylum become self-sufficient. Farming was an important aspect of patient treatment and at the same time was financially advantageous to the ‘city within the city’.

The local newspapers regularly published accounts about hospital events and staff.

News of the State Hospital, Middletown Times Herald, Jan. 21, 1932
Middletown Times Herald, Middletown, New York
Thursday, January 21, 1932 issue

My grandparents, great grandmother, great aunts and uncles were among the large work force required to support and care for the patients and institution. When my grandmother Lucy Leora Clemmer began working in Middletown, there were approximately 3,292 patients residing on the grounds.[1]

Great Uncle Casper Garber from Augusta County, Virginia recollects:

Along about 1924, when Janie was 18, she found a job in the Western State Hospital, and then Lucy and Lynwood followed. They soon learned that Middletown, New York had the same kind of hospital which was paying almost twice the wages they were in Virginia, and so there was a migration to Middletown. Because the Virginians were considered good workers, they hired them as fast as they came. So Janie, then Lucy and Lynwood came to Middletown, New York to work in the State Hospital. Little did they know that this move would change the lives of the entire family in the future.”

When my grandmother arrived from Virginia, it was reported in the ‘State Hospital News’ published by the Middletown newspaper, the Daily Herald, Wednesday, August 11, 1926, 5th paragraph.

   “Miss Lucy Clemmer from Staunton, Virginia, arrived here Sunday evening. She was met at the station by the following Virginians, who acted as a reception committee: Miss Jane Clemmer, a sister; Walter Gordon, Guy Edwards and Miss Margaret Carper. The party went on a sight-seeing tour to Newburgh and other parts of historic Orange County, and arrived home at a late hour Sunday evening.”

Lucy and Janie’s brother, Lynwood Clemmer, arrived in Middletown the same year. The three worked as attendants residing on the hospital grounds.[2]

Lucy Clemmer at Middletown State Hospital

Grandmother Lucy Clemmer

Jane and Lucy Clemmer in front of Nurses Home, Middletown State Hospital

Janie and Lucy Clemmer
Standing in front of Nurses Home on Hospital Grounds

While my grandparents weren’t yet married, my grandfather James M. Joseph also was working at the Middletown State Hospital in 1926.[3] He was employed as an attendant and lived on the grounds like my grandmother.

James M Joseph, Lucy Clemmer and Elmer Jennings, Middletown State Hospital

James M. Joseph, Lucy Clemmer
and Elmer Jennings
Standing in front of Nurses Home on Hospital Grounds

Paul Hayes and James Joseph, Middletown State Hospital Employees

Paul Hayes and Grandfather James Joseph

Great Grandmother Ella (White) Clemmer joined her children in Middletown a few years after Great Grandfather James Clyde Clemmer passed away (1928). By 1930 another Clemmer daughter, Elsie, was then employed as an attendant for the Middletown State Hospital.[4] Great Grandmother Ella was not working at this time but lived on Oliver Avenue very close to the hospital with her younger children.[5]

By 1931, Ella had become a hospital attendant and in 1933, Great Grandmother was working as a cook in the kitchen[6].  In case you didn’t notice, Great Grandmother was mentioned in the ‘News from the State Hospital’ article above, paragraph nine:

   “Mrs. Ella Clemmer left on the nineteenth for Virginia on vacation time, which will expire on the thirty-first of the month.”

All the Clemmer children made the move north from Augusta County, Virginia with the exception of daughter Helen. Helen remained in Staunton marrying Uncle Casper Garber July 5, 1930. Staunton was their home for many years.

My ancestry
Great Grandparents Ella Virginia White and husband James Clyde Clemmer
Grandmother Lucy Leora Clemmer and James McFall Joseph
My Father

If you would like additional reading about the Middletown State Hospital, click here to view the Centennial Chronicle The Story of 100 Years of the Middletown State Hospital 1874-1974.

[1] State of New York Fifty-Sixth Annual Report of the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital at Middletown, New York to the State Hospital Commission For the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1926, page 9
[2] 1926 Middletown, New York City Directory, page 123
[3] Ibid, page 213
[4] 1930 Middletown, New York City Directory, page 119
[5] 1930 Federal Census, Middletown, Orange Co., NY, sheet no. 11B, line 65
[6] 1931 Middletown, New York City Directory, page 118; 1933 Middletown, New York City Directory, page 109

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


James McFall Joseph, my paternal grandfather, was born in Augusta County, Virginia. His paternal ancestry included Spitlar, Dunlap, Piper, Hanger, Acker and Eccord ties.

Grandpa’s mother was a McFall, a descendant of members of the Harman, Todd, Fifer, Hall, Siple, Rader, Bittle, Preston, Wolfe, and Shirey families.