Southard Family History Adventure
Merlin D. Wolcott - 1972

    There are adventures in tracing a family history. It is exciting to find an ancestor virtually come to life, although one cannot always find more than the vital statistics.
    As a young boy, I heard my paternal grandmother talk about her father, who came from Long Island and settled in Ohio. John Kimble Southard was born 14 December 1835, at Seaford, and he learned the boatbuilding trade at Greenport. John K. and his brother came to Ohio in September, 1857. As soon as they earned enough money, they established a boatbuilding yard near Lakeside, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, which is situated near the famous Lake Erie Island area. One of their small yachts was the fastest on Lake Erie at the time. The Fanchon won the Put-in-Bay Regatta in 1883, 1884, and 1885. One passenger steamer, the Osceola, was the largest craft they built.
    It was not until last year that I carefully examined the Southard Bible which was stored in the attic. My grandmother always called this her father's Bible, because this is how she had remembered it. As I studied the family record section between the Old and New Testaments and the
items which had been preserved, I could see this was actually John Southard's Bible. It was John Southard, who purchased the Holy Bible published in Cooperstown, New York by H. & E. Phinney in 1843. The family record was that of John, a Hempstead farmer, and not his son, John K., although the birth record of the children of John K. was entered on a separate sheet inserted in the section. Here, then, is the remarkable story of the Southard Bible. Remarkable, because there unfolded an unusual family [history] adventure.
    John Southard was born 8 May 1800 and he died fairly young, on 1 J u 1 y 1844, leaving a widow and six children. The seventh and last child was not born until 16 July 1844. The widow was Ann (Whitmore) Southard. I could not remember hearing about her, but the facts speak for themselves. Ann Whitmore remained a widow for the rest of her life, and she lived to be over eighty-two years old. One cannot imagine how the widow managed to raise a family of seven.
    Ann's parents, Timothy and Lydia (Lucas) Whitmore, were dead by the time she was left a widow, but her father-in-law lived until 3 July 1851. The Whitmores had lived on Hogs Head Road (now Old Mill Road) in Ridgewood (now Wantagh). John may have been in ill health the month previous to his death because he made a will saying he was in "sound mind and memory and considering the uncertainty of this mortal life." He made provisions for his wife and minor children.
    Then, I found a small envelope with an old letter enclosed. It was headed Seaford, Long Island, and dated April 12th, 1881. The letter read in part, "I will write my family record." The old lined paper and the script in purple ink was an unusual find. Here my great great-grandmother seemed to reach across the years. 'She wrote mostly about the vital statistics of her own immediate Whitmore family. It is obvious that she had preserved the family history.
    As I went through that Bible I found several poems, one of which was in the same purple ink and the same script as the letter. The unsigned original poems had been safely preserved all these years in the old Bible. These Victorian verses reveal the innermost thoughts of a Long Island woman facing life. She states passing thoughts in phrases such as, "suffering a n d enduring duty," "Forgive if my spirit grieve . . .", "from the scenes I love so well."
    An ancestor came to life through her own words. This is indeed unusual adventure in reaching back four generations to Old Long Island. It is a rare experience to know much beyond the third generation of the family history. An old woman living at Seaford somehow managed to bring the past and present together.
    The next item was a Victorian Valentine. It was one of those fragile newspaper cut-outs with an intricate heart with two birds at the top. It was in perfect condition. In the center is the clear date in the newspaper print, "1858." As a February pastime, Ann created a valentine thirteen years after her husband passed away, but the sentiments of Ann survived a full one hundred and fourteen years.
    Ann (Whitmore) Southard was born at Cold Spring. After her marriage she lived at Hempstead, but after her husband's death she apparently moved to Seaford, where she spent the rest of her life. Ann's death certificate was recorded in Hempstead, and it shows she was buried in Bellmore. The cemetery is completely abandoned now. The gravestones must have been destroyed in recent years, because neighbors remember seeing gravestones there.
    While it appears the graves of John and Ann (Whitmore) Southard no longer exist, efforts are being made to have the cemetery maintained.

THE SOUTHARD FAMILY  - comments relating to the above

    My eye was attracted to the "Southard Family History Adventure" in the December 1972 issue and I began to wonder what I had in my records. In going over old newspapers for material on the history of the railroads, I have also been copying out the obits and marriage notices and this collection of entries has become very large, probably larger than most libraries have.
    My longest file is that taken from the Hempstead Inquirer, running from 1865 to 1893 inclusive. I was surprised to discover that I have 53 cards for Southards and thought you might like to publish the names for the delectation of Merlin D. Wolcott, author of your article, and other genealogy buffs.
    The following named all bore the name Southard, which is not repeated, to save space: Abigail d Freeport July 9, 1870 w of George, age 66 yrs, 3 mos. 17 days. Abram A. d Baldwins Jan. 5, 1880. Albert S. of Seaford, m Hempstead Oct. 28, 1870 to Martha A. Cheshire of Oyster Bay. Amanda of Baldwinville. m at New Bridge Aug. 14, 1866 to Asa Soper of Baldwinville. Amelia d Freeport Feb. 25, 1884 w of Miles, age 44. Angeline d at Christian Hook June 3, 1867 w of John H. age 23.
    Ann d Ridgewood April 9, 1884 widow of John, age 82 yrs, 11 mos. Anna E. d Baldwins April 20, 1881 eldest d George B. and Mary A. age 14 yrs, 5 mos. 21 days. Carman of Baldwins m there June 8, 1884 to Mamie A. Pettit. Carrie of Hempstead m in Brooklyn April 17, 1887 to John H. Glover of that place. Charles W. d Hempstead May 4, 1884 s of Henry B. of Bellmore, age 31 yrs, 10 mos. 8 days.
    Charles W. of Bellmore m in Hempstead Nov. 29, 1882 to Annie M. Smalling of Hempstead. Elijah d Christian Hook May 14, 1875 age 74 yrs, 9 mos, 2 days. E. Terry of Baldwins m in Conn. Jan. 1, 1883 to Emma Whaley of Baldwins. Eliza d at Baldwinsville May 27, 1871 d of George & Elizabeth, age 17. Emma d at Hempstead Dec. 5, 1887 d of Daniel F. age 10. Francis J. of Baldwins m there Oct. 26, 1884 to Jennie Carman of Baldwins. Mrs. George d at home of Warren Combs May 1889.
    Hannah L. m at Freeport Jan. 15, 1880 to Benjamin T. Smith of Freeport, d of Henry B. of Bellmore. Helena VanWyck Southard m Sept. 28, 1867 to Charles Henry Davis of Hempstead. Henry m Emma Thomas, both of Baldwins Oct. 5, 1873 at Freeport. James d Baldwins April 6, 1878, age 78, Jane «- of Benjamin d at home in Lattingtown Nov. 6, 1888. John H. Rockville Centre m May 6, 1869 Sarah C. Pearsall of Rockaway. Kate of Baldwins m at Roslyn Dec. 23, 1883 to Charles Duffett of Woodsburgh.
    Leander of Oceanville m at Rockville Centre Jan. 8, 1890 Matilda Huke of Norwood. Levi d at Jamaica Dec. 29, 1891 age 59, formerly of Baldwins. Mary d Baldwins Feb. 17, 1878 w of Sealey, age 57 yrs, 7 mos, 19 days. :Mary d at Baldwins Feb. 28, 1880, w of John, age 30 yrs. Mary Em. ma d Hempstead village Sept. 20,1876, age 17 yrs, 7 mos, 4 days. Mary E. d Hempstead village Sept. 21, 1881 w of Solomon, age 60 yrs, 8 mos, 2 days. Minnie E. d Hempstead village Sept. 5, 1872 d of Francis M. and Delaphina, age 6 mos, 13 days. Miles of Free port m Nov. 10, 1885 Catharine J. Maguire of Brooklyn.
    Phebe Ann m Newbridge June 22, 1866 to Samuel B. of Smithville. Phebe Eliza d at Baldwins Dec. 13, 1887 w of Levi, age 54. Sarah relict of George, d Freeport May 18, 1889. Priscille of East Meadow m March 4, 1866 at res. of William Sprague, East Meadow, to Abram Smith of N.Y.C. P.R. of Seaford m at Rockville Centre June 8, 1884 to Jennie Rorer d of George W. Rorer of Oceanville. Samuel B. m at Newbridge June 22, 1866 to Phebe Ann Southard of Smithville.
    Samuel B. of Hempstead m there April 29, 1890 to Adeline Thurston of that place. Sarah d at Baldwins Nov. 10, 1884 widow of James, age 79. Sarah d Freeport Nov. 2, 1879, relict Thomas, age 98 yrs, 21 days. Solomon m Mrs. Rhoda Matthews, both of Hempstead, at that place Feb. 2, 1882. Susan d Seaford April 23, 1892, age 85. Susie E. of Williamsburgh m in N.Y.C. Jan. 6, 1869 to George Sperling of that place. Sylvester W. d Hempstead June 3, 1889, age about 30.
    Tewnsend F. d Oceanville March 3, 1889 age 57 yrs, 1 month, 8 days. Wilbur m at Wantagh to Minnie Seaman October 1892. William d Baldwins Nov. 11, 1886 age 78 yrs, 7 mos, 29 days. William H. of East Meadow m at Bellmore Aug. 18, 1886 to Charlotte A. Smith of East Meadow. William J. m at East Rockaway Nov. 17, 1892 to Nellie H. Dennis of that place. William P. d Hempstead Dec. 9, 1887 s of Daniel & Emma, age 3 yrs, 3 mos, 2 days.
    Quite a list! Looks like it includes quite a few of the inhabitants of Baldwin and Merrick 100 years ago.

Vincent F. Seyfried.

Mr. Seyfried is the author of "The Long Island Rail Road", of which five volumes have been published and a sixth is in preparation. Volumes 1 and 2 are out of print.

This article originally appeared in The Long Island Forum December 1972 - no copyright data was posted