From the Poor House to the Soldiers’ Rest Home



Admission to the Greene County Poor House

My 3x-great-grandfather William Justice Warner had an interesting journey the last 15 years of his life. In 1870 he is living in Athens, Greene County, NY with his wife Mary and two sons, William and Walter.

According to William’s military pension records, Mary died in 1871 in Athens. In late May 1883 William is admitted to the Greene County poor house. The document includes some interesting info, including his place of birth and that of his mother and father.

In the remarks section it indicates:

He has no home, says he has come here for that reason to live and die here. He has no other other home, is a very nice old man deserving of a great amount of sympathy and care.

In 1887 William shows up in Bath, Steuben County, NY at the New York State Soldiers and Sailors Home. Oddly enough he is listed as married in the admission record, but widowed in the previous record. He lists his son, William, as next of kin and gives William’s address in Brooklyn, NY. That building looks like this now:

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In 1892, William Justice Warner moved to this address to live with his son William and his family – wife Minnie, daughters Alice and Florence, and son George.

Finally, in 1897, William Justice winds up at the Soldiers Home in Hampton, Virginia where he dies the following year.




So You Sold the Farm…

I’ve been looking for my ancestor’s farm by scouring old maps and looking through old texts for clues. As usual, I turned to to search through hundreds of pages of old newspapers. After searches for “Josiah Warner” didn’t turn up much, I started looking for Warner with a combination of place names such as Catskill, Athens, Coxsackie, and Greene County. These searches turned up a few articles pertaining to “Jofiah Warner”.

Then I found this:

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The description of the farm’s location matches previous texts. Josiah didn’t arrive in the area until right around 1800, so why is he trying to sell his farm only 5 years later, and where did the family live if this land indeed sold? Census records show Josiah Warner stayed in the local area—perhaps on this land or perhaps somewhere else. The mystery continues!

Scouring Old Maps

My 3x-great-grandfather William Justice Warner and wife Mary Van Loan, his parents William Jackson Warner and wife Amelia Mix, and grandparents Josiah Warner and wife Olive Jackson lived in Athens, Greene County, New York. They were farmers by all accounts, with William Justice Warner’s son (William John) as the first to pursue a different livelihood.

I’ve been searching for the burial locations for most of these people. William Justice is buried in Virginia, but his military pension records indicate his wife Mary died in 1871 in Athens, NY. I believe the older Warner’s also died in Athens. It dawned on me that as farmers, they were likely buried on their own land, but where was the farm?

Histories of Greene County and Athens, NY indicate the boundaries of Athens are as follows:

“…beginning at the south end of a bridge that has lately been erected arose the Murderer’s Kill that empties into the Hudson River near the house of Josiah Warner…”

“The house of Josiah Warner, alluded to, stood very near the ice house south of the creek.”

I grew up in a map publishing family and realized recently that I haven’t utilized old maps in my research. I haven’t found a landowners map indicating the precise location of the Warner farm, but I have determined its general location based on the descriptions. If you follow the squiggly line from the “S” (Murderers Kill) to where it intersects with a road coming from the Northeast, that’s the area. Interestingly enough, there is a notation for a “Mrs Warner” just below the “N”.

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As I begin to plan a research trip, this information will be invaluable in whittling down the location. As a tip to others, many old maps and atlases are readily available online.

3x Great-Grandfathers

It has taken years of research and collaborations with distant cousins, but I’m excited to present my 3x great-grandfathers on my mother’s side of the family. I’ve written about both here before, but Joseph C. Felver (NJ) and William J. Warner (NY) were both Civil War veterans. I’m so pleased just to know what they looked like and to be able to show their photographs side-by-side!

William J. Warner (1812-1898)

I spent a lot of time looking for my ancestor William J. Warner’s place of death. He lived in Athens, Greene County, NY most of his life, with the exception of army enlistments and a brief period of time living in Brooklyn with his two sons. I recently learned that William had died at a soldiers’ home in Hampton, Virginia and was buried there. Just today, I located his obituary:

Comrade William J. Warner, a member of Thatford Post, No. 3, G. A. R., New York, who died recently at the Hampton Soldiers’ Home, had a most eventful life, having taken an active part in three wars in the service of the United States. He was born at Athens, Greene County, N.Y. in 1812, and in 1837 enlisted for three years in Troop A of the Second United States Regular Dragoons. At the end of his term he re-enlisted for five years, and when that was served he again enlisted to serve during the Mexican War.

During the Florida war he saw much hard service. At the battle of Caloosahatchee he had his nose broken by a blow from an Indian tomahawk, and was shot through the right thigh. He was one of Colonel William B. Harney’s company of thirty men who were ambushed by the Indians at Sanibel Inlet and all killed but three. The survivors, Colonel Harney and Privates Eastman and Warner, escaped in a canoe. They were five days and nights without food and scarcely any clothing, until they reached camp.

In the Mexican War Comrade Warner was at the battles of Vera Cruz, Monterey, Palo Alto, Cerro Gordo, Buena Vista, Matamoras and the capture of the City of Mexico. He received a severe wound in the wrist at the battle of Buena Vista, and was discharged in 1848.

In the civil war he enlaced in 1862 as a private in Company G, 159th New York Volunteers, and with that command took part in the battles of Irish Bend, Vermillion Bayou, New Iberia, Port Hudson, and Clinton, all in Louisiana. In April 1863, he was captured by Moshy’s guerrillas, but was retaken in a short time by Grierson’s cavalry. He was discharged for disability in November 1862. The last years of his life were spent among old comrades at the Hampton Soldiers’ Home.

New York Press, 1898

Found, then Lost

My aunt and uncle recently sent me a package of material related to my grand-parents and great-grandparents—birth and death certificates, marriage information, etc. It was such a pleasure to go through, especially discovering new information and reconfirming other details. There was even correspondence between my great-grandfather and a gentleman doing research about the Warner surname.

However, the most intriguing piece was a photocopy of an index card that indicated my great-grandfather had donated Civil War medals to…someplace. I knew that my great-grandfather had been very involved in his town’s historical society so I emailed them to see if these medals had ended up in their collection. I couldn’t wait to hear back, plan a trip, and go visit these medals that would have been given to my great-great-grandfather.

After waiting a few weeks, I heard back, but unfortunately found that the historical society had suffered hurricane damage in the 1970s and although they had written record of the donation of the medals, the actual items were long gone.

While it’s disappointing, I consider it just another avenue to explore. Did other family members donate items to historic societies in other towns? Did my great-grandfather donate other things to this same society that I’m not even aware of yet?

This experience reminds me to leave no stone unturned— that no lead is too small to follow up on.


Matrilineal Monday

This photo, dated 1941, shows my mother’s side of the family.  I’ve chosen it because it has the most female ancestors from that side in a single photograph. One of the women depicted, Constance Miskelly, seems to have been a friend of the family. There are a number of photos of her with Grace (Hill) Warner and George K. Warner, Jr. as they were around the same age. I’ve always wondered who she was, but have never found out much about her.

Pictured left to right: Lois Anne Weaver, Beatrice E. Warner, Ethel (Felver) Weaver, Constance Miskelly, Clara Felver, George K. Warner, Sr., William Weaver, Beatrice Felver Warner, George K. Warner, Jr. (sitting on the grass), and Grace (Hill) Warner (also sitting on the grass).