Archive for August, 2013

The Old Clock Church, New Albany

August 11, 2013

This church was known to be an Underground RR stop. My great-grandfather’s 1st wife was a member at the time of her death in 1874 & the entire congregation was invited to her funeral in their home. The congregation at that time was said to be both black & white. (That’s even unusual today!) In fact today it is a 2nd Baptist Church and I can guarantee you there are very few, if any, white faces. In 1874 it was 2nd Presbyterian. I have never found her gravesite. Someone told me there were some buried on site, & that their graves were later moved to Fairview cemetary, but I have looked for her there to no avail. Her name was Mary Caroline (Gross) Agnew. She and James had 2 daughters (see previous entry). I do not know who raised them after their mother’s death, because James married my great-grandmother Carrie Bybee in 1879, who was 19 years his junior, and I never see those girls with them. However, they both lived to adulthood.

I like to think my great-grandfather James knew about the church being an underground RR stop and agreed with the abolitionist movement. I like to think both black and white members came to his first wife’s funeral in their home. But I do not know this. In New Albany, no one I have yet spoken with seems to know of records kept of the history of this place. No one seems to know where old membership records would be kept. There seems to be a lack of organized files and history for this extremely fascinating and epic place, that served to hide many souls coming north to freedom!






Annie and Ollith Lenora Agnew

August 7, 2013

Okay, here is your family history lesson for today. I’m thinking of being in New Albany tomorrow.

James Agnew, great-grandfather. First marriage to Mary Caroline Gross produced 2 daughters, ANNIE and OLLITH LENORA.
Annie was born in 1865,
Ollie in 1867.
Mary Caroline dies Oct. 7, 1874 and I have no idea where she is buried. There was a funeral service at the family residence, listed north of Oak St. on State St., which is now a business area, it looks like. The question is, was she buried on family property, in which case the grave is lost, OR where would a member of the 2nd Presbyterian church be buried in 1874? The church was an Underground RR stop & had some black members in the time of the Civil War.
By 1879 he married my great-grandmother, Carrie Bybee who is 19 years his junior. They have 6 children with the last 2 being twins, one my grandfather John Wesley.
Annie seems to never have married, or I can’t find much on her. (Go figure.)
There is one possible Annie Agnew from Indiana who married someone named James L Rothrock, but can’t find much on them to connect them for sure.
Ollie married at the age of 48, to an Albert Joshua SIGMON.
Ollie was a stenographer at the age of 62, widowed and owned her home, which was valued at $6000.
By 1940, she is 72 & running it as a boarding house and it is valued at $3500. (effect of depression??)
Maybe she was a “Madam” who knows??
I looked up the property, and, true to form for the Agnews, it’s an EMPTY lot!! There is a house on either side but no house at her address.
Can’t find graves for any of them.
It seems like Mary Caroline Gross’s family could have been Jewish, as her mom’s name was NAOMI and her father’s Solomon. Just clues but nothing definite. Mary was a member of the 2nd Presbyterian church that was the Underground RR stop.
They are consistent that their father, my GGGrandfather James Agnew, was born in OHIO.

All is Right With the World (Awaiting baby)

August 5, 2013

All is Right With the World


A new grandchild is coming,

He will make his appearance

When he is good & ready,

And all is right with the world.


He is right on time,

in his own way of thinking,

And who can blame him,

If he is not in a hurry


To rush into this crazy world

We have created,

To which he enters

Fresh and sweet and innocent,


He is not in a hurry

To leave his sacred space

Where he is never in want for anything,

His world is warm and safe and secluded,

His mother’s heartbeat reassures him of her love,


But his space is cramped,

And he becomes ever more entangled

in the cord that feeds him,

He will soon leave his quiet surroundings

For cooler spaces,

Full of noise and bright lights and PEOPLE

Who will irritate and demand much of him,


In the end he has no choice,

But as he takes his ever-loving time to join us,

that’s okay, Because today,

all is right with the world,


His parents await him anxiously

Sharing their anxiety

Of not being able to yet kiss his face,


They long to sing their hearts to him,

Rock him in the cradle of their love

Show him his new room

Teach him to dance with Winnie the Pooh,



His mother waits to shed her belly,

Carry a little less of his weight,

Tires of the cramping that never ends,

Wonders if she will ever look into his eyes,

And smile,


Grandma waits to go farther north

To laugh and dance and talk with him,

Yet, we can do nothing but wait,

And know in our hearts,

That God and babies run on their own time,

And all is right in our world.


CFBlack         8-05-2013

Happy Hollow Park

August 5, 2013

Happy Hollow Park

As a child, I climbed the rocks of this place,

followed the stream-bed as far as it would go,

explored the crevices,

looked for stones

to put in my pocket,

to remember,

The adults called our names in vain,

to return to the picnic spot

but we were gone and out of reach

exploring worlds unknown,

We climbed the hills to where they led

to a schoolyard high above the park,

We found an old abandoned car,

and looked for bones, and bodies,

We found no such thing

but felt we were in

a forbidden spot

or passageway,

Eventually, hunger called us back

to the arms of our mothers, and grandmothers,

where great aunts in their long, dark dresses

spread their food, and filled our bellies,

They spoke in Dutch of the old country,

offered to each another, tea

and stories of life in America,

Their eyes followed us, lovingly,

as this day became a memory

and they saw in us a passageway

to a brighter future.

CFBlack          8-05-2013