A Cabin in Maine

In the early and mid 1970’s my parents owned a cabin on McGrath Pond in Maine. For two or three summers my mother, brother Bill and myself would fly out to Maine and spend about a month there in the summer. Dad would be able to come out for about a week or two depending on his work schedule. I have great memories of these summers with my Wainer ( and a few Knickerbocker) relatives at the cabin. Here’s a few pictures of the cabin and the family.

This is the part of the cabin that faced the lake. The large screened in porch had a huge table for dinner( lots of lobster eaten at that table):


This is the room where I generally slept while there, next to the huge stone fireplace. The curtain separated the bedroom from the living room.


Brother Bill and I trying to catch something. My buck teeth/huge overbite is really showing at this point. Not real sure what’s on Bill’s head. I think I learned how to catch whatever this was we were trying to catch from Elmer Fudd.


This is the beginning of the ‘beach’. From left to right: Uncle Stephen Wainer, Mom, Aunt Dot Wainer, Uncle Bob Knickerbocker,me, Dad, Bill.


This is Aunt Dot, My mom and Bill on Uncle Stephens boat fishing. ( I love this photo; three of my favorite people)


Uncle Bob Knickerbocker and Bill on our boat dock with Uncle Steve’s boat looking out over McGrath Pond.



More Christmas Past

I found a new app that scans old photos pretty well. It’s called PhotoScan and is made by Google. The photos I have are fairly yellowed and glued down in an album with unremovable plastic sheets across the tops of the pictures. I used this app to scan a few old Christmas pictures from the album and they came out pretty good so I thought I’d share them here.

My Mom and Dad ( Peter R. Wainer and Majorie A. Knickerbocker) in front of thier Christmas tree. They look pretty happy, must of been before my brother and I were born. ūüėČ


Here’s one of my brother William (Bill) and myself, looks to be around 1969 at our house in Inglewood in the picture:


Thanksgiving Early

Last year about this time cousin Shirley (Vesterby) Colabella, granddaughter of Helen Knickerbocker and John Vesterby, asked her husband Frank and myself to help her prove that she is a descendant of a Mayflower passenger. It took a lot of work by Frank, Shirley, ¬†a little from me, and about a year; but today Shirley got final word from the Mayflower Society and she’s official.

Which means, Knickerbocker relatives, that you can be official too. Since Shirley and Frank have done much of the legwork, all you’d have to do is prove your descent from Clarence Knickerbocker ( and pay a few dollars to the Mayflower Society) and you’re all set.

This page shows selected descendants of EDWARD FULLER, our common ancestor, passenger on the Mayflower, and signor of the Mayflower Compact.

Happy Thanksgiving!

William Knickerbocker (1780-1858) father of WIlliam Knickerbocker (1801-1838)

There is absolutely no shortage of William Knickerbockers over time. Sometimes it’s very hard, genealogically, to distinguish one from the other or know which William is the parent and which is the child. This is one of these stories. It’s pretty convoluted and I doubt very many people will be interested in reading the details, but I thought it was pretty interesting so I’m recording it here.

William Knickerbocker (1780-1858) (I’ll call him William #1)and his son William Knickerbocker (1801-1838)( I’ll call him William #2) presented a pretty difficult problem since William #2 died before his father. How could I know, for sure, ¬†that William #2 was REALLY the son of William #1? In the Smithville, New York area where William #1 and his wife Arpita lived in the 1800’s there were no birth certificates. Census records of that time only list the name of the head of the household and no other names, just counts of others in the household.

This link ( or lack of link) had become very important to one of my cousins, but why it’s important, I’ll leave for another post. ( a very exciting post)

So William #1, when he passed away, left a will, a New York Probate record and had a probate notice published in the newspaper of record. All these things helped in establishing William #2 as son of WIlliam #1.

Here’s William #1’s Will:

William Knickerbocker Will

It lists the following people as his children:

  1. Jarad Knickerbocker
  2. John T Knickerbocker
  3. Harvey Knickerbocker
  4. Cameron K. Knickerbocker
  5. Charles E. Knickerbocker
  6. Harriet Tyrel
  7. Densy Haight
  8. Lydia Wilcox
  9. Betsey Wilcox

So no William #2 there, which makes sense since he is one of two suspected children who passed away prior to William #1’s death ( his suspected sons William and Reuben died previously)

However there are multiple hints of William # 2 in William #1’s probate record shown here:

William Knickerbocker Probate

This document lists the people to be contacted that might have some claim on WIlliam #1’s property. It lists the following people:

  1. Jarad Knickerbocker (same as #1 above)
  2. John T Knickerbocker (same as #2 above)
  3. Henry Van Der Lyn Jr. ( Special guardian of Densy Haight)
  4. Densy Haight (Same as #7 above)
  5. Lydia Wilcox (Same as #8 above)
  6. Betsey Wilcox (Same as #9 above)
  7. Fanny Barnes
  8. Mary Adelia Wade
  9. James H. Knickerbocker
  10. Cameron Knickerbocker (Same as #4 above)
  11. Charles E. Knickerbocker (Same as #5 above)
  12. Amelia Burgess
  13. Harvey Knickerbocker (Same as #3 above)

I know, via the Knickerbocker family bible, that Mary Adelia Wade and James H. Knickerbocker are children of William #2. If William #1 was not thier grandfather, why would they need to be contacted? More hints were available in the notice published in the Albany Evening Journal of William #1’s death. This notice was totally¬†illegible to me but cousin Frank Corbella has a brilliant idea. Feed the unreadable notice through some OCR software and see what happened. What happened was this, and it’s wonderful:

The people of the state of New York, to Henry Knickerbocker, Cameron Knickerbocker, James H. Knickerbocker currently residing at Smithville in the county of Chenango, N.Y.  Mary A. wife of Amos Wade living in Norwich in the county of Chenango; Amelia Burgess wife of ___________ Burgess residing at Greene in the county of Chenango; Henry Vanderlyn residing in Oxford in the county of Chenango, perennial guardian of _____________ Knickerbocker, Charlotte Bradley wife of Timothy Bradley, Susan A. Towsley and Jane R. Towsley having the general guardian, Denny Haight wife of Mark Haight, Lydia Wilcox wife  of Chautauqu, N.Y., Betsey Wilcox wife of Paris Wilcox residing in Trouphsburgh, N.Y., in the county of Steuben, N.Y., Fanny Barnes residing in Jasper, N.Y. in the county of Steuben, Harriet Tyrrel wife of Nelson Tyrrel residing in Cortland in the county of Dekalb, and the state of Illinois and William H. Knickerbocker residing at Empire, county of Fond du lac of state of Wisconsin heirs of law and relationship to William Knickerbocker estate in town of Smithville deceased meeting whereas Jared Knickerbocker and John T. Knickerbocker the executrix  named in the last will and testament of William Knickerbocker estate of the town of Smithville in the county of Chenango. Deceased have applied in our county of Chenango to have the will of the said William Knickerbocker deceased which releases both real and personal estate provide and administered probate, you and each of you are therefore hereby cited and required to appear before the said county judge in his office in Oxford in said county on the 10 day of March at 1, o’clock in the afternoon of that day to attend the proof and probate of said will.

In testimony where of we have earned the seal of the magistrate court office of said county of Chenango to be here and to attend.

Witness Dwight H. Clark surrogate’s office said county at village of Oxford the 19th day of 1859 January A.D. 

So this lists, again, a whole bunch of people who may have some sort of claim on William #1, including a long list of William #2’s children:

  1. Henry Knickerbocker of Smithville, Chenango, N.Y (  son of William #1 )
  2. Cameron Knickerbocker of Smithville, Chenango, N.Y (son of William #1 )
  3. James H. Knickerbocker of Smithville, Chenango, N.Y ( son of William #2 )
  4. Mary A. Wade wife of Amos of Norwich, Chenango, N. Y. (daughter of William #2 )
  5. Amelia Burgess wife of _____ Burgess of Greene,Chenango, N.Y. (unknown)
  6. Unknown Burgess
  7. Amos Wade husband of Mary A. of Norwich, Chenango, N. Y.
  8. Henry Van der Lyn of Oxford, Chenango, N.Y. Guardian of unknown Knickerbocker
  9. Unknown Knickerbocker ( Maybe Emeline daughter of William #2?)
  10. Charlotte Bradley wife of Timothy Bradley (daughter of William #2 )
  11. Timothy Bradley
  12. Susan A. Towsley (could these be daughters of Lydia J daughter of Willaim #2?)
  13. Jane R. Towsley
  14. Densy Haight wife of Mark Haight ( daughter of William #1)
  15. Mark Haight
  16. Lydia Wilcox wife of Unknown Wilcox (daughter of William #1)
  17. Unknown Wilcox
  18. Betsey Wilcox wife of Paris Wilcox of Trouphsburgh, Steuben, N.Y. ( daughter of William #1)
  19. Paris Wilcox of Trouphsburgh, Steuben, N.Y.
  20. Fanny Barnes of Jasper,Steuben, N.Y. ( unknown)
  21. Harriet Tyrrel wife of Nelson Tyrrel of Cortland, Ill ( daughter of William #1)
  22. Nelson Tyrrel of Cortland, Ill
  23. William H. Knickerbocker of Fond Du Loc, Wis ( son of William #2, and my great grandfather) ( I think this should be William R. not H.)
  24. Jarad Knickerbocker ( son of William #1)
  25. John T. Knickerbocker ( son of William #1)

Anyway, it’s pretty easy ( well, sort of) to prove that the sons and daughters of William #2 are present in this notice, therefore ¬†William #1 must be the father of William #2.

Uncle Steve’s 99th

The 14th of July would have been Uncle Stephen’s 99th birthday. I’ve been thinking quite a lot about him (and Wainer’s in general) and wish I had more pictures to share. Here’s a picture of Uncle Steve and Aunt Dot ( Dorthy A. Crocker ¬†22 Dec 1918 – 01 Sep 1989) . It looks like they are in front of the house on Island Ave in Maine, but I can’t be sure.

It’s a great picture of them both.

Also, if you’re interested, please donate to the Travis Mills Foundation in memory of Stephen N. Wainer. The foundation is a non-profit devoted to assisting wounded veterans.



Stephen N. Wainer

My Uncle Stephen passed away Friday the 10th of June about a month shy of his 99th birthday. I always felt a special bond with Uncle Steve because I was named after him. I think he’s the only person to ever call me “Stevie” on a regular basis. He was born 14 July 1917 and served in the Navy during WWII on the LST 696 in the Pacific. Here’s a picture of him¬†and the crew. He’s in the bottom row, second from the right:


I always equate Uncle Steve with the outdoors and especially fishing. My favorite Uncle Steve fishing story goes like this:

We were in Maine on MCGrath Pond fishing; Uncle Steve, Aunt Dot, my father, my brother Bill and myself. My brother and I were very young and I don’t think we’d ever ¬†been on a boat fishing before. I *know* we had never baited a hook before, at least not with a worm.

We’re city kids, we don’t know how to do this stuff.

Anyway, Bill must have been all of 4 0r 5 at the time and was sitting next to Uncle Steve who was baiting his hook for him. Uncle Steve tells him to put the line over the side and cast. My brother just puts the tip of the rod over the edge of the boat and pushes the thumb release to let the line go – no cast – just PLOP¬†in the water. The adults chuckle because there’s no way he’s going to get a fish. Uncle Steve then starts getting his line ready but before he’s done my brother says, “Hey Uncle Steve, I think I have a fish!’ The line has been in the water at most 45 seconds. Uncle Steve says, “No Billy, you can’t have a fish on there yet” but then catches sight of the tip of Bill’s fishing pole dipping. He takes the pole from my brother, reels it in and sure enough, there’s a fish! Everyone laughs, Uncle Steve grumbles a bit that he hasn’t even got his pole in the damn water yet, ¬†and bait’s Bill’s pole again. Bill puts it over the side, presses the thumb release again and PLOP the line is in the water.

Uncle Steve then starts getting his gear together again. 30 seconds later my brother says, “Uncle Steve, I think I have a fish!” All I hear is “Jesus H. Christ, there’s no WAY you have another fish on there.” Sure enough though he sees the pole dip again, takes it, and helps Bill reel in another fish. “Jesus H. Christ, I haven’t even got my line in the water once yet and Billy has caught two damn fish already.”, he says. I don’t think we caught another fish all day.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures of Uncle Steve


Purple Panic

My block is heavily planted with Jacaranda trees. In the Spring these trees quickly produce ¬†tremendous amount of purple flowers that start falling and carpet the street ( and cars parked there). They also drop a kind of sticky sap that, when it gets windy, covers everything outside with a fine sticky mist. Even though they are kind of messy, I really enjoy them. Here’s a few pictures of them in bloom on my street.IMG_0427IMG_0431